Houston Rockets: Gary Clark has become the team’s sacrificial lamb

Houston Rockets forward Gary Clark (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Houston Rockets forward Gary Clark (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets forward Gary Clark has been cut by the team becoming the sacrificial lamb as the team makes tough decisions about contracts. Why?

The Houston Rockets have torn through the Western Conference with frenetic pace coupled with a few hiccups along the way.  I’ll still NEVER forget that terrible loss to the Golden State Warriors back Christmas Day because there was absolutely no excuse for them to lose that game.

I’ve debated this on end with friends and that game against the Warriors was a trap in every sense of the word.  I’ve heard arguments such as “there are no trap games in basketball,” or the “Houston Rockets knew what they were doing.”   Those are two different extremes and neither of them is acceptable against a team like the Warriors.

They had every opportunity to take them out for good and they didn’t.  But the Houston Rockets just a half-game out of 2nd place in the West, it’s great to go with the old adage of forgive but not necessarily forget.

But as we ease into 2020 — of which the Houston Rockets are undefeated so far with an impressive 118-108 win over the Philadelphia 76ers — they will take on the Atlanta Hawks on the road tonight after a peculiar four-day break that will involve a back-to-back with the Oklahoma City Thunder tomorrow night.

They will be without swingman Gary Clark, who has been cut from the team after just a little over two seasons of tenure.

The end was nearing because he was falling farther out of the rotation, especially with the return of Eric Gordon and the terrific play of Ben McLemore off the bench.  McLemore’s contract is partially guaranteed but you better believe they’ll be picking up the remnants from this season and the next, which does not include one at all.

Clark, a natural three-and-D guy, fits well into Mike D’Antoni‘s system in his first season and getting minutes especially for guys like Eric Gordon and even Carmelo Anthony to an extent early into the season.  Wherever the Houston Rockets needed him, he was there to fill the gap but with such a glut of talent on this roster currently, he became expendable but his professional career is far from over and will be picked up by another team as soon as possible.

He was an amazing find in the 2018 undrafted pool after finishing up his collegiate career in Cincinnati.  They stashed him with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and he shuttled back-and-forth, developing quickly into the mold of what this team needs and wants.

In addition, the Houston Rockets have not ruled out bringing him back either as he still produced solidly when he did get playing time this season (he averaged 11.8 MPG).

Clark had just signed a three-year, $3.7 million in early December of last season that included a guarantee for 2019-20 and partial guarantees for this season and the next if they were to exercise those options.

The Houston Rockets, of course, have decided not to do so and will reduce their cap hit from

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$1.4 million to $708K which will be put them under the luxury tax line if a trade is made and that’s something they’ll likely be doing.

Although Tilman Fertitta has said that he’ll do whatever it takes to have a winning team on the hardwood, it appears he’s retreating from that sentiment once again by asking Daryl Morey to get under the line in his third full campaign as the owner.

As you know with this team, a trade could likely be imminent not only to get under the line but to improve the roster as well.

It’s tough to see talented guys like Gary go but who knows, he could be back!

It all comes to down to if the team feels he’s worth a roster spot and they didn’t feel he was at this time.

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Whatever happens, I wish Gary nothing but the best of luck.

Clark, 25, averaged 3.9 points and 2.2 rebounds off a shooting line of .390/.353/.857 through just 18 games this season.