The Rockets shrewd business
Houston Rockets’ general manager Rafael Stone had his work cut out for him to get Christian Wood to Houston. The Rockets entered the offseason with $130 million in salary commitments, which left them $2.6 million from the luxury-tax threshold of $132.6 million and very near the $138.9 million hard cap line.
The Rockets essentially entered the offseason with next to no ability to add any significant salary. Fortunately, Rafael Stone learned from the best, in current Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey, at how to facilitate trades to acquire desired players and dispose of unwanted salary.
Stone’s first order of business was getting Robert Covington’s two-years and $25 million off the books. Covington, who has real trade value himself, netted the Rockets Trevor Ariza and two first-round picks from the Portland Trail Blazers.
The trade looked to signal a dismantling of the current roster in favor of future assets but that quickly changed when the Rockets moved a first-round pick and Trevor Ariza to the Detroit Pistons on draft day. At the time, the move indicated a team not concerned with the future as much as with cutting costs.
However, the cost-cutting was instrumental in Houston’s ability to offer Christian Wood a contract at three-years and $41 million. By removing Covington’s and then Trevor Ariza’s $12 million in salary the Rockets opened the door to add Wood’s average annual salary of $13.6 million into their finances.
While the details of the sign and trade are not complete, Houston’s acquisition of Wood was essentially a drawn-out three-team trade. The Trail Blazers received Robert Covington from Houston, the Pistons got Trevor Ariza and a first-round pick from the Blazers, and the Rockets got Christian Wood, a future first-round pick from the Pistons and a 2021 first-round pick from the Trail Blazers.
The Rockets may have to send more back to the Pistons to finalize the deal but trading Robert Covington in return for Christian Wood plus two first-round picks is a pretty impressive haul. Moves like this should inspire confidence in James Harden that sticking around might not be such a bad idea after all.
Next: Christian Wood's game