Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kevin Martin to the Rockets

Well, this came out of nowhere. With the Kings seemingly intent to keep their team intact until draft night, and the Rockets all but locked into dealing Tracy McGrady to the Knicks or Bulls, the two teams paired up for this deadlines third major deal. This could still evolve into a three team deal with the Knicks, but this is what we know so far:

The Houston Rockets send Tracy McGrady, Carl Landry and Joey Dorsey to the Sacramento Kings for Kevin Martin, Sergio Rodriguez, Hilton Armstrong and Kenny Thomas.

Some quick, 2 bit analysis, first from Sacramento’s side:

• I feel kind of robbed, from a pure fan perspective, of the Tyreke Evans-Kevin Martin backcourt experience. For all of their “struggles to coexist” this season, Mini-Mart was obviously rusty after returning from injury – his 53.5 TS% is easily the worst of his career (excluding his rather uneventful rookie season). I have no doubt that this pairing could have been devastating to the rest of the league once Martin got his legs back under him, not to mention what they could have done with a decent frontcourt. That being said, Martin was reportedly unhappy with his role, especially after sitting out all but 15 seconds in the 4th quarter of Tuesday game against the Celtics. If that was indeed the case, he had to go. This is Tyreke Evans’ team, and it will be such for a long time.
• A key part in the previous paragraph was “…decent frontcourt”. Saying the Kings were losing big ever since Martin returned from injury is the easy way out, but the truth is Martin’s return just happened to coincide with Jason Thompson completely falling off of the basketball landscape. The regression is astonishing: from 15.3 ppg and 9.6 rpg in November and 16.6 ppg and 8.9 rpg in December, Thompson plummeted to 9.1 and 7.8 in January. His minutes (34.4 in November, 37.3 in December, 27.2 January) and shooting percentage (49.6%, 52.5% and 36.7%) have also dropped dramatically. Add that to Spencer Hawes’ patented inconsistency and a lack of depth, and you get an opponent lay-up line.
• Enter Carl Landry. Emerging as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate and a big-time 4th quarter scorer, what Landry does best is what the Kings lack: score in the post. At 16 points per game (on 62% TS) in only 27 minutes, Landry is a ridiculously efficient scorer. Even more importantly, he comes up big in the 4th quarter. Pair him with Tyreke Evans, and you have an inside-outside scoring combo that could be dominant for years to come. Not to mention Landry’s contract should be considered a felony, with a team option for next year worth only 3 million.
• Landry also gives the Kings some much needed toughness for a frontline consisting mostly of softies and the Brock Ness Monster. The venerable Zach Harper described Landry’s toughness in great detail: there’s really nothing to add.
• The only concern regarding Landry is his rebounding, which dropped dramatically in every of his 3 seasons so far. He is now at an 11.6 rebound rate, which is pretty low for a power forward. Still, his 16.5 rebound rate from his rookie season shows that the basic tools are there, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a dramatic spike in his rebounds (currently 5.5 per game) with the Kings.
• Tracy McGrady is washed up. Move along.
• As for the other throw-in for the Kings, Joey Dorsey is an elite rebounder and is also a nasty banger, but with Jon Brockman on the team I doubt he gets any minutes. Every team can use a badass banger with no offensive game whatsoever, but two of them is too much.
• Last, but not least, the Kings free up around 7 million benjamins worth of cap space, bringing them to a projected total somwhere around 16 million this summer. This could be huge: while the Kings are unlikely to lure a big-name free agent, they could use the space to bring in a well-paid vet from a team looking to save money (Andre Igoudala?). The Kings activity this deadline more or less assures a very active draft day in Sacramento as well.
• (The last bullet changes if the Kings swing McGrady’s expiring corpse to the Knicks for anything that includes Jared Jefferies. If that happens, then the Kings lose out big time. If you trade Kevin Martin for Carl Landry and cap space, you’re all right; if you trade Kevin Martin for Carl Landry and future picks, you’re all wrong.)

A look at the Houston side of things:

• As with the Kings, I ultimately like the deal, but I can’t help but feel sad. In the Rockets’ case, the sadness stems from losing Carl Landry. Landry was arguably their best player this season, and is the ultimate Morey-ball player: unheralded 2nd round pick who somehow becomes a legit NBA contributor with nothing but elbow grease and a propensity to lose teeth. I honestly believed Morey and Landry would go together for their entire NBA careers, and to see them break up feels wrong.
• That being said, if you can get Kevin Martin for Carl Landry, you do it. Martin, as well as Landry, is an extremely efficient scorer, only better. Martin will immediately be this teams first option on offense, pushing Trevor Ariza back into his more natural supporting role. Landry will be missed, but Luis Scola, Chuck Hayes and David Anderson are all perfectly capable frontcourt minute soppers. Personally, I’d love to see some small ball, with Ariza/Battier/Chase Budinger at the 4, but I’m not getting my hopes up.
• The only concern with Martin is his health. Martin has been kind of injury-prone in the past few years, as has the entire Rockets organization. Hopefully this doesn’t come back to bite them. Stay tuned.
• Tracy McGrady is washed up. Please continue.
• Rodriguez will probably move ahead to the Knicks if this becomes a 3 team deal, but if not, I like him for this team. Both of Houston’s point guards (Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowry) are of the scoring type, while Sergio is a pure passer. Probably won’t matter, but if he stays, I think he could do more than the proverbial throw in.
• What I love most about this deal is that Daryl Morey has finally made this his team. Yao Ming is now the only player on the roster that wasn’t brought in by Morey, and with his contract expiring next year, it is very likely that he leaves as well. So far, Morey has shown an uncanny knack for picking up solid role players for nothing. Martin is his first star pickup. I honestly can’t wait to see if this works out for him as well as his minor deals. History is on his side.
• Tracy McGrady is washed up. Go on with your lives.

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