Rockets reportedly eye first-round draft pick in Eric Gordon trade

After winning 118-112 on Sunday (the result of the box) in Sacramento, the young Houston Rockets suddenly won two of their last three games. But the biggest reason for the mini boost is a major veteran.

In those three games, veteran goalkeeper Eric Gordon scored 20.7 points in 31.0 minutes, including hot shot numbers of 70.0% overall and 63.2% of three-pointers. He averaged 4.0 rebounds, too.

Best of all, Gordon has a definite impact on the defensive end as well. Immediately after pushing Houston into fourth on Sunday with a difficult driving hiatus, Gordon stopped by forcing a tough shot into a one-on-one situation — effectively ending the match.

The most indicative case of all, as it relates to Gordon’s two-way dominance? Rockets averaged +26 in the 32 minutes he was on the field on Sunday, and -20 in the 16 minutes when he was off the bench.

However, even with the recent surge in team play, the Rockets (13-32) still sit at the bottom of the Western Conference. It’s clear that developing young players like rookies Jalen Green and 19-year-old Alperin Sejon is the biggest priority, because Houston isn’t ready to win consistently right now. Thus, 33-year-old Gordon is not an ideal fit for general manager Raphael Stone when it comes to building the roster, as he will likely have passed the height of his presidency when the Rockets are able to make a legitimate playoff push.

Another reason is that Gordon’s strong season could make this a good time for Stone to maximize his commercial return. At 50.5% overall and 45.5% on three-pointers, Gordon is having the best shooting year of his career, and he’s clearly going to help a number of qualifying teams and 2021-22 title contenders who need better two-way wing production.

This is what Michael Scott From HoopsHype hears:

Eric Gordon, 33, hits highs from the field (.505) and 3-point range (.455) after two injury-filled seasons. With Gordon’s health and the addition of a much-needed veteran presence for the Rockets’ rebuilding team, Houston is seeking to pick a first-round pick in business talks for the veteran scorer, sources in the HoopsHype league report.

Several playoff bands are watching Caliber Gordon, as noted on a recent episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

Gordon is on record $18.2 million this season, owes $19.57 million next season, and has an unsecured paycheck of $20.92 million for the 2023-24 season, according to our Rockets salary page.

Since Gordon is also under contract for the 2022-23 season, the Rockets do not have to trade him by the February 10 trading deadline. In theory, they could explore the market in the 2022 season as well.

But in practice, that seems unlikely. At this point in his career, it’s hard to imagine Gordon being of more value than he does right now. Waiting until the season is over could risk some kind of injury or a production setback as 2021-22 comes to an end, and Gordon will be much older.

The most likely outcome, therefore, is that Stone is now roaming the market to get the best deal available and get it executed by February 10 — and Gordon’s latest increase certainly can’t hurt the GM’s leverage in talks.

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