Should the Rockets Have Added More Players from their Summer League Team?

Johnathan Williams #61 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at NBA Summer League (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images)
Johnathan Williams #61 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at NBA Summer League (Photo by Cassy Athena/Getty Images) /

The Rockets have several roster spots available and lack depth at the forward position. They could have addressed that by turning to their Summer League roster. Here’s why I think that would have been the best idea!

The Rockets are set to begin their season soon, as the pre-season begins for them on September 30th. The team has 14 players on the roster, and the NBA allows each team to carry up to 20 in training camp. With this many spots available, the question has to be asked of whether or not the team should have signed more players off of their Summer League roster, especially considering the fact that they could be added through the Exhibit 10 clause.

Any player signed under the Exhibit 10 clause will not have his salary count against the team’s payroll in the off-season, which is beneficial for a team like the Rockets who are close to paying the luxury tax. This is essentially a one year deal worth the minimum salary with no protections, but may or may not include a bonus. If it does include a bonus, the player would receive it if he stays with the team’s G-League team for 60 days. So this clause essentially provides incentive for a player to stay on the team’s G-League affiliate. Each team is able to have upto 6 players on Exhibit 10 contracts.

So with that being the case, it makes you wonder if the Rockets should have kept additional players. They decided to sign Chris Clemons, Shamorie Ponds and William McDowell-White to Exhibit 10 contracts, with Clemons being a no-brainer, but what about other players? The two names that jump out to me are Deng Adel and Johnathan Williams.

Adel was second on the Rockets’ Summer League team in assists with 2.4 per game, which was actually more than Chris Clemons. But not only that, he shot 46.7% from three, which was also higher than the 43.1% Clemons shot from distance. Adel also shot 80% from the free throw line, which was higher than the 78.9% Clemons shot.

To be clear, I’m not saying the Rockets shouldn’t have signed Clemons because im certainly in favor of that, I’m just curious as to why they chose not to take a flyer on Adel. He’s a 6’7 forward, which is a position the Rockets are very weak at. Not to mention the fact that he can shoot threes and even be a point forward due to his ability to facilitate. Perhaps this is why Adel was signed by the Brooklyn Nets at the conclusion of the Summer League, which was reported by Michael Scotto of The Athletic.

Johnathan Williams is an interesting name as well, as he was second on the Rockets Summer League with 6 rebounds per game, behind only Isaiah Hartenstein. He shot 54.5% from the field and 85.7% from the free throw line. He played 23 games for the Lakers last season and averaged 15.2 points and 9.6 rebounds per 36 minutes on 59% shooting. He also played in the G-League last season, posting averages of 15.3 points and 8.4 rebounds on 54.8% shooting. Williams is 6’9 and could play minutes at the 4, but regardless I would think he’s worth a camp invite. However he ended up signing to play overseas in Israel, and could possibly be added to a roster before this NBA season is over.

I think it would have made sense to invite both players to camp, because a few additional forwards on this roster would take some of the pressure off P.J. Tucker. Tucker is the defensive heart and soul of the Rockets, so they shouldn’t want him to play 34.2 minutes per game again. They’ll need him well-rested considering the are going to be playing deep in the playoffs.

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But we’ll have to see how the forwards on the roster hold up during training camp and the pre-season before determining if the Rockets should have taken a look at Adel and Williams.