NBA Rumors: 3 Trade Scenarios For Rockets' No. 4 Pick

"The Rockets have made it very very very very clear that they want to contend for the playoffs this season." As if that wasn't clear already, that's the word from ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

Rumors of a James Harden return have been running rampant, and the odds of them trading the No. 4 pick in next month's NBA Draft are skyrocketing. 

With that in mind, we take a look at 3 Trade Scenarios for the Rockets, with the help of Rockets beat writer Kelly Iko of The Athletic

1. San Antonio Spurs

Rockets #4 pick in 2023 + near future first-rounder


Keldon Johnson

The 23-year-old Johnson has improved in each and every one of his four NBA seasons, to the point where he averaged 22.0 points per game this past year, with 5.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He'd give the Rockets a ready-made star at the small forward spot, while the Spurs continue their rebuild with two picks in the top four of this year's draft (including, of course, Victor Wembanyama).

2. Toronto Raptors

Rockets #4 pick in 2023, KJ Martin, Tari Eason


OG Anunoby

Defense has been a huge issue for the Rockets with their uber-young lineup, and Udoka won't stand for that. All-Defensive Second Team member Anunoby helps address that big-time. He led the league in steals this past season. He still has one more year on his current contract and is eligible for an extension this summer. 

For the Raptors, they get to kick their "re-set" into full gear with the #4 pick, and with a first-rounder from 2022 in Eason, who showed exciting upside in his rookie year, as a hound on both sides of the ball. Kenyon Martin Jr. is another nice improving piece, at small forward, after averaging 12.7 points and 5.5 rebounds this season.

3. Indiana Pacers

Rockets #4 pick in 2023, Alperen Şengün, Kevin Porter Jr., K.J.  Martin, and a first-round pick in 2025


Myles Turner, Buddy Hield

The Rockets add a proven big man in Turner, and a veteran sharpshooter in Hield, while the Pacers, still in full-on rebuild, get some attractive young pieces and draft picks. Sengun takes over at center for Turner, at a much cheaper price, and the three years remaining on Porter Jr.'s contract are largely non-guaranteed if the Pacers don't feel he fits (and with Bennedict Mathurin around, they probably don't).

Photo: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports