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Reports: Rockets, 76ers remain active in Eric Gordon trade talks

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According to multiple reports published Saturday (by Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS Sports, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Dave Hardisty of ClutchFans), the 76ers remain interested in pursuing a trade with the Houston Rockets for veteran guard Eric Gordon.

News of the 76ers’ interest in Gordon was first reported on draft week in late June. Led by former Rockets GM Daryl Morey, the Sixers are clearly seeking out veterans from his Houston tenure, as shown by the additions of James Harden, Danuel House Jr., and PJ Tucker. Combine that with Houston’s rebuilding emphasis, and it’s easy to connect the dots involving a 33-year-old Gordon — who offers considerable “3&D” value as a 3-point shooter and tough defender. However, the devil is in the details.

Current Rockets general manager Rafael Stone reportedly wants a future first-round draft pick for Gordon that isn’t extremely late in the order, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Yet, because of the NBA’s Stepien rule, the 76ers are not allowed to trade a first-round pick until 2029. Moreover, they also need to match salaries to absorb Gordon in a trade, since the Sixers are well above the NBA’s salary cap.

It’s understandable if Morey is reluctant to part with both players and the 2029 pick for a role player like Gordon. After all, Philadelphia’s outlook for that future date is quite murky, given their veteran-laden roster of today. They may need that draft pick to rebuild, themselves.

Among players the Sixers could conceivably trade for Gordon, the most attractive asset is defensive ace Matisse Thybulle, who just finished his third NBA season. Yet, Thybulle — who, unlike Gordon, is not a strong shooter — may not be a great fit for the Rockets, who already have a handful of versatile wing defenders ⁠in Jae’Sean Tate (who recently signed a new contract), newly drafted rookies Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason, and veteran David Nwaba. Young guard Josh Christopher showed flashes of defensive potential in his rookie season, as well.

Thus, the most reasonable path looks to be a three-team scenario. In this hypothetical, the Sixers could get Gordon if a third team flips a respectable draft asset to Houston in exchange for Thybulle and perhaps other Philadelphia players (for salary matching). That future draft asset would give Stone considerably more options than what he would have with Thybulle, whose value would decline if he struggled to find minutes.

With that in mind, the challenge is whether the Sixers and Rockets can find a third-team facilitator willing to give up that type of asset for Thybulle. Clearly, it hasn’t happened yet. But it is a long offseason, and both Philadelphia and Houston have ample incentive to try and figure something out when considering Gordon’s age — which seems to fit better with a team like the 76ers that wants to win in the short-term.

Stay tuned.

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Future Houston Rockets draft pick assets, protections through 2029