Houston Rockets 3.0 Confidential Draft: The No. 3 pick, potential roster moves and more

Happy NBA Draft Week!

We are finally here. After what has seemed like an endless supply of mock drafts, expert takes, fan polls and trading machine exercises, the critical moment is fast approaching. By Thursday night, you’ll know a lot more about this Houston Rockets team. But for now, here’s the latest on the 2022 draft, current roster, coach search and more.

• As the draft nears, signals are increasingly pointing to the Rockets picking Paolo Banchero of Duke, should he be on the board at No. 3, sources said. Athleticism. On a related note, while Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren should be taken at No. 2 by the Oklahoma City Thunder, that’s not an absolute guarantee. There have been whispers of interest in Purdue’s Jaden Ivey – with a number of teams very intrigued by the electric guard, including the Indiana Pacers – and Thunder general manager Sam Presti has been known to take unpredictable draft decisions. Having made his official visit last week, Houston is the most familiar with Banchero of the three names presumed to top the draft. Jabari Smith chose not to visit, and it’s still unclear if Holmgren will.

It shouldn’t be considered out of the ordinary, however. It’s typical for top picks to be hesitant to meet the teams below where they’re likely to go. Holmgren and Smith mocked the first two for weeks. Either way, there was an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from Banchero’s visit, similar to Jalen Green’s visit at a similar stage last year. The Rockets are rebuilding their culture and looking for hard-working players. By all accounts, Banchero fits that bill.

• In terms of ownership of the No. 3 pick himself: Although teams have shown interest in acquiring him from Houston, those requests have been exploratory at best, and the Rockets aren’t looking to go downhill, sources say. . Athleticism. Once Thursday night, those offers might become more concrete, but there’s genuine internal enthusiasm to add a high-quality player at the top of the draft. In the same breath, while Houston would love the prospect of picking at No. 2 or No. 1, they’re pretty comfortable where they are.

• Regarding choices 17 and 26, however, the possibilities are wide open. The Rockets are looking for help on the wings, targeting young players who are confident offensively and can defend multiple positions effectively. Last year, Houston selected two big men (Alperen Şengün and Usman Garuba) and two guards (Green and Josh Christopher). There have been a slew of incoming calls regarding the No. 17 pick, sources say Athleticism, especially from teams that don’t have a first-round pick or teams with veterans they’re willing to move. But all options are on the table. With the 26th pick, Houston has the flexibility to do a number of things. There are no pre-determined plans with the No. 26. A common notion is that teams combine multiple picks and move up, but the Rockets could also drop, move or even trade for an already-helped type of player already in the league. .

I would expect pick #17 to be more of an “on the clock” situation. Draft nights can get a little crazy in the teens, with some players slipping and others leaving earlier than expected. Last season, the Rockets aggressively won that No. 16 pick once Şengün was still on the board, as they expected him to enter the lottery. The Rockets’ course of action depends on who’s still available — and who’s high on Houston’s board.

• A few weeks ago, Athleticism reported that Rio Grande Valley Vipers head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah was a strong candidate to join Stephen Silas’ staff. On Abdelfattah, the deal is essentially done, and it’s a matter of when, not if, sources say Athleticism. The seemingly lengthy search for Houston has sparked discussions from Rockets fans on social media, but the Rockets are giving Silas the time and freedom to train the exact type of personnel he wants. The Rockets believe in Silas and want to make sure he has the right support around him, especially ahead of a pivotal third season at the helm. This may not have been the case two years ago when Silas was first hired and his team was put together fairly quickly.

Athleticism also recently reported that former Hawks assistant Melvin Hunt had been nominated as a candidate. The length of Silas’ options list is unknown at this point, but another name that has emerged is Lionel Hollins, sources said. Athleticism. Hollins, who last served in the 2020-21 season as an assistant under Lakers head coach Frank Vogel, is widely known and respected for his defensive acumen, dating back to his tenure head coach of those stubborn Memphis Grizzlies. teams from 2009 to 2013.

• Jae’Sean Tate and Kevin Porter Jr. are now eligible for contract extensions. Early in the offseason, the two’s representation approached management in hopes of starting those talks, sources said. Porter, the 30th pick in the 2019 draft, can agree to a rookie-wide extension as early as July 1 and has until the day before the 2022-23 season to finalize a multi-year deal. If the two sides didn’t agree by then, Porter would be heading to restricted free agency by the following summer. It’s a different scenario for Tate since he was signed as a free agent in 2020. The Rockets have until next summer to strike a deal for him, giving them flexibility and time to of them. Their cap prospects will be clearer after the draft and free agency. However, the hope is that they will do something with both.

• As far as their own free agents go, Dennis Schröder is valued in Houston but is expected to have a new home for the 2022-23 season, sources have said. Athleticism. Schröder arrived at the February trade deadline and brought professionalism, experience and speed to a team in need, but with Daishen Nix on tap, as well as Porter, Christopher and Green, there is a real need to clear minutes for young developing talent on the roster. Schröder is 28, at the peak of his career, expecting to play big minutes and make the playoffs.

• Christopher, Garuba and Nix may all be playing for Houston’s summer league team in Las Vegas.

• In what has become an annual tradition, there is interest in Eric Gordon, sources say Athleticism. Gordon, entering his 15th season, has made it clear in the past that he wants to compete at the highest level, although he has been willing to help young players – especially Green – develop and grow. But with a guaranteed year remaining on his contract (his 2023-24 money is a team option), competing teams are monitoring the situation, sources said. Athleticism. There is no strong will or pressure to move Gordon. He’s seen as a solid two-way player — one of their best — under a team-friendly deal, and he also possesses value for his ability to mentor Houston’s youth and his importance. for Silas. The Rockets need a first-round pick or a younger player who can help them get away from Gordon now. Conversations around Gordon are a bit more frequent now than they were around last year’s trade deadline, but that’s expected with this week’s draft.

• With the reality of the incoming third pick and possibly more, second-year forward Kenyon Martin Jr. recently approached Rockets management to discuss the possibility of a trade with the franchise, sources have said. The nature of the conversation was frank. With the potential moves after Thursday’s draft, the sudden reality is that there’s no such clear path to minutes for Martin in the rotation. It must be said that there is no resentment between the two parties. After taking Martin to the second round of the 2020 draft and helping him achieve his NBA dream, there will always be a lot of love and mutual respect. But Martin is at a point in his career where he needs a few minutes to continue developing, which may not be so clear in Houston anymore. There are a number of teams – including playoff contenders – that have shown interest in Martin in the past, sources said, with his combination of age, athleticism and untapped potential deemed attractive. .

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(Photo by Paolo Banchero: Bob Donnan/USA Today)

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