On Saturday, the Houston Rockets agreed to a four-year deal with Chinese center Zhou Qi. The 7’2” big man was drafted by the Rockets in 2016 and spent time with the team close to the end of last season. Financial details of the deal are yet to be disclosed by either party.
Rockets agreement with Zhou Qi, a four-year deal, Zhou's agent said. As reported Thursday, that was Rockets preference, but costs MLE money.
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) July 1, 2017
Inside Look at the Newest Houston Rocket: Zhou Qi
Who is Zhou Qi?
Zhou Qi is a 21-year-old center who brings great length to this Rockets team. Standing at 7’2”, the Chinese center has an outstanding 7’8” wingspan, leading some to compare him to Rockets and NBA Hall-of-Famer Yao Ming. An impressive specimen, Qi has great potential and is a smart addition to an ever improving Houston franchise. After being drafted 43rd overall, Qi headed back to China to continue playing for Xinjiang Flying Tigers. His career in China was a successful one. Leading the league in blocks (2015, 2016) and going on to win a CBA Championship in his final season with the team.
This is a big talent and one to watch out for in the future.
What to expect from Qi
Versatile at both ends of the court, Qi will be a useful player in Houston. Providing elite length, Qi will likely contribute off the bench in his first season. Rebounding and shot blocking are his two best qualities, both can be valuable for head coach Mike D’Antoni. Now, this might sound crazy but the Rockets may have unearthed a Kristaps Porzingis style player. Capable of shooting from three-point range at 7’2” is almost “Unicornish”. If he can develop his game, there is no reason why Qi can’t become an established NBA player.
Reportedly signing a four-year deal, center Nene Hilario was set to re-sign with the Rockets. However just hours later, the Brazilian was back on the marke, due to complications with his new contract.
Sources: Nene, Rockets unable to finalize an agreement on his contract. He has reentered free agency.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 1, 2017
Originally signing a four-year deal, the Rockets had to reduce the contract to three years. This is because of the NBA’s “Over 38 Rule”. Nene has since rejected the new deal, due to a $4 million drop in his contract.
According to the Marc J. Spears of ESPN, the Rockets remain “optimistic” about a potential deal with Nene.
The Rockets are optimistic they will work a deal out with Nene, a source said. https://t.co/4u2tz4qJUs
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) July 1, 2017
So, is Qi an addition to this Rockets roster, or a replacement for Nene? Only time will tell, but GM Daryl Morey has positioned himself very nicely, after signing Qi.