This offseason hasn’t been much of a success for the Houston Rockets.
First, they lost starter Trevor Ariza and then key defensive expert Luc Mbah a Moute to free agency.
Although they re-signed Gerald Green and drafted De’Anthony Melton, they’ve been unable to rid themselves of Ryan Anderson’s $20.4 million salary and seemingly haven’t regained the defensive talent that they lost.
Carmelo Anthony’s impending addition also won’t address their defensive concerns.
But, according to recent reporting, Houston is looking at an athletic wing and is interested in a trade.
An athletic addition
“Assuming the Rockets are able to finalize a deal with Carmelo Anthony this week, it likely wouldn’t be the team’s final piece of offseason business before training camp. Houston is still active on trade fronts, perusing the market for a wing defender, and remains interested in Kent Bazemore of the Atlanta Hawks—according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The person requested anonymity because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly about the situation,” wrote Kelly Iko of USA Today for RocketsWire.
The 29 year old Bazemore is a six-year NBA pro and has spent the last four seasons as a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Last season, the 6’5” shooting guard averaged 12.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 27.5 minutes.
Bazemore would likely assume a major role off the bench for the Rockets. Given his athleticism and ball-handling skills, he would likely be a candidate to play multiple positions as well, which would be helpful in Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo system.
Iko reported that the Rockets were interested in acquiring Bazemore back in 2016. But, even with their current interest, they might not have the assets to make a deal happen this summer.
“The Rockets have long been admirers of Bazemore, having attempted to bring him in during 2016 free agency. However, it is unclear if Houston possesses the right amount of assets it would take to get Atlanta to part ways with him now. The Hawks like Bazemore and see him as a veteran presence during their rebuild, but would move him for the right offer," Iko noted.
In order to make a deal work financially, the Rockets would have to include Anderson since Bazemore is owed $18.1 million next season. He’s entering the third year of a four-year, $70 million deal.
According to ESPN’s Trade Machine, a straight-up offer of Anderson for Bazemore would work from a financial perspective. It would make sense logically, too. The Rockets would get their athletic wing while ridding themselves of the aging Anderson while the Hawks would take on Anderson’s expiring contract while ridding themselves of Bazemore, who’s in the way of a number of young players during the upcoming rebuild in Atlanta.
To push the deal through, the Rockets could include Zhou Qi or Chinanu Onuaku as well as a future draft pick or two. After all, there’s more urgency for Houston to make the deal happen due to their window of opportunity to contend for a championship.