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Reality Check: Can The Houston Rockets Trade Up In The Draft?

Rockets GM Daryl Morey is one to remain on edge. For every report that has the Rockets missing out on a potential trade or chance to land a superstar, another report quickly emerges listing the Rockets as a team eager to make a big splash in the trade or free agency market. That's Morey's nature: no matter how little a chance he has in succeeding, he's going to try anyway, hoping that the pieces may fall out of order and that Houston could get lucky. It's a trait to be celebrated, unless we find ourselves capable of reaching a boiling point for repeated letdowns.

The latest development is that Morey is attempting to jump ahead somewhere within the top ten picks in the NBA Draft. This is an account held together both by reports and by general assumption. Each year it seems, Morey is looking to move as draft day nears. He has swapped spots many times in the past, but never before has Morey lept as far forward as the top ten. In fact, the move itself is as rare as any.

So, what would Morey trade in order to move up? Perhaps he'd package his 23rd and 14th overall picks together in order to entice a team looking for more picks to take a small step backwards. Yet, somehow, that just seems too easy.

Since the current CBA was put into effect in 2005, only a few of these trades have taken form. A list of trades similar to what Houston may attempt to pull off lists as follows:

2010: Oklahoma City acquires the No. 11 pick in the first round and guard Morris Peterson from New Orleans in exchange for their 21st and 26th picks in the first round.

2008: Portland acquires the No. 11 pick in the first round and Ike Diogu from Indiana in exchange for Jarrett Jack, Josh McRoberts and the No. 13 pick in the first round.

2007: Golden State acquires the No. 8 overall pick in the first round from Charlotte in exchange for Jason Richardson and the 36th overall pick.

2007: Seattle acquires the fifth pick in the first round, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West from Boston in exchange for Ray Allen and the 35th overall pick.

2006: Memphis acquires the eighth pick in the first round and Stromile Swift from Houston in exchange for Shane Battier.

2006: Chicago acquires the 13th overall pick from Philadelphia in exchange for the 16th overall pick, a 2007 second round draft pick and cash considerations.

In the last six years, we have yet to see a team be able to package two first round picks and turn them into a top ten pick. The closest we came to seeing a deal such as that was last season, when Oklahoma City jumped all the way to number eleven from their spot at twenty-one. In other words, if Morey wants to move up into the top ten, it's going to require one or more of the following:

1. A willing trade partner, which is a far more complicated process than it might seem given the fact that a team needs to be convinced to trade out of the top ten.

2. Most likely, a good Houston player to be involved in the deal (i.e. Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry or Luis Scola). The most likely scenario would parallel the trade between Charlotte and Golden State, though the Rockets do have two first round picks to work with.

3. Houston taking on a bad contract from a team looking to free up cap space in addition to trading away picks.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: the one scenario I would support would be a trade sending Scola out of Houston and netting the Rockets Enes Kanter. Other than that, if a deal were to involve moving Kyle Lowry or Kevin Martin for anyone other than Derrick Williams or Kyrie Irving, it wouldn't make much sense to me.

There is no doubt Morey will try to move up, but at the end of the day, he may be better off sticking at fourteen. The more likely scenario might involve Morey packaging Houston's second round pick with their 23rd overall pick in order to move back into the teens. In any case, come draft day, we should be prepared for just about anything.