The Rockets have finalized a deal with second-round pick Chinanu Onuaku, reaching an agreement on a three-year contract, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston used its last chunk of cap room on Onuaku, allowing the team to formalize the signing of Nene using its room exception.
As Bobby Marks of The Vertical tweets, the Rockets had $543,772 of cap room left to spare, and the minimum salary for a rookie is $543,471, meaning the team was able to squeeze in Onuaku with just $301 left over. The team could signed Onuaku to a minimum-salary contract after going over the cap, but such a deal would have been limited to two years. Instead, the former Louisville center receives a fully-guaranteed three-year pact, per Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link).
“It’s a pretty good deal for the kid,” agent Derrick Powell said, according to Feigen. “He’s 19 years old. He has an upside that fits the contract. I think it was important for us because we wanted Houston to commit to his growth. They’re very committed to him. They like him a lot. He’s worked his buns off. He’s very excited about his future with Houston.”
Onuaku, 19, is still raw, but showed plenty of promise during his sophomore season, averaging 9.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, and 2.0 BPG for Louisville. Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com ranked him as the 38th-best prospect in this year’s draft class, and the Rockets made him the 37th overall pick in last month’s draft.
Now that they’re over the cap, the Rockets will be limited to two-year, minimum-salary deals for the other undrafted rookies they’ve agreed to sign, including Gary Payton II, Kyle Wiltjer, and Isaiah Taylor.