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Houston Rockets: Ranking the contenders with the most assets

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 18: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles the ball against LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Staples Center on February 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 18: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets dribbles the ball against LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first quarter at Staples Center on February 18, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
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Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers, Anthony Davis #3 and Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers, Anthony Davis #3 and Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Houston Rockets trade contenders #13 to #11

This group of three contenders has next to no assets to speak of. The reason being is that each team has swung a blockbuster trade to land a superstar player over the past two years. These three teams will be the most active in the buy-out market but it seems unlikely that they’ll have any serious trade talks with the Rockets or anyone else for that matter.

#13: Brooklyn Nets: 18-12 – Draft Picks: None

The Brooklyn Nets gave up the farm to land James Harden and they’re likely happy with the results. The cost of landing an in-their-prime superstar is high and Nets paid the sticker price.

The Nets have the league’s best offensive rating and the fifth-best net-rating so they’re firmly in the championship conversation. After the Rockets took everything they had don’t expect the Nets to do business with them anytime soon.

#12: Los Angeles Clippers: 21-9  – Draft Picks: Own 2027 pick

The Clippers have one solitary pick coming up and it seems unlikely they’ll surrender it unless it nets them the point guard they’ve been searching for the past two seasons. The Clippers are also way up against the salary cap so they would have to offload a key contributor to this roster as well.

If the Clippers hadn’t blown a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in last year’s playoffs there would hardly be any talk of upgrading this roster. They have the league’s second-best offensive and net-rating, in other words, they’re a title favorite.

#11: Los Angeles Lakers: 22-7 – Draft Picks: own 2026, 27

The Lakers have two picks coming down the pike in 2026 and 2027 but they likely won’t want to move either of those this season. Outside of having actual draft picks to move the Lakers also have the most motivation to win the title this season.

LeBron James is still amazing but he has been in a slow steady decline for some time now and Anthony Davis appears to have a serious injury every time he goes into the post. The Lakers have the best defensive-rating and the fourth-best net-rating but they might want to push everything they have into this title defense.

Next: The few assets contenders: Teams #10 to #8

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