Houston Rockets GM: Another big trade unlikely
by By Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets will likely wait until the summer to add a big-name player rather than pull off another blockbuster deal before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, general manager Daryl Morey says.
The Rockets — who signed point guard Jeremy Lin in the summer and traded for Oklahoma City’s James Harden in late October — are on the lookout for another star and have enough salary cap space this summer to add a maximum-salary free agent. At the moment, that appears to be their path of choice.
“Most likely, it’s not going to be through trade,” Morey told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “Most likely, it’s going to be through the use of our cap room where we have max room this summer.
“I think (the time between now and the deadline) is going to be quiet. Of course a year ago, if you would’ve said, ‘James Harden – what about him?’ I would’ve said, ‘No way. They won’t trade him.’ You never know. You stay opportunistic. But I would guess that this trade deadline is going to be quiet.”
Harden has had a tremendous impact on the Rockets, who are 29-26 and in eighth place in the Western Conference. While Atlanta forward Josh Smith is widely considered the most likely big-name player to be traded before the deadline — and the Rockets are known to have interest in him — getting him via trade would mean losing valuable players who could be retained if Houston signs him as a free agent this summer. Smith is being pursued by Brooklyn, and is reportedly on San Antonio’s radar as well.
With All-Star weekend approaching and Harden having missed Wednesday’s game against the Clippers with a right ankle injury, he is still expected to play in Sunday’s All-Star affair. All of which makes the weekend all the more interesting.
Because there are rules that prohibit executives from recruiting players from other teams, Harden — who is one of seven first-time All-Stars — will take Morey’s lead and put his recruiting hat on during the league’s big gala in Houston.
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