In the recent offseason, the Houston Rockets lost two of the key players — Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute — who helped them have a successful 2017-18 NBA season. Ariza signed with the Phoenix Suns and was recently traded to the Washington Wizards, while Mbah a Moute ended up returning to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets pursued Carmelo Anthony from the buyout market, believing he could fill the hole Ariza and Mbah a Moute left in the wing.
Unfortunately, Carmelo Anthony proved to be an odd fit in Coach Mike D’Antoni’s system which made the Rockets decide to remove him from their rotation after 10 games in the 2018-19 NBA season. As of now, the Rockets remain active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded player who could address their weakness in the wing. According to Jordan Greer of Sporting News, the Los Angeles Lakers shooting guard is emerging as the Rockets’ top trade target.
“‘KCP’ could be an ideal 3-and-D player for Houston. He is a tenacious defender capable of switching along the perimeter, and he has hit 37.8 percent of his 3-pointers over the last two seasons in Los Angeles. Caldwell-Pope can veto any trade based on the structure of his contract, though he would likely consider Houston a desirable destination. There will be other suitors to battle, especially teams with roster imbalances, but Caldwell-Pope is emerging as the Rockets’ top target.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope struggled as the Lakers starting shooting guard earlier in the 2018-19 NBA season. However, when he was demoted to the bench, Caldwell-Pope surprisingly performed better, making him a more attractive trade asset for the Lakers. In the month of December, the 25-year-old shooting guard is averaging 11.7 points on 48.4 percent shooting from the field and 40.8 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will not only be able to replicate Trevor Ariza’s performance on the defensive end, but they will also be having a reliable three-point shooter in the wing. In a potential deal with the Lakers, the Rockets could explore a trade package that includes at least one of the four future first-round picks they tried to offer to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler.
So far, it remains unknown if there is an ongoing trade negotiation between the Rockets and the Lakers centered on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Though his name continues to surface in trade rumors, Caldwell-Pope doesn’t seem to be distracted, and as of now, he serves as one of the main contributors for the Lakers on the offensive end while LeBron James is recovering from a groin injury.