Since the Houston Rockets came up short in the NBA Draft Lottery, it has been well-known that they were willing to accept calls for the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft. The Toronto Raptors are reportedly the lasted to contact the Rockets, according to the Athletic’s Kelly Iko on the Athletic’s Podcast on May 27. Regardless, a Houston Rockets trade may be on the horizon.
“The Raptors have called. There are teams that still believe that No. 4 is a pretty damn good pick, and there are teams that are going to want to acquire that pick.”
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— The Athletic NBA Show (@AthleticNBAShow) May 27, 2023
NBA Rumors: Toronto Raptors Lastest Team Talking to Houston About Trading the No. 4 Pick, What Are Some Possible Deals?
Toronto, still without a head coach, is perhaps looking to switch directions after finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 41-41 record. The 41 victories were the Raptors’ fewest since 2012-13. The Raptors have 12 players under contract totaling over $143 million in salaries. However, Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. have player options. Pascal Siakam will be a free agent in 2024, while OG Anunoby can opt out next summer. They own the No. 13 pick this year.
Houston, on the other hand, is looking to expedite their rebuild. The Rockets are reportedly very intent on signing James Harden and could use another veteran or two to go along with Jabari Smith Jr., Jalen Green, and Alperen Sengun. The Rockets have $48 million in cap space, so that they can spend money. They also own the No. 20 pick in this year’s draft and a first-rounder every year until 2029, including multiple in 2025 and 2027.
Houston’s general manager Rafael Stone spoke to The Athletic recently about the No. 4 selection.
“The biggest thing is we now have certainty about the pick number. We’ve done a lot of contingency planning about if this, then that. Now, we can just try and outline various ideas and concepts that we think we want to try and achieve. This is a super busy month for us, and the two times trades happen are around the trade deadline and the draft. We can start to evaluate various trade options, we can really think through free agency.”
Besides Toronto, no other team reportedly interested in the No. 4 pick has been identified. But the following is from The Athletic.
“Multiple teams have already expressed interest in acquiring Houston’s lottery pick ahead of the June 22 draft. One of the underlying themes of the combine and hot topics stemming from last Tuesday’s result among league personnel was the expectation of Houston, Portland and Detroit aggressively seeking trades centered around their picks, albeit for different reasons.”
Iko proposed several trades that featured the No. 4 selection. His suggested trades involved Brooklyn, Indiana, San Antonio, Golden State, Atlanta, and Toronto. One possible deal that Iko didn’t mention could work is Chicago if they are willing to part with DeMar DeRozan or Zach LaVine.
Toronto Raptors Trade
Houston Receives: OG Anunoby
Analysis: Anunoby is one of the premier 3-and-D wings, and he is just 26. The 2022-23 All-Defensive Second Team selection led the league in steals and averaged double-figures for the fourth straight season.
Martin is on a nonguaranteed deal, but the athletic 22-year-old wing is versatile and has demonstrated he is a quality scorer off the bench and a starter.
Eason has The 22-year-old forward has considerable two-way upside. While he does need to improve his shooting, Eason produced seven double-doubles and scored 20+ points four times.
This trade makes sense for both, although it may need some tweaking. Not sure if Houston wants to part with Eason, and the Rockets could want more draft compensation. Plus, the Raptors may prefer to offer Siakam or maybe Scottie Barnes.
San Antonio Spurs Trade
Houston Receives: Keldon Johnson
San Antonio Receives: 2023 No. 4 Pick and 2025 first-rounder (Top-3 Protected)
Analysis: Johnson is a scorer, but the 24-year-old forward really came into his this past season. Johnson averaged a career-high 22.0 points on a career-low 51.2% effective field goal percentage. He did dole out a personal-best 2.9 assists though he turned the ball over 2.1 times a contest. His rebound numbers were also down, and defense has always been an issue.
The Rockets would have to think about this one. While a very talented scorer, Johnson is entering the first year of a four-year, $74 million deal he signed as part of a rookie extension. The Rockets can absorb the money, but will Johnson be able to thrive as not the main guy offensively?
San Antonio probably would do this in a heartbeat. The Spurs need talent and are unlikely to be competitive this year.
Brooklyn Nets Trade
Rockets Receive: Cam Johnson
Nets Receive: KJ Martin, Jae’Sean Tate, No. 4 Pick, two future firsts
Analysis: Johnson is coming off a career season and was fantastic in his short stint with the Nets. He is a two-way wing who can stroke it from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Tate is a similar player to Johnson, just not as talented overall or explosive offensively or as strong of a shooter.
Brooklyn has said that they plan on building around Johnson and Mikal Bridges. However, the future picks are very enticing and would allow them to get out of the luxury tax. It will enable the Nets to see what they have in many of their players and subtracts from the abundance of wings currently on the roster, allowing them the flexibility to keep their picks.
Atlanta Hawks Trade
Atlanta Receives: Kevin Porter Jr,, Jae’Sean Tate, KJ Martin, No. 4 pick, 2025 and 2027 first rounders
Analysis: Murray is possibly the secondary star that the Rockets would be looking for to go along with Harden. A tenacious two-way player, Murray was fantastic in his first season with the Hawks and shot a career-best 46.4% from the field. Collins is a solid low-post scorer, although his efficiency has waned lately, and rim-protector and rebounder.
Porter is a high-volume scorer who improved his efficiency this past season. The 23-year-old can play all three perimeter positions and is a good passer. Turnovers and defense are issues.
While this is an excellent trade proposal that possibly benefits both sides, the Hawks are unlikely to want to trade Murray after giving up a ransom to acquire him a year ago.
Indiana Pacers Trade
Indiana Receives: Alperen Sengun, Kevin Porter Jr, KJ Martin, No. 4 Pick, 2025 first-rounder
Analysis: Turner is one of the best big men in the game, though he is quite underrated and is coming off a career season. The 27-year-old was highly efficient and averaged 18 points on just 11 shots. Meanwhile, Hield is an elite shooter who set a career-high in 3-pointers (288) while connecting on them at a 42.5% clip.
Sengun took a massive step in year two. The 20-year-old center is highly talented, but how much better can he become?
This deal may work. The Pacers look like an up-and-coming team that could use talent. Bob Kravitz, an Indiana Columnist, agrees.
“The Pacers are — or should be — all about youth at this point. Sengun, KPJ [Porter Jr.] and Martin give them some young, productive pieces, and they would salivate at a chance to move up to four.”
Golden State Warriors Trade
Golden State Receives: Kevin Porter Jr., Jae’Sean Tate, KJ Martin, No. 4 Pick, 2025 and 2027 first-rounders
Poole and Kuminga are intriguing youngsters. However, why would the Rockets want those two, particularly for such a haul of first-rounders?