This “Four Possible Deals The Rockets Could Make On Deadline” article wasn’t meant to become a series, but it’s very easy to make deals with this Houston team. The Rockets may not be a very good team, but they have very strong players to show for the supplement contenders. More importantly, these players make reasonable deals that are relatively easy to match salary to. Let’s start the exercise.
Deadline for rocket trading in the NBA
1. John Wall to the Lakers
Compensation Project (explained below)
Los Angeles receives:
A possible locale (described below)
So, there are obviously a lot of things to clarify here. Let’s start with a very safe baseline adjustment: The Lakers do not and should not trade in the first round of 2027 just to complete a straight swap. By the time the 2026-27 season rolls around, LeBron James will be 41 years old and close to turning 42. He wouldn’t be wrong in assuming he’ll retire or drop below producing an All-Star caliber by then. At 33, James co-star Anthony Davis won’t be a spring chicken either. Things are fluid in the NBA, but this choice seems like a very good bet to take part in the lottery. John Wall isn’t a massive enough upgrade over Russell Westbrook to justify giving Houston that kind of choice, especially when the Lakers don’t have a lot of options to start with.
If Houston were to include a local like David Nwaba or KJ Martin, trading might make that choice more logical. Both could contribute to Los Angeles immediately and in Martin’s case, have progressive potential. If the Rockets aren’t interested in screwing up the Lakers in this way, it shouldn’t be ruled out a two-time second-round pick or swapping a first-round pick out of control. It’s not like they’d find a better return in the market for Wall.
2. Christian Wood to the Celtics
2022 Celtics first round pick
2023 Trailblazers Round Two
Most people will be surprised to find that the Celtics should be in the top ten best teams in the NBA right now. They have the fourth best defense in the NBA but are declining in their points difference like 4 wins. This is most likely due to a lot of randomness and bad luck. However, what primarily hit them was their lackluster attack (20th in the NBA). While it’s true that they don’t have the most cheerful guard, after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they generally don’t have much juice. Christian Wood adds a dimension as a front-court presence and ground breaker that the Celtics don’t have at the moment.
Boston is one of the worst 3-pointers in basketball (23rd), and Wood is one of the best 3-pointers in the league. However you feel about Robert Williams and Al Horford, Wood is still an obvious upgrade for players and can play alongside both players in question. The Celtics might save all their ammunition until the next big star becomes available, but sometimes a bird in hand equals two in the bush. Wood makes them better at the moment and can probably get him for one first round and a moving contract in Josh Richardson.
That price should be considered floor-level for Wood, but the market is pretty down now, so that needs to be taken into account.
3. Eric Gordon for Timberwolves
2022 Timberwolves in the first round
This is a boring business and does not require much explanation. Eric Gordon is an obvious back-zone upgrade for the Timberwolves and they want the playoffs to take place. Minnesota have done well and haven’t been stinging their first-round picks lately so they could in theory offer Houston a first-round away, but the standard protocol for deals like this is the current season’s first-round pick. Alternatively, the Rockets could order the Timberwolves fork on the first round in 2024 instead, but the protection will likely be more severe than this year’s pick.
4. Christian Wood for Warriors
The Warriors don’t do seasonal deals and they’re currently at the top of the Western Conference anyway. There’s no incentive to make a move, but if they want to boost the odds of their tournaments, Wood does. It’s unlikely that Golden State’s Moody Wiseman will contribute to the playoffs, but Wood will be able to play a role for himself quite easily. He’s a much more capable offensive player than Kevon Looney and could be a secondary pick and roll option for Stephen Curry (after Draymond Green of course).
It’s asking a lot of the team to dump their second-choice player in the highest heavy draw, but Wiseman showed value closer to mid-to-late first-round picks. Modi was selected midway through the first round as well. Warriors would probably stand in good stead and not trade with their junior players, but this is something to call and inquire about.
Keep your head on the potential third part of this series before the trade deadline.