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NBA Rumors: Rockets Sight Jalen Green Replacement

Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green

While the Houston Rockets improved exponentially last season, the franchise still hasn’t settled on their backcourt.

Until further notice, Fred VanVleet and Jalen Green are the starters. However, fan favorite Amen Thompson is waiting in the wings. An instinctive playmaker at 6-foot-7, Thompson was the fourth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Green’s position is even less secure than VanVleet’s, even with his supernova post-All-Star Break explosion. The best way to describe Houston’s outlook on Green is that their belief in his potential is tepid, at best. With the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, the Rockets could very well look to replace Green, whether with a rookie or by utilizing it in a trade.

Rockets Sight Jalen Green Replacement

Up to this point, the only veteran who the Rockets are known to have attempted to acquire with a combination of their top pick and Green is Brooklyn Nets swingman Mikal Bridges. The Nets declined, believing Bridges to be a foundational piece for a remade core. If Houston ever did pivot, they may call the Cleveland Cavaliers about guard Donovan Mitchell. However, with his availability likely relying upon whether he agrees to sign to a contract extension this offseason, that’s a wait-and-see game.

The Rockets may be getting antsy either way. Looking for ways to fine-tune their rotation, they have a steady gaze on another marquee defender.

“Both general manager Rafael Stone and head coach Ime Udoka are fans of (Memphis Grizzlies) veteran guard Marcus Smart,” per The Athletic’s Kelly Iko.

The Texas native is a three-time All-Defensive selection and the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year. With his cobra-like reflexes and physical strength, he’s a multipositional defender who forces plenty of turnovers. However, his offensive game is a roller coaster experience. His 3s are as likely to clang off the rim for the first three quarters as they are to drop through the net in the last. He’s a determined facilitator but his intuition can steer him wrong a bit too often, leading to untimely turnovers. He’s also particularly inefficient, having no reliable scoring move.

In short, Smart’s bipolar performances make him difficult to depend on at the offensive end. Nonetheless, in a refined role, he can consistently be a net positive. As a full-time starter since 2020-21 though, there’s a question about what his role could be.

Rockets’ Future Rotation?

The Rockets could package Green, Jeff Green, and the No. 3 pick together for Smart and the No. 9 pick. If so, Tennessee wing Dalton Knecht “has fans within the Rockets organization…”

A slashing wing with a solid 3-point stroke, Knecht is in some ways a more polished version of Green. Consequently, it isn’t difficult to imagine him earning the chance to start in the backcourt. However, if the Rockets just start Smart, he would be joined by three stupendous defenders in VanVleet, Jabari Smith Jr., and Dillon Brooks. Knecht would then come off the bench with Thompson, Cam Whitmore, Tari Eason, and Steven Adams.

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