The post-James Harden era in Houston hasn’t been looking that great. The Rockets thought that their acquisition of John Wall and the rise of Christian Wood was enough to fill the void. Evidently, it wasn’t. The team had the worst regular-season record in 2020-21. Fortunately for the Rockets, they still can make some key moves this offseason. This is their chance to rebuild their team and establish a new identity.
It’s easy to imagine the Rockets front office diligently looking at their financial books, their players’ statistics, as well as the players rumored to be available for trades. Though unlucky in the regular season, the offseason seems an attractive future. There are several players which fit right into the Rockets’ system that they can acquire. As always, it may cost them a lot. But it will yield greater benefits in the years to come. Here are the two best trade the Rockets can make to rebuild after the James era.
Should Rockets go big on trades?
Trade Eric Gordon to…
Veteran guard Eric Gordon seems the first player that should go. He’s been one of the key players of the Rockets’ playoff run with Harden. Though some say he has declined as evident in his series of injuries, the fact of the matter is that the 32-year-old has lots of gas left in the tank. A look at his statistics reveals that he can still drop around 15 to 20 points per game on a consistent basis. Apart from this type of production, other teams can benefit from his significant playoff experience as well.
There are lots of options for the Rockets. But from the looks of it, Kelly Oubre Jr. of the Golden State Warriors seems the perfect trade partner. Oubre Jr.’s struggles with the Warriors early in the 2020-21 NBA season are well-documented. He was able to recover quickly from these struggles. However, the future is dire for Oubre Jr. especially with the return of Klay Thompson on the horizon. The Warriors expressed their want to have Oubre back. But head coach Steve Kerr said that they’re not yet sure if Oubre wants to be relegated to the bench at this point in his young career.
Both players fall within the $15 to 18 million range. Given that Oubre Jr. will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, a straight-up sign-and-trade could occur. Oubre will get his fresh start with his new team filled with young and talented players. Meanwhile, Gordon fits as a sharpshooting guard from the bench. In critical situations, Kerr could easily insert him alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. His experience will be of value in the Warriors’ title chase.
Chase a Damian Lillard trade
The Portland Trail Blazers’ split from Terry Stotts may set a precedent for something big in the coming months. Their nine-year partnership was quite impressive as they made the playoffs eight straight seasons. Unfortunately, this was not enough. They got booted out in the first round several times and they were never really considered title contenders.
Damian Lillard has expressed his desire to stay with the Blazers. This is evident in his massive four-year, $196 supermax contract extension which will kick off next season. He signed the deal in 2019. And a lot of things have happened since then. From Lillard’s point of view, it may be time for him to move on.
At face value, Houston may not be the ideal place to be. They had just gone through a rough episode with Harden which left them with a young team still looking for an identity. However, a closer look reveals that the Rockets may have the pieces that Lillard needs. They have Christian Wood, a 6-foot-10 forward/center who can move like a guard. And during the latter part of the season, the Rockets saw the mini-rise of the likes of Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr.
The Rockets can arrange several trade packages to acquire Lillard. The best scenario, as suggested by FanSided, would be to enter into a three-team deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. In summary: the Rockets would get Damian Lillard and Robert Covington; the Trail Blazers will get Eric Gordon, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and several first-round picks; and the Pelicans would get CJ McCollum. It could easily be one of the biggest trades in the coming offseason. Fans may be worried that the Rockets would have to give up those first-round picks. But as noted, they already have some young players who have nowhere to go but up. Lillard will be the perfect player to guide them.