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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Ben DuBose

2024 update: Rockets’ NBA draft assets, protections through 2031

The Houston Rockets have searched for a consistent backup center behind Alperen Sengun for much of the 2023-24 NBA season.

The good news is that as of February 2024, they found one by trading with Memphis for veteran center Steven Adams. The bad news is that due to injury, Adams won’t play until the 2024-25 season.

Nonetheless, based on his proven track record, Memphis had enough leverage to extract three future second-round draft picks from Rockets general manager Rafael Stone as part of the deal. In previous months, Houston also lost several second-round picks in deals to offload negatively valued contracts, such as the July 2023 trade sending TyTy Washington Jr. and Usman Garuba to Atlanta and the October 2023 deal sending Kevin Porter Jr. to Oklahoma City.

With that in mind, as a pivotal 2024 offseason approaches, it’s a good time to take stock of where the Rockets currently are with regards to their future draft assets. This includes a handful from Brooklyn as part of the blockbuster James Harden deal in January 2021, and the value of those appears to be improving as the Nets (21-33) meander through what appears to be an increasingly lost season.

Those types of draft assets could help the Rockets fill rotation spots internally with inexpensive young talent, or they could be used as trade assets to acquire veteran upgrades from other teams.

Through 2031, here’s an updated year-by-year list of the Rockets’ draft assets, as of February 2024. Scroll on for further details.


  • Brooklyn first-round pick
  • Golden State second-round selection

Houston’s own first-round pick is headed to Oklahoma City unless it falls within the top four of the 2024 draft lottery. If it does, Houston’s 2025 second-round pick goes to the Thunder.


  • First-round pick from Houston, Oklahoma City, OR Brooklyn (Oklahoma City can swap its 2025 first for Houston’s first-round pick, top-10 protected; after that is decided, Houston can swap its pick for Brooklyn’s selection, if desired)
  • Houston OR Oklahoma City second-round selection, whichever is worse (better pick goes to Memphis, for Adams)

If the Rockets defy the odds and keep their 2024 first-round pick due to its top-four protection (via a previous deal with the Thunder), then Houston’s 2025 second-round pick goes to the Thunder and the Oklahoma City second-round selection would go to Memphis.


  • Brooklyn first-round pick
  • Houston second-round selection
  • Dallas, Oklahoma City or Philadelphia second-round selection (second-best pick of these three)
  • Worst between the Clippers’ second-round pick and the best second-round pick of Boston, Miami, and Indiana

Houston’s own first-round pick is headed to Oklahoma City unless it finishes within the top four of the 2026 draft lottery. In that unlikely scenario, Houston would keep its first-round pick and send its 2026 second-round selection to the Thunder.


  • Houston OR Brooklyn first-round pick, whichever is higher
  • Memphis second-round selection


  • Houston first-round pick


  • Houston first-round pick


  • Houston first-round pick

2031 (can’t trade until after 2024 draft in June)

  • Houston first-round pick
  • Houston second-round pick

Any pick that does not contain a reference to protections or pick-swap rights is fully owned by the Rockets for that year.

When considering hypothetical trades, remember the NBA’s Stepien rule, which prevents teams from being without a first-round pick (either their own or from another team) in consecutive future drafts. However, Houston is set up well to avoid that conundrum, since they own at least one first-round pick over the next seven years.

It’s also possible to work around that rule by executing a trade shortly after a pick is made ⁠— i.e. a team could trade both its 2024 and 2025 first-round picks by waiting to execute a deal until just after the 2024 selection is made (with Team A choosing for Team B).

That’s why Houston’s June 2022 trade sending Christian Wood to Dallas wasn’t finalized until after the draft. The Mavs could not technically be without a 2022 pick due to already being without one in 2023, so the teams found a way to work around that rule.

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