Rockets Rumors

Thunder Claim Jawun Evans Off Waivers

The Thunder have claimed point guard Jawun Evans off waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

This comes as a surprising development, as the Rockets were expected to claim Evans after the two-way player was waived by the Suns on Saturday. Oklahoma City, which has tumbled to sixth in the Western Conference standings, made a preemptive strike to prevent Evans from going to Houston. The Rockets are currently third in the West.

It’s a kind of homecoming for the 22-year-old Evans, who starred at Oklahoma State. He made seven brief appearances with Phoenix this season.

Oklahoma City had a two-way opening after converting Deonte Burton‘s two-way deal to a standard contract earlier this month. Two-way players are not eligible for the playoffs.

It’s unlikely Evans will get any significant playing time with Russell Westbrook, Dennis Schroder and Raymond Felton at point guard.

Houston was looking to fill a two-way slot after promoting Danuel House to its 15-man roster.

Evans spent a good portion of this season with Northern Arizona in the G League, posting a 15.1/3.8/5.8 line in 32 games.

The Clippers waived him in October just before the start of the regular season, although he had a guaranteed $1.378MM deal.

Checking In On Protected 2019 First Round Picks

With just over two weeks left in the 2018/19 regular season, we’re getting a clearer picture of what this year’s draft order might look like. We’re also getting a pretty clear sense of which of the traded 2019 picks with protections will or won’t change hands this spring.

Using our 2018/19 Reverse Standings as a reference point, here’s our latest check-in on where things stand for those traded 2019 first-rounders, based on their protections.

Locks to change hands:

  • Kings‘ pick to Celtics (unprotected)
    • Current projection: No. 14
    • Note: Pick will instead be sent to Sixers if it jumps to No. 1 (current odds: 0.5%)
  • Clippers‘ pick to Celtics (top-14 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 22
  • Rockets‘ pick to Cavaliers (top-14 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 25
  • Nuggets‘ pick to Nets (top-12 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 27
  • Raptors‘ pick to Spurs (top-20 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 29

The Raptors‘ and Nuggets‘ have been sure bets to change hands all season long. The Rockets‘ and Clippers‘ picks have now joined them in that group due to impressive surges by both teams — Houston has won 14 of its last 16 games and clinched a playoff spot last night, while the Clippers have lost just one of their last 11 contests. Both of those picks appear likely to end up in the 20s.

The Kings, meanwhile, will definitely lose their first-round selection, but its eventual destination is the only unresolved question for this group of picks. The Sixers will receive it if it’s No. 1 overall; otherwise it will head to the Celtics. As long as Sacramento remains at No. 14 in the lottery order, the odds of the pick jumping all the way up to No. 1 would be just 0.5%, so it’s probably safe to assume it’ll end up in Boston.

Locks to be protected:

  • Cavaliers‘ pick to Hawks (top-10 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 3
  • Bucks‘ pick to Suns (top-3 and 17-30 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 30

The Cavaliers are unlikely to fall further than No. 4 in the lottery order, which means the furthest that their pick could slip would be to No. 8. They’ll keep their pick, and will owe the Hawks a top-10 protected pick in 2020.

As for the Bucks, they’ll almost certainly convey the first-rounder they owe to the Suns next season, when it’s just top-7 protected.

Still up in the air:

  • Grizzlies‘ pick to Celtics (top-8 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 6/7 (tie)
  • Mavericks‘ pick to Hawks (top-5 protected)
    • Current projection: No. 6/7 (tie)

Currently, the Grizzlies and Mavericks are deadlocked at 29-44, so the final nine games for the two teams could go a long way toward determining whether or not they’ll keep their first-rounders. The Celtics and Hawks could each end up receiving top-10 picks, depending on how things play out.

The Grizzlies would actually prefer to convey that pick this year so that they can move forward with their rebuild without worrying about a future commitment. If they can win some games down the stretch, their odds of giving up that first-rounder should increase drastically — Washington (30-44) and New Orleans (31-44) are both bunched up with Memphis and Dallas in the 6-9 range of the lottery standings.

The difference between finishing sixth and ninth in the lottery order is significant. The No. 6 team will have a 37.2% chance at a top-five pick and a 96.2% chance of remaining in the top eight. The No. 9 team will have just a 20.2% chance of moving up.

This race is one worth keeping a close eye during the final two weeks of the season, though each pick’s owner won’t be officially finalized until lottery night.

Information from RealGM was used in the creation of this post.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/24/19

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Rockets recalled Gary Clark from Rio Grande Valley after he played in last night’s regular season finale, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • The Spurs recalled Chimezie Metu and Lonnie Walker from their Austin affiliate, the team announced on its website.
  • The Magic recalled Melvin Frazier from their Lakeland affiliate, according to a tweet from the team.
  • The Warriors recalled Jacob Evans from Santa Cruz, the team announced in an email. The rookie guard is averaging 11.3 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists in the G League.

Suns Waive Jawun Evans; Rockets Expected To Make Claim

4:57pm: Phoenix has waived Evans, tweets Gina Mizell of The Athletic.

4:17pm: The Suns will waive two-way player Jawun Evans, who already has interest from the Rockets, tweets Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

Evans signed a two-way deal with the Suns in December, but has only appeared in seven games for Phoenix, playing about nine minutes per night and averaging less than a point per game. He was much more productive with Northern Arizona, posting a 15.1/3.8/5.8 line in 32 games.

The second-year point guard had a promising rookie season with the Clippers, but couldn’t earn a spot on this year’s roster. He was waived in October just before the start of the regular season, although he had a guaranteed $1.378MM deal.

The Suns won’t be able to replace Evans because the deadline for signing two-way players has already passed. The G League season ends this weekend, and Northern Arizona won’t be in the playoffs.

Houston has a two-way slot open after promoting Danuel House to the 15-man roster. No move would be necessary before adding Evans, but the Rockets’ record puts them toward the back of the line for waiver claims, so it’s possible another organization could seize Evans. Teams will have 48 hours to submit claims once Evans is officially waived.

Rockets Re-Sign Chris Chiozza

MARCH 23: The signing of Chiozza is official, the team announced in a press release (Twitter link).

MARCH 22: After signing a 10-day contract with the Rockets last month, Chris Chiozza will soon return to the team, according to Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (via Twitter). League sources tell Johnson that the Rockets intend to sign Chiozza to a rest-of-season contract.

Chiozza, 23, went undrafted out of Florida in 2018 before joining the Wizards in the fall for training camp. After being waived by Washington, he has spent most of his rookie season in the G League with the Capital City Go-Go, averaging 13.2 PPG, 7.7 APG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.9 SPG with a .438/.407/.760 shooting line in 47 NBAGL games (33.5 MPG). Despite joining the Rockets for 10 days after the All-Star break, Chiozza has yet to make his regular-season NBA debut.

The Rockets are currently carrying 13 players on their roster, so adding Chiozza will get them back to the league-mandated 14-player minimum. Teams that dip below 14 players are given a two-week window to reach that minimum. Since Terrence Jones‘ 10-day contract expired overnight on March 13, Houston still has several days before that window expires, so it’s not clear if Chiozza will be re-signed right away.

If the Rockets wait a few more days to sign Chiozza, it could help ensure that the team stays out of tax territory. Still, as cap expert Albert Nahmad detailed last week (via Twitter), Houston should remain safely under the tax line for 2018/19 as long as Clint Capela doesn’t earn either of his $500K bonuses for a 65% free-throw rate or a 30% defensive rebound rate. Currently, the big man is not on track to meet either benchmark.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Rockets, Dirk, Caboclo

Even after a grueling 2018/19 season, Rockets guard James Harden hopes to suit up for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup this September, as he tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Of course I want to play,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity to represent your country, go out there and play basketball. It’s something I love doing. If that opportunity presents itself, I’ll be in. Not everyone gets that opportunity. As a basketball player, that’s one of the highest points you can get for basketball.”

Harden, who previously won gold medals for Team USA in the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup, is one of 35 players who was named to USA Basketball’s player pool for events between 2018-20. Obviously, not all of those players will get the chance to play on USA’s 12-man roster in the fall, but as the league’s reigning MVP, Harden probably has one of those 12 spots if he wants it.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Ray Allen hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2014, but Rockets GM Daryl Morey hasn’t given up hope that the veteran sharpshooter will decide to make an NBA comeback. Appearing last month on The Rich Eisen Show (video link), Morey referred to Allen as his “white whale,” vowing that he’d sign the 43-year-old to a 10-day contract right now if Allen were interested (hat tip to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype).
  • Longtime Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning for a 22nd NBA season next year. While Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News thinks retirement is the more likely outcome, he makes the case that playing another season wouldn’t negatively impact Nowitzki’s legacy.
  • In an excellent piece for The Athletic, Blake Murphy takes a deep dive into Bruno Caboclo‘s long, winding road to an NBA rotation role. With Caboclo playing regular minutes for the Grizzlies, Murphy spoke to a handful of his teammates and coaches, as well as draft expert Fran Fraschilla, who famously said that the young forward was “two years away from being two years away” when the Raptors selected him in 2014.

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.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/16/19

Here are Saturday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Rockets assigned Gary Clark to the Rio Grande Vipers, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. It’s the second G League trip this month for the rookie forward, who is averaging 2.9 PPG in 42 games with Houston.
  • The Wizards recalled high-scoring guard Jordan McRae from Capital City Go-Go, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. McRae tops the G League scoring race at 30.4 PPG in 30 games.

Rockets Not Re-Signing Terrence Jones

Terrence Jones‘ second 10-day contract with the Rockets expired overnight on Wednesday, and the team won’t re-sign him at this point, tweets Mark Berman of FOX26 Houston. Berman writes that Jones’ time with the club “has ended,” which suggests that he won’t be brought back later in the season either.

Jones, 27, signed a pair of 10-day deals with Houston to provide the club with some frontcourt depth and to help get the roster count to the league-mandated minimum. If the Rockets had wanted to bring him back, they would have had to sign him to a rest-of-season contract, since a player can’t sign three 10-day pacts with the same team in a given league year.

The 18th overall pick in the 2012 draft, Jones appeared briefly in two games for Houston, scoring a single basket and grabbing four rebounds in five minutes of action.

Having converted Danuel House‘s two-way contract to a standard deal on Wednesday, the Rockets briefly reached the league minimum of 14 players. They’re back down to 13 now that Jones is no longer under contract, but they’ll have two weeks to rectify that situation. I’d expect management to be patient in filling that spot, since the club wants to remain below the tax line.

Jones was re-acquired by the Erie BayHawks on Thursday, according to the NBA G League Transactions page.

Southwest Notes: House, Porzingis, Grizzlies

After having his two-way deal officially converted into a standard NBA contract today, Danuel House is happy to be back with the Rockets, telling reporters he’s “really excited that we got everything done,” as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Head coach Mike D’Antoni is also glad to have House on the 15-man roster, per Feigen.

“It’s good,” D’Antoni said. “There’s no downside; there’s only upside. He played really well for us. As soon as we can work him back in the rotation, if he’s as good as he was, then it’s all positive. If it doesn’t work out, it is what it is and we still have the same team.”

While House played a regular rotation role for the Rockets earlier in the season, even starting 12 games, the team has a healthier roster and a deeper bench at this point. Feigen notes in a separate article that it will be interesting to see how Houston manages all its pieces the rest of the way.

Currently, the Rockets’ bench features Austin Rivers, Gerald Green, Kenneth Faried, Nene, Iman Shumpert, and House, among others, so the club figures to use the final month to assess how many of those players will see regular minutes in the postseason.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Thirteen months after undergoing ACL surgery, Kristaps Porzingis participated in his first 5-on-5 practice for the Mavericks on Wednesday. And according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com, all indications are that it was a very successful return for the big man. “He went through a full practice with no issues, so very encouraging,” head coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s made tremendous progress with his rehab, with his conditioning, his strength, and (playing 5-on-5) was the next logical progression. He played 3-on-3 yesterday morning with some of the other guys and did extremely well there. So this went really well.” Porzingis still isn’t expected to return to game action until 2019/20.
  • Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas has made a strong early impression on his new club in Memphis, as Blake Murphy of The Athletic details. David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal also takes a look at Valanciunas’ first month with the Grizzlies and looks ahead to assess whether or not the 26-year-old will exercise his $17.6MM player option for next season.
  • In a column for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Mark Giannotto argues that the Grizzlies have been better off without Marc Gasol in recent weeks, as they’ve played at a faster pace and appear to be having more fun on the court. While it was painful to see Gasol go, it’s becoming clear that the two sides needed to move on from one another to move forward, Giannotto writes.