While the core of the 2022-23 Houston Rockets remains mostly intact, I’m still invested in how the since departed supplementary pieces fare in their new homes during 2023-24. Namely, I'm most interested in following the players who began their careers in Houston, but weren’t deemed as longterm fixtures going forward for this rebuild.
Today, I will be turning my focus towards Kenyon Martin Jr., Josh Christopher, Usman Garuba, TyTy Washington Jr. and Daishen Nix. In total, these players accounted for three first round picks and a second round pick, and now they are no longer members of the Houston Rockets.
The main things I will be tracking are how successful they are on their new teams and also how their replacements compare a year later. Ideally, I’d like to do a monthly check-in should the majority of these guys maintain a roster spot.
To get us started, let’s give a quick review on each player’s time with the Rockets, where they’re at now, and what their prospects look like for 2023-24.
Kenyon Martin Jr.
Rockets Tenure: 2020-23
KJ saw an uptick in opportunity during his three years with the Rockets. Ultimately, drafting players with more potential in Jabari Smith Jr. and Tari Eason, and signing Dillon Brooks meant that KJ would likely be pushed back down the depth chart. Approximately a year after a prior trade request, KJ was jettisoned for a pair of second round picks.
New Home: Los Angeles Clippers
2023-24 Prospects: Backup forward with potential to slide into a starting role
Finding his way into a desired starting role might be tough with the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George ahead of him. Then again, a starting role might find him by default because of the injury histories of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. I also don’t view Robert Covington, Marcus Morris and Nic Batum as too large of hurdles to clear towards a starting spot. It will really boil down to Ty Lue mixing and matching lineups.
Rockets Tenure: 2021-23
Gup came to H-Town as part of the 2021 class that featured four first rounders. While the athleticism was always apparent, the decision-making — on his end and the coaching staff’s end — never brought forth an ideal set of circumstances for him in Houston. Christopher was originally shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies this July as part of the Brooks sign-and-trade.
New Home: Utah Jazz
2023-24 Prospects: Two-way player with an uphill battle
Perhaps it’s with the Jazz, perhaps it’s with a different team, it’s safe to say that Christopher is fighting for a roster spot. Signing into a two-way slot with Utah was huge for a player who probably hasn’t been afforded the proper developmental opportunities that they should have received in their first two seasons. Utah has a good, yet uneven and wonky roster, so if he can display some playmaking ability, I could see a path for him in the Jazz’s backcourt.
Rockets Tenure: 2021-23
Garuba was always going to be a project coming over from Spain, but he was solid in the limited action he did see. While the overall offense was an eyesore, he showed an intensity on defense that made him a rotation worthy player. Garuba became a casualty of the Rockets offseason as the team maneuvered to dish out as much capital possible this summer.
New Home: Golden State Warriors
2023-24 Prospects: Two-way player with a sneaking suspicion of turning into a steal
This is what the Warriors do, right? They find players to plug into their lineup and extract the most from them. He’s a Draymond Green (already hurt), Kevon Looney, Trayce Jackson-Davis or Dario Saric injury away from potentially seeing minutes. Plus, he demonstrated himself to have pleasantly good passing vision during his short time in Houston. Combine that with his .407 three-point shooting — in very limited capacity — and he might fit like a glove in Golden State.
TyTy Washington Jr.
Rockets Tenure: 2022-23
TyTy’s departure felt unfair to me, not only because he was just here for a season, but because he was someone that was blocked from seeing more NBA reps for no apparent reason. His 53 point performance in an NBA G League game will always make me think he could have contributed something here.
Given that Fred VanVleet and Amen Thompson were brought in this summer, it wasn’t a shock to see Houston move on from him with the point guards of the future firmly in place. Like Garuba, TyTy was shipped to the Atlanta Hawks and then routed to the Oklahoma City Thunder as roster dumps.
New Home: Milwaukee Bucks
2023-24 Prospects: Two-way contract with potential to see time if he makes the team
Move over Damian Lillard — just kidding. However, after Dame, it’s just Cam Payne ahead of Washington. TyTy can surely beat Lindell Wigginton out for some emergency run, right?
Rockets Tenure: 2021-23
Nix joined Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and Isaiah Todd as the first crop of players to play in the NBA after playing for the G League Ignite. Nix was also the only one of those previously listed names that went undrafted...
Listen, it wasn't pretty when he was out there. It’s almost like a tanking team had incentive to put him out there more than he should have been, thus taking away minutes and seeing what you had in TyTy Washington.
New Home: Minnesota Timberwolves
2023-24 Prospects: Exhibit 10 deal
It was nice to see Nix receive a deal this offseason. Not even joking. I’m not a bitter ex. I want all of our young guys — past and present — to continue to get opportunities. If he can show the T-Wolves that he has the ability to adapt to the speed of the NBA, I could see him eking out a roster spot.