The Houston Rockets came into the season with expectations of moving one step closer to their goal of winning the franchise’s third championship. Instead, they are struggling on offense and defense and some of their key players aren’t producing as well as expected. Oh, hello there, Jimmy Butler.
According to reports via ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston offered four first-round picks in exchange for the Minnesota Timberwolves talent Jimmy Butler. The idea is that Butler will help shore up some of the offensive and defensive deficiencies of the Rockets. On paper, he looks like an excellent fit for James Harden and Chris Paul’s squad.
But is he and can he help reverse the Rockets’ misfortunes?
Butler is a gifted offensive player. He’s not a pure shooter but he is a very good scorer (22.3 points per game). From being purely a defender during his early years with the Chicago Bulls, Butler has reinvented himself into one of the top scorers in the league over the past four years.
He can go inside or outside all the way to the three-point arc and he can knock down his free throws as well (83.2 percent for his career). Butler will get his points no matter where you put him and which team he goes to. The Rockets can certainly benefit with him on the court. He can be another go-to-guy in the clutch, too, something that the team will appreciate more come playoff time.
Individually, Butler offers not only the much coveted offensive firepower that the Rockets lack, he would also provide a defensive upgrade over most of the players on their roster. He can be a lockdown defender and he gives the Rockets someone who can guard Kevin Durant one-on-one if they meet the Golden State Warriors again in the playoffs.
He currently leads all NBA players in steals with 2.57 steals per game. Adding the 6-foot-8 Marquette University alum will certainly help tighten the Rockets’ perimeter defense. He’s one of the best two-way players in the game and there are only a handful of them in the form of an All-Star.
This is where it gets tricky.
A disgruntled star on another team is hard to figure out how he will fit in a team that’s also having its own problems. Will two problems equal a solution? Winning solves a lot of problems, they say, including chemistry issues. If the Rockets can incorporate Butler seamlessly in their offensive attack and in their defensive schemes, then chances are huge that team chemistry will not be a problem.
It’s up to coach Mike D’Antoni to make sure that Butler works well with all the other veterans on his team, but the responsibility also falls on the team’s leaders, James Harden and Chris Paul.
Adding a player of Butler’s caliber is a must for a team that wants to win now. The Warriors have been their tormentors in the playoffs over the past couple of years and if they don’t want another helping of humble pie from the Bay Area Boys, the Rockets will have to do something drastic. That’s why Rockets GM Daryl Morey is so high on Butler that he was willing to mortgage the Rockets’ future in exchange for him. Adding the four-time All-Star will definitely help solve a lot of what ails the team right now.
It’s championship or bust for the Rockets and they will be as aggressive as they can possibly be to bring another title to Houston. Don’t be surprised if Morey gets it done.