Thunder waive former Rockets forward Usman Garuba

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Oklahoma City Thunder waive former Houston Rockets forward Usman Garuba

The Oklahoma City Thunder are waiving forward Usman Garuba, according to sources. Garuba, 21, was selected 23rd overall by the Houston Rockets in the 2021 NBA Draft.

“I’ll prove everyone wrong. Mark my words,” he said after being cut. As a native of Madrid, Spain, he played for Real Madrid Baloncesto of the Liga ACB and EuroLeague from 2017 to 2021.

When he was 17 years old in 2019, he became the youngest starter in Real Madrid history. Garuba made 36 appearances in the 2020-21 season in the Liga ACB, averaging 5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 18.7 minutes per game.

Plus, he shot 46.1% from the floor, 33.8% beyond the arc, and 67.6% at the foul line. In 2021, the 6-foot-8 wing was named EuroLeague Rising Star and ACB Best Young Player.

Per multiple NBA betting sites, the Oklahoma City Thunder hold 16th-ranked odds to win next season’s championship in 2024. Sportsbooks are showing better odds for the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings.

During his rookie 2021-22 NBA season, Garuba made two starts in 24 games played with the Houston Rockets. The Spainard hooper averaged 2.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 10 minutes per game while shooting 43.2% from the field, 25% from deep, and 71.4% at the line.

With the Rio Grande Vipers, Houston’s G League affiliate, the forward averaged 9.0 points, 9.0 boards, 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, 1.4 blocks, and 25.3 minutes per game in five starts of the 2021-22 season.

Oklahoma City Thunder waive former Houston Rockets forward Usman Garuba after re-signing guard Lindy Waters III to a two-way contract

In January 2022, the Rockets announced that Usman Garuba had undergone successful surgery to repair a fractured left wrist and was expected to be sidelined for 6-8 weeks.

Last season, Garuba made one start in 75 appearances with the Rockets. He averaged career highs of 3.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 12.9 minutes per game. Not to mention, he shot career bests of 48.6% from the floor and 30.7% outside the arc.

In Houston’s 101-92 win over the Mavericks on Nov. 16, 2022, the wing recorded a career-high 12 points, nine boards, three assists, and three blocks in 22 minutes off the bench. He finished a perfect 7-of-7 (100%) shooting overall.

As part of a five-team trade on July 8, 2023, the Rockets traded the forward and TyTy Washington Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks. Four days later, the Hawks traded Garuba, Rudy Gay, Washington Jr., and a 2026 second-round draft pick to OKC for Patty Mills.

Last week, the Thunder re-signed guard Lindy Waters III to a two-way contract. In June, Waters declined his $1.93 million player option for the 2023-24 season. His option is part of the two-year, $6.29 million rest-of-season contract he signed with OKC in February.

In addition to signing Waters and waiving Garuba, the Thunder also waived Washington Jr. Of course, Waters now joins two-way signee Keyontae Johnson with OKC. Under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement, NBA teams can now sign three two-way players.

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