Sean Pendergast

2017 NBA Draft: Rockets Make Minor Moves on Thursday Night

The Houston Rockets brain trust didn't do much in Thursday night's NBA Draft to affect the makeup of next season's team.
The Houston Rockets brain trust didn't do much in Thursday night's NBA Draft to affect the makeup of next season's team. Screen grab from YouTube
As NBA drafts go, Thursday night was nothing remarkable. Lots of college freshmen taken in the first round — nine of the first ten picks of the night were collegiate one-and-dones — lots of discussion of "The Process" when Philadelphia would make a pick, and lots of mentions about "upside potential" and "wingspan" and the like.

There were no real surprises, and once Lonzo Ball went off the board second overall to the Lakers, any shot at some drama from a player sliding down the board went out the window, mostly because Ball was the only player that about 75 percent of the audience even cared about. I guess the only real surprise was that Vlade Divac, Sacramento's much-maligned general manager, actually had a pretty good night, coming away with two of the best guards in college basketball last season, Kentucky freshman (and Houstonian) De'Arron Fox in the first round and senior Frank Mason of Kansas in the second.

The transaction that garnered the most buzz was this trade of Jimmy Butler (Tomball's own!) by the Bulls to the Minnesota Timberwolves...

That deal reunites Butler with his former head coach in Chicago, Tom Thibodeau, and makes the Timberwolves (once again) this upcoming season's super-interesting-sleeper-type team in the Western Conference. By the way, as the draft ended last night, Paul George was still an Indiana Pacer, with the Rockets one of a handful of teams still chasing him.

As for the Rockets and their two selections, numbers 43 and 45 overall, the night was largely a gigantic popcorn fart. After watching potentially helpful pieces like Villanova's Jason Hart, Kansas's Mason and Oregon's Jordan Bell fall off the board between 30 and 40, the Rockets at 43 decided to draft a seven-foot Euro named Isaiah Hartenstein.

Stop me if you've heard this story before — Hartenstein is a seven-foot lefty with lottery-level talent, but has been red-flagged with back issues...

Oh, and B.J. Armstrong is his agent. Yes, Hartenstein is the German Donatas Motiejunas. The guess is that the Rockets will stash the 19-year-old Hartenstein overseas for a couple of years. Here is what we will be missing...

Then with the 45th pick...

So the two Rockets draft picks were a Euro stash pick and a trade. This, after a 48-hour period where we've been teased by stories of Morey fishing around for good trade opportunities and planning the kicking of tires on free agents. Admittedly, since Houston acquired James Harden in 2012, this is probably the offseason that felt the most helpless from an ammunition standpoint. If Morey makes a deal for a significant piece, he will have earned the first chunk of that four-year extension he signed earlier this week.

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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast