The Houston Rockets succeeded to bring back two of their key players in the 2018 NBA free agency — Chris Paul and Clint Capela. Unfortunately, they also lost two wingmen this offseason. Trevor Ariza signed a lucrative deal with the Phoenix Suns while Luc Mbah a Moute ended up joining the Los Angeles Clippers. The nearing acquisition of Carmelo Anthony is expected to fill the hole they left in the wing.
However, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN (h/t Larry Brown Sports), the Rockets are still planning to be active on the trade market with the hopes of adding one or two defensive-minded players before the start of the training camp. Kelly Iko of Rockets Wire revealed that one of the potential trade targets of the Rockets is Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks.
“Assuming the Rockets are able to finalize a deal with Carmelo Anthony this week, it likely wouldn’t be the team’s final piece of offseason business before training camp. Houston is still active on trade fronts, perusing the market for a wing defender, and remains interested in Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks—according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly about the situation.”
Source: Rockets still active in trade market looking for defensive wings, have interest in Kent Bazemore https://t.co/NeLRiuDXdq— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) July 31, 2018
It is not a surprise why the Rockets are interested in trading for a defensive-minded player like Kent Bazemore. Carmelo Anthony may be a reliable contributor on the offensive end of the floor, but it remains questionable if he can replicate the same performance Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute gave the Rockets on the defensive end. This is why trading for a great defender like Bazemore makes a lot of sense for the Rockets.
In 65 games he played last season, the 29-year-old shooting guard averaged 12.9 point, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals on 42 percent shooting from the field and 39.4 percent from beyond the arc. As Iko noted, the Rockets have been eyeing to acquire Bazemore since the 2016 NBA free agency.
In a proposed trade deal, Iko suggested that the Rockets could offer a trade package including Ryan Anderson, Chinanu Onuaku, and a 2019 first-round pick to the Hawks for Kent Bazemore. The deal works on ESPN‘s NBA Trade Machine. The trade will enable the Rockets to hit two birds in one stone. Aside from acquiring Bazemore, the Rockets will finally get rid of Ryan Anderson and the remaining two years and $41.6 million on his contract.
However, as of now, it remains unknown if the inclusion of Chinanu Onuaku and a future first-round pick is enough to convince the Hawks to part ways with Bazemore and absorb Anderson’s contract. Expect more rumors to circulate as the 2018 NBA offseason goes deeper.