The Rockets waived Danuel House on Tuesday in part because they don’t need him as much now that their roster is a little healthier. However, the team had another motive for making the move, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that the Rockets may use the open roster spot to facilitate a trade.
As Feigen explains, Houston would like to make a deal by this Friday in order to have the option of including a newly-acquired player in a second trade before this season’s February 7 deadline.
NBA rules don’t prevent an over-the-cap team from flipping a newly-acquired player immediately, but they do prohibit the team from aggregating that player’s salary with other salaries in a second trade within two months of that player being acquired. So if the Rockets were to trade for a player on Saturday, the team wouldn’t be able to include him in a larger package for salary-matching purposes later in the season.
For instance, let’s say the Rockets trade this week for a player who is earning $7MM. Then, at the trade deadline, the club wants to acquire a player making $12.75MM. A taxpaying team like Houston is permitted to take back up to 125% of the salary it sends out in a trade, so trading that $7MM player along with, say, Marquese Chriss ($3.21MM) at the deadline would allow the Rockets to take back $12.75MM. However, that $7MM player could only be packaged along with Chriss for salary-matching purposes if he’s acquired by December 7, two months before the deadline.
It’s not clear which player(s) the Rockets might be targeting at this point, but the team has long been said to be seeking wing help. If the club does make a move within the next couple days, it’s worth keeping in mind that December 7 “deadline” as an important reason why.
If the Rockets don’t make a move this week, that 15th roster spot will likely be earmarked for Gary Clark, who figures to receive a promotion from his two-way contract at some point in the not-too-distant future. Houston also figures to open up another roster slot when the team eventually waives or trades Carmelo Anthony, and House could be a candidate to re-sign at some point, Feigen notes.