At just 25-years old, D.J. Kennedy has already seen his fair share of twists and turns throughout his basketball career. First came the abrupt end to his collegiate career at St. John's, when a torn ligament in his right knee during a Big East Tournament game sidelined him for the remainder of his senior season.
Then, after going undrafted and spending some time in the D-League, Kennedy got his first taste of playing in the NBA with the Cleveland Cavaliers...for exactly two games at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Since then, Kennedy has made an appearance in the Summer League every season, with now four different teams. At the start of the 2013-14 season he decided to take his game overseas, eventually playing with teams in France, Israel, Germany, and Russia.
Kennedy had by far his best Summer League season with Houston in Vegas over the past couple of weeks. He ranked fourth on the team with 13.8 points per game, third on the team with 7.5 rebounds per game, and finished fourth in the entire Las Vegas league with 2.8 steals per game.
His tenacious defense and on-ball pressure were frequently praised by those watching him, and for someone who stands only 6'6" tall, those nearly eight rebounds per game are pretty impressive.
DJ Kennedy! His on-ball pressure has forced turnovers w/ teammates capitalizing. Averaging 2.5 steals per. https://t.co/PdQTbaG3L1— Rockets Insider (@Rockets_Insider) July 14, 2015
Of course Kennedy is a decent scoring threat, he averaged around 12 points per game in college and 18 this year in international play, but for someone trying to make an NBA roster, it's the little things, like defense and rebounding, that play a much bigger factor.
But most importantly, it's really all up to what the Rockets need on their roster going into next season.
Kennedy may be in a tough position considering that Houston is a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season and is expected to contend with teams like the Spurs, Clippers, and defending champion Warriors for the West title in 2015-16.
The Rockets are a team in a "win-now" mode, making them less likely to dish out NBA contracts to undrafted Summer League guys like Kennedy, who wouldn't get much playing time either way on their bench. Kennedy is a swingman that brings a lot to the table with his abilities and previous professional experience, however Houston may not have a need for him on their opening day roster right now.
The Rockets just traded for Ty Lawson two days ago, and he will likely team up with Patrick Beverley for them at point guard. At shooting guard James Harden will obviously get most of the minutes, while Corey Brewer, K. J. McDaniels, and Jason Terry are also on the roster as well.
They used up a first round pick on small forward Sam Dekker this year, and already have Trevor Ariza alongside him.
All in all it just doesn't seem like there is much space for D.J. Kennedy on the Rockets NBA roster at this point. He'll likely have a shot with Houston in the D-League if he so chooses, but he'll be turning 26 in November, and one has to wonder if he'll just opt to go back overseas once again for next season.
Either way it would be silly to say that this is anywhere near the end of Kennedy's professional career, and if he continues to play the way that he did throughout this summer, there's a very good chance that he'll be back in the NBA at some point...and for more than just two games this time.
Sir`Dominic Pointer update
Could Sir`Dominic Pointer be in the same position as D.J. Kennedy? According to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, that may be the case. Vardon explained in his article that similar to Houston, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a "win-now" mode for this upcoming season.
They've already dished out big contracts to LeBron James and Kevin Love this offseason, and Tristan Thompson will probably get his payday with the Cavs before it's all said and done, making contracts for guys like Pointer and Rakeem Christmas tougher to handle.
"We're really in a unique situation roster-spot wise," Cleveland general manager David Griffin told Vardon. "When I say unique, it's not the same for them to have been drafted by most teams in the league. We have more immediate needs, probably."
Although they are looking for a small forward to backup James, Vardon wrote that the Cavaliers have "all but said Pointer's offensive game is not good enough for him to fill that role."
There are still decisions to be made, and even if Pointer and Christmas do not end up on the Cavs NBA roster they'll still more than likely have a shot in the D-League to start the season.