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Rafael Stone trading Christian Wood is chess not checkers

The Rockets trading Christian Wood now is about the draft.

2022 NBA Draft Lottery Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images

We have now had a couple of days to process the Christian Wood trade that came out of nowhere on Wednesday. The trade in itself wasn't shocking, but the trade's timing caught people off guard.

Rafael Stone and the Houston Rockets completed a trade where they sent Wood to the Dallas Mavericks for the 26th pick in this year's draft, Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss, and Sterling Brown. The trade teams Wood with one of the best players in the league in Luka Doncic. It gives Wood a fresh start on a team that just made the Western Conference Finals.

The four-players the Rockets got in the trade are not likely to see minutes, and most will not even be on the team by the time training camp starts. Boban has the best chance of sticking around, considering he doesn't have an issue being an 11th or 12th player on the team.

This has led some people to believe the Rockets were "fleeced" in this trade. You can never really judge a trade the first day the trade happens. You cannot judge some trades for years, especially if draft picks are involved. This trade was, of course, about freeing up space for players like Alperen Sengun and the Rockets’ number three pick, but it also has a lot to do with next week's draft.

The Rockets are trying to make moves on draft night

Florida v Kentucky Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Many people on social media and media members were perplexed that the Rockets only got the 26th pick for a 20 and 10 player like Wood. What they seem to be missing is the fact the Rockets, in all likelihood, are not staying at 26, and that pick is part of a bigger plan.

Multiple reports have come out since the trade, including the latest from Kevin O'Connor, that the Rockets are considering everything from moving up into one of the top two spots or packaging 26 and 17 to get a second pick in the lottery.

The Rockets are playing the long game, and if they can package their newly acquired pick with their existing 17 pick to move up several spots, that is a huge win. Teams like Washington and New York, who are at 10 and 11 respectively, are realistic targets for Houston with their 17th and 26th picks.

The Rockets may have to part with another veteran on the team in Eric Gordon to make these trades work, but it will be well worth it if a player like Shaedon Sharpe or Jalen Duren falls to 10 or 11. The Rockets are still a rebuilding team, and if you have a chance to bring in two top-10 players from one draft, it is hard to pass on that type of opportunity.

Stone is team building for years from now because the Rockets are at least two years away before they are ready to compete for a playoff spot. If they can get Paolo Banchero and Shaedon Sharpe, for instance, to go along with Jalen Green, that’s a foundation any rebuilding team would love to have on their team.

When looking at this trade, of course, opening up minutes in the front court is a huge deal, but this trade has layers to it that are beyond playing minutes. You can't judge this trade until draft night if the Rockets can turn Christian Wood into a second lottery pick. That is the complete opposite of getting "fleeced" in a trade.