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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Rockets trade Anderson and Melton to Suns for Knight and Chriss

Posted: August 31, 2018 -- 7:12 a.m.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news Thursday night the Houston Rockets agreed to trade forward Ryan Anderson and rookie guard De'Anthony Melton to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for guard Brandon Knight and big man Marquese Chriss.

With this deal, the Rockets obtained something for the 6'10" Anderson and the massive two years, $41.7 million remaining on his contract.

Now, whether the 'something' is an upgrade on the court and in the locker room remains to be seen.

Brandon Knight, 6'3" has two years, $30.2 million left on a five year, $70 million contract. If the Rockets choose to avoid paying a luxury tax, they could decide to stretch and waive Knight's contract (deadline to do so is today, August 31) which would count $6.1 million against the salary cap the next five seasons ($6.1 times 5 equals $30.2).

Knight missed the 2017-'18 season due to a torn ACL in his left knee. Before the knee injury, Knight, 26, averaged 11.0 ppg, 2.4 apg, and 2.2 rpg in 54 games (5 starts) for the Suns in the 2016-'17 season.

Knight was drafted 8th in the 2011 NBA Draft; and, his career numbers are 15.2 ppg, 4.3 apg, and 3.3 rpg. However, Knight has had a reputation of being a disgruntled teammate who didn't like coming off the bench. Plus, Knight's defense is not good at all. During the 2016-'17 season, Knight had the fifth-worst Real Plus Minus (-5.3) in the entire NBA.

Knight has not played an NBA regular-season game since February 15, 2017. Knight was a 'healthy scratch' the final 28 games of the 2016-'17 season.

According to Scott Bordow of the Arizona Central, Knight had changed his attitude and had begun to embrace his opportunity as a veteran leader for the Suns:

Now, that Knight has been dealt to the Rockets, time will tell if Knight will bring his new attitude to the Rockets as the fourth guard behind James Harden, Chris Paul, and Eric Gordon.

Marquese Chriss, 6'10", was the 8th pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. When he's in shape, Chriss is an athletic big who can finish at the rim. However, last season, Chriss reported to the Suns' training camp out of shape and, according to Greg Moore of the Arizona Republic, Chris was developing a reputation as more petulant than productive.

Last season, in 21 minutes per game, Chriss averaged 7.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.0 bpg, and 1.2 apg. Per Basketball Reference, Chriss had an effective FG% of 48.2 and also averaged 6.4 fouls per 48 minutes.

The Rockets have until October 31 to decide whether or not not pick up Chriss' $4.1 million option for 2019-20.

Anderson had lost his spot in the Rockets' rotation; and, his liabilities on defense combined with struggles to do what he does well -- make threes -- made him a prime target against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors attacked Anderson relentlessly in the third quarter of Game 7 which resulted in Anderson's abysmal minus 12 plus/minus rating in just two minutes and two seconds.

De'Anthony Melton, 6'3", was the 46th pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Daryl Morey, Rockets' General Manager, has stated the Rockets rated him much higher on their draft board. "We had him rated as one of the top guys in the Draft."

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Melton's upside on offense and defense could become a good pairing with Suns' guard Devin Booker.

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