Eric Gordon

Rockets Rumors: Draft, Gordon, Wall, Martin

The Rockets mulled the idea of trying to trade up from No. 3 in last Thursday’s draft, but given that the draft class featured three prospects (Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and Chet Holmgren) considered top-tier options, they didn’t feel the need to give up the assets necessary to move up a spot or two, general manager Rafael Stone tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

“We thought about it a lot,” Stone said. “But it wasn’t clear who we’d be moving up to. You think about moving up in every spot of the draft. You always think about that, that’s part of the job. But one of the nice things — and we knew on lottery night — was that we were going to get somebody that we thought could be part of our organization for a long time and really help us take the next step in this process we’re trying to build.

“That doesn’t mean you foreclose conversations; you talk to everybody about everything, but we always felt comfortable picking where we were picking and were really excited.”

Here are several more Rockets-related notes and rumors from Iko:

  • The Rockets received calls when they were on the clock at No. 17 from teams looking to acquire the pick and would have been more inclined to entertain those offers if Tari Eason hadn’t been on the board, according to Iko.
  • Iko describes trade interest in Eric Gordon as having gotten more “fervent” within the last couple weeks and notes that teams were making offers during last week’s draft that included 2022 picks. The Sixers were one of the clubs that made a proposal, but the Rockets continue to value Gordon more highly than the packages they’ve been offered and aren’t desperate to move him, Iko writes.
  • Like Marc Stein, Iko has heard that the Rockets and John Wall may finally be gaining momentum toward a divorce, with a buyout considered more likely than a trade. The two sides are expected to meet this week, and Wall is hoping to come to a resolution by the start of free agency on Thursday, sources tell The Athletic.
  • The Trail Blazers and Nets are among the teams that have inquired on Kenyon Martin Jr., who reportedly wouldn’t be opposed to a trade.

Texas Notes: Murray, Spurs, Wall, Gordon, Eason

The Spurs drafted three high-upside 19-year-olds on Thursday, with the hopes that one or more of their new prospects can help All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray reach new heights on the court — or perhaps replace him as the next face of the franchise, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News.

San Antonio is hopeful that pesky ex-Baylor center Jeremy Sochan, selected with the ninth pick in the draft, sharpshooting wing Malaki Branham, and defensive-oriented guard Blake Wesley will all develop into solid contributors.

Given the fact that Murray is now an All-Star talent on a desirable below-market contract, Finger notes that the Spurs may be wary of giving the 25-year-old point guard a maximum contract extension that would pay in the neighborhood of $40MM annually. If the team decides Murray isn’t capable of being the best player on a title team, it may still look to move him for a solid haul and hope that one of the new players in this rebuild can become the team’s next All-Star.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • The Spurs‘ front office is satisfied with its latest draft picks, per  Tom Osborn of the San Antonio Express-News“We approach every draft trying to find the best available talent,” Spurs general manager Brian Wright said. “We walked away from this one feeling pretty good about what we ended up with. We had all three guys with draft grades inside of [the top] 20.” Osborn notes that the 6’8″ Sochan, a versatile defender honored as the 2022 Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, was drafted with the highest pick the Spurs have used since 1997. “As you see now, teams playing smaller and guys being able to guard multiple positions, do different things on the floor,” Wright said. “We think he complements the group really well. He’s a connector, right? He connects you on both ends of the floor.”
  • After the Rockets enjoyed a robust draft last week, adding three intriguing youngsters in the first round, the team is set to turn its attention to the futures of veteran guards John Wall and Eric Gordon, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Both players could be in the final season of their lucrative contracts: Wall’s deal expires in the summer of 2023, and Gordon has a non-guaranteed $20.9MM team option for the 2023/24 season. Feigen says that Gordon’s defensive skills may make him a solid trade target for contenders, but cautions that teams may temper their trade package offers given that Houston will be hoping to offload him for whatever offer they can finagle.
  • Though new Rockets forward Tari Eason, selected with the No. 17 pick out of LSU, did not even start in college, he is confident he can excel in Houston, writes Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. A speedy, defensively-oriented 6’8″ forward with a 7’2″ wingspan, Eason noted that his emergence as something of a late-blooming prospect helped fuel him. “I’ve always had a pretty good defensive mindset just from my competitive nature from high school, even before then,” Eason said. “I wasn’t heavily recruited so I always carried that chip on my shoulder and that real edge that has helped me carry through.” Eason was not without some pedigree by the time he finished his NCAA tenure: he was voted the 2022 SEC Sixth Man of the Year and made the 2022 All-SEC First Team.

Sixers Pursuing Eric Gordon, Talking To Blazers About Thybulle

The Sixers are making an effort to acquire guard Eric Gordon from the Rockets, league sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

As Pompey outlines, the 76ers are dangling defensive standout Matisse Thybulle in their talks for Gordon and are looking to involve a third team. According to Pompey, the Trail Blazers have interest in making a straight-up trade for Thybulle, but Philadelphia wants to turn it into a three-team deal in order to land Gordon (Twitter link).

There are some missing details here, including which other players the Sixers would send out in such a trade — even fully guaranteeing Danny Green‘s $10MM contract for 2022/23 and attaching him to Thybulle wouldn’t quite get the team into salary-matching range for Gordon, who will earn $19.6MM next season. But presumably the 76ers’ thinking is that if there’s a team willing to give up a first-round pick for Thybulle, that selection could be rerouted to Houston for Gordon.

The Sixers’ interest in Gordon was first reported by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst earlier this week. Gordon and P.J. Tucker have been the targets most frequently linked to Philadelphia in recent days, which perhaps shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that both veterans played key roles on Daryl Morey‘s most successful squads in Houston.

If they can land Gordon, the Sixers would secure a solid outside shooter and ball-handler who can hold his own and handle switches on defense. The Suns are among the other teams said to have interest in the 33-year-old.

The Blazers, meanwhile, are known to be in the market for strong wing defenders, even after agreeing to acquire Jerami Grant from Detroit. Portland has been connected to players like OG Anunoby and Luguentz Dort, but the asking price for Thybulle would likely be more reasonable.

Rockets Notes: Rebuilding, Porter, Gordon, Beauchamp

The Rockets own three first-round picks in tonight’s draft, which marks the latest step in a rebuilding project that began when James Harden was traded 17 months ago, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Instead of seeking immediate contributors in the Harden deal, Houston opted for a package from the Nets that was heavy on draft picks, including the 17th selection this year.

Another reported option was an offer from Philadelphia centered around Ben Simmons, but the Rockets’ front office decided Simmons wasn’t a player they wanted to build around. Instead, they made what Patrick Fertitta, son of owner Tilman Fertitta, calls a “hard and, at the time, very unpopular decision” to undergo a complete rebuild.

“There wasn’t an equally attractive alternative at the time,” general manager Rafael Stone said. “Not even close from our perspective. I am a big believer in going all-in. Whether it is to go all-in to rebuild or all-in to win a championship.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • The Rockets are sold on Jalen Green as the centerpiece of their future, but there are concerns around the league that backcourt partner Kevin Porter Jr. may not be reliable enough for a long-term commitment, MacMahon states in the same story. Porter, who is eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, improved as a defender and three-point shooter last season, but there are questions about whether he should be the starting point guard or a sixth man. “He is not a finished product,” Stone says. “He just turned 22. He needs to grow and improve, on and off the court, but we are excited about him and his trajectory.”
  • Houston is also facing a decision on Eric Gordon, the last veteran remaining from the Harden era, MacMahon adds. The 33-year-old guard could be moved if the Rockets get a first-round pick in return, but the front office likes having him around to mentor the young players. “It’s a tough situation,” Gordon said. “When you’re doing a rebuild, it’s a long-term type thing. Guys have to know that this is a long-term plan. If it’s a long-term plan for these young guys, then I have to know there’s a long-term plan for me, too.”
  • MarJon Beauchamp remembers when the Rockets were the only team to send a scout to watch him play at Yakima Valley College, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Beauchamp worked out for Houston a few weeks ago and appears to be a candidate to be selected at No. 17 or 26.

Sixers, Suns Pursuing Rockets’ Eric Gordon?

The Sixers and Suns are two of the teams interested in a trade with the Rockets for veteran guard Eric Gordon, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.

Gordon, who averaged 13.4 PPG and shot 41.2% from 3-point range this past season, will make $19.57MM next season and has another non-guaranteed season left on his contract after that. Gordon could provide a perimeter boost to either playoff contender and would reunite with former Rockets teammate Chris Paul if he winds up in Phoenix.

Windhorst and Zach Lowe offered a number of interesting nuggets on ESPN’s NBA Today (video link):

  • The Sixers also have interest in veteran forward P.J. Tucker, who is opting out of the final year of his contract with the Heat.
  • The Hawks are looking at “five or six potential deals,” according to Windhorst, with everyone but Trae Young and possibly De’Andre Hunter in play. They could part with the No. 16 pick in certain scenarios.
  • The Hornets aren’t expected to hold onto both of their first-round picks at No. 13 and No. 15 and might even move both of them, along with a big salary, as they try to clear cap space to re-sign restricted free agent Miles Bridges. Charlotte could also be angling for the Pacers’ Myles Turner, according to Lowe.
  • The Grizzlies, with two picks late in the first round, are looking to clear a backcourt logjam and could move up or down the draft board as they try to maximize their trade chips. De’Anthony Melton, in particular, has drawn “a lot” of interest around the NBA, says Lowe.

Rockets/Mavs Rumors: Gordon, Schröder, Wood Trade, Pinson

The Rockets held firm in their asking price of a first-round pick in exchange for Christian Wood and landed the 26th selection after agreeing to a trade with the Mavericks, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Sources tell Fischer that Houston’s asking price remains the same for Eric Gordon, with the team seeking yet another first-rounder.

Gordon was productive for the rebuilding club in 2021/22, averaging 13.4 points, 2.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists on .475/.412/.778 shooting in 57 games, including 46 starts (29.3 minutes). Although his points per game were tied for a career-low, the veteran shooting guard posted a career-best true shooting percentage of 61.4%.

The 33-year-old is essentially on an expiring $19.57MM contract in ’22/23, as his $20.92MM figure for ’23/24 is non-guaranteed.

Here’s more on the Rockets and Mavs:

  • As Keith Smith of Spotrac observes (via Twitter), if the Rockets keep all of their first round picks (third, 17th and 26th), they’ll have 19 players on guaranteed contracts for ’22/23, so Houston will have to make additional moves to get down to 15 prior to next season. Smith also notes that Dennis Schröder and Bruno Fernando are likely out of the picture due to the roster crunch. While this is an assumption on Smith’s part and not a report, his logic certainly makes sense, as neither player figures to be in the team’s long-term plans. Schröder is an unrestricted free agent this summer, while Fernando could be restricted if Houston tenders him a $2.2MM qualifying offer, which seems very unlikely at this point.
  • In his video breakdown of the trade, Bobby Marks of ESPN says the Rockets will generate a $4MM trade exception as part of the deal. Zach Harper of The Athletic grades the swap, giving the Mavs a B-plus and the Rockets a B.
  • Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle says (via Twitter) that Wood’s character concerns are overblown, calling him a “stand-up guy in an unbelievably tough two-season stretch.” Feigen believes Wood will “flourish” in Dallas.
  • The timing of the trade was interesting, per Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link), who notes that Paolo Banchero worked out for the Rockets earlier in the day and then the team decided to trade a starting big man in Wood. Banchero is widely projected to go third overall to Houston.
  • The four-for-one swap creates an unexpected amount of roster room for the Mavs, and league sources tell Marc Stein (via Twitter) that Theo Pinson is “strongly expected” to be re-signed on a standard deal. Pinson was viewed as the unofficial ring leader of the Mavs’ bench mob that earned the team $175K in fines during the playoffs due to its “bench decorum” violations. Stein reported a few weeks ago that Dallas wanted to retain Pinson, who is no longer eligible for a two-way contract after obtaining four years of NBA experience.
  • One of Dallas’ top priorities entering free agency is acquiring a wing capable of receiving rotation minutes in the playoffs, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The Mavs will be a luxury tax team in ’22/23, so their main tool to sign a free agent will be the taxpayer mid-level exception, which is projected to be worth $6,392,000.

Southwest Notes: Wood, Gordon, Schröder, Grizzlies, Mavs

Rockets veterans Christian Wood (left hamstring tightness), Eric Gordon (right groin soreness), and Dennis Schröder (left shoulder soreness) were held out of Monday’s game vs. San Antonio and seem unlikely to play any more this season, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

As Feigen outlines, none of those injuries are invented, but it’s probably safe to assume Wood, Gordon, and Schröder wouldn’t all be sidelined by “tightness” and “soreness” if the Rockets were in the midst of a playoff race. Instead, the team is invested in securing a top spot in the draft lottery — currently, Houston is in a three-way tie for the NBA’s worst record (20-56).

With Wood, Gordon, and Schröder out, prospects like Daishen Nix and Usman Garuba will likely see more action down the stretch for the Rockets, joining fellow rookies Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Josh Christopher in the regular rotation, Feigen writes. Nix and Garuba each played 14 minutes in Monday’s loss to the Spurs.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In addition to having the NBA’s second-best record this season, the Grizzlies are the “sleeping giant” of the 2022 offseason, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. As Leroux lays out, Memphis has some cap flexibility and a handful of draft picks available this summer and should be motivated to add talent before Ja Morant transitions from his rookie contract to a more expensive second contract in 2023.
  • The Mavericks strongly considered signing free agent guard Quinn Cook to a 10-day hardship contract earlier in the season, but ultimately chose Isaiah Thomas in part due to proximity, writes Marc Stein at his Substack. Cook, who is currently playing for the Stockton Kings in the G League, said in a tweet over the weekend that he was at “rock bottom” earlier this year and would be thrilled to get an NBA call-up before the season is over.
  • The Mavericks hired Jason Kidd as their head coach in part because of the impact the Hall-of-Fame point guard could have on Luka Doncic, and so far it seems that bet is paying off, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s been great for us,” Doncic said of Kidd. “He communicates with the players. He’s just been great, helping not just me but everybody, just to see a better picture.”

Rockets Notes: Schröder, Stone, Wood, Gordon

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone expressed optimism that newly acquired guard Dennis Schröder will fit well with the team, Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic tweets. Houston traded for the 28-year-old earlier this week.

“I think the style of basketball we play, we’re either the fastest or top 3-4 fastest in the NBA,” Stone said. “And he’s electric in the open court, and an above average defender. I think it’s gonna be a good fit, both ways.”

Schröder had been considered a possible buyout candidate following his trade from Boston to Houston, but Stone’s comments suggest that’s not the team’s plan. If the Rockets do choose to keep Schröder, he’d provide backcourt depth behind starting guards Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.

In 49 games this season, Schröder has averaged 14.4 points and 4.2 assists in 29.2 minutes per contest. He’s shot 44% from the floor and 35% from deep during those outings.

Here are some other notes from Houston:

  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic hosted a Q&A with veteran big man Christian Wood before the trade deadline, discussing the team’s rebuild, Wood’s individual growth and more. Wood has played in 52 of his team’s 55 games this season, averaging 17.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per contest.
  • Stone expressed confidence that Eric Gordon wants to be in Houston after not being moved in a deadline deal, Alykhan Bijani tweets. “Eric wants to be here. I feel really comfortable talking about that,” Stone said. The 33-year-old is set to make $19.6MM next season and holds a $20.1MM team option for the 2023/24 campaign, so he could be a trade candidate again in the offseason or at next year’s deadline.
  • Stone also discussed whether the team received trade offers for Wood and Gordon, explaining why he didn’t move either of the players. “We obviously didn’t receive an offer that we wanted to do more than we wanted to keep the guys. I think they’re important parts of this team,” Stone said as part of a larger quote, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Kings, Barnes, Jazz, Gordon, Nets, Sixers

The Kings have made on major trade already this week, sending three players, including Tyrese Haliburton, to Indiana in exchange for a three-player package headlined by Domantas Sabonis. However, they may not be done dealing yet. A front office source who spoke to Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com believes there’s another Sacramento move on the way before Thursday’s deadline.

“That one (the Sabonis trade) is just Part One,” the source told Bulpett.

Kings forward Harrison Barnes remains a candidate to be moved, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who hears from sources that the team is expected to “aggressively” explore the market for Barnes.

There should be no shortage of suitors for Barnes, a solid defender who is knocking down 40.5% of his three-point attempts this season and has a reasonable contract ($20.3MM this season, $18.4MM next year). Marc Berman of The New York Post, who hears from multiple sources that the Kings would be open to moving Barnes, reports that the Knicks are one team that has inquired on the veteran forward.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Jazz have expressed interest in trading for Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. As Scotto writes, Utah has been dangling Joe Ingles‘ expiring contract and a future first-round pick in the hopes of adding a wing, while Houston has sought a first-rounder in any deal involving Gordon.
  • While ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link) thinks there’s a real chance of the Nets and Sixers completing a James Harden/Ben Simmons trade this week, Brooklyn head coach Steve Nash said on Tuesday that he expects his roster to be the same after Thursday’s trade deadline as it is now, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).
  • Whether or not they trade Simmons, the Sixers are in the market for another backcourt player, head coach Doc Rivers said on Tuesday (Twitter link via Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “We have no choice. We have to get another guard,” Rivers said. “We just do. Even if Furk (Furkan Korkmaz) and Shake (Milton handle the ball), we need a point guard, and we’re looking. But they don’t grow on trees, as you know.”

Cavs Notes: LeVert, Trade Talks, Okoro, Draft Pick

The Cavaliers and Pacers began to engage in exploratory discussions about Caris LeVert shortly after Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, who notes that the Cavs’ deadline priorities likely would’ve looked different if Rubio’s injury hadn’t occurred.

Before officially acquiring LeVert, the Cavaliers looked into a series of other options, per Fedor, inquiring on Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo, Rockets guard Eric Gordon, Spurs guard Derrick White, Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield, and Magic wings Terrence Ross and Gary Harris.

Cleveland didn’t move forward on any of those players for a variety of reasons. For instance, the Bucks didn’t want to help a team they might have to face in the playoffs, while the Cavs didn’t want to part with a first-round pick for Gordon or with a combination of picks and young players for White, says Fedor.

Ultimately, the Cavs decided LeVert was the right fit at the right price, satisfying their goal of improving in the short term without losing sight of their long-term goals. LeVert is only under contract through 2022/23 for now, but if things go well in Cleveland, he could become the next piece of the team’s core, Fedor writes.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers will continue to seek upgrades around the margins in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline. Cleveland controls San Antonio’s 2022 second-rounder and would prefer to keep it, but that pick has drawn plenty of interest, says Fedor.
  • The Pacers expressed interest in Isaac Okoro during their negotiations with the Cavaliers, but Cleveland didn’t want to part with the former lottery pick, sources tell Fedor. The Cavs’ willingness to include Houston’s 2022 second-rounder in their package helped bring the deal across the finish line, since that pick was viewed as something close to a first-rounder.
  • Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised head of basketball operations Koby Altman for the moves he has made to help turn the Cavs around, as Fedor relays. “When you look at the deals that he’s made, he has made us much better basketball team through his aggressiveness and seeking value where others may not see, but having the idea of how this one impacts the next,” Bickerstaff said. “The proof is there. You look at guys like Jarrett (Allen) and what he’s been able to do for this team and that’s a credit to Koby for making sure we got involved in what Brooklyn was trying to do. It wasn’t just Koby being singularly focused on something. He put himself in position with other teams as well and that speaks to the communication, his reputation, and being able to have those conversations with other teams.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and John Hollinger of The Athletic view the LeVert trade as a win-win for the Cavaliers and Pacers, since Cleveland looks like an ideal fit for the swingman and Indiana got a good return for him.
  • The first-round pick the Cavaliers traded to Indiana in the deal is top-14 protected in 2022 and again in 2023, per RealGM. In the unlikely event that the pick lands in the lottery both years, the Pacers would instead receive Cleveland’s 2025 second-round pick and the Lakers’ 2026 second-rounder.