The Houston Rockets desperately need bench depth in order to make a successful postseason push. Two games under .500 and a game underneath the 10th seed in the Western Conference, moves need to be made for the Rockets, as they have been 5-8 in the month of January.
Since an ugly loss to the Portland Trailblazers on Wednesday, news has been circling around the Rockets regarding Blazers veteran Malcolm Brogdon. Other teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks could also be possible suitors for the reigning Sixth Man of the Year.
In addition to Brogdon, Houston has also considered adding Robert Williams III to the trade package in order to fill the gaping hole that is the team’s lack of center depth. Here is why adding Williams to the package might be bad for Houston.
Analyzing Malcolm Brogdon, Robert Williams III’s fit with Rockets
On paper, the Rockets bringing in Brogdon and Williams is a match made in heaven. Why not kill two birds with one stone? For starters, both are familiar with the Boston Celtics coaching staff and front office. Brogdon, in particular, is a perfect backup combo guard to complement any team. In 35 games, Brogdon is averaging 15.7 points and 5.3 assists including a solid 42.2% from deep. Providing reliable scoring, passing and defense, the 31-year old would be a great addition to the Rockets struggling bench.
Williams is quite familiar with coach Ime Udoka, having played for him in Boston during the Celtics’ 2022 NBA Finals run. He was especially integral to Boston’s defense, cementing himself as a true difference-maker in the playoffs. That was also Williams’ best regular season, averaging 10 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. His defense in the paint will certainly provide more versatility and take some of the slack from Alperen Sengun and the Rockets undersized forwards.
The problem? The injury history between the two. Brogdon’s injury history dates back to his sophomore season. On average, Brogdon’s appeared in 54.1 games since his second year in the league, including two shortened 72-game seasons from in 2019-20 and 202-21.
While it’s not a huge risk acquiring Brogdon, adding Williams in the deal would make it much more fraught.
Currently, Williams is out for the season with a torn ligament in his knee after playing just six games. Injury issues have been rampant ever since he stepped foot on an NBA court. In just his sixth NBA season at age 26, Williams has yet to play more than 61 games. Including this season, Williams averages just around 35 games. Theoretically, trading for him wouldn’t make any impact this season, but he could be a solid weapon in the following years if healthy.
Financial implications for the Rockets
Rockets Sengun in the middle. Kenny “The Jet” Smith on his left shoulder with a chat bubble “Shoutout to Sengun!” Ernie Johnson next to Kenny, smiling. Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal on the right looking unimpressed or sleeping. if you want to put sleeping, insert a chat bubble next to them with a “Zzzzz” text.
Houston Rockets, Rafael Stone, NBA Trade, NBA Free Agency
That’s if Williams is able to keep himself on the court, of course. Right now, injuries outweigh the talent, and he is under contract through 2025-2026 making a total of $48 million. Having his payroll on the roster could prove costly when Houston is trying to bring in depth elsewhere.
It’s just too much of a gamble adding Williams along with the 2015 Rookie of the Year, who already has an injury history of his own. With Brogdon making $22.5 million in 2023-2024 and 2024-25 , the two combined would account for $34 million on this season’s payroll alone.
This would be a different story if Williams was available. With Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks’ combined salary of $63.4 million this year, having four players—one of them unplayable and neither of them being franchise players—combine to make nearly $100 million is a recipe for disaster, especially when you need to start looking to extend your main core.
Keep in mind, this isn’t saying that Williams’ fit on the Rockets won’t work. It certainly could, but only if he is fully healthy. Nevertheless, he hasn’t proved his reliability on the court. If Houston pulls off this trade, it will haunt their future depth moving forward.