Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The Rockets swung a huge move on Wednesday night. Here's an analysis of both the financial and the basketball implications of the deal.
In a deal that seemingly materialized out of nowhere, the Rockets have acquired Thomas Robinson in a three team deal that sends Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, and Toney Douglas out of town. Here's the complete breakdown:
Rockets send out: Marcus Morris, Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, cash considerations
Rockets receive: Thomas Robinson, Phoenix 2013 2nd Round Pick
Suns send out: 2013 2nd Round Pick
Suns receive: Marcus Morris
Kings send out: Thomas Robinson
Kings receive: Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas, cash considerations
Well, that was quick. Just a few hours after McHale and Morey both declared that they expected little at the trade deadline, the Rockets swung a major multi-team deal and landed a serious power forward prospect for the future. Let's break it down piece by piece.
In this deal, the Rockets take on an additional $800,000 in salary for this season, taking the salary into their cap space. However, they still have more than $6 million in cap space this season, the most in the league. Moving forward, however, this helps the team this summer.
After Fransisco Garcia's team option is declined and Tyler Honeycutt is let go, the Rockets will have saved themselves more than $1.6 million in salary this summer. It doesn't seem like much, but it could prove to be very important. Without making this trade, the Rockets would have to waive Carlos Delfino and still make some minor deals to free up cap space if they wanted to present Dwight Howard with a max offer. Now, they may still have to do a little wrangling with the cap, but they have a lot less work to do to reach that $20 million under the cap figure.
In short, the Rockets are still in position to help teams over the luxury tax line this season and help themselves this summer with regards to cap room. Well done, Mr. Morey.
On the Court Implications
Patrick Patterson is everyone's favorite punching bag, but he was having an under the radar nice season for the Rockets, settling into a groove now that he's healthy. Still, he's an average defensive player who struggles on the boards and if one of Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, or Thomas Robinson develop like they should, the Rockets will forget all about him.
Marcus Morris, Toney Douglas, and Cole Aldrich are all replacement level players. The Rockets have been developing point guards like it's their job the last few years, and Patrick Beverley gives them just as much if not more than Douglas did this year.
On the other side, the Rockets now give their young power forwards a chance to shine with more playing time. Thomas Robinson will presumably slip into the starting power forward role, but Donatas Motiejunas and Terrence Jones will both have a chance see more consistent minutes than they did in the early season.
Thomas Robinson has struggled as a rookie and hasn't gotten consistent traction off the bench for the Kings, but he's still the fifth overall pick from last year's draft and a tremendous rebounder. To write off him after such a short period would be silly. With consistent playing time, he should show the flashes more and more that made him a top five pick.
For the fans that have been thirsting to see Motiejunas and Jones, it's a breath of fresh air. Motiejunas gave us signs of what he could become in a thirteen point second half in the last game before the All-Star Break, and Terrence Jones has shown us he can do this.
Additionally, Fransisco Garcia will come in and give the Rockets another veteran shooter that can space the floor and fill it up from deep. After Carlos Delfino, the Rockets' young bench has sometimes struggled, and having one more veteran as a stabilizing force will be big for the young unit.
Regardless, Patterson was a steady player and his loss will set the Rockets back temporarily at the power forward spot. There is a tendency to overvalue young players and undervalue consistent contributions, and ignoring the fact that Patterson helped the Rockets this season would be an oversight.
So yes, the Rockets may not be as good in the first few games because of the loss of Patterson, but they have made some serious upgrades.
The Rockets potentially added an impact player for the future, cleared a roster logjam, and improved their cap situation for the future, all without giving up a major piece. Losing Patterson hurts, but the Rockets did well to get Thomas Robinson for so little.