4 Biggest Houston Rockets Trades

min read
James Harden of the Houston Rockets attempts a shot during an NBA game in November 2016.
(Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)
Anatoly Pimentel @AnatolyPimentel Jul 27, 2023, 4:15 PM
  • Here’s a list of the biggest Houston Rockets trades in franchise history.
  • Moses Malone leads the list of players Houston received through trade.
  • Other notable players the Rockets acquired were Clyde Drexler, Tracy McGrady, and James Harden.

The Houston Rockets are currently experiencing a franchise rebuild, as they have failed to qualify for the playoffs in the past three seasons and finished as one of the worst teams in the regular season with less than 25 wins. Despite these forgettable seasons, Houston was able to win back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, thus avoiding the list of NBA teams that never won a championship.

Fans believe that this rebuilding phase of the franchise is in preparation to land another superstar and become more competitive again in basketball odds. Speaking of landing superstars, the Rockets have shown their ability to do so by acquiring big-time players via trade in years past. Here are the top-four biggest Houston Rockets trades.

Moses Malone

The NBA-ABA merger was a big step for the Rockets in 1976, as they acquired Moses Malone in a trade with the Buffalo Braves (now known as the Los Angeles Clippers). Houston only gave up two future first-round picks for the 6-foot-10 center. Malone brought his elite scoring to the team and a consistent double-double average.

Malone played for six seasons with the Rockets and for 464 games, where he averaged 24.0 points, 15.0 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks. He also piled accolades and recognition, such as being a two-time NBA MVP, five-time NBA All-Star, and two-time All-NBA first team member. Unfortunately, they were not able to win a championship but managed to reach the NBA Finals in 1981.

Clyde Drexler

Houston orchestrated another massive trade during the trade deadline in 1995. They were the reigning NBA champions, and they needed to bring in another superstar to solidify their chances of winning another title. The team sent Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and a first-round pick to Portland for Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray.

Drexler became the perfect complement to Hakeem Olajuwon and became the team’s second scoring option. Houston’s new duo delivered another title to the franchise in 1995 by sweeping the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals. “Clyde the Glide” retired in the league as a Rocket and racked up 19.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 219 games across four seasons.

Tracy McGrady

In June 2004, Houston and Orlando agreed on a four-on-three trade that sent Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, and Reece Gaines to the Rockets and Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato to the Magic. Both teams wanted a fresh start with new players in hopes of finally contending in their respective conferences.

Among those four players that Houston received, McGrady was the standout, as the 6-foot-8 shooting guard carried the scoring load and formed a strong duo with Yao Ming. In his six-year tenure with the team, “T-Mac” helped the Rockets qualify for the playoffs four times, averaging 22.7 points, 5.6 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.

James Harden

Houston’s most recent blockbuster trade was the acquisition of James Harden from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Along with Harden, the Rockets also received Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward in exchange for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks, and one second-round pick.

This massive trade was the result of Harden’s failed contract negotiation with the Thunder. “The Beard” became the team’s new franchise player and helped them qualify for eight straight playoffs. However, Harden came up short of giving the city another title, as the farthest round they reached was the Western Conference finals in 2015 and 2018.

4 Biggest Houston Rockets Trades

YearPlayer AcquiredTrade Details
1976Moses MaloneRockets received: Moses Malone / Braves received: Two first-round picks
1995Clyde DrexlerRockets received: Clyde Drexler and Tracy Murray / Trailblazers received: Otis Thorpe, Marcelo Nicola, and one first-round pick
2004Tracy McGradyRockets received: Tracy McGrady, Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue, and Reece Gaines / Magic received: Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley, and Kelvin Cato
2012James HardenRockets received: James Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward / Thunder received: Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks, and one second-round pick

Live Betting On NBA Odds

At BetMGM, you have access to live betting odds for each NBA game.

While you’re watching Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics on TV, streaming a Phoenix Suns game from your phone, or checking scores of a Memphis Grizzlies-Los Angeles Lakers game from your computer, you can bet on NBA odds.

If you don’t have a sportsbook account, sign up for the BetMGM welcome bonus, one of many sportsbook offers at BetMGM.

betmgm-nco-jamie-foxx
About the Author

Anatoly Pimentel

Read More @AnatolyPimentel

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.

Anatoly Pimentel is an NBA and MMA writer previously featured in ASEAN Sports, Asian Persuasion MMA, and Overtime Heroics MMA. He graduated from Adamson University with a B.A in Communication and is a Web Content Writer for BetMGM.