NBA rumors: 3 Jalen Green trades to help Rockets level up

The Houston Rockets are ready to trade Jalen Green. Here are a few interesting ideas.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Jalen Green, Houston Rockets / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages
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2. Rockets swap Jalen Green for Bulls' Alex Caruso


Let's think smaller for a moment. The Chicago Bulls are looking for two first-round picks in exchange for Alex Caruso — or the equivalent. Is Green the "equivalent"? Maybe not. It's hard to imagine the Rockets getting two solid first-round picks for Green at this very moment. On the other hand, it's uncommon for 21-year-olds with Green's upside to hit the market.

The Bulls are sure to get several compelling offers for Caruso, but Green is eight years younger with a much longer window of team control. Both guards are in the penultimate season of their current contract, but Green is due for restricted free agency. The Bulls wouldn't have a problem keeping him around for at least six more years, so long as Green doesn't sign an offer sheet the Bulls' front office deems egregious.

For Houston, it's an immediate upgrade to push their competitive agenda forward. It's addition by substraction, in a sense. Green's absence leaves more room for Whitmore and Thompson to blossom as the Rockets' primary developmental focus. Caruso is rock-solid for 25 to 30 minutes each night, elevating Houston's perimeter defense and filling gaps on offense. He won't put together a prodigious stat line, but Caruso hits 40.5 percent of his 3s and processes the game at a high level.

There mere thought of Caruso and Dillon Brooks hounding ball-handlers in the postseason is enough to get Houston on the phone. VanVleet has been a terror all season too, averaging 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks (compared to 1.3 steals and 1.1 blocks for Caruso). That sort of defensive playmaking in the backcourt is undeniably valuable. It would help the Rockets get out in transition and generate easy points.

This is a bet on Green's upside compared to the unknowable qualities of future picks for Chicago. It feels like a potential win-win, even if the Rockets probably balk at the idea of trading their No. 2 pick for a perceived role player.