Photo by Troy Taormina/USA Today

Rockets Excited To Add Shumpert To Mix

Shumpert will debut with Rockets Saturday night

February 08, 2019 - 3:05 pm

HOUSTON (SportsRadio 610)- James Harden scored 34 points when the Rockets beat Iman Shumpert and the Sacramento Kings 132-112 November 17 at Toyota Center, but before Shumpert experienced his first practice as Harden's teammate he was told only four of those points were scored on him. 

"I need you to tell James about that night," a laughing Shumpert told reporters Friday.

Shumpert will make his Rockets debut Saturday night at Toyota Center against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and while Harden didn't address that November contest, he did say Shumpert makes the Rockets better.

"He helps us, especially at that wing position," Harden said. "His playoff experience, defense, ball handling, being able to shoot the basketball, a variety of ways. We're excited to have him for sure."

The Rockets acquired Shumpert in a 3-way trade from the Sacramento Kings where he averaged 8.9 points in 42 games this season. Before Sacramento, Shumpert key member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he played in three straight NBA Finals, winning it all in 2016, but his first stop in the NBA was with the New York Knicks. His first head coach was Mike D'Antoni.

"I always thought he was going to be really good," D'Antoni said. "He's good offensively. He can pass, he can shoot. Defensively, he just gets after you. He's strong, and I'm sure through the years he's just gotten better and more knowledgeable of the league. I had him as a rookie, so I'm sure he's progressed a lot since then."

While not saying if he'd start or come off the bench, D'Antoni joked that Shumpert would play 40 minutes against the Thunder, but a more serious D'Antoni said there is very little Shumpert can't do on the floor. He will guard four different positions, and he can play point guard if needed. That versatility is what attracted him to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

"He's got playoff experience," Morey said. "He's been to the Finals multiple times, won a championship, can really shoot, especially open shots, which he'll get a lot of here. He's very strong defensively, so we're really excited about what he brings."