The Rockets will not exercise their team option on Francisco Garcia for 2013/14, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston. Given the price on the option ($6.4MM), the decision comes as no surprise for a Houston team that will have the opportunity to clear more than $15MM in cap space this summer.
With Garcia heading for unrestricted free agency, Houston will have about $39.33MM in guaranteed salaries and $9.18MM in non-guaranteed salaries remaining on its books for next season. Some of those non-guaranteed contracts, such as Chandler Parsons' and Patrick Beverley's, seem to be locks to become guaranteed, while others aren't so certain, as I outlined when I previewed the Rockets' offseason.
As for Garcia, the longtime Sacramento King was sent to Houston for salary purposes as part of the six-player deadline deal that also sent Thomas Robinson to the Rockets. In 58 total games this season, the 31-year-old Garcia averaged 5.5 PPG and shot 37.4% from three-point range. While the Louisville product has never been an exceptional scorer in the NBA, he can still contribute as an outside threat, leading Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com to speculate that he could be a fit for the Lakers. Garcia, for his part, has said he'd like to return to Houston.
When discussing potential landing spots besides L.A. for Dwight Howard this summer, many pundits point to Houston as an ideal fit for the big man, given the Rockets' combination of young talent and cap space. Of course, the Rockets already have a solid defensive center in their starting lineup, but Omer Asik tells Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle that he's not letting the Howard rumors affect him.
"It’s all things that happen out of my control," Asik said. "I really don’t know and I really don’t care. Whether it happens, we’ll see. I’m just looking forward to rest and getting better for the next season."
Here's more on the Rockets and their Western Conference rivals:
A complete recap of trades that were completed before Thursday's trade deadline:
The Rockets have finalized a pair of deals they agreed upon Wednesday night, sending Marcus Morris to the Suns for a second-round pick and trading Patrick Patterson, Cole Aldrich, Toney Douglas and $1MM to the Kings for Thomas Robinson, Francisco Garcia and Tyler Honeycutt. The second-rounder heading to Houston is Phoenix's own 2013 selection. The Suns, who were at the roster limit of 15 players going into the trade, waived Luke Zeller to make room for Morris.
Houston was reportedly deciding between a pair of deals for Morris, whom the Rockets held out of their win against Oklahoma City on Wednesday. With Houston's top two power forwards gone, it looks like a pair of rookies, in Robinson and Terrence Jones, will man the position as the team fights to hold on to the final playoff spot in the West. One of the motivations to trade Morris was to free up time for Jones, according to HoopsWorld's Steve Kyler.
As Grantland's Zach Lowe points out via Twitter, the pair of moves will save Houston approximately $1.6MM for next season if they decline their option on Garcia. Lowe surmised earlier that Houston would look to cut between $1.5MM and $2MM to clear room for a max deal to land Dwight Howard, who'll be a free agent this summer. The Rockets also get the No. 5 overall pick from this past June's draft in Robinson, who's seen just 15.9 minutes per game as a reserve for the Kings this year. Nonetheless, Robinson is grabbing 4.7 rebounds in his limited action, which would extrapolate to 10.6 rebounds per 36 minutes.
Sacramento had appeared unlikely to make a deal as their ownership situation remains in limbo, but they flipped Robinson for two expiring deals and Patterson, who will enter the final season of his rookie contract next year. The move was all about cost-cutting and not something the Kings current management wished to do, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. The Chris Hansen/Howard Ballmer group from Seattle that has a deal in place to buy the Kings was briefed on the trade before it went down, according to fellow Yahoo! Sports scribe Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). It's unclear exactly where the directive to make the trade came from, though SB Nation's Tom Ziller indicated Wednesday night that co-owner Gavin Maloof and Geoff Petrie are the driving forces in the Kings front office at the moment.
The Suns considered trading a first-round pick for Morris when the Rockets drafted him 14th overall in 2011, but wound up nabbing him for a second-rounder, currently projected to be the 35th overall selection. Now the power forward will reunite with his twin brother, Markieff Morris, whom the Suns took 13th overall in 2011. With the next pick that year, the Rockets drafted Marcus.
Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (All Twitter links) initially broke the news of both trades. Sam Amick of USA Today (All Twitter links) and TNT's David Aldridge (Twitter link) contributed additional details.
On Wednesday, Yahoo! Sports reported that the Maloof family was in talks to sell the Sacramento Kings to a Seattle-based ownership group led by investor Chris Hansen. While the status of the deal is still up in the air, Grantland's Zach Lowe examines how the potential sale could affect the Kings' willingness to make trades as the deadline approaches.
Lowe writes that executives around the league believe the Kings will still be willing trade partners, despite the complications that may arise in the event of an ownership transfer. He believes there is a unanimous belief within the organization that DeMarcus Cousins, despite his recent troubles, is considered off-limits in any trade discussions.
The three players beyond Cousins that Lowe points to as potential pieces the Kings could move are Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, and Francisco Garcia. Lowe suggests that these and other players could be turned into a package for Rudy Gay.
Lowe also speculates about the status of Evans, who is headed to restricted free agency after the 2012/13 season. He writes that Evans may have a similar experience in free agency to that of O.J. Mayo, who signed a two-year contract with the Mavericks when no long-term deal presented itself.
With this season's deadline still three months away, the trade market likely won't be too active for at least a few more weeks. However, as Steve Kyler of HoopsWorld writes, things could start to pick up on December 15th, when most players who signed over the summer are eligible to be dealt. Kyler looks at a few specific trade candidates in his latest piece, so let's round up the highlights....