Rockets Notes: Lopez, Whitmore, Draft Night, Splitter, Thompson

The Rockets are a “real threat” to the Bucks to sign veteran center Brook Lopez, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to

Lopez is entering unrestricted free agency, as his four-year, $52MM contract expired after the season. Lopez, 35, remains one of the top players at his position. He started 78 games this past season and averaged 15.9 PPG, 6.7 RPG and a career-best 2.5 BPG. He also made 37.4% of his 3-point attempts.

Houston’s interest in Lopez has previously been noted. The Rockets have a 20-year-old center in Alperen Sengun, a 2021 first-rounder, but Lopez could also serve as a mentor to Houston’s youthful frontcourt bigs while stabilizing its defense and stretching the floor offensively.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Villanova forward Cam Whitmore says he’s baffled by reports that he has a medical issue that contributed to his surprising slide in the first round, ESPN News Services relays. Projected to go as high as No. 4 in the draft, he dropped into Houston’s laps at the No. 20 slot. “I promise you there’s not (a medical problem),” he said. “I have no idea. I don’t know what happened. But I feel fine. It’s my body. If they think it’s something different, they have their own opinions. But at the end of the day, it’s my body.”
  • GM Rafael Stone tried in vain to trade up from the No. 20 spot and were stunned was Whitmore was still available, according to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. “We always intended to try and trade up in this draft,” Stone said. “But we also talked about, if that wasn’t successful, trading out if we didn’t like somebody at the pick. And we were talking to a number of teams about what that would look like, and some of those potential transactions were very attractive. But again, not nearly as attractive as picking Cam, which is what we did.” The Rockets reportedly made trade inquiries with the Lakers (No. 17), Heat (No. 18), and Warriors (No. 19). Stone added the medical staff had evaluated Whitmore and there were no concerns about his health.
  • The Rockets are close to adding Tiago Splitter to Ime Udoka’s staff, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. Splitter worked with Udoka on the Nets’ staff before Udoka was hired as the Celtics’ head coach.
  • Lottery pick Amen Thompson came away from his pre-draft workout with the Rockets convinced that the franchise was ready to exit from the rebuilding stage, he told Iko. “Just that they were looking for a change,” Thompson said of last week’s visit. “They were looking to turn the franchise around and get some wins. I wanted to be a part of that.”
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