Luc Mbah a Moute

Southwest Notes: Mbah A Moute, Rivers, Porzingis, Spurs

Speaking today to reporters for the first time since reporting to the NBA’s campus and clearing quarantine, Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute confirmed that his arrival was delayed because he had contracted the coronavirus, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Mbah a Moute signed with the Rockets on July 7 as a substitute player replacing Thabo Sefolosha, but didn’t arrive in Orlando until last Wednesday. According to Feigen, Mbah a Moute said today that he dealt with “chills (and) body ache” while battling COVID-19, adding that the recovery was “tough.”

Meanwhile, Mbah a Moute’s teammate Austin Rivers hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus, but remains quarantined in his hotel room after briefly leaving the Orlando campus last week. Rivers, who returned on Saturday, is scheduled to complete his four-day quarantine period on Tuesday and should be ready to go for the Rockets’ first seeding game this Friday vs. Dallas, Feigen writes for The Chronicle.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage because he missed a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday, though head coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t overly upset by the mistake, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “This situation was one where he just took his eye off the ball a little bit in terms of the day-to-day protocols and procedures,” Carlisle said. “It can be challenging on off days to keep track of the schedule. I almost missed testing on our first off day. … It’s an innocent mistake, but it’s significant.”
  • Trey Burke just signed with the Mavericks on July 1 and was late arriving to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, but he believes his experience playing for Carlisle in 2018/19 will help him quickly adjust, Sefko writes at Mavs.com. “I feel comfortable, rather than other places coming into a new place and it’s a brand new system and a brand new coaching staff,” Burke said. “I pretty much know the pace that coach likes to play with, I know how hard he can be on guys and I’m ready for that.”
  • With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles sidelined for the summer, the Spurs are experimenting with some guard-heavy lineups, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. One unit, which features recent first-rounders Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker playing alongside each other, could be a preview of the club’s future backcourt, McDonald notes.

Southwest Notes: Mbah A Moute, Burke, Mavs, Winslow

Another Rockets veteran has reported to the NBA’s campus, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link), who hears from a source that forward Luc Mbah a Moute arrived in Orlando on Wednesday.

James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Mbah a Moute didn’t initially travel with the Rockets to Orlando, but Harden and Westbrook have since arrived and started practicing with the club. Mbah a Moute will have to go through a brief quarantine period and return a pair of negative COVID-19 tests, but after that, Houston should be at relatively full strength.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Westbrook Returns To Practice, Mbah A Moute Cleared To Travel

The Rockets announced some good news on Wednesday, as Russell Westbrook participated in his first summer practice after clearing quarantine, while Luc Mbah a Moute has been cleared to travel and should arrive soon at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus.

As Tim MacMahon of ESPN reports, Westbrook spoke to reporters before Houston’s Wednesday practice, indicating that he’s “thankful and blessed” to be able to get back on the court after recovering from the coronavirus. Westbrook, who said he only experienced very minor COVID-19 symptoms, added that he was able to do conditioning workouts at home while quarantined.

According to MacMahon, head coach Mike D’Antoni said today that Westbrook may play in the Rockets’ first scrimmage on Friday against Toronto, though that hasn’t been decided yet.

“Whatever he wants is cool,” D’Antoni said. “He knows his body. Again, we’re not talking about just a normal athlete. We’re talking about a super athlete, and I sometimes underestimate it. I know today I might have a hard time getting through practice, but he might not have any problem. We rely on him and the medical staff to make an informed decision, and whatever that decision is, we’ll go with it.”

Meanwhile, D’Antoni also provided an update on Mbah a Moute, indicating that the veteran forward could arrive in Orlando as soon as Wednesday (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).

The Rockets signed Mbah a Moute as a substitute player for Thabo Sefolosha, but his arrival has been delayed by a couple weeks, reducing the likelihood that he’ll earn regular minutes once the seeding games begin next week.

Russell Westbrook Set To Arrive At NBA Campus

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, whose arrival at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus was delayed due to a positive COVID-19 test, is traveling to Orlando today, head coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters, including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

He’s been working, and he feels good,” D’Antoni said of the former MVP. “If you look at Russell, his worst day, he’s probably in better shape and stronger than anybody we have. I would think he’ll come here and be ready to go.”

D’Antoni expressed some skepticism that Westbrook will be ready to play on Friday when the Rockets face the Raptors in their first inter-squad scrimmage. Once the star point guard arrives at campus, he’ll have to return two negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart, meaning he’s unlikely to participate in his first practice until later this week.

With the Rockets assured of a playoff spot, the club will likely focus on getting Westbrook back to full speed in time for the start of the postseason.

Meanwhile, D’Antoni added today that he’s unsure when recently-signed forward Luc Mbah a Moute will be able to join the club at Disney. However, a source tells Feigen (Twitter link) that it should happen “soon.”

Bruno Caboclo To Re-Isolate After Breaking Quarantine

Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo inadvertently broke quarantine at the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus and will be required to re-quarantine for another eight days before he resumes team activities, according to Tim MacMahon, Zach Lowe, Malika Andrews, and Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle clarifies (via Twitter) that Caboclo is now two days into a new 10-day quarantine period.

Any sort of coronavirus outbreak within the Disney campus could throw a wrench into the NBA’s restart plan, so the league is requiring players, coaches, and staffers to strictly follow the protocols put in place. Caboclo is the first player known to have run afoul of those protocols, having left his room during the initial quarantine period, tweets MacMahon. He was unaware he wasn’t allowed to do so, despite having been informed of those restrictions.

Caboclo, 24, was traded from Memphis to Houston at the trade deadline in February, but didn’t see much action after joining the Rockets. He appeared in just five games before the season was suspended in March, averaging 2.0 PPG and 1.8 RPG in 5.6 minutes per contest.

Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni is unlikely to utilize a super-deep rotation in Orlando, but with David Nwaba unable to play due to his Achilles recovery and Luc Mbah a Moute rejoining the team after a long layoff, Caboclo had a chance to move up on the depth chart. Now that he won’t be able to resume practicing until next week, it seems less likely that he’ll play regular minutes during the seeding games.

The Rockets are still waiting for stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, as well as Mbah a Moute, to report to the Disney campus in Florida. According to Feigen, D’Antoni said on Sunday that those players are working out at “their own home base” and that they should arrive “in a few days.” He declined to offer specifics on why the arrivals of Harden, Westbrook, and Mbah a Moute have been delayed.

“These are things that people are dealing with,” D’Antoni said. “We’re not going to get into why not. They’re on their way.”

[UPDATE: Russell Westbrook Tested Positive For COVID-19]

Rockets Notes: D’Antoni, Travel Details, Tucker

69-year-old Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, who says he has cleared his medical screenings with Houston, has flown with the team to Orlando, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). Though D’Antoni was granted no “formal NBA thumbs up,” as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets, the league also did not restrict D’Antoni’s campus attendance following the medical clearance.

D’Antoni is the league’s second-oldest head coach, after 71-year-old Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. The 40-24 Rockets are currently the No. 6 seed in the West, 1.5 games clear of the seventh-seeded Mavericks.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • D’Antoni and Rockets general manager Daryl Morey are relishing the opportunity for the team to practice together ahead of the league’s scheduled July 30 restart, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Because we had a major change in the components of the team, we do think a second training camp benefits us,” Morey said. “Because when you’re integrating a starter onto a very good team, getting more time to drill… will allow us to integrate (Robert) Covington in, and I do think that slightly favors us.”
  • Rockets All-Stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook did not travel with the rest of the team to Orlando today, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter link). They are expected to arrive later this week. Newly-signed substitute player Luc Mbah a Moute and player development coach John Lucas also did not travel with the rest of the Rockets, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • 35-year-old Rockets forward/center and defensive stalwart P.J. Tucker has indicated that he would like an extension on his current four-year contract, which expires after the 2020/21 season, per Fox 26 Houston’s Mark Berman (Twitter link). “I want to retire as a Houston Rocket,” Tucker said. “The fans, the city have embraced me since day one. So fingers crossed, I hope we can strike a deal and get it done.”

Rockets Sign Luc Mbah A Moute

JULY 7: Mbah a Moute has officially signed his contract with the Rockets, according to Charania (via Twitter). GM Daryl Morey published a tweet confirming the move.

As a result of the team signing Mbah a Moute as a substitute player, Sefolosha is ineligible to return this season.

JULY 1: Former Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute will rejoin the team for the NBA’s restart, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. He will serve as a substitute player for Thabo Sefolosha, who opted out of Orlando earlier today.

Mbah a Moute hasn’t played in the league this season, but worked out for the Rockets in early March, shortly before the hiatus. He and the team had mutual interest in a reunion for a while, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).

A defensive specialist, Mbah a Moute was a rotation player for Houston during the 2017/18 season before being injured late in the year. He signed with the Clippers before the start of last season, but injuries limited him to just four games.

Luc Mbah A Moute Works Out For Rockets

Former Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute had a workout for the team yesterday, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

The 33-year-old veteran played for Houston during the 2017/18 season, averaging 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 61 games. He signed with the Clippers before the start of last season, but was only able to play in four games because of a knee injury that required surgery last March. He was waived in April just before the start of the playoffs.

Mbah a Moute has played 11 NBA seasons, spending most of his time with the Bucks and Clippers. He is a defensive specialist who shoots 33.5% from 3-point range for his career.

Houston has a full roster, so someone would have to be waived before Mbah a Moute could be signed.

Rockets Sign Ryan Anderson To Partially Guaranteed Contract

SEPTEMBER 27: The Rockets have officially signed Anderson, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

SEPTEMBER 25: Ryan Anderson is returning to Houston, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the free agent forward has agreed to a new contract with the Rockets. The deal will feature a significant partial guarantee, per Charania.

Anderson is still collecting on the four-year, $80MM deal that Houston gave him in the summer of 2016. He spent two years with the team before being traded to Phoenix last August in a salary dump. In February, the Suns shipped him to Miami, which waived him in July under the stretch provision.

Anderson will earn more from the Heat ($5,214,584) than the Rockets this season, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. That number will be slightly reduced once Anderson’s new contract becomes official, providing a measure of relief to the Miami, which is up against a hard salary cap.

Anderson will be given a chance to earn back-up minutes at power forward, adds Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic (via Twitter). He states that Houston reached out to both Anderson and fellow free agent Luc Mbah a Moute this month about possible returns (Twitter link). Anderson averaged 11.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 138 games during his first stint in Houston.

The Rockets are at the 20-man limit after reaching a deal yesterday with Jaron Blossomgame, so a move will have to created before he and Anderson can both be added to the roster.

Rockets Notes: Westbrook, Harden, Anthony, Mbah a Moute

Scouts and assistant coaches from rival teams are skeptical that the RocketsRussell WestbrookJames Harden backcourt pairing will work, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com reports. There is widespread doubt that the two stars will blend their games offensively since Westbrook is poor 3-point shooter and prefers to play at a different pace than Harden. Many of those interviewed also predicted the Rockets’ perimeter defense will decline.

“They’re both hardheaded guys and we know Harden’s history with other players there,” one scout told Deveney.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Owner Tilman Fertitta said he never met Carmelo Anthony and was surprised that his staff decided to part ways with the longtime All-Star after just 10 games last season, he told Ian Begley of SNY. “Basketball ops decided to make a decision and, you know, it kind of surprised me too, as a fan of the Houston Rockets. But I know what I know and I know what I don’t know. And if my basketball ops thought that we should move on, then I sure wasn’t going to tell them not to, even though I thought that Melo’s one the greatest players to ever play the game.”
  • It isn’t out of the question that Luc Mbah a Moute will eventually sign with the Rockets, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Currently a free agent, Mbah a Moute decided not to attend a team mini-camp for veteran free agents in Las Vegas. The team had conversations with him over the summer about a possible return but there was lingering doubt about the health, Iko continues. Though the team subsequently signed Thabo Sefolosha, adding Mbah a Moute to shore up wing depth would be ideal, Iko adds.
  • The addition of Sefolosha became official on Monday. Get all the details here.