Rockets shopping Capela, Gordon, Tucker for a first-round pick in Butler pursuit

Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves controls the ball defended by Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves controls the ball defended by Eric Gordon #10 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets are reportedly testing the market for Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker for a first-round pick they can use to help acquire Jimmy Butler.

The Houston Rockets have coveted Jimmy Butler since he was with the Minnesota Timberwolves. If you recall, Daryl Morey offered the Wolves four first-round picks for Jimmy Butler back in October of 2018. The Wolves reportedly told Houston they wouldn’t deal Butler unless the Rockets also included Eric Gordon, and the deal eventually fell apart before Minnesota dealt Butler to the 76ers instead.

The persistent Rockets front office is after Butler once again, who will enter free agency on Sunday. On June 25, reports surfaced that the Rockets will pursue a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers for Jimmy Butler, since they don’t have the cap room to sign him outright.

In order to get more assets to use in a potential trade, the Rockets are reaching out to teams with a lot of cap space and shopping Clint Capela, Eric Gordon and P.J. Tucker in exchange for a future first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe. Houston would then use that pick to build a better trade package for Butler.

Furthermore, the Rockets would have to include at least two of Capela, Gordon and Tucker in a deal with Philadelphia or a third team to make the salaries match, according to Wojnarowski and Lowe.

If the Rockets are able to deal Capela for a solid first-round pick, which is probably the most likely scenario, Philadelphia would be more inclined to accept a package including Gordon and Tucker. The Sixers aren’t a great 3-point shooting team, and they could lose sharpshooter J.J. Redick in free agency this summer, so adding Gordon and Tucker to help space the floor for Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid would make sense.

If, however, the Rockets deal either Gordon or Tucker for a first-round pick, there would almost certainly have to be a third team involved to make a deal between Houston and Philadelphia work. The Sixers have no need for Capela since they already have Embiid, and it doesn’t make sense to pay Capela $80 million over the next four seasons to come off the bench.

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This will definitely be a tricky deal for the Rockets to pull off given their limited cap space, but it won’t be impossible. Expect to hear a lot more about this potential deal between now and the first few days of July.