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The Rockets Are Back in the NBA Playoffs! Their Complete Rebuilding Anthology

With four games to go in the 2011-2012 season, the Rockets were coming off a 117-110 loss to Dallas, a loss in which Dirk Nowitzki provided a stark reminder to last season's Rockets team that they were devoid of a superstar-caliber player by dropping 21 points on them in the fourth quarter.

To call that loss demoralizing for the Rockets would be a bit of a reach because, truth be told, a big chunk of the morale of that group had been sucked from it in the previous four games, all losses. A week and change later, the 2011-2012 NBA postseason would begin the same way it had the previous two postseasons -- Rocket-less.

Fast-forward to Tuesday night, and with four games to go in the 2012-2013 season, thanks to a timely brain fart from Phoenix's Jermaine O'Neal -- an inexplicable defensive goaltending of a James Harden three at the buzzer -- the Rockets now sit where they haven't been since 2009.

The Rockets are going to the playoffs!

By virtually every metric, the Rockets are historically an average to above-average NBA franchise, so to act like the postseason is some sort of birthright is a tad out of line, but still, three years with no postseason is a long time. Hell, it's not just a long time for the Rockets, it's a long time period in NBA terms when you consider the list of teams with longer postseason-less streaks heading into this season than this year's Rockets team goes as follows (last appearance in parentheses):

Minnesota Timberwolves (2004) Sacramento Kings (2006) Toronto Raptors (2008) Washington Wizards (2008)

Maybe things didn't feel quite as futile as they probably do for fans of those teams, because at least the Rockets were fielding competitive teams in those seasons, but who cares? As Gordon Gekko said, if you're not inside, you're outside. And the Rockets have been outside.

Those days are now over. The Rockets now have a weapon that can counter another team's superstar going off for 21 in the fourth quarter, a superstar of their own in James Harden. They have a young nucleus and a shitload of cap space to add to it this or some future offseason.

And perhaps most important, they have an owner who will use every resource available and allow his people to use every resource available to try and win champions, to change the perception of the Rockets as an historically above-average team to a perennial title contender.

And most certainly they have a general manager in Daryl Morey who will use those resources wisely, even if it means bloating the team's M&L budget ("moving and living" for those of you who've never been transferred in a job before) to where it's probably worthy of its own spinoff company considering how many players have been traded, waived, drafted and signed on Morey's watch.

In fact, in honor of those who served as a Rocket for anywhere from three minutes to three seasons from June 2009 to today, and as an homage to the tireless efforts of Daryl Morey, let's list every transaction that led to a rebuilt playoff team...

(WARNING: Get comfy. Also, you might want to grab some popcorn; this may take awhile.)

 

June 25, 2009: Purchased Jermaine Taylor from the Washington Wizards.

June 25, 2009: Traded cash and a future second-round draft pick to the Detroit Pistons for Chase Budinger.

June 25, 2009: Purchased Sergio Llull from the Denver Nuggets.

July 8, 2009: Signed Trevor Ariza as a free agent.

August 12, 2009: Signed David Andersen as a free agent.

September 3, 2009: Signed Pops Mensah-Bonsu as a free agent.

September 30, 2009: Signed Will Conroy as a free agent.

September 30, 2009: Signed Garrett Temple as a free agent.

December 23, 2009: Signed Mike Harris as a free agent.

January 28, 2010: Signed Will Conroy to a 10-day contract.

February 8, 2010: Signed Garrett Temple to the first of two 10-day contracts.

February 18, 2010: As part of a 3-team trade, the Houston Rockets traded Joey Dorsey and Carl Landry to the Sacramento Kings; the Houston Rockets traded Tracy McGrady to the New York Knicks; the New York Knicks traded Jordan Hill, Jared Jeffries and a future first-round draft pick to the Houston Rockets; the New York Knicks traded Larry Hughes to the Sacramento Kings; the Sacramento Kings traded Hilton Armstrong and Kevin Martin to the Houston Rockets; and the Sacramento Kings traded Sergio Rodriguez to the New York Knicks. Houston had the option to swap first-round draft picks with New York in 2011 but did not do so.

March 2, 2010: Signed Will Conroy to a 10-day contract.

March 24, 2010: Signed Mike Harris to a contract for the rest of the season.

June 24, 2010: Selected Patrick Patterson (1st round, 14th pick) in the 2010 NBA Draft.

July 20, 2010: Signed Brad Miller as a free agent.

July 28, 2010: Traded David Andersen to the Toronto Raptors for cash and a 2015 second-round draft pick.

August 11, 2010: As part of a 4-team trade, the Houston Rockets traded Trevor Ariza to the New Orleans Hornets; the Indiana Pacers traded Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets; the New Jersey Nets traded Courtney Lee to the Houston Rockets; and the New Orleans Hornets traded Darren Collison and James Posey to the Indiana Pacers.

August 23, 2010: Signed Ishmael Smith as a free agent.

September 24, 2010: Signed Antonio Anderson as a free agent.

December 15, 2010: As part of a 3-team trade, the Houston Rockets traded a future first-round draft pick to the New Jersey Nets; the Houston Rockets traded Sergei Lishouk to the Los Angeles Lakers; the Los Angeles Lakers traded Sasha Vujacic and a 2011 first-round draft pick (JaJuan Johnson) to the New Jersey Nets; the New Jersey Nets traded Terrence Williams to the Houston Rockets; and the New Jersey Nets traded Joe Smith, a 2011 second-round draft pick (Darius Morris) and a 2012 second-round draft pick (Robert Sacre) to the Los Angeles Lakers.

December 15, 2010: Traded Jermaine Taylor and cash to the Sacramento Kings for a 2011 second-round draft pick. Houston did not receive the second-round draft pick because it was top 55 protected.

February 24, 2011: Traded Aaron Brooks to the Phoenix Suns for Goran Dragic and a 2011 first-round draft pick (Nikola Mirotic).

 

February 24, 2011: Traded Shane Battier and Ishmael Smith to the Memphis Grizzlies for DeMarre Carroll, Hasheem Thabeet and a future first-round draft pick.

March 23, 2011: Signed Mike Harris to the first of two 10-day contracts.

April 11, 2011: Signed Marcus Cousin as a free agent.

April 13, 2011: Signed Marqus Blakely as a free agent.

June 23, 2011: Selected Marcus Morris (1st round, 14th pick), Nikola Mirotic (1st round, 23rd pick) and Chandler Parsons (2nd round, 38th pick) in the 2011 NBA Draft. June 23, 2011: Traded Brad Miller, Nikola Mirotic, Chandler Parsons and a future 1st round draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jonny Flynn, Donatas Motiejunas and a future second-round draft pick.

June 23, 2011: Traded cash to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Chandler Parsons.

December 12, 2011: Signed Jeremy Lin as a free agent.

December 20, 2011: Signed Jeff Adrien as a free agent.

December 24, 2011: Signed Samuel Dalembert as a free agent.

February 8, 2012: Signed Greg Smith as a free agent.

March 15, 2012: Traded Jordan Hill to the Los Angeles Lakers for Derek Fisher and a future first-round draft pick.

March 15, 2012: Traded Jonny Flynn, Hasheem Thabeet and a future second-round draft pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for Marcus Camby.

March 18, 2012: Signed Courtney Fortson to a 10-day contract, then signed to a contract for the rest of the season.

March 26, 2012: Signed Earl Boykins to two 10-day contracts, then signed to a contract for the rest of the season.

April 12, 2012: Signed Diamon Simpson to a contract for the rest of the season.

June 26, 2012: Traded Chase Budinger and Lior Eliyahu to the Minnesota Timberwolves for a 2012 first-round draft pick (Terrence Jones).

June 27, 2012: Traded Samuel Dalembert, cash, a 2012 first-round draft pick (John Henson) and a future second-round draft pick to the Milwaukee Bucks for Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, Shaun Livingston and a 2012 first-round draft pick (Jeremy Lamb).

June 28, 2012: Selected Jeremy Lamb (1st round, 12th pick), Royce White (1st round, 16th pick) and Terrence Jones (1st round, 18th pick) in the 2012 NBA Draft.

June 29, 2012: As part of a 4-team trade, the Houston Rockets traded cash to the Dallas Mavericks; the Dallas Mavericks traded Lamar Odom to the Los Angeles Clippers; the Dallas Mavericks traded Shan Foster to the Utah Jazz; the Los Angeles Clippers traded Furkan Aledmir to the Houston Rockets; the Los Angeles Clippers traded Mo Williams to the Utah Jazz; and the Utah Jazz traded Tadija Dragicevic to the Dallas Mavericks.

July 11, 2012: Traded Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors for Gary Forbes and a future first-round draft pick.

July 11, 2012: Traded Marcus Camby to the New York Knicks for Toney Douglas, Josh Harrellson, Jerome Jordan, a future second-round draft pick and a future second-round draft pick.

July 17, 2012: Signed Jeremy Lin as a free agent.

July 20, 2012: As part of a 3-team trade, the Houston Rockets traded Courtney Lee to the Boston Celtics; the Boston Celtics traded JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore, Sean Williams and a 2013 2nd round draft pick to the Houston Rockets; the Boston Celtics traded Sasha Pavlovic to the Portland Trail Blazers; and the Portland Trail Blazers traded Jon Diebler to the Houston Rockets.

July 24, 2012: Signed Omer Asik as a free agent.

August 20, 2012: Signed Carlos Delfino as a free agent.

September 18, 2012: Signed Scott Machado as a free agent.

October 27, 2012: Traded Jeremy Lamb, Kevin Martin, a future first-round draft pick, a future first-round draft pick and a future second-round draft pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, James Harden and Lazar Hayward.

January 2, 2013: Signed James Anderson as a free agent.

January 7, 2013: Signed Patrick Beverley as a free agent.

February 20, 2013: Traded Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, Patrick Patterson and cash to the Sacramento Kings for Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt and Thomas Robinson.

February 21, 2013: Traded Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a 2013 second-round draft pick.

February 25, 2013: Signed Tim Ohlbrecht as a free agent.

March 5, 2013: Signed Aaron Brooks as a free agent.

If you're keeping score at home, 55 different players suited up for the Rockets in a regular season game from the time they were ousted from the 2009 playoffs to the playoff berth clinching game on Tuesday night.

FIFTY FIVE!

As Stifler would say, that's a lot of work!

Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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