David Nwaba

David Nwaba Opts For Surgery On Wrist

Rockets swingman David Nwaba has decided to undergo right wrist surgery, according to coach Stephen Silas, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

The surgical procedure would likely sideline Nwaba for approximately six weeks. Nwaba originally sprained his wrist in a February 28 game, but he tried to tough it out with so many of his teammates unavailable due to injuries.

Nwaba re-aggravated the wrist injury on Sunday against Boston, which put surgery back on the table. Nwaba has appeared in 30 games this season, averaging 9.2 PPG and 3.9 RPG. He’s playing for his fifth team in as many seasons.

Houston picked up its $1.824MM option on Nwaba in November. He was signed to a two-year deal prior to the restart. He began last season with the Nets but suffered a torn Achilles tendon in December and was waived shortly thereafter.

Southwest Notes: J. Johnson, Rockets, Nwaba, DeRozan

Mavericks forward James Johnson, who left the team over the weekend to attend a personal matter in Wyoming, missed a mandatory COVID-19 test and will be sidelined due to the health and safety protocols until he registers a certain number of negative tests, head coach Rick Carlisle said on Tuesday, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.

Johnson is now back in Dallas, but he won’t be active for any of the Mavericks’ three remaining games this week, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, who tweets that the earliest the veteran forward could be cleared is for the March 24 contest against Minnesota.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In the latest episode of The HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype and Kelly Iko of The Athletic previewed the Rockets‘ trade deadline, discussing possible suitors for Victor Oladipo and P.J. Tucker, as well as other players who could be available. Iko believes Ben McLemore could be had for a second-round pick and suggests that Christian Wood is the closest thing to an untouchable player on the roster.
  • David Nwaba decided to forgo wrist surgery and play through the injury for the shorthanded Rockets, but he reaggravated the issue a couple games ago, putting surgery back on the table, according to head coach Stephen Silas, who said Nwaba is “probably going to be out for quite a bit” (video link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).
  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan will miss a fourth consecutive game on Wednesday for personal reasons, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).
  • Although the Pelicans suffered a brutal loss in Portland on Tuesday night, the decision to expand the rotation has served the team well, giving New Orleans’ young players a chance to see more minutes, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com.

Rockets Notes: Porter, Nwaba, Tucker, Silas

Kevin Porter Jr. has been one of the few bright spots in a miserable season for the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Porter has been spectacular in his first two games since being recalled from the G League, averaging 20.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 9.0 assists.

Houston acquired Porter for a conditional second-round pick in January after he wore out his welcome in Cleveland due to off-court issues. He was a small forward with the Cavaliers, but the Rockets have shifted him to point guard after having him experiment with the position with Rio Grande Valley.

“He does have like a sereneness to him,” said coach Stephen Silas. “He is just composed for a young kid, doesn’t get too high, too low, That’s a steadying influence on the rest of the group, When you have the guy who has the ball in his hands most of the time, which it was (Friday) for him, to kind of play in that manner and not get rattled by a run by the opposing team or a turnover or a bad play, just kind of have the next play mentality, it’s pretty cool for a young guy to be that way. He’s played two games for us. We’re not going to overstate anything. But we think we got something there.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • David Nwaba was projected to have an extended recovery time after straining his wrist in a February 28 game, but he asked to play Friday because so many of his teammates are unavailable, Feigen states in a separate story. Surgery has been recommended, which would sideline Nwaba for six weeks. “Dave came up to me and was like, ‘I’m injured, but it’s hard for me to sit over there and watch when we’re so low on bodies and we’re so decimated and we’re in foul trouble. And even though I’m not 100 percent, maybe I can give a little bit,’” Silas said. “To hear that was definitely gratifying. That tells you a lot about him as a competitor and him as a person and him as someone you want in your group.”
  • The absence of P.J. Tucker, who isn’t playing while the Rockets try to work out a trade, has put more strain on a team already dealing with numerous injuries, Feigen notes in another piece. Houston signed guard Mason Jones to a 10-day contract so it would have enough active players for Friday’s game.
  • The Rockets will use their 24th starting lineup in 37 games Sunday, Feigen adds. The injuries and lack of continuity have played a large role in the team’s 15-game losing streak. “The sooner we can get to the point we know what our starting lineup is going to be, what our rotation is going to be off the bench, the better it will be for the group,” Silas said. “Obviously, it hasn’t been like that all season.”

Eric Gordon Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks With Groin Strain

The Rockets continue to be hit hard by the injury bug, with shooting guard Eric Gordon the latest player to be ruled out. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Gordon is expected to miss approximately the next four-to-six weeks due to a moderate right groin strain.

Gordon strained his groin during the Rockets’ loss to Sacramento on Thursday night. He was listed as out for Friday’s game vs. Utah and had been scheduled to undergo an MRI today to assess the severity of the injury.

Gordon, 32, has had a fairly solid season for the Rockets, despite all the obstacles the team has faced so far in 2020/21. He’s averaging 17.8 points per game on .433/.329/.825 shooting in 27 games (29.2 MPG).

As Wojnarowski points out (via Twitter), Gordon would have been a trade candidate at this month’s deadline. Given his injury, he now looks like a safe bet to finish the season in Houston. The veteran guard remains under contract for three more seasons after this one, though his salary in that third year is non-guaranteed.

The Rockets signed Mason Jones to a 10-day contract earlier today to help fill the gap at shooting guard created by Gordon’s injury.

In addition to Gordon and P.J. Tucker, who is expected to be traded, Houston is missing Christian Wood (ankle), John Wall (knee), David Nwaba (wrist), Danuel House (knee), Dante Exum (calf), and Rodions Kurucs (oblique). The hope is that some of those players will be able to return soon.

David Nwaba To Undergo Wrist Surgery, Out 6 Weeks

Rockets wing David Nwaba is set to undergo wrist surgery and will miss a minimum of six weeks of game action, head coach Stephen Silas announced today (link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).

Nwaba strained his wrist while dunking in a lopsided 133-84 loss to the Grizzlies this past Sunday.

The absence of Nwaba is yet another blow to the reeling Rockets, losers of a league-worst 12 games in a row. Nwaba will join starting center Christian Wood and reserve guard Dante Exum as the third Rockets player to be currently sidelined with a long-term injury.

In 28 games for the Rockets, Nwaba has proved a valuable role-playing contributor. The 28-year-old swingman, an athletic defender out of California Polytechnic State University, is averaging 9.4 PPG (a career high) and 3.7 RPG.

Rockets Notes: Cousins, Wood, Wall, Nwaba

DeMarcus Cousins showed flashes of his All-Star days when Christian Wood missed three games with a sprained right ankle in January. He’ll get a much longer chance to prove he can still be effective as a starter now that Wood is sidelined with a more severe injury, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Wood has been listed as week to week after spraining the ankle again Thursday in Memphis. Until he returns, the under-sized Rockets will rely heavily on Cousins, who is the only other true center on the roster. Pressed into starting duty last month, the four-time All-Star averaged 17.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game.

“Obviously, that helped me with my confidence going through this season,” he said. “I mean, it’s unfortunate what happened to C-Wood. I’m going to come in and do my job. That’s really all I can do, play my part and help us get another W in the win column.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • The Rockets aren’t offering a firm estimate of how much time Wood might miss, so Kelly Iko of The Athletic talked to Dr. Rajpal Brar, a physical therapist and sports scientist at 3cB Performance. “Really hard to tell severity just based on video,” Brar said. “However, if the Rockets are saying it’s a weekly eval, it’s my inclination that it’s a Grade 2 tear without any fracture (the fact he walked off was a very good indicator of the latter). Grade 2 is typically 2-3 weeks. Grade 3 is 4-6.” 
  • John Wall has claimed leadership of the Rockets since James Harden was traded to Brooklyn last month, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “I feel like I’m the franchise guy now that James has left,” Wall said. “You very rarely get the opportunity to be a franchise (guy) in two different cities and two different teams. … I feel like that’s my job, to be the leader of this team.”
  • David Nwaba is listed as questionable for tonight against the Spurs, and the Rockets are optimistic that he’s close to returning after missing the past three games with a sprained left ankle, Feigen adds in a separate story. “He has been doing his treatment, has been working on it,” coach Stephen Silas said. “… He’s definitely moving in the right direction.”

Rockets To Pick Up Option on David Nwaba

The Rockets will exercise their $1.824MM option on reserve guard David Nwaba, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Nwaba was signed to a two-year deal prior to the restart but it’s uncertain whether he’ll be playing healthy enough to play at the start of next season. He began last season with the Nets but suffered a torn Achilles tendon in December and was waived shortly thereafter.

The Rockets gave Nwaba $900K, much greater than a minimum salary at the time, as he continued his rehab last season and attached the team option. However, it’s uncertain whether the new front office regime views him as a rotation piece and wants to have his salary handy to facilitate a trade.

Nwaba is consider a strong perimeter defender. He averaging 5.2 PPG on .521/.429/.667 shooting in 13.4 minutes per contest in his 20-game stint with Brooklyn. He previously appeared in 141 total games for the Lakers, Bulls, and Cavaliers, dating back to 2017.

Rockets Notes: Next Steps, Westbrook, Green, Nwaba

It has been an eventful day in Houston, as word broke this morning that one of the NBA’s longest-tenured general managers, Daryl Morey, has decided to step down from his position in the Rockets‘ front office.

Few – if any – lead executives were more closely associated with a team’s identity and philosophy than Morey was, according to Kevin Pelton of ESPN, who notes that Morey’s analytical approach to the game resulted in the Rockets pushing the limits on pace and three-point attempts. We don’t have a clear sense yet of what sort of influence GM Rafael Stone will have on Houston’s playing style, so the team’s new head coach may determine its direction in the short term, writes Pelton.

According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Stone is a believer in small-ball, but it’s not clear if he’s as enthusiastic about playing a full 82-game season without any traditional centers. As such, it will be interesting to see how aggressively the Rockets attempt to fortify their frontcourt this offseason.

Of course, bigger roster decisions will be on the horizon for Stone and the Rockets, especially if the team fails to make a deep playoff run again in 2021. I’d be surprised if Stone does anything drastic right away, but sources who have spoken to Marc Berman of The New York Post believe the Rockets are likelier to consider the possibility of a Russell Westbrook trade following Morey’s departure.

“I can’t imagine they are keeping (James) Harden and Russ together,” one NBA executive told Berman. “Russ excels best as the best player on a team and Harden needs outside shooters around him – not a ball-dominant guard. I think Russ will be the one traded.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • After thriving in Houston down the stretch and during the postseason, Rockets forward Jeff Green is expected to receive interest from “a slew of contending teams” this offseason, writes Shams Charania of The Athletic. As I noted last week, Houston only holds Green’s Non-Bird rights, so it may be tricky to re-sign him without using the mid-level or bi-annual exception.
  • Following Doc Rivers‘ exit from Los Angeles, the Rockets initially wanted to hire him to fill their head coaching vacancy, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN. However, Rivers quickly reached an agreement with Philadelphia, taking him off the board for Houston. With Rivers and Tyronn Lue unavailable, the franchise is reportedly focusing on three potential finalists.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic conducted an extensive Q&A with Rockets wing David Nwaba, who spoke about his Achilles recovery, his fit in Houston, and more. Nwaba said he anticipates being good to go for the start of the 2020/21 season. “I’m working on getting in shape. It’s taken longer than what I thought to get back into shape, but that’s going to happen through time,” he said. “… The season’s probably going to start in two, three months — I should be more than ready.”
  • In another piece for The Athletic, Iko and Danny Leroux took an in-depth look at the Rockets’ short- and long-term salary cap situation.
  • If Morey seeks another NBA job, there will be no shortage of opportunities for him, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com.

Rockets Rumors: Green, Tucker, Nwaba, Coaching Search

Former Rockets swingman Gerald Green, who missed the entire 2019/20 season due to a broken foot, is training privately in Houston and is hoping to eventually reunite with the Rockets, league sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Green, 34, began the ’19/20 campaign with the Rockets, but didn’t suit up for any games, having undergone foot surgery on October before he was eventually traded and waived in February. A July report indicated that Green has since recovered from that procedure and received medical clearance, but decided not to seek a new deal until the fall for family reasons, including the expected birth of his child in August.

Green has signed three consecutive minimum-salary contracts with Houston since 2017, so it seems safe to assume that the team would remain interested in bringing him back at that price as long as he’s fully healthy and there’s a roster spot available.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • P.J. Tucker is still hoping to reach an agreement with the Rockets on a new contract that would extend his current deal beyond 2020/21, according to Iko. Both sides are believed to be “on the same page” when it comes to wanting Tucker in Houston beyond next season, says Iko. Because Tucker is earning below the NBA’s estimated average salary in ’20/21, his starting salary on an extension wouldn’t be able to exceed about $11.5MM for ’21/22.
  • Within his same story for The Athletic, Iko cites a source who says David Nwaba “looks good” as he continues to rehab his Achilles injury in the hopes of getting healthy for the start of the 2020/21 season. Nwaba is being viewed internally as a “key rotational piece” for next season, Iko adds.
  • Following up on a Wednesday report, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle says that David Vanterpool‘s interview for the Rockets’ head coaching job will actually take place on Friday.
  • Feigen confirms that Kenny Atkinson, Wes Unseld Jr., and Stephen Silas have interviewed for the position so far, with meetings still to come for Vanterpool, Tyronn Lue, and John Lucas. The early interviewees have been “impressive” but there’s no clear frontrunner yet, according to Feigen, who adds that Jeff Van Gundy and other potential candidates could still end up meeting with Houston about the job.

Rockets Sign David Nwaba To Two-Year Deal

10:28pm: The Rockets have officially signed Nwaba, waiving Hartenstein to create the necessary roster spot, the club confirmed in a press release.

5:54pm: The Rockets have reached an agreement with free agent swingman David Nwaba, who will sign a two-year deal with the club, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Nwaba started the 2019/20 season with the Nets, but suffered a torn Achilles tendon in December and was waived shortly thereafter. The 27-year-old is still recovering from that Achilles injury, so he won’t actually play for Houston during the resumed season in Orlando, per Charania.

In other words, the Rockets are signing Nwaba for his potential 2020/21 value, and they’re reportedly paying well above the minimum to secure his rights — Charania suggests (via Twitter) that the two-year agreement will pay Nwaba $900K this season, with a team option for ’20/21. A minimum salary for the rest of the season would pay Nwaba less than $200K, so Houston will have to use the remaining portion of its taxpayer mid-level exception to complete the signing.

Nwaba, a strong perimeter defender, also held his own on the offensive end for Brooklyn in 20 games this season, averaging 5.2 PPG on .521/.429/.667 shooting in 13.4 minutes per contest. He previously appeared in 141 total games for the Lakers, Bulls, and Cavaliers, dating back to 2017.

In order to officially complete their deal with Nwaba, the Rockets will need to waive a player on their 15-man roster to create an opening. There’s no word yet on who will be the odd man out, but Houston has a handful of players on the roster who have limited roles and aren’t owed guaranteed money beyond this season, including Tyson Chandler, Bruno Caboclo, Isaiah Hartenstein, Thabo Sefolosha, and Chris Clemons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.