The Bulls’ recent trade of Luol Deng could set off a chain reaction with others players from the team being dealt. Kirk Hinrich is one player who has been targeted by a few teams and now you can add another player to that list. Per USA Today’s Sam Amick, the Houston Rockets are interested in Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy.
Despite the fact that Houston has good talent at forward, the interest in Dunleavy makes some degree of sense. Houston is starting youngsters Chandler Parsons and Terrence Jones at small forward and power forward, respectively. Both are doing well and Parsons, in particular, has the look of a future All-Star.
Parsons is averaging just over 17 points per game this year, is shooting just under 48 percent from the field, and recording 5.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. At only 25, his future looks incredibly bright. In his second season, Jones is excelling, too. He’s averaging 10.3 points and his seven rebounds per game are second on the team only to center Dwight Howard.
In addition, consider that Houston trots out forward Omri Casspi for 20 minutes a game. Between Casspi, Parsons, and Jones, the team is getting a lot of production from that unit. The trio accounts for a little more than 1/3 of the team’s points and on the surface, it doesn’t look like they need much help there. Dunleavy, though, could be a valuable addition.
The Rockets, currently fifth in the Western Conference, aren’t just contending for a playoff spot, but a chance to reach the NBA Finals. The team is still probably a little short of that but another key player could make a significant difference.
Dunleavy in particular brings an attractive attribute: Experience.
The forwards are playing well this year, but they’re incredibly young. Casspi is the ‘veteran’ of the group and he is only in his fifth season in the league. The two starters, Parsons, and Jones, have the equivalent of approximately three full seasons under their belts combined. Their experience in the postseason is lacking even more as the three have appeared in only eight combined playoff games. Even as the elder statesman of the group, Casspi hasn’t played a single playoff game in his career.
Enter Dunleavy. His nine playoff games by himself trump the eight by the Rockets’ trio of players. Dunleavy’s numbers this season, as a whole, are fairly modest (10.7 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 2.1 apg), but he’s still a contributor on the court. In addition to his veteran presence, Dunleavy also gives the team another three-point threat as he’s hitting nearly 40 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. He has the highest percentage of shots made from long-range of the other three players and over his career, he has made more than 1,000 three-pointers. That combined with his significantly better free throw shooting are reasons why he can help a talented but fairly inexperienced group of forwards.
Another reason the Rockets might want to land Dunleavy is his extremely team-friendly contract. Dunleavy is making a reasonable $6 million total for the next two seasons – and at only 33, there’s good reason to think that he can be a productive player through the duration of that contract.
Dunleavy might not come cheap, but he is a player who could help Houston to get closer to their goal of a Western Conference title.