The Houston Rockets were involved in some trade rumors last week, with some outlets tying them to J.R. Smith, and they made some corresponding small moves that were letting off some possible smoke signals that there might be some truth to these rumors.
They waived Danuel House and assigned big man Isaiah Hartenstein to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G-League, causing some to speculate that a deal was imminent leading up to Friday, December 7. But the Rockets instead announced on Thursday that they were using House’s roster spot to convert Gary Clark’s two-way deal into a regular three-year contract, and then utilizing the suddenly-open two-way deal to bring House back to the team.
Well, now it’s like nothing ever changed, as Hartenstein too is making his way back to the varsity squad after spending a week balling out with the Vipers.
Hartenstein put up a ridiculous line in yesterday’s 96-95 Vipers win over the Santa Cruz Warriors, going for 22 points, 23 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks and a steal. He also went for 22 points, 9 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks earlier in the week.
Prior to being sent down, he had been struggling a bit with the Rockets after showing some early promise, and Nene’s return to lineup pushed the team into making the move. It’s unknown, however, how much he’ll be playing as long as Nene is healthy. The veteran’s leadership and experience are certainly good things to have as the Rockets try to work their way out of a hole, but it’s also clear the 36-year-old is slowing down.
And after some brief excitement over the unknown possibility of a potential deal, it turns out Houston was just reconfiguring the current roster, though for those still dreaming of possible reinforcements, the Rockets are said to be shopping Brandon Knight for any additional help on the wing.
Whether Knight is better used as ammo to upgrade other areas or if the Rockets are better off using him as guard depth behind the struggling Chris Paul and Eric Gordon is yet to be seen, but one thing is for certain: the Rockets are going to need to find some answers somewhere, either with the group of guys they have or by upgrading via trade, before what was once upon a time supposed to be a promising season gets away from them entirely.