4:56pm: The team has officially announced the moves on its website.
12:30pm: The Rockets will sign Dexter Pittman and waive Greg Smith to make room, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Smith has been out since early January after undergoing right knee surgery. The Rockets will be on the hook for the rest of his contract if he clears waivers, but his deal was set to expire at season’s end. Houston didn’t have an open roster spot, necessitating the departure of Smith to accommodate Pittman, a fellow center who’ll provide depth for the team as it heads into the playoffs.
Pittman’s deal will cover next season with non-guaranteed salary, Feigen adds via Twitter. The former second-round pick has been out of the NBA this season aside from a five-day stint with the Hawks, who terminated his 10-day contract early to bring aboard Mike Muscala. The Bulls waived Pittman before opening night, and he’s spent most of the season with the D-League affiliate of the Spurs after having joined San Antonio for summer league action last year. Pittman has averaged 11.2 points and 6.8 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per contest for the D-League’s Austin Toros this season.
Even though the Hawks released Pittman after March 1st, he’s still eligible to play for Houston in the playoffs. The restriction against guys who were on one team after that date playing for another team in the postseason only applies if they’re placed on waivers, and 10-day signees don’t go on waivers when their teams let them go.
Mark Deeks of ShamSports suggests Smith is a candidate to be claimed off waivers (Twitter link). Houston’s move today indicates that he’s unlikely to be healthy enough to help in the postseason, but any team that claims him would be allowed to match offers for him in the summer, since he’d be a restricted free agent as long as his new team submits a qualifying offer. If he clears waivers, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent. A claiming team would also acquire his full Bird rights, since his contract with the Rockets was a three-year deal, as Deeks points out (on Twitter). Smith was a part of Houston’s rotation last season, averaging 6.0 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 15.9 MPG and making 10 starts.