There was some criticism earlier this offseason when the Houston Rockets traded former first-round draft picks Usman Garuba and TyTy Washington to the Atlanta Hawks and took a loss on the deal. Both were then dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder four days later.
Many thought Rockets GM Rafael Stone screwed up by not getting anything in return, particularly when the Brook Lopez deal didn’t work out with the created cap space, and a lot of us held high opinions for the future of both guys. But it looks like Stone was vindicated, as the Thunder have released both Washington and Garuba over the last few days.
The Thunder announced they’ve waived Usman Garuba.— Evan Sidery (@esidery) August 21, 2023
Garuba was traded from the Rockets to the Hawks, then re-routed to Oklahoma City.
TyTy Washington cleared waivers yesterday. He's now an unrestricted free agent.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) August 21, 2023
The Oklahoma City Thunder are responsible for $2.3M in dead money for this season for Washington.
As you can see, OKC is eating some dead money here, so they obviously had no plans for either player. Both players have now been moved on from by three different teams this summer and appears to be a classic case of Rockets fans overrating their own guys when Stone took criticism for dumping them this offseason.
It remains to be seen what happens from here for both. Its possible Garuba heads back to Europe where he’s had some success, though there are few teams rumored to be kicking the tires, while TyTy likely heads to the G-League somewhere.
Interestingly enough, Josh Christopher, the other former first-rounder the Rockets dumped this summer, is still hanging on with the Memphis Grizzlies. If you asked me back in July, I would’ve thought Christopher would have been the least likely to stick around, as he doesn’t have the defined skill set of either Garuba or Washington and is more of an athletic scorer who was often reckless, and there are plenty of those around in the NBA. While Garuba’s defense and rebounding and Washington’s ability to run the offense on the surface seem to be commodities.
NBA GMs aren’t feeling that way, however, and it appears that at least for the moment, Stone has been exonerated for giving up on these guys after only two seasons.