|These two guys will swap jerseys. (Getty Images)|
The Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns have completed the first two deals of the 2013 NBA trade deadline with a six-player trade between the Rockets and Kings and a player-for-pick deal between the Rockets and Suns.
In one deal, the Kings receive forward Patrick Patterson, center Cole Aldrich and guard Toney Douglas from the Rockets. The Rockets receive forward Thomas Robinson, wing player Francisco Garcia and forward Tyler Honeycutt. You can read about the trade here.
Houston Rockets: A-
It feels like the Rockets are priming themselves for another big move. It's probably not going to come Thursday before the 3 p.m. ET deadline, but it could come once the free agency moratorium has run its course this summer. Is that move trying to land both Dwight Howardand Josh Smith this summer to pair with James Harden? Possibly. Only time will tell if these dreams of Daryl Morey bringing one of the biggest stars in the NBA willingly to the Rockets' organization will come to fruition.
But even if they don't end up getting one of the big free agents this offseason, the fact that they sold high on Patterson to secure someone who was thought as one of the top draft picks in the 2012 NBA Draft just eight months ago could be a big coup for Morey. While Robinson has been less than impressive in the first 51 games of his career, the potential for his growth with a properly functioning organization seems high.
The question with Robinson that immediately comes to mind is, why did he struggle so much with the Kings in the 15.9 minutes that he averaged during his first 51 games? Well, one reason could be that the Kings aren't very good. Another reason could be that the organization is so dysfunctional (from the ownership to the front office to the coaches battling certain players) that it would be hard for any rookie to step onto the court and know what is being asked of him.
We could also look into the Kings' development of young talent and wonder if they have the tools to make young players succeed. Tyreke Evans is far worse than he showed his rookie year. Jimmer Fredette was horrendous as a rookie. DeMarcus Cousins has certainly showed promise but been unable to improve in two areas they badly need him to improve (field goal percentage and maturity). Only Isaiah Thomas has really emerged, and that could partly just be a surprise reaction to his play based on where he was drafted.
With the Rockets, Robinson will have better teammates with a real plan of action on the court and a fast-paced system that spreads the floor. Houston is a team that shares the ball better than the Kings while playing at the quickest pace in the league. Harden will be able to break down the defense and find Robinson under the boards for easy buckets.
While Patterson is a much better shooter who can spread the floor far beyond what Robinson is currently capable of doing, the fifth pick in the 2012 draft will provide a much-needed rebounding presence that the Rockets desperately need. The Rockets are 19th in the NBA in offensive rebounding percentage, and Robinson's 12.6 percent offensive rebounding rate trumps Patterson's rate of 6.9 percent. T-Rob's overall 16.8 percent total rebounding rate will allow Omer Asik to have fewer guys to battle when boxing out.
As for the rest of the pieces, the Rockets could not pick up Garcia's team options for $6.4 million next season and waive Tyler Honeycutt (only guaranteed for $100,000 next season) to end up saving roughly $1.5 million for this upcoming offseason. This puts the Rockets around $20 million under the salary cap heading into the summer, which makes them major players for a top free agent.
Sacramento Kings: D
I don't understand what good this does for the organization moving forward. It's not that Patterson, Aldrich and Douglas can't improve the talent on the Kings' roster; it's just that it's a short-term improvement for the team when they need a long-term plan.
Forget about them passing up on Andre Drummond and Damian Lillard in the draft to take Robinson with the fifth selection. They're punting on the fifth selection of a draft not even a year into figuring out what he could mean to their franchise. Is Patterson a better player right now than Robinson? Most likely, yes. Could that change with a decent offensive system and some consistent minutes thrown the rookie's way? I would imagine so.
Robinson played fewer minutes per game than John Salmons, James Johnson or Chuck Hayes so far this season, even though his disappointing 42.4 percent from the field is higher than any of those three players. As for Patterson, he'll immediately step in and help stretch the floor. He brings a skill the Kings could certainly use: making shots. His 57.1 true shooting percentage would be tops on the team right away. The Kings rank 24th in field goal percentage and 22nd in eFG percentage this season.
The Kings really liked Douglas in 2009, when they worked him out for the NBA Draft but ultimately picked Omri Casspi with the 23rd pick in that draft. Getting him now is nice, but they already have Aaron Brooks, Evans, Thomas, and Fredette to run the lead-guard slot in their offense. Aldrich is a nice young big-man project, but are they going to give him much chance to develop while trying to wield Cousins' powers? Can they even develop Aldrich at this point?
It would be impossible to prove, but it just feels like the organization is continuing to attempt to kill any local interest that a fan could possibly have in this team in the hopes that they can put the team in Seattle with less of a fight to keep such an inferior and inept product.
Phoenix Suns: B+
The Suns made a no-brainer move with their side of the deal. They give up a second-round pick in this coming draft (currently sitting at 35th) to reunite Markieff Morris with his twin brother, Marcus. Best-case scenario is the brothers find chemistry together and create a little havoc in the frontcourt as the Suns try to see what they have from their young players the rest of the season.
Worst-case scenario is the Morris twins probably partake in some Parent Trap-type hijinks and try to pull the wool over the eyes of new coach Lindsey Hunter. Marcus has struggled so far in his brief career but did manage to add a 3-point shot to his game this past offseason. He's currently shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range.