June 25, 2022

It’s that time of year when the draft is just weeks away, and if your team isn’t in the Finals, you’re dusting off the business machine. Some Houston Rockets fans had been hoping for the Eric Gordon and Christian Wood trade for a year.

As far as Gordon is concerned, it’s more about freeing up game time for the young guards and not necessarily about his game. With Wood, it’s a different story. Some fans don’t like his style of play or his perceived lack of effort on the defensive side and want him to leave to pave the way for players like Alperen Sengun.

Trade rumors have been rife for a few weeks. Most, if not all, or only rumors. Trades rarely happen this time of year, and with the Rockets still having several picks this season, if that happens, it won’t involve the Rockets. There are plenty of reasons why moving Gordon or Wood to a bad long-term contract to grab another first-round pick isn’t a good idea. Here are a few reasons why the Rockets shouldn’t even consider it.

The Rockets already have several choices over the next few years

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The Rockets had four outstanding first-round picks last year. For a team that was rarely, if at all, in the first round of the draft during the James Harden era, four first-round picks were a revelation. Three of those picks had an immediate impact, and the fourth, Usman Garuba, has a chance to make a huge leap forward this year.

Of course, that’s great news for the Rockets, especially as they grow, but the downside of having so many choices in a short period of time is that you’ll have to pay those players with the players of third or fourth year. Consider two more picks in the 2023 draft and maybe two more in the 2024 draft (Thunder will acquire the pick if it’s outside of the top four). That’s one of the reasons the Rockets wouldn’t trade Gordon for a first-round pick in this draft.

Another part of this is that you start to run out of places on the list. Factor in a bad contract and, more than likely, a player who wants playing time, and you compound your roster throttling issues.

Rockets must maintain ceiling flexibility

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors

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The Rockets, in multiple reports, have mentioned the 2023 free agent class as the one they are targeting. At this point, John Wall will be off the Rockets books along with possibly Wood and Gordon. That leaves the Rockets with just $30 million in salary and plenty of room to be a big player in free agency.

If the Rockets, for example, hired a player like Duncan Robinson, who earns nearly $19 million a year for the next four years, to get the Heat’s first-round pick, it wouldn’t just hamper the ability to give playing time for players like Josh Christopher would eat away at their salary cap for years to come.

Many teams would like to drop their horrible contracts on the Rockets to free up their own cap space. However, the Rockets, as mentioned earlier, aren’t suffering for draft picks, and being another team’s cap savior shouldn’t be part of their future plans.

Rockets probably won’t compete for a few years

Atlanta Hawks vs. Houston Rockets

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The flexibility of the above ceiling and the absence of competition in the next two years go hand in hand. The Rockets, in all likelihood, will be bad again next year. How much we don’t know, but their cap is vying for a play-in. Yes, in competition, without even making the play-in, which leaves plenty of room to be near the bottom again next year.

With that reality, you have no reason to trade Gordon and Wood just for more picks when you can just let Wood walk past next year. Gordon has more trade value right now than Wood, and you can probably get good value for him. In the case of Christian Wood, interest around the league has been lacking for a year.

Of course, if you’re the Rockets, you don’t want to lose Wood for nothing to the free agent market, but you’re not in win-now mode. You are not the Phoenix Suns or the Philadelphia 76ers, who are trying to win a championship over the next two seasons. The Rockets can play the long game, and that should include letting Wood sign with another team if the only offer is a bad long-term contract.


The Rockets should look to move Gordon and Wood. Both players can help other teams, but right now it’s not a good fit for the Rockets. Factor in the lack of interest in Christian Wood, and the Rockets had better get away with it than bring back players whose contracts don’t make sense for the Rockets in the long run.

Again, moving Eric Gordon is a lot easier, and you shouldn’t have to take bad long-term contracts back, but if that’s all you can get for Christian Wood, then you need to let him walk after the 2022-23 season and not hinder you in the long term.

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