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Prediction: Expect the Rockets to land a second round pick

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TDS Prediction: Don't expect a blockbuster, but put money on the Rockets landing a second round pick at the trade deadline.

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In the past week the Dwight Howard discussion has gone from anticipated blockbuster with the Boston Celtics, to a swap with the Miami Heat, then a discussion with the Charlotte Hornets, to begging for a first round pick, then a morning of silence and now Houston is being "ultra-aggressive".

The market juts doesn't seem to be there for Howard or for troubled guard Ty Lawson. So here's my uninspiring low-risk prediction... Between now and draft day Daryl Morey will either make a deal for or buy a top 10 second round pick with an eye on the future.

If Howard stays the Rockets will have to adopt a "future is now" mentality. The public narrative for the Howard-Harden relationship has never been worse and the team will be sitting on expiring contracts that could reach $30 million (Dwight Howard, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Marcus Thornton, Jason Terry and Josh Smith).

And when the Rockets are focused on the future Daryl Morey does one thing, he gathers assets. And "ooh-wee, Rick" does Morey love him some early second round picks. Even when the Rockets aren't bad enough to land an early second round pick the shrewd general manager has gone out of his way to trade or even buy early second round picks.

The strategy has paid Chandler Parsons dividends. The plan is based on a few simple realities Morey has exploited over the years:

  • There's no discernible difference in talent between the 30th pick of the NBA draft and the 32nd pick of the draft. Strong draft or weak draft, there's just not going to be a precipitous decline in talent between the final picks of the first round and the starting picks of the second round.
  • Second round picks don't come with predetermined contracts like a lottery pick, so you can lock your second round pick into a Chandler Parsons style contract. This is where a player signs a multi-year contract above the league minimum to cash in on their new NBA status. For Parsons this was a four-year nearly $4 million contract.
  • Lots of NBA teams don't even want to deal with the second round picks. With only 15 roster spots not every team wants to make a commitment to tending and developing a second round pick.
The short breakdown: The Rockets love early second round picks.

Here's examples since Daryl Morey took over the team?

2007: Carl Landry, 31st pick. Houston traded cash and a future second rounder for Landry.
2008: Joey Dorsey, 33rd pick. Houston drafted Nicolas Batum in the first round and shipped him out the door in a three team swap that landed them Dorsey, among others.
2009: Jermaine Taylor, 32nd pick. This one didn't work out.
2009: Sergio Llull, 34th pick. The Spanish point guard will probably never play in the NBA, but Rockets fans would bounce Lawson for Llull in a heartbeat.
2011: Chandler Parsons, 38th pick. Then and now, this was a good looking pick.
2013: Isaiah Canaan, 34th pick. Houston traded Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for this pick.
2015: Montrezl Harrell, 32nd pick. In 2012 Houston traded Marcus Camby for a number of picks.

Well, guess who has FIVE second round picks this year? The Boston Celtics. Who were rumored to be interested in Dwight Howard, but have emerged as the top suitor of Atlanta Hawk Al Horford. These five picks are on top of the three first round picks Boston has this year. Before you ask, the Celtics do not have eight extra roster spots. They've either got to deal those picks or draft and stash a wealth of international talent.

Here's a rundown of the first 10 picks of the second round in 2016, from nbadraft.net's 2016 mock draft:


Despite being in the playoffs the Boston Celtics have the Philadelphia 76ers 2016 second round pick and get the Minnesota Timberwolves 2016 second round pick (unless Minnesota finishes outside the lottery).

This prediction isn't inspiring, but if Houston strikes out at dealing Dwight Howard or Ty Lawson I'd expect them to flip Terrence Jones or another auxiliary piece for one of these 10 picks.