HOUSTON — The Houston Rockets came out of the lottery with the No. 3 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft. General manager Rafael Stone is pleased, despite missing out on landing the top pick for the second consecutive year.
Stone is optimistic that he will find another cornerstone player to pair alongside Jalen Green as the Rockets climb back to relevancy. But there is a chance Stone could trade the pick in hopes of acquiring players who can jump start Houston’s rebuild and need for talent.
One team that could be interested in moving up in the draft is the New York Knicks.
New York is devoid of franchise cornerstones, and could use Houston’s pick to land one of the consensus top-three players in Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith.
“I will not block them out,” Stone said following the draft lottery Tuesday evening. “I am always available to talk. If there are teams interested in the pick, then we are always available to talk. And if there is something that makes sense for both teams, something will get done.”
A potential trade with the Knicks would probably give the Rockets another lottery pick, as New York would likely send it’s No. 11 selection back in exchange.
But in Stone’s attempts to add talent, the Rockets could acquire former lottery pick Obi Toppin.
The Knicks will have to decide on Toppin’s future this offseason. The former eighth overall pick in 2020 showcased a considerable amount of promise during his sophomore campaign, and his trade value is at a high.
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The Knicks may prefer to keep the New York native, but the franchise could move Toppin if they are unsuccessful in finding a trade suitor for Julius Randle.
A starting role with consistent minutes is the lone reason behind Toppin’s varying on-court production. At 24, Toppin is the perfect fit for Houston’s rebuilding plan
In the 10 games he started in place of the Randle, Toppin averaged 20.3 points on 43.6 shooting percent from 3-point range and 7.0 rebounds.
Toppin scored 20 or more points in four out of the 10 games started, which included a career-best 42 points in an 11-point victory against the Toronto Raptors.
His ability to use his athleticism to produce inside would make Toppin the third scorer the Rockets need to pair alongside Green and Kevin Porter Jr. And Toppin is an athletic forward who will not prevent coach Stephen Silas from slowing his pace.
The Rockets and Toppin would both benefit from a partnership. But a deal could mean more changes would follow in Houston.
A source told Rockets Insider there is a great chance Houston could move on from Christian Wood during the off-season. By trading their leading scorer, the Rockets will have a void to fill in the starting lineup. Toppin can be a superb fit.