How Houston Can Complete Their Roster


Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets had themselves a busy week leading up to the NBA trade deadline (Feb. 7). We saw all kinds of trades from moving large, expensive contracts to trading away future draft picks to landing rotation players. Most certainly, the biggest splash the Rockets made was trading for veteran guard Iman Shumpert.

Up until a few days ago, it was all speculation as to what Houston’s plans would be heading into the trade deadline. On the other side of the deadline, we now see that owner Tilman Fertitta and Daryl Morey didn’t feel the immediate need to trade for a big name forward. Instead, they’ve chosen to make the trades necessary to move them under the luxury tax this season, a move that can help avoid the repeater tax until the 2022-2023 season (at the earliest).

Trade Recap

Here’s how the Rockets made roster moves to potentially avoid paying a luxury tax this season:

Three-way trade with the Cavs and Kings

  • Rockets acquire Iman Shumpert, Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin IV, and the Bucks’ 2021 2nd round pick (from Cleveland)
  • Cavs acquire Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss, the Rockets’ 2019 1st round pick (lottery protected), and the Rockets 2022 2nd round pick
  • Kings acquire Alec Burks and either the Rockets’ or Warriors’ 2020 2nd round pick (whichever is lower in draft order)

Trade with the Sixers

  • Rockets acquire the rights to swap 2021 2nd round picks with the Sixers
  • Sixers acquire James Ennis

Trade with the Pacers

  • Rockets acquire cash
  • Pacers acquire Nik Stauskas, Wade Baldwin IV, Milwaukee’s 2021 2nd round pick, and the rights to Maarty Leunen

How Houston Can Complete Their Roster

Houston can move further away from the luxury tax if star center Clint Capela loses out on annual incentives. If Capela shoots under 65% from the foul line, the Rockets save $500,000. Additionally, the Rockets can save another $500,000 if Capela’s defensive rebound percentage is below 30% this season. Capela misses out on this same bonus if he does not play at least 2000 minutes. If Capela misses out on both bonuses, the Rockets can spend roughly $1.6M towards the buyout market and converting Danuel House’s current two-way contract to an NBA level one.

Possible Buyout Candidates

Markieff Morris

If the Rockets are looking to add depth, size and shooting ability, Markieff Morris is that man. The Pelicans, after acquiring Morris from the Wizards, announced Friday that they’ve released him. Morris had been sidelined with a neck injury since early January and is now cleared to return per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes also reports that Rockets and Lakers are among playoff-contending teams pursuing Morris.

Morris has been in a bit of a shooting slump this season, hitting just 33% from long range. Last season, Morris shot nearly 37% from deep. My guess would be that the Rockets don’t hesitate on signing Morris if a deal is agreed upon for a veteran’s minimum.

JaMychal Green

As soon as trade talks between the Grizzlies and Rockets involved JaMychal Green, Rockets fans rejoiced. Ultimately, trade talks ceased and Green was traded to the Clippers. The 6’9 power forward is shooting a career best 39.6% from behind the arc and averages 6.1 rebounds in just 22 minutes a game. A rebounding big man that can shoot the three-ball while being a versatile defender is everything that the Rockets need.

Depending on what the Clippers’ goals are for the rest of the season, it’s possible that Green can be bought out. It’s tough to say how exactly the Clippers want the season to play out since they traded away their best player in Tobias Harris.

Wilson Chandler

Like JaMychal Green, Wilson Chandler can really shoot the three-ball. This season, Chandler is shooting an impressive 39% from three and has been known to shoot the ball well throughout his career. He’s also a great pick-and-roll defender which the Rockets desperately need since they switch on majority of screens. Chandler, safe to say, would be a perfect fit at the four spot for the Rockets if bought out by the Clippers.

The return of Danuel House?

Although Houston fans want Danuel House to return as soon as possible, the Rockets will likely wait it out and convert his contract towards the end of the regular season. This move saves the Rockets money if they’re looking to sign a player from the buyout market. House’s sample size was small, but it’s hard to deny how great House played as a defender and shot maker. In 12 games as a starter, House shot an insane 48.1% from three. The Rockets also went 9-3 when House was a starter.

Every day that the Rockets wait to convert House’s contract, they save a fraction of what the salary would be. As long as House is signed on the last day of the regular season he will be playoff-eligible. House can return as early as March 24th once the G-league season is over if the Rockets decide to call him back up. The Rockets have two more roster spots available and will need to have them filled come playoff time. They can fill the void of Danuel House with 10-day contracts and/or sign a player to the veteran’s minimum.

About Aqib Gazi

Aqib was born and raised in the great city of Houston, TX. He grew up a Rockets fan and his favorite player growing up was Steve Francis. Aqib graduated from the University of Houston in 2017 and covers the Houston Rockets for TLSM.

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