The Houston Rockets are reportedly interested in trading for a defensive-minded player, especially after losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute.
According to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the Rockets would be willing to move forward Ryan Anderson in exchange for a long-term contract. Anderson, 30, is owed $20.4 million next season but will come off the books after next year.
Anderson has been mentioned quite a bit in trade rumors because he does not add tremendous value on either side of the ball yet will be one of the highest-paid players on their roster.
If the Rockets were able to add someone like Charlotte Hornets forward Nicolas Batum, it could make sense for both sides. Houston would get a significant contributor on the perimeter, while Charlotte would get to dump Batum’s big contract (potentially without surrendering an asset like a future first-round pick).
Assuming Batum opts into the final year of his contract, he will make $76.7 million until he is a free agent again in 2021. It may be tough for Houston to pay Batum north of $24 million per season over the next three years, especially if they are a luxury-tax team. But considering the franchise is in win-now mode, Batum might be more appealing than paying Anderson without him playing in a featured role.
Batum has averaged 1.6 three-pointers per game during his career and has also had success as a distributor. He has averaged 5.7 assists per game over his last three years in Charlotte. The forward has also contributed 5.8 rebounds per game during his time with the Hornets as well.
Batum is three years younger than Ariza, who left the Rockets to sign a lucrative one-year deal with the Phoenix Suns this offseason.
Batum’s assist percentage has been in the 90th percentile or above for his position during six-straight seasons, per Cleaning the Glass. But even though he can still help a team, Charlotte would likely be enthusiastic about moving off his deal since they’re in no position to contend going forward.
It’s possible that the Rockets could even obtain a future draft pick in such a trade with the Hornets. If and when Houston adds Carmelo Anthony, it may not be the last of their moves this offseason. Perhaps trading Anderson for a player like Batum would be next on their to-do list.