The intention of the original ‘4 possible trades the Rockets can make at the deadline‘ article was never to become a series, but it’s just so easy to construct trades with this Houston team. The Rockets may not be a good team, but they have very strong role players to offer to playoff contenders. Most importantly, those players are on reasonable deals that are relatively easy to salary match. Let’s begin the exercise.
Rockets NBA Trade Deadline
1. John Wall to the Lakers
Draft compensation (explained below)
Los Angeles receives:
Possible sweetener (explained below)
So, there’s obviously a lot of things to clear up here. Let’s start with this pretty safe baseline assumption: the Lakers aren’t and shouldn’t trade their 2027 first-round pick just to complete a straight-up swap. By the time the 2026-27 season rolls around, LeBron James will be 41 years old and on the verge of turning 42. One would not be wrong to assume he will have retired or dropped below All-Star-caliber production by then. At age 33, James’ co-star Anthony Davis won’t exactly be a spring chicken either. Things are fluid in the NBA, but that pick looks like a very good bet to be in the lottery. John Wall is not a monumental enough upgrade fit-wise over Russell Westbrook to justify giving Houston that kind of pick, especially when the Lakers don’t have many picks to begin with.
If Houston were to include a sweetener like David Nwaba or K.J. Martin, it could make trading that pick more reasonable. Both can contribute for Los Angeles right away and in Martin’s case, has upward mobility. If the Rockets aren’t interested in buttering up the Lakers in this way, settling for two second-round picks or a first-round pick swap should not be dismissed out-of-hand. It’s not like they’ll find a better return on the market for Wall.
2. Christian Wood to the Celtics
2022 Celtics first-round pick
2023 Trailblazers second-round pick
Most people would be surprised to find out that the Celtics should be a top ten team in the NBA right now. They have the 4th best defense in the NBA but they’re underperforming their point differential by like 4 wins. This is likely due to a lot of randomness and bad luck. However, fundamentally what’s plagued them is their lackluster offense (20th in the NBA). While it’s true that they don’t have the most encouraging point guard play, after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they don’t have much juice in general. Christian Wood adds a dimension as a front-court presence and floor-spacer that the Celtics don’t have right now.
Boston is one of the worst three-point shooting teams in basketball (23rd) and Wood is one of the league’s best three-point shooting bigs. However, you feel about Robert Williams and Al Horford, Wood is still a clear upgrade over the two and can play alongside both players in a pinch. The Celtics may be saving all their ammunition for the next big star to become available, but sometimes a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Wood makes them better right now and can probably be had for just one first-round pick and a movable contract in Josh Richardson.
This should be considered Wood’s floor level price, but the market is quite down on him right now so it has to be considered.
3. Eric Gordon to the Timberwolves
2022 Timberwolves first-round pick
This is quite a boring trade and doesn’t require much explanation. Eric Gordon is a clear backcourt upgrade for the Timberwolves and they want to make the playoffs. Minnesota has done a good job and not splurging with their first-round picks as of late so they could theoretically offer Houston a more distant first rounder, but the standard protocol for deals like this is the current season’s first-round pick. Alternatively, the Rockets could demand the Timberwolves fork over a first-rounder in 2024 instead, but the protections would likely be steeper than this year’s pick.
4. Christian Wood to the Warriors
The Warriors don’t make in-season trades and they’re currently at the top of the Western Conference anyway. There’s no incentive to make a move, but if they wanted to beef up their championship odds, Wood does that. Both Moody and Wiseman are unlikely to contribute for Golden State in the playoffs, but Wood would be able to carve out a role for himself quite easily. He’s a much more capable offensive player than Kevon Looney and can be a secondary pick and roll option to Stephen Curry (after Draymond Green of course).
It is asking a lot of a team to give up on the player they picked number two in a top-heavy draft, but Wiseman has displayed value closer to a mid to late first-round pick. Moody was selected mid-first round as well. The Warriors are probably going to stand pat and not trade their young players, but it’s something to call and ask around about.
Keep your head out for a possible part three to this series before the trade deadline.