When Sam Hinkie was named the Rockets' Vice President of Basketball Operations in 2007, he became the youngest Vice President in the entire NBA. Leading Houston's analytic approach, Hinkie played an integral role in the Rockets' front office. And while it's difficult to dissect exactly what moves Hinkie had his finger on the trigger for, looking back at the Rockets' pre-trade deadline history can give us some indication of his tendencies and a potential preview of what is ahead.
Though the situations in Houston and Philly are wildly different, the activity level around the deadline is the same. With the NBA Trade Deadline just 10 days away, let's jump in.
On February 13, 2007, the Houston Rockets traded Scott Padgett to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Jake Tsakalidis. This may seem insignificant in hindsight, but prepping for a run in the Western Conference playoffs behind Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady, the Rockets traded the 6-9 Padgett to bring in the 7-2 Tsakalidis as center insurance behind Ming and Philadelphia favorite Dikembe Mutombo.
The following year's trade deadline had a much bigger impact on the Houston organization. The Rockets completed a three-way trade with the Timberwolves and Hornets just before the deadline on the February 21. The deal saw Houston acquire Gerald Green, Adam Haluska (!), Bobby Jackson and the draft rights to Sergei Lishouk while trading Mike James, Kirk Snyder and Bonzi Wells. The Rockets, still being led on the court by Yao and McGrady, opened up cap space and rolled the dice on Green's upside.
2014 NBA Draft
2014 NBA Draft
Houston was active in 2009, looking to win Tracy McGrady's first postseason series. In an attempt to re-up for the playoffs, the Rockets traded Rafer Alston, who at this point was pretty solid, to the Orlando Magic and received Brian Cook in return along with Kyle Lowry from the Memphis Grizzlies. The move brought Lowry to Houston, a guy who the Rockets had coveted since he left Villanova in 2006. Another move to get younger.
The T-Mac era ended with the 2010 NBA Trade Deadline. The Rockets traded him and Joey Dorsey and waived Garrett Temple in order to acquire a future NY 1st, Hilton Armstrong, Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries from the New York Knicks and Kevin Martin from the Sacramento Kings. The Knicks pulled the trigger on the deal to get McGrady's expiring deal to make cap room for LeBron James that summer — we know how that turned out — and the Rockets moved on from an era of competitiveness but a failure to truly contend by getting back three nice young prospects, New York's 2012 first-round pick and the right to swap picks with the Knicks in 2011. Unfortunately for Houston, that 2012 draft pick turned out to be Royce White.
This time, Houston traded Shane Battier, Aaron Brooks and Ish Smith in two separate deals with the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoneix Suns to acquire DeMarre Carroll, Goran Dragic, Hasheem Thabeet and two future first round picks from both the Grizz and Suns. The Rockets dealt proven veterans to take chances on three young prospects and future picks. Dragic has clearly turned into an excellent player, though he's back with the Suns. Those future picks helped Houston deal for James Harden in 2013.
For the first year in Hinkie's time with the Rockets, Houston stood pat at the deadline. Obviously, they were salivating over the idea of Harden becoming available in just a few more months.
With Harden on board and Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik pried from their respective previous teams, the Rockets made a deal in 2013 to create cap space for Dwight Howard that summer. Houston traded Patrick Patterson, Marcus Morris, Cole Aldrich and Toney Douglas to acquire Francisco Garcia, Tyler Honeycutt and Thomas Robinson in a two separate deals with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. Houston later dealt Robinson to Portland to create more cap wiggle room. That ended with Dwight.
Hinkie and the Rockets were active all but one of his years as the team's Vice President, a positive sign for Sixers fans hoping the team is in the headlines on February 21. Hinkie's track record shows that he's utilized valuable expiring contracts and veteran players and turned those assets into salary cap space, young prospects and future draft picks. That's exactly the plan for this impending trade deadline.
Ten more days. It will probably take all ten.
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