Rockets Looking for Defensive-Minded Players

The Rockets have been very busy and active this offseason. The team recently agreed to terms with 10-time All-Star Carmelo Anthony, as well as resigned star center Clint Capela the other day. They also managed to re-sign 9-time All-Star Chris Paul at the start of free agency back in the beginning of July. But it appears that the team’s far from done with making transactions and deals this offseason. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst first reported that Houston would like the work on obtaining a few solid defenders to amp up their roster, especially after losing key defenders this offseason like Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute.

Windhorst said “They are active in the trade market…It wouldn’t surprise me if they make a move for a defensive player or two before training camp.”

Last season, the Rockets were ranked 6th in the league in defense with a 103.8 defensive rating. But without Ariza or Mbah a Moute, that rating could become lower. Melo is a solid defender, but has always been known more for his offensive production than his defending. And while the team was only second to the defending champion Golden State Warriors in offensive production last season (with 112.4 points per game), the team needs to focus on creating a stronger defensive presence if they want a chance to dethrone the champs next season.

Now, the problem for the Rockets is simply cap space. Chris Paul and James Harden are both signed to max contract deals. Clint Capela signed a 5-year, $90 million contract. Forward Ryan Anderson is due to be paid at least $20 million for the next 2 seasons. As a result, according to ESPN, the Rockets’ payroll is approximately $136 million. They are far past the luxury-tax threshold with all these finances, meaning they can’t go after too many free agents to help their defensive lapses.

So they must rely on trading away players and assets to improve their defense. The three players that are definitely movable are forwards P.J. Tucker and Nene, as well as Ryan Anderson. Trading Anderson would free up cap space equal to his large contract, allowing the team to not only trade for a defensive player, but to have more money to sign another one. Young teams are always looking for veterans like Tucker, Nene, and Anderson, so if the Rockets were to make a trade, it would be with a team with a youthful roster.

The Rockets are poised to make a lot of noise in the competitive Western Conference next season, but without a solid defensive presence to shut down the offenses of the West’s premier teams, Houston won’t be winning that championship anytime soon.

My name is Matthew Geyman. I am a fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Baltimore Ravens, but really just enjoy watching and playing any sports (although I'm best at golf and basketball). I play electric guitar and my genre of choice (both for listening and playing) is heavy metal. In my free time, I like to read and play video games. My favorite books tend to be those of Greek mythology, although any book that is captivating is certainly going to interest me. As for video games, I delve into a wide spectrum, from sports games to adventure games to racing games. I also have a great passion for American history and enjoy reading primary documents or sources whenever given the opportunity.

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