The Houston Rockets have shifted their focus into acquiring wing talent after a 9-10 start to the season. Enter J.R. Smith, the estranged shooting guard of the Cleveland Cavaliers who now sits in limo after an abrupt impasse with the organization’s direction.
According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, the Rockets are keeping an eye on how the Cavs’ veteran sale-a-thon plays out, which could have the reigning Eastern Conference champs move players like Smith, George Hill and even Kyle Korver, who could likely be the 3-point shooting gem coach Mike D’Antoni would like to get his hands on.
“Another situation Houston is monitoring is the one playing out in Cleveland, sources said. The Cavaliers are aggressive in the market, looking to move some of their veterans. They have made it clear that they are moving in a younger direction, recently parting ways with J.R. Smith as they seek a trade for him. George Hill is another guard whose salary they would like to shed, but his $19 million price tag may make it difficult to find a taker.”
The Rockets have suffered poor losses and it’s clear they miss the same defensive intensity they had last season, as teams have figured out how to contain the iso-heavy game of Chris Paul, Eric Gordon and James Harden; often leaving them short of a win.
Houston has no clear answer, but the smoke alarm has started well before they dipped below the .500 mark, as the front office scrambles for answers after losing three straight on the road following a five-game win streak. Smith might not be the immediate answer to their problems, but additional assets might contribute to their success.