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Notes from NBA Summer League: Rockets may have a find in Tari Eason

LAS VEGAS — The Rockets drafted Tari Eason at No. 17 because he could defend, he could switch 1-4 and Houston needed some of that versatility. They just hoped they could bring his offense along.

It turns out his offense is just fine.

Eason scored 22 points on Monday against the Spurs to go with his 10 rebounds — he has stood out as one of the, if not THE, best Rockets player so far at Summer League. He has a knack for finding spaces in the defense where he can operate.

“More than any player I can I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve never seen somebody make mistakes and then make good plays out of the same possession quite like Tari,” Rockets’ summer league head coach Rick Higgins said. “As we start to get his mistakes to creep down and down and down, we’re gonna see even more of the great plays shine.”

While putting up 22 and 10 in Summer League is a far cry from doing it in an NBA game, Eason believes his game will translate to the next level.

“Everything that I bring here I think translates to an NBA court. I don’t think I’m playing out of myself, doing too much,” Eason said. “I think that my ability to space the floor, rebound, defend, and knock down an open three are all things that I’ve tried to showcase to the people that I could do here, and I think all those things would translate.”

Higgens said there is still a lot of development to go for Eason. That’s true of every rookie in Las Vegas, including the Rockets’ No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith. But Eason looks like a guy who could be a quality part of the Rockets rotation in the future.


There is so much else going on at the Las Vegas Summer League, here are some other notes and things I saw.

• The Celtics’ Matt Ryan hit the floater three and game-winner with less than a second remaining to beat the Bucks — then sprained his ankle on the same play.

Ryan had 23 points on the night. He’s a great story, a year ago he was driving DoorDash and now he’s making plays in a Celtics jersey.

• The great thing about throwing a lob to Chet Holmgren is it doesn’t have to be that accurate to still work.

• The Rockets’Josh Christopher was frustrated, not getting calls he thought he deserved on drives. Then he missed a bunny on one fast break. He attacked recklessly the next time down and got his shot blocked. After that, he was leaking out hunting for transition chances, and when he finally got one he took out all his frustrations on the rim.

• The Magic shutting down No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero — not because of injury, just because he has proven everything he needs to through two stellar games — is the first of a lot of stars being done at Summer League. Cam Thomas with the Nets, Josh Giddey with the Thunder and others will start to be shut down and sent home in the coming days.

And add the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III to that list.

• Spurs guard Josh Primo has been put into the NBA’s health and safety protocols, which likely means he’s done for Summer League. He averaged 15 points and 4.5 assists a game through two games, but struggled inside the arc (33% shooting overall but 50% from 3).