Archive for the ‘ Houston Rockets Blog ’ Category

Rockets sign James Ennis III

The Rockets signed free agent James Ennis III today.

The 6-foot-7, 210 pound forward was selected 50th overall by the Hawks in the 2013 NBA Draft. During the past four seasons, Ennis has played in a total of 220 games with 58 starts for Miami, New Orleans, Memphis, and most recently Detroit.

The California native began last season with Memphis before being traded to the Pistons in February. Overall during the season, Ennis averaged 7.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.0 assists in 22.3 minutes per game while shooting 47.4% from the floor and 83.6% from the foul line.

Ennis scored in double-figures 23 times in 2017-18, including a season-high 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 from 3-point range, for Detroit at Orlando on March 2. He recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds against the Rockets on Oct. 23.

During the Grizzlies First Round series vs. San Antonio in the 2017 playoffs, Ennis averaged 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds while starting four of the six games. He spent the final nine games of 2015-16 with the Pelicans, averaging 15.9 points on 50.0% shooting from the floor, while also averaging 2.7 3-pointers made on 48.0% shooting.

Rockets sign Michael Carter-Williams

Michael Carter-Williams’ NBA career got off to a great start, but now he’s at a turning point and really needs to prove himself for the future. He’ll get a shot at this next season, but as a backup to aging star point guard Chris Paul, in Houston.

The Rockets yesterday signed Carter-Williams. According to ESPN.com, the deal is merely “a one-year, $1.75 million minimum contract.”

Carter-Williams (6-6, 190) was originally the 11th overall pick by Philadelphia in the 2013 NBA Draft. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2013-14, becoming the first double-digit draft pick to do so since Mark Jackson in 1987-88.

In 287 career games with 191 starts, Carter-Williams has averaged 11.5 points, 4.9 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.40 steals. Since entering the league in 2013-14, he is one of 10 players with at least 90 games played, including James Harden and Chris Paul, to have averaged at least 11.0 ppg, 4.0 apg, 4.0 rpg, and 1.40 spg.

The 26-year-old spent last season with Charlotte, appearing in 52 games with two starts. He played at least 18 minutes 13 times, averaging 8.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 1.46 spg in those games.

The Houston Rockets have signed rookie forwards Gary Clark and Vincent Edwards. And in a related move, the team has waived guard Aaron Jackson.

Clark (6-8, 225) was eligible for the 2018 NBA Draft following his senior season at Cincinnati. He started a school record 137 games while averaging 10.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.3 blocks. Clark led the Bearcats in rebounding in each of his four seasons.

As a senior, Clark was named the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year while picking up AP Honorable Mention All-American distinction. He also earned his second straight AAC Defensive Player of the Year award.

According to Basketball-Reference, which tracks NCAA statistics back to 1992-93, Clark joined David West as the only Division I players with career totals of at least 1,400 points, 1,100 rebounds, 200 assists, 150 steals, and 180 blocks.

Edwards (6-8, 225) spent all four seasons at Purdue, where he started 127 of his 138 games played. As a senior, he averaged 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while earning All-Big Ten Second team honors.

Over his final three seasons, Edwards averaged 1.4 3-pointers made on 40.9% shooting. Dating back to 1992-93, he is one of three Division I players with career totals of at least 1,600 points, 750 rebounds, 400 assists, and 170 3-pointers made.

Edwards finished his career at Middleton High School in Ohio as the school’s all-time leading rebounder and ranked second in scoring behind Basketball Hall of Famer Jerry Lucas.

Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta announced yesterday that the team has picked up the fourth-year option on head coach Mike D’Antoni’s contract, taking him through the 2019-20 season. In two seasons with D’Antoni at the helm, the Rockets have recorded the second-highest winning percentage in the NBA (.732; 120-44).

“The way Mike conducts himself behind the scenes along with the results he brings, it did not take long for me to see that he is the perfect fit for our organization,” said Fertitta. “We are thrilled to have Coach D’Antoni continue to push the Rockets towards our goal of winning a championship.”

This past season, D’Antoni led the Rockets to a franchise single season record 65 wins. It marked the first time Houston posted the best record in the NBA. The Rockets also won a franchise record 31 road games, tying for the sixth-highest single season total in league history.

Houston also became the sixth team in NBA history to record three winning streaks of at least 10 games in a single season, including 17 in a row from Jan. 28 through March 7 which was the second-longest streak in franchise history.

Following his first season with the Rockets in 2016-17, D’Antoni was named NBA Coach of the Year after guiding Houston to a 55-27 mark. He became the eighth coach in league history to win multiple Coach of the Year awards, and joins Gregg Popovich as the only ones who are active.

The Rockets have set the NBA single season record for 3-pointers made in each of the past two seasons. Prior to D’Antoni’s first full season as head coach of Phoenix in 2004-05, only three teams had more than 700 3FGM in a single season. At the time, D’Antoni’s Suns posted the league’s three-highest single season totals for 3-pointers made from 2004-05 through 2006-07. This past season, 27 of the 30 teams hit at least 700 3-pointers.

Nobody said the restaurant business was easy. Here’s TMZ Sports reporting on Yelp abuse directed towards the Curry family.

Houston Rockets fans are still so bitter at being knocked out of the playoffs by the Warriors, they’ve gone to Yelp to take out their frustrations on Ayesha Curry’s new Houston restaurant.

Steph Curry’s wife is opening International Smoke in Houston in July — and a bunch of haters have already bombarded the page with anti-Warriors trash talk, as first pointed out by NBA reporter Tomer Azarly.

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Guarding James Harden is extremely difficult. He’s awesome in one-on-one situations. He can hit three-pointers in a defender’s face. And when he drives, the result is often an assist or free throws for Harden. Here’s Jazz backup guard Dante Exum discussing it, in the Houston Chronicle:

Though much has been made about Jazz reserve Dante Exum’s success when defending James Harden in Wednesday’s Game 2, Exum said it was about studying enough video to know what to expect and simply staying in front of Harden often enough to frustrate the Rockets’ star.

“It’s definitely about watching film and knowing his tendencies,” Exum said. “Everybody has tendencies and like to get to a certain place. He goes left and likes to step back. It’s just knowing when he’s doing that and what I can do to stop that.

“It’s just about me staying in front of him. I’m not going to get that charge call every time which you saw in the second half (of Game 2). As long as I stay in front of him, it’s just going to frustrate him. He’s used to getting by guys or stepping back and getting an open shot. As much as possible, I have to stay in front of him and remind him that I’m there.”

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The playoffs are all about health. Well, and winning. Okay, mostly winning. But being healthy helps with the winning. See how it all ties together? Take notes. Anyway, here’s the Houston Chronicle with a Rockets update:

Key Houston Rockets reserve forward Luc Mbah a Moute is optimistic that he will be able to play in Sunday’s Game 1 against the Utah Jazz after missing the first round due to a dislocated right shoulder.

Mbah a Moute, who suffered the injury in the Rockets’ April 10 win over the Los Angeles Lakers, is officially listed as questionable. He went through his first full practice of the playoffs on Saturday, which he hopes is the final step before being cleared to return.

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Getting rest and staying healthy is a huge part of winning in the NBA playoffs. The Rockets are happy to have some time off prior to the second round. Here’s the Houston Chronicle:

Though the Rockets had played just five games since the previous break in the schedule, they did not mind getting time before the second round while the Thunder and Jazz work their way through their first-round series.

“I think it’s good,” Rockets forward Trevor Ariza said. “It will give us time to rest and give us time to work on things that we didn’t do so well. But the fact that we got it over with, it’s an encouraging thing.”

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The Houston Rockets have signed free agent guard Tim Quarterman for the remainder of the season.

In a related move, the Rockets have released forward Le’Bryan Nash.

Quarterman (6-6, 190) was called-up from the NBA G League’s Agua Caliente Clippers. In 11 games with five starts, he averaged 8.9 points, 5.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.5 steals.

As a rookie with Portland last season, Quarterman appeared in 16 games and recorded career-highs of 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists in the Blazers season finale vs. New Orleans on April 12, 2017. He also averaged 11.2 points, 7.1 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 22 games played while on assignment in the G League.

Quarterman will wear #55 for the Rockets.

The Rockets’ game against the Clippers on Thursday began a stretch of games against teams that could be potential first-round matchups with the Rockets facing the Pelicans and Timberwolves Saturday and Sunday. They play the third-place Trail Blazers in Portland to complete the road trip.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, however, said he not only does not experiment in any way with postseason matchups in mind – which was not surprising because he often said teams match up with the Rockets rather than the other way around – but also does not consider regular-season games particularly useful for gathering information.

Houston Chronicle

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has signed free agent guard/forward Joe Johnson for the remainder of the season. Johnson will wear #7 for the Rockets.

In a related move, the Rockets have waived Troy Williams.

Johnson (6-7, 240) was originally the 10th overall pick by Boston in the 2001 NBA Draft and is in his 17th NBA season. In 1,253 games with 1,090 starts, Johnson is averaging 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists. He is one of 12 players in NBA history with at least 1,000 games played to have averaged at least 16.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg and 4.0 apg and one of three (Kobe Bryant and John Havlicek) with over 1,200.

Among active players, Johnson ranks fourth in games played, second in minutes played (43,729; 20th all-time), eighth in scoring (20,266), and sixth in 3-pointers made (1,960; 10th all-time). He has also appeared in 112 playoff games with 97 starts, averaging 16.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists. Johnson has been to the playoffs in each of the past 10 seasons and advanced to the Conference Semifinals six times over that span.

Johnson appeared in 32 games with three starts for Utah this season. He saw action in 78 games for the Jazz in 2016-17, and averaged 1.4 3-pointers made on 41.1% shooting, marking the second-highest percentage of his career.

The seven-time All-Star is reunited with Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni. In his final season playing for D’Antoni in Phoenix in 2004-05, Johnson averaged a career-high 2.2 3-pointers made on a career-best 47.8% shooting.

Rockets sign Brandan Wright

Rockets sign Brandan Wright

The Houston Rockets today signed free agent forward/center Brandan Wright for the remainder of the season.

Wright joins the Rockets after appearing in 27 games for Memphis in 2017-18. He will wear #32 for Houston.

Wright (6-10, 235) was originally the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft and is in his 10th season. In 427 career games with 62 starts, Wright is averaging 7.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and nearly a block per game, while shooting 60.7% from the floor. He would have the second-highest field goal percentage among active players if he had enough attempts to qualify.

Dating back to 2012-13, Wright is the only player in the league to have averaged at least 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.00 blocks while playing fewer than 18.0 minutes per game. Wright is also averaging 1.5 offensive rebounds per game over that span and 3.0 orpg per 36 minutes played.

Wright is a former McDonald’s All-American and was named Second Team All-ACC and ACC Rookie of the Year in his only season at North Carolina.

James Harden returns from injury

 

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The Rockets have their superstar back. James Harden returned to action Thursday in a 116-98 home win against the Timberwolves. Of course, the team also has another superstar in Chris Paul, and a scoring star in Eric Gordon. But the 31-12 squad’s success revolves primarily around the bearded one. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting on his return:

James Harden shot badly, but moved well. He played just 26 minutes, and was not happy to be limited to 10 fewer than he averages, but he played with energy. He was active and effective, getting his shot and shots for others easily, but also getting his hands on the ball on the other end. The Rockets would have no complaints with that. They assume Harden will be able to score. He would figure to be able to work the rust off his shot if his body and the rest of his game were up to it. The test was in how well he moved and how long he could play hard after missing more than two weeks and seven games with a strained hamstring. Harden likely returned more quickly that the Rockets’ expected when he was first diagnosed with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. He began that period unable to walk. He spent most of it unable to do anything related to playing basketball. If not for the current technology that allows a medical staff to measure a player’s fitness to return from an injury precisely without checking a calendar, the Rockets likely would have held Harden out for longer. With Harden ramping up workouts on the road trip, they knew he was physically ready to play. But nothing fully simulates a game. Harden made just 3 of 15 shots, but he had seven assists, two steals, two rebounds and no setbacks. The Rockets were happy with that.

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The Houston Rockets made a late-night move on Monday, signing guard Markel Brown to a two-way contract.

And in a related transaction, the team waived guard Brianté Weber.

Brown (6-3, 185) joins the Rockets from the Oklahoma City Blue of the NBA G League, where he averaged 17.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.4 steals. He also averaged 2.9 3-pointers made and had nearly as many steals (31) as turnovers (33).

Following a four-year career at Oklahoma State University, Brown was the 44th overall pick by Minnesota in the 2014 NBA Draft before his rights were acquired by Brooklyn. In two seasons with the Nets from 2014-15 through 2015-16, he appeared in 109 games with 35 starts. Brown spent last season playing in Russia.

The Rockets yesterday (Sunday, January 14) signed free agent guard R.J. Hunter to a two-way contract.

Hunter (6-5, 185) was originally the 28th overall pick by Boston in the 2015 NBA Draft. Over the past two seasons, he appeared in 39 games for the Boston and Chicago, while also spending time in the NBA Development League.

This season, Hunter has been playing for the Rockets single-affiliation NBA G League partner Rio Grande Valley, averaging a team-high 19.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.7 steals. He is averaging the third-most 3-pointers made (3.7) of any G League player with at least 20 games played.

Hunter finished his collegiate career as Georgia State’s all-time leading scorer with 1,819 points in just three seasons. He was Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year in both 2013-14 and 2014-15.

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The Rockets are about to face a serious test in the coming weeks. News today came out that superstar guard James Harden suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain during yesterdays game against the Lakers. He’ll miss two weeks of action, and then will be re-evaluated by the team to see if he’s ready to return.

There’s no guarantee that two weeks will be enough time for Harden to fully heal.

According to the Houston Chronicle, “The Rockets have gone 13-0 with the starting lineup available, but when Harden sits out - starting Wednesday in Orlando - P.J. Tucker will be the only player to have played in every game.”

It’s always fun to see how a star player performs against his former team. But that gift will not be presented to us on Friday. Here’s the LA Times reporting:

Friday night was supposed to a matchup between the new-look Clippers and former teammate Chris Paul, who requested a trade to the Houston Rockets last summer because he no longer wanted to be a part of the team’s future.

But that matchup will not happen because Paul is out after straining his left adductor during Wednesday night in the loss to the Lakers…

It just won’t be the same without Blake Griffin (left knee), Danilo Gallinari (partially torn left glute), Wesley Johnson (sore left foot) and Patrick Beverley (season-ending right knee surgery).

Besides Paul being out for the Rockets, they won’t have forward Luc Mbah a Moute (dislocated right shoulder). He joined the Rockets as a free agent after spending the last two seasons with the Clippers. The Rockets also have listed center Clint Capela as doubtful with a bruised left heel.

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The Houston Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute suffered a dislocated left shoulder in the second quarter of yesterday’s game against the Hornets.

He will be re-evaluated in around one week.

The Rockets are having a fantastic season. They have the best record in the NBA, and have played fantastic basketball, especially with Chris Paul healthy and in the lineup.

Ryan Anderson should return soon

The Rockets are one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and they should have a key piece back in action soon. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Ryan Anderson should return soon from back issue

The Rockets listed forward Ryan Anderson as questionable to play against the Utah Jazz on Thursday, with his availability to be determined how the tightness in his lower back responds to two practices since he left Sunday’s game. But Anderson has improved so much since his back “locked up” that he was cleared to practice on Tuesday at UCLA.

“It’s feeling a lot better,” Anderson, who had a neck injury in the 2013-14 season, but has not had issues with his back, said.

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Chris Paul recently returned to action for the Rockets. That’s big news. And it obviously affects the rotation. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

With the Rockets at full strength for the first time since the season-opener, they began spreading the playing time across the rotation extended by one player with the return of Chris Paul.

Paul on Saturday was still limited to just 24 minutes. Luc Mbah a Moute, in his first game back after sitting out in Phoenix with an illness, played just 21 minutes, including the final minutes after the benches were cleared. But even Saturday, the Rockets got a taste of how things will change.

Only James Harden, who played 36 minutes, logged more than 30 minutes. His time will likely decrease once Paul is up to his usual playing time with Harden returning about two minutes earlier in the second and fourth quarters than he would have had Paul been cleared to play more.

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