Houston Rockets Damian Lillard trade #2: NBA ready players
If the Rockets want to hold onto as many picks as possible they’ll have to part with a consortium of veterans and promising young players, as well as some draft picks, to land Damian Lillard. What makes this trade work for the Trail Blazers is that they will remain competitive for a play-in spot in the West, while also adding assets for the future to go along with cap space.
For as great as Lillard is right now, the Trail Blazers owe him $196 million over the next four seasons and are set to pay him $54.25 million in his age 34 season. Lillard is on a win-now contract and the Trail Blazers simply can’t and with his contract, it’ll be hard for them in the future.
The veterans that the Trail Blazers receive, Eric Gordon, D.J. Augustin, and Avery Bradley make the salary-cap math work but also give the Blazers solid backcourt depth and should allow them to be in the conversation for the tenth seed. Kevin Porter Jr and Kenyon Martin Jr both flashed significant upside and will give the Trail Blazers a head start on their rebuild.
If Porter pops in his first year in Portland then moving McCollum becomes an easy decision, while Martin should help sure up the Blazers’ wing and frontcourt rotation. The Blazers become a worse team but they’ll be opening a ton of future cap space, adding moveable veterans, and land two young promising players to get their rebuild off to a solid start, which doesn’t even include the draft haul.
While the Rockets will be departing with five first-round picks in this deal, only one of them will be their own. One will be the Blazers 2021 first-round pick, two will be Bucks’ picks, and one will be the Brooklyn Nets’ 2026 first-round pick.
Outside of the Brooklyn pick, none of these are likely to be valuable picks, which might cause the Trail Blazers to balk. The Rockets, if they keep their first-round pick this year, will have their 2021 first-round pick as a trump card.
The Rockets will enter the season with a thin roster and limited cap space but with Damian Lillard, Christian Wood, John Wall, Jae’Sean Tate, and a top-four pick they’ll be an attractive landing spot for veterans on one-year deals. Also, once you land a player like Lillard paying the luxury tax is a much more palatable decision.
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