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Rockets trade Trevor Ariza and No. 16 pick to Pistons in exchange for future first-round pick, per report

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The Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons have agreed to a trade ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft. Houston will send Trevor Ariza and the No. 16 overall pick in this year’s draft to Detroit in exchange for a future first-round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. 

That future pick from the Pistons will be heavily protected, however, according to The Athletic’s James Edwards III, and it’s likely it will eventually turn into multiple second-round picks. In addition, the Rockets will purchase the Pistons’ 2021 second-round pick — via the Los Angeles Lakers — for $4.6 million. 

Earlier this week, the Rockets acquired Ariza and two first-round picks — one of which was No. 16 overall — from the Portland Trail Blazers in exchange for Robert Covington. With their own first-round pick already owed to the Denver Nuggets, the Rockets now do not have a first-round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. 

This was, first and foremost, a cost-cutting move by the Rockets, which isn’t surprising given their ownership situation. It will also give them a bit of cap flexibility by allowing them to use their mid-level exception now that Ariza is off the books. Whether they’ll do so, however, remains to be seen. There are obviously bigger issues at hand for the Rockets, with both James Harden and Russell Westbrook agitating to move elsewhere. 

As for the Pistons, this was a savvy bit of business to take advantage of the Rockets’ financial desperation. Barring the unlikely scenario that the pick they owe the Rockets conveys, they essentially got a free first-rounder for taking Ariza off the Rockets’ hands. And they’ll probably be able to move Ariza elsewhere for even more future assets. Even though this isn’t the best draft class of all time, the Pistons need all the young talent they can get, and another shot at the draft certainly doesn’t hurt. 

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