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With Usman Garuba out, Aric Holman ready for opportunity with summer Rockets

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LAS VEGAS — One of the goals of summer league is to get rookies and other young players acclimated to playing in the NBA by learning the rules, game speed, and beyond. It is also a time for free agents to showcase their talents with hopes of being invited to a team’s training camp and eventually making a regular-season roster.

That last goal is precisely what 6-foot-9 forward Aric Holman, who played for San Antonio’s G League affiliate last season, wants to achieve when he gets opportunities to play over the next two weeks.

Holman is currently part of the Rockets’ summer league team, where he is playing alongside talents like second-year player Josh Christopher and rookies Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, and TyTy Washington.

With forward Usman Garuba out with an ankle injury that is likely to cause him to miss the entire summer league, Holman is using this opportunity to display some of the talents he possesses to show the Rockets and the rest of the NBA that he is ready to compete for a roster spot.

“I want to get a contract with somebody, hopefully it’s here in Houston,” Holman said. “I just take it one day at a time. Just winning the day. Not thinking about game three, four, or five. Just winning that next game.”

Holman, who went undrafted in the 2019 NBA draft out of Mississippi State, was very productive in Thursday’s summer league opener versus Orlando. He checked into the game late in the third quarter and immediately made an impact with two huge blocks in under one minute. Holman finished with 8 points in 14 minutes (box score) and showed potential as a stretch big, making 2-of-4 from 3-point range (50.0%).

That type of energy and production off the bench impressed Rockets summer league head coach Rick Higgins.

“He had one look that went terrible in the first half, but he came out in the second half with nothing but confidence, attention to detail, and energy,” said coach Higgins. “It helped our group immensely.”

When it comes to potentially earning a contract — keep in mind, Houston is reportedly looking for another backup big this offseason — Holman believes he brings intangibles that could help the Rockets be successful as they progress through their rebuild. Among his comments:

I am a very high IQ guy, so I just bring that to the floor. I communicate and make people better around me, and then I just take what is given to me. I don’t reach out for the extras; I just take what is given to me and help my team win.

“This is a great organization — a great coaching staff, great players all around,” Holman concluded. “As everyone starts to buy in, this is going to be a great organization.”

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