NBA Hoops

Don’t be shocked if Rockets keep, rather than trade, No. 3 pick

Don’t be shocked if Rockets keep, rather than trade, No. 3 pick

With six talented young prospects already in place and the Houston Rockets (41-41) showing NBA-leading improvement last season, many around the league have speculated their 2024 first-round draft pick from Brooklyn could be trade bait for a veteran player that could help win more games in the short-term.

But with Sunday’s 2024 draft lottery placing that pick at No. 3 in the order — six slots higher than expected — could the calculus change?

ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who was in the lottery drawing room on Sunday afternoon in Chicago, writes of the Rockets:

The Rockets already have six intriguing young players in Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Tari Eason and Cam Whitmore. Paying all of them will be hard. Finding minutes for all of them was already hard. They signed Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks last summer, and won 41 games.

None of this means Houston *has* to trade the found money of the No. 3 pick. It’s a relatively affordable salary slot, and the key to sustained contention is getting more bang-for-the-buck from as many non-star roster spots as possible. The return on that pick alone may not be sufficient for the Rockets to move it. That could change if they attach one of their young players, but it would have to be worth their while.

Houston indeed wants to win more next season. Sources expect it to investigate the market for that No. 3 pick alone and in combination with other assets. But don’t be shocked if it keeps it, either.

Green and Sengun are eligible for contract extensions this offseason, while Smith and Eason will be in 2025.

With a much more expensive team on the horizon, there’s a case to be made that a relatively inexpensive rookie-scale contract could make sense for general manager Rafael Stone and the Rockets.

Per David Weiner, an NBA salary cap guru who follows the Rockets, the No. 3 pick in 2024 will have a starting salary of $10.3 million in 2024-25 before gradually increasing in the coming years.

Click Here to Read the Full Original Article at Rockets Wire…