How an obscure rule could cost the Rockets a key player

An illegal contract could threaten the Rockets' frontcourt depth. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

Update (July 2): Nene and the Rockets have agreed to rework his contract.

One of the wrinkles of the new collective bargaining agreement is the over-38 rule, replacing the over-36 rule. The general suspicion has been that the over-38 rule was designed to reward star players like Chris Paul and LeBron James, the players' union president and vice president, respectively.

Late Friday night, it appeared that a role player, Nene, would actually be the first to take advantage of the new rule when it was reported he would sign a contract to return to the Houston Rockets. But by early Saturday, it was apparent that the Nene deal was not legal, and it was called off.

What happened? Let's take a look at the mistake the Rockets made and how they might fix it.