Luc Mbah a Moute

Rockets Notes: Ariza, Tucker, Green

Rockets forward Trevor Ariza is expected to miss the team’s four-game road trip because of a left hamstring injury, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He was injured during their game against the Suns on Sunday. With Ariza out, Luc Mbah a Moute will likely move into the starting lineup and Gerald Green will return to the rotation, Feigen adds“It’s always one thing and another,” guard Eric Gordon told Feigen about the team’s struggles with injuries this season. “The good thing about this team is we’re deep. Anybody to be replaced, we always do well.”

In other news involving the Rockets:

  • Forward P.J. Tucker has emerged as the team’s ironman, Feigen notes in a separate story. He has appeared in every game this season, averaging 5.3 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 26.8 MPG. Tucker, who signed a four-year, $32MM contract during free agency last July, has only missed one game over the past three seasons due to injury, Feigen adds. “I knock on wood every time I walk away from here,” Tucker told Feigen. “I don’t even think about it because I haven’t been injured. It doesn’t cross my mind.”
  • Green wasn’t upset about losing his rotation spot despite his hot shooting, as Feigen relays in yet another piece. Green has averaged 13.7 PPG and made 40.9% of his 3-point attempts in 12 games since the team signed him. But he had only played four minutes in three games until Ariza’s injury. “I’m blessed to have this type opportunity. I have a chance … to win a ring,” Green told Feigen. “Whatever role that I have on this team, I’m more than honored to have. Right now, I know my number is getting ready to be called. I’ve been in the gym working.”

Shoulder Injury Sidelines Luc Mbah A Moute 2-3 Weeks

The Rockets will be without forward Luc Mbah a Moute for two to three weeks following a shoulder injury sustained Wednesday night but, as Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets, the results of an MRI conducted reveal that there are no significant issues.

Shortly after the game on Wednesday, head coach Mike D’Antoni speculated that the 31-year-old had dislocated his shoulder and Rockets fans braced for  an extended stretch without a key rotation player.

In just over 25 minutes per game this season, Mbah a Moute has averaged 6.8 points and 3.4 rebounds for the Rockets while establishing himself as a defensive cornerstone.

Luc is a key for us defensively,” center Clint Capela told Jenny Dial Creech of the Houston Chronicle. “We’re going to have to be more focused on defense because without Luc, it’s not going to be easy.

Southwest Notes: Davis, Noel, Carlisle, Paul

Anthony Davis will undergo further examination on his groin injury when the Pelicans return to New Orleans tomorrow, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. He will be held out of tonight’s game in Portland.

Davis suffered the injury Friday night in Utah, collapsing under the basket while going after a rebound. He had to be helped off the court and later used crutches as he left the locker room. He was still on crutches as he arrived at the Moda Center tonight, according to Mike Richman of The Oregonian (Twitter link).

Davis has been among the league’s top young stars since being taken with the first pick in the 2012 draft, but durability has been a persistent problem. He appeared in 75 games last season, which marked the first time he was able to play in more than 70.

There’s more news from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks center Nerlens Noel didn’t get off the bench for the fourth straight game today, but he got some attention in the media dining area, relays Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Noel stopped in for a hot dog at lunchtime, which is an unusual act for a player in uniform. He explained that he got hungry during the afternoon game and needed “fuel” in case he was called on in the second half. Whether it was an innocent gesture or an act of protest, it’s clear that Noel is unhappy being stuck on the bench. “I’m doing everything I need to, staying in shape, continuing to work on my game and working on the little things,” Noel said. “It’s frustrating at times. But I think I got laser focus right now for what I want to do and where I want to be. I’m anxious to play. When that comes, it comes.” But when asked if he expects that to happen in Dallas, he replied, “I honestly have no idea.”
  • Today’s win was number 700 for Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, Sefko notes in a separate story, which underscores how long he has been with the organization. He spent two seasons as head coach in Detroit and four years in Indiana before coming to Dallas at the start of 2008/09. “It means I’ve been very fortunate to have three great owners and a lot of great players,” Carlisle said. “I’ve never been one to count that kind of stuff. As time goes on, I count those things even less.”
  • Rockets guard Chris Paul and forward Luc Mbah a Moute will make their first trip back to Staples Center tomorrow since leaving the Clippers over the offseason, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Both say their emotions will be lessened because they are facing the Lakers instead of their former team.

Western Notes: Len, Gobert, Leonard, Rockets

Alex Len has become the odd man out in the Suns’ center rotation and he cannot hide his displeasure, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Len signed a one-year, $4.2MM qualifying offer with Phoenix after failing to receive an offer sheet that he found acceptable as a restricted free agent over the summer. Len has not played in two of the three last games, as interim coach Jay Triano has decided to ride veterans Tyson Chandler and recently-acquired Greg Monroe“I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court,” Len told Bordow. “So when you’re not able to help your team, it’s frustrating.” Len’s lack of playing time won’t help his cause when he enters the market again next summer, this time as an unrestricted free agent.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert is participating in on-court individual drills at practice, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News tweets. This could be a sign that Gobert, who is recovering from a right knee injury, will return to action sooner than the four- to six-week timetable given on November 12th. Gobert injured the knee in a collision with Heat guard Dion Waiters.
  • Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard is making significant progress from the right quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out of action all season, coach Gregg Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News and other media members. Popovich, who jokingly scoffed at “Doctor” Tony Parker‘s estimation that Leonard could return in two or three weeks, said Leonard would soon participate in 5-on-5 practice drills. “He’s getting very close and making progress,” Popovich said. “He’s having contact now and hopefully we will get him back shortly.”
  • The Rockets are not experiencing chemistry issues because the veterans they acquired know how to blend in, according to Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute know what it takes to work well with others and it shows now that the team is playing at full strength, Atkins adds.

Texas Notes: Curry, Mavericks, Leonard, Mbah a Moute

Mavericks guard Seth Curry is moving closer to a return, but coach Rick Carlisle tells Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News that there’s still no timetable. Carlisle confirmed that Curry, who suffered a stress reaction in his right leg during preseason, won’t be back before December, but couldn’t offer much more on his status. Curry is working on an underwater treadmill to ease the impact on his tibia.

“He’s inching closer all the time,” Carlisle said. “Again, there’s no setbacks that I’m aware of. He hasn’t participated in live practice, per se. There’s been simulated live situations — stuff with coaches where you have a defender or an offensive player. But it’s very set up so as not to create risk. But he’s working at it. He wants to be back. But it’s just got to happen at the right time.”

Curry, who is making a little more than $3MM, was hoping for a strong performance this season before heading into unrestricted free agency next summer. The 27-year-old appeared in 70 games last year, starting 42, and averaged 12.8 points per night.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • The Mavericks haven’t given up on the postseason despite their abysmal start, Sefko writes in a separate story. Dallas improved to 5-15 with Saturday night’s win and is just four games out of a playoff spot. “This locker room is full of winners,” said Wesley Matthews. “We got three guys who have won championships and a bunch of veterans that have been on really good teams. We’re not comprised of players who haven’t won. It’s just a matter of getting an identity and we’ve started to do that.”
  • The Spurs got some good news on the injury front earlier today with Tony Parker‘s announcement that he plans to play tomorrow, but Kawhi Leonard‘s situation remains murky, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Leonard has been out since before the start of the preseason with right quadriceps tendinopathy, and a source says the team is “perplexed” by his slow recovery.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute has been a perfect addition to the Rockets, writes Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Signed as a defensive specialist, Mbah a Moute has contributed on offense as well, averaging 8.2 points per game, and was an incredible plus-57 in Wednesday’s win over the Nuggets.

Texas Notes: Paul, Mbah a Moute, Mejri, Forbes

As much as they would like to get Chris Paul back in the lineup, the Rockets won’t use their new point guard until he is fully recovered, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. After playing on opening night, Paul has been sidelined by a bruised knee. He has been swimming and boxing to stay in shape and went through shooting drills Saturday.

Coach Mike D’Antoni said he hopes to have Paul back around the middle of this month, but there isn’t a definite date for his return. “Every day that goes by we get a little bit closer,” D’Antoni said. “It can’t be close enough. He’s getting there.”

For his part, Paul is anxious to get back on the court, and agrees with D’Antoni’s timeline, as he tells Sam Amick of USA Today.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Free agent addition Luc Mbah a Moute has been a huge bargain for the Rockets, Feigen writes in a separate story. Houston pursued the 31-year-old forward for his defensive prowess, but Mbah a Moute has contributed on offense as well. He is averaging 9.3 points per game and scored a season-high 20 Friday against the Hawks. The Rockets were able to sign him to a one-year, minimum-salary deal thanks to aggressive recruiting from Paul, who recognized the value of his former Clippers teammate.He’s the best-kept secret in the NBA,” D’Antoni said. “… He’s as good as anybody. He’s smart. He can play big minutes. He can shoot 3s. Whatever you want him to do he does it. He’s got playmaking skills. He sees the floor. I don’t know how we all missed it, but we all did.”
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle continues to tinker with his lineup, starting Salah Mejri at center Saturday night instead of Nerlens Noel, relays Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He always brings a lot of energy, a lot of fight,” Carlisle said of Mejri, who made his first start of the season. “He brings a certain combative personality to the game, which is something we need right now.” Noel, who is headed toward unrestricted free agency  after accepting the team’s qualifying offer this summer, has been in and out of the starting lineup with six starts in 11 games.
  • Second-year shooting guard Bryn Forbes had his best night of the season Friday with 22 points off the Spurs‘ bench, notes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Undrafted out of Michigan State last season, Forbes seems to have earned a spot in San Antonio’s rotation. “It’s a (testament) to how well he’s been working behind the scenes,” said teammate Patty Mills. “He’s one of those hard workers who never puts his head down and just keeps grinding. So I’m really proud of him because you see it all pay off in the end.”

Rockets Notes: Capela, Tax, Anderson, Gupta

While Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey doesn’t want to be making roster decisions with one specific rival in mind, he acknowledges in a Q&A with Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that it’s impossible not to consider the Warriors at this point when making signings and trades.

“We know we’re going to face them,” Morey said of the Dubs. “We obviously have to get through some extremely tough teams, the Spurs, Oklahoma City, Memphis, you name it. To get there. But if you know you are going to be facing a team if you’re having the season you want, and we want to be all the way to the championship, I think it does make sense to focus on that team.”

Morey pointed to the signings of Luc Mbah a Moute and P.J. Tucker as moves that were made with the Warriors in mind. Both veteran forwards are strong defenders who would probably match up with the likes of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson in a playoff series against Golden State.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Asked by Feigen about the possibility of an extension for Clint Capela, Morey pointed out that contract extensions are getting trickier to pull off around the NBA, since the salary cap isn’t increasingly quite as quickly as initially anticipated, and long-term commitments are starting to add up for many teams across the league.
  • In Houston’s case, new deals for Capela, Chris Paul, and Trevor Ariza next summer would create luxury-tax issues for the club. While Morey didn’t comment specifically about new owner Tilman Fertitta‘s willingness to pay the tax, he told Feigen that Fertitta is “all about winning” and will do what it takes to win. Morey also noted that he has met with the Rockets’ incoming owner a couple times already.
  • Morey tells Feigen that he spoke to Ryan Anderson this week about the Knicks-related trade rumors that have been swirling around Anderson all offseason. “Players get frustrated,” Morey said. “It’s rare for a GM to get frustrated because we have to deal with it all the time, but this one has been frustrating because it’s lingering and not much is accurate out there.”
  • The Rockets announced today that Sachin Gupta has rejoined the team as a special advisor (link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). Gupta was Morey’s first hire back in 2006, but left Houston to become a consultant for the Sixers during Sam Hinkie’s stint in Philadelphia.

Western Notes: Russell, Crawford, Mbah a Moute

Several teams were interested in trading for D’Angelo Russell, according to Lakers team president Magic Johnson, which was something that gave the front office confidence in trade talks.

“Like five teams called for D’Angelo [so] we knew that we could move D’Angelo for one of the pieces that we were looking for. So we decided on Brooklyn, they got a great player in D’Angelo and we got what we wanted,” Johnson said (via Ohm Youngmisuk of

Johnson added that it wasn’t difficult moving on from the former No. 2 overall pick. “I am not one of them dudes,” Johnson added. “When I say bye, that’s it. I keep moving. I can’t get caught in emotions and all that. That is not who I am. We moved and we kept moving. After that trade we went on to the next thing.”

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Jamal Crawford said he consulted former Wolves guard Zach LaVine before signing with Minnesota, as Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune shares. “He loved Minnesota, absolutely loved. Obviously, it’s cold, but he said it’s a great city, great people. He enjoyed playing for Coach Thibs,” Crawford said.
  • Luc Mbah a Moute, who officially signed with the Rockets earlier today, is excited to play under coach Mike D’Antoni, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 relays (Twitter link). “The environment that he creates is very much like a family,” the small forward said of D’Antoni. “It’s exciting.”
  • Despite his up-and-down stint with the Lakers, Nick Young said he may come back to the team to retire when it’s time to hang up his jersey, Mark Medina of the Orange County Register passes along. “I love LA. I might be back and retire here one day,” said Young. “I’ll come back with Kobe, MJ, and LeBron (James).”

Rockets Sign Luc Mbah a Moute

July 19: The signing is official, according to the team’s website.

July 16: The Rockets have reached an agreement with Luc Mbah a Moute, sources tell Chris Haynes of (Twitter link). The deal will be a one-year, minimum salary arrangement, according to Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders. 

Mbah a Moute had been in talks with the team about returning to L.A, though the team only had the veteran’s minimum at its disposal. He’ll get that sized deal with Houston after choosing to opt out of a $2.3MM player option in order to hit free agency.

Mbah a Moute has bounced around the league since the Bucks selected him in the second round of the 2008 draft. He played well in the Clippers’ starting lineup last season, shooting 50.5% from the field on 378 attempts while providing excellent defense.

Clippers Remain Engaged On Several Free Agents

The Clippers have had a busy offseason thus far and the team remains active with at least two players from last season’s roster. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter) first noted that Los Angeles has been engaged with Luc Mbah a Moute and Los Angeles Times scribe Brad Turner (via Twitter) added that in addition to Mbah a Moute, the Clippers are interested in retaining Marreese Speights.

While there is interest, Wojnarowski noted that the Clippers’ financial constraints would make a deal difficult and Turner added that no deal is close.

Mbah a Moute, 30, played in 80 games (76 starts) last season while averaging 6.1 PPG and 2.1 RPG. As for Speights, the 29-year-old appeared in all 82 games for Los Angeles and the NBA champion provided his usual solid production with 8.7 PPG and 4.5 RPG.

After losing Chris Paul to the Rockets, the Clippers spent significant money on sharpshooter Danilo Gallinari (three years, $63MM), international superstar Milos Teodosic (two years, $12.3MM), and re-signing Blake Griffin (five years, $173MM). While the team restocked its roster in the sign-and-trade sending Paul to Houston, Speights and Mbah a Moute were two key pieces of last year’s team on both sides of the floor.

Los Angeles has no cap space left as the team used its bi-annual exception last year and used up most of their mid-level exception on Teodosic and Jawun Evans. With approximately $1.5MM left on their MLE, the Clippers’ best chance of retaining Mbah a Moute/Speights would be on deals worth the veteran’s minimum.