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Rockets Waive Danuel House

The Rockets have waived swingman Danuel House, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Houston added House to its roster in late November after he showcased his ability in the G League. The signing came when the Rockets had a bevy of injuries but it appears the team is confident in its depth now that several of its players have come back from injury.

House has played in five games for Houston this season. He averaged 8.4 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Because House was on a non-guaranteed contract, the Rockets will only be on the hook for a small portion of his minimum salary. Assuming he goes unclaimed on waivers, the cap charge for House should be about $94K.

Southwest Notes: House, Davis, Riccardi, Doncic

The Rockets are planning to match any offer for restricted free agent Danuel House, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports. The swingman appeared in seven postseason games but shot just 29.7% from the field. During the regular season, House appeared in 39 games, including 13 starts, and averaged 9.4 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 25.1 MPG. House’s qualifying offer is a modest $1,876,700.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The current Pelicans brass might have a more favorable opinion of the Lakers’ reported offers for Anthony Davis than the previous regime, Brad Botkin of CBS Sports relays. Comments on The Sedano Show made by executive VP David Griffin prior to being hired by New Orleans suggest that he’s very high on the potential of Lakers forward Brandon Ingram.
  • The Grizzlies were interested in hiring Matt Riccardi, an assistant GM with the Nets’ G League franchise, for a front office position, according to Michael Scotto of The Athletic. Riccardi was granted permission to speak with the Grizzlies brass but opted to stay with the Nets organization.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was impressed by Rookie of the Year candidate Luka Doncic‘s conditioning in a recent workout with coach Rick Carlisle, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News reports. “He’s definitely in better shape,” Cuban said, adding jokingly that Doncic is finally showing abdominal muscles.
  • UCF center Tacko Fall worked out for the Rockets this week, Scott Agness of The Athletic tweets. Fall also visited the Pacers and Knicks.

Rockets Sign Danuel House

3:44pm: The Rockets have officially signed House, the team announced today in a press release. Houston now has a full 15-man roster, with Anthony still technically under contract.

12:02pm: The Rockets plan to sign Danuel House to a contract, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran swingman traveled to meet the team in Washington, where the Rockets are set to play the Wizards on Monday night.

House, 25, has appeared in a total of 24 regular season games for the Suns and Wizards since going undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2016. He has spent most of his professional career in the G League, playing for Delaware, Northern Arizona, and Rio Grande Valley.

This fall, House spent time in training camp with the Warriors, but was cut by Golden State before the regular season began and returned to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate. He has averaged a team-high 20.4 PPG in seven games for the Vipers.

It’s not clear if the Rockets intend to officially make a move with Carmelo Anthony at the same time they formalize their deal with House. Even with Anthony still under contract, Houston has room on its roster for House, so Carmelo may remain in limbo even after the club fills its 15th and final roster slot.

If he were to sign a minimum salary contract today, House would have a cap hit of approximately $1.2MM, increasing Houston’s projected tax bill by another $2MM+. However, he’ll likely get a non-guaranteed contract, which would give the Rockets the flexibility to avoid his full cap charge if they cut him by January 7.

Rockets Convert Danuel House To Standard Contract

MARCH 13: The Rockets have officially converted House’s two-way deal into a standard NBA contract, the club announced today in a press release. House can now rejoin the club and will be eligible for the postseason.

MARCH 12: The Rockets will fill one of the openings on their 15-man roster by converting Danuel House‘s two-way contract to a standard NBA deal, according to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). The move will ensure Houston gets back up to 14 players, the league-mandated minimum, for the time being.

House, 25, signed a two-way deal with Houston back in December and emerged as a reliable rotation piece for the club, averaging 9.0 PPG and 3.6 RPG on .458/.390/.818 shooting in 25 games (24.8 MPG). But because two-way players can only spend a certain amount of time in the NBA, House hasn’t appeared in a game for the Rockets since January 14, when he reached that limit.

The two sides tried to reach a new contract agreement at that time, with the Rockets reportedly offering House a guaranteed three-year, minimum-salary deal. However, House and his agent Raymond Brothers wanted the club to simply convert the swingman’s two-way contract into a rest-of-season deal, which a team can do unilaterally. That would allow House to reach restricted free agency at season’s end.

[RELATED: Examining stalemate between Rockets, Danuel House]

The Rockets initially resisted, but now that the team is gearing up to go “all-in” for a playoff run, management has prioritized getting House back in the fold rather than worrying about his offseason free agency, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Brothers thanked the Rockets and GM Daryl Morey for discussing a multiyear deal and suggested that he hoped to resume those talks in the summer, per Mark Berman of FOX26 Houston (Twitter link). Assuming Houston issues a qualifying offer to House, the club will have the ability to match an offer sheet up to a certain amount using his Non-Bird rights.

If the Rockets officially convert House’s contract on Wednesday, he’d earn approximately $248K during the season’s final month. As for the team’s roster situation, adding House to the 15-man squad would give Houston 14 players, but Terrence Jones‘ 10-day deal is set to expire later this week. As such, the Rockets would have to eventually re-sign Jones or add a new 14th man to get back up to the minimum.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rockets Waive Zhou Qi

The Rockets have waived Chinese big man Zhou Qi, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Houston selected Zhou with the 43rd overall in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Zhou, 22, has appeared in just one game this season as he’s dealt with knee and ankle injuries. His last G League game with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers came on Nov. 20, when he sprained his left ankle. In seven G-League contests, Zhou averaged 11.9 PPG, 9.4 RPG and 52.9 percent from the field.

The 7’1″ forward/center appeared in 18 games with the Rockets last season, averaging just 1.2 PPG in 6.9 minutes per game.

By waving Zhou, the Rockets reduce their roster total to 14 players, plus a pair on two-way contracts. And because Zhou was on a non-guaranteed contract, he’ll only count for about $506K on Houston’s cap for 2018/19.

Two-Way Success: Danuel House, Rockets Benefiting From New Deal

Danuel House unexpectedly made his way into the Rockets rotation earlier this season before taking a G League hiatus. Now, signed for the rest of the year, House will continue to make an impact for Houston.

“He’s going to be a big benefit, no doubt,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of House before Sunday night’s game (via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle). “He just kind of picked up where he left off. The way he played up here, it wasn’t just one game or one week. It was a couple months he played really well. He’s a big addition for us.”

Two-way players are limited to 45 days of NBA service, or the prorated equivalent. House, who was on that type of deal prior to reworking his contract with the Rockets, hit that mark in mid-January.

Houston then sent him down to the G League and attempted to rework his deal — the organization reportedly wanted to lock him up for three seasons, even offering a fully guaranteed deal to get him to sign. GM Daryl Morey is no stranger to shrewd moves and adding two extra seasons of team control to a player who’s proven he can be a contributor in the rotation is another example of Morey attempting to make the most out of the margins.

House’s reps didn’t have a ton of leverage, though they had to option to wait it out. House would be eligible for restricted free agency at season’s end if the Rockets left his two-way deal alone or converted him to a standard contract. The latter occurred earlier this week, allowing the team to get a talented player back with enough time to get him re-integrated for a playoff run.

“D-House, he brings an athleticism that I don’t think we have. Defensively, offensively, transition, he just understands how we play,” Chris Paul said prior to Sunday night’s tilt with the Wolves. “…He’s a guy that understands the game. He just plays hard and is always in the right spot at the right time.”

Rockets Notes: House, Ariza, LeBron

As the Rockets got off to a rough start, a big issue plaguing the team was a lack of depth, especially on the wing. With Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute departing in the offseason and Carmelo Anthony deemed too much of a negative to be part of the rotation, the Rockets were left with James Ennis and not much else.

That is where the emergence of Danuel House comes into play. As Jonathan Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, House has stepped up in recent games and provided a much-needed lift for the Rockets. House insists he is focused on hitting shots, playing solid defense and providing energy off the bench, especially as Ennis recently went down with an injury and Eric Gordon has been inserted into the starting lineup.

The Rockets have started to turn things around in recent games, with House providing an unexpected jolt off the bench just when the team needed one.

There’s more from the Rockets:

  • The Rockets have surely missed Ariza’s presence and leadership, which Tania Ganguli details for The Los Angeles Times. Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker are quoted on the value that Ariza can bring to a locker room, especially on the Rockets team that had high aspirations last season.
  • A brief but flashy storyline in the offseason was the potential that LeBron James would join his friend Chris Paul and defending MVP James Harden in Houston to form a new super team. Of course, that never happened and Dave McMenamin of ESPN reveals (via Twitter) that James didn’t give much thought to actually joining the Rockets.
  • The Rockets recently emerged as a potential suitor for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the 25-year-old shooting guard from the Lakers. Caldwell-Pope can provide defense and 3-point shooting, which the Rockets could use more of moving forward.

Examining Stalemate Between Rockets, Danuel House

The Rockets made an effort to lock up two-way player Danuel House to a standard NBA contract on Tuesday, but the two sides ultimately couldn’t reach a deal, prompting the team to instead use its open roster spot to sign James Nunnally. Nunnally’s 10-day contract is expected to be finalized later today.

It’s a somewhat surprising outcome. House had been an important part of Houston’s rotation over the last couple months, averaging 9.0 PPG and 3.6 RPG with a .458/.390/.818 shooting line and playing solid defense in 25 games (24.8 MPG). Now, because he has reached the limit for the number of days a two-way player can spend in the NBA, he’ll be relegated to the G League most of the rest of the way, unless he and the Rockets can find common ground on a new deal.

So why exactly wasn’t House promoted to the Rockets’ 15-man roster? Before we can answer that question, it’s worth revisiting the team’s options for the third-year swingman:

  1. Unilaterally convert his two-way contract into a one-year, minimum-salary contract.
  2. Offer him a two-year, minimum-salary contract using the minimum salary exception.
  3. Offer him a three-year contract using some of the taxpayer mid-level exception.
  4. Keep him in the G League, where he’ll be ineligible to appear in NBA games until at least March 24 and won’t be playoff-eligible.

There were initially some conflicting reports on what the Rockets offered House, but agent Raymond Brothers told Tim MacMahon of (Twitter link) that the team’s proposal was a three-year, minimum-salary deal. Houston would have to use part of its mid-level exception to complete the signing, since the minimum salary exception can only be used for one- or two-year contracts. When House and Brothers passed on that offer, the Rockets offered the same three-year, minimum-salary deal, fully guaranteed.

“We rejected both offers and asked the Rockets to convert him for the remainder of the season,” Brothers said. As MacMahon observes, House and Brothers want the opportunity for the 25-year-old to reach restricted free agency this summer, rather than having him play on a minimum-salary contract for multiple years.

The Rockets, meanwhile, don’t want to set a precedent of converting two-way contracts into standard one-year deals for players they spend time developing, MacMahon tweets. Houston would prefer a multiyear commitment from those players, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle confirms, and feel that a guaranteed three-year, $4.16MM offer is fair, since that’s more guaranteed money than most second-round picks – or even late first-rounders – receive.

It’s an interesting standoff. It may look like a poor decision by House to play out the season in the G League, where he’ll continue earning his very modest two-way salary rather than an NBA salary. He’s passing on more guaranteed money than he has earned so far in his NBA career, and will spend at least the next couple months playing for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers rather than a potential Finals contender.

Still, as cap expert Albert Namhad tweets, accepting Houston’s offer would also mean House takes the minimum salary through his age-27 season. If he believes he can get a better offer in the offseason, it may be worth it to wait. Remaining on his two-way contract will put him in line for restricted free agency in July.

As for the Rockets, they could end the stalemate at any time by unilaterally converting House’s two-way contract into a standard minimum-salary deal, which is the option House and Brothers prefer. Perhaps it would set an unfavorable precedent in Houston going forward, but every case is different and few two-way players are likely to have the same sort of impact in the future that House has had this season. If the Rockets want to maximize their playoff chances and they don’t find a wing capable of matching House’s impact, they may have to bite the bullet and convert his contract at some point.

January 15 was the deadline to sign players to two-way contracts, but House and the Rockets will have until April 10, the final day of the regular season, to work out a deal. Houston simply won’t be able to sign a new two-way player if House is promoted to the 15-man roster.

If House and Brothers don’t relent and accept a multiyear contract, the most likely path may be one suggested by Nahmad (via Twitter). As he points out, the Rockets could recall House from the G League after the Vipers’ season ends (March 24 at the earliest), and then could convert his two-way deal into a standard contract at the very end of the season (April 10).

That would significantly limit the money Houston would owe House this season, it would allow him to play in the postseason, and it would put him on track for restricted free agency this summer. It may not be a perfect outcome, but it’d be a reasonable compromise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Iko’s Latest: Rockets, Carmelo, House, Ellington

With Kenneth Faried poised to join the Rockets once he clears waivers, Houston may finally get the type of backup big man it has long been seeking. As Kelly Iko of The Athletic explains, the Rockets hoped that Brandan Wright – and then Marquese Chriss – would be the sort of athletic big who could roll to the rim, catch lobs, and rebound for the second unit. Health issues sidelined Wright, and Chriss hasn’t been a great fit, so the Rockets will try their luck with Faried.

Adding Faried will also address Houston’s frontcourt depth for the time being, meaning the team can shift its focus back to the wing as the trade deadline approaches. Iko identifies a number of potential trade targets for the Rockets, so his article is worth checking out in full for those suggestions.

Iko also drops a few interesting tidbits along the way, which we’ll round up right here:

  • While a trade remains the preferred outcome for both the Rockets and Carmelo Anthony, a buyout “isn’t off the table,” league sources tell Iko. Iko names the Lakers, Heat, and Pistons as teams that could be willing to take a chance on Anthony.
  • According to Iko, Danuel House‘s representatives were interested in a deal that would have paid House a “significant chunk” of the Rockets‘ mid-level exception. “He essentially wants to get paid like a top-seven pick,” one source said of House. As of today, Houston should have about $3.64MM of its MLE left, though that number declines a little every day. Iko notes that GM Daryl Morey wants to hang onto that exception for flexibility. I explored House’s stalemate with the Rockets right here.
  • Sources tell Iko that the Heat don’t really want to take back any salary if they move Wayne Ellington. It’s not clear if that’s a reference to multiyear salary or if Miami doesn’t want to take back any money at all in a potential Ellington deal. The latter would be trickier – a trade partner would need cap room or a traded player exception to accommodate the sharpshooter’s $6.27MM salary – but would be financially advantageous for the Heat. It appears they could dip ever so slightly below the tax line by getting off Ellington’s contract.

Rockets Waive Rob Gray

The Rockets have waived training camp invitee Rob Gray, the team announced today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). The move reduces the club’s roster count to just 17 players.

Gray, a 6’1″ guard, played his college ball at the University of Houston, averaging 19.3 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.7 RPG with a .447/.359/.802 shooting line in 2017/18. He was especially impressive during the NCAA Tournament in the spring, pouring in 39 points in a first-round win over San Diego State, then recording a double-double (23 points, 10 rebounds) in a one-point loss to Michigan.

Despite receiving a camp invite from the Rockets, Gray was always a long shot to earn a regular season roster spot in Houston. However, he could end up on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the club’s G League affiliate.

The Rockets currently have 12 fully guaranteed contracts on its books, with Michael Carter-Williams and his partial guarantee penciled in for the 13th spot. Zhou Qi, Bruno Caboclo, Gary Clark, and Vince Edwards have non-guaranteed deals.

Rockets Sign Danuel House

The Rockets have signed 24-year-old guard Danuel House, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. House played one single minute in one single game for the Wizards last season after going undrafted in 2016.

Considering that Houston already waived four players to knock their roster down to 15 players earlier today, it’s likely that they release House too, with the idea of bringing him aboard their G League team.

Rockets Notes: House, Paul, J.R. Smith, Anthony

The Rockets have opened talks on a standard contract for Danuel House, who will soon run out of NBA days on his two-way deal, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. House sat out Thursday’s practice to keep from using up another day, but will reach his limit if he plays in the team’s next three games.

House came to Houston in late November when the team was low on players because of injuries. He was waived December 4 to open a roster spot so the Rockets could sign two-way player Gary Clark to a standard contract. House re-signed on his current two-way deal after clearing waivers two days later.

He has since earned a spot in the starting lineup and is averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting .367 from 3-point range. Feigen notes that the urgency to get a deal done with House might be lessened by James Ennis‘ recent return from a hamstring injury and Eric Gordon‘s expected return next week. If House doesn’t agree to a new contract and the Rockets don’t decide to convert his current deal, he will have to remain with the team’s affiliate in Rio Grande until the G League season is over.

There’s more today from Houston:

  • House’s ability to learn quickly has helped the Rockets turn around their season, Feigen writes in a separate story. He had played in just 24 NBA games prior to this year, but coach Mike D’Antoni has been impressed with House’s ability to adjust his game on the fly. “The coaching staff tells him something and he puts it into his game,” D’Antoni said. “That’s unique. It’s not easy to be able to do that and just put it in your game and not think about it, because if you think and play at the same time, it’s hard. It has to become natural and he does that.”
  • Chris Paul has intensified his workouts, but the estimate of a late January return from a strained hamstring hasn’t changed, Feigen reports in another piece. “We’re going to be careful with him,” D’Antoni said. “… Obviously, we’re a lot closer to the end than the beginning. We’ll bring him back at an opportune time.”
  • The Rockets are the only team to express any interest in trading for Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops, who says they would insist that Cleveland take Carmelo Anthony as part of any deal.

Wizards To Waive Danuel House

Rookie shooting guard Danuel House will be in the odd man out in D.C. with Brandon Jennings close to finalizing a deal with the Wizards, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that the club will waive House to open up a spot on the roster for Jennings.

Earlier today, word broke that Trey Burke didn’t made the trip to Toronto with the rest of the Wizards due to a personal matter, creating speculation about whether Burke would be the roster casualty. As I noted at the time, the former lottery pick has averaged a career-low 12.4 minutes per contest and was reportedly being shopped prior to the deadline. However, the Wizards will hang onto Burke, opting to part ways with House instead.

An undrafted rookie out of Texas A&M, House received a partial guarantee from the Wizards last summer and earned a spot on the club’s regular-season roster. However, after appearing in just one NBA game, House suffered a fractured wrist, which has essentially wiped out his rookie year. In addition to the very brief action he saw with the Wizards, House has also played in seven D-League games for the Delaware 87ers, averaging 13.3 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

House’s contract with the Wizards ran through the 2017/18 season, but next year’s salary was fully non-guaranteed, so the team won’t be on the hook for any money beyond this season after waiving him.

Western Notes: Rockets, No. 4, Davis, Holiday

Houston intends to aggressively pursue Jimmy Butler in free agency and Kelly Iko of The Athletic hears that the Rockets will be just as determined to land Butler now as they were in prior to Minnesota dealing him to the Sixers. GM Daryl Morey reportedly offered four first-round picks in exchange for Butler during the season.

It’s no secret that the Rockets are looking to shake up their roster this offseason. They continue to discuss trades involving Clint Capela, and Iko hears that they’ve discussed sending him to the Pelicans for the No. 4 overall pick. In that scenario, Houston would look to insert that pick into a package in order to land another player.

Here’s more from Houston and rest of the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets had interested in trading for Anthony Davis and reached out to the Pelicans prior to New Orleans making the deal with the Lakers. Houston was aware that it wasn’t high on Davis’ preferences and that a trade was not likely to happen.
  • The Lakers could have asked Davis if he’d waive his trade bonus of roughly $4.1MM in order to make salary-matching easier, but they never broached it during negotiations, league sources tell Bleacher Report’s Howard Beck. Los Angeles is still attempting to maximize its cap room for an additional star after agreeing to the Davis deal.
  • Several NBA executives are skeptical that the Lakers can build a title-winning team around Davis and LeBron James after the haul they just gave up, Beck relays in the same piece. “[The] Lakers overpaid by a significant margin, given the conditions,” one executive said, adding, “Never let your GM be in a spot where he needs to make a trade to save his job.” 
  • The Suns are not interested in Aaron Holiday, Phoenix-based radio host John Gambadoro tweets. J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star identified the Suns as one of a handful of teams that has interest in acquiring the Pacers point guard, mentioning the Timberwolves, Bulls, and Hawks as well.

Rockets Waive Troy Williams

4:03pm: The Rockets have officially placed Williams on waivers, Charania confirms (via Twitter).

3:34pm: With Joe Johnson‘s signing imminent, the Rockets need to waive a player to open up a roster spot. According to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, that means the club’s on-again, off-again plans to release Troy Williams are once again back on.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday morning that the Rockets intended to waive Williams to create the roster spot necessary to sign Johnson. Several hours later, however, Charania indicated that Houston’s plans had changed, and the team was keeping Williams as it continued to work through that roster decision.

Having debated that decision, the Rockets have now apparently returned to their original conclusion. Feigen reports that the team will finalize Johnson’s signing today, making him available for tonight’s game against the Kings. That means that Williams will have to be cut today as well, so his apparent second life in Houston lasted just 24 hours.

Williams, 23, began his NBA career with the Grizzlies last season before being waived a little over a year ago. The former Hoosier finished the 2016/17 campaign with the Rockets, then signed a new three-year contract with Houston during the offseason. However, only the first year of that deal was fully guaranteed, which made him a candidate to be cut this week when the team needed to open up a spot on its roster.

In 34 total NBA games, Williams has averaged 5.6 PPG and 2.1 RPG. He’s expected to receive interest as a free agent, according to Charania. If Williams goes unclaimed on waivers, Houston would still owe him the rest of his minimum salary for this season, along with about $614K in guaranteed money for 2018/19, according to Basketball Insiders’ data. The Rockets would have the option of spreading that ’18/19 cap charge across three seasons.

Assuming the Rockets finalize Williams’ release, it should mean that the roster spots for players like Chinanu Onuaku, Gerald Green, and Tarik Black are safe.

Rockets Expected To Pursue Jimmy Butler

The Rockets came up short in their pursuit of Jimmy Butler during the 2018/19 season when the standout forward was on the trade block, despite reportedly offering a package that featured four first-round picks. With Butler on track to reach free agency this summer, the Rockets are expected to once again aggressively go after the 29-year-old, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter links), who reports that Butler’s name will be atop Houston’s offseason wish list.

As Smith explains, the Rockets consider Butler an ideal fit on both ends of the court, viewing him as a piece that could push the team over the hump in the Western Conference. Per Smith, Houston’s ideal scenario would be to add Butler to its James Harden/Chris Paul pairing, despite rumors of significant discord between the two guards.

Smith’s report lines up with recent comments made by general manager Daryl Morey, who talked about the possibility of adding a third star to the Rockets’ roster this offseason.

Although the Rockets would love to add Butler and the Houston native may have interest in joining his hometown team, the club’s salary cap situation will make it difficult — especially since Butler has talked about expecting to sign a maximum-salary contract, which would start at about $32.7MM.

There’s no realistic way for the Rockets to create the cap room necessary to sign Butler to anything close to the max, so that’s likely not an option. That leaves two other potential pathways — a sign-and-trade or an opt-in-and-trade.

A sign-and-trade would require the Sixers to be on board, which means the Rockets would have to send some appealing assets Philadelphia’s way, including perhaps shooting guard Eric Gordon. Even then, salary-matching would be difficult and might require a third team. Houston would also be hard-capped in that scenario, significantly limiting the club’s flexibility.

[RELATED: Why NBA Sign-And-Trades Are Rare]

If Butler were to exercise his $19.84MM player option for 2019/20 instead of opting out as planned, it’d create a much cleaner path to a deal. The two teams could then negotiate a straight trade, like the Rockets and Clippers did two years ago when Paul wanted to play in Houston, though as with a sign-and-trade, the Sixers would have to sign off.

Additionally, Butler would presumably be reluctant to give up a longer-term, maximum-salary deal this summer unless he has assurances that such a deal would be waiting for him from the Rockets in 2020. That’s essentially what happened with Paul in 2017 — his payday was delayed until 2018, but there was never any doubt Houston would give it to him.

Of course, owner Tilman Fertitta has reportedly complained since day one about the team’s long-term investment in CP3, so it’s not clear if the club would be willing to make a similar wink-and-nod commitment to Butler.

The idea of the Rockets acquiring Butler still looks like a long shot at this point, but Morey has creatively completed deals in the past, and will certainly explore every avenue he can to do so again this time around.

Rockets Waive Guard R.J. Hunter

AUG. 18: The Rockets officially announced that Hunter has been waived.

AUG. 17: The Rockets have waived guard R.J. Hunter, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets.

That opens up a two-way contract slot for Houston, since Hunter was signed in January under one of those agreements. The 6’5” Hunter appeared in five games with the Rockets, including a start, averaging 3.8 PPG in 9.0 MPG.

Hunter played for Houston’s summer league team in July, the fourth consecutive offseason that he appeared in summer league games. He averaged 11.2 PPG in five Las Vegas appearances.

Hunter was chosen 28th overall by the Celtics in the 2015 draft. He played 36 games during his rookie season for Boston, then was waived during training camp the following season. He was claimed by the Bulls and saw action in three games before they waived him in December 2016.

Rockets Waive Isaiah Canaan

The Rockets have waived Isaiah Canaan just four days after he signed with the team, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The 26-year-old guard got into just one game and saw four minutes of action before being let go. Although the Rockets are short-handed because of injuries, Canaan didn’t play in Friday’s game at Charlotte, Feigen notes, with Bobby Brown being used as the backup point guard.

Houston will incur a $53K cap hit for Canaan, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). The move brings the Rockets’ roster back down to 14 players.

This is the second time Canaan has been waived in the past two weeks. He spent the preseason with the Thunder, but didn’t survive the final roster cut.

Rockets Waive Shawn Long

The Rockets have formally waived big man Shawn Long, the team announced today (via Twitter). Long will clear waivers and become an unrestricted free agent on Thursday, assuming no other NBA team places a claim on him.

An undrafted free agent out of Louisiana-Lafayette, Long appeared in 18 games for the Sixers in his rookie season, and was productive in limited minutes. The 6’9″ center averaged 8.2 PPG and 4.7 RPG in just 13.0 minutes per contest. He was even better in the G League, averaging a double-double (20.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG) in 39 games for the Delaware 87ers.

Despite his solid rookie year, Long wasn’t viewed as part of Philadelphia’s long-term plans, and was sent to Houston in a June trade when the Rockets were collecting non-guaranteed salaries with an eye toward including them in a bigger deal.

Ultimately, the Rockets never found a use for Long in a trade, and are now waiving him before they’re committed to paying any of his 2017/18 salary — the 24-year-old would have seen his non-guaranteed contract become partially guaranteed for $50K if he had remained under contract beyond today.

Houston now has 19 players on its training camp roster.

Rockets Waive Jarrod Uthoff

The Rockets have waived forward Jarrod Uthoff, Ben DuBose of Locked On Rockets tweets. The club had previously acquired Uthoff from the Mavs amid a flurry of deals on June 29 prior to trading for Chris Paul.

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders has since corroborated the report.

Uthoff saw action in just nine games for the Mavs last season, averaging 4.4 points per game in just 12.8 minutes. A $200K portion of the undrafted big man’s would-be $1.3MM deal was scheduled to become guaranteed had he remained on the roster through today.

[RELATED: View our Salary Guarantee List for the Summer of 2017]

After making his NBA debut with the Mavs on a 10-day deal in March, Uthoff signed a second 10-day pact and eventually a multi-year deal with the squad. The big man, however, spent considerable time in the G League with both Dallas’ Texas Legends affiliate and other clubs.

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