According to the Houston Chronicle, Chase Budinger is out two to three weeks with a sprained ankle. Budinger was averaging eight points and three boards, but shooting just over 40% from the field.
Since we're a D-League blog, that probably doesn't matter to you, so lets get to the meat and potatoes of this story.
According to Rockets GM Daryl Morey, they don't expect to call anyone up to fill his spot in the rotation. Had Carl Landry, who lost some teeth in Dirk Nowitzki's elbow, been out for more than a game, the Rockets would have "likely" signed Rio Grande Valley standout Mike Harris.
This perplexes me. Why not sign a D-Leaguer to replace Budinger, who was averaging just under 20 minutes a game, but sign someone to replace Landry instead of just bringing back Joey Dorsey from the D-League?
Well, Daryl "Dork Elvis" Morey knows a bit more about basketball than I do, but it seems like a great chance to help the Vipers while giving future prospects more of an incentive to develop in their D-League system. See, it's not exploited like it once was (Oh hey 2007-08 Austin Toros! (see December 26th-29th call-ups here)), but if a player is called up from your team for three weeks, you move to the top of the D-League waiver list, giving you your choice of the best player to enter the D-League pool - this is how the Fort Wayne Mad Ants recently picked up Jared Reiner, since it'd been three weeks since the Golden State Warriors called-up Chris Hunter.
So, in the end, signing a player off the Vipers for the three weeks that Budinger is out:
- gives a Viper a chance to earn some extra income so he doesn't have to defect to China after the D-League Showcase to feed his family
- Gives the Vipers a chance to add yet another talented player to their already stacked lineup
- has no foreseeable downside (correct me if I'm wrong in the comments!)
Continue reading to see which Vipers I'd have in mind!
Mike Harris - I know, I know; He doesn't play the same position as Chase Budinger, this would be stupid! Well, actually, oddly, he's learning to play more to his size(6'6", 235) while biding his time in the D-League. Spending a considerable amount of his time out on the perimeter, Harris is averaging 26 points, seven boards and shooting 9 of-26 from beyond the arc. I know that's not astounding, but it does show that he's playing on the perimeter, and playing quite a bit out there. If Morey was willing to call him up in place of Landry, why not give Harris a shot at some of Budinger's minutes for a few weeks to see if he's really developing as more than a 6'6" power forward or if the D-League is just that bad.
Antonio Anderson - Thus far in the D-League, the 6'6" rookie is averaging 17.6 points and seven assists, shooting 45% from the field. He went to vet camp with the Charlotte Bobcats, which wasn't a great decision considering they drafted two wings, but there were a few NBA teams that could've actually used him. He's a great defender (C-USA Defensive POY) and can defend all three perimeter positions. His offensive game isn't outstanding, but he's not going to try to do things he can't, so this isn't going to be an issue. Plus, while at Memphis, he was a proven winner, which is always going to help.
Romel Beck - Now this wouldn't help the Vipers because Beck plays for the Dakota Wizards, but with the rumor being that the Rockets loved him this preseason, why not give him a quick look in the regular season? Beck, as I tweeted today, is the best scorer in the D-League. If anyone wants to debate this with me, I'm prepared. Lately, his defense is stepping up (he stifled his match-up, Orien Greene) and has picked up double-digit rebounds in his last two games. If his effort continues to be there, Beck's on the fast track to getting a call-up, and I don't think the Rockets would be making a mistake by being the team to give him one.