Rockets Runnin' Out of Options as Trade Deadline Looms

Vikram DimbaCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2010

MILWAUKEE - FEBRUARY 09: Tracy McGrady #1 of the Houston Rockets drives past Luc Richard Mbah a Moute #12 of the Milwaukee Bucks on February 9, 2009 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bucks defeated the Rockets 124-112. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agreees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On Dec. 23, 2009, Tracy McGrady logged in seven minutes of playing time against his former team, the Orlando Magic.

After coming off an impressive double-digit scoring output against the Clippers, he only managed to connect on one of his four shot attempts for two points.

Immediately after that game, McGrady clamored for more minutes, while Adelman blatantly refused to do so.

It was then decided, it was best for both parties to part ways, and end a relationship that showed all the signs of a divorce ever since McGrady opted to have season-ending surgery.

It's been nearly two months from the debacle, and Tracy has yet to be traded.

I don't think anyone expected McGrady to be traded immediately, in fact, had he been traded by now, I'm sure many would have been surprised.

The fact of the matter is, deals come around the deadline, and the Rockets are dead-set on acquiring a high-level talent in return for McGrady.

It first started with the Kevin Martin rumors, which eventually died down as he was injured at the time, and most importantly, the Kings still must consider if Martin can coexist in the same backcourt with budding superstar, Tyreke Evans.

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If they'd find a way, they could team up to be one of the best backcourts for the next numerous amount of years.

But all along, it seemed as the Rockets primary target was Philadelphia swingman Andre Iguoudala.

Coupled with a contract of Dalembert, it's a deal that would save the Sixers a boatload of cash for flexibility in the future, and give the Rockets, a complimentary star, and a center that can still contribute despite his undeservedly high contract.

Trade talks were heating up as Marc Stein reported, but it was recently reported that the Sixers have come out claiming they are content with Iguodala, and won't be added in as a sort of "incentive," to get rid of one their albatross contracts.

The high-level talent, that was reportedly on the market was slowly dwindling down. The only one in reach, now seemed to be Caron Butler.

Yahoo Sports reported, that the Rockets, Knicks, and Wizards were involved in rather serious discussions about a three-way deal, in which Al Harrington would go to the Wizards, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler to the Rockets, while the Knicks would get the man they have openly coveted in McGrady.

It was not until today, that the deal was nixed, as the Dallas Mavericks swooped in, with the contracts of Josh Howard and fillers in exchange for essentially Haywood and Butler.

This not only legitimizes Dallas in the West for the "team" to challenge the Lakers, but blocks a potential attempt at the Rockets cashing in on McGrady's expiring contract.

With Martin and Iguodala unlikely, and Butler already have been traded, either Morey has something up his sleeve which nobody knows about, or the Rockets really have nothing legitimate on the table.

There's a variety of factors, when looking into what exactly the Rockets needs are.

The first question that needs to be answered, is, what direction the Rockets are planning to go in.

With their recent slump, and porous play on both ends of the floor, the Rockets have slipped out of the playoffs, and slowly coming to the realization that getting back into that picture is unlikely unless something drastic is done.

Since acquiring a star of that magnitude to push the Rockets over the likes of the Blazers, or Thunder is unlikely, a young building piece, to a potential run next season when Yao returns is more likely.

But who exactly is left that is willing to take on McGrady? Contending teams are out of the picture, as it's too much a high risk to match the leagues highest paid players salary, and rebuilding teams would have no interest as they'd try to dump their bad contracts in order for that financial flexibility in the 2010 Free Agent class, something the Rockets clearly aren't interested in.

Let's be real though, if talent is enough, the Rockets wouldn't mind taking on a longer contracts.

In order to even have a shot at offering for a potential max free agent such as a Chris Bosh, or Dwayne Wade, the Rockets would have to trade a Battier sort for expiring contracts, and renouncing the rights to all their players. A highly unlikely scenario.

The obvious choice at the beginning, was the Chicago Bulls, and it seems those rumors are resurfacing. There have been talks of the Bulls looking to shed some salary and could offer potential contributors such as John Salmons, or Luol Deng with Kirk Hinrich to make a run at two potential max free agents.

Jonathon Feigen, of the Houston Chronicle mentioned a small tidbit, that Deng is not on the Rockets' radar, so it would have be someone else on the Bulls roster that would intrigue the Rockets. Rose, and Noah are untouchable, which would mean a package based around John Salmons, Brad Miller, and either Kirk Hinrich or Jerome James.

Clearly not the high level talent the Rockets are looking for, but possibly better than anything they can get at this point. They are unfortunately, in a buyers market, in which the selling price of McGrady is lower because of the mammoth contract he possesses.

Before someone jumps on me, and says, the Rockets can just keep McGrady for the rest of the season, and keep the flexibility for themselves, there are a variety of reasons, of why this would result in a negative for the Rockets organization.

1. Even if McGrady's contract were to expire, they wouldn't have enough space to sign a potential max free agent. Which means, 2010 flexibility isn't as so crucial as one were to believe.

2. It would in a way, seem as if the Rockets would be screwing McGrady. While, fans would argue, he deserves whatever he'd get, we've already seen the media, such as Charles Barkley claim the Rockets are doing McGrady wrong. The last thing the Rockets want is to be labeled a destination in which the organization would stoop down to a player's level if he were to do something wrong.

3. It would mean the Rockets got nothing in terms of incentive in return for T-Mac.

The Bulls potential offer might not be the most earth shattering, but it would improve the Rockets depth, while not crippling the future, and be potentially a move, that could keep the Rockets in the thick of things in the playoffs.

After all, Morey stated before seasons start, that the Rockets goal was to make the playoffs.

Signs still point towards the Rockets not doing anything. But if that were the case, a buyout would almost be inevitable, and it's hard to believe Daryl Morey doesn't have anything up his sleeve.

If anything, all questions should be answered in this coming week.

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