Ranking 4 of the best moves by Rockets GM Rafael Stone

Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers
Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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1. Landing Kevin Porter Jr. in lop-sided trade from Cavaliers

The Rockets started the 2020-21 season with hopes of contending and proving to James Harden that they were good enough to compete. Several months later, the trajectory changed. The Rockets realized that James Harden was right about them not being good enough.

At that point, Rafael Stone's focus transitioned to full talent evaluation mode.

The franchise hadn't drafted Jalen Green or Jabari Smith Jr. in the draft lottery yet. And furthermore, they had been bereft of lottery picks at that point. 

Meaning they didn't really have the necessary assets to trade for a young, up-and-coming lottery talent in the league. Which usually means it won't happen.

Not in this case, however.

Stone capitalized on a Cleveland Cavaliers locker room drama created by Kevin Porter Jr., who the Cavs shelled out three second-round picks to land in the 2019 NBA Draft- just one season earlier. Porter became disgruntled after the Cavs made a midseason trade to acquire Taurean Prince, which meant that Porter's locker was being moved.

Porter reportedly threw food and grew combative with Cavs GM Koby Altman, forcing the Cavs to rid themselves of the young, talented player. Stone and the Rockets managed to part with essentially a two-pack of deodorant to acquire Porter, who was still just a 20-year-old second-year player who had just averaged 10 points and 3.2 rebounds as a rookie. 

Okay, deodorant is excessive, but I think you get the point. The Rockets sent a top-55 protected second-round pick in exchange for the Cavs' former first-round pick. That's the equivalent of a two-pack of deodorant.

It doesn't get more fleece-worthy than that, folks. Sure, KPJ essentially tanked his value but it shouldn't have been that much of a dip in his value.

Porter has been a success story for the Rockets, as he's done all that's been asked of him, including even changing his position altogether. Porter has also been the Rockets' most consistent player since landing in Houston, as he's become one of the better catch-and-shoot 3-point snipers in the league and even averaged 19 points, 5.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds last season.

That's only the first part of Stone's brilliance as it pertains to the Porter situation. 

The other part was the ultra team-friendly deal that Stone was able to reach with KPJ. Porter agreed to a four-year deal with the Rockets worth $63.4 million, which included just $15.86 million in full guarantees in just the first season of the deal.

Talk about a great-value deal full circle.