Hartenstein and Clark are promising options for shorthanded Rockets

Houston Rockets Isaiah Hartenstein (Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images)
Houston Rockets Isaiah Hartenstein (Photo by Christian Inoferio/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Houston Rockets sent Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein to the Rio Grande Vipers on Tuesday night, and their performances only further displayed why they would be useful on the team.

The Houston Rockets have lacked size and defense, which naturally made the decision to turn to Gary Clark and Isaiah Hartenstein a no-brainer. Clark is 6-foot-9 and Hartenstein is a 7-foot rim protector who has proven in the G League that he can also get it done on offense.

The Rockets have had injuries hit them early in the season, losing Gerald Green, Danuel House and now Eric Gordon for an extended amount of time. Gordon will have knee surgery and could miss up to six weeks while Green could very well make a return for the post-season, but it’s unlikely.

The Rockets re-assigned Clark and Hartenstein back to the Vipers for Tuesday’s game against the Santa Cruz Warriors just one day after calling them up. Clark and Hartenstein will likely continue to play for both the Vipers and the Rockets, as the Rockets have a desperate need for bodies at this point.

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During the Vipers game against the Warriors, Hartenstein posted a gaudy stat-line with 26 points and 15 rebounds on 66.7 percent shooting from the field. Harty also added an additional four assists, which further showcased his growth as a capable passer, which is certainly a unique skill set for a big.

Clark, meanwhile, pitched in 18 points, four assists and three steals on 7-of-15 from the field. Clark continued to show his improvement from distance, as he shot 40 percent from deep on 4-of-10 from downtown. If Clark is able to continue to improve his long-range shooting, he will get some serious minutes with the second unit, especially given all the current injuries.

Clark and Hartenstein will be the key to the Rockets not riding Clint Capela, which will have significant ramifications. The more minutes he plays, the more likely he will be to reach his contract incentives, which would put the team over the luxury tax apron.

The Rockets also don’t really have the ability to turn to Nene, as playing him could result in him reaching his bonuses which would surely not be worth paying the luxury tax.

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With the news that Houston recalled the duo back to the Rockets on Wednesday, there’s a good chance they’ll see some minutes on the depleted roster. The Rockets would certainly welcome Clark and Hartenstein’s production on their second unit, especially without Gordon and Green, and what they each showcased Tuesday was only further proof that they should.