The NBA trade deadline is now in the books, and while last minute deals did emerge, the days leading up to the deadline was a slow and boring process. Every year it seems like one player holds the key to the domino effect, and this year was no different.
Dwight Howard went back and forth, as the Orlando Magic scrambled to figure out what the end-game to the madness would be. As one tweet put it: @Lakerholicz “Dwight Howard has confirmed he can’t deny or confirm that he didn’t confirm a report that denied he confirmed he was denying confirmation.”
Ya it really was that crazy. Finally around 11:30AM central time, Chris Broussard tweeted “Dwight Howard just texted me that he has signed the waiver of his Early Termination Option.” So Dwight at least guaranteed the Magic one more year, and somewhere in New Jersey, Deron Williams and Mikhail Prokhorov began to weep.
Finally the Dwight saga had come to a close, and other teams could start wheeling and dealing. Obviously the one team I had my eye on was the Houston Rockets. Would Darly Morey finally make a big splash? Would he move the dazed and confused Kevin Martin? Would Pau Gasol finally be a Houston Rocket?
No splash, Kevin Martin is still here, and Pau Gasol continues to aide Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles.
Instead the Rockets acquired Marcus Camby, and Derek Fisher in two separate deals. It doesn’t sound like much does it? Let it sink in first…..alright now let’s break it down.
It didn’t take much to acquire Marcus Camby. The Rockets shipped sparsely used guard Jonny Flynn, center Hasheem Thabeet, and the second-round pick acquired from Minnesota. Camby who brings much needed length to the Houston Rockets front-court, will form a nice duo with Samuel Dalembert. The acquisition of Camby will also ease the pressure on forward Luis Scola, who can now focus on scoring during this stretch run into the playoffs. At the age of 37 Camby is a veteran defensive presence, and spends his time in the Houston area during off-seasons. The Rockets essentially traded a second round pick for the veteran center, who has an expiring contract at the end of the year. Low risk, low commitment, veteran presence.
The Rockets were not done after acquiring Camby. As all of us sat and waited for the “big one,” the most unexpected acquisition of all was made. The Rockets had traded backup Jordan Hill, for another 37 year old point guard that you may be familiar with. Anyone remember that guy who threw a mean elbow at Scola during the playoffs? Yes Red Nation, the enemy we all know as Derek Fisher, is now an allie. The crust of this trade is not the acquisition of Fisher, but rather the 2012 first round pick owned by Dallas that the Rockets received. Another safe but effective move to acquire a draft pick, with no interest in long term services from the player. It is also rumored that the Rockets will buy-out Fishers contract as soon as starting guard Kyle Lowry returns from his bacterial infection woes. At 37 Fisher serves no purpose for the Rockets.
So what does this all mean? The Rockets have sent a clear message, they want that 8th seed in the Western Conference. If the playoffs were to start today, the Rockets would be facing the number one seeded Oklahoma City Thunder. Sounds scary right? Believe it or not the Rockets have dodged the Thunder two times already, winning both games. The Thunder can’t stand the Rockets, and by adding Marcus Camby into the fold, the Rockets keep the core base that has brought them success intact, while adding more size in the front-court. With Kendrick Perkins, and Serge Ibaka manning the paint, the Rockets have more leverage than before.
The premise here is that the Rockets do lock up the 8th seed, and throw everything they have at the Thunder. With this current roster, that’s really all you can ask for.
The trade-deadline simply became a risk free zone for the Rockets. They swung deals that combined the future, and the present. The Rockets are so deep into this Western Conference race, that only a large blockbuster trade would have been worth compromising the battle. Clearly that blockbuster deal did not pan out, and the Rockets are going with what they got. It’s a talented group, and while many would love to see the team start fresh, that direction has never seemed to be an option for this franchise.
So we roll with what we got Red Nation. We support the roster as it stands, and hope Kevin Martin has an epiphany. We get healthy for a battle with the Thunder in the playoffs.
It wasn’t the big deadline that we hoped for, but the Rockets made small improvements without breaking the structure, or the bank.