McALLEN— Obviously, not every player on the Houston Rockets’ 20-man training camp roster is going to stick with the main club.
Cuts will be made and dreams will be dashed.
Some might get opportunities with other teams in the NBA and overseas. Others will remain on radars by going to NBA Development League route.
It’s too early to tell which Rockets could eventually end up the D-League, and possibly with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets’ D-League affiliate. But, it’s never too early to speculate. Still, that doesn’t make it easy.
The Rockets are young. Only three players on the Rockets’ training camp roster have more than three years of NBA experience. None of them — guard Kevin Martin, guard Shaun Livingston and swingman Carlos Defino — are exactly franchise players.
Houston’s poster boy, point guard Jeremy Lin, was cut by the Rockets on the final day of training camp and returned this season as a restricted free agent from the New York Knicks. Lin is a product of the D-League.
The Rockets have four rookies and four others with one year’s NBA experience in camp.
“There’s a lot of opportunity, and where we are as a team, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on young guys with upside,” said Gersson Rosas, who serves as the Rockets executive vice president of basketball operations and general manager of the Vipers. “We’ve got to figure out how that’s going to play out.”
Of the 20 players on the training camp roster, 11 are D-League eligible. It’s unlikely first-round draft picks Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones are under D-League consideration. White is not even in camp. He revealed this week he has an anxiety disorder and is afraid to fly.
Second-year forward Marcus Morris played with the Vipers on assignment last season and dominated while he was in the Valley. It doesn’t seem like playing in the D-League will help his progress.
Main targets could include undrafted rookie free agents like guard Demetri McCarney, guard Kyle Fogg, guard Scott Machado. Second-year players like forward JuJuan Johnson and forward-center Greg Smith, who played most of the season with the Vipers, could also be targeted.
“I really like this organization,” said Fogg, who played atArizona. “If they happen to put me in the D-League, and they thought that was best for me, I’d be open to that.”
Iona-product Machado added: “Basketball is going to be basketball. Obviously, I want to be here, but if I have to play down here, then I guess I’ll have to do that. I’ll do what I have to do.”
But, there’s still some time before those decisions need to be made.
“We’ll see how the process goes,” Rosas said. “Development is not a one-day, one-week, one-month process. It’s a yearly process. For us, not only with the Rockets, here in the Valley, that process goes hand-in-hand. Some of the players might spend time with the RGV Vipers program and part of that is not as much a short-term goal as it is a long-term goal.”
David Hinojosa covers the Rio GrandeValleyVipers for The Monitor. You can reach him at (956) 683-4442 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org