Finally! Monday marked the first trade of the 2022-23 NBA season. The Los Angeles Lakers sent three second-round picks to the Washington Wizards in exchange for four-year pro, Rui Hachimura. The trade sparked excitement among the NBA community, as fans and analysts alike wonder what moves will be made during trade season. Will teams be content with swapping picks to build their depth, or will there be a big-name player moved who could shake up the fantasy landscape?
Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure: The drama never stops with the NBA, and there are likely more changes on the way. As much as I’d love to say I know what’s going to happen, I don’t, but I’ll happily manifest a scenario that would be great for fantasy purposes.
The Rockets have a ton of talent up and down their roster, but their leadership is beyond questionable. The fact that Alperen Sengun was actually competing with Bruno Fernando for minutes earlier in the season was a joke. And for some reason, Eric Gordon is averaging nearly 30 minutes a night this year while playing for a team sporting the worst record in the NBA.
Don’t get me wrong; It’s invaluable to have a veteran presence in the locker room, especially around young players. And it also makes sense to give him enough minutes to increase his value in the market, but the Rockets have been out of contention for a while, and it’s been time to move on.
The problem with moving Gordon is, according to Yahoo Sports NBA insider Jake Fischer, the Rockets want a first-round pick in exchange for the 34-year-old, 15-year pro. While that may seem a bit rich, he has a desirable contract that can come off the books after this season. Plus, he’s not washed — he’s still a knockdown 3-point shooter and a decent perimeter defender. So the Rockets can either extend him to a long-term deal or send him packing.
One decision is cheaper than the other, and given the depth on the Rockets roster, trading him would be the best scenario assuming their rebuild doesn’t take a detour while luring in James Harden back to H-Town.
Gordon ranks 241st this season and is rostered in 14% of Yahoo leagues through Tuesday. He’s a dart throw and random stream at best — and he’s blocking a player who would be a must-add, viable asset in 9-cat formats right now.
I want to see Gordon traded so that NBA rookie and Summer League phenom, Tari Eason, can finally showcase his potential. I prefer him over KJ Martin because Eason has a higher fantasy ceiling and all of the ingredients to become an excellent fantasy player.
Here are his per-36 numbers through Sunday: 15.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.5 threes, 2.0 steals, 1.0 block and 1.8 turnovers with 43/79/38 shooting splits. Eason would easily be a top-50 player if he put up those numbers in 9-cat leagues. He’s tenacious defensively but is also second on the team in second-chance points despite only playing 18 minutes per game by making routine hustle plays like this:
And that’s what’s frustrating about this situation is that Rockets HC Stephen Silas would rather lean into Gordon (who’s done more than enough to prove himself) than give a promising young player significant minutes (unless there’s an injury). It’s baffling that even with Jabari Smith Jr. and Kevin Porter Jr. out for yesterday’s contest, Eason didn’t play 30 minutes. But he had one of his best games of the year, falling just shy of a double-double with five stocks in 26 minutes. The kid is a beast.
And it’s even more ridiculous that he hasn’t played more than 30 minutes in a game all season! Despite Stephen Silas’ maddening coaching decisions, he at least acknowledged Eason’s impact in Monday’s win over the Timberwolves:
And maybe I’m too quick to assume that a Gordon trade would be a direct benefit to Eason — as previously mentioned, KJ Martin’s role would also grow.
Martin’s logged 83% of his minutes at SF this season, which is the most on the team behind Gordon. However, Eason registered 7% of his minutes at SF, so Eason could still eat regardless of Martin picking up additional minutes. And who knows, Martin is also on a team-friendly deal, so perhaps he could be a trade chip to dangle. Although, if Monday was any glimpse into Eason’s upside, fantasy managers should be stashing Eason (19% rostered in Yahoo leagues) right now before a trade potentially goes down.
What I’m saying is, Eason has league-winner potential should Eric Gordon be dealt by Feb. 9.