The Rockets now own the 14th, 16th, and 18th picks in the 2012 NBA draft, after they swung a deal that sent forward Chase Budinger to the Minnesota Timberwolves, for the 18th pick.
This trade continues to fuel the quest for a franchise player in Houston. The Rockets have now made significant headlines in the Dwight Howard rental saga. Stockpiling picks will give the Rockets a strong opportunity to acquire Dwight, from an Orlando Magic team that is sure to rebuild after his departure.
Though 14, 16, and 18 won’t get the deal done, the Rockets now have more freedom to explore ways of swapping players and draft picks to get into the top 10. The Sacramento Kings seem to be the biggest buyers of Kyle Lowry, and are willing to move the 5th pick for him.
Budinger had been a solid acquisition by the Rockets on draft night, and proved to the NBA he was better than his 44th pick status he received in the 2009 NBA Draft. With the impressive play of Chandler Parsons, Buding er lost playing time, and confidence in Houston. The Timberwolves saw an opportunity to snag a solid shooter, and the Rockets saw another pick they could potentially package for the bigger goal ahead.
The Rockets would hope that if Dwight becomes a reality that a domino effect would take place, and this team would go from mediocrity to contender in one off-season. If Deron Williams is enticed by Howard in Houston, then a long term extension becomes a possibility, and the Rockets have a new dynamic duo to compete with, in a demanding division and conference.
ESPN has reported that if the Rockets fail in the Howard pursuit, then Josh Smith is a viable backup plan. Smith, who seems to be fed up in Atlanta, would be a nice acquisition for the Rockets who desperately need athleticism and defense in the paint. A change of scenery is just what Smith needs, and the Rockets have been pursuing him for a couple years now.
Before any of these assumptions can take place, the Rockets need to move pieces like Kevin Martin, Samuel Dalembert, and Kyle Lowry who all have been in the rumor mill for the past few days.