NBA PM: Dalembert Thrilled to Join Rockets
After a stressful free agency period, Samuel Dalembert is just glad it’s over. Throughout the process, the veteran center was linked to the Sacramento Kings, Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets. He decided to sign with Houston, inking a two-year deal worth $13.7 million less than 24 hours before the team’s season opener. Looking back on the chaotic process, Dalembert can only shake his head.
“It was an experience,” Dalembert told HOOPSWORLD. “Things had to be compacted into a short period of time. It was full of surprises too. Overall, players had to make the best of it and teams had to make the best of it.”
Not only were teams having to make quick decisions on free agents, they were also involved in trade talks. Dalembert, like many free agents, had to wait for the drama surrounding Chris Paul and Dwight Howard to play out. Teams with cap room such as Houston, New Jersey and New Orleans had to monitor the trade talks and negotiate with free agents at the same time. Not to mention, training camps started on the same day as free agency, which made the process even more hectic.
“As soon as you made a decision, somebody undercuts you,” Dalembert said. “There were a few situations like that. Teams were weighing all of their options and plans kept changing. Some teams decided to save their money for next year or only offer a short-term contract to free cap for next year. There was a lot going on all at once. It was up and down, just like any other free agency period. Except this time, with the short period, the ups and downs were happening two days apart instead of three weeks apart.”
At the end of the day, Dalembert was thrilled to land in Houston. He’s excited to play for the Rockets’ new head coach Kevin McHale and he feels that he can help this team improve.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Coach McHale,” Dalembert said. “It’s the first time in my career that I’ve played for a big man coach. I was going to go to Georgetown, but then Coach [John Thompson] left so I changed my decision and went to Seton Hall. Before Sacramento, I was with the same team, the Sixers, for many years but I never had a big man coach. This is a great opportunity for me. This is a system where I can get better, improve my game offensively and bring my defensive game in. I want to help this team move to the next level.”
Dalembert played in the Rockets’ opener against the Orlando Magic, even though he had yet to practice with the team. Jordan Hill got in quick foul trouble so Dalembert played 20 minutes, finishing the game with 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. He is still getting to know everyone in the organization, but they’ve made a great first impression.
“They’re very professional and very enthusiastic,” Dalembert said. “Everyone understands their role and what they’re supposed to do. I’m excited.”
“It’s a good organization that has a lot of legacy with centers,” he added. “One of them is my favorite player, Hakeem Olajuwon, and there are other great big men who have played here as well. I’ve always felt that with a lot of hard work and perseverance, hopefully one day I can be one of those. I pray I can be one of those. I keep on working and if the opportunity presents itself, I’ll get it done.”
Dalembert is a double-double threat, excellent shot-blocker and a much better leader now that he’s entered his thirties. Houston has been searching for a starting center in recent years and Dalembert appears to be the answer.
Curry Determined to Silence Critics: Over the offseason, Tim Grover’s Attack Athletics training facility became Eddy Curry’s second home. He was constantly working out at the gym and playing pick-up games against Andre Iguodala, Caron Butler, Jermaine O’Neal and Juwan Howard among others. While Curry has only played in 10 NBA games since 2008, he knows he can still compete at the highest level.
The 29-year-old signed with the Miami Heat two weeks ago. While he has been sidelined with a hip flexor in recent weeks, he can’t wait to make his debut and silence his critics.
“I’m extremely motivated, more motivated than I’ve ever been,” Curry told HOOPSWORLD. “I really, truly believe that the first game I step out there, I’ll be able to silence all of my critics. It’s been awhile since I’ve played in here, but I’ve been banging on guys all summer. I already know that I’m ready to go. I think I can be a low-post presence while contributing on the boards and on defense.”
The Heat had been keeping an eye on Curry ever since the Minnesota Timberwolves bought him out last year, bringing him in for workouts and monitoring his weight. Several other teams expressed interest in Curry over the offseason, but the veteran felt that Miami was the best situation for him.
“It’s been in the works for awhile,” Curry said. “I had the opportunity to go to a few other places. But at the end of the day, I talked to D-Wade, LeBron and Mr. Riley, and I decided to make the move. These guys make it so easy. I’ve known all of these guys for a long time so that made my transition easier.”
Curry has been extremely impressed with the organization, from top to bottom.
“This organization is first-class,” Curry said. “No knock on the Bulls or the Knicks, but I’ve never been in a situation like this. They treat you right both on and off the court. It’s a family atmosphere and everyone is close. It’s a winning organization.”
Recently, his hip has been feeling better and he’s making progress. He wanted to play in Miami’s season opener, but the team’s doctors ruled him out. He’s likely a week or two away from returning to action.
“I’m feeling good,” Curry said. “I’m not quite 100 percent yet, but I am feeling good. This is an incredible situation. I’m looking forward to getting healthy and getting out there. I really can’t wait. I’m so antsy just sitting here and waiting.”
When Curry makes his debut, all eyes will be on him to see if his hard work paid off. In Miami’s first two games, Joel Anthony was the only center that played significant minutes. The Heat could use another productive big man after losing Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Erick Dampier and Jamaal Magloire over the offseason.
Curry will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact and contribute in the paint. After an offseason of hard work, he’s now in the perfect position to revitalize his career. This is the opportunity Curry was looking for, now it’s time for him to make the most of it.
Robinson Clears Waivers: On Tuesday evening, Nate Robinson cleared waivers and became an unrestricted free agent. The Oklahoma City Thunder bought out Robinson’s $4.5 million contract earlier this week. Several teams have already expressed interest in the 27-year-old point guard.
Last season, Robinson played just four games with the Thunder. However, prior to being traded to Oklahoma City, he was a significant contributor for the Boston Celtics, averaging 7.1 points in 17.9 minutes.
Throughout his career, he has been able to provide instant offense as a reserve. He’s a sparkplug that could be a low-risk, high-reward signing for a contending team.
NBA Chats: There were three NBA chats on the today’s schedule. HOOPSWORLD’s senior writer Tommy Beer had his weekly chat at 12:30pm EST. HOOPSWORLD’s salary cap guru Larry Coon chatted at 3:00pm EST. Rounding out the day’s chat schedule will be HOOPSWORLD’s newsline editor Mark Nugent who will host his weekly installment at 5:30pm EST.