The NBA trade deadline is this Thursday, March 23rd, and the Houston Rockets have had the most rollercoaster season in the league. After losing in five games in the Western Conference Semifinals last year to the Los Angles Lakers, Rockets fans were hopeful that the Rockets would give their MVP duo a second chance.
After the departures of former head coach Mike D’Antoni and former general manager Daryl Morey, it was clear that the Rockets were ready for a new direction.
On December 2nd, 2020, the Rockets made their first step towards a new era by trading Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a 2023 first-round pick. What followed was a series of unfortunate events for superstar James Harden, starting with a tour of the best strip clubs in the United States and ending with “we’re just not good enough”, a phrase that has stuck with the team since.
Since then, the Rockets have had struggles on and off the court. PJ Tucker did not show up for a Rockets game vs. Memphis. This led to Tucker being sat, and inevitably traded to Milwaukee last week.
The Rockets also went on a 20 game losing streak, which finally snapped against the Raptors on March 22nd. The losing streak could be attributed to injury, tough schedule, or simply poor performance, but it is no surprise that it had taken a toll on the Rockets’ locker room.
With the NBA trade deadline approaching quickly, and the market for Rockets players seemingly lower than ever, it is time for the Rockets brass to get creative. Credit to current GM Rafael Stone.
Stone managed to acquire PJ Tucker in a deal that net the Rockets an additional first-round pick as well as two players when it was consistently reported that the price for PJ Tucker was closer to three second-round picks. As teams look to change their rosters for the last time this season, here’s a look at three trades the Rockets could make.
Boston Adds Depth; Rockets Add Hope
This move is not the largest for either team, but benefits both long term. With the NBA trade deadline nearby, the Celtics are in need for more help. David Nwaba is out for likely the remainder of the season, but could return for the playoffs, and Ben McLemore gives the Celtics a great shooter off the bench.
For the Rockets, they acquire Romeo Langford, a former 5-star recruit riddled with injuries. On top of this, they’d also acquire an early 2nd round pick for this year’s draft. The Rockets would do this to bank on the health of Langford, but even if he were to not pan out, the 2nd round pick from OKC will likely be a great player on a great contract in a very deep draft.
Oladipo to Philly
Don’t let the projected wins fool you, this deal is great for the 76ers. The 76ers would give up a second-round pick, as well as Danny Green and Shake Milton for Victor Oladipo. With Milton shooting 30% from three this season, and Green reaching the end of his career, Oladipo could be the perfect third star for Philly this season. Atlanta upgrades from Tony Snell to Danny Green at the cost of a few slots in the draft as they try to make a deep playoff run.
For Houston, moving up in the draft and acquiring Milton on a great contract may be more than Oladipo is garnering at this moment, but it would help the team long-term, especially if Milton can go back to being the 43% 3 point shooter he was last season.
End of an Era: EG Goes Home
The day Eric Gordon leaves Houston will be bittersweet for many Rockets fans, as he is the last standing member of the 2017-2018 Rockets squad that were a second half away from a Finals berth. However, if there is anywhere else in the NBA that Eric Gordon would feel at home, it would be Indiana.
As the Pacers slide in the standings, their weakness of having too many one-dimensional players has become more and more glaring. As the NBA trade deadline approaches, it may be time for Indiana to make some changes. Taking in Eric Gordon’s contract may be tough, but having the two-way guard healthy for the playoffs could be key for the Pacers’ playoff hopes. Acquiring Danuel House and David Nwaba also improves the Pacers’ forward depth.
Houston would acquire two much-needed spot-up shooters, as well as an intriguing prospect in Jalen Lecque. This trade would mark the end of an era for Houston, officially rebuilding by acquiring the same piece who was sent out to begin the era in Jeremy Lamb.
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