In a trade between rebuilding rivals in the Western Conference, Oklahoma City is sending Derrick Favors, Ty Jerome, Moe Harkless, Theo Maledon, and a 2025 second-round pick via Atlanta to the Houston Rockets for David Nwaba, Sterling Brown, Trey Burke and Marquese Chriss, as first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
All of the players involved have expiring contracts (see Rockets and Thunder books), so it shouldn’t materially impact either team’s long-term salary cap planning. Oklahoma City is also sending $6.3 million in cash considerations to compensate for the substantial gap in salaries, per Jackson Gatlin of Locked on Rockets.
The Rockets had acquired Brown, Burke, and Chriss for salary matching purposes as part of the trade sending Christian Wood to Dallas in June, but none were in Houston’s future plans.
Keeping those players into the 2022-23 regular season, which begins in under three weeks, would have been difficult because the NBA’s offseason roster limit of 20 players shrinks to 15 standard contracts and two two-way deals. Thus, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone was searching to make something of those assets before the roster deadline would force many (if not all) of those players to be released.
Of the four players acquired from the Thunder, only Favors — a veteran who could figure into Houston’s backup center mix — would seem to have a plausible path to rotation minutes this season. While Houston is likely to evaluate all or most in the upcoming preseason, the roster deadline is likely to force a handful of releases.
Beyond any value from Favors as a player, the primary benefits of the trade appear to be his salary and the future second-round draft pick via Atlanta. At $10.2 million, Favors could potentially help the Rockets match salary in trades closer to the 2022-23 trade deadline next February, yet he only occupies one roster spot. To reach that figure prior to this trade, the Rockets would have had to commit multiple roster spots due to the smaller annual salaries.
Moreover, because Houston is taking in much more money ($20.9 million) than is being sent out ($13.5 million) and reducing Oklahoma City’s potential luxury tax figure, the Thunder are compensating the Rockets with a future second-round draft pick and cash. To make the math work, given that gap, the trade will be broken into separate parts, per ESPN’s NBA front office insider Bobby Marks.
The Rockets are effectively buying a future pick asset by…