Quickly, if there is one reason for the Rockets to be satisfied with tonight's lottery results, it is this: there won't be a single Western Conference team in the top three picks. Minnesota, Golden State, and Sacramento each took a tumble.
Anyway, onto the gossip. Per Yahoo! Sports NBA writer Adrian Wojnarowski's twitter account:
Houston and Portland are two teams that will be working No. 3 Nets and No. 4 Wolves hard to move up in the draft, league sources say.
Makes plenty of sense. There's no guarantee that the Knicks' pick next season will be in the top seven or eight, and if an opportunity to guarantee a top four pick comes along, the Rockets will consider it. Despite all of the Chris Bosh-centered hooplah, the Rockets wouldn't go into the off-season with one plan in mind - they're going to give themselves as many options as they can to improve the roster. Whether or not those plans include Bosh remains to be seen. They'll give him a look, sure, and once they decide what's best for now AND for the future, they'll pull the trigger. Or, they may not make any moves at all and draft at number fourteen. But I find that highly unlikely. If anything, they'll move in the draft, somehow.
At first glance, I just can't see the Nets trading out of the third slot. Unless they are convinced that John Wall and Evan Turner are the only franchise players in the draft (or something near that caliber), it would certainly surprise me if they decided to move down. Pairing Derrick Favors with Brook Lopez would sound incredibly appealing if it weren't for Favors' so-so freshman campaign at Georgia Tech, though many point to Favors' surroundings as the reason for his uninspired season. If I'm Mikhail Prokhorov, I "settle" with Favors and build from there. A team like the Nets in all-out rebuilding mode wouldn't want players such as Chase Budinger, Trevor Ariza, or Jordan Hill in addition to draft picks. Hell, most wouldn't for the third overall pick in the draft. At that point, if I'm Daryl Morey, do I dangle Aaron Brooks to Prokhorov? Probably not. DeMarcus Cousins would be nice, but I don't think he's worth the trouble of having to start over at point guard.
Minnesota is slightly more interesting, if only because of one man: KAHN. Come draft time, anything can happen with KAHN in charge. If he can draft two point guards in the first ten picks, then he'll certainly be willing to listen to trade offers for the four slot. Had the Timberwolves landed a shot at Evan Turner, they would have unplugged the phones. But the fact that they'll instead be left with players like Favors, Cousins, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Wesley Johnson opens up the possibility for a trade. The T-Wolves are a much more fine-tuned product than the Nets, which says a lot about how far the Nets have to go. KAHN already has Jonny Flynn, Kevin Love, Al Jefferson, and others (Ricky Rubio, for one) at his disposal. Perhaps a young team like Minnesota would be interested in adding a veteran now if it meant settling for two first round picks next year. The only question becomes: who goes to Minny? Luis Scola? No, they've got power forwards up to their eyebrows. Trevor Ariza? No, they've already got his clone, Corey Brewer. This can become very, very complicated.
At the end of the day, I don't see the Rockets moving up this high because it won't be cheap. Look for them to trade down, secure extra assets, and take a defensive-minded big man. Unless KAHN decides to go all-in on next year's draft crop, the Rockets will likely take the safer route.