The Houston Rockets need to make trades if they intend on improving their roster. James Harden has made it clear that he wants another star on the roster, but doing that is easier said than done for the team who has a majority of their salary cap space wrapped into three players, Harden being one of them. The Rockets potentially enter free agent with $6 million to work with while needing to replace the point guard position and bring back Josh Smith and Corey Brewer. So how big are the Rockets will to go with roster adjustments?
According to ESPN's Mark Stein, the Rockets will aggressively try and create cap space for either LaMarcus Aldridge to Kevin Love in the coming days which means that both Terrence Jones and Trevor Ariza could become available. Dan Feldman of ProBasketballTalk.com breaks down exactly what the Rockets must do in order to crash free agency and acquire two of the biggest stars hitting the market.
According to Feldman, the Rockets first trade Jones and take no salary in return. Then the team renounces free agents including Patrick Beverley and KJ McDaniels. They also waive Kostas Papanikolaou and Pablo Prigioni. Those moves alone help make about $12 million in space which is still not enough. That is where the deal for Ariza comes in. The forward would garner attention if truly available while either Aldridge or Love would be significant upgrades over his skill set.
If the Rockets are serious about acquiring a star like Love or Aldridge, they will have to sacrifice a lot while potentially getting Smith and Brewer to agree to small contracts. A max for either power forward will run $19 million per season. The Rockets could sign players to short deals and then simply recoup when the salary cap spikes in 2016 following the run of tv deals that will expand team's spending. The Rockets will try anything to make it happen.
No matter what, either Jones or Ariza will get traded this offseason. The Rockets simply have no other choice if they want to improve. The question is which players are the intended targets. The competition is very high for both Love and Aldridge. There is a chance Houston gets shut out of those talks. The next-best thing could be deals for Ty Lawson or Eric Bledsoe to help replace Beverley who is expected to depart. General manager Daryl Morey will get creative in trying to make a move work. The question is just how creative will he really have to get.