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Danuel House’s return to the Rockets is going to look different than his first stint

As Danuel House Jr. prepares for his return, a lack of available minutes may keep him from having the same impact in his second tour with the Houston Rockets.  

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

An American author, Richard Bach, once wrote, “If you love someone, set them free. If they come back, they’re yours.” In that vein, although their relationship ended on a sour note due to a contract dispute, perhaps it was meant to be for Danuel House Jr. and the Houston Rockets.

After months of speculations following his departure, the Rockets made the first move in their attempt to bring back Danuel House for the remainder of the season. According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Houston converted House’s two-way contract into a full NBA deal for the rest of the season. According to reports, this is the original deal House wanted before he and the Rockets parted ways in January.

As a solid sharpshooter and defender, House was a valuable member in the Rockets’ rotation and played an important piece in helping Houston re-establish their championship DNA after a disappointing 9-10 start to the season.

During his first stint, the Houston native appeared in 25 games averaging 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 1.0 assists per game, while shooting 45.8 percent from the field, and 39.0 percent from beyond the arc. His best game came during the Rockets’ 113-101 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, where House scored 16 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the 3 in the win.

And while playing next to another Houston native in Gerald Green, both Green and House became one of the most unexpected one-two punches in the league. During his first go-round with the Rockets, Green and House once averaged a combined 35.8 points on 51.0 percent shooting from the field, and 42.9 percent shooting from downtown as a two-player lineup.

To put this into perspective, the duo nicknamed The Green House Effect was better offensively together as a two-player lineup than the duo of Chris Paul and House (29.7 ppg), and slightly better than Harden and Green (34.5 ppg).

With House returning to the team, the Rockets are getting a valuable and productive player to add to their playoff roster. Unfortunately, the lack of available minutes may keep House from having as much of an impact in his second stint in Houston.

Without a doubt, the addition of House may be the missing piece for a deep playoff run to last until mid-June, but unlike his first stint, House is joining a Rockets team under completely different circumstances.

When House first joined the team late in November, the Rockets were in desperate need to fill voids left by several players battling injuries early in the season. And with Eric Gordon and James Ennis in and out of the lineup, it was not long before the 6’7” forward from Texas A&M found himself playing meaningful minutes as a starter.

However, with the Rockets fully healthy and more of a complete team following several signings throughout the season, House’s playing average of 24.8 minutes per game is no longer a reality, especially with the playoffs a little under a month away.

Since his days coaching the Phoenix Suns, Mike D’Antoni is known for having a tight rotation throughout the playoffs. During the Rockets 106-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors, it is safe to say that D’Antoni has his postseason starters barring no major injuries.

With Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and Chris Paul back to full strength, there is no longer a need to place House into the starting lineup. Sure, he can reclaim his original role as a key reserve off the bench, but due to the energy of Gerald Green, as well as the signings of Kenneth Faried and Austin Rivers, it’s going to be hard for House to find extensive minutes within the Rockets’ second unit.

At this point in the season, the only player House has a chance of playing ahead of is Iman Shumpert. Acquired at the trade deadline from the Sacramento Kings, Shumpert has yet to make an impact with the Rockets, averaging 3.7 points on an unpleasant 27.9 percent shooting from the field.

Although he has fallen short of expectations since his arrival, Shumpert’s failures are mostly due to injuries, which has limited his play to 16.1 minutes per game. However, once back to full strength, it will hopefully allow Shumpert to reach his full potential as a sharpshooting defensive forward.

Yes, this is the same role House played in Houston earlier this season, but Shumpert will be more valuable for the Rockets in the postseason due to his playoff and championship experiences throughout his career. He is the only ring-holder on Houston’s roster. And the Rockets paid a first-round pick for his services. He’s going to get opportunities to get into a groove, despite some ugly-looking, un-Rockets-like long twos in his time in Houston thus far.

Although it is nice to see him back playing for his hometown, only time will tell whether Danuel House can reclaim his place within the Rockets rotation. However, the addition of House means one good thing, the Houston Rockets will be a helluva deep team for the playoffs.