Despite not making a single move at the trade deadline, the Houston Rockets added two quality pieces over the weekend that could possibly help Clutch City in its efforts to accomplish their ultimate goal.
After managing to stand pat at the 2018 NBA Trade Deadline, the Houston Rockets have taken the buyout market by storm over the past 48 hours. Saturday afternoon, ESPN ‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Joe Johnson‘s commitment to sign with the team.
The 36-year-old forward, whose contract buyout was completed with the Sacramento Kings Saturday, is expected to clear waivers on Monday afternoon and become eligible to join the Rockets immediately.
The former All-Star will seek to reunite with head coach Mike D’Antoni, who coached Johnson for three seasons during his tenure with the Phoenix Suns. After playing in a secondary role off the bench with the Utah Jazz, the former Arkansas standout averaged 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 32 games this season, prior to getting shipped out to Sacramento as part of a three-team trade on Thursday.
However, the Rockets front office did not stop there, as it also sought to make another splash by alluring former Memphis Grizzlies center Brandan Wright to commit and sign with Clutch City upon clearing waivers, per ESPN ‘s Chris Haynes and Tim MacMahon.
Wright, who fell out of the Grizzlies’ rotation after missing nearly a month with a groin injury in mid-November, averaged 5.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game in 27 contests for Memphis during the 2017-18 regular season.
While the additions of Johnson and Wright will likely not be considered as game-changing moves, the acquisition of depth will only lead many to ponder whether or not the Rockets finally have enough to make a legitimate run at the Golden State Warriors. It’s a question that has loomed large from the moment that Chris Paul arrived to Houston in a sign-and-trade deal nearly seven months ago, just days before the start of free agency.
Since joining forces with James Harden, the dynamic duo has helped guide the Rockets to their best start ever in franchise history, with a 41-13 record through 54 games. In addition to national prominence in the process, Houston is currently on a seven-game win streak, and only one game behind Golden State for the top spot in the Western Conference standings.
Even better, the Rockets own the tiebreaker between the two teams, as they clinched the regular season series against the Warriors with the help of Harden and Paul, capturing a 116-108 win against the defending NBA champions on Jan. 20.
Prior to capturing the tiebreaker, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey went on the record earlier this season on ESPN Radio‘s The Ryen Russillo Show, to share how the team out in Oakland consumes his day-to-day thoughts and personnel decisions as an executive:
“It’s the only thing we think about,” Morey said to Russillo in late December. “I think I’m not supposed to say that, but we’re basically obsessed with ‘How do we beat the Warriors?'”
“Last year, the Spurs knocked us off, so we’re very worried about the Spurs. They’re always one step ahead of every other organization and guard us better than anyone. But we calculated it — it’s like 90 percent if we’re gonna win a title, we’ve gotta obviously beat the Warriors at some point. So we’re extremely focused on that. A lot of our signings and what we do doing the year is based on that.”
The Houston Rockets will look for their eighth consecutive win Sunday as they face off against the Dallas Mavericks at home.