Rockets News

Houston Rockets: Grading Player Contracts

By Andre Cantalogo
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Nov 11, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Terrence Jones (6) drives to the basket as Brooklyn Nets center Andrea Bargnani (9) defends during the second quarter at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Chopping Block Contracts

Dwight Howard – Current Salary: $22,359,364 / Player Option 2016-2017: $23,282,457 – We are now entering troubling territory. Dwight Howard is definitely a concern. His salary is reasonable and is in accordance with an 8 time NBA All-Star and a 5 Time All-NBA First Team recipient. Despite that Howard missed half of last season due to injury, this year he is being kept in a strict ‘no back-to-back games’ regimen.

Howard will be 30 in December, but doesn’t look to be on the downside of his career just yet, though his back and knees will always be concerns. The games he’s played this season he’s been great and suffice to say he was a monster in both playoff runs.

Meanwhile it never hurts to be overly cautious and if Dwight Howard pulls a LeBron James and opts out of his contract trying to renegotiate his deal, I don’t believe the Rockets should go down that road (Even though I’m pretty sure they will). As strong and freakishly athletic as Howard is, 4 more years of contract for example, is way too much time for his body to handle or more precisely too long for Houston to commit a max contract to. By then, the Rockets must decide to go all in with Clint Capela or build around another star to pair with Harden.

Grade: B-

Terrence Jones – Current Salary: $2,489,530 / Restricted FA for 2016-2017 season – Terrence Jones will demand a lot of money next season, that’s probably why he opted to become a restricted free agent. I don’t think he is worth that much though. TJ is a great character: hard worker, dutiful and diligent. Yet, he fails to be what the Rockets expect him to be: a stretch four.

Jones has been saddled throughout his career with weird injuries (nerve problems in his leg, collapsed lung, lacerated eyelid..) which took him off the court for extended periods. Unless some major development happens this year, Terrence Jones won’t be here for the 2016-2017 season. Morey might even opt to trade him before the season is over. Markieff Morris is definitely waiting or Montrezl Harrell may end up offering similar skill sets making Jones expendable.

Grade: C-

Donatas Motiejunas – Current Salary: $2,288,205 / Restricted FA  for 2016-2017 season – Lithuanian Donatas Motiejunas is likely in the same situation as his counterpart Terrence Jones. Still Motiejunas might be the one the Rockets elect to go forward with. DeMo already proved he can knock down shots from beyond the arc and is a legitimate threat in the post. It all depends on his back injury rehabilitation. 

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That said, when he returns if Motiejunas is able to display the same movements and skills as he did last year he will probably earn a better contract and stay in Houston.

Grade: C+

K.J. McDaniels – Current Salary: $3,333,333 / Guaranteed Contract: $10,000,000 (Through 2017-2018 – Signed with Mid-level exception) – I’ve just decided to downgrade K.J. McDaniels‘ status from “Doubtful” to “Chopping Block” after recently learning he is being assigned to the Rio Grande Valley D-league team.

One has reason to worry how long McDaniels will endure this lack of action in the big league. K.J. already proved his talent with the Philadelphia 76ers and in the few preseason games with the Rockets. Coach McHale must not take him for granted as he has earned his minutes.

I’m sure the Houston Rockets organization believes in his talent and his contract demonstrates that. But to use all the team’s mid-level exception on a bench warmer and now a D-league player is somewhat curious.

Grade: C-

Next: Closing