Rockets Sign Montrezl Harrell To Three-Year Deal

SATURDAY, 11:19am: The Rockets have formally announced the signing (on Twitter).

2:35pm: Rockets GM Daryl Morey took to Twitter to welcome Harrell to the Rockets, so presumably that means he’s signed.

FRIDAY, 9:46am: The Rockets will sign Harrell to a contract worth $3.1MM over three years today, a source tells Feigen (Twitter link). It’ll include no option years or non-guaranteed salary, Feigen also hears. Still unclear is what Harrell will make this coming season, a figure that will determine how much the Rockets have left beneath their hard cap.

WEDNESDAY, 7:37am: Harrell is close to signing, but the sides are still hammering out some details, in spite of what McHale said, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). They do have agreement on the main parts of the deal, Feigen adds.

10:45pm: Rockets coach Kevin McHale said Harrell has signed with the team, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets.

11:45am: The sides have reached an agreement in principle, sources tell Spears (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 11:02am: The Rockets and No. 32 overall pick Montrezl Harrell are finalizing a three-year deal, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). The three-year length means the team is using its mid-level exception and will be hard-capped, as I explained in detail earlier. Houston won’t be able to carry a payroll of more than $88.74MM at any point this season once the deal with the Rich Paul client becomes official. The team already has $86,180,389 in guaranteed salary, according to Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. It’s not immediately clear how much more the deal for Harrell will add to the total, but regardless, the Rockets won’t have much breathing room beneath the hard cap.

No. 31 pick Cedi Osman, the top pick of the second round, is unsigned, while No. 33 pick Jordan Mickey will receive a guarantee of nearly $1.171MM this season in the first year of the four-year contract he signed with the Celtics. No. 30 pick Kevon Looney will make a guaranteed $1,131,960 this season, though his salary was determined by the rookie scale that applies to first-rounders but not second-rounders. So, it would seem that Harrell is in range for a salary of around $1.1MM to $1.2MM, leaving as little as about $1.36MM beneath that hard cap for the Rockets.

Negotiations between the Rockets and Harrell’s camp have largely been quiet, with a late-August dispatch from Calvin Watkins of indicating the sides were talking the only substantive update since the draft in June. Still, it seemed the Rockets were doing what they could to clear the decks for a Harrell signing, breaking off their deal with Chuck Hayes, who later signed with the Clippers, and apparently also having undone their agreement to sign undrafted power forward Christian Wood, who inked with the Sixers instead. Both Hayes and Wood were to receive partial guarantees from the Rockets that would have counted against a hard cap.

Houston could have signed Harrell using the minimum salary exception and avoided the hard cap, but that would have entailed a salary of just $525,093 this season, one that Harrell and Paul were unlikely to have accepted, unless it came in the form of a one-year deal. The Rockets had to make a tender of a non-guaranteed one-year contract for the minimum salary by September 5th, and while signing that would have meant a short-term financial sacrifice for Harrell, he would have hit restricted free agency next summer just as K.J. McDaniels, last year’s No. 32 overall pick, did this year. McDaniels wound up re-signing with the Rockets on a deal worth $10MM over three years, the sort of price Houston probably wants to avoid paying to keep Harrell.

The Rockets instead appear to have averted that scenario at the cost of flexibility for this season. Harrell will presumably become the team’s 14th player with a fully guaranteed deal. Four others are on non-guaranteed deals, as our roster count shows, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Houston elect not to carry 15 players for opening night, given the team’s financial squeeze. Teams can have between 13 and 15 players during the regular season.

Do you think the Rockets made the right decision to control Harrell for three years and hard cap themselves for this season? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.

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12 thoughts on “Rockets Sign Montrezl Harrell To Three-Year Deal

  1. rxbrgr

    If I were them I would have tried to sign him to a two-year guaranteed deal at the veteran’s minimum, the second year being a player option. Though that would have been less than he’ll get per season on this actual deal, it gives Harrell greater control over his future earnings. Likewise, it would also gives Houston greater flexibility this year to take on talent via trade. I see the expiring contracts of Jones, Motiejunas, and even Howard and Lawson as chips that could be cashed in (if necessary) to acquire long-term talent before the trade deadline. They won’t have much cap flexibility in the offseason anyway, so going after players on the talent- and contract-levels of Ricky Rubio and DeMarcus Cousins could hold appeal as a way of building for long-term success.

    • Chuck Myron

      I see the logic there. Even if he had opted out, it’s doubtful that he would have commanded too much more than McDaniels. Still, you wonder about that, with all that cap space set to open around the league next summer. I bet that loomed large in the back of Daryl Morey’s mind, as did what happened with Chandler Parsons when he was a free agent last year. Morey might be a little gunshy about restricted free agency right now. If so, that might prompt him to be more aggressive in trying to reach extensions with Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas.

  2. Jacob Jackson

    Great move for the Rockets. For some teams, being hard-capped would be risky, because they lack depth, but I think the Rockets are loaded. They go 12-13 deep with guys who actually deserve playing time.

    • Chuck Myron

      Good point! Although, a couple of injuries at one position, and the Rockets would be in a tough spot.

  3. Arthur Hill

    It says a lot about how much the Rockets value Harrell that they were willing to be hard-capped to give him the contract he wanted. Also it indicates that Terrence Jones and/or Donatas Motiejunas might have a short future in Houston.

    • Jacob Jackson

      Harrell has a 7’4 wingspan and might one day be able to play small-ball center. Combined with Capela, Motie, and T Jones, I think they have enough long-term options at the 4-5 to be ok letting Dwight walk in free agency next summer and using the resulting cap space (even with T Jones and Motie’s cap holds) to pursue Durant. That’s not even counting all their length on the wings (Ariza, Brewer, KJ), which could play small-ball 4 in a pinch.

      They are the rare team that can get max-level space next summer and still have a great core around that star. They are my Durant 2016 prediction.

      • Arthur Hill

        Durant has to take a serious look at the Rockets. Does he really have more talent around him and a better shot at a ring if he stays in Oklahoma City?

        • Jacob Jackson

          I would imagine Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka will all have private conversations about their futures. I can’t see Durant re-signing in OKC long-term without some assurances that Ibaka and Westbrook will also re-sign long-term. The likelihood that all three of them want to stay in OKC long-term, I would imagine, is quite low. They all will have max-money opportunities in markets that are 1.) closer to home, 2.) better weather, 3.) better endorsement opportunities, and 4.) no state income taxes.

          And if even one of them leave, then all three are likely to leave, because OKC isn’t a contender going forward if they don’t have all three at full health.

          This is the year they have to win it all, and I think everyone in the organization knows that. If they have a disappointing season this year, Durant might be gone, and Ibaka/Westbrook will follow the summer afterward.

          Another possibility is that Durant signs a Lebron-esque 1 + 1 player option next summer, remaining in OKC until the salary cap is done exploding the following summer and Westbrook/Ibaka’s deals expire.

  4. Parkz

    I would have liked to have kept chuck Hayes as well as signing montrezl though!! Could’ve been done, role with that roster hard capped so be it, good enough roster to win it all

  5. smittybanton

    TJones, DMo and Dwight are all prone to injury. Harrell’s skill as a hustler and rebounder translates to the Rockets immediately. Even if two out of three of their top bigs went down, Harrell and Capela can support Lawson, Beverly, Harden and Ariza, for stretches.

  6. Dana Gauruder

    Really surprised they would guarantee 3 years to a No. 32 pick, even at that price. Usually, you’d want to see a second-rounder prove himself.

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