Just a week before the start of the 2012-13 season, the Houston Rockets appeared resigned to a year spent as one of the NBA’s worst teams. However, that all changed when they acquired James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder, a move that would turn out better than just about anyone expected.
Now nearly halfway through the season, the Rockets sit at an impressive 20-14 and seem primed to make a serious run at the playoffs. However, the team is far from contender status, and may need to swing another deal in order to become a true threat.
Rockets receive: DeMarcus Cousins, Francisco Garcia
Kings receive: Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones
DeMarcus Cousins has stirred a lot of trouble in Sacramento early in his career, and his apparent inability to get along with the Kings’ coaching staff has resulted in his name surfacing in recent trade rumors.
The Rockets lack a consistent secondary scorer behind Harden and would benefit greatly from bringing Cousins into the fold, as the center would provide a major boost offensively while matching Asik’s work on the boards.
Cousins has dominated recently, and the Kings could very well opt to hold onto their budding star and swallow the headaches that come with the package. If not, the Rockets will be able to put together an attractive package in the hopes of landing a second franchise centerpiece.
Rockets receive: Derrick Williams, Malcolm Lee, future first-round pick
Timberwolves receive: Carlos Delfino, Marcus Morris
This scenario would land Houston a talented young combo forward in Derrick Williams, at the cost of losing some depth on the perimeter.
Williams is still learning the NBA game and his presence likely wouldn’t be all that helpful to the Rockets right away. However, he has a much higher ceiling than Morris and could develop into a legitimate secondary star if given the proper coaching.
Though Williams would still have to compete with Patrick Patterson for the starting role in Houston, that is at least a battle he could potentially win, as opposed to the doomed upward struggle trying to pry minutes from Kevin Love in Minnesota.
The loss of Delfino could certainly hurt for the Rockets, but Williams is capable of playing small forward and there are still some replacement options available on the free-agent market.
Rockets receive: Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll
Jazz receive: Carlos Delfino, Marcus Morris, future first-round pick
Paul Millsap’s time with the Utah Jazz seems to be drawing to an inevitable close, as his contract expires after this season and Utah has plenty of alternative options in its frontcourt. But while the Jazz may view him as extraneous, Millsap is still plenty relevant in the NBA.
Millsap is an underrated and underutilized scorer who has one of the sweetest mid-range jumpers in basketball, and given a larger offensive role he could easily increase his scoring to around 17-18 points per game.
Millsap can play some small forward, too, meaning he wouldn’t be robbing Patterson of any opportunity. And while there’s no guarantee he would stick around past June, the Rockets could surely entice Millsap to re-sign with the promise of a featured role and plenty of green.
Rockets receive: Ramon Sessions
Bobcats receive: Toney Douglas, Marcus Morris
Jeremy Lin’s brief stint of superstardom has long since faded, and he now looks like little more than an above average point guard. Though the Rockets are fortunate to have an elite bearded playmaker alongside Lin, they could use an alternative floor general to deploy on those frequent occasions when Lin can’t seem to find his shot.
Ramon Sessions would certainly fit the bill. Sessions has quietly had a very strong season as part of the Bobcats’ crowded backcourt, and would be a significant upgrade over Toney Douglas as Houston’s third guard.
Charlotte would likely be willing to part with him in exchange for a promising young big man in Morris, as Kemba Walker chews up most of the minutes at point guard anyways.