Houston Rockets Daily Rocket Science: So long, D-Mo

Nov 26, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Donatas Motiejunas (20) celebrates with guard James Harden (13) during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

James Harden mentioned just one other player when discussing the possibility of turning the season around.

Yep, just one. In an interview with USA Today last week, James Harden said that Donatas Motiejunas was one of the main reasons the Houston Rockets had a good season last year. He said that getting him back and healthy was a big deal if they wanted to be competitive for the rest of the season. Coming from the team’s leader and best player, that’s quite a statement.

Then, yesterday, GM Daryl Morey sent Motiejunas packing for Detroit along with Marcus Thornton. I don’t know what’s going on, but I disagree with anyone who says the Rockets made a good trade. They lost the man whom the resident superstar values the most and the streaking Thornton for just one future draft pick.

I know, I know, the pick could end up being a lottery pick and D-Mo’s health is in a state of uncertainty. I just thought that Harden’s opinion would matter more than that. Also, I would have thought that of the hilarious amount of power forwards on the roster, the one who could consistently knock down a three would be the last one to get the boot.

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One of my favorite non-Space City Scoop writers is Rahat Huq of ESPN affiliate Red94. I generally agree with his opinion on everything Rockets-related, and this time is no different. After a lengthy Twitter rant, he wrote a piece on why the D-Mo trade is depressing for Houston fans. Sometimes, the depression doesn’t have to be sensical. D-Mo was one of my favorite Rockets and I’m definitely sad to see him go.

"After the magic of last season, I personally thought we finally had a core built to last, and more specifically, that Motiejunas could be penciled in as the starting four for the next whatever years.  I thought we were finally done with the draft picks and the cap space and the “value”.  But here we are again.  The pick we got back was great “value”.  Well, great.  We’ve had value for years.  I thought we finally had a team."

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I was wondering earlier today what the Lithuanian thought about this unexpected and unprecedented move. Luckily, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle got to ask him all about it. In his article yesterday, he discussed the specifics of the trade, but more importantly, Motiejunas’s reaction. As expected, he handled the news with the upmost of class.

“I’m a little bit surprised,” Motiejunas said. “I spent three-and-a-half years in Houston. The city became my family. It’s sad to leave, but it’s part of the business and that’s how it should be.

“I’m going to Detroit with my heart open. I’m hoping the fans and the team will take me in. I really hope to make Detroit my second home. It’s a little bit strange, but the team was struggling and made a change. I didn’t play much this season. Now, I’m healthy. Instead of risking me, they traded me. Where I am now, I’m fully healthy, 100 percent, and think I will give a boost to Detroit to make the playoffs.”

While the NBA trade deadline day was fairly quiet this year, there were still quite a few trades that took place. Bleacher Report ran a summary video where Howard Beck and Adam Lefkoe discussed the deadline’s biggest winners and losers. To give my negative opinion on the Rockets’ decision to move D-Mo more legitimacy, the two analysts rated Detroit as one of the biggest winners of the day and Houston as the ultimate loser. Granted, the primary reason they cited for Houston’s issues was the build-up and subsequent silence on the whole Dwight Howard thing. But still, the difference in the way they viewed the two teams after their exchange should be a red flag.

The Houston Rockets begin the last stretch of regular season tonight against the Phoenix Suns. After the Utah Jazz suffered a convenient loss last night, Houston is back in the playoff picture at 8th in the Western Conference.

For most intents and purposes, the players that will suit up tonight are the same ones that were suiting up before the All-Star break. This group of guys hasn’t done much worth being happy about this season. There are 27 games left though, and now is as good a time as ever to turn things around.

Thanks for everything H-town

— Donatas Motiejunas (@DonatasMot) February 18, 2016

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