Houston Rockets: Once Carmelo Anthony Leaves Nuggets, They Can Sneak in Playoffs

Scott RedickContributor IJanuary 19, 2011

The Rockets could make a playoff push with Melo out of the picture
The Rockets could make a playoff push with Melo out of the pictureElsa/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony being traded may not only benefit the team he is being traded to.

Many Western Conference teams on the outside of the playoff picture looking to covet what the Nuggets have while still with Anthony: one of the eight playoff spots.

There are a couple of teams that hoped to make the playoffs in the Western Conference this season that are really struggling so far. These include the Grizzlies, Suns and Rockets.

While the Grizzlies and Suns are looking at roster shakeups for the second half, including possible trades of Steve Nash and O.J. Mayo, the Rockets, even with their injury-laden roster, are still looking to make the playoffs.

The Nuggets currently stand at 23-17, a good but not great record, which figures to dissolve quickly following any move that sends Anthony out of town.

That opens up a playoff spot out west that is up for grabs.

Let's focus on the Houston Rockets' chances.

What do we know so far?

The Rockets have been riddled by injuries, including losing Yao Ming for the season. They have also lost Aaron Brooks, Kevin Martin, Chuck Hayes and Brad Miller for stints during this grueling season.

We also know the Rockets have been very good at times this season. They went 11-4 in December, looking like one of the best teams in the league and climbing back over .500.

Since the New Year, however, they have been ice cold, winning just two of their last nine and falling behind the playoff pack in the West.

"Obviously, I think we are somewhere in the middle," said forward Luis Scola. "We're not as good as we were in December, and we're not as bad as we are in January."

The Rockets are getting healthy at the right time, though, with the obvious exception of Yao, who once again will not be returning to rescue their season, but they have plenty of talented players in the backcourt to go along with a solid frontline led by Scola.

However, the crowded backcourt has created some problems as well. There simply are not enough minutes to go around.

"We have too many people at the same spots," coach Rick Adelman stated. "It's hard to get a rotation going. You've got people coming back. You've got to fit them in there. Every game seems to be different."

They have more than enough talent, though, and players with a desire to play well and win. One of the main competitions for playing time is at point guard featuring Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry. Brooks was the starter before being injured and upon returning from injury has had an undefined role with Lowry playing well.

"The team does have a lot of talent," Brooks said of the situation. "Whoever is in there has to be ready to play. It's a new thing. I come in there, got to provide offense and hopefully be in at the end to finish games. Anything I can do to help the team."

If the Rockets stay healthy and determine roles in their rotation, Carmelo Anthony being traded to the Eastern Conference could be just what they need to push their way back into the Western Conference playoff picture. Either way, the rest of the season should be filled with thrilling basketball news.