Rockets trade Ryan Anderson to Suns for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight, report says
Houston finally found a taker for Anderson's bloated contract
Ryan Anderson and his very large contract have been on the NBA trade block for a while, and on Thursday night the Houston Rockets finally found a willing partner. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Houston has agreed to trade Anderson and De'Anthony Melton to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.
The Rockets continue to remold their roster after the loss of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this offseason. A career 38 percent 3-point shooter known for stretching well beyond the 3-point line, the 6-foot-10 Anderson fell almost completely out of Houston's rotation last season, averaging just 8.6 minutes in 11 postseason games. His shooting ability simply couldn't compensate for his defensive struggles and inability to switch onto smaller players, which became a trademark of the Rockets' revamped defense last season. The fact that he's still owed north of $40 million over the next two seasons made him expendable -- it was only a matter of which team would be willing to take him on.
The Suns appear to be committed to winning this season after tanking their way to the No. 1 pick in June's draft, with which they selected big man Deandre Ayton. Along with Ariza, who signed a one-year, $15 million contract with Phoenix in July, Anderson will provide floor spacing and veteran leadership for a young team led by budding superstar Devin Booker.
Chriss has been a polarizing subject in Suns circles, with his extreme upside overshadowed by inconsistency and occasional lack of effort and intensity. Taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 draft, the 21-year-old Chriss is an incredible athlete with 3-point range, but he never carved out a groove in the crowded Suns frontcourt. With Ayton, Ariza, Josh Jackson, Dragan Bender, TJ Warren and rookie Mikal Bridges all competing for frontcourt minutes, the Suns clearly felt that Chriss was going to be the odd man out, and decided to pick up an established vet in Anderson.
For the Rockets, the 6-10 Chriss provides more athleticism and defensive versatility than Anderson, and can even play some center in small-ball lineups as a different look if Mike D'Antoni so chooses. He's not a perfect player, but it was worth the gamble to unload Anderson's hefty contract. Chriss also becomes a much more valuable trade piece than Anderson as the Rockets continue to hone their roster in a quest toward dethroning the Golden State Warriors.
Knight is a wild card in the deal, having only played 106 games over the past three seasons, including missing all of last year due to a knee injury. He averaged 19.6 points and 5.1 assists -- albeit extremely inefficiently -- in 2015-16 for the Suns, so the Rockets could turn him into a serviceable backup for Chris Paul and James Harden, along with the newly signed Michael Carter-Williams. Knight has two years and $30.2 million left on his contract.
The Suns are now left with rookies Melton and Eli Okobo as the only point guards on their roster, but Wojnarowski reports that Phoenix expects Shaquille Harrison to play a larger role at some point this season.
This was a move the Rockets have been hoping to make for a while and, if general manager Daryl Morey's history is any indication, more deals are likely on the horizon.
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