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Battier and Brooks dealt by Rockets

Associated Press / February 25, 2011

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The Houston Rockets sent point guard Aaron Brooks to Phoenix and forward Shane Battier to Memphis in deals yesterday that brought guard Goran Dragic and center Hasheem Thabeet to Houston.

The Rockets also got first-round draft picks from both teams and shipped rookie guard Ish Smith to the Grizzlies.

“It is important to us that we make the playoffs, that we do go to the playoffs,’’ Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley said. “Quite bluntly, we think that Shane at this point in time would be more productive.’’

Memphis is 32-27 and eighth in the Western Conference. The Grizzlies have not been to the playoffs since 2006 when Battier, whom they selected sixth overall in 2001, was on the roster. He played five seasons in Memphis, helping the Grizzlies to three playoff appearances, before he was traded to the Rockets in July 2006 for Stromile Swift and the draft rights to Rudy Gay.

The Grizzlies also tried to swap guard O.J. Mayo to Indiana in a deal that wasn’t concluded before the trade deadline. Heisley said it was a bittersweet situation because Memphis was trying to ease a crowd at guard and add help at the 2-3 position.

“Quite frankly, it might turn out for the better for us,’’ Heisley said.

Brooks and Battier have contracts expiring after this season, coveted commodities for teams looking to create salary-cap space. But in acquiring the 7-foot-3-inch Thabeet and Dragic, the Rockets are parting with two of the team’s most popular players.

Brooks was a first-round draft pick by the Rockets in 2007 and shined in the 2008-09 playoff, averaging 16.8 points and 3.4 assists, and nearly leading Houston to a second-round upset of the Lakers. He was honored as the NBA’s most improved player last season, but a sprained ankle limited his production this season and he wound up a reserve.

Battier, 32, is valued as much for his play and leadership as for his contract. He’s scheduled to make about $7.4 million this season, and has started all 59 games while averaging 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Thabeet has disappointed since Memphis took him with the second overall pick in the 2009 draft. He makes about $4.8 million this year and will get $5.1 million next season. Thabeet, who attended high school in Houston, has averaged only 1.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in 45 games this season.

“When we drafted Hasheem, my guys told me point blank that we needed to play him a lot,’’ Heisley said. “He needed to be on the floor. I don’t think we’ve been able to do our part.’’

Cavaliers acquire Davis The struggling Cavaliers acquired point guard Baron Davis and an unprotected 2011 first-round draft pick from the Clippers for guard Mo Williams and forward Jamario Moon. The 31-year-old Davis will be reunited with coach Byron Scott. The two clashed repeatedly during their time in New Orleans, but Scott said they repaired their relationship last summer. Davis is owed $29 million over the next two seasons. The Clippers are taking on Williams’s $9.3 million contract this season. He has player options over the next two years, so Los Angeles may be able to get him off their books if things don’t work out. Moon’s $3 million contract expires after this season . . . The Bobcats traded forward Gerald Wallace to the Trail Blazers for a package that includes two first-round picks. The Bobcats get center Joel Przybilla and reserve forward Dante Cunningham and center Sean Marks, who are in the last year of their contracts. They also got a conditional 2011 first-round pick that Portland acquired from New Orleans, and a conditional 2013 first-rounder from the Trail Blazers, along with cash. The Bobcats also sent backup center Nazr Mohammed to Oklahoma City for reserve forward D.J. White and the expiring contract of guard Morris Peterson. Forwards Dominic McGuire and Derrick Brown and guard Sherron Collins will be waived to make room on Charlotte’s roster. A person familiar with the deal told the AP last night that Marks and Peterson likely won’t play for the Bobcats and will eventually be released . . . Newly acquired Deron Williams isn’t going to make a decision on whether to opt out of his contract with the Nets until next season. Williams is scheduled to make $17.4 million in 2012, but he can walk away from that deal after that . . . In the latest and perhaps strongest signal yet that the Kings are considering a move, the franchise filed a request for an extension on the NBA’s March 1 deadline to inform the league if it intends to seek permission to relocate next season . . . Carmelo Anthony’s Knicks debut Wednesday night, a 114-108 win over the Bucks, drew the highest rating (6.75) for a regular-season game on the Madison Square Garden Network in 16 years, and easily topped the previous high this season, a 3.61 for the Celtics’ visit Dec. 15.

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