Laying out the three-team trade
The Houston Rockets entered this summer with the most cap space in the NBA, and they wielded it to the tune of massive new contracts for Fred VanVleet, Dillon Brooks, Jock Landale and Jeff Green, essentially outbidding the competition. What it also means is that they have relatively few contracts to use as matching salary in a deal.
Unless they were going to move on from both Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr., which would be inexplicable even to add a player like Jarrett Allen, the Rockets need to include Kevin Porter Jr. in a deal. The prospect of KPJ returning to Cleveland is unthinkable; they sent him packing just months after he was drafted, and that relationship isn’t one they want to mend.
That requires a third team to reroute Porter Jr., and the Utah Jazz now enter the picture. Here is what a deal could look like:
The Houston Rockets get to place Allen in the middle and immediately shore up a defense that was overwhelmingly porous last season. He is young enough to grow with their young core, but he also helps them fulfill their win-now mandate this year. They don’t give up any of their recent top picks in the deal, moving Tari Eason (a player locked into the bench with this summer’s signings) and a future Brooklyn first-round pick.
For their part, the Jazz made multiple moves this summer to add talent to their rotation of bigs, so moving a veteran center on an expiring contract for a young guard is the kind of swap that makes sense for them. If KPJ doesn’t work out they can move on, but it’s a flier at a position where they need to find long-term answers.
The deal makes sense for the Rockets and the Jazz; would the Cavaliers say yes?