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This trade offer could land Houston Rockets No. 1 pick in 2021 NBA Draft

General manager Rafael Stone and the Houston Rockets are reportedly being aggressive in an attempt to rebuild a roster that posted a league-worst 17-55 record a season ago.

Recently, reports have suggested that Houston is attempting to move up from the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft with the Detroit Pistons for the first selection and the right to acquire Oklahoma State product Cade Cunningham.

In an interesting turn, it also appears that up-and-coming Pistons general manager Troy Weaver is willing to listen to offers for the top pick in the draft later this month.

According to NBA insider Chad Ford (h/t Salman Ali of ESPN), the Houston Rockets have offered up veteran guard Eric Gordon and one of their later first-round selections to the Indiana Pacers for the 13th pick in the draft. Ford notes that the hope here is Detroit might bite in a move down if the Rockets dangled the second and 13th selection for No. 1.

We previously focused on the Rockets and Pacers angle. Reports from Indiana conclude that the Pacers are looking to move their late lottery pick for a proven veteran after hiring Rick Carlisle to be their new head coach. A complete rebuild does not seem to be in the cards in Indiana following a disappointing 2020-21 season.

How would a Houston Rockets package for Cade Cunningham look?

houston rockets trade for cade cunningham
Mar 21, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Cade Cunningham (2) yells from the sidelines during the second half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament against the Oregon State Beavers at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

First off, Houston would have to work out a separate deal with Indiana surrounding multiple first-round selections and Eric Gordon.

In this scenario, the non-guaranteed contract of Jeremy Lamb would head back to Houston in order to make the salaries worth. In turn, Indiana comes to the conclusion that acquiring Gordon and his hefty salary is worth a trade down from 13 to either the 23rd or 24th pick in the draft.

That aspect of a potential Houston Rockets trade up for Cade Cunningham is rather simple. However, this situation gets more convoluted when taking the Pistons into account.

Realistically, Detroit is not going to move down from one to two for a late lottery pick. Houston would have to sweeten the pot to an extent.

Perhaps, stud young guard Kevin Porter Jr. could be of interest to the Pistons to team up with Killian Hayes. Even then, another future first-round pick would have to head to the Pistons in this scenario. Pure conjecture, but this is how a “three-team deal” might look.

  • Houston Rockets get: First pick (Cade Cunningham), Jeremy Lamb
  • Detroit Pistons get: Kevin Porter Jr., second and 13th picks, future conditional first-round pick
  • Indiana Pacers get: Eric Gordon, 23rd pick

That would be an extremely high price for Houston to pay. But Cunningham is seen as a generational talent and one of the best prospects to come down the pike in some time. It is going to cost an arm and a leg to pry him from the Detroit Pistons.

Fresh off one of the worst seasons in franchise history, Houston has very few building blocks. Center Christian Wood and then-rookie forward Jae’Sean Tate looked darn good in 2020-21. The aforementioned Porter Jr. seems to be a nice piece. However, he would likely be expendable if Cunningham were to head to Houston.

Either way, there’s a lot of moving parts on the Houston Rockets’ front with roughly two weeks to go until the 2021 NBA Draft. Stay tuned!