Could the Rockets steal two key contributors from the Raptors?

Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors
Detroit Pistons v Toronto Raptors / Mark Blinch/GettyImages

It's known that the Rockets are looking for veterans and defensive-minded players. The Rockets have reportedly been looking for a floor general, with Toronto Raptors free agent guard Fred VanVleet leading the way, per reports.

The Rockets are also looking to add former Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez, who brings elite defense and championship experience, but Lopez is no sure thing for the Rockets, as the Bucks are in win-now mode. Losing Lopez would be a gut punch for the Giannis Antetokounmpo-led group, so they surely won't go out without a fight (especially with a potential extension for Antetokounmpo hanging in the balance).

If the Rockets lose out on Lopez' services, they could pivot to VanVleet's former Raptors teammate Jakob Poeltl, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

"Jakob Poeltl is expected to receive strong interest from the Raptors, Spurs and Rockets in free agency, league sources told HoopsHype."

Scotto continued further.

"For Houston, Brook Lopez has been a primary target on a short-term deal for an elevated salary, but his preference has always been to remain with Milwaukee should the offers be comparable in the high teens to $20 million average annual salary range. Poeltl would be a younger option who would fit the timeline of the team’s young core and provide the defensive presence Houston is seeking at center."

Could the Rockets steal two key contributors from the Raptors?

The 27-year-old Poeltl has a level of familiarity with newly-hired Rockets coach Ime Udoka, as Udoka was an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs during the 2018-19 season, which was Poeltl's debut season in San Antonio. Poeltl also brings a a familiar face for VanVleet, as the two were a lethal tandem in the pick-and-roll in Toronto.

But could Poeltl really be an option for the Rockets? Like Lopez, Poeltl's current team really values him and will certainly not want to lose him. And especially considering the fact that they would've also lost VanVleet, who was a fabric of their championship team.

It almost seems too good to be true that the Rockets could steal two of the Raps' best players (and especially considering the fact that the Rockets stole the Raptors' top head coaching candidate off the market). Toronto President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri isn't going down without a fight and he'll be looking to retain Poeltl's services.

We'll find out fairly soon what happens with Poeltl. Then again, the Rockets may not even have to worry about a battle for Poeltl's services if they get their top target in Brook Lopez.

May the best man win in the end. Or the best team. However the saying goes.