It’s now just a single day before the NBA regular season officially opens and a mere two days before the Houston Rockets kick off their 2016-2017 year with a nationally televised contest against the Los Angeles Lakers. But before the games start, there was one small matter left yet to settle, and that was the finalizing the regular season roster.
First, the Rockets waived guard Gary Payton II, a move not entirely unexpected according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
The Rockets have as expected waived Gary Payton II, the first of today's roster moves, per source.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 24, 2016
The Rockets initially had hopes that Payton could improve his offensive awareness enough to complement an already solid defensive game, but as the team moved through training camp, it became apparent that it just wasn’t happening for Payton. The son of former NBA star and Hall of Famer Gary Payton averaged just 10.6 minutes per game during the preseason, and even with the injury to guard Patrick Beverley was unable to earn himself substantial court time.
The Rockets take a cap hit of $543,471 with Payton’s release. When the organization is paying you to leave, you know things really didn’t work out.
The Rockets then followed that up by waiving P.J. Hairston and LeBryan Nash, neither of whom made an on-court impact this preseason. Both were then assigned to the Rockets’ D-League affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, according to Feigen.
Rockets announce 1st 3 of day's cuts. Gary Payton II, as mentioned earlier, along with P.J. Hairston, LeBryan Nash, who were signed for RGV.— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) October 24, 2016
The final waived player for the moment appears to be Tyler Ennis, with The Vertical’s Shams Charania reporting the Rockets could potentially resign the guard if he clears waivers.
Vertical Sources: Houston is planning to release guard Tyler Ennis, but could negotiate a new deal once he clears waivers.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 24, 2016
So there you have it. The Final 15 (for now) for the Rockets consists of James Harden, Ryan Anderson, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Corey Brewer, Patrick Beverley, K.J. McDaniels, Nene Hilario, Sam Dekker, Clint Capela, Pablo Prigioni, Montrezl Harrell, Chinanu Onuaku, Kyle Wiltjer and Bobby Brown.
Wiltjer and Brown could be considered mild surprises, but the Rockets obviously like Wiltjer’s shooting prowess and at least for the time being, prefer Brown over Ennis. Enough so that the team takes a $1.7 million hit on the Ennis cut.
The full 15-man roster puts the Houston salary situation at $100.5 million, or $6.3 million over the cap, barring any changes.
Now that we know what the roster looks like, it’s time to officially start the countdown to Wednesday night’s opener. This is your 2016-2017 Houston Rockets.
UPDATE: It’s now being reported by The Vertical’s Shams Charania that the Rockets have elected to keep Tyler Ennis while instead cutting Pablo Prigioni in what’s being described as a “changed course.” Ethan has all the details on that decision here.