Game #55 Preview: Kevin Martin’s Debut
Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets
Saturday, February 20
8:30 pm EST
For those of you living under a rock, the trade deadline featured two major deals.
The first was Antawn Jamison to the Cavs, which pretty much makes this season’s chase for an NBA championship a two-horse race between Cleveland and Los Angeles.
The second was a three-team trade that sent Kevin Martin to the Rockets, Carl Landry to the Kings and Tracy McGrady to the Knicks.
For our old friend Donnie Walsh in New York, this was an “all-in” move hoping to win the spoils of the free agent class of 2010. It’s officially “LeBron or Bust” for those in MSG, who desperately are hoping — nay — praying that The Chosen One for some silly reason decides that he wants to play in New York with one of his very talented friends (either Wade, Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amar’e or Boozer), Danilo Galinari, Wilson Chandler, Toney Douglas, Eddy Curry and a bunch of minimum-ish-level salaried guys. (Obviously any of Wade/Bosh or Joe Johnson/Bosh or Wade/Boozer or Wade/Amare or perhaps a few other combinations would not be a total failure for the Knicks either.)
For the Kings, they got a very good (and very cheap) low-post scorer in Landry as well as enough cap room this summer to perhaps offer some free agent the max. (Kevin Arnovitz breaks down all the 2010 free agency player very well here.) Or, since Tyreke Evans is a budding superstar himself, they might be wiser to bring in one $10 million guy and one $7 million guy who can play well alongside Evans, Landry, Thompson, Casspi and Spencer Hawes. Either way, Sacramento now has a lot of flexibility and a lot of young talent to build something.
For the Rockets, they got not just Martin, but two first-round picks from the Knicks, perhaps-promising rookie Jordan Hill and Jared Jeffries, who while seen as a salaray-cap albatross in New York will just be a good defensive specialist for Houston since they weren’t trying to get under the cap this summer anyway. Aside from Danny Ferry getting Antawn, this was the coup of the deadline. Daryl Morey, aka the guy Bill Simmons calls Dork Elvis, made a very shrewd play and has set his team up very well for the next few seasons. (He didn’t do quite as well in negotiations as some people expected, but it was still a stellar move.)
More important to the Pacers, of course, is not how the Rockets play in the coming years — but how they play tonight.
Hopefully for Indiana, Houston isn’t able to seamlessly integrate Martin and Jeffries (and perhaps even Hill) into the game plan and the result is a sloppy, lackluster, disjointed effort by Rick Adelman’s boys.
If so, the Pacers will probably only lose by six or seven.
Pacers vs. Rockets: By the Numbers