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After the dust settled, the Rockets play it safe at the deadline

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Marcus Camby is now a Houston Rocket.

The NBA trade deadline came and went on Thursday afternoon, and while the Rockets did improve, it was a small improvement. They did nothing to hurt themselves, but they didn’t drastically alter their outlook either. In what has been typical, they were safe moves.

In its first deal of the afternoon, Houston sent Hasheem Thabeet, Jonny Flynn and its 2012 2nd round draft pick from Minnesota to Portland for Marcus Camby, who has a home in Houston. The move gets rid of some of the dead weight I’ve complained about on the roster, though I’m surprised about GM Daryl Morey giving up the pick for a 37-year-old center.

Camby, of course, is a top-notch shot-blocker and rebounder, still one of the premier frontcourt defenders in the league yet lacking offensively. He’s averaging 8.9 rebounds (good for 10th amongst centers) and 1.4 blocks (good for 17th). However, he’ll be backing up Samuel Dalembert, who’s averaging 7.7 rebounds (good for 18th) and 1.9 blocks (good for 7th).

The difference comes offensively, where Dalembert, 30, has shown a nice mid-range jumper and good awareness around the rim, much like Camby. However, Dalembert is averaging 8.1 points on 49 percent shooting, including a solid 65.3 percent at the rim. Camby is tallying 3.1 points on 41.6 percent shooting, including a poor 47.4 percent at the rim. Coach Kevin McHale can now keep the defensively-challenged Luis Scola off the floor in the fourth quarters of close games and go with a Twin-Towers lineup of Dalembert and Camby. Camby should go a long way to helping Houston shore up its rebounding troubles.

The Rockets get a solid backup and more length and rebounding, and it’s a clear sign they do intend to make a playoff push. It also has no effect long-term, as Camby’s deal is expiring. What really surprises me, however, is the pick Morey gave up, knowing how much he treasures those.

However…

Almost at the deadline buzzer, the Rockets pulled off a stunner, though a relatively tempered one, when they acquired Derek Fisher and a 2012 first-round pick (via Dallas) from the Lakers for Jordan Hill. Reports soon surfaced that Houston will look to buyout Fisher (makes sense) once Kyle Lowry gets healthy in 1-3 more weeks, so essentially today’s deals were Thabeet, Flynn, Hill and a second-round pick for Camby and a first-round pick, assuming they buyout Fisher as expected. So the Rockets will have two picks in the first round this year, New York’s (top-5 protected) and the Lakers’ via Dallas, which is top-20 protected.

My initial reaction is, well, eh. The Rockets did a nice job clearing the dead weight, enabling roster flexibility. They added size and length defensively, never a bad thing, but still lack sound interior scoring or someone you can throw the ball to in the paint and get a bucket. Kevin Martin and Terrence Williams are still on the roster, which is mind-boggling. Both clearly have no future with the team, and the longer they’re around (particularly Martin), the longer they stunt the development of the likes of Marcus Morris, or even Chase Budinger, who’s been playing out of his mind this season, because of all the minutes they’ll be given.

As far as Fisher, I think it’s obvious they buy him out. He’s only averaging 5 points on 38 percent shooting and is insurance in the meantime until Lowry returns. I’m shocked the Lakers so willingly cut ties with someone who has such an emotional bond to the franchise and the city. Some names I think that could come up once the Rockets go looking for that backup point guard are the Vipers’ Will Conroy (12.4 ppg, 9.7 apg, 4.4 rpg) and Ben Uzoh (16.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4 apg). Conroy has been a D-Leaguer since 2005-2006 and has played in 12 NBA games. He saw time in five games with the Rockets in 2009-10, scoring 6 points on 3-of-10 shooting with 7 assists and 3 rebounds in 36 total minutes.

My Rockets trade deadline grade: B

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