The Rockets are different now. But are they better?

The Rockets are different now. But are they better?

The Rockets are different now. But are they better?

The Rockets are different now. But are they better?

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The Rockets completed a trade on Friday, sending Ryan Anderson to the Suns for Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Houston saves a little luxury tax bread this season and potentially a lot next year if they soon decline Chriss’ fourth-year option (which they probably should). The move also shuffles the guard rotation, putting Knight likely ahead of Michael Carter-Williams, and adds another potential forward body in Chriss for Mike D’Antoni to try.

Thus completes a minor shake-up of the supporting cast around James Harden and Chris Paul, a duo that was a historic and ill-timed cold snap from beating the Warriors and going to the NBA Finals. Trevor Ariza, Anderson, and Luc Mbah a Moute have been replaced by James Ennis, Carmelo Anthony, Knight, and Chriss. That’s not clearly an upgrade, but it’s a change. The Rockets are bringing a different look beyond Harden and CP3.

Maybe it will work. If history is any guide, it won’t — the Warriors are too good for moves like this to matter. But kudos to the Rockets for not simply running it back. It would have been a mighty attractive option.

WNBA playoff update
Game 5s, baby! Two elimination games on Tuesday to decide who makes the WNBA Finals!

Mystics at Dream, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Mercury at Storm, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Both series tied 2-2

Washington is currently a two-point favorite over Atlanta, while the Storm are four-point favorites despite Diana Taurasi being 13-0 in her life in do-or-die games. Albert Lee of Swish Appeal broke down how we got to dual Game 5s. This has been a great little WNBA playoffs so far, despite losing the Lynx and Sparks early.

Meanwhile, Natalie Weiner writes that the Dream’s Tiffany Hayes won’t be the league best-kept secret for long. Not at this rate!

And, oh yeah, Sue Bird is going to play Game 5 with a broken nose!

Links galore
The Lakers worked out a buyout deal with Luol Deng on Saturday, and stretched his discounted deal to create additional 2019 salary cap space. I wrote about how the mechanics of the move are more brilliant than they look on the surface.

It’s Basketball Hall of Fame Week! Steve Aschburner talks to this year’s Kurt Gowdy Media Award winner, the illustrious sports photographer Andy Bernstein, about some of his more famous shots.

USA Basketball changed up much of the roster for the second round of FIBA World Cup qualifying. Dwayne Bacon, Frank Mason, and Henry Ellenson are on the roster now! As are other players college fans and League Pass addicts know and love.

Isaiah Thomas on the power of women’s basketball.

Paolo Uggetti suggests we have not seen the best of the post-KD Thunder just yet. I would agree!

Finnish milk cartons are dope.

David West has retired after 15 mean-as-hell, smart-as-hell years. Happy trails.

After the Sixers’ managing partner last week said some odd things about the team’s general manager search, Philly is interviewing three fairly normal candidates.

Howard Megdal has a WNBA mock draft, explaining the tough choice the Aces will have with No. 1. (Yes, the Aces pick No. 1 again. TTP.)

Patrick McCaw remains unsigned. What’s up with that?

Spencer Dinwiddie is one of the better NBA tweeters.

The advanced stats of Damian Lillard licking his lips. As a lip balm addict, this stresses me out.

Emmet Ryan of Ball in Europe talks to Aidan Harris Igiehon, the best and biggest Irish basketball prospect ever.

How those wild LEGO sports videos get made.

And finally, speaking of the world’s most beloved brand: LEGO built a full-size, driveable Bugatti. Is it wrong that I’d rather have that than an actual Bugatti?

Be excellent to each other, and enjoy Game 5 night!