For Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, the middle-to-late portion of first-round drafting has been a clear strength over his three NBA offseasons to date. Houston’s hauls have included Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason, and Cam Whitmore, all in consecutive years.
But one that got away was Quentin Grimes, the No. 25 overall pick in 2021. Despite playing college basketball at the nearby University of Houston, the Rockets drafted Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher with the two previous selections in the first-round order.
Neither of Houston’s draft picks made a major impact, while Grimes quickly became an positive player for the Knicks. But this season, Grimes lost his starting job to veteran Donte DiVincenzo — and with Grimes now in his third season, it’s unclear if there’s a long-term contractual fit in New York that will work for both sides.
So, could the stars be aligning for Stone and the Rockets to bring in the one that got away? Perhaps. Per SNY’s Ian Begley, a veteran NBA reporter focused on the Knicks, the Rockets, Memphis Grizzlies, Utah Jazz, and Atlanta Hawks have all expressed interest.
— Mitty (@MittyRockets) January 19, 2024
Begley did not indicate what a potential trade package would look like. Because Grimes is on his initial NBA contract, he’s making under $3 million this season, which makes it very easy for the Rockets and other teams to match salaries or even absorb him into a trade exception. Thus, it could come down to which team can tempt the Knicks the most from an asset value perspective.
The Rockets do have first-round draft capital from Brooklyn, as well as several second-round picks in 2024 and beyond, to perhaps consider including in trade proposals. Time will tell as to whether they deem Grimes worthy of that type of asset investment.
During three NBA seasons, Grimes has averaged 8.6 points (43.8% FG, 38.3% on 3-pointers) and 2.5 rebounds in 23.6 minutes per game with the Knicks. A versatile 6-foot-5 wing player with strength, he provides positive defensive value at multiple positions.