The Houston Rockets and the Brooklyn Nets engaged in a little trade on Tuesday. Per Shams Charania of The Athletic, Brooklyn is sending the Rockets Sekou Doumbouya and a 2024 unprotected second-round pick for $110,000.
The move helps save Brooklyn money this season, who at $169.8 million in salary are well above the $136.6 million luxury tax threshold. The Rockets plan to waive Doumbouya but for the trade to be accepted they had to open up a roster spot and waived Khyri Thomas.
In essence, the Rockets got an unprotected second-round pick from the Brooklyn Nets for Doumbouya’s salary, $3.4 million, and an additional $110,000. While close to $3.5 million for a second-round pick appears to be a steep price, there is some method to the Rockets’ financial madness.
When the Rockets traded James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets for three unprotected first-round picks and four unprotected first-round pick swaps they were partially tying their future to a Nets decline around 2025. Brooklyn, to move off of DeAndre Jordan’s contract, had to send four second-round picks to Detroit. At the moment, the only draft picks the Nets can move are their 2028 first-round pick and their 2026 and 2028 second-round picks.
The Nets have a superteam and are positioned to be title contenders for the next few seasons, but they’re dangerously thin on assets. The Rockets, by landing their 2024 second-round pick, are slowly bleeding the franchise of assets that could help them refresh the team as Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving exit their primes.
The move may be small, but it could have massive implications. The more all-in on the present the Nets are, the better likelihood their picks in 2025, 2026, and 2027 are to be valuable for the Rockets.
The Rockets didn’t just spend $3.5 million to get a second-round pick, they spent $3.5 million to weaken the Nets when it actually counts. From here on out, every time the Nets move a future pick, regardless of where it goes, it’s a win for the Rockets.