The Houston Rockets have their eyes set on landing their fourth star guard in three seasons.
According the Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, “multiple front-office sources” indicate that Houston is among the five most “aggressive suitors” trying to land guard Damian Lillard.
The 2021 All-NBA Second Team guard was the center of trade rumors last week when reports circulated that Lillard intended to request the Portland Trail Blazers move him. Lillard shut down rumors later that day saying that “It’s not true.”
But, as all things go in the NBA, where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire. Lillard also clarified that he “[hasn’t] made any firm decisions on what [his] future will be.” Enter vultures.
Houston could be a direct beneficiary of a superstar like Lillard that doesn’t have a trade clause. While disgruntled superstars like Lillard want to go only to teams one piece away from contending, when they don’t have a trade clause, teams can send them to where the franchise will benefit the most. The Rockets are only one of two lottery teams reportedly interested in No. 0 — the other being the Sacramento Kings.
The Rockets have the No. 2 pick, and the Kings have the No. 9 pick. Advantage: Houston.
Houston also has a large haul of draft picks to give away after they trade James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets. And given that Lillard has a whopping four years left on his contract, they’ll be looking for a king’s ransom — one that leaves Houston among the few teams that could actually deliver that.
Under Daryl Morey, the Rockets had a ton of success landing superstar guards in the past couple of years, acquiring Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook from the franchises that made them. Lillard would be no different of a challenge.
With Rafael Stone at the helm, the now second-year GM can add to a great rookie stint after successfully signing Christian Wood, acquiring Jae’Sean Tate, trading James Harden, and landing the No. 2 overall pick.