The Rockets are poised to finalize a deal with Carmelo Anthony after he clears waivers later today, but signing Anthony won’t necessarily complete Houston’s offseason. As ESPN’s Zach Lowe details in a recent podcast conversation with Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight, the Rockets remain in the market for at least one more wing player.
“They are going to get another wing,” Lowe said of the Rockets. “It’s going to happen.”
The Rockets lost two key forwards last month when Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute signed with new teams in free agency. Despite re-signing Gerald Green, adding James Ennis, and lining up a deal with Anthony, Houston could use another player with the ability to make threes on offense and guard talented perimeter players on defense.
Earlier this week, we heard that Houston has interest in Hawks swingman Kent Bazemore — Lowe and Herring discuss that possibility, with the ESPN analyst suggesting that the Rockets would likely offer Atlanta a package of Ryan Anderson and their 2019 first-round pick. However, the Hawks aren’t the only team the Rockets are keeping an eye on.
According to Lowe, the Rockets have also talked to the Heat. While Lowe doesn’t identify any specific Miami players that Houston is targeting, he speculates that perhaps the Rockets would be willing to offer that same package of Anderson and a pick for someone like Tyler Johnson.
The Rockets have also “kicked the tires” on Cavaliers shooting guard J.R. Smith, per Lowe. At $14.72MM, Smith has a smaller 2018/19 salary than players like Bazemore and Johnson, so the Cavaliers wouldn’t be able to trade him straight up for Anderson ($20.42MM) and a pick. Smith also only has a modest partial guarantee on his 2019/20 salary, making his contract much more palatable than Anderson’s. That could complicate any trade discussions between the two teams.
Although Lowe doesn’t go into more details on any other trade talks the Rockets might be having, there are a handful of other players around the NBA who would be logical targets as Houston dangles Anderson and a draft pick. Nicolas Batum, DeMarre Carroll, Marvin Williams, Danilo Gallinari, and Courtney Lee are other wings who make between $12-24MM in 2018/19 and are under contract for multiple seasons, though some players in that group are more realistic trade candidates than others.