Rockets Rumors

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.

Capela May Lose Some Bonus Money

Clint Capela‘s thumb injury could cost him a $2MM bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. The Rockets center has a 2,000-minute criteria tied into the team reaching the Western Conference Finals and for a defensive rebounding percentage above 30%. He has another bonus for attempting 150 or more free throws and a free throw percentage above 65%. He is currently shooting 62.6% from the line. Through 42 games, Capela has played 1,436 minutes. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/14/19

Here are Monday’s NBA G League assignments and recalls from across the league:

  • The Rockets recalled center Isaiah Hartenstein from the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Mark Berman of KRIV tweets. Hartenstein has appeared in 22 games with Houston this season and adds frontcourt depth with Clint Capela sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a thumb injury. Hartenstein is averaging 17.3 PPG, 14.2 RPG and 3.9 APG in 11 appearances with the Vipers.

Clint Capela Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks

The injury bug continues to plague the Rockets. Already down multiple key contributors, Houston will now be without starting center Clint Capela for the next four to six weeks due to a right thumb injury, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarwoski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), an MRI on the injury showed ligament damage.

The Rockets have been playing well lately despite both Chris Paul and Eric Gordon being sidelined with injuries of their own, largely due to the efforts of Capela and MVP candidate James Harden. With Capela now on the shelf too, Harden will face his most difficult challenge of 2018/19 so far as he looks to keep Houston in a playoff position. Currently, the 24-18 Rockets are tied for fifth in the West, but the ninth-seeded Jazz are 23-21, so there’s not a whole lot of room for error.

After signing a lucrative new five-year contract with the Rockets in the offseason, Capela is enjoying the best season of his five-year career, establishing new highs in PPG (17.6), RPG (12.6), APG (1.5), and several other categories.

With Capela out, the Rockets will lean more heavily on Nene, with Isaiah Hartenstein and Marquese Chriss among their other options at the five. The team may also try to get away with more small-ball lineups, using someone like P.J. Tucker at center.

A roster move would benefit the Rockets, but they don’t have a ton of roster or financial flexibility to add help at this point. There’s an opening on their 15-man roster, but two-way player Danuel House seems likely to claim that spot very soon. If that happens, Houston would open up a two-way slot for a new addition — the deadline to sign a player to a two-way contract is Tuesday.

If the Rockets feel the need to create another opening on their 15-man roster, the most obvious move would be to finally release Carmelo Anthony. In that scenario, the team could turn to 10-day contracts or a rest-of-season signing to address its frontcourt. However, the in-the-tax Rockets will have to be wary of increasing their projected tax bill with any signings.

Teammates Can Sympathize With Carter-Williams

  • The Rockets traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Bulls for an inevitable trip to the waiver wire this week, and he had two backcourt partners who could sympathize, writes Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Austin Rivers and Brandon Knight went through similar experiences, appearing headed for stardom as lottery picks, but eventually changing teams multiple times. “Your career, or where you end up, a lot of times we don’t dictate those things, right?” Knight said. “Things can change very quickly. We’ve all been on different teams, different situations, and we just happened to land here.”

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Southwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Southwest Division:

DeAndre Jordan, Mavericks, 30, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $24.1MM deal in 2018
Jordan has pretty much done his usual thing in his first season with Dallas, ranking second in the league in rebounding and anchoring the defense. One troubling development is his penchant for turnovers — he’s averaging a career-worst 2.4 per game. The one other surprising development is a plus — the career 45.9% free throw shooter has drained 70.3% of his attempts. The always durable Jordan has also answered the bell every game. Early concerns about about “selfish” play have somewhat dissipated. Dallas may not re-sign him but someone will give him another big contract this summer.

Austin Rivers, Rockets, 26, SG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $1.15MM deal in 2018
The above salary number doesn’t reflect what Rivers is actually making this season, as the Suns bought out his contract after he was traded from the Wizards. He had a $12.6MM salary in the final year of a four-season contract and only gave back $650K. The decision to hook on with the Rockets after he cleared waivers has been good for both parties. With Chris Paul sidelined, Rivers has averaged 12.3 PPG and 3.1 APG in 38.5 MPG in his first eight outings with a championship contender. Still in his prime, Rivers should be able to land a multi-year deal this summer.

Ivan Rabb, Grizzlies, 21, PF (Down) – Signed to a two-year, $2.3MM deal in 2017
An early second-rounder in 2017, Rabb has been a force in a handful of G League games, averaging 23.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG. That hasn’t translated into NBA playing time. He hasn’t played meaningful minutes in 14 games with the Grizzlies. Interior defensive issues and the lack of 3-point shot are the main reason why the athletic big man hasn’t carved out a role. Unless they’re convinced he can improve those areas, the Grizzlies will likely cut ties with him after the season.

Darius Miller, Pelicans, 28, SF (Down) — Signed to a two-year, $4.3MM deal in 2017
Miller receives lots of playing time but his offensive contributions boil down to an occasional 3-point attempt. To be fair, Miller is the No. 5 option when he’s on the floor and he’s an above-average long-range shooter (38.7 percent). His defensive metrics are subpar, which partially explains his paltry 8.42 PER, so the 3-and-D tag doesn’t necessarily fit. Miller’s 3-point shooting could be enough to land him a veteran’s minimum deal or something slightly higher next summer but there’s no big payday ahead.

Quincy Pondexter, Spurs, 30, SF (Down)– Signed to a one-year, $2.16MM deal in 2018
Pondexter remained on the roster past January 10th, fully guaranteeing his salary for this season. Pondexter, whose career has been sidetracked by knee injuries, has been praised as a positive locker room influence but he hasn’t contributed much on the court. He’s appeared in 31 games but averaged just 5.9 MPG with a majority of his playing time coming in blowouts. Pondexter will likely struggle to find another veteran’s minimum deal in the summer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Market For Kevin Love Appears Sparse

Pinning down Kevin Love‘s trade value is going to be a challenge and pulling off a trade for the big man may be problematic for rival teams, Ken Berger of Bleacher Report relays.

“The problem is: You have a rookie GM [Koby Altman]—who’s a really good guy and has done some really good things and is trying to prove himself. And you’ve got a delusional owner [Dan Gilbert],” a Western Conference executive tells Berger. “And they’re going to think they’re supposed to get something for the guy. You’re not getting an asset for him under any circumstances.”

Love, who remains sidelined with a foot injury, with will make approximately $28.9MM next season in the first year of the extension he signed last summer.

“It’s a lot to ask someone to take on $144 million for a 30-year-old with an injury history,” another executive said. “You’re dealing with a very small, narrow marketplace for him.”

Love isn’t eligible to be traded until January 24, which is the six-month anniversary of him signing his extension in Cleveland. Finding a suitor will be an issue. The Cavaliers will hope that a contending team will be willing to take a huge risk in order to inch closer to the Warriors atop the league’s hierarchy.

The Rockets and Thunder both make sense as landing spots should a trade occur, one Western Conference executive speculated. The Nuggets have Paul Millsap‘s $30MM salary coming off the books next summer and are fans of Love’s game. The Trail Blazers could use a floor spacer and the Pacers may see the upside he provides. The Hornets and Mavericks have eyes for the big man, Sam Amico of Amico Hoops hears, but finding a deal for either team is no easy task.

“It’s going to have to be a playoff team in a non-destination market,” one of the executives tells Berger. “A team that has a couple of stars that isn’t going to get anybody in free agency because they don’t have the room or nobody’s going to go play there.”

The Thunder-Love scenario is intriguing. Love and Russell Westbrook remain friends and have been close since their days at UCLA. Westbrook’s massive deal worth over $200MM runs through the 2022/23 (with a player option on the last year), which is the exact same timeline as Love’s contract. Paul George is under team control at least through the 2020/21 season and with those contracts, as well as Steven Adams‘ $100MM contract on the books, the team isn’t going to have cap room anytime soon.

“[GM Sam Presti] will figure it out in three years when Russell and Paul are coming to the end of their run,” the Western Conference GM said of a potential Love-to-the-Thunder trade.

It’s difficult for OKC to construct a deal for Love that doesn’t involve giving up one or more of the team’s key contributors due to the big man’s $24.1MM salary. Dennis Schroder ($15.5MM), Alex Abrines ($5.46M), and Patrick Patterson ($5.45M) would make up an interesting package, though Schroder has brought much-needed playmaking for the team, taking some of those duties off of Westbrook this year.

Adams’ salary clocks in at slightly under $24.2MM and if the Thunder have confidence that Nerlens Noel can step up into a bigger role (a big if), perhaps trading their enforcer in the middle makes sense.

However, it’s hard to envision why the Cavs would make such a deal beyond Adams’ contract expiring two years earlier than Love’s. Cleveland covets young players and draft picks as it begins a rebuild. Bringing in an additional team on a three-way trade might be the solution should a deal come together, though that is simply my speculation.

Love’s defense adds another risk to a complicated situation,  as people within the league believe he is a liability on the defensive end.

“When we need a bucket against Cleveland, that’s who we attack,” an anonymous coach tells Berger. “Guys like him become hard to hide. There’s always been a premium on pick-and-roll defense, but even more so now. Everybody is spreading the floor and driving and kicking and trying to generate something going downhill.”

One executive groups Love’s contract in with John Wall‘s, calling the pair of deals the “two worst contracts in the league.”

“How many teams are really looking for a dinosaur face-up 4-man, or a 5 who can’t switch pick-and-roll?” the exec said of Love (via Berger).

Most of the pessimism comes from Love’s contract. The executive compared Love to Brook Lopez – an offensive-focused player who landed just a one-year $3.4MM deal with the Bucks this past offseason – suggesting that Love wouldn’t receive much on the open market.

The evaluation seems extremely pessimistic. Love still has value; the questions is: what is that value? He can still help a team in the win column and it’ll only take one team willing to meet the Cavs’ demands to make a deal.

Rockets Notes: Rivers, Paul, Gordon, MCW Trade

The Rockets and Austin Rivers seemed like an unlikely match, given his up-and-down history with former Clippers teammate Chris Paul. However, Rivers is thriving so far in Houston, with coach Mike D’Antoni calling him a “godsend” (Twitter link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston) and Rivers telling Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he’s “the happiest I’ve been in my career.” The veteran guard also clarified that he “never had a problem” with CP3, and took the blame for the perception that there was a rift between the two ex-Clippers.

“Everything that happened was so silly and so stupid,” Rivers said. “A lot of it was on my part in terms of I let a lot of things that were said in the media about me and Chris affect me and his relationship. I accepted it like as if Chris was saying that s—, when he wasn’t doing [anything]. It ended up kind of messing us up at the time, because there was all this stuff about how we were interacting that wasn’t true.

“Me and Chris haven’t even had to say [anything] about it because we both moved on. I was just with [him] at an event at his house. It’s just crazy how in today’s age everything does revolve around social media. Social media is so powerful.”

Rivers’ conversation with Spears is worth reading in full, as the 26-year-old also discussed how being Doc Rivers‘ son affects the perception of him, why it’s a good thing that he and Doc are in separate organizations, and why he decided to sign with Houston.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Speaking today to reporters, Mike D’Antoni said that Eric Gordon might be able to return in about a week, while Chris Paul will likely miss another two or three weeks, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The Rockets have been playing well without Gordon and Paul, but would surely welcome the opportunity to get their roster back to full strength.
  • Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders provides some specific details on the Rockets’ Michael Carter-Williams trade, reporting (via Twitter) that Houston received the Grizzlies’ top-55 protected 2020 second-round pick in the deal and sent $1,065,966 to the Bulls. Chicago will receive that money in five installments of approximately $73K apiece, followed by a final payment of $700K next July.
  • Pincus also recently shared the unusual salary guarantee details on Gary Clark‘s contract (all Twitter links). As Pincus explains, the following things must be true for Clark’s 2019/20 salary to become guaranteed before next January 10:
    • He appears in at least 37 games for the Rockets during the 2018/19 regular season.
    • The Rockets miss the playoffs OR Clark appears in at least two postseason games OR Clark is cut by April 10, 2019.

Rockets Trade Michael Carter-Williams To Bulls

4:07pm: The Rockets have officially announced their deal sending Carter-Williams to Chicago (Twitter link). The Bulls, who already waived Brooks earlier today, per RealGM’s transactions log, released Carter-Williams as well, as they confirmed (via Twitter).

10:01am: The Rockets have finalized a deal to send Michael Carter-Williams and cash to the Bulls, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. In return, Houston will receive a heavily protected second-round pick that is unlikely to ever convey, adds Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

The Bulls will waive Carter-Williams, who has a non-guaranteed contract, before the league deadline of 5:00 pm Eastern, Wojnarowski adds (Twitter link). All contracts become fully guaranteed for the rest of the season on Thursday, but players have to be released by the close of business today to avoid the guarantee so they have time to clear waivers.

The Bulls have a full 15-man roster, so the team will waive MarShon Brooks before the deal can be completed, according to Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Brooks was acquired Thursday in a trade with the Grizzlies and hasn’t played yet for Chicago. Smith adds that the draft choice the Rockets will receive is top-55 protected. The Bulls’ second-rounder in 2019 belongs to the Sixers, so Smith believes the pick in the deal will be for 2020 (Twitter link).

The trade enables the Rockets to cut their projected luxury tax payment from $16.3MM to $13.7MM, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It also gives Houston a $1.2MM trade exception. The Rockets open a roster spot that may eventually go to Danuel House, who has won a place in the starting lineup and is approaching the 45-day NBA limit on his two-way contract.

The Bulls will take a $1.2MM cap hit, but will only have to pay Carter-Williams $366K, Marks adds (Twitter link). The cash from the Rockets is expected to cover the salary for him and Brooks. Chicago will also have an open roster spot by the end of the day, points out K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Carter-Williams was named Rookie of the Year with the Sixers in 2014, but has turned into an NBA journeyman. He spent time with the Bucks, Bulls and Hornets before signing with Houston in July. He appeared in 16 games for the Rockets, posting a 4.3/0.8/1.3 line in about nine minutes per night.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.