When the Houston Rockets decided not to match the three-year, $46 million deal the Dallas Mavericks signed Chandler Parsons to, it raised a lot of eyebrows. Although, they wound up signing Washington Wizards’ free agent swingman Trevor Ariza, a former Rocket, to a four-year, $32 million deal, there are still a lot of questions about why the Rockets simply didn’t just keep Parsons rather than pursuing Ariza.
Nate Duncan of Basketball Insiders offers up a legitimate reason, pointing out that Ariza’s contract is more team friendly than it seems and the Rockets could move his contract to help open up almost $15 million in cap space in 2015.
The real trump card for the Rockets is a potential trade of the newly-signed Ariza. His contract starts at a hefty $8.6 million, but declines each year to $7.4 million in 2017-18. That is not a great contract considering Ariza will be 32 during the last year of it, but it is not immovable considering the rising cap and the scarcity of two-way wings. Assuming he does not have a disastrous year, trading him without a sweetener could be possible. And were one required the Rockets have adequate assets in hand, including a first-rounder from New Orleans in the Asik trade, Capela, Motiejunas (if his option is picked up) or even Jones if necessary to induce a team to bite.
Moving Ariza next summer would open up a potential $15 million or so in cap space…
Players like Memphis Grizzlies’ center Marc Gasol (who the Rockets wouldn’t target because they have Dwight Howard), Portland Trail Blazers’ power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, Charlotte Hornets’ big man Al Jefferson, Sacramento Kings’ forward Rudy Gay and Denver Nuggets’ swingman Arron Afflalo can all become free agents.
Ariza averaged 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He shot 45.6% from the field, 40.7% from beyond the arc and 77.2% from the free throw line.
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