Rockets Rumors

Rockets’ Owner Unwilling To Sell Minority Shares?

Tilman Fertitta, the sole owner of the Rockets, won’t consider minority partners “as a matter of pride,” tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

MacMahon’s note on the Rockets owner comes at a time when Fertitta’s companies have furloughed approximately 70% of their employees, according to Davide Scigliuzzo of Bloomberg. Fertitta, who owns a series of casinos, hotels, and restaurants, said he has had to temporarily lay off approximately 40,000 employees as a result of coronavirus-related shutdowns.

Indicating that he wants to “hire every employee back,” Fertitta expressed confidence that his businesses will survive and even talked about possibly buying back some of the Golden Nugget’s debts when things turn around, per Bloomberg’s report.

Fertitta, who is hoping that restaurants and casinos will soon be permitted to operate at least at partial capacity, said he has been talking to banks about raising as much as $200MM in additional liquidity “as a little bit of insurance,” Scigliuzzo writes.

Selling off part of the Rockets to one or more minority stakeholders at any time since he assumed control of the team in 2017 would have helped provide Fertitta with additional liquidity, but he has long been averse to the idea. In October 2017, shortly after he took the reins in Houston, he indicated he might make an exception for pop star Beyoncé, who had previously considered an investment in the franchise. Otherwise though, he said, “I prefer to own 100 percent.”

Fertitta, who has appeared reluctant to pay the luxury tax since taking over as the Rockets’ owner, figures to be hit particularly hard by the NBA’s loss of revenue this season. Houston was believed to be the team with the most partnerships in China prior to Daryl Morey‘s tweet in support of protestors in Hong Kong, which reportedly cost the team many of those business ties.

Where Traded Draft Picks Would Land If Season Doesn’t Resume

Earlier today, we explored what the lottery odds for the 2020 NBA draft would look like if the regular season doesn’t resume. We’re now applying that hypothetical to another aspect of the draft and examining which traded 2020 picks would and wouldn’t change hands based on the current standings.

Our projections below assume that the NBA will sort its standings by winning percentage in scenarios where teams haven’t played the same number of games this season. Again, this is just a hypothetical exercise — if the season resumes, the order below would likely change.

With that in mind and with the help of our reverse standings, let’s take a closer look at where this year’s traded draft picks would land if the NBA has played its last regular season game of 2019/20.

First round:

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Nets)
  2. Boston Celtics (from Grizzlies)
  3. Brooklyn Nets (from Sixers)
    • Note: Could be No. 20 depending on random tiebreaker.
  4. Milwaukee Bucks (from Pacers)
    • Note: Could be No. 19 depending on random tiebreaker.
  5. Philadelphia 76ers (from Thunder)
    • Note: Could be No. 22 depending on random tiebreaker.
  6. Denver Nuggets (from Rockets)
    • Note: Could be No. 21 depending on random tiebreaker.
  7. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Nuggets)
  8. New York Knicks (from Clippers)
  9. Boston Celtics (from Bucks)

Protected picks:

  • Golden State Warriors (to Nets; top-20 protected)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (to Pelicans; top-20 protected)
  • Utah Jazz (to Grizzlies; top-7 and 15-30 protected)


  • The Thunder pick would be the one worth watching closest if the season does resume. It’s top-20 protected, so OKC would keep it if it were to move up a spot or two, sending the Sixers second-round picks in 2022 and 2023 instead.

Second round:

  1. Dallas Mavericks (from Warriors)
  2. Charlotte Hornets (from Cavaliers)
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (from Hawks)
  4. Sacramento Kings (from Pistons)
  5. Philadelphia 76ers (from Knicks)
  6. Washington Wizards (from Bulls)
  7. New York Knicks (from Hornets)
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Wizards)
  9. Memphis Grizzlies (from Suns)
  10. Boston Celtics (from Nets)
  11. Chicago Bulls (from Grizzlies)
  12. Golden State Warriors (from Mavericks)
  13. Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets)
    • Note: Could be No. 51 depending on random tiebreaker.
  14. Sacramento Kings (from Heat)
  15. Golden State Warriors (from Jazz)
  16. Brooklyn Nets (from Nuggets)
  17. Charlotte Hornets (from Celtics)
  18. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
  19. New Orleans Pelicans (from Bucks)

Protected picks:

  • Indiana Pacers (to Nets; 45-60 protected)
  • Portland Trail Blazers (to Nets; top-55 protected)


  • The Hawks will receive the more favorable of Houston’s and Miami’s second-round picks, while the Kings will receive the less favorable of those two picks. Those two picks could end up right next to one another, since the Rockets (40-24) and Heat (41-24) have nearly identical records.
  • The Celtics’ pick looks like it will be one of the rare second-rounders with heavy protection that will actually change hands. Boston would have kept it if it had fallen in the top 53.

Antetokounmpo, Griffin, Williamson To Help Arena Workers

Bucks forward and reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family are donating $100K to Fiserv Forum staff members to help them weather the financial storm during the league’s suspension of play, according to his Twitter account.

Antetokounmpo is following the lead of the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, who pledged a similar amount to arena employees in Cleveland. The Pistons’ Blake Griffin is making the same donation to workers at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, according to the Detroit News’ Rod Beard.

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is pledging to cover the salaries for all of their arena staff workers for the next 30 days, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Numerous teams have come forward to say that they’ll keep their employees on the payroll during the stoppage as well as compensate full-time and part-time staff who work their games. However, many other workers in these arenas, such as security guards and concession workers, are often employed by other companies. The players donations would presumably provide assistance to those workers.

The Pistons added their name to the list of teams that will compensate workers on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Wizards did the same, Candace Bucker of the Washington Post tweets. The Kings have also stepped forward, according to James Ham of NBC Sports, The Trail Blazers are formulating a plan to pay their part-time arena employees for the team’s nine remaining home games and will reassess the program in 30 days, Jason Quick of The Athletic tweets.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown vowed to make sure their employees would “take care of our part-time employees as well as all of our employees,” Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays.

The Mavericks, Hawks, Cavaliers, and Nets have already stated their intentions to provide financial support to employees and arena workers.

Coronavirus Notes: Mitchell, Thunder, More

After reporting on Wednesday that the Knicks were the only NBA team that wanted to maintain the status quo until forced by a government mandate to play games without fans, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski updated that report today.

According to Wojnarowski (via Twitter), two other teams expressed reservations about playing games behind closed doors before receiving a formal mandate to do so. Those teams were the Rockets and Pacers. Woj adds (via Twitter) that while the Rockets were resistant to the idea of playing games in the short-term without fans, they were in favor of a three-or-four-week hiatus that would have pushed the schedule into the summer.

That discussion is moot now, in the wake of Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell testing positive for coronavirus and the NBA shutting down its regular season indefinitely. Mitchell confirmed his positive test today in an Instagram post.

“We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realize that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them,” he wrote in his statement. “… I am going to keep following the advice of our medical staff and hope that we can all come together and be there for each other and our neighbors who need our help.”

Here’s more on the coronavirus situation:

  • The NBA has a call with its Board of Governors scheduled for 2:30pm central time this afternoon, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The call was initially supposed to happen earlier in the day.
  • There’s some concern among NBA players about coronavirus test results being leaked to the media, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic (Twitter link), given the damage it can do to a player and his family and the stigma it creates. As Amick notes, the fact that it’s a public health crisis complicates the situation. When the Jazz and the NBA announced Gobert’s and Mitchell’s positive tests, they didn’t identify them — the two affected stars were revealed by media reports.
  • Although they weren’t initially tested for coronavirus at the Chesapeake Energy Arena following Wednesday night’s postponed game against Utah, Thunder players and staffers were advised to self-quarantine for 24 hours and will be tested, writes ESPN’s Royce Young. Since Gobert wasn’t at the arena at all on Wednesday, the risk wasn’t considered high for members of the Thunder, but now that Mitchell has tested positive as well, the Oklahoma State Health Department feels that testing is warranted.

Poll: Which Team Is Biggest Threat To All-L.A. Western Finals?

In a roundtable discussion at, five writers were asked whether the Nuggets represent the biggest threat to derail a potential Lakers/Clippers showdown in the Western Conference Finals this spring. Of the five respondents, only Royce Young said yes, pointing to the “matchup nightmare” that Nikola Jokic represents, as well as Denver’s ability to both score and defend when the team is firing on all cylinders.

The other four ESPN reporters and analysts who participated in the roundtable weren’t quite as bullish on the Nuggets. Kevin Pelton identified Houston as a more realistic challenger, arguing that the Rockets‘ ability to play with quickness and space the floor makes them the team best suited to match up with the Lakers in a Western playoff series. Tim MacMahon suggested that the Rockets, despite some inconsistency, have the highest ceiling of any non-L.A. team.

Although MacMahon had praise for Houston, he and Kirk Goldsberry made a pick that would have been shocking six months ago, arguing that the Thunder are actually the most legitimate threat to an all-L.A. Western Finals. Goldsberry, who point out that Oklahoma City’s 29-10 record since December 15 is the West’s best during that stretch, also observed that the clutch-time lineup of Chris Paul, Dennis Schroder, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, and Steven Adams has the best stats of any five-man unit in the NBA, outscoring opponents by 30 points per 100 possessions.

The Jazz, who are currently the No. 4 seed in the West, didn’t get quite as much love from ESPN’s panel, but Pelton and Young both identified Utah as the non-Lakers team that may match up best with the Clippers in a seven-game series.

The Mavericks probably aren’t ready to seriously challenge the Lakers or Clippers yet, but they may get a shot to upset the Clips in round one. Meanwhile, whichever team claims the No. 8 seed is on track for a matchup with the Lakers. Could any teams from the group of candidates that includes the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Kings, Spurs, or Trail Blazers realistically push LeBron James and Anthony Davis?

We want to know what you think. Which Western Conference team is the best bet to play spoiler and knock off one of the Los Angeles teams in the first two rounds, preventing a WCF showdown?

Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/10/20

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Jeff Green Makes Case For Increased Role

  • Jeff Green, the newest addition to Houston’s roster, has seen an increased role over the Rockets‘ last two games, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. Green was a +28 in the team’s nine-point loss to Charlotte on Saturday and went 8-for-8 from the floor on Sunday, making a strong case to continue playing extra minutes going forward.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/7/20

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Luc Mbah A Moute Works Out For Rockets

Former Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute had a workout for the team yesterday, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

The 33-year-old veteran played for Houston during the 2017/18 season, averaging 7.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 61 games. He signed with the Clippers before the start of last season, but was only able to play in four games because of a knee injury that required surgery last March. He was waived in April just before the start of the playoffs.

Mbah a Moute has played 11 NBA seasons, spending most of his time with the Bucks and Clippers. He is a defensive specialist who shoots 33.5% from 3-point range for his career.

Houston has a full roster, so someone would have to be waived before Mbah a Moute could be signed.

Southwest Notes: Covington, Bell, Duncan

Rockets GM Daryl Morey said on Tuesday that Robert Covington has been better than the team anticipated when it acquired him at the trade deadline.

“The biggest reason for the trade was to get Covington and he’s actually been even better than we thought,” Morey said (via Salman Ali of Clutch Points on Twitter). “…Not only how good he is, but how much he helps everyone on the team, but in particular Russell Westbrook. The driving lanes for him are super important.”

Morey added that the trade for Covington, which sent out Clint Capela, gave the Rockets more flexibility to make another move in the future.

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jordan Bell, who was waived by the Grizzlies earlier this week, will not be eligible to play in the playoffs should he sign with a playoff team, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks relays (Twitter link). Memphis had to wait until Monday to release Bell to ensure that Anthony Tolliver cleared waivers.
  • Rudy Gay, who re-signed with the Spurs last offseason, has had a disappointing campaign and the veteran forward knows that he can do better. “It’s no secret I haven’t been playing well,” Gay said via Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “You just need a good one to get out of it.”
  • Tim Duncan is serving as the head coach of the Spurs tonight, as Gregg Popovich misses the contest because of personal issues, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets.