NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
The Houston Rockets are dangling point guard Brandon Knight and a first-round pick in hopes of landing a veteran wing player, according to The Athletic’s Alykhan Bijani. The Rockets have reportedly received no interest from opposing clubs on a deal centered around Knight, who they acquired from the Phoenix Suns in a trade this offseason.
The Rockets have been looking to add another wing to the roster. Ideally, another veteran to help stabilize the rotation and provide consistent 3-point shooting and perimeter defense. They have made calls, offering Knight and a first-round pick. There have been no takers. Houston is looking to include itself and participate in multi-team deals, with an attempt to exchange assets to facilitate the addition of a veteran wing, league sources told The Athletic.
Still searching to fill the void left by forward Trevor Ariza—who left for the Suns in free agency before he was ultimately traded to the Washington Wizards last week—the Rockets aim to add a reliable 3-and-D player.
The Rockets signed James Ennis III this summer with the intention of the 28-year-old replicating Ariza’s skillset. Problem is, Ennis III has struggled with injuries—missing eight games and currently on the mend until Christmas Day at the earliest—and shooting efficiency, hitting just 36.3 percent of his three-point attempts with per-game averages of 8 points, .6 assists and 2.7 rebounds.
Offering Knight in potential trade packages, the Rockets hope to flip the guard for an improved wing. But Knight’s contract—which pays him roughly $14.5 million this season and $15.5 million next year—makes him an unappealing trade asset. Furthermore, the 27-year-old has played just five games this year after recovering from an ACL tear back in March 2017 that sidelined him all of last season.
Knight is a proven scorer, but hasn’t played meaningful minutes in nearly two years. The guard is averaging eight minutes a night with Houston. He will need to show his old scoring form in a bigger role before teams have any desire to trade for him, especially since he is coming off an ACL injury.
The Rockets have pursued Los Angeles Lakers swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith in trade discussions, but have not come close to striking a deal. They don’t have much to offer in terms of players, which is why they are willing to part ways with a first-round pick.
While the Rockets are open to trading Knight, they may keep the guard for a bit longer in the wake of Chris Paul’s left hamstring injury suffered on Thursday night versus the Miami Heat. The severity of Paul’s injury is not yet known, but he is out indefinitely. Paul has had trouble with his hamstrings before, including last postseason when the All-Star guard was sidelined for the last two games of the Western Conference Finals due to an ailing right hamstring.