Could the Houston Rockets trade for the number one pick?

Could the Houston Rockets walk away from the draft with Alexandre Sarr?
Could the Houston Rockets walk away from the draft with Alexandre Sarr? / COLIN MURTY/GettyImages

Above all else, a good NBA general manager is a negotiator.

You have something we want? OK - do you need it? What would it take for you to send it to us?

The NBA Draft is a time of intensive negotiations. Without fail, there will be trade chatter leading up to the draft. This year, the Houston Rockets have the third overall selection.

Should they try to flip it for the first pick?

Could Houston Rockets make deal with Hawks?

In this instance, the Atlanta Hawks have the first overall pick. Recent reports have suggested that head coach Quin Snyder is pushing the organization to select Donovan Clingan.

From the Rockets' point of view, that's interesting. Alexandre Sarr is generally held to be the top prospect in this class. Even Zaccharie Risacher is typically mocked ahead of Clingan. So, it stands to reason that Clingan is likely to be available with the third pick.

The Hawks may not need that top pick. Meanwhile, if the Rockets are interested in Sarr, they'll need it.

Should the Rockets be interested in Sarr?

Houston Rockets should give the Hawks a call

We think so.

The Hawks' interest in Clingan is understandable. He's practically certain to be a high-end rim protector in the NBA. If the Hawks continue to build around Trae Young, Clingan's offensive limitations may not matter. He should be able to provide Young with a competent pick-and-roll partner.

On a related note, the Hawks may not be as keen to ship Young off as rumors suggest. They owe the Spurs their first-round picks in 2025 and 2027. Unless they get a Godfather offer, the Hawks may not find rebuilding their roster palpable.

Clingan and Young feel like a natural fit. On the other hand, Clingan and Alperen Sengun may not complement each other. As strong of a rim protector as Clingan is likely to be, he'll likely struggle to defend in space. Sengun and Clingan have overlapping defensive weaknesses even if Clingan has a potentially elite strength.

Oh - they have overlapping offensive weaknesses as well. Outside of knocking down threes in an open gym, Clingan has shown minimal ability to space the floor. It feels unlikely that Clingan and Sengun will be a viable long-term pairing.

By contrast, Sarr has more potential to play with Sengun. His ability to defend in space is his calling card as a prospect. Sarr is far from a knockdown shooter, but he's shown more ability to space the floor than Clingan.

We know - you're not supposed to draft for fit. Here's the rub: Sarr is a more highly regarded prospect than Clingan anyway. If neither Sengun nor Sarr develop as shooters, they may not work together, but it's a dice worth rolling from Houston's perspective. Sarr could be exactly the versatile defensive anchor that minimizes Sengun's defensive woes. The Rockets should entertain making a trade with the Hawks:

As long as they can negotiate a good deal.