UPDATE 9:18 pm: David Aldridge of NBA.com reports that the Kings have shot down the Rockets’ offer to get the No. 5 pick.
But their offer of guard Kyle Lowry along with the 16th pick overall to the Sacramento Kings in exchange for the fifth pick overall and forward Chuck Hayes was rejected Wednesday by Sacramento, according to league sources.
He may not be in this deal, but expect to see Lowry in some trade either in the next 24 hours or later this summer. His relationship with coach Kevin McHale has been strained, the Rockets like and want to re-sign Goran Dragic to run the point after how he closed out the season, and Lowry is a borderline All-Star with a very affordable contract.
7:24 pm: You know Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has a master plan in mind. He always does.
As he’s been making moves and stockpiling picks — the No. 12, 16 and 18 as of this writing — everyone has been trying to figure out the end game. It’s not just getting a pick or two in the top 10 (that’s obvious) but is he targeting a player. Maybe one in the draft, maybe one via trade (besides Dwight Howard, that’s a Hail Mary.)
Ken Berger of CBSSports.com is reporting some possibilities along those lines.
Among several avenues the Rockets are exploring would be a trade with Sacramento for the No. 5 pick in a deal that likely would send Tyreke Evans to Houston, sources said. The teams have discussed several scenarios, and while one person briefed on the talks described the deal as “getting close,” rival executives have gotten the strong impression that the Kings are steadfastly resisting the Rockets’ overtures.
Word in front office circles has been consistent that the Rockets’ target is Connecticut 7-footer Andre Drummond, although some executives openly wondered Wednesday if that was a smokescreen. Welcome to the 24 hours before the draft.
The smokescreen would be because they want point guard Damian Lillard, who the Trail Blazers plan to grab at No. 6 (allegedly).
Lillard makes more sense than Drummond, who is a huge gamble, boom or bust. But maybe a big gamble works for Morey, who doesn’t want to live in the NBA’s middle ground anymore. If Drummond pans out he has a contender, if he doesn’t he falls and ends up with high draft picks to build on.
But I just have a gut feeling it’s not Drummond and it may not be Lillard. There may be other targets out there.
One thing Berger confirms that is being reported consistently now — the Rockets are out of the Pau Gasol sweepstakes. They made a run last year (Gasol would have been a Rocket in the scuttled Chris Paul trade) but they have moved on.