The Rockets are sending Daniel Theis back to the Celtics, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets that it will be for a package including Dennis Schroder. Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link) that Enes Freedom and Bruno Fernando will also be headed to Houston. Woj reports that the Rockets are waiving Freedom (via Twitter).
After trading Josh Richardson and Romeo Langford to San Antonio in exchange for Derrick White earlier in the day, and now dealing three players for one, the Celtics have opened three roster spots and figure to be aggressive on the buyout market.
Theis, 29, started his NBA career in Boston, appearing in parts of four season with the club prior to being traded to Chicago at last season’s deadline. He signed a four-year, $35.6MM contract with Houston as a free agent last summer, with the 2024/25 season being a team option. It was a strange signing for a rebuilding Rockets team that had just used two first-round picks on young big men Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba. Theis had fallen out of the team’s rotation as it prioritized youth, averaging 8.4 points and 5.0 rebounds through 26 games (22.5 minutes).
Theis will provide a major defensive upgrade over Freedom and should see some backup center minutes for his old team. Obviously, the Celtics have a high level of familiarity with the German big man, and he’s been teammates with the majority of the roster after just being dealt away last year.
For the Rockets, the move is mostly about clearing their books. Schroder is having another decent year, averaging 14.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 4.4 assists through 49 games (29.2 minutes), but he’s on an expiring $5.9MM contract, which was the main appeal. They’ll be on the hook for the remaining portion of Freedom’s veteran minimum deal, and Fernando can become an expiring deal if the Rockets don’t tender him a qualifying offer, which is highly likely given the limited contributions he’s provided this point in his career. Still, they get a look at 23-year-old big man to see if they want to keep him around beyond this season.
It will be interesting to see if a market develops for Schroder this summer after he failed to secure the large contract he was hoping for in 2021. I suspect he’ll still fall in the mid-level exception range, as not many teams will have cash to spend on free agents in 2022.