The Rockets have claimed Arsalan Kazemi off waivers from the Hawks, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Houston becomes the third team within the past month to have a hold on Kazemi after the Sixers relinquished their draft rights to the Iranian power forward so he could sign with Atlanta. Houston inherits the non-guaranteed contract he received from the Hawks. Kazemi becomes the 20th player on the Rockets, who have 14 signed to fully guaranteed pacts, as our roster count shows.
The former Rice and Oregon player didn’t appear in a preseason game in his brief time with the Hawks, who had him for less than two weeks when they released him Saturday. His deal only covers one year at the minimum salary without any guarantees, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reported, so the Rockets don’t assume much risk. It’s not altogether surprising to see him end up with Houston, since GM Daryl Morey is the former boss of Sixers GM Sam Hinkie, who had acquired his draft rights in a trade with the Wizards in 2013 on the same night that Washington drafted him 54th overall. The waiver claim is the first in the NBA since the calendar flipped to the 2015/16 season on July 1st.
It would nonetheless seem as though the 25-year-old Kazemi, who put up 15.0 points in 38.9 minutes per game for ChongQing AoLong of China last season, faces long odds to make the regular season roster in Houston, given the competition from five other camp invitees. The Rockets face a hard cap because they exceeded the taxpayer’s amount on the mid-level exception with their signings of K.J. McDaniels and Montrezl Harrell, so the distinct possibility exists that Houston won’t carry a 15th man for opening night. Still, the Rockets can keep the D-League rights to as many as four of the players they waive, so perhaps that’s what they have in mind for Kazemi.