After coming off from a great season, the Houston Rockets appears to be focused on improving its roster for 2015-2016. The team has recently signed Ty Lawson and is reportedly in the process of acquiring power forward Montrezl Harrell for a three-year contract.
With only a few terms to be ironed out, Harrell has agreed to ink a three-year deal with the Rockets, according to the Houston Chronicle, citing a source familiar with the deal. The person is said to have spoken on condition of anonymity since the agreement is still incomplete and has yet to be publicized.
The 21-year-old Harrell is a 6'7" power forward who was chosen as 32nd pick in the 2015 NBA draft and played with the Houston's summer league team. However, negotiations were slow as the player had taken his time to choose between the long-term offer and a one-year deal that would have let him be a free agent next summer when the association's salary cap will increase significantly.
Since contracts signed through minimum-salary exception are restricted to two years, the Rockets will have to use its mid-level exception (MLE) to sign Harrell, NBC Sports noted. Houston already used part of its MLE to re-sign shooting guard K.J. McDaniels. Even if Harrell is given a minimum salary, it would push the team into taxpayer-MLE range, which will in turn trigger the hard cap.
According to data from Basketball Insiders, Houston is just $459,239 beneath the hard cap. The point guard's minimum salary is $525,093. So the Rockets will most likely have to waive one of their four unguaranteed rookies, Chris Walker, Denzel Livingston, Remi Yusuf, or Will Cummings, to accommodate Harrell.
The former University of Louisville star has been featured by several media outlets recently as he is reported to have helped save the life of a motorist on Monday night. The Courier-Journal wrote that the second-round pick was among those who pulled a person out of an overturned, smoking vehicle near the Louisville campus.
Meanwhile, the team's preseason is slated to start on October 6 with a match against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Rockets are set to test the waters with their fresh lineup. The move to acquire Ty Lawson is widely seen as a good decision. The former Nuggets player is expected to compensate for the Rocket's supposed lack of depth at the point guard position during the 2014-15 season.
With Lawson's impressive stats in the last season, sports publication Space City Scoop described him as one of the NBA's "top ten point guards." The 27-year-old Rockets newbie averaged almost 15 points and 10 assists on 44% shooting in the past season. He also managed land spots in the top ten lists of several other important categories such as "7th Among Point Guards in Offensive Rebounds Per Game," "3rd Among Point Guards in Assists Per Game," and "6th Among Point Guards in Offensive Win Shares."