The Rockets acquired three veteran players at the trade deadline, but have already bought out two of them, placing Danny Green and Justin Holiday on waivers on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
As Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes, Houston didn’t necessarily acquire those players expecting to let them go, since the team likes the idea of having some veteran leaders to complement its young core. Head coach Stephen Silas addressed that issue when he discussed Holiday’s exit from the team, tacitly acknowledging that it’s hard to blame those vets for not wanting to stick around and be part of a 13-44 squad.
“Ideally you want a few guys who have more than three years of experience on the floor and he had 10,” Silas said. “But that’s the business of the game and where we are as an organization as far as rebuilding. Ideally, you don’t want to roll out 10 guys who are first-, second- and third-year guys but these are guys who play hard, try and learn and are improving. That’s where we’re at.”
Frank Kaminsky is the lone veteran acquired at the deadline who is still a Rocket, though there’s no guarantee that’ll be the case for the rest of the season. Team and league sources tell Iko that Kaminsky’s situation is “fluid,” with some teams expressing interest in signing the big man if he’s waived by Houston. While the two sides continue to talk, Kaminsky plans to make the most of his time with the team, even if it’s brief.
“This is the team that wanted me,” he said. “They want me to be here, so I’m going to do whatever I can to help as much as I possibly can. Whether that’s playing or me being a vocal leader in the locker room, practice, shootarounds, whatever.”
Here’s more on the Rockets:
- Asked about the deadline-day trades that sent out Eric Gordon, Garrison Mathews, and Bruno Fernando, general manager Rafael Stone told reporters, including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he’s confident the cap flexibility and draft assets generated by those moves will make the Rockets a better team in the long run. “We are going to have the most cap space this summer of any team in the NBA, I believe,” Stone said. “We’re going to have a lot of room to sign free agents to make trades into that space to really transform the team. And we decided that we’re really, really valuing that flexibility. And so, within that context, we think that we improved the team.”
- Stone said he’s not necessarily “satisfied” with the development of young players like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith, but remains confident in the upside of Houston’s young core. “We want them to be great players, and they’re not, yet,” Stone said, per Feigen. “The goal is not to be OK. It’s not to be improving; it’s to be great. And we’re realistic. We knew that they wouldn’t be great in this time frame. But that’s the goal. So, until we get to the goal, we’re not going be satisfied. We like them. We liked their work ethic. We’re excited about their future. But we all have a lot of work to do.”
- Stone declined to comment about the future of head coach Stephen Silas beyond this season. According to Feigen, Silas is under contract for 2023/24, but his salary is not yet guaranteed.
- Danny Green gave up $289,472 as part of his buyout agreement with the Rockets, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). That reduces his cap hit from $10MM to $9,710,528. Green is expected to receive $2MM from Cleveland on a rest-of-season deal.