Usman Garuba

Texas Notes: Green, Garuba, Bertans, Finney-Smith, Holt

Rockets rookie power forward Usman Garuba has great expectations for the future of fellow Houston first-year player Jalen Green, projecting Green’s scoring to ascend in the coming seasons, per Raul Barrigon of HoopsHype. The second pick in the 2021 draft, Green averaged 17.3 PPG on .426/.343/.797 shooting across 67 contests this year.

“He’ll be an All-Star for sure,” Green raved. “And I think he’s going to be the NBA’s leading scorer in a few years. We have to help him to achieve those goals. He’s by far the player that has surprised me the most this year. We all know how good was Anthony Edwards this season, right? Green will play like him next year, maybe even better.”

The 6’8″ Garuba, selected with the No. 23 pick by Houston in the 2021 draft, did not get a ton of run during his first year on a developing Rockets club. The 20-year-old averaged just 10.0 MPG across 24 games in 2021/22. He confirmed his interest in a return to the Summer League and to Spain during the 2022 offseason, with the blessing of the Houston front office.

“What I need now is to play games,” Garuba said. “After a season where I suffered some injuries, I started to play regularly by the end of March. Just when we played the last game I was like ‘Is that it? I want to play more!’ The Rockets know that if I’m healthy, I want to play for the Spanish team (in EuroBasket) – if they call me – and they’re OK with it.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Sharpshooting new Mavericks big man Davis Bertans has made his mark for Dallas in the playoffs thus far, writes Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. Bertans was fairly demure in addressing his postseason performances, particularly a strong Game 4. “That is always a big deal every game, not just the playoffs,” Bertans said. “You have the guys bailing out the starters. Very often that boost comes when the team is leading, and the second unit comes in and lifts the team up even more. That just gives more confidence to the team and the starters for the rest of the game.”
  • The $55MM contract extension the Mavericks lavished on forward Dorian Finney-Smith earlier this year is looking better as the playoffs progress, writes Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. Finney gave the Mavs a much-needed boost in Game 4 of their second-round series against the Suns on Sunday, scoring 24 points while going 8-of-12 from long range. “When he’s playing like that, when he’s aggressive and not thinking about the shot and just catch-and-shoot, he’s as good as anyone,” head coach Jason Kidd said. “We needed that lift, and he picked us up.” Finney-Smith’s two-way play has been a massive help to Dallas throughout the postseason. In the first round of the playoffs, he averaged an efficient 13.2 PPG and 6.3 RPG across 43.3 MPG while guarding All-Star Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell the majority of the time.
  • Spurs owner Peter J. Holt has reiterated to Spurs fans that he intends to keep the club in San Antonio for the long haul in a statement published on the team site. “There are no Spurs without the city and the people of San Antonio,” Holt wrote. “Your team, our team, together we are the silver and black. Spurs fans – we are here to stay, Por Vida.” The letter reassured Bexar County Commissioner Tommy Calvert, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “It makes one feel better,” Calvert said. Fears of the team possibly relocating may have been stirred after news broke that the team wants to play four “home” games away from their home arena during each of the next two NBA seasons. The Spurs are eyeing home games elsewhere in Texas (Austin and San Marcos) and in Mexico (Mexico City and Monterrey).

And-Ones: Coaching Candidates, Kirkwood, Garuba, Embiid

Suns assistant Kevin Young, Bucks assistants Darvin Ham and Charles Lee, Celtics assistant Will Hardy, Grizzlies assistant Darko Rajakovic, Heat assistants Chris Quinn and Malik Allen, and Warriors assistants Mike Brown and Kenny Atkinson are among the assistants around the NBA who are viewed as potential head coaching candidates by league insiders, according to ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz (Insider-only link).

A number of the names on Arnovitz’s list have been linked to one or more of the NBA’s three current head coaching openings. Ham and Brown, for instance, all believed to be under consideration by all three of the Hornets, Lakers, and Kings.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Harvard senior guard Noah Kirkwood, who declared for the 2022 NBA draft as an early entrant, has decided to remain in the draft and go pro rather than using his final year of college eligibility, according to agent Ronnie Zeidel (Twitter link via Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports).
  • Rockets forward/center Usman Garuba said in an interview with Spanish outlet AS.com that he’s committed to representing Spain at this year’s EuroBasket competition, as Eurohoops relays.
  • In an intriguing bit of international basketball news, an RMC Sport report indicates that Sixers center Joel Embiid is exploring the possibility of obtaining French citizenship and representing France in future international events. Embiid was born in Cameroon, but has family from France and has never suited up for the Cameroonian national team.

Rockets Notes: Green, Garuba, Draft, Porter

Jalen Green has been showing off the scoring ability that convinced the Rockets to take him with the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. When Houston decided this week to hold out its veterans, possibly for the rest of the season, Green began to focus on getting the shots he wanted. The result has been three straight 30-point games, including a career-best 33 Friday night.

“He’s a shot maker,” coach Stephen Silas said. “He can get to the rim. He can get to the free throw line. He can shoot the mid-range. Just kind of happy for him that the work he puts in translates and he can be further confirmed that he’s really good by working and producing and working more and producing more.”

Green became a starter right away, but it took him a while to adjust to the NBA, Feigen notes. He shot just 37.7% from the field and 28.4% from three-point range for the first part of the season, but since turning 20 on February 9 those numbers have improved to 46.5% and 40%. Green believes he benefited from participating in the Rising Stars event at All-Star Weekend.

“All-Star was just a confidence builder, being in that atmosphere, playing in that,” he said. “On top of that, me and (assistant coach John Lucas) being in the gym working, all the time. Just trusting my work.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Fellow rookie Usman Garuba had to wait much longer for his first NBA start, which happened Wednesday, Feigen adds in a separate story. The 23rd pick last year battled through a thigh bruise, a fractured wrist, an ankle injury and COVID-19, which have limited him to 20 total games. “It is very important for him to feel good about his position on this team, his worth for our group,” Silas said. “He’s talented and he hasn’t really gotten a chance this year. We have such high hopes for him and we’re so positive about him, but he needs to feel it as well. I think having the actual game experience will help him with that.”
  • Auburn’s Jabari Smith would be the best fit for the Rockets in the draft, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko sees Smith’s size, shooting and defensive abilities as a perfect fit for Houston’s current roster and says questions about his playmaking won’t be a concern with Green and Kevin Porter Jr. handling those duties.
  • Iko expects Porter to remain the team’s point guard unless the Rockets land the fourth or fifth pick and draft Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. Porter will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer.

Southwest Notes: Wood, Gordon, Schröder, Grizzlies, Mavs

Rockets veterans Christian Wood (left hamstring tightness), Eric Gordon (right groin soreness), and Dennis Schröder (left shoulder soreness) were held out of Monday’s game vs. San Antonio and seem unlikely to play any more this season, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

As Feigen outlines, none of those injuries are invented, but it’s probably safe to assume Wood, Gordon, and Schröder wouldn’t all be sidelined by “tightness” and “soreness” if the Rockets were in the midst of a playoff race. Instead, the team is invested in securing a top spot in the draft lottery — currently, Houston is in a three-way tie for the NBA’s worst record (20-56).

With Wood, Gordon, and Schröder out, prospects like Daishen Nix and Usman Garuba will likely see more action down the stretch for the Rockets, joining fellow rookies Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Josh Christopher in the regular rotation, Feigen writes. Nix and Garuba each played 14 minutes in Monday’s loss to the Spurs.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • In addition to having the NBA’s second-best record this season, the Grizzlies are the “sleeping giant” of the 2022 offseason, according to Danny Leroux of The Athletic. As Leroux lays out, Memphis has some cap flexibility and a handful of draft picks available this summer and should be motivated to add talent before Ja Morant transitions from his rookie contract to a more expensive second contract in 2023.
  • The Mavericks strongly considered signing free agent guard Quinn Cook to a 10-day hardship contract earlier in the season, but ultimately chose Isaiah Thomas in part due to proximity, writes Marc Stein at his Substack. Cook, who is currently playing for the Stockton Kings in the G League, said in a tweet over the weekend that he was at “rock bottom” earlier this year and would be thrilled to get an NBA call-up before the season is over.
  • The Mavericks hired Jason Kidd as their head coach in part because of the impact the Hall-of-Fame point guard could have on Luka Doncic, and so far it seems that bet is paying off, per Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s been great for us,” Doncic said of Kidd. “He communicates with the players. He’s just been great, helping not just me but everybody, just to see a better picture.”

Rockets’ Garuba Undergoes Wrist Surgery, Out 6-8 Weeks

JANUARY 27, 9:33am: Garuba underwent surgery today to repair a fracture in his left wrist, according to the Rockets, who confirmed in a press release that the rookie is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks.


JANUARY 26, 2:02pm: Garuba will undergo surgery on his injured wrist and is expected to miss about six-to-eight weeks, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).


JANUARY 26, 10:12am: Rockets rookie forward Usman Garuba is dealing with a left wrist injury that is more serious than initially believed, head coach Stephen Silas said on Tuesday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Garuba has been ruled out indefinitely.

Garuba had been on a G League assignment with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and last played with the team on Saturday. He showed up on the Rockets’ injury report two days later with what was only described as a “left wrist injury.”

“He fell,” Silas said on Tuesday, per Feigen. “I was talking to him about it. He was like, ‘Yeah, I fell, and I didn’t think it was that bad.’ But it turns out it’s pretty bad. He’s going to be out for a while. There is some talk about him needing surgery.”

Based on Silas’ comments, it sounds like the Rockets and Garuba are still evaluating their options for how to treat the injury. If he undergoes surgery, we likely won’t see him for at least several weeks, if not months. His recovery timeline would depend on the nature of the injury.

The 23rd overall pick in the 2021 draft, Garuba had played sparingly for Houston so far, averaging 1.3 PPG and 2.3 RPG in 15 games (7.0 MPG). The 19-year-old likely would’ve seen more action at the G League level than in the NBA during the second half of the season, so his absence won’t have an impact on the Rockets’ rotation. Still, it’s a disappointing setback for a young prospect who is part of the team’s long-term plans — Garuba’s developmental process will be slowed until his wrist heals.

COVID-19 Updates: Oubre, Casey, Satoransky, Garuba, More

Hornets forward Kelly Oubre has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). Oubre will miss the team’s Monday night game vs. Milwaukee and will likely be sidelined longer than that unless he registered a false positive or inconclusive test. There are now two Charlotte players in the protocols, with Oubre joining Vernon Carey.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Pistons head coach Dwane Casey has entered the protocols and will be replaced in the short term by assistant Rex Kalamian, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Half of the NBA’s 30 head coaches have now been placed in the protocols at some point this season.
  • Pelicans guard Tomas Satoransky has cleared the health and safety protocols and was back with the team today, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Rockets rookie Usman Garuba has exited the COVID-19 protocols and is no longer listed on the team’s injury report, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • Raptors forward Yuta Watanabe and Heat two-way player Marcus Garrett are among the other players who have cleared the protocols, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald, respectively (Twitter links).
  • The Bucks are listing Pat Connaughton as questionable to play on Monday night and he posted an emoji of a plane today on Twitter, strongly signaling that he has exited the protocols and is flying to meet the team in Charlotte, as Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes (via Twitter). Whether or not Connaughton is available tonight, it sounds like he’s no longer in the protocols.

COVID Updates: Towns, Russell, Tucker, Hyland, Robinson, Bryant, Neto

Players around the NBA continue to enter and exit the league’s health and safety protocols. Here’s the latest update:

  • Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have exited the protocols but won’t play against the Clippers due to reconditioning, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Heat forward P.J. Tucker has been upgraded to questionable to play on Monday against Golden State after exiting the protocols, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.
  • Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland has exited the protocols and is expected to be available for Monday’s road game against Dallas, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has cleared the protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant and guard Raul Neto have cleared the protocols, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. However, Tremont Waters, who is on a 10-day hardship contract, has entered the protocols, Robbins adds in a separate tweet.
  • Bucks forward Jordan Nwora has entered the protocols and will miss Monday’s game against Detroit, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.
  • Rockets big man Usman Garuba has entered the protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

Southwest Notes: Anderson, Hart, Williamson, Morant, Garuba

Kyle Anderson enjoyed a career year for the Grizzlies as a fixture in the lineup in 2020/21. He’s had a difficult time adjusting to a bench role this season, Mark Giannotto of the Memphis Commercial Appeal notes. Anderson, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, posted averages of 12.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 3.4 APG in 69 starts last season. In 14 games off the bench this season, he’s playing approximately five fewer minutes per game while averaging 8.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 2.4 APG.

“I’m just still trying to figure it out. It’s a different role,” Anderson said. “People may look at last year and say why aren’t you doing what you did last year? It’s just that’s over. This is a different role. I’m a professional. I’ve got to figure it out.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans are floundering with a 2-14 record and guard Josh Hart doesn’t want to hear excuses for their poor start, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. “We have to grow up. (Bleep) being young, inexperienced,” he said. “I don’t really care for that right now. We have have to focus on growing up. We have to focus on having better attention to detail.”
  • When Zion Williamson and Ja Morant were drafted 1-2 in 2019, it should have sparked a spirited division rivalry between the Pelicans and Grizzlies, It hasn’t worked out that way, at least not yet, because of Williamson’s injury issues, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian writes. The teams have only met six times since that draft due to the pandemic and only three have included both Williamson and Morant, Herrington notes. Just one of those matchups had a full complement of fans in the stands due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Rockets first-round pick Usman Garuba has been assigned the G League Rio Grande Valley Vipers and that’s needed in order to get him some experience, Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle writes. Garuba hasn’t cracked the Rockets’ regular rotation, appearing in just seven games and averaging 6.4 MPG. Garuba is noted for defensive prowess but needs to develop his offensive game, Huq adds.

And-Ones: Buyouts, Hearn, Beauchamp, Morrison

In a piece for BasketNews.com, Donatas Urbonas explores how Real Madrid is able to secure such lucrative buyout deals for its players, such as Facundo Campazzo, Gabriel Deck, and Usman Garuba, among others.

The Spanish powerhouse made over 10 million Euros in buyouts in the last nine months alone, more than the total budget of Euroleague teams such as Zalgiris, according to Urbonas, who explains that because of its pedigree as a championship team, Real Madrid is able to attract top talent, but also institute their own conditions. There’s also the appeal of living in Madrid and the top-flight amenities the club is able to offer.

Finally, Urbonas writes that the team invests tens of millions in its youth development program, which is renowned for getting the attention of NBA teams, making the exorbitant buyouts a tradeoff of that exposure and unrivaled development system.

We have more from around the world of hoops:

  • Former Piston Reggie Hearn has signed with German team Fraport Skyline, reports Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (via Twitter). Hearn spent last season with the G League Ignite, averaging 3.9 PPG in just 13 MPG.
  • MarJon Beauchamp, a top-5o recruit in the class of 2020, has signed with the G League Ignite, reports ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. After COVID-19 disrupted his ability to train in San Francisco, Beauchamp enrolled in Yakima Valley junior college, where he averaged 30.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 4.8 APG per game while shooting 40% from three. Beauchamp joins a loaded Ignite team that may get even better, with top 2023 recruit Emoni Bates set to make his recruitment decision tomorrow.
  • Former Celtics assistant Scott Morrison has signed on to be the head coach of the NBL’s Perth Wildcats, per an NBL announcement. The deal will span three years. Morrison, who had spent the previous three seasons with the Celtics, reportedly interviewed for Washington’s head coaching job this offseason.

Rockets Sign Usman Garuba To Rookie Contract

Spanish big man Usman Garuba has officially signed his rookie contract with the Rockets, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

Garuba had been the last of this year’s 30 first-round picks who remained unsigned. The process was held up a little due to the fact that he was participating in the Tokyo Olympics and had to finalize a buyout agreement with Real Madrid, his team in Spain.

[RELATED: 2021 NBA Draft Pick Signings]

As a result of that team-friendly buyout, Garuba owes Real Madrid in excess of two million Euros, but will be able to pay it off in installments. He should more than make up that amount in the NBA based on the terms of his rookie deal. Assuming he signed for the standard 120% of the rookie scale, Garuba will earn $2.35MM as a rookie and $11.81MM over the course of four seasons.

Garuba, 19, had been a member of Real Madrid since 2017 and was a regular part of the team’s rotation in 2020/21. He was named the ACB Best Young Player and received the EuroLeague Rising Star award, then was one of four prospects selected by Houston in this first round of the 2021 draft.

The No. 23 overall pick, Garuba joins Jalen Green (No. 2), Alperen Sengun (No. 16), and Josh Christopher (No. 24) to make up the Rockets’ promising 2021 draft class.