The Houston Rockets failed to retain their core that helped them reach the Western Conference Finals and forced a Game 7 against the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors. In the recent free agency, the Rockets lost two of their swingmen. Trevor Ariza joined the Phoenix Suns while Luc Mbah a Moute ended up returning to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Rockets managed to find their replacements this offseason with the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony and James Ennis III. Anthony will undeniably be a reliable contributor on the offensive end of the floor where he is expected to serve as the Rockets’ third scoring option behind James Harden and Chris Paul. However, it remains questionable if the 10-time NBA All-Star can replicate the same performance Trevor Ariza did for the Rockets last season.
Ariza may not be an explosive scorer like Anthony, but he proved to be the perfect piece the Rockets needed to maximize the effectiveness of their star players Harden and Paul. In 67 games he played last season, Ariza averaged 11.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.5 steals on 41.2 percent shooting from the field and 36.8 percent from beyond the arc. Their current financial situation forced the Rockets to let Ariza walk away in free agency, but according to Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report, they could still bring the veteran small forward back before the February NBA trade deadline.
“But look, if the Rockets let Trevor Ariza walk because they weren’t ready to pay him $15 million for a full season, maybe they’d have interest in picking up his prorated salary from February to the end of the postseason. If Carmelo Anthony flops and simply can’t see the floor when the games matter, and if James Ennis III just isn’t comfortable taking every open three he sees (he’s averaged just two attempts per game for his career), maybe the Rockets will decide they need someone who’s delivered for them in the past.”
The Suns’ roster, as currently constructed, are currently not in a position to make a huge impact in the deep Western Conference. If they find themselves out of the playoff picture, the Suns may consider making some of their veterans, including Trevor Ariza, available on the trade market before the February NBA trade deadline. Despite failing to reach an agreement with the Rockets in the recent free agency, Ariza will surely love the idea of playing once again in Houston.
Now that the Warriors just got stronger with the acquisition of All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins in free agency, the Rockets should do everything they can to improve their roster before the real battle begins in the Western Conference Playoffs.