Rockets Rumors

Cavaliers Eyeing LeVert, Gordon, Ross, Covington

Caris LeVert, Eric Gordon, and Terrence Ross are among the players the Cavaliers have been monitoring as potential trade targets, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The 29-19 Cavaliers, led by point guard Darius Garland and big men Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, remain firmly in the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, but could use some extra help on the wing. They’re reportedly dangling Ricky Rubio‘s expiring contract and draft assets in trade discussions.

LeVert has been linked to Cleveland several times since word broke in December that the Pacers had made him available, but Gordon and Ross haven’t been mentioned as possibilities for the Cavs nearly as often. Both the Rockets and Magic are believed to be seeking a first-round pick in exchange for their respective wings.

LeVert, Gordon, and Ross are all under contract for at least one more season beyond 2021/22, which perhaps increases their appeal for the Cavs, who wouldn’t want to give up any significant assets for a rental.

Besides those three shooting guards, the Cavs have reached out to the Trail Blazers about Robert Covington, according to Scotto, who says the Timberwolves and Jazz are among the other teams to inquire on the forward. Covington is on an expiring contract and is a bigger wing who doesn’t play the two, so he may not place as high on Cleveland’s list of targets, but it’s worth noting that the team isn’t just looking at guards.

The Cavs also like Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, says Scotto, but a deadline deal involving Harris seems unlikely. His ongoing recovery from ankle surgery will likely limit what suitors are willing to offer, but Brooklyn wouldn’t want to give him up in a deal that doesn’t include an impact player, per Scotto.

Rockets’ Garuba Out Indefinitely Due To Wrist Injury

Rockets rookie forward Usman Garuba is dealing with a left wrist injury that is more serious than initially believed, head coach Stephen Silas said on Tuesday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Garuba has been ruled out indefinitely.

Garuba had been on a G League assignment with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and last played with the team on Saturday. He showed up on the Rockets’ injury report two days later with what was only described as a “left wrist injury.”

“He fell,” Silas said on Tuesday, per Feigen. “I was talking to him about it. He was like, ‘Yeah, I fell, and I didn’t think it was that bad.’ But it turns out it’s pretty bad. He’s going to be out for a while. There is some talk about him needing surgery.”

Based on Silas’ comments, it sounds like the Rockets and Garuba are still evaluating their options for how to treat the injury. If he undergoes surgery, we likely won’t see him for at least several weeks, if not months. His recovery timeline would depend on the nature of the injury.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Garuba had played sparingly for Houston so far, averaging 1.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 15 games (7.0 MPG). The 19-year-old likely would’ve seen more action at the G League level than in the NBA during the second half of the season, so his absence won’t have an impact on the Rockets’ rotation. Still, it’s a disappointing setback for a young prospect who is part of the team’s long-term plans — Garuba’s developmental process will be slowed until his wrist heals.

Trade Market Notes: Grant, Wall, Finney-Smith

Discussing the Jerami Grant situation on his latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst suggested that Grant’s agents provided the Pistons with a handful of preferred destinations in the event their client is traded.

“I was told his representation came to the Pistons and said ‘If you’re going to trade him, here’s a list of teams we would be interested in going to play for,'” Windhorst said (hat tip to RealGM).

The Pistons have a good relationship with Grant, so if they get multiple trade offers they like, I imagine they’ll try to get something done with one of the teams on his list. However, as Windhorst notes, the Pistons still aren’t sure whether they’ll move Grant at all, let alone to one of his preferred landing spots.

Here are a few more notes on the 2021/22 NBA trade market:

  • In that same Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Marc J. Spears said that John Wall is working out in Miami, away from the Rockets, as the team continues to survey his trade market. Although Houston has had some conversations about Wall, most of those scenarios are viewed as “pie in the sky,” according to Spears, who adds that the club views a swap involving Russell Westbrook as the most realistic option for Wall at this point. During his conversation with Spears, Windhorst stated that the Rockets guard isn’t interested in losing any money in a buyout agreement.
  • Already viewed as a strong defender, Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith has expanded his offensive game this season, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Finney-Smith has taken on more ball-handling responsibilities, and his scoring average of 10.3 PPG would be a career high. Besides benefiting the Mavs on the court, Finney-Smith’s development has increased his value on the trade market, Caplan observes. It also likely puts him in line for a bigger payday when he reaches free agency this summer, which the Mavs and any potential suitor will have to take into account as they weigh possible deals.
  • Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype took an in-depth look at what each NBA team could – and should – do at the February 10 trade deadline.

Rockets Rumors: Gordon, Wood, Wall, Theis, Nwaba, Augustin

The Rockets have received multiple trade offers for veteran shooting guard Eric Gordon, but have turned them down, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko suggests that unless they get an offer that “simply can’t get ignored,” it’s becoming more plausible that the Rockets will simply hang onto Gordon through the trade deadline.

Houston is in the early stages of a rebuild and Gordon is having his best shooting season as a pro, with career highs in FG% (.506) and 3PT% (.452) — the time seems right to make a deal. However, Iko says the team admires how Gordon carries himself on and off the court and believes he’s a positive influence on Houston’s young players, so there’s no rush to ship him out.

It still seems possible that Gordon will be on the move by February 10 if a potential trade partner meets the Rockets’ reported asking price of a first-round pick. But if Gordon remains in Houston, the club will have more opportunities to trade him before his contract expires — he’s owed a $19.6MM guaranteed salary in 2022/23 and a $20.9MM non-guaranteed salary in ’23/24.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Unless they’re blown away by an offer, the Rockets will likely hang onto Christian Wood through the trade deadline, says Iko. Sources tell The Athletic that the Heat have been one of the most “persistent” teams that has engaged with Houston in conversations about Wood.
  • Although the Rockets have received some inquiries about John Wall, his contract makes a trade unlikely, and most teams that have registered interest continue to simply monitor the situation rather than actively pursuing the point guard, Iko writes. The Clippers expressed genuine interest earlier in the season, sources tell The Athletic, but their goals as the deadline approaches are unclear. I’d be pretty shocked if the Clippers sought a trade for Wall.
  • With no guarantees that the Rockets will make a trade involving Gordon, Wood, or Wall, Iko indicates smaller deals around the edges are more likely. Daniel Theis, David Nwaba, and – to a lesser degree – D.J. Augustin – have all drawn some interest, Iko reports.

Rockets Open To Trading Wall For Westbrook, Draft Assets

The Rockets, who traded Russell Westbrook to the Wizards for John Wall and a future first-round pick during the 2020 offseason, would be amenable to reacquiring Westbrook from the Lakers if the deal included “sufficient draft compensation,” Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack column.

Stein hears from sources that Houston would want the Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick (the only first-rounder L.A. can trade due to the Stepien rule) in a Wall-for-Westbrook swap, though he says it’s possible the Rockets would accept multiple second-rounders.

This report doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, Wall has been inactive and on the trade block for a half-season already and there has been no indication the Rockets will be able to find a deal that nets them any positive assets for the veteran guard.

An eventual buyout appears to be the most likely resolution for Wall and the Rockets, so acquiring a player with a virtually identical contract (Wall and Westbrook are each earning $44MM+ this season, with a $47MM+ player option for 2022/23) and getting a draft pick or two in the process would be a massive win for Houston.

It may seem odd that the Rockets would have any interest in reacquiring Westbrook, given that they’re in the midst of a rebuild and their previous union with the nine-time All-Star didn’t work out especially well. But Westbrook almost certainly wouldn’t play any more for Houston than Wall has this season — any deal would be all about the draft assets. In other words, you could substitute any player’s name for Westbrook’s in the headline of this story and it would still be true.

While it’s easy to see why the Rockets would be motivated to explore another Wall/Westbrook swap, it’s harder to justify it from the Lakers’ perspective, a fact Stein acknowledges within his report.

As awkward a fit as Westbrook has been in Los Angeles, there’s no guarantee that Wall – who has dealt with a series of leg injuries in recent years and hasn’t played in a game since last April – would be any better. L.A. would also be selling extremely low on Westbrook, who came on strong during the second half of his first and only season in Washington in 2020/21.

[RELATED: Russell Westbrook “Surprised” By Crunch-Time Benching]

If the Lakers are willing to move their 2027 first-rounder and/or multiple second-round picks, there are better deals to be made. According to Stein, the Pistons haven’t shown any interest in trading Jerami Grant for a package of Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, and the Lakers’ 2027 pick, but Grant is one of the hottest names on this season’s trade market — there will be other options available for Los Angeles that don’t involve the team rolling the dice on a player (Wall) whose 2021/22 cap hit ($44.3MM) exceeds his total games played over the last three seasons (40).

Checking In On Traded 2022 First-Round Picks

We’re over halfway through the 2021/22 NBA regular season, which means it’s a good time to take a look at where things stand with 2022’s traded first-round picks. Many of the traded first-rounders for the ’22 draft come with protections, so there’s a chance they might not change hands this year after all.

Using our list of traded first-round picks for 2022 and our reverse standings tool, here’s our breakdown of which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones remain up in the air:


Picks that will definitely change hands:

  • Thunder acquiring Clippers‘ pick (unprotected).

When the Clippers traded a series of first-round picks and swaps to the Thunder in the Paul George blockbuster in the 2019 offseason, they weren’t counting on losing both George and Kawhi Leonard to long-term injuries in the same season. That’s the case this year though, and it could result in Oklahoma City receiving an extra lottery pick.

The Clippers are currently in a play-in spot, so their pick could move to No. 15 or lower if they make the playoffs, but for now it’s projected to be No. 11 or No. 12 (they’re tied with the Knicks in the NBA standings).

  • Thunder acquiring Suns‘ pick (top-12 protected).

The Thunder will also receive a first-round pick from another Pacific team, though that selection appears likely to end up at the very end of the round — the Suns have the league’s best record so far, so their pick would be at No. 30.

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (top-six protected).

The pick the Grizzlies are getting from the Jazz will fall near the end of the first round too. For now, it projects to be No. 25 or No. 26, as Utah is tied in the standings with the Heat.

  • Grizzlies or Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (unprotected).

The Lakers will send their first-rounder to the Pelicans if it lands in the top 10 or to the Grizzlies if it’s between 11-30. It’s certainly possible things continue to go south in Los Angeles and the pick moves up into the top 10 — if the Lakers don’t make the playoffs, their pick could even jump into the top four via the lottery.

For now though, the more likely scenario is that Memphis will get the Lakers’ pick — it would be No. 15 or No. 16 (they’re tied with Minesota) if the season ended today and L.A. clinched a playoff spot in the play-in tournament.


Picks that definitely won’t change hands:

  • Thunder acquiring Pistons’ pick (top-16 protected).
  • Hawks acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-14 protected).

There’s still a lot of basketball to be played this season, but it seems pretty safe to pencil in the Pistons and Thunder as non-playoff teams, which means they’ll keep their first-round picks in 2022. Right now, Detroit’s at No. 2 in the lottery standings, while Oklahoma City’s at No. 4.

Given how weak the bottom half of the Western Conference has been, the Thunder could theoretically sneak into a play-in spot and make the playoffs, but it’s an extreme long shot — the teams ahead of them in the standings will be more motivated to push for the postseason.

Assuming they keep their pick this year, the Pistons will owe the Thunder their top-18 protected first-round pick in 2023. If the Thunder’s own pick is protected, they’ll instead send the Hawks their 2024 and 2025 second-round selections.


Still up in the air:

  • Hornets acquiring Pelicans‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Bulls acquiring Trail Blazers‘ pick (top-14 protected)

At this point, it looks more likely than not that the Pelicans and Trail Blazers will keep their own lottery-protected first-round picks.

Portland, despite holding the West’s No. 10 seed for now, has a tenuous hold on a play-in spot with Damian Lillard sidelined for a while. New Orleans may have some potential for a second-half surge, especially if Zion Williamson returns, but the team is on the outside looking in for the time being. Either team would have a difficult path to a playoff spot as a lower seed in the play-in tournament.

Currently, the Pelicans’ first-rounder projects to be No. 6 or No. 7 (they’re tied with San Antonio), pending lottery results. Assuming that pick ends up in the top 14, New Orleans would instead send their 2022 and 2024 second-round selections to the Hornets.

If the Trail Blazers keep their first-round pick, currently projected to be No. 9, they’d owe the Bulls their top-14 protected first-rounder in 2023.

  • Hawks acquiring Hornets‘ pick (top-18 protected)

The Hornets‘ first-round selection, which was just traded from New York to Atlanta in the Cam Reddish deal, is right on the edge and could go either way. It’s top-18 protected and is currently projected to be at No. 19, meaning the Hawks would receive it if the season ended today (as long as the seventh-seeded Hornets clinched a playoff spot in the play-in tournament). That could change quickly though.

  • Rockets acquiring most favorable of Heat‘s or Nets‘ pick (Heat get least favorable).

Finally, the Rockets will control the two most favorable picks of the following three: their own first-rounder, the Nets first-rounder, and the Heat‘s first-rounder; Miami will get the least favorable of the three, unless the Heat’s own pick lands in the top 14 (in which case Miami would keep it and Houston would get the other two picks).

It seems safe to assume at this point that the Rockets will keep their own selection and the Heat will make the playoffs, so it’ll come down to whether Brooklyn or Miami finishes higher in the standings. Currently, the Heat are a half-game ahead of the Nets, so Houston would get Brooklyn’s pick (No. 24) and Miami would hang onto its own (No. 25 or No. 26).

Gordon-Lakers Deal Could Help Both Sides

  • Speaking of the Rockets, they could be very active before the trade deadline as they continue their rebuild. The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Kelly Iko explore which players are most likely to be moved and their trade value. Hollinger sees a potential avenue for moving Eric Gordon to the Lakers and outlines what they could get in return.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, Kings, Blazers, Rockets, THT, Jazz

David Aldridge, John Hollinger, and Sam Amick of The Athletic, participating in a roundtable discussion on Ben Simmons, all say they believe the Sixers are more likely than not to move the three-time All-Star by the February 10 trade deadline. Over the weekend, big man Joel Embiid publicly backed the idea of the team waiting as long as it needs to maximize the return for Simmons, but Amick says people in Simmons’ camp are unconvinced that Embiid is willing to be as patient as he claims.

“Joel is Daryl (Morey), and Daryl is Joel,” one source told The Athletic, suggesting both the Sixers’ star center and president of basketball operations could be posturing to increase the team’s leverage.

Amick, adding some extra details to his previous reporting on Simmons and the Kings, says the Sixers’ point guard appears to be “front and center” in Sacramento’s deadline plans, ahead of Domantas Sabonis.

Amick also reiterates that the Kings appear to be seriously considering the idea of acquiring Tobias Harris along with Simmons, though he suggests that Philadelphia would likely push for more than De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes in exchange for that duo. For what it’s worth, sources tell Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com that the Kings have done due diligence on Simmons, Harris, and Sixers forward Matisse Thybulle.

Unlike Sacramento, the Hawks appear to have “zero interest” in taking on Harris along with Simmons in a John Collins-centric trade, says Amick.

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

  • Although the Trail Blazers may be sellers in the short term, the team would still like to land an impact player to pair with Damian Lillard for when he gets healthy, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, who hears that Jaylen Brown and Jerami Grant are among the potential targets on Portland’s radar. The Blazers were believed to be interested in Myles Turner, and if they’re focused more on 2022/23 than this season, the Pacers‘ center could still be an option worth pursuing, Amick notes.
  • There’s plenty of chatter around the league about the Rockets being even more willing to make deadline deals than previously believed, per Amick. Houston remains on the lookout for a potential franchise player and is open to “all sorts of possibilities,” one rival executive tells The Athletic.
  • Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times confirm that the Lakers are shopping Talen Horton-Tucker in trade discussions. Rival teams believe L.A. still values the young guard, but his $9.5MM salary makes him one of the club’s only real trade chips.
  • The Jazz continue to scout the market in search of an upgrade on the wing, particularly on defense, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. “They’re seeing if they can find their own Aaron Gordon trade,” one general manager told ESPN, referring to Denver’s acquisition of Gordon last March. “I’m not sure if they’ll find it.” While the Jazz are said to be interested in Jerami Grant, their ability to make a strong offer is limited by the fact that they’ve already traded away two future first-round picks and don’t have the sort of promising young prospects who could headline a package.

Southwest Notes: Gordon, Chriss, Mavs, Pelicans, Spurs

Rockets guard Eric Gordon has been the subject of plenty of trade speculation already this season, and those rumors figure to continue heating up with the February 10 deadline just a few weeks away. However, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, Gordon isn’t dwelling on the possibility that he could be playing for a new team next month.

“I’m not even thinking or worried about that,” Gordon said. “Things happen. Get traded or not, you’ve still got to play the game of basketball. Fortunately, I’ve been here for going on six years now, and it’s been really good. I know the situation I’m in. I’m looking to just continue to play my game and look forward to continue to thrive with this group of guys.”

A Monday report indicated that the Rockets are expected to seek a first-round pick in any Gordon trade.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Marquese Chriss‘ new two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Mavericks includes a fully guaranteed salary for 2022/23, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link).
  • New Mavericks president of basketball operations Nico Harrison will be involved in some key decisions at this season’s trade deadline, but he’s hoping to get a good look at the roster at full strength before making those decisions, per Brad Towsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think you can always improve,” Harrison said. “But as I look at our team, we haven’t been whole for a while. I’m really excited to see how [good] we are, now that we’re whole.”
  • Examining the Pelicans‘ outlook for the trade deadline, Will Guillory of The Athletic contends that the team should try to acquire one more reliable perimeter player, while Christian Clark of NOLA.com makes a similar argument, writing that the team lacks consistent creators in its backcourt.
  • Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia has joined the Spurs as a minority owner, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and officially announced by the team. The franchise has brought in multiple minority stakeholders since Peter J. Holt took over as managing partner in June, according to Charania, who says 13 previous investors have sold off equity. Besides Gebbia, other new minority owners include Bay Area investment firm Sixth Street and Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Technologies.

Jae'Sean Tate Meets Starter Criteria

Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate also met the starter criteria on Friday by making his 41st start of the season, but Houston holds a minimum-salary team option on Tate for the 2022/23 season, so he won’t reach restricted free agency until ’23, assuming he’s not extended before then.