Sunday, June 4 2023

The primary purpose of Houston’s trade deadline moves sending Eric Gordon to the Los Angeles Clippers and Garrison Mathews and Bruno Fernando to Atlanta was to acquire future draft capital.

But to make the math work, the Rockets had to take in comparable salaries to what they sent out. Thus, at least temporarily, enter Danny Green, John Wall, Justin Holiday, and Frank Kaminsky. Yes, that John Wall, the former player who was very critical of the organization in a harsh podcast interview last month.

None have any guaranteed money owed after this season, so it won’t impact Houston’s plans to create salary cap space this summer. And Wall certainly won’t be sticking around, for obvious reasons.

The other three, however, might be. After all, the Rockets sent three players elsewhere in the deal, so they do have open roster spots for the rest of the 2022-23 season. Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes:

There are still ongoing discussions regarding Green, Holiday and Kaminsky. From the outside looking in, holding on to Green and Holiday could be beneficial between now and the end of the season. Both are experienced two-way veterans that could help Houston’s remaining young core over the next few months.

But there’s also the reality that names like Green, Holiday and to a lesser extent, Kaminsky should be attractive on the open market. Green is in the final year of his deal but is an example of a two-way wing the team would pursue this summer, meaning Houston’s brass has to evaluate whether or not it makes more sense to keep him on the roster and get an early look or allow him to latch on with a contender for the playoffs. Green’s been described as a positive locker room presence in the past, but those discussions are ongoing.

Between those three players and Wall, the Rockets technically acquired four players on Thursday while sending out only three. To do so, Houston waived sparingly used veteran Boban Marjanovic, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. However, the Rockets plan to immediately re-sign Marjanovic to a smaller deal after he clears waivers. In effect, his roster spot remains claimed.

As for the trio of newcomers, the dynamic is similar to when veteran guard Dennis Schroder finished last season with the Rockets after being part of the Daniel Theis trade (with Boston) for salary reasons.

Houston wasn’t going to force Schroder to stick around, since he was an expiring salary and not in their long-term plans. But they were open to keeping Schroder around, should he prove willing to accept a smaller role on a rebuilding team. He did.

It remains to be seen if Green, Holiday, or Kaminsky will be open to such an arrangement, or if they might want an immediate move to either a playoff contender or a team more willing to offer playing time. After all, the Rockets are likely to prioritize any extra minutes for second-year prospects Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher.

If the veterans want to leave, Houston could waive them and perhaps look to other veterans to fill those temporary roles, or perhaps use the roster spots to evaluate younger options from the G League.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone could offer more clarity when he meets with the media on Friday morning. Stay tuned!


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