Grade the Trade: Rockets land a star, give up on Jalen Green in blockbuster proposal

The Houston Rockets have been linked to Cavaliers star guard Donovan Mitchell. Can they pool their assets to win the bidding and trade for their next star?
Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers
Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland Cavaliers / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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Do the Rockets make this trade?

The Houston Rockets might have a future No. 1 option on the current roster. Jalen Green has a sliver of a shot at getting there, as does Alperen Sengun. Perhaps Amen Thompson could find a jumpshot and get there. Most likely, however, for as talented as the Rockets are, they are lacking a player who can be the No. 1 option on a title team.

Is Donovan Mitchell good enough to claim that title? It's not entirely clear; he has never been out of the second round. Yet if he isn't at the Top-10 level of a player who can be the best one on a title team, he is very close. His fearless scoring drive, shooting ability and growth as a playmaker are an ideal fit with the Rockets' core, and he brings an element of offensive ability and undeniability on the perimeter that no one else on the Rockets provides.

The strength, or lack thereof, of the 2024 NBA Draft has to be considered here as well. The Rockets aren't giving up the No. 3 pick in a normal draft; this isn't Jabari Smith Jr. or Evan Mobley on the board. Depending on who you ask, the No. 3 pick in 2024 is something like the 8th, 12th or even 15th pick in an average draft.

Giving up Jalen Green is painful, but his development has not been linear and Mitchell would crowd him out of his role anyways. Trading Green and Tari Eason also allows the Rockets to only send that No. 3 pick, limiting the draft outlay in the deal. Houston could deploy a starting lineup of Fred VanVleet, Donovan Mitchell, Dillon Brooks, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun, with a bench mob of Cam Whitmore, Amen Thompson, Steven Adams and a point guard to-be-added. That's a strong team and still has room to grow.

Houston would have an extremely difficult time matching the salary of a more expensive player, and given the lack of income tax in Texas and the size of Houston they could reasonably expect to re-sign Mitchell. If they can get some amount of intel from Mitchell's camp that he would re-sign, this is a home run swing they have to take. It may not work out, but it's absolutely worth the try.

Grade: A