When they decided to shut down Carmelo Anthony, the Houston Rockets surprisingly performed better and went on a five-game winning streak. Unfortunately, after being hit by multiple injuries, the Rockets struggled once again and lost their last four games.
As of now, five Rockets’ players are dealing with injuries – Nene Hilario (calf), Chris Paul (hamstring), Gerald Green (ankle), Zhou Qi (ankle), and Brandon Knight (knee). In their blowout loss against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, the major issue on the Rockets was exposed after their bench was outscored by 40 points. In a post-game interview, Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni discussed how fatigue contributed to their recent struggle and admitted that the lack of depth remains as a huge problem on their team.
“Obviously, it’s a problem,” D’Antoni said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “It’s something that I know that the front office tried to address. They’re going to do the best they can. No blame going around; it’s just the way it is.”
Since the 2018 NBA offseason, the Rockets have been aggressive on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded player to fill the hole left by Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the wing. The Rockets tried to acquire Jimmy Butler by offering multiple future first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the All-Star forward ended up being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
As of now, the Rockets remain active on the trade market, eyeing to improve their depth. According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, some of the Rockets’ trade targets include J.R. Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Iman Shumpert of the Sacramento Kings, Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets, C.J. Miles of the Toronto Raptors, and Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris of the Washington Wizards.
Reigning MVP James Harden admitted that losing Chris Paul and some of their teammates forced him and other starters to take heavier workload on both ends of the floor. However, Harden is very confident that the Rockets could find a way to end their struggle and return to the winning column.
“We’ve done it already,” Harden said. “We went through a tough stretch, and then we regrouped and won five in a row — and we looked really good. We’ve just got to figure it out. We’ve got a lot of new guys, and it’s only 20 games into the season. We’ve got 60 more to go.”
The Rockets’ next game will be against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night where Chris Paul and Gerald Green are expected to rejoin the team.