It has been reported that the Houston Rockets are aggressively pursuing additional draft picks in order to facilitate a trade-up to number one overall in the 2021 NBA draft. The Rockets, owners of the second overall pick and the 23rd and 24th picks in the 2021 NBA draft, believe that to move up one spot they'll need another lottery pick (top-14) to placate the Detroit Pistons.
The Rockets' desire to move up is guided by their belief that Cade Cunningham is a franchise-altering player, and the franchise seems willing to pay a heavy price to land him. Cunningham being a Texas native only adds to the fervor and a homecoming would not only boost the play on the court but also help market the team after a disastrous season.
Houston Rockets appear ready to move on from Eric Gordon
Reports indicate the Rockets are trying to package Eric Gordon and either the 23rd or 24th pick to land another lottery pick to be able to land Cade Cunningham. The Indiana Pacers and their 13th overall pick appear to be their prime target, and a deal that sends Gordon and one of their late first-round picks appear to have been proposed to the Pacers.
While the Rockets would love to trade Eric Gordon and the 23rd pick for the 13th pick, the Pacers almost certainly will rebuff that offer. Quite frankly, the deal makes next to no sense for the Pacers for three crucial reasons.
Houston Rockets: 3 reasons the Indiana Pacers won't trade for Eric Gordon
Eric Gordon is set to make $18.2 million next season, $19.5 million in 2022-23, and then a not fully guaranteed $20.9 million in 2023-24. The Pacers already have $120 million in salary set for next season. Landing Gordon would put them above the projected $136.6 million luxury tax threshold.
The 13th pick in the 2021 NBA draft is a very valuable pick for two reasons. First, players selected in that region tend to have productive NBA careers. The second is that they make under $4 million each season under their rookie deal. Sure the 23rd or 24th pick makes less but that player is far less likely to be valuable during their rookie deal. The Pacers would be taking on a bad contract and draft pick so someone else can have a high-value draft pick. That just doesn't add up.
1. Roster Fit
The simplest reason why Eric Gordon isn't wanted in Indiana is fit. The Pacers already have Caris LeVert, Malcom Brogdon, T.J. McConnell, Justin Holiday, and Aaron Holiday under contract and presumably in their guard rotation. In fact, the Pacers are rumored to be shopping guards, not looking to add them. The reality is, the Pacers already have at least three guards that are better than Gordon that make less or comparable money.
If the Rockets want to get Indiana's 13th pick then they're going to have to offer something better than Eric Gordon. He doesn't have much value, he puts them in the luxury tax, and he would be redundant on their current roster.
Eric Gordon is an Indiana native, played college basketball for the University of Indiana, and a homecoming would be an amazing moment for his career, but right now it doesn't make a lot of sense. The Rockets are going to have a hard time getting the 13th pick from the Pacers if they want to include Eric Gordon in the deal.
For the Rockets to get a lottery pick back in a trade they'll likely have to offer someone outside of Gordon or include a lot more along with him. The Rockets may want to send Gordon to the Pacers, but that looks like a pipe dream.