Rockets veterans Eric Gordon, Jae’Sean Tate draw interest as NBA trade deadline nears

Houston Rockets veterans Eric Gordon and Jae’Sean Tate are drawing interest from multiple teams as Thursday’s trade deadline for the 2022-23 NBA season approaches, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Teams showing interest in Gordon include the Los Angeles Clippers and Phoenix Suns, while those interested in Tate are the Suns, Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, and Washington Wizards, Iko reports.

In theory, the rebuilding Rockets could use a trade of either player to open up additional playing time for younger players — such as rookie Tari Eason — while consolidating their roster ahead of 2023 free agency. With up to $60 million in salary cap space and two 2023 first-round draft picks, Houston is likely to bring in significant talent this offseason, which could make freeing up minutes a priority.

On paper, the 34-year-old Gordon feels like a better fit to trade for a rebuilding franchise than the 27-year-old Tate. However, the details make it more complicated. For example, simply keeping Gordon and having the option of letting him roll off Houston’s salary books over the offseason — there’s effectively a team option on his contract for 2023-24 — is better than taking back long-term salary.

As for the circumstances that Rockets general manager Rafael Stone might trade Gordon, Iko writes:

If a team comes in offering either a future first-round pick, an interesting young player, or another defensive-minded veteran on team-friendly money who could kickstart their climb back up the ladder, Gordon’s days as a Rocket would be over.

Note the clear emphasis on contract structures. Young players are inherently less expensive, and “team-friendly money” speaks for itself. The question is whether Gordon, at 34, carries enough trade value to fetch that type of return — and without a team offloading less desirable salary to match Gordon’s $19.6 million cap figure.

If not, it sounds as if the Rockets are content to keep Gordon on the roster and roll over his situation into the summer. At that point, they would have multiple options, including simply letting him go for cap space or perhaps keeping him around as a veteran role player that could be paired with another external addition (say, James Harden).

In the event of no trade, Iko writes that Gordon is not expected to pursue a contract buyout from the Rockets.

Unlike Gordon, there’s no age pressure for the Rockets to deal Tate. However, the 27-year-old’s friendly contract terms — two years are still left after this season — might bolster the market for Tate, who could help a number of playoff teams with defense and leadership.

“As is the case with any player, if there was a ‘can’t-turn-down’ type offer, it would be considered,” Iko writes.

Trading Tate could conceivably alleviate Houston’s roster crunch, to a degree, while perhaps opening up even more salary cap room over the 2023 offseason. However, because he’s clearly one of the team’s best defensive players and a valued voice in the locker room, Stone and the Rockets will likely have a lofty asking price.

Iko also reports trade interest in 22-year-old forward KJ Martin and 21-year-old guard Josh Christopher. However, given those ages and the fact that both players are on very cheap contracts (under $2.5-million annually for both, since these are their first NBA deals), there wouldn’t seem to be a clear incentive for the Rockets to move them.

Iko says Houston isn’t interested in trading Martin, a second-round pick from the 2020 NBA draft, for another second-round pick. In other words, Stone would need to be blown away by the value.


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Story originally appeared on Rockets Wire

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