Houston Rockets

Jameer Nelson Clears Waivers, Drawing Interest

Veteran point guard Jameer Nelson has cleared waivers after being released by the Nuggets and the 35-year-old has already been contacted by a number of NBA teams, Chris Haynes of ESPN tweets.

One possible landing spot for the 13-year vet is Houston. Given that the Rockets may be particularly cautious with Chris Paul‘s knee injury and potentially seek a temporary replacement, Nelson could possibly slot in until Paul fully recovers.

Haynes mentioned Houston specifically as one of the teams with whom Nelson’s representation has been in touch. The Rockets currently roster just 14 players, so they’d be able to add Nelson without any other moves.

What’s more, as Bobby Marks of ESPN writes, Houston is $2.8MM below the luxury tax, giving them just enough space to sign Nelson to a $2.3MM veteran’s minimum deal without consequence. That sort of deal would only count for a prorated portion of $1.471MM against the Rockets’ cap.

Latest On Chris Paul

After a less than stellar individual performance in the Rockets’ season opening win over the Warriors, Chris Paul sat out of Houston’s second game of the season earlier this week. Now, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets, concerns about the guard’s knee could potentially sideline the 32-year-old for as much as a month.

While Stein adds that the Rockets will officially consider their offseason trade acquisition “day-to-day” after announcing that he’ll miss the club’s home opener on Saturday with a knee contusion, it’s expected that they’ll be particularly cautious with the guard considering that they have every intention of making a long playoff run.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets are bracing for a “possible 2-to-4 week stretch” without their playmaker and have inquired with various agents about adding potential point guard support in the interim.

At full health, Paul is an undisputed superstar and enough of a shot in the arm to give Houston a serious chance of making noise in the crowded Western Conference, unfortunately, the veteran has already missed over 10 games in five of his 12 NBA seasons and appears to be on pace to make it six out of 13.

Paul averaged 18.1 points and 9.2 assists per game for the Clippers last season and was brought over to the Rockets in a blockbuster offseason deal.

Rockets' G League Affiliate Acquires R.J. Hunter

  • The Rockets‘ G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, sent a first-round pick to the Long Island Nets in exchange for R.J. Hunter‘s returning rights. Hunter, a former first-round pick, intends to suit up for the Vipers, his agent confirms to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link).

Teams With Open Roster Spots

For the first time, NBA teams are permitted to carry up to 17 players this season. In addition to carrying up to 15 players to the NBA roster, teams can add two more players on two-way contracts. The rule changes related to roster sizes have allowed teams to maintain a little extra flexibility, and many clubs are taking advantage of that added flexibility to open the season, carrying the full 17 players.

Several teams still have open roster spots though, affording those clubs a different kind of flexibility. A team carrying only 14 NBA players, for instance, has the opportunity to sign a free agent or add a player in a trade at any time without waiving anyone, all the while avoiding paying for a 15th man who almost certainly won’t see much playing time.

With the help of our roster count page and our two-way contract tracker, here’s a breakdown of the teams that have at least one open NBA or two-way spot on their rosters:

Teams carrying just 14 NBA contracts:

  • Boston Celtics
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Houston Rockets
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Portland Trail Blazers

It makes sense that a few of these teams would avoid carrying a 15th man to open the season. The Rockets, Thunder, and Trail Blazers are all taxpayers, and teams like the Clippers and Hornets are close enough to the tax threshold that avoiding a 15th salary is logical. Among these clubs, the Celtics seem like perhaps the best bet to fill their final roster opening soon, now that the team has likely lost Gordon Hayward for the season.

Teams carrying just one two-way contract:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Houston Rockets
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • New York Knicks
  • Portland Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers don’t currently have a G League affiliate of their own, but the other five teams on this list do, so that’s probably not the reason Portland has waited to fill its second two-way slot. In all likelihood, these six teams will add a second two-way player in time for G League training camps, which open next week. The season tips off on November 3.

Demetrius Jackson Gets A Chance To Play

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admits it was a mistake trying to change LaMarcus Aldridge, relays Melissa Rohlin of The San Antonio Express News. After five straight seasons of topping 20 points per game in Portland, Aldridge dropped to 18.0 and 17.3 in his first two years in San Antonio.

Popovich talked to Aldridge several times during the offseason and realized that he should have let the power forward play his game. “I thought back to Timmy [Duncan], and people said, ‘Oh, what are you going to do with Tim Duncan,’” the coach said. “And I said, ‘Nothing, I’m just going to watch him for six months and see what he does. He’s a pretty good player. And if there’s something that I think I can add, then I’ll do it.’ With LaMarcus, he got here and on day one I said, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this. And [Jack] Sikma did this. And you’re going to do this pump fake.’ I tried to change him. I tried to make him a different player.’”

Carmelo Anthony Talks Phil Jackson, Trade, OKC

In advance of a Thursday night matchup against his old team, Carmelo Anthony spoke this week about the trade that sent him from the Knicks to the Thunder, with both Marc Stein of The New York Times and Fred Kerber of The New York Post passing along the forward’s thoughts. While Anthony says he holds “no grudge” against the Knicks, he acknowledges he wasn’t thrilled with the way Phil Jackson handled his situation earlier this year, calling Jackson’s behavior “hurtful.”

“I was always … going to put my trust in Phil,” Anthony said, per Kerber. “That diminished after a while. I’m out here doing everything I can, and I’m still getting stabbed in the back. I’m not trusting in that anymore. I’m trusting in these guys (teammates) that are out here. Whoever’s out here, this is who I’m dealing with.”

As Anthony explains to Stein, he had a nagging sense that Jackson was trying to force him out of New York, which dampened his devotion to the Knicks. Jackson – who was willing “to trade me for a bag of chips,” according to Carmelo – was eventually ousted as the club’s president of basketball operations. At that point, the Knicks went, in Anthony’s words, “from asking for peanuts to asking for steak” in trade talks.

With Jackson gone and Steve Mills and Scott Perry taking a harder line in trade negotiations, the odds of a deal with the Rockets declined. Still, Anthony felt that bridges had been burned in New York, and remained committed to finding a trade that worked.

“I think at that point it was too far gone,” Anthony said. “I already had in my mind that I wanted to win, that I wanted to move on. We didn’t think it would take as long as it did, but my mind was already made up.”

As for his eventual destination, Anthony admits to Stein that his 10-year-old son Kiran was among those who sold him on Oklahoma City as his new NBA home.

“My son has a basketball mind,” Anthony said. “So I will always throw little topics at him. He was like, ‘Dad, where you getting traded to?’ I told him, ‘I don’t know, where do you think I should go?’ He said: ‘You really want me to give you my opinion? I think you should go to OKC.'”

Troy Williams Gets Increased Guarantee; Details On CP3's Summer

Rockets, Knicks, Pelicans Eyeing Wade Baldwin

The Rockets, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams with some level of interest in point guard Wade Baldwin, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). The Timberwolves, Wolfson’s local team, haven’t shown interest in Baldwin at this point.

Baldwin, a Vanderbilt alum, was the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft and spent his rookie season with the Grizzlies. After 33 up-and-down games with the club, Baldwin was a somewhat surprising victim of the roster crunch in Memphis on Monday, with the team waiving him and fellow 2016 draftee Rade Zagorac to get down to the 15-man limit.

Although Baldwin struggled to adjust to the NBA in his rookie season, he’s still just 21 years old, so there will likely be clubs that view him as a project with some upside.

Currently, Baldwin remains on waivers. If a team wanted to claim him, that club would need to be willing to take on his $1.874MM guaranteed salary for 2017/18, and would need to have enough cap space – or a big enough trade exception – to accommodate that money. It’s more likely that Baldwin will clear waivers and perhaps sign a minimum salary deal with a new team.

If Baldwin doesn’t receive an NBA offer, he could end up playing overseas or in the G League, either on a two-way contract or a straight G League deal. Nine NBA teams have at least one open two-way slot at the moment.

No Extension Expected For Rockets, Clint Capela

Rockets big man Clint Capela is on track to become a restricted free agent in the summer of 2018, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who reports that the two sides won’t reach an agreement on an extension today.

Capela, 23, enjoyed the best season of his young career in 2016/17, establishing new career-highs in PPG (12.6), RPG (8.1), FG% (.643), and a handful of other categories. He made 59 starts last season and figures to split minutes at center with Nene in 2017/18.

[RELATED: Extension Candidate: Clint Capela]

Despite Capela’s impressive production, it’s not a huge surprise that the Rockets are willing to go restricted free agency in 2018 with him. Over the last 15 years or so, the team hasn’t generally done rookie scale extensions unless there’s an opportunity to lock up a star — Yao Ming and James Harden were the only players to get rookie scale extensions prior to free agency.

For his part, Capela doesn’t sound too concerned about the possibility of reaching the open market as a restricted free agent next summer. The Rockets will have the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs at that point.

“Honestly, my agent handles that,” Capela said, per Feigen. “If I sign, that’s good. But it won’t matter. If I have to wait until next year, it won’t bother me. I’m here. I’m healthy. I’m playing. That’s all that matters.”

Rockets Cut Cameron Oliver, Danuel House

In advance of the regular season opener, the Rockets have waived rookie forward Cameron Oliver, and second-year forward Danuel House, according to a press release from the club (Twitter link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston).

Oliver, a sophomore at Nevada in 2016/17, declared for the draft after a productive season in which he averaged 16.0 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and an impressive 2.6 BPG. He went undrafted but caught on with the Rockets, who gave him a two-year deal with a $300K guarantee.

House, who went undrafted out of Texas A&M a year ago, spent most of the season with the Wizards, but only appeared in one game for the club. A fractured right wrist sidelined him for a good chunk of the year.

Houston’s investment in Oliver makes it surprising that the team chose to take him off the roster. However, the rookie forward is currently recovering from a fractured right hand and isn’t expected to be re-evaluated until November, which may have impacted the Rockets’ decision.

House is a candidate to end up with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Houston’s G League team. However, Oliver is ineligible to be assigned to the Vipers as an affiliate player, since he received a $300K guarantee. His contract also wasn’t eligible to be converted into a two-way deal.

The Rockets are now carrying 15 total players, including one (Demetrius Jackson) on a two-way contract.

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