After flirting with the New York Knicks and the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has finally capitalized on the expiring contract of Tracy McGrady. The deal is hardly concrete, but an agreement has been made in principle between the Kings and the Rockets according to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, though the Knicks could still become a part of the deal as well (something that seems more and more likely as the night wears on). As it stands however, the Rockets will send McGrady, Carl Landry, Joey Dorsey, and cash considerations to Sacramento for Kevin Martin, Kenny Thomas (woof), Sergio Rodriguez, and Hilton Armstrong.
Even though seven-time All-Star and former scoring champ Tracy McGrady is the biggest name of the bunch, he hardly has the biggest game; Kevin Martin is capable of being one of the league’s most efficient scorers, as his ability to hit shots and draw fouls make him valuable to any offense. He should fit in beautifully with a Rockets team that relies too heavily on Aaron Brooks and Trevor Ariza for shot creation, though the defensively-challenged Martin is a bit atypical on a roster of hard-working defenders.
But Houston will certainly miss Carl Landry’s top-notch production from inside, and Sacramento will be reaping all the benefits. Having a big man rotation of Landry, Jason Thompson, and Spencer Hawes gives the Kings a young, versatile bunch to build around, and each brings something unique to the table. Sacramento also clears out a significant long-term contract by trading away Martin, which opens the window for the Kings to be a major player in this summer’s free agent market. The Kings’ final salary commitments depend on which pieces go where in this deal (and New York’s possible involvement could swing things by a few million either way), but as it stands, Sacramento will have plenty of financial flexibility going forward.
The trade deadline is a bit like multi-million dollar window shopping in that teams suddenly see and want things they never really knew they needed. Antawn Jamison becomes available, and all of a sudden every team in the league is desperate for his scoring at the 4. Caron Butler’s on the block, and everyone desperately wants his versatility and toughness, despite the fact that he’s having a down year. Even the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have the best record in the league and the likely MVP, are looking to upgrade.
Indisputable talents like Jamison, Butler, Andre Iguodala, and Amar’e Stoudemire all make sense as trade bait. If your team is amassing talent or looking to bound over the top, those are the kinds of players you want on your squad. But one of the most popular names in trade rumors has been Indiana’s Troy Murphy, a sweet-shooting big man that seems to have shed the “soft” label from his Golden State days. Suddenly every team in the league covets Murphy’s combination of range and rebounding, and the Pacers seem to have their pick from at least several potential deals (even one from the Bucks).
But Murphy’s suitors aren’t strictly playoff-bound clubs. According to Sam Amick of the Sacramento Bee, the Kings are also interested in adding Murphy to their core, despite being a good 10 games out of the playoff race. The potential deal would revolve around Kenny Thomas’ (woof!) expiring contract and one of Sacramento’s young, cheap talents.
The Kings may already have two solid bigs-in-training with Jason Thompson and Spencer Hawes, but Murphy would provide a happy medium between the two. Though his shooting is much more reliable than Hawes, the Kings would be in a good place if Spencer could learn a thing or two from Murph on how to be an effective rebounder despite not being on the low block. Troy could form a pretty interesting three-man big rotation with Thompson and Hawes, in that he’s able to complement both players’ games well without stepping on anyone’s toes.
But the Kings acquiring Murphy is anything but a given; they’ll have to stave off a number of teams from around the league that are currently pursuing his services.