Laying out the three-team deal
The Houston Rockets have put themselves under a mandate to improve significantly this season. On the surface, that runs in opposition to the host of young prospects they have added over the past few seasons, and sure enough, they sent out three players on their first contracts to clear space for veteran signings.
With Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks aboard, and Jalen Green and Amen Thompson likely a key part of their vision moving forward, an upgrade in the frontcourt seems like the next step on their journey. After failing to land Brook Lopez in free agency, could they push some assets into the middle to add an All-NBA center in Karl-Anthony Towns?
Here’s what such a deal could look like:
This deal has a lot of moving pieces, so let’s break it down team by team. The Portland Trail Blazers would be moving Damian Lillard and getting back a tremendous haul. Jabari Smith Jr. was last year’s No. 3 pick, and Cam Whitmore was drafted this season and was a player the Blazers brought in for a workout.
Add in some lesser assets in Wendell Moore (who had a shaky rookie season), a future first, and a pick swap with the Wolves after Lillard and Gobert are likely to have retired. Mike Conley is an expiring contract and veteran mentor for Scoot Henderson, while Kevin Porter Jr. is a better salary to swap in for Jusuf Nurkic, who is essentially dead money at this point.
What about the Rockets? They send out just a single first by including Jabari Smith Jr. and Whitmore, who may have been a top prospect at one point but did fall to pick No. 20 for a reason. They get an offensive powerhouse at the 5 and could trot out a win-now lineup of Fred VanVleet, Jalen Green, Dillon Brooks, Jae’Sean Tate, and Karl-Anthony Towns. They would need to think highly of Towns, but it’s not out of the question.
If both Houston and Portland are on board, the question comes to the Timberwolves: would Minnesota make this deal?