Report: Rockets, Pacers discuss trade involving Eric Gordon, draft picks

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In confirmation of recent reporting, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report wrote Sunday that the Rockets and Pacers discussed a trade involving veteran guard Eric Gordon and the No. 23 pick in the first round going to Indiana in exchange for the No. 13 pick, which would go to Houston.

The current status of those talks is not yet clear, with the 2021 NBA draft now only a few days away on Thursday, July 29. The Pacers recently hired longtime coaching veteran Rick Carlisle to their vacancy at head coach, which could increase the sense of urgency for Indiana to acquire a player such as Gordon who is ready to immediately contribute.

The original report from the Indianapolis Star included this, in reference to ongoing talks between the Rockets and Pacers:

If the player at No. 13 isn’t deemed immediately playable for the Pacers, it will make more sense to deal him for one who can contribute.

The Pacers have talked with the Houston Rockets, a league source told IndyStar, about flipping their pick and getting such a player. They’re not looking for a one-and-done expiring contract. They want a player under contract for at least two years.

In total, Gordon is owed ~$38 million over the next two seasons.

That first story did not mention Gordon by name, but many quickly assumed that the Indiana native was a logical fit, and that now appears to be the case. Houston’s only other players with contracts of at least two more seasons are DJ Augustin, who likely isn’t valuable enough for Indiana to move the No. 13 overall pick; John Wall, whose massive deal is likely too large to trade; and members of Houston’s “young core” like Christian Wood, Jae’Sean Tate, Kevin Porter Jr., and KJ Martin.

To this point, general manager Rafael Stone has not shown a willingness to trade any of those players. As a result, Gordon’s mid-tier contract at $18.2 million for next season looks to be the most realistic fit. The Pacers would have to send out close to that amount in salary for a trade to work, but including veteran guard Jeremy Lamb — who is on an expiring $10.5-million deal in 2021-22 — would get them in the ballpark.

Now 32 years old, Gordon averaged 17.8 points and 2.6 assists in 29.2 minutes per game with the Rockets last season, including a career-high clip of 57.3% from inside the 3-point arc. At his age, he’s unlikely to be a long-term fit with Houston’s rebuilding plan, which is why he could make more sense for a regular playoff contender like the Pacers.

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