Dalembert Wants To Stay With The Rockets
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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The Houston Rockets have a decision looming over center Samuel Dalembert, who averaged seven points, seven rebounds and nearly two blocks a game in his first year with the team. Dalembert is owed $6.7 million next season, but it’s only partially guaranteed. He can be waived before July 8th for only $1.5 million.
“No,” Dalembert said in an exclusive interview with HOOPSWORLD when asked if the Rockets have given him any indication what they might do. “They have so much to figure out this summer for themselves. I’m just going out there and making sure I get myself ready whether they keep me or not. I Just have to stay ready.
“I like it in Houston. It’s a very nice city. The people are very hospitable. The people are really good here, nice. It’s a good organization. I enjoy myself with the guys. We had good times, fun times.”
Amongst the other perks of playing in Houston for Dalembert were playing with two dynamic young point guards who made his life easier offensively in Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic. Plus, he was coached by a Hall of Fame big man in Kevin McHale.
“It was an honor,” Dalembert said of playing for McHale. I’m glad I was able to be coached by him. I enjoyed the season. Kyle brought a lot of defense to the team. Goran also came out and had a great year. I’m excited to have a chance to be a part of a great group. I’m looking forward to potentially playing again with those guys. Hopefully next year we can grow together.”
As the Rockets do their due diligence their summer and determine Dalembert’s fate, he’s working with another Hall of Famer: former player and coach John Lucas.
“It’s fun and hard,” Dalembert said. “Sometimes you want to get mad at John. He gets to you, pushes you hard. That’s what you like. You have to work harder to get better.
“It’s good to work out with some of the young guys. They go against you hard, so it keeps you ready. I’m really just trying to work hard and enjoy it.”
With 11 years of experience under his belt, Dalembert fully understands that he may have played his last game with the Rockets. Becoming a free agent is nothing new to him. He already knows what he’ll be looking for should he get waived before July 8th.
“I would love to be a part of it, but it’s a business and everybody knows it,” Dalembert said. “Someone like myself looks to win. I want to go to a team where I have the opportunity to win and also contribute to the team. Either way being a part of the NBA for so many years is a blessing. There are a lot of good teams out there looking for an athletic big man. I’m making sure to having myself ready and seeing what happens for next year.”
Regardless of where Dalembert ends up, he’s going to be in a much better position to succeed than he was this past season. The abbreviated training camp was hard on everybody in the league, but Dalembert especially. The Rockets signed him just days before the season started, leaving him little time to learn a completely new system and get acclimated with his teammates. This season he’ll have plenty of time to do both.
Dalembert has proven to be a solid center in the league who can help in both starting and reserve roles. He’d be a great fit on any team needing depth at the five spot, not only because he’s athletic as he mentioned, but because he’s one of the league’s great people as well. Dalembert has always been one of the most active players in the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program and he also does a lot of charity work back in his home country of Haiti. He has a new academy breaking ground in August.
“I’m looking forward to creating something different and new for the kids and country,” Dalembert said.