The Rockets made a last-minute trade effort to get the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft from Magic

The top three picks in the 2022 NBA Draft didn’t go as planned. There was a firm belief that Jabari Smith Jr. would be taken first overall by the Orlando Magic, followed by Chet Holmgren and then Paolo Banchero. Instead, it was Duke’s star with the first pick at the Magic, Holmgren at the OKC Thunder and Smith Jr. dropping to third, going to the Houston Rockets.

Well, it looks like the Rockets were actually convinced that Smith would slip to third place overall, and once they knew the Magic would take Banchero, they tried to pull off a night trade.

Via ESPN:

The hours have passed. Once the Rockets were convinced Orlando was going with Banchero, Houston contacted the Magic to make a trade offer to move up to No. 1, sources said.

The Rockets wouldn’t have made an offer if they were certain Smith would slide towards them, sources said, but feared they would have to make a decision on Holmgren without having time to digest his medical information.

The Thunder were always the team that expected to take Holmgren, but even though there was a firm belief that Smith was a lock for the Magic, they never committed to doing so. It was allegedly the media that pushed the narrative. The Rockets never worked on the ex-Auburn star, but his agent gave them medical information on his client.

Perhaps the Magic engaged in talks with Houston but had no intention of making a trade at the top of the draft. Banchero will suit them perfectly, while Smith Jr joins a promising core with the Rockets consisting of Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, Alperen Sengun and others.

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