Houston Rockets- Rafael Stone’s best moves as general manager
#1 Trading the 2020 first-round draft pick for cap space
This move currently stands as the best move Stone has engineered, because of what it led to. To fully understand the magnitude there is a prequel and a sequel to this night.
Two days before the 2020 NBA draft, the Houston Rockets traded forward Robert Covington to the Portland Trail Blazers for the No. 16 draft pick, a protected 2021 first-round draft pick, and Trevor Ariza’s sizable contract. A move many thought was smart, as the Rockets hardly ever look at the draft in recent years.
But Stone and company were not done yet. On draft night shortly beforehand, Houston flipped the No. 16 overall pick and Trevor Ariza for a future first-round pick from the Detroit Pistons. This allowed Houston to use their mid-level exception now that Ariza’s 12.8 million salary was off their hands.
And what Stone and the Rockets did with that flexibility was land the most underrated free-agent signing that year in Christian Wood. A 25-year-old breakout star who was just looking for a chance to play. Houston gave him a fair contract and Wood is currently making the most of it averaging 22 points per game, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.3 assists.
The steps it took for Stone to acquire a franchise player who they will look to build around is the type of critical thinking in transactions that lead to great all-around teams, from the star player all the way to the end of the bench.
Rafael Stone, in his short tenure as the Houston Rockets General Manager, has hardly missed when it comes to making executive decisions. Given the situation he inherited, he should be an Executive of the Year frontrunner.