Houston Rockets trade value rankings #9-7: Eric Gordon, Usman, Garuba, Kenyon Martin Jr.
If you were wondering why Eric Gordon was still a Rocket, this is the reason. Gordon finished ninth in the exercise with a 1.6 trade value rating because he’s a borderline starter on a bad contract with no upside. I graded Gordon as a starter (2), even though I think he is more likely to come off the bench if he’s ever traded. Many sixth and seventh men are talented enough to start but are best used off the bench.
There are also some signs that Gordon is slowing down. He’s shooting worse from the field compared to last season, and he’s also getting to the rim at the lowest rate of his career. At 34, he isn’t getting better and has a 1 (rotation player) for his future production.
Gordon’s trade value is further weighed down by his bad but tradable contract (2). $19.5 million is a lot, and most players in that price bracket are of a higher quality than Gordon. He likely finds a new home before the end of the season, but the return is going to be light.
Usman Garuba and Kenyon Martin Jr. tied at 1.7 in their trade value ratings and had identical scores across the three categories. Currently, Garuba and Martin are rotation quality players (1). Garuba offers nothing on offense but has some pretty impressive defensive moments. His ability on the perimeter is rare for a center, and he presents a decent enough interior presence.
Martin is probably the Rockets' most exciting player and is certainly one of their most important bench players. He runs the floor, cuts, dunks, and hits open threes well enough to make up for his deficiencies; defense and ball handling. He’s excellent at what he does, but it offers him a pretty limited role as a bench player.
The value in Garuba and Martin is their upside as potential starting-caliber players (2). It’s highly unlikely that Garuba ever develops much of an offensive game, but he could become special defensively. He is smart, tenacious, and moves his feet incredibly well for someone his size. Martin’s athleticism gives him a chance to be a long-term starter, but he'll need to add a little more shooting, defense, and ball handling to his game.
Garuba and Martin are on team-friendly deals, and I classified them as good contracts (4). Garuba is making $2.4 million this season and has two team options left on his rookie deal. Martin is making $1.7 million but only has one more year of team control at $1.9 million. Rotation players making that little with starter upside are valuable players. They’re not massive trade chips, but they’d both net a real return.