Bleacher Report’s Rockets-Heat fake trade is a clunker for both

Houston Rockets v Miami Heat
Houston Rockets v Miami Heat / Mark Brown/GettyImages

Bleacher Report’sTrade Ideas for Every NBA Team 1 Month Before 2022-23 Season” reads how it sounds. It’s 22 trades that cover all 30 teams in the association. While the Utah Jazz and their roster dismantling project are frequently featured, the Houston Rockets only made the list once. 

Bleacher Report’s Rocket-Heat fake trade details

The Rockets' lone feature is a trade that sends Eric Gordon to the Miami Heat for Duncan Robinson and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round pick. Bleacher Report’s rationale for the Rockets is that if anyone offers a first-round pick for Eric Gordon, they need to be listening. The cost of getting a first is Duncan Robinson and his bad contract.

The article does concede that Robinson remains a useful player. Making him a candidate to be moved later by the Rockets. In short, the Rockets get a first-round pick for Eric Gordon and a fixer-upper of a contract. 

The rationale for the Heat is that Gordon makes them better right now, can do many of the things Robinson does on offense as a floor spacer, and offers better defense and ball handling. 

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Why this trade is a loss for both parties

At first glance, this trade seems entirely sensible, and I wouldn’t fault the Rockets for thinking a first-round pick now and the chance to rehabilitate a player who shot 42.7% from three on 8.4 attempts a game over a two seasons span prior to last season is a good idea. I also wouldn’t fault the Heat for believing that Eric Gordon is an upgrade over Robinson. 

Why the Rockets say “NO”

Unfortunately, this trade throws a wrench into both the Heat and Rockets’ long-term plans. The Rockets have the opportunity to have the most cap space in the NBA in the 2023 offseason. A large part of that was because Eric Gordon’s deal is non-guaranteed in 2023-24. Flipping him for Robinson takes away $18.1 million to play with in 2023, then $19.4 million in 2024, and then at least $9.8 million in 2025. 

Why the Heat say “NO”

For the Heat, getting off of Robinson’s might seem like a win, but using it to land Eric Gordon could come back to bite them. The Heat are capped out, and with a Tyler Herro extension looming, the best use of Robinson’s contract is to use it as salary filler for a star. Gordon is a good player, but he’s in his mid-30s and effectively on an expiring contract. 

Perhaps most crucially for the Heat, trading their 2023 first-round pick could be devastating for their ability to swing a large trade. Due to the “Stepien rule,” teams cannot trade draft picks in consecutive seasons. The Heat owe their 2025 first-round pick, top-14 protected, to the Thunder. The Heat can’t trade their 2024, 2025, or 2026 first-round pick because of that, meaning moving off their 2023 pick would make it nearly impossible to make an offer for a star-caliber player. 

Generating fake trades is tough, especially when you’re tasked with making a trade for every single team. On the surface, this is a fair deal for both sides. The Heat get a little better now, and the Rockets get more long-term value. However, the trade hurts both of their larger objectives. For the Heat, it’s landing a real difference maker, and for the Rockets, it’s having enough cap space to be a player in free agency in 2023 and beyond. 

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