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Rockets NBA trade deadline grades

Did the Rafael Stone get passing marks?

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a wild day all across the NBA, from mega trades like Kevin Durant to the Phoenix Suns and maybe not as significant but still impactful trades like Jae Crowder to the Milwaukee Bucks for five second-round picks (really, five?). There has been no shortage of drama today in the association.

The Houston Rockets didn't want to be left out of the fun, as they made some moves of their own. The Rockets, after years of will they or won't they move Eric Gordon, finally parted with the long-time staple of the organization. Gordon was sent to the Los Angeles Clippers in a multi-team trade.

The Rockets received back, of all people, John Wall (who will be bought out or waived) and Danny Green (who may also be bought out). Plus, the right to swap their Bucks pick with the Los Angels Clippers. This brings to an end one of the most successful free-agent signings for the Rockets in the last 30 years, with Gordon heading to the Clippers.

The Rockets also traded away Bruno Fernando and Garrison Mathews in a trade that netted them Justin Holiday and Frank Kaminski, along with two second-round picks. Let's look at each trade and see what grades they deserve as we officially pass the trade deadline.

Eric Gordon to the Clippers for a pick swap

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, this is the biggest of the two trades. Not generally because of the return but what it means going forward as far as playing time and opening up cap space next season. The Rockets may have waited a year too long to make this trade, as it was reported the Rockets had offers for first-round picks on the table at last season's trade deadline.

The thinking that went into them not taking a deal last season is that the Rockets didn't want to add yet another first-round pick to an already young team. Fast forward to this season, and you get a pick swap instead that you may not even use, depending on what the Clippers and Bucks do to end the season. Saying all that, it was time to move on from Gordon and open up more playing time for your younger players.

Now players like Tari Eason, Josh Christopher and, of course, KJ Martin will get more opportunities, especially now with Kevin Porter Jr. out and even once he is back in the lineup. Gordon was close to 30 minutes a game, and now those minutes can be occupied by the Rockets’ young core. It also gives Gordon his best shot at a ring since the 2017-18 season. So it really is a win-win all the way around.

Grade: B-

It could have been higher if it was for a first-round pick and not just a pick swap, but in the end, it is about opening up playing time for the Rockets young players and giving them the second half of the season to prove they deserve more playing time.

Bruno Fernando and Garrison Mathews to the Hawks for twp second-round picks, Justin Holiday and Frank Kaminsky

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets, in a semi-surprising move, made another trade today. They traded Bruno Fernando and Garrison Mathews for Justin Holiday and Frank Kaminsky. The key to this trade is the two second-round picks, which could be packaged together at some point for maybe a late first-round pick. Fernando was caught in a three-center rotation, and it seems the Rockets have decided on which center is the odd man out.

Mathews has been in and out of the rotation, mainly out recently, and has missed the last few games due to injury. The Rockets seem to be indicating they are ready to give more minutes to players like Josh Christopher, who has worked his way into more normal rotation minutes. As I mentioned earlier, the Rockets did receive two players back in this deal, but it is yet to be seen if either will get in playing time in the future.

Kaminsky and Holiday bring more experience to the team, but the moves today suggest the Rockets are all in on the youth movement. The key to this trade is the two second-round picks. The NBA seemed to go second-round pick crazy today as several teams traded away multiple second-round picks in different trades throughout the day. Rafael Stone was able to get two second-round picks for two players who aren't in the Rockets rotation is a massive win for the franchise.

Grade: A-

Two picks for players at the end of your bench are always a win.


The second half of the season will be a 20-plus game audition for several players on the roster. With Eric Gordon headed to the Clippers, players like Josh Christopher, KJ Martin Jr., and Tari Eason will have the opportunity to show that they belong in the rotation even beyond this season.