Trevor Ariza was sent to the New Orleans Hornets and Darren Collison to the Indiana Pacers in a four-team, five-player trade Wednesday.
In the trade, the Houston Rockets sent Ariza to the Hornets, who in turn sent Collison and James Posey to the Pacers.
The Pacers sent Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets. And the Nets sent Courtney Lee to the Rockets.
"We said at the beginning of the summer that we were going to be patient and don't make drastic moves just to make a move," Pacers president Larry Bird said. "We have a plan here. It's a three-year plan, and I expect to get the job done in three years."
The Hornets didn't stop there. NBA front-office sources told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that in a separate deal, the team agreed to send swingman Julian Wright to Toronto for Raptors guard Marco Belinelli. That deal was expected to be completed Wednesday.
The four-team deal could fill some long-term needs for the Hornets, Pacers and Nets, as well as provide needed salary relief for the Rockets.
For the Hornets, while moving Collison leaves them without a credible backup for Chris Paul, the addition of Ariza gives them a young, athletic wing entering his prime.
The Hornets are hoping that the addition of Ariza addresses Paul's concerns about the team's commitment to winning by showing that they're willing to spend money to get better. Ariza signed a five-year, $34 million deal with the Rockets last summer.
For the Pacers, landing Collison gives them the young starting point guard they've been looking for and adds another piece to a young core of players including Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and promising rookies Paul George and Lance Stephenson.
"I think it helps out tremendously," Bird said. "I think this was the piece that we needed. The vision I have for this franchise is to get the core group up and ready to go as quick as we can, and this piece here will accelerate everything."
The Pacers did take on the last two years and $13 million of Posey's contract, but the deal also sliced another $4 million off the team's overall payroll.
In Murphy, the Nets get the veteran big man that new coach Avery Johnson has been coveting. Murphy is also on the last year of his contract, which could make him an important trading chip for the Nets at the 2011 trade deadline.
"We are very pleased to add Troy to our roster," Nets general manager Billy King said. "He is a quality power forward who has the ability to stretch the floor, and we feel that he will be a very positive addition to our frontcourt rotation."
For the Rockets, the move is basically a large salary dump. This summer the Rockets spent a lot of cash signing Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry and Brad Miller to free-agent contracts and their payroll ballooned. Before the trade, the team was bracing for an $8 million-plus luxury tax hit. This deal saves the Rockets $28 million on the life of the contract and roughly $10 million (when you factor in luxury tax payments) this season.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said their involvement in the trade was mostly about the opportunity to get Lee, a 6-5 guard whom they've coveted since the 2008 draft.
"We really target players who we think will fit in well here over time," Morey said. "When we got our first chance to acquire him, we were fairly aggressive to get that done. He's very versatile."
The Rockets envisioned the 6-8 Ariza developing into a dependable scoring threat on the wing. He averaged a career-high 14.9 points in 72 games last season but shot 39.4 percent from the field and 33.4 percent from 3-point range.
"To get something you like, you've got to give up something," Morey said. "It wasn't a situation where we were down on Trevor. It was really about that we think Courtney has a big future."
Lee, acquired from the Orlando Magic on draft night in 2009 in the Vince Carter deal, averaged 12.5 points in 71 games for the Nets last season, including 66 starts. He shot 43.6 percent from the field last season and will likely back up shooting guard Kevin Martin with the Rockets.
Chad Ford covers the NBA and NBA draft for ESPN Insider. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.