Despite the acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the Houston Rockets are still active on the trade market, looking for a player who could replicate Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute’s performance on the defensive end of the floor. In the past months, several NBA players have been linked to the Rockets, including J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers currently have a logjam at the two-guard spot with J.R. Smith, Jordan Clarkson, Cedi Osman, and Kyle Korver expected to compete for playing time next season. According to Cavs Nation, Smith is considered the odd man out in Cleveland, and as of now, the “most realistic” trade destination for him is the Rockets.
“Any deal would likely include power forward Ryan Anderson, who will make nearly $42 million over the next two seasons. Houston has been trying to move him for a while now but has been unable to find a team willing to take on Anderson’s contract. If the Rockets are getting rid of Anderson while gaining Smith, it will cost them in the form of draft capital. With an ongoing pseudo-rebuild, draft picks should greatly interest general manager Koby Altman. And while Houston’s selections will be at the end of the first round, having late picks are better than having no picks at all.”
The deal will undeniably be beneficial for both the Rockets and the Cavaliers. The trade will allow the Cavaliers to address the logjam at their backcourt while acquiring the Rockets’ first-round selections in 2019 and 2021. The future first-round picks will greatly help them, especially if they decide that it is time for them to undergo a full-scale rebuild.
Meanwhile, the deal enables the Rockets to get rid of Ryan Anderson and the remaining two years and $41.6 million on his contract. With the team expected to contend for the NBA championship title in the next couple of years, the Rockets will be needing more veterans than young talents. The arrival of J.R. Smith is expected to give the Rockets a solid wing defender and a threat in the three-point range.
If Smith fails to make himself fit in Houston, the Rockets could easily get rid of him after the 2018-19 NBA season. Unlike Anderson, only $3.87 million on Smith’s contract for the 2019-20 NBA season is guaranteed. This will give them enough salary cap space to chase free agents who could strengthen their chance of winning an NBA championship title. If the Rockets can shed more salary, they will be able to go after big names in the 2019 NBA free agency like Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant.