Raptors Notes: Porter, Agbaji, Size, March, Barrett

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. defended his brother — Raptors forward Jontay Porter — who is at the center of an NBA investigation regarding betting irregularities, according to ESPN. The elder Porter said his younger brother Jontay wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize his NBA career.

The investigation is the result of prop bets involving Jontay on Jan. 26 and March 20, games in which he exited early and his unders were described by DraftKings as the No. 1 money-making bet in each of those games. Jontay hasn’t publicly addressed the situation and has missed the past three games for personal reasons. He’s averaging 4.4 points and 3.2 rebounds in 26 games (five starts) on a two-way deal with the Raptors this season.

Michael Porter Jr. said he had no more details than the media did but that he vouched for Jontay, who has been more than happy to be in Toronto on a two-way deal this season.

Jontay loves the game of basketball… I’ve known my brother my whole life. I know what type of dude he is and I know he’s excited to play basketball, and I highly doubt he would do anything to put that in jeopardy,” said Michael, who also discussed how betting affects players, including how they receive backlash if they don’t play up to the bettors’ standards.

So, it’s a part of the game now. I think that it’s obviously a dangerous habit. It’s a dangerous vice for people,” he said. “You know, the love of money is the root of all evil. So, I think that even though it is a thing, we as players just have to accept that. We get paid a lot of money to play this game, and I know these people, these fans, they want to make some money, as well. It’s definitely something that has kind of taken over the sporting world — I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

We have more from the Raptors:

  • Ochai Agbaji had a scary fall on Wednesday against the Knicks, landing hard on his back and being down for several minutes before being helped to the locker room, The New York Post’s Peter Botte observes. Agbaji did not return with a right hip contusion. After the game, head coach Darko Rajakovic said Agbaji got X-rays but they didn’t show any signs of a fracture. “For a second it was really scary because he couldn’t move at all,” Rajakovic said. Agbaji won’t play on Sunday, according to The Athletic’s Eric Koreen (Twitter link), but he’s all good and seems to mainly just be sore.
  • After trading away OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa, the Raptors are lacking in size, Sportsnet.ca’s Michael Grange writes. Jakob Poeltl, Chris Boucher and Scottie Barnes, as well as Agbaji and Porter, are out. That left the Raptors with just Kelly Olynyk, Jalen McDaniels and Jordan Nwora as the only players on the standard roster available on Wednesday who were 6’8″ or above — 6’9″ two-way forward Mouhamadou Gueye was available as well.
  • The Raptors are heading into their final game of March at 1-13 in the month, with the sole win coming in a five-point home win over the 18-55 Hornets. This month has also featured losses to the 14-60 Wizards and 13-61 Pistons, as well as the franchise’s record for biggest home loss set two different times (41 points on March 5 against the Pelicans and 44 points on Wednesday against New York). As Koreen writes, the Raptors were on pace for 31 wins at the time of Barnes’ injury and they’ve been without their four most important players. Koreen opines that even though this month has been abysmal, it shouldn’t make fans doubt the Anunoby or Pascal Siakam trades, noting that the Raptors at least have a direction after three straight middling seasons.
  • RJ Barrett had his first media session on Friday following the tragic passing of his brother. “Basketball is my sanctuary, so this actually brings me peace,” Barrett said. “It helps me every day to be here, and also just be on a schedule and just be around the guys. Hanging out with your teammates… they’re funny, you get to hang out with them, you get to go practice and even support the guys when I’m not playing. Whatever it is, just being around has been helping a lot.” The Raptors organization and his teammates have tried to support Barrett and were all on hand for the funeral last week in Ontario, according to Grange.
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