Rockets to sign P.J. Hairston for D-League

HOUSTON – The Houston Rockets will finalize a non-guaranteed contract to bring forward P.J. Hairston to the team on Friday.

Hairston attended Rockets practice on Friday at the Toyota Center and was greeted warmly by his future teammates.

But don’t expect the troubled forward to play with the Rockets when the regular season begins.

“It’s more of a D-League kind of thing,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said Friday. “We’re pretty much set with camp roster.”

The expectations are for Hairston to participate in some training camp and preseason games but eventually play for the Rockets’ D-League team in Rio Grande Valley.

“It’s great to get him in our family,” D’Antoni said. “In the D-League and see how it goes.”

The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Hairston averaged six points and 2.4 rebounds for Memphis and Charlotte. But his journey to the NBA has been not without its issues.

After he was dismissed in college for North Carolina in 2013, he went to the D-League for the 2013-14 season. While playing for the Dallas Mavericks' D-League team, he averaged 21.8 points while shooting 45.3 percent from the field.

Miami drafted him in the first round in 2014 and immediately traded him to Charlotte. He was traded to Memphis this past February as part of a three-team deal.

Since leaving college, he’s endured a litany of problems, ranging from having an assault charge dismissed stemming from a fight at a pickup basketball game, missing a practice and signing with an uncertified NBA agent.

In March 2015, Charlotte coach Steve Clifford told the Charlotte Observer: “P.J., to me, has the chance to be a very good player. His approach has to be where he is constantly learning what the NBA game is about. He’s hasn’t done that well. He hasn’t been terrible, nor has he done as well as I would like.”

Hairston has tremendous talent and if he can display that in the D-League, maybe he could stick around with the Rockets.

It was interesting to see D’Antoni, while encouraged about the signing of Hairston, quickly point out the 23-year old will be in Rio Grande.

“Like I said, that’s a D-League problem,” D’Antoni said. “It wouldn’t be my problem.”