Rockets' Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 23, 2021

Rockets' Last-Minute Trade Targets Before 2021 NBA Deadline

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    Tony Dejak/Associated Press

    The Houston Rockets are an interesting spot leading up to Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

    Normally, that wouldn't be the way to describe a squad sitting 14th in its conference standings with a sub-.300 winning percentage. But the Rockets aren't necessarily keen on the top-to-bottom teardown one might have expected to follow their previous trade of James Harden.

    In fact, they've had "serious talks" with the Orlando Magic regarding Aaron Gordon, per ESPN's Zach Lowe, who noted those talks could signal "that Houston wants to try to build a competitive roster while staying relatively young."

    If Houston likes what it has gotten out of John Wall and is a big believer in the near future of Christian Wood, then maybe it feels like it can be competitive sooner rather than later. That mindset could put a fascinating twist on what could be one of this trade season's top sellers.

    A Gordon trade may not happen, as Yahoo's Chris Haynes reported Gordon "is only interested in joining a team that has the potential to make a playoff run." Saying that, the following three trade targets might match Houston's desire to build for both the near- and long-term future.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Brooklyn Nets

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    Because the Rockets were so recently chasing championships with Harden, they still have enough leftover plug-and-play contributors to ship out to current contenders.

    If one of those contenders happens to be the Brooklyn Nets, the Rockets would be wise to target Spencer Dinwiddie in return.

    While an ACL injury could sideline the scoring guard for the duration of this season, that shouldn't bother Houston. It's going nowhere fast anyway, and its first-round pick carries only top-four protection or else it could be swapped out with the Oklahoma City Thunder or Miami Heat.

    The draw to Dinwiddie goes beyond this season, through either his $12.3 million player option for 2021-22 or getting a hold of his Bird rights. The latter would give the Rockets more flexibility to keep him around, and at 27 years old, he should be in the heart of his prime and someone who could slot in alongside Wood and Wall.

Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    The Atlanta Hawks are in the market for win-now additions, and in that pursuit they have reportedly discussed dealing away Cam Reddish, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor.

    If the Rockets aim their focus further into the future, Reddish is exactly the kind of lottery ticket they should be looking to acquire.

    He's only a year removed from being the 10th overall pick, and while his stats haven't exactly exploded so far (career 10.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game), there are obviously raw skills that could be developed over time.

    At his best, Reddish is a nimble defender who can tackle multiple assignments. His offensive game needs more polish, but his career 80.8 free-throw percentage bodes well for his long-term long-range shooting, and he's shown flashes of handles and vision that could help him eventually handle a secondary distributing role.

Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls

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    David Zalubowski/Associated Press

    No matter if the Rockets are building for next season or years beyond that, they need more building blocks.

    Lauri Markkanen should be considered for such a role.

    The sweet-shooting 7-footer may not have many levels to his game yet, but there are certainly worse foundations to build upon than a jumbo sniper who can score from anywhere. If he catches fire from the charity stripe down the stretch, his 49.3/40.1/82.5 shooting slash is close enough for him to crash the famed 50/40/90 club—as an 18.2-points-per-game scorer, no less.

    The 23-year-old might soon be owed a mountain of money, as restricted free agency awaits him this offseason. But if Houston thinks he could coexist with Wood, that might be an investment worth making.


    Statistics used courtesy of Basketball-Reference and Salary information obtained via Basketball Insiders.