David Nwaba to the Rockets is a stroke of genius from Daryl Morey

David Nwaba (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
David Nwaba (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

David Nwaba has agreed to terms on a two-year contract with the Houston Rockets, which provides ample roster and financial flexibility.

The Houston Rockets and David Nwaba have agreed to terms on a two-year contract. Nwaba is currently recovering from a torn Achilles and won’t be able to join Houston until the 2020-21 season, but it seems like a good future investment.

While fans were excited to see how the Rockets would fill out their playoff roster, David Nwaba offers plenty of versatility off the bench and the structure of his contract is a masterclass in salary-cap management from Daryl Morey.

David Nwaba suffered a torn Achilles in December while playing for the Brooklyn Nets, which led to him being waived in early January. Before the injury, Nwaba was playing the most efficient basketball of his career by shooting a scorching 42.9-percent from 3-point range.

Nwaba saw significant time at shooting-guard, small-forward and power-forward. His time in Brooklyn was short but promising, and there are indications that he could fit seamlessly into the Rockets rotation.

The Rockets ‘brand of micro ball puts pressure on guards to rebound and defend the post. Nwaba stands 6-5, has a 7-foot wingspan and is an explosive athlete. His combination of physicality and length allows him to hound players on the perimeter and defend the paint in a way that is unique for a guard.


Nwaba’s offensive game is centered around catch-and-shoot threes and slashing to the rim. He is not a gifted creator, but that aspect of his game is not a concern to the Rockets when he’s running next to James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Factor in a shot chart that eschews mid-range jumpers in favor of 3-pointers and shots at the rim and Nwaba should have no problem finding a significant role in Houston.

David Nwaba’s contract is a lesson in understanding the salary cap. His contract is for two years: year-one carries a price tag of $900,000 for the 2019-20 season, which he won’t play a minute of for Houston, and year two, for the 2020-21 season, is a team option.

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The Rockets, in essence, were able to sign Nwaba to a one-year contract but have a portion of the contract count against this season’s salary cap. The NBA salary cap is tied to revenue and the assumption is that revenue will be down due to the global pandemic. The Rockets have two $40 million men in  Harden and Westbrook. A shrinking salary cap could strangle any of the Rockets’ future roster plans.

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Nwaba’s contract gives the Rockets future roster and cap flexibility while giving him $900,000 to recover from a serious injury. If Nwaba recovers well from his Achilles injury, this contract may go down as one of Daryl Morey’s shrewdest.