The Rockets announced Monday that they have officially signed forward Usman Garuba, who was the No. 23 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 draft. After competing for the Spanish national team in the Tokyo Olympics and negotiating a contract buyout with Spanish professional club Real Madrid, the 19-year-old NBA rookie made a late arrival to join Houston’s summer league team in Las Vegas.
Known best for his defense, Garuba (6-foot-8, 220 pounds) spent last season with Real Madrid in Spain’s Liga ACB. He was the recipient of the ACB Best Young Player award along with being named the EuroLeague Rising Star, recognizing the top player under the age of 22.
Including their run to the ACB championship game, Real Madrid posted a 38-5 mark, with Garuba averaging 5.8 points and 5.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. During the EuroLeague playoffs, he became the youngest player in the competition’s postseason history to record a double-double, with 24 points and 12 rebounds versus Anadolu Efes.
“Chasing my dreams no matter what they say,” Garuba wrote in announcing the news on Twitter. “So excited to be a part of this team!”
Until Tuesday, Garuba’s summer minutes were fairly low following his late arrival and limited practice time. However, with fellow rookie big man Alperen Sengun skipping Tuesday’s finale to head home, that cleared the way for Garuba to make his first start with the Rockets.
Chasing my dreams no matter what they say🤫🤫🤫,so excited to be a part of this team! 💪🏾🤟🏾🚀 https://t.co/it1wv6rsSV
— Usman Garuba Alari (@destusman1) August 16, 2021
For first-round NBA draft picks, salaries are generally structured according to a designated scale for each slot. Relative to slot value, teams can sign their first-round players to as little as 80% of that rookie scale amount or up to 120% of that figure. In most cases, the team offers the maximum amount as a sign of good faith. Assuming that holds true with the Rockets, along with standard annual raises, here’s what Garuba is likely to earn over the contract’s four years (via HoopsRumors):
2021-22: $2.35 million
2022-23: $2.47 million
2023-24: $2.59 million
2024-25: $4.39 million
Total: $11.81 million
The first two seasons are fully guaranteed, while the third and fourth are team options. Beyond that, Garuba and the Rockets will be eligible to reach a contract extension agreement in the 2024 offseason. If that does not occur, and the team chooses to continue picking up his team options, he could become a restricted free agent in the 2025 offseason.