David Weiner, aka “BimaThug” on the board, joined me on the podcast to discuss Daryl Morey’s big trade for Lawson and what it means for the Rockets. We also discuss their money/cap situation, the K.J. McDaniels signing, Josh Smith bolting for LAC and what’s next for the Rockets.
And oh by the way, that rumor of Chuck Hayes coming back to the Rockets? Out of nowhere, the Chuckwagon favorited this tweet.
Maybe Alan Williams isn’t who the Rockets have in mind to replace Joey Dorsey.
It happened — the Rockets finally made a big move this summer.
The Rockets landed a big playmaker Sunday night, acquiring Ty Lawson from the Denver Nuggets, as first reported by Yahoo! Sports. In exchange, the Rockets will send Kostas Papanikolaou, Pablo Prigioni, Joey Dorsey, Nick Johnson and a protected first-round pick in 2016.
On the offensive side of the floor, the Rockets get a big boost here. Lawson has been declining as a three-point shooter, but he’s a terrific penetrator and playmaker, averaging 9.6 assists a night last season for the Nuggets (third overall in the NBA, trailing only Chris Paul and John Wall). Defense is not his strong suit, but this is a guy who can make things happen and an attacker that defenses will have to contain — all things the Rockets lacked outside of James Harden.
As for what the Rockets gave up, this is a steal. Robbery. The Rockets needed to create roster spots, which they do here, and they gave up very little of value. The only real loss at all is the first rounder, and that appears to be protected. They even managed to keep Terrence Jones, who most felt would need to be in this type of a deal.
How did the Rockets acquire such a player for so little? Well, that’s the risk here. Lawson has been busted for two DUIs this year alone and clearly has a problem. He entered alcohol rehab last week. This is something the Rockets will have to be careful with — and the NBA may want to suspend him some games as well. The Nuggets clearly wanted to rid themselves of him, getting the two years and $25+ million remaining on his contract off their books.
On the floor, the Rockets now look strong at point guard, coming at you with a terrific offensive option in Lawson and a strong defensive option in Patrick Beverley. What was a weakness now may be a strength.
The roster spots are also important. The Rockets may now be able to keep a guy like Alan Williams, an undrafted rookie center who impressed in Summer League, now that they’ve unloaded Dorsey and his guaranteed deal.
Signing McDaniels directly also helps the Rockets. Had McDaniels signed an offer sheet and the Rockets matched, they would not have been able to trade him without his consent for a year. Going this route, McDaniels is more valuable as a trade asset to the Rockets.
That may be significant considering how McDaniels didn’t play much at all for the Rockets last season and, on paper, he would seem to be behind even another three in rookie Sam Dekker. McDaniels showed some real value in Philly last season as he has some insane athleticism and defensive potential, but needs to work on his shooting (28.7% from three last year).
Josh Smith has agreed to join the Los Angeles Clippers, according to multiple reports, taking less money to go there than we expected the Rockets to offer (non-Bird salary of $2.5M).
It’s a double whammy for the Rockets. They lose a talented big and he goes to a West contender desperate for bench help.
This is honestly surprising to me. I know Smith was frustrated with the Rockets and their handling of the MLE (first offered to Sergio Llull, now in limbo waiting for KJ McDaniels), but I heard many times that Smith wanted to be here, that he was close with Dwight Howard, James Harden and Corey Brewer and that he thought highly of Coach McHale. It wasn’t a significant amount of money, but he did take less to join Los Angeles, making us wonder how much interest the Rockets really had at all to bring Smith back.
It’s still early, but this has not been a brilliant summer so far for Houston. They have mainly made auto-pilot moves, making their selections in the draft and bringing back Patrick Beverley and Corey Brewer. We certainly don’t need to remind any of the diehards that there is indeed a gap between the Rockets and the Warriors, and other West teams (such as San Antonio) have made strong moves this summer as well.
We’ll see what the mid-level exception brings the Rockets, but we’re still waiting for them to make some kind of upgrade.
Thornton, a 6-foot-4 scoring guard, has bounced around the league but he can put up points — he once averaged 18.7 points per game in 2011-12. He put up 42 points in a game just a year and a half ago.
For his career, he shoots a hair under 43% from the field and 36.2% from deep. In 39 games with Boston last year, he connected on 41.9% from downtown (52-124).
There’s really nothing here to dislike. The Rockets desperately need some scoring punch off the bench and they potentially get that here with a cheap addition in Thornton. At the veteran minimum, there is absolutely no risk with the move and only potential reward.
For the Rockets, it again looks like a good deal, getting Bev for around $6M per and syncing the guaranteed portion of the contract with Brewer’s, perhaps preparing for a free agent class in 2018.
Beverley, when healthy, is a terrific on-ball defender at the point guard spot, something the Rockets sorely lacked in the Warriors series. Keeping Beverley became even more important after the Rockets couldn’t convince Sergio Llull to come over from Spain.
This is a throwback Morey pick, reminding you of when the Rockets drafted shorter bigs like Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey. Harrell is undersized, measuring just 6’7″ without shoes, but he’s got an excellent wingspan at 7’4″.
He averaged 15.7 points on 56.6% shooting and 9.2 rebounds as a junior. He is HIGH energy — he runs the floor and throws down a lot of dunks. Defensively, Harrell can be very good and like a Kenneth Faried, he has a terrific motor and attacks the glass.
As for free throw shooting, he’ll fit right in — he shot just over 53% from the stripe in three years at Louisville. His preference for wearing headbands probably didn’t hurt the fit either.
But I feel strongly that this team needs a solid defensive option at the four. I don’t know if Harrell will be that at this level, but I like the roll of the dice here. Considering the Rockets got this draft pick by simply facilitating a Marcus Camby sign-and-trade three years ago, I love this selection.
You can see where both Dekker and Harrell fit a common theme here for the Rockets: This team wants to attack and run.