Will Jason Terry Have A Role With The Houston Rockets?


Earlier this week the Houston Rockets put together a trade for veteran guard Jason Terry. In the trade the Rockets also picked up 2 future 2nd-round picks in exchange for Alonzo Gee and a “to be named”, non-guaranteed contract (either Josh Powell or Scotty Hopkins).

Terry’s best years obviously are behind him. It’s possible this move was an effort to fortify the Rockets bench headed into the 2014-15 season. But it’s doubtful, outside of the Rockets acquiring a fairly significant player, that they want to take minutes away from Isaiah Canaan and Troy Daniels in the early part of the season as the two young players try to solidify their roles and take the next step of growth.

Apr 30, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard

Troy Daniels

(30) shoots the ball over Portland Trail Blazers forward

Nicolas Batum

(88) during the second quarter in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Sports

The Rockets bench is relatively young and inexperienced so Terry could be being brought in to add a veteran presence on the bench and in the locker room. This is a possibility. And perhaps Terry will be an “end of the bench” veteran, just in case the young players don’t work out. It’s very likely that Francisco Garcia was brought back for this reason and that his minutes are not a given. But the Rockets know what they have in him, if the attempt to give Daniels and Kostas Papanikolaou the reserve minutes at the 2 and the 3 don’t work out.

The question….is Jason Terry at this point, the kind of veteran that can mentally and emotionally handle that kind of limited role? This we don’t know, but indications from his previous stops in the league would suggest that he doesn’t want to sit. We know based on what we’ve seen that Cisco can handle that role and be a mentor to the younger players, show professionalism, how to prepare for the NBA grind and not become a locker room problem.

In this trade Sacramento essentially “paid” the Rockets 2 second round picks to take Terry off their hands as mentioned here at House of Houston. The Kings, a small market team, likely just wanted to shed Terry’s $5.4 million in guaranteed money for this season, so they paid the Rockets the 2nd round picks take him off their hands. Gee and the player to be named later, both non-guaranteed contracts, in all likelihood will be released by the Kings clearing nearly 5 million off their books.

Feb 7, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Brooklyn Nets shooting guard Jason Terry (31) shoots on Detroit Pistons point guard Brandon Jennings (7) in the first half at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

From the Rockets standpoint, the trade allows them to consolidate a “tradable” salary into 1 player versus 2 or 3 players. This allows them to get their roster down closer to the main 12 players and still have a contract to go along with the $8.3 million trade exception received in the Jeremy Lin trade to put together for matching purposes in a future trade. With those 2 pieces alone the Rockets can make a trade for a player or combination of players with salaries up to just south of $18 million dollars in the 2014-15 season.

The NBA roster is 15 players, 13 of which can be active at any one time. With no other trades prior to the season, starters appear set with Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones & Dwight Howard. With bench players Canaan, Ishmael Smith, Daniels, Garcia, Papanikolaou, Jeff Adrien, Joey Dorsey, Donatas Motiejunas (all with guaranteed contracts for this season), it takes the roster total to 13. If we assume that rookies Nick Johnson & Clint Capela spend most or all of the season in the D-League, they would be roster spots 14 & 15. Plus the Rockets need to decide if and how D-League Rookie of the Year Robert Covington (non-guaranteed contract) fits into their plans as well.

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For Jason Terry to stay on the active roster to start the season, the Rockets would have to likely cut Ish Smith loose. It’s possible, but his money is also guaranteed and will hit their salary cap. Another option would be to trade one of the bench players for future considerations or make another 2-for-1 trade to reduce the number of players.

Barring a preseason trade for another star or significant player, which doesn’t look likely at this point, this will be the Rockets decision to make. Can Terry help them off the bench? Are his on the court contributions at this point in his career worth stealing minutes from the developing Canaan and Daniels? And if Terry suits up but doesn’t play, will he be a good team player and be a mentor to the young guys?

Either way it goes, Jason Terry at the very least is a player with an expiring contract that will enable the Rockets to make a more significant move at some point this season.

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