Report: Rockets trade Ryan Anderson to Phoenix Suns, acquire Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss

By Matthew Cardenas on August 31, 2018
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Is an offseason ever dead and quiet with Daryl Morey involved?

Morey shocked the NBA once again Thursday night and moved Ryan Anderson's hefty contract to the Phoenix Suns. Second round draft pick De'Anthony Melton will also be shipped to Phoenix, with Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss set to bring their talents to a 65-win Rockets team that was one win away from the NBA Finals last season. Adrian Wojnarowski announced the trade late Thursday evening, leaving many Rockets fans shocked that Anderson's contract was able to be moved.
The Suns have been in active in prying away Rockets players this offseason. Along with Anderson and Melton, Trevor Ariza also signed with the team for a one-year, $15 million contract. Anderson will fortunately head to Phoenix with some familiarity.

Even after winning 65 games last season, this summer has been far from quiet for the Rockets. Other acquisitions include Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis and Michael Carter-Williams along with the re-signings of Gerald Green, Clint Capela and Chris Paul.

Trading Anderson seemed nearly impossible for the Rockets. Countless efforts were made with no success in trading the power forward who inked a four-year, $80 million contract back in 2016. That summer featured many mid-level players receiving hefty contracts that are constantly on the market now. Getting Anderson's contract off the books was a high priority for the organization in order to make future moves a possibility from a financial standpoint.

Anderson's role was dwindling as his tenure with the Rockets progressed. Anderson had become an increasing liability on the defensive end and was basically unplayable during the postseason, especially against the Golden State Warriors. Opting to insert P.J. Tucker into the starting lineup in place of Anderson did wonders for the team in its Western Conference Finals run, adding more versatility on the defensive end with the offensive contributions still in tact. Fortunately, Anderson didn't pushback at all to his new bench role.

This trade may explain why Melton was never signed to a contract after being selected 46th overall in this years draft. He sat out the 2017-18 season at USC due to violating NCAA rules, which plummeted his draft stock. Melton's summer league play showed he may be one of the steals of the draft, though. His defensive game is already polished with his toughness, length and quick hands. He averaged 2.8 steals and 1.5 blocks per 40 minutes during his lone season with the Trojans. Melton's offensive game caught many by surprise during Summer League. His rebounding and court vision should have the Suns confident in his ability to run an offense. Most importantly, Melton's shooting seems to have vastly improved. He showed full confidence shooting from the perimeter during Summer League, whether that be off the dribble or in spot up.

One underrated attribute Chriss and Knight are bringing to the Rockets is youth. Chriss is 20 and Knight is 26. One of the older teams in the association got significantly younger with these acquisitions. Some have worried about the Rockets' stamina going forward with Paul and Anthony in their mid 30s.

Knight has struggled to find consistency since being selected 8th overall by the Pistons in the 2011 draft. This will be the fourth stop in his career, with other tenures featuring the Milwaukee Bucks and Suns. He missed the entire 2017-18 season after tearing his ACL back in July of 2017, leaving questions as to where Knight's game currently stands. He averages 15.3 PPG, 4.3 APG and 3.3 RPG for his career. Knight shot 40.9 percent from the perimeter in the 2014-15 season in 52 games with the Suns, leaving some hope for his shooting highs to return.

Chriss is an interesting player to watch. Being only 20 years old, he hasn't even scratched the surface of his potential. While his perimeter shooting numbers aren't noteworthy, Chriss will sometimes show a willingness to shoot from deep. He is active on the floor as well, giving Paul and James Harden another alley-oop option. He averaged 7.7 PPG and 5.5 RPG last season with the Suns.

It is possible both Chriss and Knight could see consistent minutes off the Rockets bench. While one of Paul and Harden will always be on the floor, Knight could provide solid minutes as a secondary guard and let either Paul or Harden rest longer. Chriss is a forward who provides more versatility than Anderson and can survive on the floor with certain matchups Anderson couldn't.

Getting Anderson's contract off the books was a priority, and the Rockets were able to do just that. Youth was added in this trade and the organization has set themselves up for hopefully another deep playoff run. Even with the losses of players such as Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute this summer, all of the acquisitions the Rockets have made this summer should have fans hopeful.

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