Danuel House

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.

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 ESPN.com (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.

Rockets Expected To Sign Wing Via 10-Day Deal

8:46pm: House’s agent, Raymond Brothers, claims the Rockets initially offered a non-guaranteed, three-year deal before offering him a guaranteed one, MacMahon tweets. “We rejected both offers and asked the Rockets to convert him for the remainder of the season,” Brothers said.

House’s representatives want him to be a restricted free agent at the end of the year.

7:51pm: The Rockets are expected to sign a wing to a 10-day deal on Wednesday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter links).

It appears unlikely that the team reaches an agreement with Danuel House on a standard NBA contract today, meaning the team has a need for another perimeter player. House remains on a two-way deal with the organization, though has already spent 45 days (the maximum allowed) with the NBA club.

House has been offered a deal by the Rockets but has declined it. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets that 25-year-old was offered his choice of the rest of the season on a minimum-salary deal or a two-year deal at the minimum. The Rockets were unwilling to go further given their luxury tax issues. Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com confirms (Twitter link) that House, who has been starting for Houston, has been offered a deal.

Feigen notes that the Rockets and House still could come to an agreement but it’s not an expected outcome. He’ll be in the G League when the Vipers, Houston’s affiliate, plays on Wednesday.

James Nunnally may be a potential fit for the Rockets, Feigen tweets, adding that the team has contacted Nunnally but no offer has been made at this time. Jodie Meeks and Brandon Rush are among the veteran wing options available on the free agent market.

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.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Knight, House, Doncic

Despite all of the attention on Anthony Davis and the speculation about his long-term future, Scott Kushner writes for The Journal Times that the Pelicans have more pressing issues to solve, most notably their inability to close out games.

As Kushner points out, the Pelicans are the worst clutch team in the NBA, as they are 5-11 in games that are within five points in the final five minutes. In fact, during those situations the Pelicans are outscored by 28.6 points per 100 possessions, the worst net rating.

This is a stark contrast to last season, when the Pelicans led the league in clutch wins with 30. Before they have to deal with Davis’ future, the Pelicans have to figure out how to win this season, which will often come down to their ability to close out games in crunch time.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • With Chris Paul out for the next couple of weeks, Brandon Knight is ready to step up and contribute if given the playing time. As Jonathan Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, Knight has struggled to find his shot since returning from injury, and with the Rockets adding Austin Rivers earlier today, Knight may find himself short on minutes in the rotation.
  • Danuel House has provided an unexpected lift for the Rockets off the bench in recent weeks, and he even started against the Spurs this weekend due to Paul’s injury. As Feigen reveals for The Houston Chronicle, starting in his hometown was a meaningful experience for House.
  • When asked about his comments regarding his desire to play with Anthony Davis, LeBron James mentioned several other great players in the league that he would love to play alongside. As SportsDay Dallas points out, James included Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic in that list, highlighting his respect for the rookie’s strong start to the season.

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.

Rockets Reach Three-Year Deal With Clark, Re-Sign House

The Rockets have reached a new deal with forward Gary Clark, converting his two-way contract into a three-year, $3.7MM deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team confirmed the move in a press release.

Clark’s deal is fully guaranteed this season and half guaranteed during the 2019/20 season with incentives to make it fully guaranteed, Charania reports. The 2020/21 salary would become guaranteed on August 1, 2020, provided Clark is still on the roster.

Houston used part of its mid-level exception in the agreement with Clark, who has emerged as a solid two-way player in 21 games this season.

“It felt kind of unreal, all I’ve been through to get to this point,” Clark said about signing his contract, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26. “From injuries to everyone on the outside not believing in me. Nothing is secure in this business. You have to perform every day.”

The team is also bringing back swingman Danuel House on a two-way contract, according to Charania. House was waived Tuesday after playing just five games, and signed his new contract with the team in time to play against the Jazz on Thursday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

Clark has averaged 3.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per contest, guarding multiple positions when called upon and playing inspired basketball in his first NBA season. He’s struggled shooting the ball (30% from the floor and 27% from deep), but has impressed teammates and coaches alike with his aggressive mentality and positive attitude.

The Rockets have dealt with several key injuries and have a 11-12 record this season, which includes losing five of 10 games at home. After playing Utah on Thursday, the team has contests against the Mavericks, Blazers and Lakers.

The Rockets have 15 roster spots and both two-way contract slots filled, but could open another roster spot once they move on from Carmelo Anthony.

Rockets Would Like To Make Trade This Week

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.

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.

Texas Notes: House, Knight, Spurs, Jordan

The Rockets like what they have seen from Danuel House since signing him out of the G League on Monday, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Short on players because of injuries, Houston turned to House and gave him crunch-time minutes in his first game. He is averaging 25.3 minutes in three games and has responded with 10.0 points per night.

“I like Danuel a lot,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s very athletic. He’s a bigger three/four that we can use. He runs the floor, not afraid of the moment. He belongs in the NBA.”

House has previous NBA experience, getting into 23 games with Phoenix last season and one with Washington as a rookie in 2016/17. He played with the Rockets’ summer league team this year, but joined the Warriors for training camp. He returned to Houston’s G League affiliate after being waived.

D’Antoni didn’t commit to keeping House in the rotation, but said, “We’ll see how the roster shakes out down the road. For right now, we’ll try to use him.”

There’s more NBA news out of Texas:

  • Rockets guard Brandon Knight showed signs of progress in scoring 16 points and handing out five assists Friday while making his season debut in the G League, Feigen relays in a separate story. Knight, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Suns, is still rehabbing from an ACL tear in his left knee and hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2016/17 season. “He’s just trying to work his way back,” D’Antoni said. “He’s a ways off. That was a good first step obviously. He got on the court. Our trainers were happy with the way he looked and the way he feels. But to get what we need, it’s still a ways.”
  • The Spurs are emphasizing team unity after suffering a pair of embarrassing losses this week, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. After an offseason that featured the loss of longtime team leaders Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the players are concerned about upholding the traditions in San Antonio. “It’s the big picture,” said Patty Mills, who is now the longest-tenured Spur on the roster. “It’s who we represent when we put these jerseys on.”
  • The Mavericks went on a hot streak after concerns about DeAndre Jordan being “selfish” came to light, and Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence. He suggests the team benefited from the public scrutiny of Jordan, which helped to resolve the situation.