Before Wednesday, the Rockets’ future belonged to the Thunder. Oklahoma City holds two first-round swap rights and two top-five protected picks through 2026, making it a parasite to Houston’s impending rebuild.
But by trading James Harden to the Nets for a strong draft return, the Rockets began to escape the corner they had been boxed into. They might soon have years with multiple lottery picks, a possibility not on the table before the Harden blockbuster.
Houston never wanted to lose its top player, but under the circumstances, the deal was probably necessary to kickstart a youth movement. The team also received Victor Oladipo on an expiring contract in the four-team Harden deal by flipping Caris LeVert to Indiana.
Here’s what the Rockets have to work with through 2026.
Rockets draft picks after James Harden trade
Here’s the complete list of future first-round draft picks now owned by the Rockets:
|Year||First-round draft pick(s)|
|2021||Own if inside top 4 or worst of order with MIA and OKC (with option to swap with BKN) + DET pick if outside top 16 + POR pick if outside top 14|
|2022||Own + DET pick if outside top 16* + POR pick if outside top 14* + BKN pick + MIL pick|
|2023||Own with option to swap with BKN + DET pick if outside top 18* + POR if pick if outside top 14* + WAS pick if outside top 14|
|2024||Own if inside top 5 + BKN pick + DET pick if outside top 18* + POR pick if outside top 14* + WAS pick if outside top 12*|
|2025||Own if inside top 10 with option to swap with BKN + OKC pick if own is outside top 10 + DET pick if outside top 13* + POR pick if outside top 14* + WAS pick if outside top 10*|
*No selection if pick previously conveyed
What draft picks did the Rockets get for James Harden?
The Rockets received Brooklyn’s 2022, 2024 and 2026 first-rounders, Milwaukee’s 2022 first-rounder (via Brooklyn) and four future pick swap options with Brooklyn.