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Are the Rockets in the market for Josh Smith? Maybe not quite yet.

Feb 14, 2013, 5:10 PM EDT

Atlanta Hawks Josh Smith reacts during the final moments of the fourth quarter of Game 6 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff basketball series against the Boston Celtics in Boston Reuters

Trade speculation surrounding Josh Smith is in full swing. The Brooklyn Nets and San Antonio Spurs have been reported as potential landing spots, but there may not be a more attractive trading partner for the Hawks given their rebuilding process than the Houston Rockets. Despite lacking a “big name” who can be moved, Houston has a ton of productive players on cheap, rookie deals. There are guys we haven’t even really seen like Terrence Jones or Donatas Motiejunas who are intriguing prospects, and there are useful pieces like Patrick Patterson and Greg Smith.

But while a potential deal with Houston would make sense for Atlanta, it may not make sense for Houston. The Rockets have max cap room heading into this offseason, so sacrificing multiple assets to acquire a guy who will be a free agent in a few months may be a waste. Here’s Daryl Morey explaining Houston’s situation to Sam Amick of USA Today:

“The Rockets — who signed point guard Jeremy Lin in the summer and traded for Oklahoma City’s James Harden in late October — are on the lookout for another star and have enough salary cap space this summer to add a maximum-salary free agent. At the moment, that appears to be their path of choice.

“Most likely, it’s not going to be through trade,” Morey told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “Most likely, it’s going to be through the use of our cap room where we have max room this summer.

“I think (the time between now and the deadline) is going to be quiet. Of course a year ago, if you would’ve said, ‘James Harden – what about him?’ I would’ve said, ‘No way. They won’t trade him.’ You never know. You stay opportunistic. But I would guess that this trade deadline is going to be quiet.”

Via Sam Amick | USA Today

This is what Morey should say. The Rockets would have to combine quite a few salaries to match for a guy like Smith right now, and despite their playoff push, there really shouldn’t be a rush to contend. The financial situation is great, they have an incredibly young core, and they have a true star in James Harden.

With that said, it’s Harden who now shares some of the recruiting responsibility with Morey.

Asked if he had a specific player he wanted to join forces with, Harden — who doesn’t have off-court relationships with any of the players mentioned — says he’s not sure just yet.

“I don’t, and if I did have a guy I’d be texting him every single day,” he told USA TODAY Sports in a recent interview. “Dwight, Chris Paul, Bynum, all of them. I haven’t come across them. I’m more low-key.”

Low-key probably works for Houston right now. They’ll be hosting the All-Star game this weekend, so everyone will get a taste of what life in Houston is like. They’re contending ahead of schedule, true, but many a franchise has been wrecked by pushing the chips to the center of the table too quickly. Josh Smith does fit with what Houston wants to do, but patience may be the most valuable asset the Rockets can utilize at the trade deadline this year.

  1. timb12 - Feb 14, 2013 at 6:11 PM

    Noooo! I don’t think the Rockets should trade away parts for a second tier player. I think they have a better chance of signing a big man who doesn’t love taking long jump shots.

  2. jeff6381 - Feb 14, 2013 at 7:27 PM

    Please no!!! Iam a rockets fan and I don’t won’t no part of Josh Smith he is not a max player and to give up all our young players for him would be a horrible decision let a desperate team make that move.

  3. sportsnut101 - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    Don’t trade anyone. Go into summer with ur cap n go from there. The rockets have nice young pieces who will make for a great deep team if they ad one or two pieces. Josh smith is not the answer I know it’s not Bynum due to injury n I would say Dwight but I doubt he goes there That team would like real nice if they can land him.

  4. pmangarola - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    What are the Hawks doing? First getting ride of Joe Johnson there best player and now gunna trade their current best player Josh Smith? they will trade Al Horrors next year too

    • drunkenjunk - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      they have to get rid of smith, he wants max money and the hawks aren’t stupid enough to give it to him. smith doesn’t deserve it so you mine as well get something for him before he walks.

    • thatstinks - Feb 15, 2013 at 2:35 PM

      Just relax . Danny Ferry is going to built a champion worthy of the vaunted highlight factory . We are trading this best player because one minute he is roman godlike and the next he is a total bonehead . That kind of play doesn’t warrant max cash . It REALLY doesn’t warrant 5yr supermax , Larry Bird rule , cash.

  5. bucs24 - Feb 14, 2013 at 8:43 PM

    I say Howard to rockets or mavs Kobe hurry and retire

  6. prosourcetalk - Feb 14, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Who are the Rockets going to target in the offseason with their max cap space? Howard & Paul are definitely going to resign in LA & Bynum is a wash with his lost season & suspect knees

    • eventhorizon04 - Feb 15, 2013 at 12:41 AM

      Agreed that Paul is sticking with the Clippers.
      Also agreed that Bynum isn’t a guy worth getting hopeful about at this point. He’s returned to being injury-prone, and doesn’t seem bothered by it.

      Howard though is not a lock to re-sign with the Lakers. The Lakers have an incredible old roster – their 4 best players, excluding Howard, are ages 39 (Nash), 34 (Kobe), 33 (Metta World Peace), and 32 (Gasol). They’re so far over the luxury tax line, and they have no draft picks. They have no chance of getting better/younger other than through trade, and their only trade piece of value (Gasol) is having one of the worst seasons of his career, both in terms of his stats and injuries.

      If the Lakers miss the playoffs, I don’t expect Dwight to be with the Lakers next year.

  7. qpoiu1 - Feb 14, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    It makes more sense for the Rockets to go after him on free agency. He fits perfectly with their fast pace system and it wouldn’t be necessary to give up any young players/picks

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