Ex-Cats

Houston Rockets make final cuts, keep Kyle Wiltjer

Houston Rockets forwards Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Wiltjer compete with Memphis Grizzlies forward Vince Hunter for a rebound during overtime of a preseason NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Houston.
Houston Rockets forwards Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Wiltjer compete with Memphis Grizzlies forward Vince Hunter for a rebound during overtime of a preseason NBA basketball game Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016, in Houston. AP

The Houston Rockets had to make four cuts Tuesday to get their roster down to 15 players. None of those included former Kentucky and Gonzaga star Kyle Wiltjer.

The Rockets officially waived P.J. Hairston, Le’Bryan Nash and Gary Payton II early in the day. Pablo Prigioni was the final cut.

Wiltjer’s shooting ability certainly contributed to the decision.

“He has two NBA skills,” Rockets Coach Mike D’Antoni told the Houston Chronicle in a report posted this past Sunday. “One is shooting which is off the charts and is not just an NBA skill, but a top-level NBA skill. He can be a great shooter. The second thing is he really knows how to play offensively. He has a great feel for the game.”

D’Antoni told the Chronicle that Wiltjer is improving on defense.

“On defense, he’s always in the right position,” D’Antoni said, according to the report. “He lacks a little strength. He lacks a little mobility. They’ll work on and he’ll get better. He’ll get stronger physically. But if you watch his whole game and watch film on him, he’s a very high-level player. I think he’s an NBA player.”

Wiltjer told the Chronicle that he signed with the Rockets because he thought D’Antoni’s style of play suited him well.

“I was very fortunate to get this situation because a big emphasis with the Rockets for this year has been shooting and I thought I could really help,” Wiltjer told the Chronicle for Sunday’s report. “The minute I stepped in Houston I fell in love with the city. I would love for it to be here, but I think I have some good options. I have to be ready for that next step. Hopefully, it’s here.”

Dennis Varney: 859-231-3514, @ExCats

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