The Rockets revolving carousel of players continues. Already without Chris Paul (hamstring), Eric Gordon (knee) and Clint Capela (thumb), they added another casualty on Tuesday in surprising young forward Danuel House. But, it wasn't an injury that cost them their starter, but stalled contract negotiations.
House was playing on a two-way contract. It allowed the team to move him between the Rockets and their G-League affiliate the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. However, House had reached the end of the number of days he was allowed to play for the NBA squad without a guaranteed contract. House and his agent clearly wanted the Rockets to convert his contract to a full-season NBA deal while the Rockets wanted to offer him something similar to Gary Clark's three-year deal, which isn't fully guaranteed. When the two sides couldn't come together, House headed back to the Vipers and the Rockets were left with another hole in the lineup.
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It's quite a remarkably move by House, who is a native Houstonian and having the best year of his career with the Rockets. The Rockets can continue to negotiate with House on a longer deal and even decide to convert his contract to a one-year deal. If they were to do that, they would not have his Bird rights at the end of the season and could not match larger offers for him when he becomes a restricted free agent. The Rockets have been hesitant to offer more than minimum deals for young, developmental players and that seems to be the case here as well.
Fortunately, Gordon returned on Wednesday night from his bruised knee, scoring 20 points before leaving after reaching his set minutes limit, and it appears Paul is only about a week from returning himself.
Additionally, the Rockets signed forward James Nunnally to a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Nunnally, 27-year-old 6-7 forward has bounced around the NBA and Europe, but is widely considered one of the best European prospects thanks to his three-point ability (he's shooting over 50 percent across the pond) and defensive skills. The three-and-d combination is now a coveted commodity in the Association and Nunnally appears to have that skillset. He was sought after by several teams but settled on the Rockets. In his first game with the Rockets Wednesday, he scored 9 points in 24 minutes of action.
As for House, it would be in his best interests to find a happy medium with the Rockets. Despite his age, he has been a bit of a journeyman already and no doubt teams will measure his performance this year next to the ungodly numbers of James Harden and consider him, at least partially, a "system success." And given that surge in the Rockets system, he would do well to stay a little longer and increase his stock. He certainly won't do that toiling away in the Valley.