The Houston Rockets have agreed to terms with second-round pick Montrezl Harrell to a three-year contract, according to Yahoo's Marc Spears, a move that brings the roster to 14, not counting training camp invites.
The deal took a long time to hammer out presumably because of the salary cap gymnastics required to complete it. If the Rockets wanted to avoid a hard salary cap, the only option to since Harrell would have been a one-year, K.J. McDaniels offer. Considering Harrell is more highly thought of than McDaniels was coming out of school — and K.J. now plays for the Rockets, not the team that drafted him, for millions more than his draft counterparts — this was not a palatable option for Daryl Morey.
Instead, Morey and Harrell agreed to a three-year arrangement, presumably for not very much, that requires the Rockets to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, and, thus, subjects them to the hard cap (thanks, BimaThug and Kevin Pelton, for their cap insights on this matter). As to what that means, take it away, smartypants!
Getting lots of questions re: hard cap following (reported) Harrell signing. Will try to spell out their situation as best I can...— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
Before signing Harrell, Rockets have ~$2.56M in room below "apron" level, which is where HOU would be hard-capped...— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
...HOU can "exceed" hard cap w/ non/partially g'teed signing (see latest 4 camp signees) so long as G'TEED salary doesn't exceed hard cap...— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
...Depends on what Harrell gets, but Rockets will probably have room for some partial season signings: Dec cut (see Tarik Black), 10-days...— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
...HOU could possibly also save some room for a late season addition (vet who gets cut by March 1). Either vet min or part of MLE...— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
...Where hard cap may hurt most is TRADE flexibility. Can still trade, but can't take back > amount that would take HOU over hard cap.— David Weiner (@BimaThug) September 15, 2015
(Ah, people smarter than you making their thoughts easily embeddable on social media. What joy/extra time it brings me.)
This was undoubtedly the right thing, no matter the flexibility it takes away from Morey, who so values it. Harrell is a legit pro prospect, one with potential, I would argue, greater than Terrence Jones. And, as of 2016-2017, he's going to be maybe $10 million a year cheaper than Terrence.
And now, the Rockets' current 14-man roster, all (unless something goes horribly wrong) with guaranteed contractS:
PG: Lawson, Beverley, Terry
SG: Harden, Brewer, Thornton
SF: Ariza, McDaniels, Dekker
PF: Jones, D-Mo, Harrell
C: Howard, Capela
Morey can do one of two things in training camp: cut all the non-guaranteed invitees and open the season with 14 guys on contract, and the ability to add a vet on a minimum or 10-day contract. Or, he could simply sign one of the roster invitees to a minimum deal. If he elects to do that, my money's on Florida big man Chris Walker, a former McD's All-American who played on the Summer League team. He wasn't overly impressive, but he's got prototypical big man size and athleticism.