Gary Payton II

Rockets waive Gary Payton II and reportedly Tyler Ennis

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The Rockets entered the day with five point guards with guaranteed salaries: James Harden, Patrick Beverley, Pablo Prigioni, Tyler Ennis and Gary Payton II.

That seemed like too many, but Houston had just 15 players – the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries. There didn’t seem to be urgency to drop a player with a guaranteed deal.

Yet, the Rockets will drop two.

Rockets release:

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey announced today that the team has waived guard/forward P.J. Hairston, forward Le’Bryan Nash, and guard Gary Payton II.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Barring another move, this opens the door for Houston to keep Bobby Brown (whose biggest impact in the preseason was causing an international incident) and Kyle Wiltjer, a stretch big who went undrafted out of Gonzaga.

The Rockets come out behind in their trade for Ennis. They have could have just waived the player they dealt, a lower-paid Michael Beasley, and saved a little money.

Payton, undrafted out of Oregon State, is an intriguing project. But Brown is probably more capable of helping now, a bigger factor for that roster spot with Beverley injured.

Report: Rockets trade Michael Beasley to Bucks for Tyler Ennis

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The Bucks wanted to trade for wing help after losing Khris Middleton for most of the season.

So, they’re dealing point guard Tyler Ennis for… Michael Beasley?

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Beasley found a niche as a high-volume, surprisingly efficient scorer off the bench for the Rockets last season.

I’m not sure how that translates to Milwaukee.

Beasley did most of his damage in Houston at power forward. Shifting up to small forward will take away his speed/ball-handling advantages. He won’t replicate Middleton’s floor spacing or defense – especially his defense.

Still, Ennis was superfluous with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Matthew Dellavedova and Michael Carter-Williams at point guard. The Bucks are probably better off taking a chance on Beasley on the wing rather than leaving Ennis to rot on the bench.

Ennis won’t step into a clear role with the Rockets, but he’s just their third point guard with a guaranteed salary, joining Patrick Beverley and Pablo Prigioni. Gary Payton II, Isaiah Taylor and Bobby Brown loom on what will likely be less than fully guaranteed deals.

The No. 18 pick in the 2014 draft, Ennis has yet to find his footing in the NBA. He’s in the final guaranteed season of his rookie-scale contract, and the Rockets have a team option on his $2,666,707 salary for 2017-18 they must decide on by Oct. 31. If Ennis makes the regular-season roster, they could exercise the option just because it’s so cheap in case he breaks out. See Solomon Hill. But first, Ennis must prove he’s more valuable than Payton, Taylor and Brown.

This might also suggest Houston is close to a deal with restricted free agent Donatas Motiejunas, who could step into Beasley’s backup power forward role.

NBA rookies love Kris Dunn, Ben Simmons – not so much

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Rookie of the Year, best playmaker, best defender and funniest. Kris Dunn even received a vote for best shooter despite his jumper holding him back in pre-draft evaluations.

Dunn – the Timberwolves’ No. 5 pick – cleaned up in the NBA’s annual rookie survey.

But when it came to the most important question, Brandon Ingram – the Lakers’ No. 2 pick – claimed the top spot:

Which rookie will have the best career?

1. Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers — 26.7%

2. Kris Dunn, Minnesota — 16.7%

3. Buddy Hield, New Orleans — 13.3%

T-4. Dragan Bender, Phoenix — 6.7%

Jaylen Brown, Boston — 6.7%

Jamal Murray, Denver — 6.7%

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 6.7%

Others receiving votes: Dejounte Murray, San Antonio; Dario Saric, Philadelphia; Pascal Siakam, Toronto; Tyler Ulis, Phoenix; Denzel Valentine, Chicago

That’s a pretty poor showing for Ben Simmons, whom the 76ers drafted No. 1. Maybe it’s because Simmons didn’t make the NCAA tournament at LSU.

But that lack of exposure only barely dissuades me. I still think Simmons will have the best career and win Rookie of the Year. The 76ers will likely feature him in a major role this season while Dunn is stuck behind Ricky Rubio (for now, at least).

But that didn’t dissuade their fist-year peers:

Who will be the 2016-17 Kia Rookie of the Year?

1. Kris Dunn, Minnesota — 29.0%

2. Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers — 25.8%

3. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 19.4%

Other notable questions (click through to NBA.com full results) and my picks:

Which rookie was the biggest steal at where he was selected in the Draft?

1. Dejounte Murray (29), San Antonio — 16.1%

2. Tyler Ulis (34), Phoenix — 12.9%

My pick: Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot (24), Philadelphia

Which rookie is the most athletic?

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston — 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers — 16.1%

My pick: Brown

Which rookie is the best shooter?

1. Buddy Hield, New Orleans — 65.7%

2. Jamal Murray, Denver — 20.0%

My pick: Hield

Which rookie is the best defender?

1. Kris Dunn, Minnesota — 23.5%

2. Gary Payton II, Houston — 20.6%

3. Malcolm Brogdon, Milwaukee — 17.6%

My pick: Payton

Which rookie is the best playmaker?

1. Kris Dunn, Minnesota — 29.4%

2. Ben Simmons, Philadelphia — 26.5%

3. Tyler Ulis, Phoenix — 20.6%

My pick: Dunn in a vacuum with the caveat that Simmons’ playmaking – not far behind Dunn’s – will be more valuable at power forward than Dunn’s will be at point guard