The Houston Rockets are smack dab in the middle of a rebuild, and as such, many of their veteran players are seemingly available for trades. Christian Wood and John Wall have both been mentioned in rumors, but for a variety of reasons, Eric Gordon has long felt like the most likely Rocket to get dealt at the trade deadline.
The 33-year-old swingman is shooting a career-best 45.2 percent from behind the arc. While he is not a lockdown defender, he can comfortably switch across several positions and hold his own in the post. He provides very valuable supplementary playmaking and has quite a bit of experience in the postseason. All of this combines to make him a valuable possible addition to any contender.
But according to The Athletic's Kelly Iko, it is growing increasingly likely that the Rockets retain Gordon beyond the deadline. The Rockets have reportedly received multiple offers for Gordon, but unless one blows them away, there appears to be a good chance he remains in Houston. The Rockets reportedly admire the way that Gordon carries himself on such a young roster. That makes him a valuable mentor to core youngsters Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
Still, on paper, there's little reason for the Rockets to retain Gordon in a basketball sense. Green and Porter are their guards of the future, and Houston appears comfortable tanking for multiple seasons. Having a valuable veteran like Gordon doesn't make much sense in that context, especially with him set to make almost $20 million next season. It also makes sense for Gordon to get to a new team if possible. His contract becomes guaranteed for the 2023-24 season if his team wins a championship at any point before then, so aside from any desire to win he might have, it makes financial sense for him to play for a winner.
From that perspective, it's worth wondering if the Rockets might be trying to send a message through the media to prospective trade partners that they might need to increase their offers. With similar reporting from Iko and Marc Stein suggesting that the Rockets would not consider a Russell Westbrook for John Wall trade unless the Lakers offered their 2027 first-round pick, there might be a pattern of Houston doing so here.
Holding on to Gordon would take guts on Houston's part. At his age and salary, his value is unlikely ever to be higher than it is right now. His contract was viewed as detrimental prior to this season and easily could return there if he regresses. The Rockets have a chance to save money on the deal and pick up some assets in the process. Only time will tell if they're truly willing to pass that chance up.