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Rockets restart player previews: Luc Mbah a Moute

Luc is back!

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Luc Mbah a Moute

History: This is Luc Mbah a Moute’s second stint with the team. He originally signed with the Houston Rockets in the summer of 2017 and was a major contributor to the 65-17 squad. He averaged just 7.5 points, 3 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game, but he shot 36 percent from deep, and his length and savvy on the defensive end made him part of Houston’s rotating cache of forwards put together to stop the Golden State Warriors juggernaut.

There have been lot of reasons given for Houston’s failure to get past the Dubs in a series in which they held a 3-2 lead but ended up falling in seven: Chris Paul’s hammy, bad officiating, 27 missed threes. But something often overlooked was the inability of Mbah a Moute to stay on the floor. He was recovering from a shoulder injury, and though the Rockets really hoped he would be able to contribute, the shoulder just didn’t hold up, and Mbah a Moute was a shell of his earlier self, playing just 54 total minutes in the Western Conference Finals, averaging 1.3 points and 1.8 rebounds. A healthy Mbah a Moute just might have made a difference in a razor-tight series.

Mbah a Moute then signed with the Los Angeles Clippers in the summer of 2018, playing in just four games, and has since been a free agent before the Rockets officially signed him as part of their Orlando bubble roster just a few days ago.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Houston Rockets Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Outlook: Mbah a a Moute is taking the place of Thabo Sefolosha on Houston’s 17-man bubble roster. Sefolosha elected to sit out the rest of the season due to COVID concerns, so Mbah a Moute will be filling his place as a veteran defensive presence. For his part, Mbah a Moute is excited to be back in H-town. In fact, he had this to say to Marc Berman:

“ I feel great. I think it’s been in the making for awhile, going back to even last summer. I always felt like this was a good place for me. It was great mutual interest, and when the opportunity came I was excited about coming back here.

The good thing about the situation here, there’s still a lot of people that I know & I played with. Even though the team from when I was here is not the same, there are a lot of guys that have changed, but a lot of guys on the team I’ve either played with for a while of I’ve played against. I pretty much feel like I know all these guys or I played with them at different stages of my career. I really look forward to reunite with them. You look from top to bottom, I think it’s just one or two guys that I haven’t played with. So it’s very exciting.”

Mbah a Moute’s minutes are likely to be limited, as Houston currently runs about 10 players deep and the bench is practically all forwards with the new Pocket Rockets approach. But Mbah a Moute is a veteran who knows the players and knows the system. He’ll be ready if needed.