Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
The Houston Rockets were reeled into Josh Smith talks with the Atlanta Hawks, but stood pat as the trade deadline passed. Regardless, they did well by landing Thomas Robinson.
In the trade, the Rockets sent out Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Toney Douglas, and cash considerations. In return? Robinson, Francisco Garcia, and a 2013 second round draft pick from the Phoenix Suns as the third team in the deal.
Thursday morning, the Rockets were still linked to Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks. After initial discussions never progressed beyond the exploratory phase, the Rockets had new assets to bring to the table in a potential deal. Atlanta originally wanted to structure the deal around both Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik, but the Rockets found the price too steep for an unrestricted free agent they could potentially sign without losing assets in the summer.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports reported that the teams were entering "high level" discussions, though, and Adrian Wojnarowski stated that Atlanta preferred to send Smith to a Western Conference team. In the end, Atlanta wound up holding onto Smith, and will take their chances on retaining Smith come summer.
The outlook going forward is bright for the Rockets, but the loss of Patterson in the short term may hurt more than help. Patterson has been a steady contributor as the starting power forward giving Houston 11.6 points a night, but only 4.7 rebounds. The hope will be that Robinson can be integrated quickly and the Rockets can maintain the eighth seed in the playoffs as they acclimate to new personnel.
Garcia will likely be a one-year rental for the Rockets as he has a $6.4 million team option next season. Cap space will be crucial in the upcoming off-season, with players like Dwight Howard of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Smith of the Hawks up for grabs. Garcia is a veteran player who can bring three-point shooting off the bench in the meantime. Through the 2012-2013 season, Garcia is shoot 36.7 percent from deep.
In the Southwest division, there wasn't much noise as the trade deadline passed. Perhaps the most significant move at the deadline from opponents in the division was the Dallas Mavericks acquiring three-point specialist Anthony Morrow from the Hawks in exchange for Dahntay Jones. The San Antonio Spurs were reportedly shopping DeJuan Blair for the best deal possible but ended up without a best deal possible.
More important to the Rockets, though, is the outlook in the Western Conference overall, and the teams around their ranking. The Lakers (3.5 games behind in the standings) opted to gamble on Howard staying with them through free agency and didn't make any moves around the deadline. The Utah Jazz, currently 1.5 games ahead of Houston, were also silent at the deadline. These three teams will be in a tight battle for the bottom two playoff spots, and one of them (currently the Lakers) will not be seeing the brackets. With neither team making moves, there is little that has changed in the final stretch for the teams.
Overall, the Rockets had a successful trade deadline. They landed the fifth overall pick in the 2012 NBA draft for a role player and reserves, giving them a potentially big reward in the future without losing much in the present. With only 26 games left in the season, the Rockets will have to adjust to a shift in personnel, but it's nothing so drastic that they shot themselves in the foot.
Good job, Daryl Morey. You've been a busy man.
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