The Houston Rockets were a team believed by many to be on the rise after finishing the 2009-10 season 42-40, ninth best in the Western Conference.
Houston didn't make any monumental moves in the offseason, but it was thought that the emergence of Aaron Brooks, the return of Yao Ming as well as contributions from players such as Kevin Martin and Luis Scola would launch the team into the playoffs.
Things have not gone according to plan.
Brooks and Ming (what's new?) have both gone down with injuries and aren't returning anytime soon.
The Rockets haven't had much trouble scoring, currently sixth in the NBA, but they can't stop anyone, allowing a near-worst 106.7 points per game. They're sitting at 5-12 and things are not looking good.
Fortunately, there could be help on the horizon.
Philadelphia forward Andre Iguodala has let it be known that he does not want to continue being a 76er if the team is not competitive.
It's not in Iguodala's personality to demand a trade and he knows the Philadelphia media would skin him alive if he did so. He has, however, let management know that he would like to be moved if the team does not start winning.
The Sixers are currently 4-13 which, generally, is not considered winning.
Houston has extra draft picks and some expiring contracts that could entice Philadelphia, with possibly two extra second-round picks, an extra first-rounder in 2011 and four contracts (Ming, Shane Battier, Jared Jeffries and Chuck Hayes) that will run out at the end of the season.
It's unclear if a team would take a chance on Ming or if the Rockets would be willing to trade Battier, but Ming's contract is expiring so Philly could be willing to take him on as a one-year rental.
The Rockets also have four players in Jordan Hill, Courtney Lee, Jermaine Taylor and Chase Budinger whose contracts have team options at the end of the season—another bargaining chip.
Let's play with the possibilities of what an Iguodala acquisition would do for the Rockets, although it's not known who exactly would be left on the roster if a trade were completed.
With Brooks and Ming out for the foreseeable future, the Rockets need another scorer. Iguodala certainly fits that bill.
They have a good outside shooter in Kevin Martin who could benefit from Iggy's penetrating ability. If defenders collapsed down on Iguodala, it would free up open shots for Martin.
The Rockets also have one of the best down-low and around-the-rim scorers in Scola. When Iguodala is being judicious with his shot attempts and not settling too often, he keeps defenses honest with a decent enough outside game.
Defenders would be forced to pay more attention to the perimeter, giving Scola more chances to get loose in the post. Scola could also be the beneficiary of Iguodala's drives if his man attempts to cut off the lane to the basket.
Iguodala is currently averaging a bit over five assists per game and would likely be willing to dish off to an open man around the basket, particularly one as skilled as Scola.
Kyle Lowry is doing a fair enough job running the show at point guard with Brooks out, averaging 6.5 assists for the year and 7.4 in his last five games. He would be able to find Iguodala slashing to the basket, increasing his productivity.
What this move would do is force Battier to the bench, if they kept him. Battier is a very good defender, but his age and some recent injuries are slowing him down.
Iguodala is a solid defensive player, certainly not on Battier's level, but still good. Having Battier on the bench would allow him more rest, keeping him fresh for late-game situations. If they needed him out there in the fourth, he would have more energy left and would be able to step up and take on the other team's best perimeter player.
Battier would also have more juice left in him for the second half of the season when the games really start to mean something.
Iguodala is averaging a shade under seven rebounds a game this year, and while he is no glass-man extraordinaire, Houston is already a very good rebounding team and the move would provide even more reinforcement in that department.
This all sounds very good for the Rockets.
They're having some issues with injuries right now. The move would make them deeper and would provide them with more scoring—something that is much needed with their defensive woes.
If you can't stop them, you're going to have to score more.
It still remains to be seen if a move will be made. The Sixers are rebuilding, though, and Iguodala does not want to be part of such a project.
The Rockets have some assets to move and could use AI's presence. If he becomes available to them, they should find a way to get their hands on him.
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