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3 Cade Cunningham to the Houston Rockets trade scenarios

Detroit Pistons NBA Draft trade: Cade Cunningham
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

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The Houston Rockets will be selecting No. 2 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft. Former Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham is expected to go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons.

In no way does this mean general manager Rafael Stone and Co. can’t add the generational talent to the mix in the backcourt.

First off, recent reports suggest that the Pistons could also be targeting former USC center Evan Mobley or wing Jalen Green at one. This would be an ideal scenario for a Rockets squad that needs to add a franchise cornerstone.

Even if that weren’t to happen, a recent report from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony notes that the Rockets are interested in moving up to one for Cunningham.

Here’s a look at three trade scenarios that could net the Houston Rockets Cade Cunningham.

Cade Cunningham to the Rockets for draft pick haul

cade cunningham to the houston rockets
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rockets get: First pick (Cade Cunningham)
  • Pistons get: Second pick, 23rd pick, unprotected first-round pick in 2022 and future first-round pick

Now, this would be a mighty high price for the Rockets to pay. With that said, they do have an abundance of picks stemming from the trades of James Harden and Robert Covington. Houston owns control of the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks until 2027 while it picked up two first-rounders in sending Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Cunningham is an absolutely perfect fit for Houston as the team looks to expedite its rebuild. The 6-foot-8 guard averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% shooting from distance a season ago. Meanwhile, Detroit nets three first-round selections by moving down just one spot and would still be able to choose between Mobley and Green.

Cade Cunningham to the Rockets for Christian Wood

cade cunningham trade to the houston rockets for christian wood
Apr 29, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets center Christian Wood (35) reacts after a play during the first quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rockets get: First pick (Cade Cunningham)
  • Pistons get: Christian Wood, second pick, future first-round pick

Wouldn’t it be something if Detroit were able to land Wood after he played 62 games for the team back in 2019-20? Still only 25, the big man averaged 21.0 points and 9.6 rebounds on 51% shooting from the field a season ago. A move of this ilk would likely mean trading Jerami Grant or flipping Wood for more assets. It would also enable the Pistons to move off Corey Joseph’s contract to make the salaries work.

As for Houston, the idea would be to refrain from giving up too much draft capital. Sure moving Wood would pretty much be akin to mailing it in for the 2021-22 season. With that said, we’re talking about a long-term rebuild after the team won just 17 games this past season. Even at 25, Wood likely wouldn’t be part of a contending Rockets squad years down the road.

Cade Cunningham to the Rockets for Kevin Porter Jr., picks

cade cunningham trade to the houston rockets for kevin porter jr.
Apr 29, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) reacts after making a basket during the fourth quarter against the Milwaukee Bucks at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rockets get: First pick (Cade Cunningham)
  • Pistons get: Kevin Porter Jr., second pick, two first-round picks in 2021

By moving down one spot, Detroit picks up an impressive 21-year-old guard in Porter Jr. who was darn good for the Rockets a season ago. The former USC standout averaged 16.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 26 games. He’d team up with 2020 lottery pick Killian Hayes to form a dynamic backcourt. Adding two more first-round selections would also give up-and-coming general manager Troy Weaver a ton more flexibility come draft night.

If Houston is intent on adding Cunningham to the mix in a blockbuster trade, moving off Porter Jr. would make some sense. While Cade can play all three perimeter positions, having the two on the court together might not seem to be a great fit. This trade also enables the Rockets to avoid moving off future draft capital as they start anew with a rebuild.