It’s almost full-time trade season, and with the Houston Rockets still in the middle of a rebuild and with the likelihood of being sellers, we’re going to hear plenty of trade rumors in the coming days. But one of the big ones we have right now is in regards to Eric Gordon.
According to Hoops Hype, plenty of “playoff-caliber teams” are expected to be interested in EG, and as aggregated by AZCentral, a big chunk of the chatter around Gordon is centered on the Phoenix Suns, with multiple outlets reporting the Suns are a fit and interested.
There’s no doubting that EG would help Phoenix, so what would the Suns need to do to get this done? It gets a little trickier there. Gordon is making about $18 million per year, so the Suns would have to match salary with both teams over the cap. Also, the Rockets are likely after a first-round pick in any deal for Gordon, so that’s going to be step one.
Another step could be the Suns including Dario Saric, who hasn’t played all season due to a torn ACL. Saric is making $8.5 million this year, but there would need to be something else involved.
A possibility there is including Jae Crowder. Crowder’s $9.5 million salary along with Saric would be an even match for Gordon. Crowder, however, has started 34 games for Phoenix this year, averaging 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds while canning two triples per contest. But with Saric out and Frank Kaminsky also out indefinitely with a knee injury, trading Crowder would leave Phoenix pretty shorthanded at power forward, with only Jalen Smith and two two-way guys left in Ish Wainwright and Paris Bass.
Another option is sticking with Saric and the first round pick, but now adding JaVale McGee. The Suns have DeAndre Ayton at center and just signed Bismack Biyombo for the rest of the season, potentially making McGee expandable. That wouldn’t quite be enough from a salary perspective, as McGee is making just $5 million, but include Jalen Smith and suddenly things work.
The 21-year-old power forward is a former top-10 pick (2020) who is averaging 7.5 points and 5.3 rebounds over 19 games this season. However, the Suns did not pick up his team option and he’ll be a free agent at season’s end. He reportedly has other suitors, however, including the Boston Celtics, so this may not be a realistic option.
According to the ol’ ESPN trade machine, however, including Bass or Wainwright’s two-way deal along with Saric and McGee actually gets it done as well. Throw in the first-round pick, and that could be a realistic deal.
Saric is under contract for one more season, so if he is expected to fully recover, he can still be useful to Houston next season when he’ll still be just 28 years old. Bass or Wainwright would be at a similar two-way level for the Rockets if they’re even retained, while grabbing McGee would open up the Rockets to be able to trade Daniel Theis or even Christian Wood. It should hopefully be Sengun time in the latter half of the season anyway.
It’s not a king’s ransom (though it looks a lot better if Rafael Stone can somehow swing Smith in the group) but the first round pick would be key, and it does right by EG by sending him to a contender.
The Suns have a couple other combos that might work, but it would have to be one or two of the guys mentioned here mixed in matched in some fashion with an additional player to make the money work. The Suns also have a couple poison pill provisions on their roster complicating matters, so some type of mix of McGee, Saric, or Smith plus other/s plus pick is mostly what you’re looking at.
Gordon’s having a great season, averaging 14.8 points per game and shooting a scorching 45.2 percent from deep, so he’s certain to be in demand. As the report says, multiple teams could be in pursuit. So is this best deal for the Rockets? That’s going to be the key answer. We’ll find out as we cruise towards the February 10 trade deadline.