It took them up until the trade deadline, but the Houston Rockets made a couple of nice, low-level moves on Thursday. In the earlier of the deals, Houston sent Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet (both the dregs of Houston's rotation) to Portland along with a second-round pick for 37-year old center Marcus Camby.
Then, just before time expired, Houston finally struck a deal with the Lakers. It wasn't for Pau Gasol, but the Rockets did get a player in Derek Fisher plus Dallas' first-round pick for Jordan Hill.
Let's analyze the second deal first, because it's probably going to be the one which gets most criticized around the interwebs. Houston needed a point guard to back up Goran Dragic until Kyle Lowry returns from his recent illness that could keep him out 2-4 weeks. They also wanted to pick up another first-round pick and were basically offering their whole roster to get one.
So, from that perspective, Houston was happy to pick up a first-round pick for Jordan Hill. That the Lakers threw in Fisher just gave Houston an answer at PG AND gave them experience late in games for that playoff run. It's a little like when Mark Jackson was the backup point guard for Houston under Jeff Van Gundy, but really functioned almost as another coach on the team while playing hardly any minutes.
The only problem with Fisher coming to Houston is his contract. He'll be owed another $3.4 million next season. It's not huge money, and they could still cut him when Lowry comes back, but it's not the neatest decision out there.
Why did Houston want to trade Jordan Hill? Let's go back to that first deal.
In picking up Marcus Camby, Houston got one of the main things Kevin McHale wants: a defensive stopper. Camby isn't the kind of offensive player who can start or make a huge impact. But, he's a ferocious rebounder and can bring the same kind of rim defense that Samuel Dalembert offers. So, there's not much of a dropoff when Dalembert leaves the game.
With Camby coming to town and probably fitting into the rotation as Dalembert's backup, that made Hill replaceable. Since he's tall, someone would take a shot at him and that someone turned out to be L.A.
So, Houston shored up its interior defense and rebounding while adding a backup point guard and another draft pick in what should be a loaded draft. That gives Houston two potential first-rounders to play around with and try to make an actual impact trade this summer.
Can these guys put Houston over the top in the playoffs? That'll be the biggest question, but we've got a little while before that needs answering. If anything, the addition of Camby means Houston's front like has a much better shot at banging with Memphis or OKC than it did before.