Welcome to the second part of a mini two-part All-Star break mini-series I’ve crafted together, looking into trade possibilities with (nearly) every team in the NBA.
For the first time in a very long time, the Rockets are sellers in the trade market, with a lot of phone calls coming GM Rafael Stone’s direction.
In Part 1, I looked at trade possibilities with each Western Conference contender, and now it’s time to look at the Eastern Conference. But notice the title of the article says team instead of contender. That’s because every team in the East might as well be considered a contender at this point. Stone’s trades in his brief tenure as general manager have all featured at least one Eastern Conference team. So if this trend continues, expect the trades to go through the East.
There are also a surplus of buyers in the East compared to the West since the playoff race is very tight. With the exception of the Pistons, every team is within 3.5 games of the 10 seed, which would qualify a team for the play-in series.
Philadelphia 76ers (24-12)
Rockets receive: Furkan Korkmaz, 2021 second-round pick (via Knicks)
76ers receive: P.J. Tucker
It’s no secret that the 76ers want P.J. Tucker. It’s also not a secret that P.J. Tucker wouldn’t mind joining the 76ers.
If the Rockets want to send Tucker to a place he wants to go, Philly is a likely destination.
Korkmaz matches the salaries and is attached with a second-rounder.
Brooklyn Nets (24-13), Detroit Pistons (10-26)
Rockets receive: Delon Wright, 2021 second-round pick (via Hornets)
Nets receive: P.J. Tucker
Pistons receive: Spencer Dinwiddie
This trade might be less likely to happen with Blake Griffin signing with the Nets, but they could still use some defensive help in the frontcourt.
The only real trade asset the Nets still have is Spencer Dinwiddie, who makes roughly $11 million this season and has a player option for next season.
Dinwiddie is also being sought out by the Pistons, his former team. The Pistons have a lot of point guards to look into, including recently-acquired Dennis Smith Jr.
By swapping Delon Wright for Dinwiddie, it gives the Pistons an opportunity to give Smith a chunk of minutes to decide whether he’s worth keeping past this season and it gives them more flexibility moving forward.
Wright would arguably become the best three-point shooter for the Rockets and would be better than taking Dinwiddie, who might never suit up for the team he gets traded to.
Milwaukee Bucks (23-14)
Rockets receive: D.J. Augustin, Bobby Portis, D.J. Wilson, Sam Merrill, 2021 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick
Bucks receive: Eric Gordon, Rodions Kurucs
The Bucks need a sixth man. Former Sixth Man of the Year Eric Gordon would thrive with the Bucks. He gives them a scorer and a creator off the bench who can take some pressure off of Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.
The Bucks have also shown a willingness in the past to make bold moves and this certainly would be one of them. While the Bucks don’t have much to offer the Rockets player-wise, theRockets get two first-round picks out of it.
D.J. Augustin would be a nice veteran to help mentor the young guys on the team. Bobby Portis and D.J. Wilson provide size and rebounding help. I also really like Sam Merrill, who could develop into a sharpshooter. The trade works without him and Kurucs, but I prefer the trade with them. Maybe the Rockets would substitute former Buck Sterling Brown instead of Kurucs, but the Rockets asking price for Gordon should be high considering he’s been arguably their most consistent offensive player outside of Christian Wood and still has four years on his contract.
Boston Celtics (19-17), Oklahoma City Thunder (15-21)
Rockets receive: Kenrich Williams, Romeo Langford
Celtics receive: Al Horford, Sterling Brown
Thunder recieve: Tristan Thompson, 2021 first-round pick (via Celtics), two 2021 second-round picks (via Rockets)
The Celtics need a big man. While Horford might be a hefty contract for the Celtics to take back, he’s an extremely good fit and a proven commodity.
The Rockets put their fingerprints on this trade by sending Sterling Brown to the Celtics for young guard Romeo Langford from the Celtics and Kenrich Williams from the Thunder.
Langford is a player who will benefit from a little more playing time, which the Rockets can offer. Williams is on a very team-friendly contract and will be a flexible player to deal over the next few years if the Rockets choose to go that route.
New York Knicks (19-18), Atlanta Hawks (16-20)
Hawks receive: Alec Burks, Kevin Knox, 2021 1st-round pick (via New York from Dallas)
Rockets receive: Tony Snell, John Collins
Knicks receive: Victor Oladipo
John Collins will likely be one of the most sought-out power forwards on the free agent market this summer, which happens to be the Rockets’ biggest need right now. They need size to pair up with Christian Wood, and the 6’9” Collins could be that answer. He’s entering restricted free agency this summer, which means the team that employs Collins at the end of the season will have the opportunity to match any offer Collins receives. Atlanta likely won’t have the cash to retain Collins, but Houston does. This trade is preemptive in that it ensures that the Rockets will have him rather than a team like Minnesota, who is also rumored to have interest.
The Hawks are seeking a high 1st-round, lottery level pick, and while Houston is probably not game on giving them their own pick this year, maybe Dallas’s pick that New York owns from the Kristaps Porzingis trade works out.
The Knicks have sought a superstar for a while, and acquiring Oladipo could be that one step the Knicks need in order to get that guy. Vic also improves their backcourt and is an upgrade over Alec Burks, who heads to Atlanta in the trade.
It’s a win-win-win for all three teams. The Hawks get value for Collins and his departing contract, the Rockets get their power forward of the future, and the Knicks get a chance to contend this season and attract a big name player that will further assist their ascent in the East.
Miami Heat (18-18)
Heat receive: P.J. Tucker
Rockets receive: Meyers Leonard, KZ Okpala, 2022 2nd-round pick
After yesterday’s actions from Meyers Leonard, it’s safe to say the Heat will likely want to distance themselves away from him.
His contract nearly matches perfectly with P.J. Tucker’s.
The Rockets would likely tell Leonard to stay away from the team as well. He’s out for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery and has a team option for next season for $10 million, which the Rockets will almost certainly decline.
Leonard is only here for money purposes. The real value in the trade comes with KZ Okpala, a 6’8” forward who can guard multiple positions and help the Rockets on the glass.
Charlotte Hornets (17-18), Orlando Magic (13-23)
Hornets receive: Evan Fournier, Rodions Kurucs
Rockets receive: Aaron Gordon
Magic receive: Cody Zeller, Dante Exum, Danuel House Jr., 2021 first-round pick (via Hornets), 2022 first-round pick (via Rockets from Bucks)
With the Rockets reportedly interested in Aaron Gordon, this trade helps bring the big man to H-Town.
Gordon is scheduled to make $16 million next season, so the Rockets get his services for this year and next, and the team can then make a decision on whether to keep him or not. He’ll be 27 when he hits free agency in 2022, and the Rockets could decide to flip him at next year’s trade deadline if it doesn’t work out. Trading their first-round pick in the 2022 Draft from Milwaukee, which will likely be in the late 20’s is not a high asking price. Dealing Danuel House also gives Orlando a team-friendly contract for next year.
To help out with money on the Fournier side of the trade, the Rockets send Rodions Kurucs to the Hornets to match out salaries.
Toronto Raptors (17-19)
Rockets receive: Terence Davis, 2025 2nd-round pick
Raptors receive: Sterling Brown
Raptors boost their three-point offense with Sterling Brown, and the Rockets get Terence Davis, who gets a fresh start with the Rockets after some off the court issues that took place last year while with the Raptors.
Chicago Bulls (16-18), Indiana Pacers (16-19)
Rockets receive: Otto Porter Jr., Aaron Holiday
Bulls receive: Victor Oladipo, Sterling Brown
Pacers receive: Garrett Temple, Rodions Kurucs
This one is probably one of the more bizarre trades I’ve written up. The chances of this trade happening are definitely less than 1%, but it’s worth looking into for the sake of this article.
The Bulls upgrade their defense for this season by swapping massive expiring deals: Oladipo for Porter Jr. They also get Sterling Brown, which increases their three-point production and helps boost their chances to snatch one of the final playoff spots.
The Pacers dump Aaron Holiday and receive Garrett Temple, who fits more of the Pacers current roster.
The Rockets get Holiday, who still has some upside at 24 and another Porter Jr. to make themselves the league leaders in players with the last name Porter Jr.
Washington Wizards (14-20)
Wizards receive: Sterling Brown
Rockets receive: Troy Brown Jr.
A swapping of Browns. The Wizards improve their three-point shooting by acquiring Sterling, and the Rockets get the upside of the 21 year old Troy, who has struggled to get minutes with the Wizards but still has some upside in his third year in the NBA. Perhaps a change of scenery could do him some good.
Cleveland Cavaliers (14-22)
Cavaliers receive: Kevin Porter Jr.
Rockets receive: 2022 2nd-round pick