Rockets rumors: John Wall, Eric Gordon, Christian Wood

Rockets rumors: John Wall, Eric Gordon, Christian Wood

Rockets

Rockets rumors: John Wall, Eric Gordon, Christian Wood

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HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto and Rockets beat writer Ben DuBose discuss the futures of John Wall, Eric Gordon, Christian Wood, and Jae’Sean Tate, preview Houston’s draft and free agency plan, and more on the latest edition of the HoopsHype podcast.

For more interviews with players, coaches, and media members, be sure to like and subscribe to the HoopsHype podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Listen to the podcast above or check out some snippets of the conversation in a transcribed version below.

1:00 John Wall’s future

Scotto: As expected, John Wall is going to exercise his $47.4 million player option for next season, I’m told. After that, the Rockets will have time to look for a trade to move Wall. If Houston can’t find a trade partner for Wall, his representation at Klutch Sports is expected to work with the Rockets on a buyout agreement before next season. A potential buyout agreement would allow Wall to take advantage of the (free agent) market. Wall turns 32 in September. He’s healthy. I’ve heard he’d like to be on a winning team and have a role.

DuBose: He definitely had something left in the tank last season… There was enough in terms of his explosion that I was encouraged. Now that he’s had another year off to basically get his body right and another year since his Achilles injury, I think physically he’s still a good player. He put up 20 (points) and seven (assists) last year.

I think a buyout is more likely than a trade because the Rockets are not going to want to take back bad money. It’s not so much they can’t trade him. I think they could. When you take a step back and look at the Rockets from the macro (perspective), they’re really set up well for the 2023 offseason the way their salaries currently are. Wall, Christian Wood, and Eric Gordon all can expire after next season. There’s an option in Gordon’s case…

The 2023 offseason is going to be big for the Rockets because that next season is when all of their draft pick obligations to Oklahoma City from the Westbrook trade come back into play. One thing we know about the Rockets is that by the 2023 offseason at the latest, they’re going to be trying to win. This isn’t going to be a prolonged rebuild.

8:31 Trade candidates: Eric Gordon and Christian Wood

Scotto: This past trade deadline, Eric Gordon’s name came up with a couple of teams. As I had reported on HoopsHype, the Rockets sought a first-round pick in trade talks for Gordon around mid-January. His contract, now that he’s shown he’s healthy, is a bit more appealing than in previous seasons when he was hurt. Christian Wood is an interesting piece. He’s a talented guy. If you combine Wood and Gordon, you could potentially have a chance at matching a bigger salary if you had to with another team for a higher caliber player. A lot of people around the league were surprised that Gordon wasn’t moved at the deadline.

DuBose: They legitimately like Gordon a lot in terms of what he brings as a basketball player and his influence around the younger guys. If they’re not getting the offer they feel is fair for his value, I think they’re content having him around Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. as a professional to learn from and make an impact without having the ball in his hands…

Even though (Wood) is still young in the grand scheme, in his mid to late 20s, he’s not in alignment with your young core, which is all closer to 21. I can see, for a lot of reasons, this is the time they look to move Wood. I’ve talked to people around the league, and the general sense I get is that with some of the off-the-court concerns that exist regarding his attitude, people think he would be a better fit in a contender’s locker room where there’s a clear veteran star in place.

17:00 Extension candidate: Jae'Sean Tate

Scotto: Houston is trying to preserve as much cap space as possible for 2023. With that in mind, Jae’Sean Tate is up for an extension around the corner. From what I’ve heard, he’s currently viewed as a potential long-term piece for the Rockets, but it makes more sense for the Rockets to use the cap space and then pay him using his Bird Rights down the line. That same thinking could also apply to Kevin Porter Jr. unless he agrees to a discounted extension. When I’ve talked to Rockets coaches and other talent evaluators around the league, Tate is viewed as a winning type of player who can defend multiple positions and does the intangibles. Despite being on a rebuilding team, he’s viewed as a winning player. I think he’s a guy who has value around the league.

DuBose: Jae’Sean is 26 and will turn 27 before next season. It makes him basically the identical age as Wood. I do think it’s interesting that even though they’re the same age, Tate is playing down the stretch of the season. Wood is in that veteran group that got shut down about a week ago with Gordon and Dennis Schroeder. They’ll say it’s managing injuries, but we all know it’s to evaluate young players and preserve their draft positioning. The fact that Tate is still playing indicates to me that he’s seen as closer to that young core in terms of alignment than Wood.

23:30 Jalen Green

DuBose: They’re very high on him, and rightfully so. As we’re recording this, he’s had five straight games of 30 or more points. It’s the first time since Allen Iverson that have done that as rookies. He’s really coming around as a scorer. When you talk to people around the Rockets, they’ll push back on the narrative that things really clicked for him starting in February… It was the first 15 games where he got off to a brutal start. The Rockets will tell you that during that start they were trying to make things work with Daniel Theis and Wood with Tate at the three. The spacing in that was horrible… Ever since the Rockets ditched that, and I think it was tough for them to do that because they signed Theis for four years and wanted him to be an anchor defensively… Ever since they ditched that lineup, he’s been an above average scorer.

Scotto: In March, Jalen Green played 17 games, and he averaged 21 points and shot 48 percent (from the field) and 40 percent from three-point range with a true shooting percentage of 59 percent.

30:52 Dennis Schroeder and NBA Draft plans

Scotto: Obviously, it (acquiring Schroeder) was about maximizing the cap space (by trading Theis). When he left the Celtics they were 31-25 around February 8th. The Celtics have gone 18-5 and are now 49-30 overall as of this recording.

DuBose: Tuesday night in Brooklyn, there was a German group of reporters that asked coach Silas about his views of Schroeder as a player, leader, and if he was open to having him back next season. Silas was very positive about that. He talked about his leadership and clearly indicated that he was open to a potential return.

Because they don’t have Bird Rights, there’s basically no way that they’d bring him back unless he’s on a reasonable deal… The only way is if they give him up to 120 percent of his existing salary unless they were to spend their non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and I personally doubt they do that.

As far as the draft, the dream guy for me is Chet Holmgren. Of all the elite guys, he’s the one that can make an impact without the ball in his hands. They’re certainly going to take the best player available no matter what.

You can follow Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) and Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) on Twitter. 

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