The Rockets and Suns agreed to an unusual trade late on Thursday night, with Houston poised to send Ryan Anderson and De’Anthony Melton to Phoenix in exchange for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Both teams are essentially acquiring a potentially useful veteran on an expensive multiyear contract, plus a young prospect with some upside. That kind of straight two-for-two swap without any draft picks or other assets included is pretty rare, particularly between a title contender and a lottery team.
In an Insider-only piece at ESPN.com, Kevin Pelton tries to make sense of the deal for both clubs, and has an easier time doing so for the Rockets, assigning them a grade of B+ for shedding Anderson’s contract and acquiring a pair of intriguing players. Pelton isn’t as bullish on the trade for the Suns, who get a C- grade from the ESPN scribe.
While the Suns may view the deal as an opportunity to acquire a starting power forward and a promising young prospect in exchange for two players who weren’t in their plans, they probably could’ve driven a harder bargain with the in-the-tax Rockets, says Pelton.
Here’s more on the Rockets/Suns trade:
- If the Rockets were to finalize the trade and waive Knight today, the team could greatly reduce its projected tax bill for 2018/19. However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) hears that Houston has no plans to waive-and-stretch Knight.
- Lowe’s other observations on the deal: The Suns paid a high cost to acquire Melton, but people around the NBA are “super-high” on him (Twitter link). The Rockets, who haven’t used their first-round pick for a few years, did well to avoid including their 2019 first-rounder in an Anderson deal, says Lowe (Twitter link). That pick could now be available for another trade at the deadline if necessary.
- As ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes (via Twitter), it will be interesting to see what kind of contract Melton signs with the Suns, who are now over the cap. Without cap room, they’re limited to a two-year offer. While Phoenix could potentially open up cap space by buying out Darrell Arthur, he’s unlikely to give up much salary without lining up another landing spot, per Marks. Waiving and stretching Arthur today would also work, but adding an annual $2.5MM charge to their cap for two additional years may not be worth gaining the ability to give Melton an extra year or two.
- In the view of Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link), the Suns made the trade with Igor Kokoskov‘s up-tempo, three-pointer-heavy offense in mind. Kokoskov’s system calls for a stretch four like Anderson, and Melton’s play-making ability figures to be a good fit too.