The Houston Rockets were hoping to make some improvements with their young core in the 2022-23 season, but through 17 games, they have the worst record in the league at 3-14. It’s not the worst thing in the world for a rebuilding Rockets squad, but it is a little bit discouraging to see them struggle so mightily in the early going.
Houston has a talented young core right now, but they simply don’t have enough help on their bench to compete on a nightly basis. They have the resources needed to acquire help if they want to win, but considering the fact that the Rockets are now in the pole position to have the best odds at landing Victory Wembanyama in the 2023 NBA Draft, they likely aren’t in any rush to add any new faces.
Right now, the Rockets are likely going to be figuring out who is a trade candidate on their own roster, but there are also a few trade targets Houston could be looking to add to their roster this season in an effort to get better in the future. Let’s take a look at who Houston’s most realistic trade target is with one month of the season in the books, and why this player could be so helpful for the Rockets.
Rockets realistic trade target: Evan Fournier
The Rockets have a lot of different needs on their roster right now, but getting some steady scoring on their bench could certainly help their cause. The good news for Houston is that the New York Knicks have a ton of spare parts on their bench that they could be looking to unload at some point this season, and Evan Fournier may be the perfect fit for the Rockets.
By now, we all know that Fournier is a scorer. At his best, Fournier is an efficient scorer who can create his own shots and space the floor with some solid three-point shooting. Fournier doesn’t offer much else in terms of rebounding, playmaking, or defense, but he could be a steadying presence off the bench for a young Rockets team right now.
Fournier’s numbers this season aren’t exactly indicative of what he offers on the court. Fournier’s role has been scaled back significantly this season, and when he has played, he’s struggled pretty mightily (6.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 34.4 FG%, 33.3 3P%). In a bigger role, Fournier would likely play much better, and that’s something the Rockets could offer Fournier.
Houston has a strong guard duo in Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green right now, but there is no help behind them on the bench. Garrison Matthews and Josh Christopher have been the top guard options off the bench, but they don’t offer much of anything when they are on the court. As a result, the Rockets are forced to go big when they lean on their bench most nights.
Fournier could form a strong rotation with Porter and Green. Fournier is primarily a shooting guard, but he can run the offense when he has to, even if his passing numbers aren’t particularly strong. He offers more than Matthews and Christopher at this point, and his addition won’t necessarily lead to more wins for the Rockets, but will go a long way in improving their bench moving forward.
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The problem with moving for Fournier is that he’s on a fairly expensive deal (especially considering how he’s played this season) which will likely be something the Rockets would scoff at when assessing whether or not they should make a move for him. The Knicks would likely have to eat some money on his deal, and even then, they probably won’t get much in return for him.
Right now, Fournier isn’t even part of the Knicks rotation, and it likely would only take a second-round draft pick or two to pick him up. A change of scenery seems like the best option for Fournier and the Knicks, and while many playoff teams will be wary of taking on his deal, a rebuilding team like Houston could actually pick up some draft compensation themselves for taking on Fournier’s contract, although it likely wouldn’t be anything significant.
Fournier could be the perfect complement to Porter and Green off the bench, and make the Rockets a bit more competitive this season, while also potentially setting themselves up for the future as well. After all, Houston isn’t intending on losing forever, right? Adding Fournier would require little to no investment from the Rockets, while also giving them a player who fills a huge hole on their roster, making him a very realistic trade target despite the Rockets early season struggles.