Garrison Mathews

Western Notes: Lakers, Nuggets, Rockets, Potter, Liddell, Spurs

Although he didn’t play in the Lakers‘ preseason finale on Friday due to lower back soreness, Anthony Davis will have “no restrictions, whatsoever” when the team’s regular season tips off on Tuesday in Golden State, head coach Darvin Ham said (link via Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times).

Russell Westbrook, who sustained a left hamstring injury in Friday’s game, could “definitely” be available for the opener, according to Ham, but reserve point guard Dennis Schröder likely won’t be, as Turner writes.

Ham said that Schröder’s thumb ligament injury was still being evaluated as of Sunday, and while he’s still considered day-to-day, the ailment may take a little time to heal, tweets Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Nikola Jokic (wrist) and Jamal Murray (hamstring) are both expected to be available for the Nuggets‘ regular season opener on Wednesday in Utah, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barring an unexpected setback, it will be the first time Denver’s two stars have shared the court in a regular season game since April 2021.
  • The Rockets will likely have a handful of players on the injury report to start the season, but head coach Stephen Silas said on Sunday that he’s hopeful rookie Jabari Smith (ankle) will be available for the team’s opener, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas added that Garrison Mathews (illness) and Daishen Nix (back) are “close” to being ready too. Jae’Sean Tate (ankle) is the least likely of the group to be available for the opener, Feigen writes.
  • The two-way contracts signed in recent days by Jazz center Micah Potter and Pelicans forward E.J. Liddell both cover two years, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. As our tracker shows, those are the fifth and sixth two-way deals signed this offseason that are for two years instead of one.
  • Noting that the Spurs have had “so many guys over the years” develop their games in the G League, head coach Gregg Popovich said two-way players Dominick Barlow and Jordan Hall will likely spend most of their time in Austin this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “He’ll spend some time in the G League and play lots of minutes,” Popovich said, specifically addressing Barlow’s situation. “If he was with us right now, he’s not going to get on the court that much, which doesn’t help him develop.”

Rockets Notes: Tate, Mathews, Offense, Smith, Silas, Gordon

Rockets guard Garrison Mathews and forward Jae’Sean Tate have returned to the team’s active lineup and are eager to work with their new colleagues, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“We have a bunch of new guys so it’s important to play with everybody,” Mathews said. “Everybody’s different this year. We have a bunch of athletic guys, a bunch of guys that can guard. For me, my job stays the same, space, play hard, take charges. That’s (my) main job.”

Tate, meanwhile, is looking to mesh with his new compatriots on defense.

“I think it’s ultimately just to get more chemistry,” Tate said. “Shots are going to come; shots are going to fall throughout the season. Really, my main focus throughout this training camp is to get our communication down, especially on the defensive end, knowing we can trust each other. If we make mistakes or miss gambles, just have that chemistry.”

There’s more out of Houston:

  • The Rockets have plenty of talent on offense, but the club will have to figure out a way to get its sometimes-disparate pieces in sync, opines Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Head coach Stephen Silas and his staff are cooking up creative new ways to incorporate his best players on the hardwood together, though there have been some growing pains. “Our biggest concern — we have a lot of guys who can score — is whether they’re going to share the basketball,” assistant coach John Lucas said. “If they’re going to share the basketball, we’re going to have great continuity, great shots. If we don’t worry about who’s getting what shots, we’ll be very good.”
  • Rockets rookie lottery selection Jabari Smith Jr. suffered a left ankle sprain during the team’s Wednesday practice and will miss Houston’s Friday preseason contest with the Raptors, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle“I would say it was more precautionary” than anything else, noted assistant coach John Lucas, who has been running practices with Stephen Silas currently sidelined. Silas has missed the team’s last three practices while in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though the team hopes he will return in time for tomorrow’s Raptors game, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle in a separate piece.
  • Veteran Rockets shooting guard Eric Gordon has changed agencies, sources inform Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Gordon – who is under contract through 2024, albeit with a non-guaranteed salary next season – has departed longtime representatives Landmark Sports Agency in favor of CAA.

Rockets To Guarantee Salaries Of Garrison Mathews, K.J. Martin For 2022/23

The Rockets will guarantee the salaries of both Garrison Mathews and Kenyon Martin Jr. for next season, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link).

Both players had non-guaranteed contracts for 2022/23, but Houston decided to reward them for their efforts this season. Mathews is set to earn $2MM next season, while Martin will make $1,782,621, per Spotrac.

Mathews, 25, started the season on a two-way contract but was later converted to a standard deal after several strong performances in place of the injured Jalen Green.

Through 49 games (27.2 MPG) this season, including 21 starts, Mathews is averaging 11.0 PPG and 3.2 RPG on .410/.367/.810 shooting, good for a 61.4 true shooting percentage. His relatively low field goal percentage is deceiving, because 82% of his attempts have come from three-point range.

Martin, 21, was the No. 52 overall pick of the 2020 draft. He’s in his second season with the Rockets, and his stats from the two seasons are quite similar.

He’s averaging 8.9 PPG and 3.9 RPG this season (20.6 MPG, 63 games) after putting up 9.3 PPG and 5.4 RPG last season (23.7 MPG, 45 games). Martin is a hyper-athletic forward and has some amassed some impressive highlights in his short career.

As MacMahon observes (via Twitter), both players have proven to be valuable role players for the young Rockets, who view the two as pieces of their long-term plans. The rebuilding team is currently 17-49, the second-worst record in the league, as shown in our reverse standings.

Rockets Notes: Silas, Mathews, Wood, Porter, Sengun

The Rockets lost big on Monday night in Philadelphia with Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. both serving a one-game suspension, but coach Stephen Silas said the game with the Sixers wasn’t a consideration in deciding how to discipline two of his starters, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Both players were suspended for their actions on Saturday, with Wood being late for a COVID-19 test and refusing to enter the game in the second half and Porter leaving the arena at halftime after a confrontation with assistant coach John Lucas.

Silas, the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, said he turned to his father’s advice of “follow your gut” in deciding how to handle the situation. Especially with a young team, he believes it’s more important to set boundaries about proper behavior than to worry about the results of one game.

“There isn’t a balance (between winning and disciplining) to me,” Silas said. “There’s doing what’s right and doing what’s best for this organization. That’s how you build culture. You do it through a lot of different things. Accountability is huge, making sure everybody knows what is acceptable and is not acceptable and learning from that. That’s the big part, learning from those moments and learning from those experiences so we can improve and we can be better.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • Garrison Mathews tied his season high with 23 points Monday shortly after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, Feigen adds in the same story. Mathews described his time off as “boring” and was happy to be back on the court. “From the jump, I felt good,” he said. “Having six, seven days off, it’s hard to take that many days off and come back and get right to it. My body felt fresh. It wasn’t sore like it was before. It was good to have a few days off, but when you take seven days off, your conditioning starts to wear down at the end.”
  • In the wake of Saturday’s incident, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated believes the Rockets should get rid of Porter and Wood as soon as possible, even if that means waiving Porter, whose contract is guaranteed for $3.2MM next season. Mannix also criticizes general manager Rafael Stone for assembling the current roster, which Mannix claims is becoming a distraction for talented young players such as Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jae’Sean Tate, and for having Silas deal with the media whenever there’s a personnel issue.
  • Fans have been calling for Sengun to get more playing time, but the rookie center told a Turkish magazine that the Rockets are bringing him along slowly so he can adjust to the NBA, relays Matt Young of The Houston Chronicle“(The Rockets) played nine games in 15 days, we used to play nine games in nine weeks in Turkey, we did it in two weeks here,” Sengun said. “It’s hard to get used to it right away.”

COVID-19 Updates: Magic, Trail Blazers, Rockets, Pacers

Here are the latest updates on players and coaches entering and exiting the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols:

  • Four Magic players have cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will suit up for Orlando against the Celtics. The team has announced (Twitter link) that center Mohamed Bamba, shooting guard Mychal Mulder, swingman Terrence Ross and point guard Hassani Gravett are all now available.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who has been unavailable since December 27, has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Portland lead assistant Scott Brooks, who had been serving in Billups’s stead as acting head coach, has entered COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hardship signee Cameron McGriff has entered the protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Combo guard Anfernee Simons has left protocols after just three days, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 13-22 Trail Blazers could certainly use all the help they can get, and the return of the 6’3″ guard will help shore up a team still missing seven players to health and safety protocols, with McGriff now replacing Simons in coronavirus protocols.
  • Rockets wing Garrison Mathews has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Houston rewarded Mathews for a solid performance early in the 2021/22 season by converting his two-way contract into a fresh four-year, $8MM deal last month.
  • Pacers small forwards Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, plus center Goga Bitadze, have entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Warren has been dealing with a major foot injury since the start of 2020/21, and has only played in four games over the past two seasons. Today’s news brings Indiana’s total count for players in protocols to eight.
  • After exiting the protocols on Friday, Pistons guard Cory Joseph has re-entered them, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Western Notes: Reed, Morant, Bane, Mathews, Chriss

The Nuggets are exploring ways to keep Davon Reed beyond his second 10-day contract, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports. Coach Michael Malone confirmed Singer’s report on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets.

“Hopefully there’s a way we keep Davon in a Nuggets uniform for a while moving forward,” Malone said.

Reed has appeared in eight games since joining the Nuggets, averaging 5.1 PPG and 3.6 RPG in 17.0 MPG. His second 10-day deal expires on Tuesday night.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Grizzlies’ backcourt of Ja Morant and Desmond Bane is quickly developing into one of the league’s best, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “He’s a professional scorer,” Morant said of Bane. The second-year shooting guard has lifted his scoring average from 9.2 PPG during his rookie campaign to 17.2 this season, putting him in the discussion for the league’s Most Improved Player.
  • Garrison Mathews was grateful to receive a four-year contract from the Rockets after fighting for years to earn an NBA job, he told Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “Those two-way contracts, they’re hard to get out of. Because with two-way contracts, there’s not a lot of opportunities,” he said. “Then you’re in restricted free agency. It’s just tough, man. A lot of people go through it, and it’s hard. So, a lot of relief, a lot of thankfulness, honestly.” Mathews’ four-year contract is worth $8.2MM, with a $2MM guaranteed salary this season.
  • Marquese Chriss worked out for the Mavericks a couple of weeks before they signed him to a 10-day contract under the hardship exemption, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News tweets. At the time, there was no roster spot open for Chriss, who has averaged 6.3 PPG and 4.8 RPG in four games.

COVID-19 Updates: Suns, Blazers, Rockets, Wolves, More

Here are the latest health and safety protocols updates from around the NBA:

Entering the protocols:

  • Jae Crowder and Elfrid Payton have become the first two Suns players to enter the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers‘ outbreak continues to grow, with Jusuf Nurkic and Cody Zeller among the players now in the protocols, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Seven Portland players have been placed in the protocols since Friday.
  • Rockets guard Garrison Mathews became the second Houston guard to enter the protocols today, joining teammate D.J. Augustin, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Timberwolves big man Naz Reid is now in the health and safety protocols, bringing Minnesota’s list of affected players up to eight, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
  • The Thunder announced today that they’ve placed rookie guard Tre Mann in the protocols. Oklahoma City now has two players affected — Mann and Darius Bazley.

Exiting the protocols:

  • Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to action on Sunday when the Kings hosted Memphis. Fox had been in the health and safety protocols since December 16.
  • A pair of TimberwolvesPatrick Beverley and Josh Okogie – are no longer in the health and safety protocols, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. They’re both listed as questionable for Monday’s game vs. Boston.
  • Clippers forward Marcus Morris has cleared the health and safety protocols, though he remained inactive on Sunday as he goes through a reconditioning period, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
  • Cavaliers wing RJ Nembhard was no longer listed on the team’s injury report on Sunday and played vs. Toronto, so he’s out of the protocols. Isaac Okoro has exited the protocols too, though he’s still working his way back, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff (Twitter link via Kelsey Russo of The Athletic).

Southwest Notes: Hayes, Mathews, Mavs, Grizzlies

Third-year center Jaxson Hayes, a lottery pick in 2019, has yet to carve out a role as a reliable part of the Pelicans‘ rotation. Hayes, who has spent some time in the G League this year and has seen his name surface in trade rumors, admitted to Will Guillory of The Athletic that the season has been a “frustrating” one. However, he said he believes his time in the NBAGL was good for him and that he remains confident he can take his game to another level.

“I don’t think I’m there yet, but I think I know what it looks like for the most part,” Hayes said. “I can be an elite pick-and-roll player. I can spread the floor by knocking down shots from farther out. I can bring the energy and the scoring. I can control the paint with my defense. I know what I bring to the table. I think a lot of teams know what I can bring to the table.”

Hayes will be extension-eligible during the summer of 2022 and would be a free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t get a new deal before then. An eventual change of scenery could be in the cards, but he’s still hopeful he can break through in New Orleans.

“If I get the chance, I will. You never know. Right now, I’m not getting the chance,” Hayes told Guillory. “I hope so. I love it here. This has been my home for three years. I’d much rather it happen here than anywhere else. But if it’s not in God’s plan, then it’s not in God’s plan. I’m just staying ready and focusing on myself. I’ll deal with whatever God gives me.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Garrison Mathews‘ new four-year contract with the Rockets is worth $8.2MM, with a $2MM guaranteed salary in 2021/22, sources tell Alykhan Bijani and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Mathews will have non-guaranteed salaries with trigger dates in years two and three, plus a fourth-year team option.
  • A pair of Mavericks assistant coaches have entered the health and safety protocols, per head coach Jason Kidd, who said the team will be without Jared Dudley and Darrell Armstrong for the short term (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).
  • In his latest ESPN.com mailbag (Insider link), Kevin Pelton explores how the Grizzlies are winning without Ja Morant and whether the Mavericks can count on regression to the mean for several slumping shooters.

Rockets Waive House, Promote Mathews, Sign Queen

DECEMBER 18: The Rockets announced via a press release they have converted Mathews’ two-way contract into a standard contract, signed Queen to a two-way contract, and waived House.


DECEMBER 17: The Rockets are waiving Danuel House, signing two-way player Garrison Mathews to a standard four-year contract worth more than $8MM, and signing wing Trevelin Queen to a two-way deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN (All Twitter links).

The Rockets had been looking for a way to create an opening on their 15-man roster in order to convert Mathews, and they’ve done so by waiving House. Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets that the Rockets will use a portion of their mid-level exception to convert Mathews to a standard contract.

The Rockets will be responsible for the full $3.9MM of House’s guaranteed contract this season, although he’s already earned approximately $1.4MM, so it’s really an additional $2.5MM, as Marks tweets.

House has been out of Houston’s rotation this season as the team prioritizes younger players. In 16 games this season (14.6 MPG), he averaged 4.8 PPG and 2.7 RPG on .338/.294/.895 shooting. If he clears waivers, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

The Rockets claimed Mathews off waivers the day before the season started and converted his Exhibit 10 deal into a two-way contract. He’s certainly earned his promotion to a standard deal; in 11 games since entering the starting lineup, Mathews has averaged 14.5 PPG and 3.8 RPG on .435/.378/.795 shooting in 33 MPG. He’s attempting 8.2 three-pointers (3.1 makes) and 3.5 free throws during that stretch, a very nice shot profile for an analytically-driven Houston team. The Rockets are 7-4 over those 11 games.

The 24-year-old Queen has been playing with Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grand Valley Vipers. In 10 games with the Vipers, he’s averaging 22.0 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 4.3 APG and 2.9 SPG.

Western Trade Rumors: Westbrook, Pelicans, Nuggets, Blazers, More

The Lakers have had internal conversations about the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Westbrook hasn’t fit in as well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season as the team had hoped.

However, Fischer suggests that any deal involving Westbrook is unlikely. He’s earning $44.2MM, with a $47.1MM player option for 2022/23, and there simply aren’t many players around the NBA who are available and could be used for salary-matching that sort of figure.

Fischer notes that a Cavaliers package centered around Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio would work, but such a deal probably wouldn’t appeal to Cleveland and hasn’t been discussed by the two teams. The Lakers, meanwhile, likely wouldn’t have much interest in acquiring Rockets guard John Wall, whose salary is nearly identical to Westbrook’s.

As Fischer writes, Sixers star Ben Simmons is one player whose salary could make him a candidate to be moved in a trade for Westbrook, and a Monday report indicated the Lakers have interest in Simmons. But Westbrook isn’t on Philadelphia’s wish list and conversations between the 76ers and Lakers haven’t gotten very far, says Fischer.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the Western Conference, via Fischer:

  • Despite their slow start, the Pelicans haven’t given up on the idea of vying for a spot in the play-in tournament and could be buyers at the trade deadline, according to Fischer, who says former lottery pick Jaxson Hayes is considered to be available via trade.
  • The Nuggets are seeking wing upgrades and may put JaMychal Green on the trade block, sources tell Bleacher Report.
  • Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, who are both on expiring contracts, are viewed as perhaps the most obvious trade candidates for the Trail Blazers, but Larry Nance Jr. may also be a prime target for rival front offices, says Fischer.
  • The Rockets would like to create an opening on their 15-man roster to promote two-way player Garrison Mathews, Fischer writes. Houston has a number of veteran trade candidates on its squad, including Eric Gordon, Danuel House, D.J. Augustin, and Daniel Theis.
  • The Spurs have been “frequently linked” to Suns center Jalen Smith, who is on the trade block, according to Fischer. Phoenix has previously been reported to have interest in San Antonio forward Thaddeus Young.