Right after the Cleveland Cavaliers fell at the hands of the Boston Celtics, trade rumors swirled around the NBA landscape surrounding All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell. One team that has been of main interest is the Houston Rockets. Via Kelly Iko of the Athletic, the Rockets have been “monitoring Mitchell's situation for months” and could be potential suitors to land the superstar.

The current core of Alperen Sengun and Jalen Green lead the way, following a substantially impressive season, proves the sky is the limit for the Rockets. They're just missing maybe a couple of key pieces to really take the leap into playoff contention. If Houston were to pull the trigger, here is a perfect trade option to acquire him.

A big help to Rockets playoff hopes

The Rockets narrowly missed the final play-in spot. Jalen Green caught fire at the right time and was at one point within one game behind the Golden State Warriors for the 10th spot. However, injuries to Sengun, Tari Eason, and rookie Cam Whitmore depleted the Rockets' depth, becoming statistically the best 11th seed in NBA history with a 41-41 record.

The help of Mitchell would supremely catapult the Rockets to playoff contention. The 27-year-old this past season was ranked fifth in scoring, averaging 26.6 points on 46.2% shooting while grabbing 5.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists, both career highs. Additionally, he is a five-time All-Star and secured his first All-NBA selection last year. Not to mention he'd be entering his prime years next season.

Financial risk

The problem? How much the Rockets would have to give. Mitchell is on his third year of a five-year, $156 million contract, and is set to make $35.4 million next season. This includes a $37.1 million player option in 2025-2026, an option he'll likely opt out to snag a more lucrative super max deal.

Right now, Mitchell is eligible for a four-year, $206 million extension. This probably increases to Celtics Jaylen Brown's levels of money-making in the coming years, so extending him prior to his player option is paramount if the Rockets want to trade for him and conserve cap space. Furthermore, Houston will contain both Fred VanVleet's and Mitchell's combined max deal deal for one more season.

Landing the third overall pick gives Houston more leverage for sure, but they'd still be giving up more pieces than they'd like. Are they currently set with their core? Is Houston still searching for that draft pick that'll bring them hope in the long run? One thing is for sure. Houston will need to trade away a portion of their main guys.

The end of a Rockets favorite

Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green (4) shoots against the Los Angeles Clippers during the second half at Crypto.com Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Green would most definitely be in the trade package. The 2021 2nd overall pick made huge strides in his third year, especially after the All-Star break. He also loves playing for the city of Houston and could officially break out in his fourth season. Trading that possibility away, given his young age of just 21, will hurt Houston in the long run.

He would still be pretty valuable during the season if his time with Houston doesn't eventually pan out well, but the Cavaliers aren't going to bite unless Green is in the picture. Small forward Dillon Brooks should be a part of this trade package, given his contract and non-factor performance on the court in a Rockets uniform. Top that off with another bench player, and a couple of future first-round picks, and you've got yourself a five-time All-Star.

Here is the proposed trade to acquire Donovan Mitchell:

Cavaliers receive: Jalen Green, Dillon Brooks, Jae'Sean Tate, 2024 third overall pick, and the Brooklyn Nets' 2026 first-round pick.

Rockets receive: Donovan Mitchell

Although Green will be missed, it's the best-case scenario for Houston should they turn this into a reality. Brooks and Tate are capable role players for Cleveland and Jalen Green is a slightly taller, lankier player with scoring potential. It keeps the Cavaliers young and solidifies their lacking bench. Plus, their playoff window widens while benefitting Houston's playoff potential as well.

For Brooks' replacement, Tari Eason will take the starting forward position with Cam Whitmore behind him. Eason displayed immense sixth-man potential up until his leg injury worsened in January, keeping him out for the rest of the season. He's expected to make a full recovery and be 100% ready for the 2024-2025 training camp. Additionally, Whitmore has a prime opportunity to take the next leap in his NBA career alongside his draft classmate Amen Thompson. Without Green, the Rockets' core is still intact and has a prime opportunity to escalate it.