It would be so bizarre for the NBA's Trade Deadline to pass and the Rockets almost exactly the same as a roster. Houston is what you would call your textbook seller team. ESPN's BPI Playoff Odds currently has Houston finishing with a 28-54 record and a 0.1% chance of making the postseason. The players and coaching staff may still see value in winning, but the front office, at this point, should look towards tearing down the roster even more in pursuit of better lottery odds and future assets. The latest reporting from The Athletic seems to indicate that Houston intends to be illogical and stand mostly pat at the deadline.
For the purpose of this exercise, let's assume they intend to do the right thing and aggressively move players. What kinds of deals are possible for Houston at the deadline?
1. Christian Wood to the Grizzlies
2022 Grizzlies first round pick
2022 Jazz first round pick
Every trade in this article assumes every asset is moved at true market value, including Christian Wood. It's possible that many have soured on Wood after episodes this season that have called into question character concerns that have long existed with him. Wood in Memphis running a two-man game with Ja Morant is a dream fit on paper, however. The Grizzlies are right on the edge of true contendership, currently sitting at the third seed in the Western Conference. This trade retains most of their future trade assets and gives them significantly more juice on offense. You could swap out one of the firsts for a 2023 second round pick if you really believe Wood's value is in the tank.
2. Eric Gordon to the Bulls
2022 Bulls first round pick
Derrick Jones Jr.
Troy Brown Jr.
The Bulls got dealt a really bad hand with their string of injuries to Lonzo Ball, Alex Caruso, and Derrick Jones Jr. They went from a team with a backcourt surplus to a team that could use some fortification in that arena now. Eric Gordon is probably the only guard available who could provide the shooting and defensive responsibilities that Ball and Caruso were providing in the backcourt. He's also a nice failsafe incase one or both players can't return for the playoffs. If both return, Gordon can also play small forward as he showed for several years in Houston. Houston gets an intriguing young player in Troy Brown Jr. and a first round pick.
3. Christian Wood to the Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets are one of the few playoff teams in the NBA with a legitimate need at center and Christian Wood is a strong upgrade over Mason Plumlee. The problem with constructing deals with the Hornets is they owe a heavily protected pick to Atlanta this year which prevents them from trading first rounders until 2027 (via the Stepien rule). James Bouknight is a strong enough asset that he accounts for the weight of two first rounders. The question this front office has to ask themselves is are they willing to go into buyer mode. The Grizzlies are so good that they've gotten that question answered for them, but the Hornets are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. It's tough, but Wood is both young enough to fall into LaMelo Ball's timeline and good enough to be included in that core.
4. Eric Gordon to the Cavaliers
2022 Cavaliers first round pick
Cleveland falls in the middle of Memphis and Charlotte of the “buy or stand pat at the trade deadline” debate. They're the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, but it's starting to look like their nucleus is falling into place. Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland are having amazing seasons, but the injuries to Colin Sexton and Ricky Rubio have created a hole in that roster at guard. Eric Gordon's contract cleanly matches up with Rubio's and the Cavaliers would only be giving up what is now the 22nd pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Gordon helps with their playoff run this year and is a nice complimentary piece to have along moving forward.