Rockets way-too-early predictions for 2023 NBA trade deadline

After years of competing for an NBA title, the Houston Rockets are now in a very different place. Following the trade of James Harden in 2020-21, the team entered a rebuilding phase. Now, the Rockets are a perennial lottery organization. That means that they could be sellers ahead of the upcoming NBA trade deadline and earn more draft capital, though there are now Harden reunion rumors flying around.

Still, so far in the 2022-23 season, Houston is 9-23 and last in the Western Conference. Currently, the Rockets are on a five-game losing streak, including losses to the San Antonio Spurs and Orlando Magic at home.

If things go as expected, Houston should have another top-three pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and perhaps will land Victor Wembanyama. Because of that, the Rockets might be willing to part ways with some veterans to clear minutes for the development of their younger players.

With that being said, here are some early Rockets predictions for the 2023 NBA trade deadline on Feb. 9.

3.Rockets, Boban Marjanović agrees on a buyout

A fan favorite wherever he goes, Boban Marjanović arrived in Houston in the trade centered around Christian Wood. In his seven NBA seasons prior to 2022-23, the center averaged 5.9 points and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 57.4% from the field.

However, the big man’s role has significantly decreased since joining the Rockets. This season, he has only appeared in 10 games and is averaging just 3.8 minutes a night. He is recording 2.1 points and a rebound plus making 63.6% of his field goals.

With Usman Garuba and Alperen Şengün earning more minutes this year, Marjanović is expendable for the Rockets. Since he is 34 years old and has not played much this year, other teams could be a bit hesitant in acquiring him. Still, he could help a playoff team that is looking for depth at the center position.

Since he is on an expiring deal worth $3.5 million, a buyout could be a possibility. That would allow Marjanović to find a new home and play more depending on the situation, but it would also free up a roster spot that the Rockets could use to bring in a young piece from the G League, for example.

2. Josh Christopher gains a lot of interest around the league but stays in Houston

While Houston is going towards a young movement, not all players are earning many minutes on the court. That is the case with Josh Christopher. The team’s 2021 first-round pick has fallen out of the rotation, averaging 6.8 minutes as opposed to 18 in his rookie season.

Last season, he played in 74 games and averaged 7.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists. This season, his numbers are down to 2.7 points, 1.1 boards and 0.6 assists per game. Notably, he has played in just 19 out of the 32 games.

The Rockets have a backcourt crowded with youngsters. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. are just some examples of players who are ahead of Christopher in the rotation.

Because of that, Christopher should gain some interest as the NBA trade deadline approaches. Teams who are not desperate to win a title could invest in a young guard who still has a lot of potential while allowing him to develop on the court.

Still, Houston won’t be interested in the proposed trades and will keep him around. Should the team make other moves, there is a chance Christopher returns to the rotation after the trade deadline.

1. Eric Gordon finally gets traded

One of the most important players on the team during the Harden era, it seems that Eric Gordon’s time in Houston is getting close to an end. At 34 years old, he is one of the oldest players on the roster but still has a large role in the organization.

He has started in all 27 games he appeared in and is playing 29.6 minutes per contest. The shooting guard is averaging 11.4 points, 2.4 assists and 2.0 rebounds. Additionally, he is hitting 35.4% of his 3-point attempts. Most of those numbers are some of his lowest since he joined the team in the 2016-17 season.

With no intentions of competing for a playoff spot, the Rockets could explore a trade involving Gordon. Since the Harden trade, Gordon’s name has been in multiple rumors. Teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns were at some point connected with him.

His salary this season is $19.57 million. What makes Gordon an intriguing option is that even with $20.9 million on his contract next season, his 2023-24 contract is non-guaranteed. This would allow franchises with some financial problems to bring him in for a playoff run this season while not hurting their salary books for the future. In the end, they could waive him at the end of the season and renegotiate a deal in the offseason.

The prediction is that Houston will finally trade Gordon, allowing him to compete for a title in 2022-23. Plus, this should clear the way for players, especially Christopher and rookie TyTy Washington Jr., in the rotation.

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