HOUSTON (AP) — Houston kept just one pick in this year’s NBA draft and he won’t even be with the team next season.
The Rockets selected German center Isaiah Hartenstein in the second round of the NBA draft with the 43rd pick, but general manager Daryl Morey said he won’t play in the United States in his first year.
“He’s going to play with us this summer and then develop overseas next year,” Morey said.
The Rockets also picked Oregon forward Dillon Brooks at No. 45 on Thursday night, then traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Morey said he made the Memphis trade, which was for a future second-round pick, to have more currency for deals in the future.
“We’re focused on chasing Golden State and anything we can push into the future to help us upgrade the team potentially through a trade we’re ready to do,” Morey said.
He added that no trades were imminent, but that he’s constantly looking for moves to improve the team. The Rockets didn’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft after trading it to the Los Angeles Lakers in February in exchange for Lou Williams.
The 7-foot-1 Hartenstein, who is 19, spent last season playing in the Lithuanian LKL and Euroleague. In 27 games in Lithuanian LKL, he averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. He helped the German national team to a fourth place finish at the FIBA under-18 Euro Championships in December.
“I can do a lot of things on the court,” Hartenstein said. “Just being very versatile and just whatever the team needs me to do I can do and just being very mobile for my height. I’m 7-foot, I can put the ball on the floor and defend a lot of different positions and I think just me being very versatile helps me a lot.”
Morey said the Rockets have had an eye on Hartenstein for quite some time and were surprised that he was still available when they picked on Thursday night.
Hartenstein joins a team which reached the Western Conference semifinals behind a MVP-caliber season from James Harden before being ousted by the San Antonio Spurs in an embarrassing 39-point loss in Game 6.
“He’s already playing at a good level professionally and guys that play overseas, 7-footers like that, they’re very skilled and fit well with coach (Mike) D’Antoni’s system,” Morey said.