Why the Rockets had to bring back Rafael Stone
2. Stone has hit on almost every trade
Stone has had to make some of the biggest decisions in franchise history, especially recently. The Russell Westbrook trade netted the Rockets an extra first-round pick, which was used in the 2021 NBA Draft as a trade chip to acquire the pick used to select Alperen Sengun.
Sure, the John Wall experiment had damning ramifications (especially after his recent comments on the Run Your Race podcast), but landing Sengun made it worth it. The James Harden trade saw a franchise cornerstone get moved for a historic haul of draft picks, although much of the discourse has centered around the franchise passing on the opportunity to add Jarrett Allen in the deal.
At the time, it was perceived as a misstep to pass on Caris LeVert, but LeVert hasn't exactly had the look of a generational talent and franchise cornerstone for the Cavs (12.4 points on 43.2 percent from the field, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.7 assists through two seasons). Then there was the Daniel Theis addition, which proved to be a clunky fit in a double-big lineup.
The Rockets sent Theis back to the Boston Celtics for Dennis Schroder, getting rid of a four-year contract for an expiring deal (and freeing up more flexibility). But perhaps the biggest trades made by Stone involve both Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr.
Stone and the Rockets dealt Wood to the Dallas Mavericks for a 2022 first-round pick, which was essentially used to land rookie point guard TyTy Washington. And while it's too early to know what the Rockets have in Washington, the fact that the Mavs unsuccessfully tried dealing Wood at the deadline (not even halfway through his first season) proves that they likely wish they had used that pick elsewhere.
In the KPJ trade, Stone gave the Cleveland Cavaliers a top-55 protected future second-round pick, which was never going to convey. Essentially Stone sent Cavs GM Koby Altman five boxes of used bandaids in exchange for a former first-round pick.
Considering that the Cavs gave up four second-round picks and five million in cash to acquire the pick they used to select Kevin Porter Jr., it was quite the fleece on Stone's part to send a pick that would never convey on a player that's currently averaging 19.2 points on 36.6 percent from deep, 5.7 assists, and 5.3 rebounds. Oh and he's still only 22-years-old.
As it pertains to trades, Stone has been quite the wizard.