All indications point to the Houston Rockets doing everything necessary to return to the playoffs next season, and that roster overhaul could include trading their top current player to acquire an All-Star on the trade market.
After trading away James Harden three years ago, the Houston Rockets have tried to rebuild their roster the old-fashioned way. Through the NBA Draft and player development. However, that has been an obvious failure. While they won the most games they have in that time during 2022-2023. the first-round pick core of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Jabari Smith delivered poor results this season.
The direction the team was headed was clear early in the season, and that is why rumors of the organization trying to bring back James Harden in free agency began all the way in December, and have persisted ever since. However, forking over a chunk of their available cap space to the aging great is not the only route they have to reimagine the team this summer.
The Rockets could swing a blockbuster trade for an All-Star on the market, and that is what Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer suggested on Friday. As well as the fact that 2021 No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green — the team’s best player right now — could be dangled in pursuit of a blockbuster trade.
Assuming that is the case — and it seems likely and could be necessary to acquire a proven star — here are four players the Houston Rockets could target with an offering that includes Jalen Green and a top-five pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The best-case scenario would be for the Houston Rockets to land Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown. But how the team performs in this year’s playoffs will decide how they proceed this summer. Brown has made it clear he will test free agency after next season and that Boston may not be his long-term preference.
If the Celtics are shockingly bounced in the second round or by the Knicks or Heat in the conference finals, they could look to avoid losing him for nothing next year by getting a pretty strong return that includes Green and maybe the top pick in the year’s draft.
The Washington Wizards really need to blow things up, but there is still no clear indication they will this summer. If they finally come to their senses, going after Bradley Beal would make a lot of sense for the Houston Rockets. While there are obvious injury concerns, he is younger than Harden and was great when he was on the court last season.
It seems very likely the Chicago Bulls could part with Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan this offseason. While DeRozan is still an elite talent, LaVine has far more long-term upside for an interested team. He is only 28, a two-time All-Star, and an automatic 20-plus point scorer wherever he goes. LaVine and Harden — assuming they sign him — could be a good starting point for Houston next season.
While it seems likely the Minnesota Timberwolves will give the trio of Karl-Anthony Towns, Rudy Gobert, and Anthony Edwards another chance, they could also decide the KAT era is over and they rather move him before the start of the final year on his contract. Green would be a good return for Minnesota and take them away from a big frontcourt and give them a more modern, and stellar, swingman combo
Plus, if the Rockets sign Harden, he and Towns could be the poor version of what he and Joel Embiid were this season in Philly and that’s pretty good.