The Rockets like having a veteran around in the back court. Last year, it was Jason Terry. The year before, it was Terry and Pablo Prigioni. It’s no surprise then, that the team brought Prigs back on a two-year deal with a team option on the second year. The team is again light on proven natural point guards, and with Patrick Beverley already sitting out with an injury (a common sight these last several seasons), it makes sense to have that veteran in tow.
Prigioni had his moments during his first Rockets run, with the high-water mark coming in Game 7 against the Clippers in which Prigs had multiple sneaky inbound steals, clutch offensive rebounds and a timely three-pointer.
After the 2015 season, Prigs was traded to Denver in the Ty Lawson deal, where he was later waived and signed by the team he helped knock out of the post season, the Clippers. The 39-year-old point man played in 59 games, averaging just a hair over 13 minutes per contest before finding himself back in H-town this year when he wasn’t retained in L.A.
He’s seen little time so far this preseason, playing just 6 minutes against the Knicks and 10 minutes against the Shanghai Sharks, but a vet like Prigioni usually doesn’t need much preseason work to be ready when his number is called.
In a perfect world, the Rockets will not even be in need of his services. James Harden has looked fantastic manning the point so far, and Eric Gordon and Beverley are both capable of handling the ball duties if needed. The Rockets would then need just one, maybe two of a group of young point men to step up to make Prigioni redundant.
If Houston can get anything substantial from Gary Payton II, Tyler Ennis, Isaiah Taylor or long shot Bobby Brown, we might not even see Prigioni make the final 15-man roster this year. He’s also a potential cut if Houston ever manages to sign Donatas Motiejunas, although that’s looking tenuous at best at this juncture.
Ultimately, you’d like for the Rockets not to need an aging, veteran point guard fast approaching 40. The team would be heavy with young talent at the position and ready to start working in some new players. But while guys like Ennis and Payton are flush with potential, they are far from sure things, and that’s where Prigioni comes in.
If needed, he’ll provide a steady veteran hand capable of producing in very limited minutes off the bench. He’s an insurance policy, here to impart his wisdom on the youngsters and ensure the team can weather any injury gaps or failures from the young bucks to step up and seize an open roster spot.
We’d all love to see Payton and/or Ennis make an impact this year or D-Mo back in the fold, which would likely send Prigs off into the sunset, but the Rockets could certainly do worse with their 15th and final roster spot than the wily veteran from Argentina.