The Houston Rockets have drafted Isaiah Hartenstein in the second round of the NBA draft. However, the German center will not be part of the Western Conference semifinalists' plans for the coming season.
Houston used their only pick of this year's National Basketball League (NBA) draft - the 43rd overall - to select the 19-year-old German national team player Isaiah Hartenstein on Thursday night. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey said Hartenstein would be on his way to North America shortly, but at first would only stay a few weeks.
"He's going to play with us this summer and then develop overseas next year," Morey said of Hartenstein, who spent last season with the Lithuanian champions, Zalgiris Kaunas.
In 27 games in the Lithuanian league, he averaged 4.9 points and 3.7 rebounds a game. He also helped the German national team to a fourth place finish at the FIBA under-18 Euro championship in December.
"I can do a lot of things on the court," Hartenstein said. "Just being very versatile and just whatever the team needs me to do I can do and just being very mobile for my height. I'm 7-foot (2.12 cm.), I can put the ball on the floor and defend a lot of different positions and I think just me being very versatile helps me a lot."
Houston GM 'surprised' that Hartenstein didn't go earlier
Morey said the Rockets had been scouting Hartenstein for some time and were surprised that he was still available when their pick rolled around, more than five hours into the draft.
"He's already playing at a good level professionally and guys that play overseas, 7-footers like that, they're very skilled and fit well with coach (Mike) D'Antoni's system," Morey said.
In Houston, Hartenstein is joining a team that finished third in the regular season in 2016-17 and in the playoffs reached the Western Conference semifinals before eliminated by the San Antonio Spurs in six games.
The Philadelphia 76ers had the first overall pick in Thursday's draft which they used to take 19-year-old Markelle Fultz, an American guard who spent last season at the University of Washington in Seattle.
pfd/mf (AP, SID, dpa)