The NBA trading deadline came and went, and there was much more sizzle than steak to be had.
After all the rumors leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. cut-off concerning marquee superstars on the move, there wound up being nothing more than role players switching teams and plenty of transactions to save cap space.
However, the Houston Rockets managed to make a maneuver that not only effectively landed them a lottery pick, but also offered a bit of critical salary relief for the upcoming 2013-14 season.
Of course, we’re talking about general manager Daryl Morey’s savvy trade to poach Thomas Robinson (the No. 5 overall pick in the 2012 draft), Francisco Garcia’s $6.1 million expiring contract and Tyler Honeycutt from the Sacramento Kings in exchange for Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas.
While the former Kansas star has been underperforming by all accounts during his 2012-13 rookie campaign, he couldn’t have found himself in a worse situation than he was with Sacramento.
Robinson is averaging just 4.8 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.9 minutes per game over 51 contests, largely because he was trapped behind a logjam of players at his position, while coach Keith Smart tried to somehow balance a rotation that included four power forwards.
Considering T-Rob only cost the Rockets the package of Patterson (a poor rebounder on the last year of his rookie contract who will undoubtedly see a large pay increase next summer), Aldrich (a backup center who saw just 7.1 minutes per game in Houston) and Douglas (a sniper from deep but easily replaceable), it’s hard to fathom how the Kings actually pulled the trigger on this deal.
Whether due to the financial struggles of the Maloof brothers—who are currently in the process of selling the team to a Seattle-based ownership group—or the complete ineptness of lame duck GM Geoff Petrie, the team brass somehow lost the No. 5 pick in last year's draft to save just over $3 million and reunite Patterson with mercurial center DeMarcus Cousins, his former teammate at Kentucky.
It’s incredible that the Rockets were actually able to pull this transaction off and will be much better in the future for this.
Whether Houston actually plans to develop Robinson or just uses him as yet another tradable asset in the coming offseason, it’s clear the organization not only wound up getting the better end of the deal, but pulled off the biggest deadline heist in 2013.