The Houston Rockets were pretty vocal about wanting to get younger for this upcoming season. They were the fourth-oldest team in the league last year, and letting the 33-year-old Trevor Ariza and the 31-year-old Luc Mbah a Moute walk in the offseason while bringing in 28-year-old James Ennis and 26-year-old Michael Carter-Williams definitely reduced the team in the age department.
Now according to the Houston Chronicle, the Rockets are about to get even younger. They are currently working on a deal with 20-year-old center Isaiah Hartenstein, and the team expects to have him under contract within a matter of days.
The 7-footer played for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers last year after electing to play stateside rather than stay in Europe, but he really came into his own this summer in Las Vegas. He averaged 10.3 points on 52 percent shooting, and he snatched 8 rebounds per game, as he helped lead the Rockets summer team to a 4-1 record.
But where he really made his mark was averaging 2.3 blocks and a steal per game and helping to anchor the team’s defense.
The Rockets apparently feel that he’s ready to assume the third center position with the big boys in same role filled last season by Tarik Black. Black remains an unsigned free agent.
Hartenstein will play behind Clint Capela and Nene and will have an opportunity to make his mark with additional court time on the nights Nene sits.
The Rockets are extremely high on Hartenstein and have spoken about him in the same vein as a young Capela, and so far, the fresh-faced American-born German appears to be improving at about the same pace as the Swiss Roll did.
Hartenstein looked ragged last season, even against G-League competition, but this year, in addition to the solid numbers, he also passes the eye test of major improvement. If he can continue on that same trajectory, the Rockets may really have something.
For now, though, Houston will look to get him signed and into camp with the varsity squad, where we’ll get to watch his development up close and personal. He’s definitely one you want to keep an eye on moving forward.