Houston Rockets sign elite free agent defender to one-year deal

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The Houston Rockets have overhauled a large portion of their roster this summer.

While incumbent starters James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson and Clint Capela are still on the team and sixth man Eric Gordon is slated to return, newcomers Chris Paul, PJ Tucker and Tarik Black will likely play key rotational roles on Mike D’Antoni’s bench in the fall.

On Sunday, Houston added defensive wing specialist Luc Mbah a Moute to a one-year veteran’s minimum deal as the franchise continues to piece together a roster that can compete with the Golden State Warriors.

Mbah a Moute was a key defensive presence for the Los Angeles Clippers over the last two seasons, and despite the fact that he averaged just 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds over 22.3 minutes per contest, the 6’8” athlete has the skill set to guard either the two, three or four, making him a valuable asset in that regard.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Chris Haynes.

While he largely goes overlooked on the offensive end of the floor, it’s also worth noting that Mbah a Moute shot a career-high 39.1 percent from beyond the arc last year as well. Therefore, since Harden and Paul will receive much of the focus on the offensive end of the court, he might find himself some wide-open looks. 

All of a sudden, the Rockets surprisingly look like a formidable defensive unit, which is odd for a D’Antoni-led team that has traditionally been mainly centered around putting the ball in the basket.

Also, as a whole, with Carmelo Anthony possibly on the way, the roster has the potential to be one of the best in the stacked Western Conference.

If you’re skeptical of Mbah a Moute’s impact on the defensive side of the ball, check out the footage below of him guarding San Antonio Spurs MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard as well as power forward LaMarcus Aldridge:

Considering that the Oklahoma City Thunder signed defensive specialist Andre Roberson to a three-year, $30 million deal earlier this offseason, the fact that the Rockets were able to land Mbah a Moute at the veteran’s minimum cannot be understated.

A couple of days ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Clippers were interested in retaining Mbah a Moute, but there were some question marks as to whether or not they could make the financials work.

Since he signed at the minimum, it appears as though financial concerns were not the issue for Mbah a Moute. A change in scenery and a new opportunity at contending for a championship now are on the horizon for the NBA veteran.

Chris Paul
LA Clippers
Pacific Division
Western Conference
Houston Rockets
Southwest Division
Luc Mbah a Moute
James Harden

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