The Houston Rockets are in full-scale rebuild mode after posting a disastrous 17-55 record this past season. Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers are stuck between bottom-end contention and irrelevance back east following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign.
There’s now a chance that these two teams could come together for a blockbuster trade ahead of the start of the 2021 NBA Draft in late July. According to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, Indiana is looking to acquire a proven veteran with multiple years remaining on his contract for the 13th pick in the draft. The team has reportedly talked to Houston about a swap.
“The Pacers have talked with the Houston Rockets, a league source told IndyStar, about flipping their pick and getting such a player. They’re not looking for a one-and-done expiring contract. They want a player under contract for at least two years,” J. Michael noted.
Said report indicates that the Houston Rockets might be willing to give up the 23rd or 24th pick in the draft to help facilitate a trade.
Indiana Pacers targeting Eric Gordon in trade with the Houston Rockets?
Using the premise that Indiana is looking for a player who is under team control for beyond the 2021-22 season, it stands to reason that Gordon is the target. The 32-year-old guard is under contract through the next two seasons with a cap hit of $18.22 million next year and a $19.57 million figure for the 2022-23 campaign.
As much as Gordon doesn’t make sense for the rebuilding Rockets, he’d be a nice addition to Indiana’s core group under new head coach Rick Carlisle.
A top-seven pick back in 2008, Gordon averaged 17.8 points on 43% shooting from the field this past season. The sharpshooter boasts a career 37% mark from three-point range. He’d work out well as a third guard in Indiana behind Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert. Meanwhile, Gordon is an Indiana native who starred in college for the Hoosiers.
In terms of the finances when it comes to a potential trade, Indiana would have to send salary back to the Houston Rockets. It is currently $9.2 million over the cap. One candidate is former Rockets first-round pick Jeremy Lamb, who boasts a non-guaranteed salary of $10.5 million for next season.
Houston Rockets have a ton of options
In addition to picking 22nd and 23rd overall, Houston boasts the second pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. It is also said to be interested in moving up to the top pick for former Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham. Acquiring another lottery pick (13th overall) from Indiana could help put together a package to the Detroit Pistons’ liking.
Even if the Rockets were to stand pat at two, former USC center Evan Mobley and stud wing Jalen Green become real options with that selection. They’d then be able to add another lottery talent with the pick acquiring from Indiana in this hypothetical trade.
As it stands right now, the Rockets are likely going to be active ahead of the start of the 2021 NBA Draft. Moving off someone like Gordon who doesn’t fit into their long-term plans makes a ton of sense. If it means acquiring a late lottery pick, that’s just icing on the cake.