It turns out the Chuckwagon's prodigal son journey won't happen like we thought. Chuck Hayes and the Rockets have decided that the partially guaranteed contract they agreed to wouldn't turn out the way the Immoveable Object would hope, and Hayes is gone.
Chuck's agent told Jonathan Feigen at the Houston Chronicle that it came down to "cap stuff they were concerned with," and, reading between the lines, it seems like both sides realized that to sign second-round pick Montrezl Harrell to a deal that doesn't turn him into the next K.J. McDaniels, Hayes'' partial guarantee was basically guaranteed to be waived.
The Rockets' focus now shifts to signing Harrell, inarguably a more vital part of the Rockets' future than Chuck, and potential insurance at power forward if one of Donatas Motiejunas or Terrence Jones jumps ship after this year (not to mention Dwight Howard). He's long, athletic, should have been a first-round pick and he needs to be locked up long-term. Offering him a one-year deal and an opportunity for restricted free agency — something the Rockets might have had to do if they were hard-capped — is a much more bitter pill to swallow than losing the Chuckwagon.
Of course, Chuck may not be gone for long. If no other team wants his services — which would be a shame, he's just 32 — then the Rockets are interested in hiring him as an assistant coach. His agent says Houston isn't alone. It's been obvious for years that whenever he's done playing, he has a long career ahead of him on NBA benches still.
There was a robust discussion of this in the comments of my James Harden piece from yesterday, but this move is likely the realization that Christian Wood and Montrezl Harrell are meant to be the 14th and 15th guys on the roster, not Hayes. Assuming that's the case, here's the 15-man roster before training camp (which will be filled with guys of no hope of making the team):
PG: Ty Lawson, Patrick Beverley, Jason Terry
SG: James Harden, Corey Brewer, Marcus Thornton
SF: Trevor Ariza, K.J. McDaniels, Sam Dekker
PF: Donuts, Jones, Harrell
C: Dwight Howard, Clint Capela, Christian Wood
Yup, I'll take it.