1 player Rockets must trade in 2023 NBA offseason

The Houston Rockets may be about to change course, taking control of their destiny by refusing to wait for chance and going after players that will elevate them into playoff contention.

Rumblings about whether or not the Rockets and James Harden are looking for a reunion have been met with rumors that Houston has another veteran on their mind.

In fact, while Harden returning to Houston may generate the biggest storyline this offseason, the idea of pairing second-year guard Jalen Green with All-Star wing Jaylen Brown could create an even bigger buzz.

For one, Brown is seven years younger than Harden. Though The Beard has certainly accomplished more and proven that he can lead a team to the playoffs as the primary option, he’s still 12 years older than Green, which raises the question of how long they would even play together. That question won’t be had with Brown.

Furthermore, the 33-year-old playmaker is dealing with an Achilles injury.

If he was 10 years younger, it wouldn’t be as concerning. Yet, even with all of the advancements in modern medicine, Achilles injuries have led to the premature ending of multiple Hall of Fame careers.

Nonetheless, in order to acquire a player of Brown’s caliber at least, the Rockets may have to trade their top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. To that point, Houston may not be keen on adding another inexperienced player to their young core at the moment, as they already have eight players on their roster in their rookie or second season.

That said, even if they trade the pick, they’ll have to move players. Not to match salaries, given their projected $72.6 million in cap space this offseason but for the locker room chemistry.

Here’s one player the Rockets must trade in 2023 offseason.

1 player Rockets must trade in 2023 offseason

When looking at the Rockets’ certified core players, Green is the most explosive and has the highest potential. However, second-year center Alperen Sengun is the most skilled and savvy player on the roster.

Rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. had a slow start to his season but has played confidently and efficiently as of late. Giving up on him too early would be foolhardy.

Then there’s rookie forward Tari Eason, a player that’s proven himself capable of consistently impacting the game on both ends.

Lastly, and for the purpose of the discussion most importantly, is the dynamic Kevin Porter Jr.

Prior to the arrival of Green, Porter was the Rockets’ most talented young perimeter player. Capable of scoring at all three levels, KPJ has little issue creating a shot for himself or others. On the defensive end, he also has all of the physical tools needed to shine.

Yet, because of his relative inefficiency — which is more streakiness than anything — and because his skillset is being undermined by making him a full-time point guard, KPJ isn’t guaranteed to start for the Rockets moving forward.

In fact, he would be a bit comparable to veteran guard Eric Gordon in his role, in that he could be a Super Sixth Man or a starter depending on the state of the team.

That said, there’s reason to question how Porter would handle being demoted to the bench.

Porter has matured since being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers early in his second season. A move the Cavs made despite him being a popular player due to an altercation with his coaching staff and the front office.

One has to wonder if he would meet the challenge with a mature approach. If he doesn’t, will he just be a ticking time-bomb on the bench or a locker room distraction?

Frankly, there’s no telling how it would play out.

Due to these factors, and because his salary will increase to $18.2 million annually beginning next season, the Rockets must trade Porter.

What a potential Rockets-Celtics trade looks like

Say that the Rockets called up Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens to discuss a deal for Brown. Stevens is unlikely to hang up quickly given that they’ve already had discussions about trading Brown themselves. This will be particularly true if contract negotiations turn sour with the two-time All-Star eligible for an extension this offseason.

Could Houston offer enough to convince one of the top Eastern Conference teams to trade Brown a season before he becomes a free agent?

Their top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft is expected to be a top-four selection. It could have plenty of value, especially if it’s the second overall pick thanks to the fanfare that surrounds G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson.

(A player that the Rockets don’t need, by the way.)

With that pick — which the Celtics may opt to use on a player like Alabama forward Brandon Miller — and Porter, they may believe that they have enough in just that return to replace what Brown brings to the court.

Why do the Rockets, Celtics make the trade?

Understandably, this may make the Rockets themselves wonder if they should stand pat or not.

Nonetheless, the difference between Boston and Houston is two-fold, in this scenario:

While Green has plenty of potential, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is already a superstar. More often than not, he would be able to carry a new-look Boston team through the rough patches. KPJ and Miller may average a combined 27 points per game or more. It just won’t be as efficiently as Brown would manage single-handedly.
Adding another hand in the pot in Houston with multiple young players trying to prove themselves is dangerous for chemistry. For the Rockets, it’ addition by subtraction; giving one player the responsibility that two players would have had to split. Conversely, by splitting Brown’s role into two, Boston is likely to have better overall ball-movement and chemistry.

Should the Rockets also include further draft compensation (perhaps another first-round pick) and another young player (such as second-year guard Josh Christopher), the Celtics will have to seriously consider the deal.

They may even come back with a counteroffer of their own. As long as Green is off the table in those talks though, Houston should entertain that themselves.

The post 1 player Rockets must trade in 2023 NBA offseason appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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