2021 NBA Draft Rumors: Rockets Are 'Aggressive' in Pursuit of Pistons' No. 1 Pick

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJuly 13, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 21: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys reacts against the Oregon State Beavers during the second half in the second round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament held at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 21, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The Houston Rockets have reportedly been "aggressive" in attempting to acquire the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft from the Detroit Pistons.

Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported the Rockets are determined to move up one spot, ostensibly to select Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham. The Pistons have explored the possibility of trading back and may not be 100 percent sold on Cunningham being their favorite player in the draft, per ESPN's Jonathan Givony.

Cunningham has been considered a near-lock for the top selection for months, regardless of which team won the draft lottery.

The Rockets are in a tricky situation organizationally. They acquired a haul of draft picks for James Harden but also have their 2024 and 2026 selections (protected picks 1-4) heading to Oklahoma City as part of the Russell Westbrook trade from 2019. They are not in a situation where they have a war chest of assets they could use to move up in the draft without hurting their own rebuilding effort. 

The Pistons also seem unlikely to move from the No. 1 spot after years of falling short in the lottery. Cunningham is the type of can't-miss prospect you can rebuild around, and the Pistons desperately need a player whom they can put at the top of the marquee. 

Even if the Rockets think Cunningham is worth the haul, players like Jalen Green and Evan Mobley seem like budding stars in their own right, and both should still be on the board at No. 2.