Houston Rockets GM Rafael Stone made several bargain deals during his first season as the Rockets' top executive. Stone inked Swiss army knife Jae'Sean Tate to a very team-friendly deal, as he was signed to a two-year deal worth $2.96 million, which is quite the bargain for a player that made the All-Rookie team.
Another impressive deal that Stone pulled off was the Kevin Porter Jr. trade involving the Rockets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Porter reportedly had a blow-up with the Cavs' front office after the trade that brought Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to Cleveland, prompting Cavs GM Koby Altman to put him on the trade block.
The Rockets ultimately traded a heavily-protected second-round pick for the young guard. The pick was top-55 protected, meaning it will likely never convey.
Porter became the youngest player in NBA history to log a 50 point double-double, as he scored 50 points and dished out 11 assists against the Milwaukee Bucks, who became the eventual champions. Porter Jr. posted averages of 16.6 points and 6.3 assists in 26 games with the Rockets, giving a clear indication of his talent.
Analyst suggests Houston Rockets draft could shorten Kevin Porter Jr.'s days with team
But depending on who you ask, the Rockets' loaded 2021 draft class could put added pressure on Porter to perform. Case in point Amin Elhassan, who pulls double duty covering the NBA for The Dan Le Batard Show and Sirius XM's NBA radio.
The former Phoenix Suns executive had the following to say on Sirius XM's Summer League Special.
"With him it's always a question of 'man can he stay focused.' Can he keep the main thing the main thing?
Because he's such a gifted scorer and I think this team could use someone with his talents like that. He's got an opportunity to play really well, but the reality on the other side of it is, man. We don't really need you to anymore.
Because we're bringing in a couple of young guys. Jalen Green, tremendous scorer. He's been one of the best scorers here at the Summer League.
And then you've got Josh Christopher, who may not be as great of a scorer but he brings a defensive element. So I like Kevin Porter, but I hope he understands, hey man, they're coming for you.
They went out and got some more horses that play your position, so you have to be able to take this with the amount of seriousness that it requires."
Although the Rockets did add four intriguing pieces in the first round, such as Green and Christopher, who Elhassan pointed out, they were adding those players with the intention of building around their core, which consists of Porter Jr., Christian Wood, and Jae'Sean Tate. At just 21-years-old, Porter will certainly be a part of the Rockets' rebuild, so it seems odd to suggest otherwise.
This is especially the case when you consider the fact that the Rockets asked Porter to change his position to point guard, which they wouldn't have done if they were planning on replacing him. And to that point, the Rockets didn't add anyone that plays Porter's position, as neither Green nor Christopher are point guards.
The reality is that the Rockets got a bargain deal when they acquired Porter and they have him under contract for the next two years at a team friendly number of a combined $4.9 million. Porter isn't going anywhere, and rightfully so.