Gordon + Wood Trade Package

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Updated: September 19, 2021
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This is not so much a trade speculation piece but more of a trade suggestion article, considering from what sources have stated going into the deadline last year and throughout this offseason, Houston has zero intention of trading 6-foot 10 modern big man, Christian Wood. With the news of Eric Gordon being properly placed on the block, every one of us has delightfully entrenched ourselves in the trade machine looking for his new home. And as many of you have soon realized, there aren’t many exchanges available that are particularly beneficial for the Rockets unless one’s primary goal is to simply save owner David Fortita a bit of money moving forward. Gordon’s constant injury history in combination with the 3 years left on his somewhat overpriced deal makes him an unfavorable asset.

When healthy, he is a two-way guard that fits on any roster in the NBA. The question though that every team is concerned about, is come the playoffs if the 3 and D guard they traded a first-round pick for will even be available. Most of the deals that are mutually beneficial in the 2 team trades for Eric Gordon essentially result in an expiring deal and a pair of seconds going to Houston and the gamble of Gordon’s health going out in exchange. It is extremely unlikely Houston would be able to acquire a 1st while also saving money on expiring salaries, considering if such a deal existed, it would have already been executed last year or earlier in the offseason.

This is where Christian Wood is inserted into the trade equation. Unlike Gordon, his asset value is as high as any contract around the league. He’s only 25 years old, and severely underpaid for the on-court production he displayed last season in Houston. Unlike most players of his caliber, teams don’t have to trade a substantial amount of salaries to match his and attach picks or rookie contracts for his services as a win-now player who also has potential upside. He is one of those rare pieces that a franchise can trade for the now and the future. This variable in combination with his offensive versatility makes him the ideal trade piece…that is if Houston had any desire of doing so.

Now as sought after as Wood may be, if placed on the trade market, he is relatively a top-tier asset due to his value, not his actual play. He isn’t a top 20 player and many might not even have him as a top 40 player depending on who you ask. So there is a world, where even if Houston had no direct intention of trading their young big away, if they were not only able to get off the Eric Gordon contract that has no use for them with their current guard rotation but also get an overpay in picks for Wood, it might be something they would be forced to consider. That is why these trade offers have to come from outside, from the opposing party. Houston cannot actively shop Wood without fracturing their interpersonal relationship moving forward. However, if an offer came in about Gordon that included Wood and a surplus of picks, it is something that would most likely be in their best interest.

Although Wood is young, his future near-max-extension does not match the backcourt he is being paired with. Now, it’s not super problematic either, keeping Wood is definitely a logical option and the option they probably will pursue. However, the flexibility a stack of picks gives a franchise moving forward should not be downplayed. Sure in a vacuum, 3 or 4 late first-round picks doesn’t look like anything particularly exciting, however, when added to the pile of the Brooklyn Nets picks and Houston’s own picks after 2027, there is a future where once Jalen Green and House Jr. properly pop and are coming into their prime, the Rockets would have the assets to be a frontrunner in trade for a top tier wing or forward. It would also make the tank this year easier since this is one of the last upcoming years where they still own their pick. The two trade proposals below are one’s I have no expectations to be executed, but at the very least should be philosophically considered.

Houston

Two unprotected firsts, 3 seconds, and a gamble on the heavily tainted asset of Kristaps Porzingis are collected by the Rockets in exchange for dumping the Gordon contract and giving up their prized young big in Christian Wood. What’s interesting about this deal is there is a world where Porzingis has a better season next year than Wood and this deal is a complete landslide in Houston’s favor. There is also a probable scenario where KP is a locker room issue, misses 20 games from injury, and is completely underwhelming on the defensive end on the floor. The spread on the distance between the two outcomes is overwhelming, to say the least. However, KP on a young team with zero expectations might be the perfect fit for him. Houston would pair him with stretch 4 small ball 5 Daniel Theis in the frontcourt to pair with their newly formed high upside backcourt guards. With no expectations of winning many games, and truly being incentivized to lose more than they win, KP’s defensive liabilities are less of concern in this equation. As a floor spacer on the offensive end, he would create attacking opportunities for House Jr. and Jalen Green that very few bigs in this league could provide.

From this perspective of a tanking team trying to develop their two guards, the gamble is less of concern for KP panning out as the player his contract suggests he should be. As long as he’s healthy for 70% of the regular season and shoots north of 38% the draft capital given to Houston in the exchange makes the trade a favorable one. It also creates flexibility in the future when Porzingis’ contract expires, in contrast to keeping Wood who would most likely be given a 100-120 million dollar deal two years from now. If Houston believes Wood is a future All-Star in the West then this deal is ludicrous and they shouldn’t consider moving him. However, if they are more in the belief system that he will be a very good player yet it is more likely at 25 million he is a bit overpaid, this move is one to consider.

Dallas

For Dallas the exchange is simple, they want off Porzingis and are willing to dump a surplus of draft capital to do so. Wood gives them not only an upgrade at the 4/5, but is a perfect companion in the frontcourt with their two flexible bigs in Powel and Maxi Kleber. He also matches Luka’s timeline and could be his pick and roll partner for the foreseeable future. Gordon’s contract is a gamble as already stated above, and yet if healthy in the playoffs could be the second-best scorer for the Mavericks in a game or two in a series. There were moments in the KD-Warriors wars with Houston where Gordon took over quarters in a way that if an extraterrestrial was watching and didn’t know the names on the backs of the jerseys they may have assumed he was the All-NBA talent on the floor. Because of the win-now production + potential of his ceiling moving forward, I love the move for the Mavericks.

Houston

This is an exchange that brings with it a significantly less amount of upside and yet maybe a better fit long term for the development of the Rocket’s young core. Houston Receives Horford on his 2-year 53 million dollar contract, 6”6 power forward Grant Williams, college sniper Aaron Nesmith, 4 firsts, and a pair of seconds. Again, for a team not looking to stack W’s next year, Horford arguably is a best-case scenario when looking around the league at inflated salaries that teams are willing to dump. He’s notoriously a good locker room guy, intelligent, can help develop other bigs, and spaces the floor. Although his number is bigger than Gordon’s it is a year shorter, creating more flexibility for the 2023-24 season.

As for the rookie contracts in Williams and Nesmith, neither are projected to have high ceilings, but it wouldn’t be a huge stretch of the imagination to see them as good rotation pieces. But the biggest part of the deal for the Rockets is obviously the 4 first-round draft picks acquired. Again, it is not the late selections that bring interest to such a deal, it is the package down the road of these picks in combination with the Nets picks and their own that could result in an All-Star to pair with their future explosive backcourt.

Boston

 No doubt a pretty penny for a big who has yet to even been mentioned in All-Stars discussion, this is an all-in move motivated by the fact that these late 1 rounders have done little for them, and it’s time to cash potential chips for current on-court production. But again, the rarity and flexibility of the Christian Wood acquisition not only is a clear upgrade at the 4, but he also still has yet to step into his prime. There is a world where Jaylen Brown (24), Jason Tatum (23), Robert Williams III (23), and Christian Wood (25) all hit their prime all at once. This squad plus Marcus Smart or Dennis Schröder could prove to be absolutely lethal and would be worth mortgaging the draft capital to execute it.

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