After fans of the San Antonio Spurs were left disappointed by the results of the NBA Draft Lottery, Houston Rockets G.M. Rafael Stone gave them hope with his comments about being open to trading the third overall pick. That leaves the door open for the Spurs to trade up, but that will depend on the Rockets' asking price, which will likely be high.
However, it may be worth giving up a lot to move up in this draft with players such as Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, and Jabari Smith expected to go in the top three. All three project to be future stars but it's unclear in which order they will be selected, though it likely wouldn't matter to the Spurs as long as they're in a position to draft one of them. With that being said, let's look at four potential trades to acquire the third pick from Houston.
Trade 1: Spurs trade Devin Vassell, 9th and 20th picks, Bulls' 2025 1st round pick for No. 3 pick
The first trade scenario involves moving Devin Vassell, the ninth pick, the 20th pick, and the Chicago Bulls 2025 first to the Rockets for the third overall pick. While that might seem like a steep price, the results of the trade could drastically raise the Spurs' ceiling. After all, they'd basically be swapping out Vassell for Holmgren, Banchero, or Smith while holding onto their two best players in Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson.
That trade would also preserve the team’s ability to clear out cap space to offer a max contract, which would allow them to pursue and potentially sign DeAndre Ayton or Zach LaVine. For the Rockets, they'd receive the ninth overall pick, two additional selections, and a former lottery pick in Vassell. Vassell was taken 11th overall in 2020 and is already a starter, giving Houston an immediate contributor.
That would be a great haul for Houston, considering recent precedent. In 2017, Philly traded the third overall pick to Boston for the first overall pick, and the cost was a future first rounder. Meanwhile, Dallas traded the fifth pick and a future first in 2018 to move up just two spots to acquire the draft rights to Luka Donic. Therefore, the Spurs giving up two additional picks and Vassell to move up six spots seems perfectly reasonable.