Houston Rockets Add KJ McDaniels and Pablo Prigioni

There are only two GMs that even the most casual of basketball fans are likely to be able to name: Daryl Morey and Sam Hinkie. They represent the opposing camps for how to make a team good. Daryl Morey believes in adding wood to your fire until it’s time to carefully analyze various brands of lighter fluid and pour it in a strategic stream onto the flame. Hinkie would rather let the fire burn all the way to the ground and then prod the ashes until some sort of phoenix soars out. Basically, it would have felt wrong if these two weren’t involved in trade deadline deals, so they decided to make a rather interesting one with each other, where Morey discarded some mediocre lighter fluid and Hinkie threw out the hawk that rose from his fire since it still wasn’t a phoenix.

Have I taken the analogy too far? Likely. Plus, KJ McDaniels is probably more ostrich than a hawk, but the point remains. The Sixers sent him to Houston for Isaiah Canaan and an ever-coveted second round pick.

If you’re a Sixers fan, you’ve got to be a little perplexed by this move. Up until Andrew Wiggins exploded to another level, McDaniels was being talked about as a Rookie of the Year candidate. In 25 minutes per game this season, he’s been averaging 9 points and 4 rebounds. Maybe most impressive and most indicative of his freak athletic ability is the 6’6″ wing’s 1.9 blocks per game. Getting rid of him for a guy who’s not likely to be a starting point guard in the league, at least not for a contender, seems like a peculiar move. But if we spent significant time dwelling on the peculiarities of Sam Hinkie’s moves, we’d all likely be going crazy in an attic somewhere.

In terms of what this means for the Rockets, they’ve really added more of a piece for the future than for this year. But it’s never bad to bring a freak athlete into the mix. See below.

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But, losing Canaan meant that the Rockets were in need of another point guard, although Jason Terry has essentially served as a PG2.0 this year. Still, they went and got a nice veteran presence1 in Pablo Prigioni. Prigioni is averaging just under 20 minutes per game this season, and as a career 41% 3-point shooter, he fits perfectly into Moreyball.

Plus, Pablo has his fair share of flashy moves too.

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These two additions do more to make the Rockets a scary good, deep team. They’ve been the most active in terms of adding players this season. Really, the only players getting significant minutes this year who were important pieces last year are James Harden and Dwight Howard. They’ve been able to get a much better Josh Smith than the city of Detroit could, and Corey Brewer has been much more effective than expected. Terry makes for a perfect floor spacer at PG2.0 for James Harden, who’s best when he’s got the ball in his hands.

At this point, Houston can run a second unit of Terry, McDaniels, Kostas Papanikolaou, Smith, and Joey Dorsey. That’s much more depth than teams like Dallas or Portland are going to have come playoff time, and that could be the edge Houston needs to get out of some tough-fought series.

Houston gave up Alexey Shved and two second-round picks for Prigioni, which could be a solid deal for each team. Shved wasn’t getting any minutes for Houston, but the Knicks need guys who have actually played basketball before, which is a category Shved qualifies for. I’ve given up on him being an NBA star, but not being a legitimate role player, so hopefully he can spend the remainder of this season in New York getting back to that level.

Then Phil Jackson can get back to building his fire the old-fashioned way: By throwing a lot of money on it.


  1. Most of his veteran-building years were in Europe, but I’m not going to count a guy who’s 38 as anything other than a veteran 

About the author /


A former college athlete in a sport that no one cared about, Alex now spends most of his days being a furiously biased Bulls and Braves fan. When he's not busy with that, he still imagines his 5'7" self making an improbable rise to NBA stardom.