With the February 10th NBA Trade Deadline just weeks away, we’ve officially entered fantasy deal season. It’s the glorious time of the year where fans, media, and spectators alike all come up with their best hypothetical trades as front office chatter starts to pick up. Every league executive has been entrenched in discussions for months, but the deadline is the most convenient time for these teams to come together and hammer out deals that had been in the works. One of the teams expected to be active at the deadline is the Houston Rockets.
Most people anticipate the Rockets will deal veteran guard Eric Gordon to a playoff team in exchange for draft compensation/young talent. However, Houston has a ton of tradable salary to play with at the deadline if they want to get crazy. The player most speculated on the roster after Gordon is easily 26-year-old center Christian Wood. Sam Amick of The Athletic confirmed today that Wood will be a player that can be had in February.
Let’s take a look at some of the destinations that make logical sense as a landing spot for the Rockets big man.
The Charlotte Hornets are in desperate need of help in the frontcourt as they’re currently starting Mason Plumlee. Plumlee’s a capable center that could start in a pinch during an injury spell for a team, but he really shouldn’t be relied upon to be an every night starter in 2022.
Wood fits into Charlotte’s timeline and they have intriguing young players Houston may be interested in including James Bouknight, P.J. Washington, Jaden McDaniels, and Kai Jones. They also own a surplus of first round picks to tap into if needed. LaMelo Ball and Wood could form a pretty effective two-man game if the Hornets decide sniff around at the deadline.
Memphis is probably the most intriguing landing spot for Christian Wood on this entire list. The Grizzlies are currently the third seed in the Western Conference and own three first round picks this year. They look like a textbook buyer this year, but it’ll be interesting to see how far they’re willing to go considering their youth. Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. are rock-solid untouchable assets for the Grizzlies, but they have the potential to get pretty frisky at the deadline with their other assets. For example, if two of their three first round picks this season are on the table along with someone like Brandon Clarke and Steven Adams’ salary, they could net a pretty significant player.
If players like Domantas Sabonis and Jerami Grant become available at the deadline, they’d be able to compete with the best offers. Wood would make a killer floor-spacing threat next to Morant and the two could dominate in the pick and roll. He may also be had for an affordable price so it makes a lot of sense for Memphis to target him. They’re currently a team on the precipice of real contention and they have first rounders to burn. It just makes sense.
It’s firmly in “unlikely to happen” territory, but the Warriors should at least inquire about Christian Wood’s asking price before hanging up the phone on the Rockets. Draymond Green is a dream fit next to Wood and Golden State has some intriguing young talent to offer if they want to make an upgrade at the deadline.
Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wisemen are the notable names here and they have the flexibility to mix and match salaries with other players on the roster such as Kevon Looney. It’s defensible if the Warriors choose not to rock the boat of the best record in the Western Conference, but they also aren’t the same overwhelming favorites they’ve been in years’ past.
It’s something to think about for each of these teams and it’ll be interesting to see if Houston actually pulls the trigger on an offer.