With the NBA’s roster deadline looming for the 2021-22 season, Houston waived veteran guard Dante Exum on Saturday. The move came two days after second-year sharpshooter Armoni Brooks was given a standard contract, which meant that one player had to be let go in order for the Rockets to be at the regular-season limit of 15 players on standard deals.
Exum was signed in mid-September to a multi-year contract based heavily on incentives, which might have made him a useful trade commodity for salary matching purposes, under the right circumstances. However, the Rockets clearly left themselves an exit strategy with regards to Exum, since each year of the deal was non-guaranteed.
Ultimately, it seems Exum did not show enough in training camp or the preseason for head coach Stephen Silas and general manager Rafael Stone to be sold on the basketball merits of keeping him around. Moreover, if Exum didn’t show enough on the floor to be of value — even on a young Houston roster that finished last season with the NBA’s worst record — other teams were unlikely to have much trade interest.
By contrast, Brooks shot 45.0% on 3-pointers in Houston’s four exhibition games, and that made him a better candidate for the final standard roster spot. The Rockets do still have a pair of two-way contract slots — currently occupied by Daishen Nix and Anthony Lamb — that could be awarded in the coming days, should Stone and Silas see someone on the waiver wire that they view as a potential upgrade. Like Houston, teams throughout the league will be making cuts to reach the regular-season threshold. However, that player would be limited to a maximum of 50 NBA games, so long as he’s under that two-way NBA/G League deal.
After effectively making an Exum-for-Brooks swap, Houston’s 15 standard contracts appear to be finalized for the time being. Players on standard deals are eligible to play in all of the NBA team’s games.
Rockets sign Armoni Brooks to standard contract for up to four years
Rockets list minutes played, net rating as Dante Exum contract incentives
Houston Rockets 2021-22 regular-season schedule