Houston Rockets trade value rankings #6-4: Jae’Sean Tate, Kevin Porter Jr., Tari Eason
Jae’Sean Tate finished sixth in the Rockets’ trade value rankings (1.75 trade value score). He is a solid player still in his prime at a small cost for multiple years. I graded Tate’s current production as a 1.5 because he’s on the edge between a rotation player and a starter.
Tate can do everything but shoot. He’s a good defender, can handle the ball, and has a bit of a playmaking streak. If Tate could shoot, he’d be an All-Star caliber player, but because he can’t, he’s a valuable role player.
At 27, it’s unlikely Tate has another level, which is why his potential production is also 1.5. There’s a slim chance Tate figures out how to hit corner threes and becomes a legit starting caliber player.
The Rockets signed Tate to a three-year deal this offseason. It pays him $7 million this season, $6.5 million next season, and has a third-year team option for $7 million. This is the type of deal teams covet for its length, optionality, and size. It’s easily a good contract and earned a 4.
Kevin Porter Jr. came in fifth because he projects to be a starting-caliber player and is on a very team-friendly contract. I graded his current production as 1.5, between a rotation player and a starter. As a ball-dominant player, Porter leaves a lot to be desired, but he has the traits to be a strong off-ball player or sixth man.
There’s a chance that Porter becomes a borderline All-Star player, but it’s most likely he maxes out as a starter. His counting stats look great, but only the worst teams in the league would give him the opportunity to rack them up. I graded Porter’s potential production as a 2, which is a fantastic outcome for a player the Rockets essentially got for nothing.
Porter’s contract looks totally out of place in the NBA. The four-year $63.4 million pact has only one season of guaranteed money, $2.3 million in yearly incentives, and essentially has a team option every season after the first year of the deal. If Porter’s non-guaranteed salaries were closer to $10 million, and not $15 million, this would be an excellent contract but is simply a good contract (4).
If Porter realizes his potential as a starting-caliber player, he’ll likely see almost all of the $63.4 million on his deal, but the team that trades for him won’t have to worry about the deal going sour. That makes him a valuable trade chip, and there’s a chance a few teams view his potential production slightly higher than I do.
Tari Eason placed fourth (2.1 trade value rating) because of my belief in his potential as an All-Star caliber player. His current production is that of a rotation player (1), which is an incredible outcome for a rookie drafted outside the top 10. Eason already has two strong skills, offensive rebounding and generating steals. His ability to generate high-value extra possessions is why his +7.4 on/off net rating is the best of any Rocket with over 150 minutes played (Eason is at 769).
I believe Eason will become an All-Star caliber player (3), even if he never makes an All-Star team. He projects to be excellent at skills that usually get overlooked but are incredibly valuable to winning. As a starter, he could average 14 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.5 steals a game and be an All-Star-level contributor. Players that can impact winning at a high level without the ball rarely get the attention they deserve, and I think Eason could follow a similar track.
As the 17th pick in his rookie season, Eason is only making $3.3 million this season. His contract is currently good (4), and may become excellent by the end of it. If Eason takes a step forward in the second half or next season, his trade value rating could quickly move up.