Daryl Morey has essentially confirmed who will occupy the Houston Rockets‘ last roster spot.
While appearing on the Rockets’ official website podcast “RocketsCast Live,” the general manager gave an inside scoop as to who will be the latest addition to the roster before training camp opens in September.
No, it won’t be the athletic Kenneth Faried or the proven 17-year veteran Nene Hilario — it’ll be another familiar face in Terrence Jones, who signed two 10-day contracts with the Rockets last season and appeared in two games for the team during the 2018-19 season.
Ben Dubose of Rockets Wire confirmed Morey’s quote in the podcast.
Terrence Jones is No Stranger to the Rockets
The 27-year-old Jones is no stranger to the Rockets. Not only was he brought back for a short stint with Houston last season, he was originally drafted by the franchise with the 18th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft out of the University of Kentucky.
Over the course of his first four seasons spent with the Rockets, Jones played a key role as a role player, even serving as a starter during the 2013-14 season, starting 71 of the 76 games he appeared in. The 6-foot-9 forward averaged a career-best 12.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game on 54.2 percent from the field in 2013-14, while averaging 10.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per contest in 180 appearances and 106 total starts during his Rockets tenure.
However, Jones’ downfall began early on in the 2014-15 season when injuries started plaguing his career. A nerve inflammation in his left leg sidelined him for 41 games before a collapsed lung sidelined him for six more games in late March.
The 2015-16 season continued to be another tough season for the young forward as he was limited to just 50 games due to a concussion and a lacerated eyelid. Jones began the season as the starting power forward, but lost his job to Clint Capela after the season’s first 11 games.
Jones would end up signing with the New Orleans Pelicans during the 2016 offseason.
Where Jones Has Played in Recent Years
If you delve into Jones’ backstory, you’ll see that he hasn’t been around the NBA very often over the past few seasons. Despite a bright start to his career, he has appeared in just two games in the NBA over the past two seasons.
The former first-round pick recently completed a season for the TNT KaTropa squad of the Philippine Basketball Association and won the Best Import award.
While he’s had international success as of late, his goal has always been to return to the NBA, as he stated during an interview with Spin.ph.
“Right now, I’m just moving forward to my next chapter and that’s trying to get ready for the NBA season,” Jones said.
How Jones Figures into Rockets’ Roster
The Rockets currently have 14 players on non-Exhibit-10 deals. In other words, the team can feature 15 players on the active roster with two spots occupied by two-way players. Players on Exhibit-10 deals are typically the ones featured on two-way contracts, splitting time between the NBA and the G-League.
With the departures of Faried and Hilario — two guys who played sizable roles as backup big men last season for the Rockets — Jones can play his way into the rotation. Houston is extremely lacking in depth at their big man spots, with Capela, 36-year-old Tyson Chandler, No. 1 overall pick bust Anthony Bennett and the unproven Isaiah Hartenstein rounding out the depth chart at the center and power forward spots.
The issue with Jones isn’t that he can’t play. He’s more than proven that he can produce when healthy, as evidenced by the fact that he averaged 11.5 points per game during his last full NBA season with the Pelicans in 2016-17. The question is, can he stay healthy?
If he can remain on the court, the opportunities will be there for a guy who is still in his athletic prime at 27 years of age.
Follow D.J. Siddiqi on Twitter @DJSiddiqi