ESPN’s Tim MacMahon expects Rockets to eventually trade Eric Gordon

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With four recent first-round draft picks headlined by No. 2 overall selection Jalen Green, the Houston Rockets are clearly in the early stages of a rebuilding movement. Yet, they still have two accomplished and highly paid veteran guards on the roster in John Wall and Eric Gordon.

As ESPN’s Tim MacMahon sees it, that could become a conundrum for the Rockets and second-year head coach Stephen Silas. While Houston clearly wants to prioritize the development of younger players, Wall and Gordon are simply too good not to play, and it remains to be seen whether there are enough touches and shot attempts to go around for both the veteran duo and young guards such as Kevin Porter Jr. and Green.

“To me, one of the biggest challenges for the Rockets is how you deal with John Wall and Eric Gordon,” MacMahon said on a new episode of the Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective podcast. As part of a betting segment, MacMahon was stating his case for Houston going “under” their projected win/loss total of 25.5 for the 2021-22 NBA season.

“I do think the Rockets will be a fun young team, but fun young teams end up around 23, 24 wins,” MacMahon said.

Of the two veteran guards, MacMahon sees Gordon — who is owed $37.8 million over the next two seasons — as much more likely to be moved by the Rockets at some point during the upcoming season. With Wall, who is due $91.7 million, the logistics are far more complicated.

The last year [of Gordon’s deal], there’s no guaranteed money. I think Gordon is getting traded at some point. But John Wall, every minute that he plays… you’re wasting time.

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The final season of Gordon’s current contract (2023-24) is for $20.9 million, but it is only guaranteed if he makes an All-Star team, or if his franchise wins the NBA championship during the next two seasons. The first is extremely unlikely, to say the least, and the second would likely be seen as a “good problem,” considering the influx of cash associated with winning the title. As such, Gordon’s contract on a two-year basis isn’t likely to be viewed by other franchises as especially prohibitive.

The massive figure owed to Wall, however, is a different story. When asked about the potential of a contract buyout by the Rockets to allow the five-time All-Star to hit free agency early, MacMahon said:

The problem is, it’s $92 million. It’s two years at the super-max.

Besides having a cheaper salary, Gordon also brings a skillset in the form of 3-point shooting and defense that can easily fit on most teams. Wall, on the other hand, is a traditional point guard and floor general who may not fit as well on teams who already have a primary ball handler in place. Between that factor, a long injury history, and his extremely high salary, it’s unclear what the market for Wall would be at this time.

Along those same lines, it could also be argued that Wall’s ball-dominant style might be difficult to mesh with Porter Jr., who sees himself as the point guard of the future with the Rockets. Yet, the financial realities may leave Silas and general manager Rafael Stone without any choice but to try and make it work for the time being.

Related

Kevin Porter Jr. sees himself as a point guard for Rockets

Even in rebuild, Rockets see roles for veterans John Wall, Eric Gordon

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