Since losing to the Golden State Warriors for the second year in a row and the fourth time in five seasons, it is safe to say that the Houston Rockets will look different at the start of the 2019-2020 NBA season.
Last week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski dropped an enormous Woj Bomb, reporting that Houston general manager Daryl Morey has made his entire team and future draft picks available for trade talks in hopes of reshaping the Rockets into a championship contender.
Realistically, James Harden was never on the trading block, and after confirming that via Twitter over the weekend, it seems as if Chris Paul will also be returning for another run with the Rockets despite the on-going trade rumors surrounding his name.
However, if the Rockets are serious about making a blockbuster move to pair with their talented backcourt, Houston should do whatever it takes to acquire the services of disgruntled star Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Pelicans President of Basketball Operations David Griffin has made it clear what he would like in return for Davis: future draft picks, a young and promising player, and a veteran presence who can help restore leadership into the locker room, all while staying a competitive and respected team. And what the Rockets can offer will cover all three of Griffin’s desires in a trade for The Brow.
When analyzing a trade for Davis, the Rockets will be able to offer multiple draft picks, Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker; three of their starters from the 2019 NBA season.
Starting with Capela, the big man from Switzerland will be one of the most important pieces in a deal for Davis. As a rising and promising player, the Pelicans will not only have the opportunity to add to their young core, but Capela gives New Orleans a chance to fill a void left by Davis’ departure.
Of course, Capela will not be able to replace the 23.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks Davis has provided the Pelicans over his first seven seasons. But Capela’s averages of 16.6 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks are enough for the Pelicans to build around. The big man is also only 25, meaning he likely still has some improving to do.
In addition to Capela, the Rockets should also offer both Gordon and Tucker as complementary pieces in a potential deal for Davis. In addition to their play on the court, Gordon and Tucker would provide the Pelicans with a veteran presence that will help restore leadership in the locker room. Along with Jrue Holiday, having multiple strong veterans will be extremely important for the Pelicans’ young core, especially with the arrival of Zion Williamson this June.
If the Pelicans and the Rockets were to engage in trade talks this summer, New Orleans would receive a nice collection of players in exchange for their once proud franchise star. However, the biggest component in a deal for Davis would be the number of draft picks Houston is willing to offer in the exchange.
Similar to the way Morey went all out when trying to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Rockets can offer the Pelicans four future draft picks in a potential deal. At first glance, four draft picks may seem lofty high to give up for one player, but it is worth it for a generational talent like Anthony Davis.
However, compared to what the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics can offer the Pelicans, the potential Rockets package discussed here does have some serious competition. If you recall, at the beginning of the Anthony Davis trade saga, both the Lakers and Celtics were eager to trade their entire young core in an attempt to acquire the six-time All-Star.
However, due to the Pelicans’ unwillingness so far to deal their young star to the Lakers (though some rumors there have been heating up again), and the Celtics no longer appearing willing to give up their young core in the wake of a potential Kyrie Irving departure, the door has been left open for many teams to potentially jump in and trade for Davis, including the Rockets.
However, if the Rockets were able to win the Anthony Davis sweepstakes, a trade for the 6’10” big man will not come without a huge risk. Similar to Paul George with the Thunder and Kawhi Leonard with the Raptors, the Rockets will have only one year to impress Davis, with his free agency set for the summer of 2020.
Yet, joining a team with James Harden and Chris Paul would give Anthony Davis his best shot to capture an NBA title as a member of the Houston Rockets.
Is a trade likely? No, it’s definitely a long shot. But Daryl Morey is certainly exploring all options.