The Rockets are in a difficult position with the NBA Trade Deadline less than two weeks away.
They've fallen to the sixth seed in the Western Conference, James Harden is in the middle of a terrible shooting slump after carrying Houston's offense for the last three months and the Russell Westbrook experiment hasn't produced the results general manager Daryl Morey was hoping for.
The West is a bloodbath this year, and outside of Harden and Westbrook, the Rockets don't have any reliable offensive weapons with Eric Gordon posting by far the worst shooting percentage of his career (36 percent). With two stars who don't fit well together and a collection of journeymen veterans filling out the roster, Houston is trying just about anything to upgrade their roster.
According to Shams Charania, the Rockets are making future draft picks available in trade discussions ahead of the deadline. The Wizards have received a ton of interest regarding Davis Bertans and will have to decide whether to trade him before the deadline or risk losing him for nothing in free agency. Could the Rockets sway Washington towards trade?
Bertans' fit with the Rockets would be seamless. They've struggled with floor spacing while Harden has the ball because nobody respects Westbrook's jumper and Gordon continues to struggle. Bertans would alleviate everything for that offense and become one of Harden's favorite kick-out targets. Bertans currently leads the NBA in catch-and-shoot three-point makes per game (3.2), so just imagine the kind of damage he'd be able to do off of Harden's dribble penetration.
So the Rockets have plenty of reasons to be interested. The next part would be getting the Wizards to part with the Latvian sharpshooter. According to Chris Mannix, any and all trade inquiries into Bertans have gone nowhere, so the Rockets would probably have to come with their best offer to convince Tommy Sheppard to change his mind.
Here are a few packages that could work. The Rockets and Wizards need to match salary in any trade. A Bertans-for-picks scenario would not be legal under the current CPA.
Rockets receive: Davis Bertans
Wizards receive: PJ Tucker, 2021 first-round pick
The Wizards are straddling two different timelines at the moment. They have a number of promising young players and might end up with a top-five pick in this year's draft, but they also have Bradley Beal under contract for at least another season and John Wall returning from Achilles surgery next season.
This trade would give the rebuilding timeline a first rounder far enough in the future where the Rockets could be in the midst of a tear-down, while giving the win-now timeline an established veteran who can knock down threes and defend at least three positions.
If the Rockets think this is too much, they may want to consider the direction of their franchise past this season. It might be time to go all-in.
Rockets receive: Davis Bertans
Wizards receive: Danuel House, Ben McLemore, 2021 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick
This one would be an alternative if Houston refused to give up Tucker.
If the Rockets acquired Bertans via trade, they'd own his bird rights. This would allow them to re-sign him in the summer without using cap space, which holds significant value to a team like Houston given the fact that Harden and Westbrook will make over $80 million combined for the next two seasons at least.
It's not certain whether the Wizards would be interested in any of these potential offers or if they even plan to consider talking to teams about Bertans.
Maybe they feel confident in their ability to re-sign Bertans in the summer. There aren't many teams with cap space this year after last year's free-agent spending spree, and the ones that do aren't very good. More money and familiarity could be the way to ensure Bertans stays in DC to play with Wall and Beal.
What we do know is that there's bound to be more speculation before February 6 and until the clock strikes 3 p.m. on that day, teams will continue to leak information to get the market moving.
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