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Rockets flip Ariza and 16th pick for picks, cap room

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HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets traded Trevor Ariza and the 16th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft to the Detroit Pistons for a future protected 1st round pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Rockets received the pick and Ariza earlier in the week after trading Robert Covington to Portland.

The Rockets later purchased the Pistons’ 2021 second-round pick for $4.6 million.

In the short term, the trade deprives Houston of a first-round pick and Ariza, a useful two-way player who is very familiar with Houston.

In the long term, dropping Ariza’s contract of $12.8 million allows the Rockets to offer a full Mid-Level Exception (MLE) of $9.3 million instead of a “Taxpayer” MLE of $5.7 million within the “tax apron” or more colloquially, a hard salary cap. Being able to offer a full MLE opens up more possibilities in free agency.

The pick the Rockets received from the Pistons is reported to be highly protected, and may not come to fruition for several years, if at all.

Trading Ariza also gives the Rockets a Traded Player Exception, allowing them to sign another player.