2. Tari Eason
In many respects, Tari Eason has already made the James Harden trade a bit of a success. The Rockets acquired Eason with the 17th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, which originally belonged to the Brooklyn Nets.
Eason was one of just 10 teams who played in all 82 games in 2022-23, which is a bigger deal than it may seem to be, due to the load management crisis that's been rearing its ugly head in the NBA. Eason was constantly scrapping for loose balls and fighting for second-chance opportunities, as his 2.4 offensive rebounds ranked second on the team, despite him being a reserve.
Eason brings an infusion of energy and has the ability to defend multiple positions on the floor. To that point, Eason was always making defensive impact plays and developed a knack for getting steals.
When Eason gets out on the break, he's a problem. Simple and plain. And he possesses an underrated playmaking ability, which was especially on display in the Summer League, where he averaged 4 assists per game.
In spite of all that Eason brings to the table, he ranks as the 285-highest-paid player in the NBA and the 58th-highest-paid power forward. As if that isn't crazy enough, Eason ranks as just the 11th-highest-paid player on his own team.
Talk about underpaid.
The Rockets can thank the CBA for that, as Eason is on a rookie contract, which are scaled based on draft position. Fortunately for the Rockets (and unfortunately for Eason), they've got three more years of club control with Eason, and are set to pay him $3.5 million in 2023-24, $3.69 million in 2024-25, and $5.6 million in 2025-26.
Eason will then hit unrestricted free agency in 2026. He may be underpaid for quite some time.