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[Iko] What I’m hearing about Rockets at NBA Draft

Discussion in 'Houston Rockets: Game Action & Roster Moves' started by J.R., Jul 22, 2021.

  1. J.R.

    J.R. Contributing Member

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    What’s one more draft thread? I.D.I.O.T.

    What I’m hearing about Rockets at NBA Draft: Pistons to talk about No. 1 pick, Green at No. 2?


    It’s crunch time. Well, sort of.

    The 2021 NBA Draft is exactly a week away, and boy, I can’t wait. If I’m being completely honest, it’s been an exciting time as someone covering a young team. The transition from yearly contender to rebuilding franchise was one I didn’t expect to happen so suddenly — and wasn’t too excited about from a selfish standpoint — but I’ve been proven wrong. It’s been a blast researching dozens of players, talking to folks around the league and, most importantly, paying close attention to the experts in the business about the next crop of incoming talent.

    For the past month, there has been report after report about what teams are trying to do, who likes whom, what team is looking to pounce and more. Some of what you hear are smokescreens.

    Actually, a lot of what you hear early are smokescreens.

    But that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Teams like to have leverage and don’t want to give away all their secrets early, especially when it comes to players multiple organizations like and when they have selections fairly close to each other. It’s all a business at the end of the day.

    It’s common practice for teams to throw out scenarios in conversation. There are typically hundreds of proposed scenarios, but 95 percent of them end up going nowhere. Why? Because they’re essentially throwing something against a wall and seeing if it’ll stick — small talk, if you will. Teams might take a day, or even a few days, to respond once there is a proposal of sorts. Other times, there might not be a response at all.

    For the Rockets, they are something of newcomers in this space, but there is a great deal of internal excitement about the future of the franchise. They have gotten through one of the most difficult and trying seasons in recent memory and are armed with the No. 2 pick in a draft that has some exciting names at the top.

    “We’re just working really hard,” general manager Rafael Stone told reporters Wednesday. “I think our job is to make sure no stone goes unturned, no pun intended. We have our whole group on the basketball ops side. We’re just grinding, and we’ll keep plowing until we’re on the clock.”

    Houston is armed with three first-round picks in this year’s draft. Needless to say, things could get interesting. Again, things can change in a week’s time. But here’s what I’m hearing about where the Rockets stand right now ahead of the 2021 draft.

    • Concerning the Pistons and the No. 1 pick, the Rockets are expected to have conversations with Detroit this week as the draft inches closer, according to sources. Both sides originally engaged during the draft combine last month in Chicago, with Pistons GM Troy Weaver having a good relationship with Stone and Houston’s front office. The Rockets would love to have the No. 1 pick and are prepared to make an offer for it, although it’s unclear if it would be enough to make the Pistons blink. Barring a cosmic offer, the Pistons will hold the top pick.

    • It’s also widely expected the Pistons will take Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham on July 29, although they are also fans of Jalen Green. Weaver likes to do his homework on players, and Detroit did some extensive background work on Green last week, per sources. ESPN reported that both Cunningham and Green will work out for Detroit ahead of the draft.

    Stone, however, didn’t give any inclination of Houston being locked into anyone at this time.

    “I actually believe that’s the wrong approach,” Stone said. “I think the right approach is to work as hard as you can, use every minute and keep every option open. It’s still not guaranteed (who) we’re picking or we’re picking in that spot. It’s more likely than not, it always is. The NBA is a very illiquid market, and you should never bet on any transaction; you should always bet on the status quo. It’s our job to figure out what possibilities exist. And so if you lock yourselves in, that has real consequences.”

    • Per sources, the Rockets are fine with picking second. Internally, it’s known No. 1 is ideal as it would give Stone more flexibility, but Houston won’t pay some exorbitant price for the top pick. The second pick in this year’s draft is extremely attractive. Multiple teams have expressed interest in trading up with Houston for the No. 2 pick, per sources. The reality, however, is that the most aggressive offers won’t come until draft night.

    • The name I keep hearing attached to Houston is Green. USC’s Evan Mobley has been discussed in some circles, as well as Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs, but smart money would be on the Rockets taking the 19-year old out of the G League’s Ignite on draft night. It’s well known that head coach Stephen Silas has an affinity for versatile guards, and Green has been said to have the highest upside in his class, from a scoring, explosive and star standpoint.

    • Outside of the prospect of getting the No. 1 pick, Houston isn’t expected to trade out of the second slot, barring some substantial offer. That scenario is more likely for one of their late-round selections, having picks 23 and 24. Over the past few weeks, Houston has fielded dozens of calls from around the league with teams trying to get their hands on one of the back-to-backs, per sources. In particular, teams without a first-round pick have called Houston about sneaking in, offering proposals like a second-round pick and a player. This past weekend, Houston discussed a number of these internally to see if any proposed move makes sense for them.

    • Houston doesn’t expect anything concrete to happen until the week of the draft. Teams typically don’t make their best offers until then. All the conversations had now are strictly preliminary and directional. Teams are trying to win a championship, others trying to blow it up, others stuck somewhere in the middle or trying to join in the mix. Most activity will pick up some 24 to 48 hours before the draft. Last season, Stone traded wing Robert Covington to Portland two days before the 2020 draft.

    With regards to Houston’s conversations with other teams, Stone said: “We make more calls than we get, we always have. It’s my goal to talk to every team three, four, five times. You want to make sure every idea is thought through and most of the teams in the league are great. They’ll tell you what they’re trying to do, it’s not that big of a secret. Those conversations are important so you understand where they think they are — you don’t want to assume you know. I think the best deals are the ones where everyone walks away feeling good about it.”

    • Most of the early activity has been with the teams picking in the top 10. Detroit has kept most of their intel close to the vest. Outside of that, a good deal of calls coming Houston’s way or the other way around have been about “directional” moves. An example, the conversations had with Indiana, with the Pacers reportedly looking to move down from 13. The Indianapolis Star reported that Eric Gordon’s name was discussed along with a late first-round pick.

    When we talk about directional, what is meant is Houston understands the Pacers want to compete right away. There is less of a desire to take a developmental player if a win-now veteran can be added to the roster. Again, that Pacers conversation was too early to be concrete. The Rockets have to really like someone at 13 who they believe won’t be there at 23. It’s also important to note there have been hundreds of iterations of scenarios tossed back and forth.

    • Regarding the players Houston has brought in over the past few weeks: ESPN reported that Cunningham and Green will have workouts with Detroit, and Green also plans to visit Houston. But word out of Houston is they have been quite pleased with the players that they have brought in. Tre Mann, JT Thor and Bones Hyland are a few names that have worked out at Toyota Center.

    • The Rockets also spent time in Chicago during the combine scheduling private interviews with the participants on hand — Keon Johnson, Jared Butler and Jalen Johnson to name some. Concerning Butler, our Shams Charania recently reported some good news concerning the potential first-round pick out of Baylor. The Rockets are among the teams that are fans of Butler’s game.

    • One wildcard: The Cleveland Cavaliers and the No. 3 pick. There has been some debate about what direction the Cavaliers will go on draft night. Mobley has been largely discussed there, as well as the potential of Green and even Suggs. The Cavs are also engaging teams in trade discussions surrounding guard Collin Sexton and hope to move Kevin Love and his remaining $60 million elsewhere, per sources.

    • Could Cleveland aggressively attempt to move up to two? It honestly depends on how they view Mobley versus Green — with soon-to-be restricted free agent big man Jarrett Allen in mind, as well. If the Cavs think Houston could go in either direction, I could see them getting antsy and trying to move up. There’s one viewpoint to take Mobley and possibly play him with Allen (or even in the case that Allen signs elsewhere), as well as taking one of either Green or Suggs and sending Sexton elsewhere. If Houston was sure that Cleveland is firmly settled on Mobley, the Cavs hypothetically could make for a realistic trade partner, moving back one slot and collecting additional assets in the process.

    As we said earlier, the draft is a series of moving parts. Things can change between now and July 29, but this is what Houston’s draft outlook looks like right now. Between now and draft night, the Rockets will leave no stone unturned and will exhaust every option possible before it’s time to be on the clock.
     
  2. withmustard

    withmustard Member
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  3. ElPigto

    ElPigto Member
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    Stone playing hard to get? I guess it doesn't hurt to tell Indiana, "We maybe like your 13th pick, but are not going to give you EG if we believe the player we want will be at 23, we really love EG here!"
     
  4. withmustard

    withmustard Member
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    One of the best intel articles I've read this summer regarding the Rockets draft.
     
    groovemachine, stevel, vince and 10 others like this.
  5. ROXTXIA

    ROXTXIA Contributing Member
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    Rafael Stone (our boy): "I like Eckerton."
    Koby Altman (Cavs GM) "No, you don't. You don't even know who Eckerton is."
     
  6. htownrox1

    htownrox1 Member

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    Solid article. Thanks for sharing.

    To me I think all of it is a smoke screen.

    If I was a betting man I’d bet on draft night it goes

    1. Detroit - Cade
    2. Houston - Green


    As far as 23/24 I’d wager Houston trades one of them for more assets.
     
  7. zeeshan2

    zeeshan2 Member

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    couple of things I got from this:

    -I don't see them trading #2 for Dame; I think they either trade up to one, stay content at #2, or maybe go do a trade down at 3 if the price is right
    -I think they take Butler if he's there at 23 or 24 instead of trying to decide if they want to trade one of these picks away
    -I need to watch more of the prospects the Rockets brought in so I can get excited for them lol
    -Green>>Mobley and Suggs
    -Still optimistic for Cade to come here
     
  8. saleem

    saleem Contributing Member

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    I'm really pleased with the quality of players that have been tried out for the 23rd and the 24th picks. I would like to see Bassey and Sharpe being brought in, and the underrated Robinson-Earl too.

    I'm getting the impression that Ziarie Williams is not on Houston's radar. It would be interesting to see him during a workout.

    Bring on the remaining top 3, and make a sound decision to retain the 2nd pick , Rafael.
     
    #8 saleem, Jul 22, 2021
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2021
    Possum, don grahamleone and smoothie like this.
  9. Bobbythegreat

    Bobbythegreat Member
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    It's weird they say Silas likes versatile guards as a reason why they'd be interested in a guard that isn't versatile at all.
     
  10. Houston77

    Houston77 COOKIES AND CAKE, MY TEAM BAKED!
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    The article does read as though we're going Green, which is fine, but it's also interesting how many guards we're bringing in if we go Green (Mann, Bones, K. Johnson, Butler, etc.)
     
    mikenm268 and D-rock like this.
  11. Croatian Sensation

    Croatian Sensation I'd rather be a forest than a street

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    Bradley is gone, Wall and Gordon won't be here long-term, Augustin is a veteran bench presence, Brooks is largely useless.
    KPJ and Khyri Thomas are the only ones that have shown promise. IMO getting Butler or Hyland alongside Green would be a great solution.
     
  12. saleem

    saleem Contributing Member

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    Because Green is a versatile scorer who's passing is getting better. He can also handle physical contact.
     
  13. dmoneybangbang

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    Perhaps you are wrong and Silas and the Rockets aren't....
     
  14. AXG

    AXG Member

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    Maybe pick Mobley and trade him to Cleveland for the #3 pick (Green) and a future first.
     
    xtruroyaltyx likes this.
  15. bleedroxred79

    bleedroxred79 Member

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    I'm actually excited about the Rox future. Trading Harden was the right thing because dude is past his prime. The Rox have 100% control of their destiny going forward.
     
  16. saleem

    saleem Contributing Member

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    They won't give us an unprotected 2022 1st round pick.

    Stone should demand their unprotected 2023 1st round pick plus their 3rd pick for our 2nd.
     
  17. Bobbythegreat

    Bobbythegreat Member
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    He's a traditional SG, there's no versatility there. He can't play any other position, he can't create for others, on defense he can't guard ANY position to a competent level.

    He was a mediocre scorer in the G league on par with Kenyon Martin Jr.....

    Again, where's the versatility?

    Being able to be a streaky shooter and being able to score in ISO vs G league scrubs sometimes isn't versatility.
     
  18. saleem

    saleem Contributing Member

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    Let's agree to disagree. We all want the best for the Rockets.
     
  19. clos4life

    clos4life Contributing Member

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    Trading Harden was the right thing given the circumstances but not because he is past his prime.
     
  20. Verbal Christ

    Verbal Christ Member

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    I still have huge doubts that Evan Mobley would land in the right place here to maximize his potential due to the current coaching staff. Wood works because he's such a good shooter yet he lacks the type of pure talent that Kristaps has - Wood just outworks guys. I think Mobley would languish as a help defender and spot up shooter here, and it would suck for him.

    Im OK with firing Stephen Silas to bring in a better fit for Mobley by the way if that is the direction the team goes.
     
    groovemachine, saleem and hakeem94 like this.

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