Isaiah Hartenstein, the Rockets’ lone 2017 draft pick, is among the players listed on the training camp roster for Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Twitter link via Chris Reichert of 2 Ways & 10 Days).
After being selected with the 43rd overall pick in the 2017 draft, Hartenstein didn’t sign an NBA contract, with the Rockets opting not to carry him on their 15-man roster in his rookie season. Instead, it appears Hartenstein signed a straight G League contract, which will allow him to play for the Vipers without the Rockets losing his NBA rights.
The approach is similar to the one the Celtics took with second-round pick Abdel Nader a year ago. Although he wanted to sign an NBA contract, Nader agreed to ink a G League deal and joined the Maine Red Claws, with Boston hanging on to his NBA rights. Nader had an outstanding season for the Red Claws, earning All G League honors, and the C’s rewarded him this summer with a multiyear NBA contract that’s guaranteed for 2017/18.
Hartenstein, who is still just 19, spent most of his teenage years playing overseas in Germany and Lithuania, and was viewed as one of the top international prospects in this year’s draft. The seven-footer remains raw, but is viewed as a versatile big man who is capable of earning an NBA rotation spot in the coming years.
International basketball reporter David Pick first reported back in late July that the Rockets were expected to have Hartenstein play in the G League with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.