Seven trade deadlines, seven deadline day trades! Yes, the streak is still alive!
It was looking dicey for a little while, but with the clock winding down toward 2 p.m. CST on Thursday afternoon, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was able to reach back, work the phones and convince reserve point guard Aaron Brooks to sign off on a fairly innocuous trade sending him to Denver for athletic wing Jordan Hamilton.
In the end, this deal will probably have minimal impact on the Rockets' title hopes this season, but for purposes of keeping Morey's Dimaggio-esque trade deadline hitting streak alive, this squibber back up the middle counts.
And let's face it, even for a guy addicted to making trades like Morey is, props should be given, because the NBA trade deadline has become more of a non-event with every passing year.
It's just plain harder and harder to make deals, and I think there are three reasons for this:
1. Because they represent controlled salaries for cheap labor (once utilized), first round draft picks are a hugely popular form of currency in trades. The only problem is that teams can't trade first round picks two years in a row, and many of the teams who are deadline buyers have moved their picks over the next couple of years already.
2. Expiring contracts aren't nearly as big a trade chip, because with the new collective bargaining agreement, contract lengths are generally shorter and very few teams are strapped with a ton of horrific long-term deals.
3. With the management trees of Morey and R.C. Buford spawning more and more analytical (intelligent) copycats, there are fewer dumb general managers in the league to make knee-jerk deals. Honestly, deadline day is the one day the league really misses Isiah Thomas.
So for now, let's go back in time and look at the deals Daryl Morey has made on deadline day and admire his penchant for doing impactful things with the transaction shot clock running down, because this is truly a lost art. (We will rate each draft day slew of deals on an impact score of 1 to 10.)
February 21, 2008 Traded guards Mike James and Bonzi Wells and cash to the New Orleans Hornets for guards Adam Haluska and Bobby Jackson, forward Marcus Vinicius and a second-round pick; traded forward Marcus Vinicius and the draft rights to Malick Badiane to the Memphis Grizzlies for the draft rights to forward Sergei Lishouk; traded guard Kirk Snyder to the Minnesota Timberwolves for guard Gerald Green.
IMPACT: 2.3 This was right in the middle of the 22 game winning streak, which was probably the last time in his career that Tracy McGrady was playing at a high level. Yao Ming was banged up at the time, if you recall. The primary impact of these deals was getting a serviceable back up point guard in Jackson. Yay.
February 19, 2009 Traded a first-round draft pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for guard Kyle Lowry; traded guard Rafer Alston to the Orlando Magic for forward Brian Cook.
IMPACT: 7.8 These two trades essentially amounted to one three team trade, and at the time it felt like a curious deal, at best, since the Rockets were a couple months away from the playoffs and Alston was their starting point guard. As it turned out, not only did Lowry wind up being a quality player for the Rockets (arguably, their best player for about a year or so in 2011), but he wound up being the bait that got them a lottery pick from Toronto, which ended up being a difference making chip in the James Harden deal.
February 18, 2010 Traded guard Tracy McGrady to the New York Knicks for forwards Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill, a protected 2012 first-round pick and the right to exchange first-round picks in 2011; traded forwards Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Sacramento Kings for guard Kevin Martin and center Hilton Armstrong.
IMPACT: 8.2 The main thing here was a) finally ridding themselves of McGrady, and b) acquiring Martin, who was another big chip in the Harden deal.
February 24, 2011 Traded guard Ishmael Smith and forward Shane Battier to the Memphis Grizzlies for center Hasheem Thabeet, forward DeMarre Carroll and a future first-round pick. Traded guard Aaron Brooks to the Phoenix Suns for guard Goran Dragic and a future first-round pick.
IMPACT: 4.1 The main purpose of these deals had more to do with the guys who were outgoing, as opposed to the ones coming in. Battier was being dealt out of respect for his wanting to chase a title (which he would eventually get in Miami, not Memphis), and Brooks was being dealt out because he was becoming a pain in the ass without a contract extension. That Dragic wound up being a quality player was a bonus, and the Rockets considered re-signing him before settling on a three year deal with Jeremy Lin instead that offseason.
March 15, 2012 Traded guard Jonny Flynn, center Hasheem Thabeet and a second-round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for center Marcus Camby. Traded forward Jordan Hill to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Derek Fisher and a conditional first-round pick.
IMPACT: 3.8 A couple years ago, the Rockets went heavy on collecting discarded draft picks from the 2009 draft. Well, the trade deadline in 2012 (a few weeks later because of the lockout that season) served as a purge of all those misfit toys. The main impact of these deals was the acquisition of Camby, who ws arguably the Rockets Most Valuable Player for about a month after they picked him up. Negative impact points for the Rockets releasing Fisher before making him dress for at least one game and allowing all of the Houston fans to boo him.
February 21, 2013 Traded forward Marcus Morris to the Phoenix Suns for a second-round pick.
IMPACT: 0.0 This deal mostly just made us all sad because the next pick after Morris in the 2011 draft was possible future All-Star Kahwi Leonard. Actually, the trade that had Rockets fans really buzzing this time last year was....
February 20, 2013 Traded guard Toney Douglas, forward Patrick Patterson, center Cole Aldrich and cash to the Sacramento Kings for guard Francisco Garcia and forwards Thomas Robinson and Tyler Honeycutt.
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IMPACT: 5.1 Robinson was thought to be the prize in this deal, as he was mere months removed from being the number five pick in the draft. However, the biggest impact for the Rockets actually wound up coming from Garcia, who gave them quality defense and shooting in the playoff loss to Oklahoma City, and who decided to return to Houston this season on a veteran's minimum deal.
February 20, 2014 Traded guard Aaron Brooks to the Denver Nuggets for forward Jordan Hamilton.
IMPACT: TBD Hamilton does fill a need for the Rockets in that they can use athletic wings that can shoot, and assuming Lin and Beverley stay healthy, and the development of Isaiah Cannan is what we hear it is, then losing Brooks is of minimal consequence.