However, general manager Daryl Morey kept his trading streak alive by sending Aaron Brooks to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for athletic winger Jordan Hamilton. The Rockets have now made a move for seven straight seasons at the February deadline.
No one saw the Brooks deal coming, but the lack of a significant, multi-player deal was still more surprising. Rumors about Asik had been swirling around ever since he demanded a trade in the offseason, but Morey never pulled the trigger on a deal. The Rockets were reportedly shopping Asik and Lin the few days leading up to the deadline, but nothing ever came of it.
Perhaps the biggest rumor concerning the Rockets revolved around Rondo. According to Marc Stein at ESPN, Houston had its eyes on the Boston Celtics All-Star point guard. Even though the Rockets already have Lin and Patrick Beverley on the roster, Morey wanted to upgrade and bring in a third superstar to team up with James Harden and Dwight Howard.
After all of the speculation, 3 p.m. ET rolled around, and the Rockets made one move and one move only.
Grading the Trade
At the end of it all, Houston completed just one trade involving two players straight up. The Rockets sent third-string point guard Brooks to Denver for G/F Hamilton. Both teams came away better than they were before.
Houston fans may be upset that they lost a familiar face who has played in Houston in six different seasons. However, logistically this is a smart move.
Brooks only played 16.7 minutes per game, which is inflated because he got extended time due to injuries in the Rockets' backcourt. He averages just 7.0 points, 1.9 assists and 1.4 rebounds. His best attribute for the Rockets was his three-point shooting, where he connects on over 40 percent of his attempts.
Meanwhile, Hamilton is a career 35 percent shooter from behind the arc, which isn't particularly great, but he has potential. Houston desperately needed another wing player to pick up the slack for Francisco Garcia. Garcia is only averaging 5.9 points per contest, and he's shooting just 35.2 percent from deep. Hamilton can squeak into the Rockets' rotation and make some noise from the three-point line and by cutting to the basket.
The deal is low-risk because Hamilton is in the last year of his contract. If he plays well in the system, Morey can bring him back next season, but if it doesn't work out, no harm done.
The Rockets were frankly spoiled at point guard with three quality players. They needed an extra wing. With emotions taken out of the equation, it was a good move by Morey, so long as Lin can remain a consistent backup option at the point.
Considering Brooks didn't play much anyway, I don't expect Hamilton to see much playing time. He could get about 10-15 minutes a night, taking over Garcia's former role and getting some shots in from deep.
The bigger takeaway here is that Houston decided to stick with their core as they look forward to the playoffs. The team has played so well through February anyway it seems contradictory to break it up.
The "Big 3" remains Harden, Howard and Parsons instead of another (current) max contract. Asik is staying as well, so he might as well start enjoying Houston, or at least act like it, coming off the bench behind Dwight. Same goes for Lin.
This is it. No more rumors or potential trades. The roster is set, and now Houston can prepare for a deep run in the playoffs; hopefully without any distractions.