While the local Houston Station Fox 26 aired an interview with Josh Smith the likely reason the team hasn’t announced his signing is they need to cut a player to make room for Smith.
The maximum players allowed on an NBA roster is 15 with Houston currently having all positions filled.
So, who gets the news they’ll be cut from the team on Christmas Eve? Logically there are 3-options:
Tarik Black: The rookie center started for Dwight Howard during his injury absence and filled in admirably. Black who played with the Kansas City Jayhawks alongside rookie sensation Andrew Wiggins and injured rookie Joel Embiid has actually looked more at home in the NBA than he did in College. He’s came into the season sporting a frame better suited to the pro’s and has fit in nicely with his drafting team. Since Howard’s return to the line-up his minutes have been limited. It’s unlikely the Rockets will cut Black though given his low salary and propensity for growth. Black is averaging 4.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and shooting 54.2% in games this season.
Joey Dorsey: Dorsey is guaranteed a salary of $948,163 this season and $1,015,421 next season. Since it’s the league minimum it makes him a prime candidate to get the call today. Although Dorsey has played more minutes than Black since Howard’s return and can play either the center or power forward position it doesn’t push him ahead of Black in terms of retention. Rather, it’s more likely to be Dorsey than Black given the rookie’s youth and potential for growth. Dorsey is averaging 1.6-points, 3.5-rebounds and 0.7-blocks in 10.9- minutes per game
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Alexey Shved: Another option could be recently acquired Alexey Shved who came over as part of the trade for Corey Brewer. Shved came on the back end of the deal which sent Ronnie Turiat to Philadelphia in exchange for Shved. To be fair, I’m not sure if there is any legalities involved in retaining him for 60-days as he wasn’t the player who the Rockets used their Trade Player Exception on, it was Corey Brewer.
In addition, I think Shved’s size (6’6″) which is tall for a point guard and the fact most teams like to carry a minimum of 3-point guards may work to his benefit. Since Shved has only played in one game in limited minutes since joining the Rockets they haven’t had the opportunity to accurately decipher what he’ll bring to the table yet and his numbers in Philadelphia wouldn’t translate given he won’t see the same minutes in Houston unless there is an injury.
With Motiejunas capably filling in off the bench at either the power forward or center position, Black’s presence and Terrence Jones who is still on the injured list but is rumored to be clearing hurdles towards his return (hopefully in January) it likely means Dorsey would be expendable. The other factor is although the Rockets would have to pay out Dorsey they are getting Smith at well below his market rate so it’s a gamble the Rockets are likely open to taking.
Hey, Morey’s been rolling the dice for a week all while holding a winning hand, so letting go of any of the 3-players above shouldn’t shock any of us at this point. I am wondering if he’ll wait until after the holiday to announce the release of whoever they decide though.
Stay tuned with Space City Scoop and we’ll keep you posted on the details as they become available.