Sports

Four Thoughts on a Frenzied Trade Deadline Day for the NBA, Rockets

Veteran big man Daniel Theis  heads back to Boston.
Veteran big man Daniel Theis heads back to Boston. Screenshot
The NBA is a wacky place, particularly on the day of the trade deadline. That was Thursday and, as usual, the Rockets made a deal sending Daniel Theis to his former team, the Boston Celtics, in exchange for Dennis Schroder (plus Enes Kanter Freedom and Bruno Fernando). It wasn't the big move many fans were expecting (that would be reserved for a former Rocket), but it made some sense as we will see.

The NBA saw some huge deals involving James Harden, Ben Simmons and Kristaps Porzingas (not all in the same trade) while the Rockets remained relatively under the radar. Let's break it down.

James Harden dealt...again.

There are so many story lines involved in the deal that moved Haden to Philly for Ben Simmons. There is Simmons, who has yet to play this season simply because he wanted to be traded. There is Harden, who once again wore out his welcome with fellow superstars. Finally, Harden re-joins his former GM, Daryl Morey and team president Tad Brown with the Sixers. Best of all, it turned into this priceless moment when Kevin Durant and Lebron James were picking the All-Star teams.

Theis for Schroder fixes a mistake and opens some room.

Give Theis a ton of credit. He did not fit with Christian Wood in a two bigs lineup and he was supplanted in the rotation by Alperen Sengun who has progressed more quickly than expected. He never complained and was a good teammate. Sending him back to Boston is great for Theis and it gets the Rockets out of a four-year mistake in Theis' contract. In return, Schroder will fill a role as a backup while Fernando could spend some time to see if he works out. Ultimately, this was more about expiring contracts for the Rockets than anything else.

Opening roster spots with waiving of several players.

One name from the deal who will not wear a Rockets uni is Freedom. He was waived as soon as the trade was completed. In order to make additional space on the roster, the Rockets also waived DJ Augustine and Armoni Brooks. Brooks is a particularly tough loss given his great start shooting the ball, but he never really got on track this season and was the odd man out in the guard rotation. Augustine will no doubt land on a contending team as a veteran backup.

Eric Gordon and John Wall remain.

Perhaps the most interesting news is who was not traded. Eric Gordon was, by all accounts, the main guy the team wanted to move. But, the significant salary he has left last season was likely tough for teams to swallow. And the rumored Wall-for-Russel-Westbrook swap never materialized, so Wall could spend a full season not playing despite being healthy. Both will be valuable trade assets in the offseason when they become expiring contracts, but it was odd not to see at least Gordon moved given the interest from other teams.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke