Rockets Rumors

Sterling Brown Assaulted Outside Miami Club

Rockets wing Sterling Brown was jumped outside of a club in Miami late on Sunday night, according to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who say Brown was hit in the head with a bottle and required medical attention into Monday. Brown, who was admitted to a local hospital early Monday morning, suffered facial lacerations in the incident and was discharged later in the day, per Charania and Iko. The 26-year-old didn’t know the assailants.

While Brown was ruled out of the Rockets’ game on Monday in Miami, that was the fifth straight game he has missed due to left knee soreness, unrelated to Sunday’s incident. It’s not clear whether the attack will push back his potential return date at all.

Contract Details: Deck, Stevens, Olynyk

The Thunder used the remainder of this year’s non-taxpayer mid-level exception — a little over $3.87MM — in Gabriel Deck‘s creatively constructed four-year contract, Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets.

The remainder of Deck’s contract includes a non-guaranteed salary of $3,676,852 next season; a non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in 2022/23, with the guarantee kicking in if he’s on the roster after September 20, 2022; and a non-guaranteed $3,483,334 in the final season, including a team option. Assuming he plays out the contract – with the Thunder or another team – he’d be eligible for restricted free agency in 2023 or unrestricted free agency in 2024.

We have more contract-related news:

  • Lamar Stevens received more than triple of the prorated minimum, $652,366 rather than $203,043, from the Cavaliers for the remainder of the season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, the remainder of Stevens’ four-year contract offers no salary protections or guaranteed dates in any of the years.
  • Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk earned a $1MM incentive bonus after playing his 1,493rd minute this season, Marks tweets. Olynyk will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • ICYMI, we broke down all the dead money teams are carrying on their caps this season, with the Pistons leading the pack. Check out our story here.

Rockets Notes: Olynyk, Bradley, Martin, Brown

The qualifying tournaments to determine the final four men’s basketball teams that will participate in the Tokyo Olympics will begin on June 29, about a month before the NBA’s free agent period gets underway.

Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk will be a free agent this summer, but he’s not planning to skip those qualifiers to avoid risking an injury before signing a new contract. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details, Olynyk acknowledged that he’ll take his impending free agency into account as he considers his decision, but he wants to represent his home country as Team Canada looks to secure an Olympic berth.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the Olympics and represent Canada on the highest stage. Hopefully, we can this summer,” Olynyk said. “… Usually, your free agency is done July 1 and the Olympics are the beginning of August and you’re good to go. Now, the Olympics are the end of July and free agency is the beginning of August, so it’s kind of flip-flopped. Obviously, that plays a role and you have to think about it, whether it’s insurance or what the best route to go is. We’ll cross those bridges when they come but my goal is to go out there and play and represent my country.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Since the Rockets don’t project to be able to open up much cap room this offseason, John Hollinger and Kelly Iko of The Athletic wonder if the team might opt to remain over the cap, perhaps bringing back Olynyk and Avery Bradley on short-term deals as possible 2022 trade chips.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Iko takes a deep dive into Kenyon Martin Jr.‘s development as a rookie this season, exploring the strides he has made and how he fits into Houston’s long-term plans. Martin pointed to improving his shot off the dribble as something he intends to work on before his second season.
  • Rockets wing Sterling Brown has missed the team’s last two games with left knee soreness, but head coach Stephen Silas doesn’t expect the injury to be a “long-time thing,” predicting that Brown will return soon, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas also offered high praise for Brown’s play this season: “He’s shooting the ball consistently for us, shooting the ball extremely well, having a career season. He’s someone I can put on the floor whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he will produce on both ends of the floor.”

Injury Notes: Holmes, Bagley, Butler, Augustin, Hayward, SGA

Kings center Richaun Holmes will miss at least three games with a strained right hamstring, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. After suffering the injury in Monday’s game, Holmes underwent an MRI that revealed the extent of the damage.

He will be held out of tonight’s game against the Wizards and won’t accompany the team on a two-game road trip to face the Suns and Mavericks. Holmes is averaging 14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season.

“We’ll see how he’s doing as we get back into town,” coach Luke Walton said. “Clearly, we’ll miss him. He’s had an incredible year for us so far and he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.”

There are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Kings got good news about Marvin Bagley III, who will rejoin the team Thursday in Phoenix, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bagley has been away from his teammates while rehabbing a fracture in his left hand, and there were plans for him to return to the club when he was close to being able to play again.
  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler had an injury scare involving his ankle in Tuesday’s game, but he will be in the starting lineup tonight in Denver, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “There’s no doubt about it, that Jimmy will always want to go,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we evaluated him today and he passed all the tests with the trainers and that allowed him to where we all feel comfortable, him going tonight.”
  • Rockets guard D.J. Augustin had an MRI today on his sprained left ankle, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Coach Stephen Silas said Augustin is using crutches and a walking boot and has been ruled out at least through Monday. Danuel House, who hasn’t played since April 4 due to a sprained ankle, and Eric Gordon, who has been sidelined since March 11 with a groin strain, are also both expected to miss another week or so.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward still has a protective boot on his strained right foot, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). He is expected to be re-evaluated early next month.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was projected to be out through at least mid-April with plantar fasciitis, but his condition hasn’t been re-evaluated yet, coach Mark Daigneault told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

Concerns Growing Over Injury Risks With Compressed Schedule

The tightened schedule the NBA adopted to squeeze 72 games into five months is being criticized amid an increase in injuries, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Holmes talked to several general managers and training staff officials who believe players are more at risk than ever.

The torn ACL suffered this week by Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is the latest example of a high-profile injury that could alter the course of a team’s season.

“Hands down, it’s the worst schedule I’ve seen in 25 years in the league,” a veteran assistant coach said. “It’s utterly insane.”

Another called it “brutal,” while a head athletic trainer said the situation is worse than what teams experienced during the restart in Orlando last summer.

“Going into the bubble, we had all these different anxieties about the games, but without travel,” the trainer said. “This is literally exponentially more difficult. It’s such a cumulative effect.”

Data from the Elias Sports Bureau indicates that 2021 All-Stars have missed 15% of games this season, which would be the second-highest rate in league history. Several executives told Holmes that prior to the season, general managers voiced concerns over the schedule to the NBA office, including to commissioner Adam Silver, but the league was determined to complete the season in time to give players the chance to compete in the Summer Olympics, which will begin on July 23.

An NBA spokesperson contends that through 50 games, the number of injuries is actually down from last season and is within the normal range for the past five years. The league took steps this year to cut down on travel, such as having teams play a two-game series at some stops and reducing the number of one-game road trips.

Complicating the schedule was the high number of games that were postponed during the first half of the season because of COVID-19 outbreaks. Most of those games are being made up in the second half, forcing some teams to play far more often than normal.

The Grizzlies, for example, play three games in four nights 22 times over the second half, although some of those overlap. Memphis also has eight instances of five games in seven days, which is the most in the league, followed by the Spurs with seven and the Pistons, Rockets and Mavericks with five each. The Heat went 51 games without more than one day of rest between games, which is the longest stretch since the lockout season in 2011/12.

The NBA is coming off a shortened offseason as some playoff teams played into October last year, then started the new season in December. Silver has expressed optimism that next season will start on time, so players will again have limited time to recover this summer. The NBA Finals could go last late as July 22, and Summer League in Las Vegas is expected to be held in August.

“This whole two-year period will have a marked long-term effect on players many years down the line,” a general manager said. “It’s like if your power goes out. You have to burn candles if you want light. If you burn them, you won’t have them the next time your power goes out. We are burning through the players right now at an alarming rate. But again, what’s the alternative? Twenty-five-man rosters? Fewer games? It’s not just a ‘league thing.’ It all required collaboration with the NBPA. It’s a shared responsibility, driven almost exclusively by the seduction of (money).”

Checking In On Traded 2021 First-Round Picks

It’s been nearly two months since we checked in on the status of 2021’s traded first-round picks, and there have been plenty of shifts in the NBA standings since then. Those changes have an impact on where in the draft certain traded picks will land, as well as whether or not some protected picks will change hands at all.

With just over a month left in the 2020/21 regular season, it’s worth revisiting the traded first-round picks for 2021. With the help of our reverse standings tool, here’s our latest look at which of those traded picks are most and least likely to change hands, and which ones are still up in the air:


Picks that will definitely change hands:

  • Knicks acquiring Mavericks‘ pick (unprotected).
  • Rockets acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-nine protected swap).

The only unprotected traded pick for the 2021 draft, the Mavs’ selection currently projects to be the No. 21 overall pick. That would be a reasonably good outcome for the Knicks, but there’s even more upside here — since Dallas is currently the No. 7 seed in the West, a win in the play-in tournament may be necessary to secure a playoff spot.

The NBA has yet to clarify exactly how draft positioning will be affected by the play-in results, but presumably if the Mavs don’t clinch a postseason berth in the play-in, that pick would move into the lottery.

Meanwhile, the Rockets will acquire the Bucks’ pick, currently projected to land at No. 24 overall, in a swap for their own second-rounder (No. 32, for now).


Picks that definitely won’t change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘s pick (1-7 and 15-30 protection).
  • Pelicans acquiring Lakers‘ pick (8-30 protection).
  • Rockets acquiring Pistons‘ pick (top-16 protected).

The Jazz are definitely making the postseason and the Pistons definitely aren’t, so their picks (currently projected to be No. 30 and No. 4, respectively) won’t change hands.

The Grizzlies should at least be able to count on getting Utah’s first-rounder in 2022, when it will become top-six protected. It may be a while before the Rockets get a pick from Detroit though — that first-rounder remains heavily protected in 2022 (top-16), 2023 (top-18), and 2024 (top-18) before those protections start to loosen a little.

As for the Lakers‘ pick, it isn’t technically a lock yet — there’s theoretically a scenario in which L.A. misses the playoffs and then moves into the top four in the lottery, sending its pick to the Pelicans. But that’s an extreme long shot. The Lakers’ pick is at No. 23 for now.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Knicks have the ability to swap their own 2021 first-rounder for the Clippers‘ pick. At the moment though, New York’s pick would be No. 15 and L.A.’s would be No. 26, so that won’t happen.


Still up in the air:

  • Warriors acquiring Timberwolves‘ pick (top-three protected).
  • Magic acquiring Bulls‘ pick (top-four protected).
  • Thunder acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected).

That Timberwolves pick will be a fascinating one to watch in the lottery. If Minnesota finishes with a bottom-three record, there will be a 40.1% chance it remains in the top three.

The Warriors will actually be rooting for the Wolves to finish with the NBA’s worst record, since in that scenario, there’s a 59.9% chance the pick lands at No. 4 or No. 5. If the Wolves instead have the third-worst record, the pick would be just as likely to land in the top three, but could slip as far as No. 6 or No. 7.

The Magic will have a good chance of landing the Bulls‘ pick, which currently projects to be the No. 10 overall selection. If Chicago remains in that spot, there would only be about a 14% chance of the pick moving up into the top four.

Golden State’s own pick, which currently projects to be No. 13, is unlikely to be sent to the Thunder unless the Warriors get hot late in the season. Assuming the Warriors’ first-rounder is protected, Oklahoma City would instead receive Minnesota’s second-round pick (currently No. 31).


Latest on the Rockets/Thunder/Heat/Blazers/Nets situation:

As a reminder, this series of trades and pick swaps is too convoluted to fit cleanly into any of the above sections. Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

  1. The Thunder will have the right to swap either their own first-round pick or the Heat’s first-round pick for the Rockets‘ first-round pick, but only if Houston’s pick doesn’t fall in the top four. In other words, if Houston gets a top-four pick, the Rockets will keep their own first-rounder; if not, the Thunder will get the two most favorable picks of their own, the Heat’s, and the Rockets’, and Houston will get the least favorable.
  2. Once the first step is complete, the Rockets will be left with at least one first-round pick, and almost certainly two, since they’re also owed the Trail Blazers‘ first-rounder (top-14 protected). They would then have the right to swap either of those picks for the Nets‘ first-rounder (unprotected).

As of today, the Rockets have the second-worst record in the league, giving them a 52.1% chance of having their pick land in its top-four protected range on lottery night. In that scenario, Houston would keep its first-rounder (tentatively No. 2) and would get the Trail Blazers’ pick at No. 22. The Thunder would keep their own pick (No. 6, pending lottery results) and receive the Heat’s first-rounder (No. 17), while the Nets would hang onto their own selection (No. 27).

On the other hand, if the Rockets’ pick falls outside of the top four, the Thunder would acquire it along with their own first-rounder, while Houston would get Miami’s pick at No. 17.


No matter how the rest of the season plays out, it’s safe to assume that lottery night on June 22 will have massive implications for the Timberwolves, Warriors, Rockets, and Thunder, and potentially for the Magic and Bulls as well.

While the Pistons, Cavaliers, and a handful of other lottery teams will also be invested in the results that night, the outcome won’t be quite as all-or-nothing for those clubs.

Wall Won't Play Both Ends Of Back-To-Backs

  • Rockets guard John Wall will not play both ends of a back-to-back set for the remainder of the season, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle reports. “Moving forward, we are going to make sure we’re smart with his injury management, the wear that he has, all of these things,” head coach Stephen Silas said. Wall has started 33 games in his first season with Houston, averaging 20.5 PPG and 6.8 APG, after recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon that sidelined him last season.

Rockets Notes: Tanking, Porter Jr., Bradley, Olynyk

Rockets head coach Stephen Silas bristles at the notion that the team should tank the rest of the way and improve its odds in a top-heavy lottery, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “We’re trying to win every single game,” he said. “I think you see this with the disappointment that our guys have, with the fight that they have, my reaction to games. I don’t even know if that needs to be squashed or not. It’s a non-issue.”

GM Rafael Stone said this week that the Rockets don’t have to worry about their lottery position because of their stockpile of draft picks. However, the team will have to swap its pick (likely with the Heat’s selection) if it falls outside of the top four.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Kevin Porter Jr. has the offensive skills and athleticism to be a major component on offense, and he could also be a difference-maker defensively, as described in another Feigen story. Porter made a key block in a victory over Dallas on Wednesday. “He takes pride in it,” center Christian Wood said. “He’s a young, tremendous player on both sides of the floor. He can do it. He just has to keep that up and we’re going to be great.” 
  • Guard Avery Bradley has missed quite a few games in recent seasons but he still feels he has no peer when it comes to defense, Feigen writes. “I know that’s going to be one of my roles here,” said Bradley, acquired from Miami in the Victor Oladipo deadline deal. “I’m always going to embrace that. I know defensively, there’s no one in the NBA who can do what I can do.” The team holds a $5.9MM option on Bradley’s contract next season.
  • Kelly Olynyk has been a pleasant surprise since being traded from the Heat in the Oladipo swap (17.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 3.0 APG) and The Athletic’s Kelly Iko explores what Olynyk may command in free agency. Iko speculates that Houston, which now holds his Bird Rights, would re-sign him if Olynyk’s price tag doesn’t exceed $11MM annually.

Rockets Notes: Olynyk, Stone, Wall, Brown

The Rockets are experimenting with Kelly Olynyk playing alongside Christian Wood before facing a decision on Olynyk this offseason, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Acquired from the Heat in the Victor Oladipo trade last month, Olynyk has a $12.5MM expiring contract. He has been playing well since coming to Houston and may be raising his value on the free agent market. Iko suggests the Rockets have a limited figure in mind to offer Olynyk and want to take a long look at how his game meshes with Wood’s.

“It seems like they’re getting better every game,” coach Stephen Silas said of his frontcourt combination. “They’re both getting their opportunities, obviously. … They’re starting to play well together and figure it out. There’s a lot I could tell them as far as where they need to be on the floor, but when you play five-out basketball, it’s hard to tell a guy where they should be all the time. They’re both two smart guys; they’re figuring it out. It’s a work in progress, but I like what I see so far.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • In a radio appearance today on SportsTalk 790, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone promised the organization will be “aggressive” on the trade and free agent markets this summer, but his goal remains to “build really smart,” relays Ben DuBose of USA Today’s RocketsWire. “We do think we can be competitive very quickly. We would hope to field a much more competitive team next year,” Stone said. “But in terms of how long the rebuild takes, a lot of that depends on how long it takes us to acquire a player or two who have the ability to be truly elite. Maybe we even have one or two of those guys on our roster. But it’s not a one-day process.”
  • John Wall returned to the court tonight after missing the past four games with hip, hamstring and knee issues, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas said Wall’s minutes will be limited, but he didn’t provide a specific number.
  • Sterling Brown has earned Silas’ faith in any role, Feigen writes in a full story. Brown signed a one-year deal in the offseason and will be back on the market this summer. “I trust Sterling as a starter (or) coming off the bench,” Silas said. “He’s been super, super consistent for us this season. Him as a starter, him coming off the bench, he’s very steady.”

Rockets Claim DaQuan Jeffries

7:29pm: The Rockets have officially claimed Jeffries, according to a team press release.


4:28pm: The Rockets will claim former Kings forward DaQuan Jeffries off waivers, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Jeffries, a 23-year-old shooting guard, is under contract through next season. He was placed on waivers Saturday by Sacramento. 

The Rockets had an open roster spot after waiving Ben McLemore.

Jeffries signed a two-year, $3MM contract in November which included a $1.7MM team option on the second season. Houston can take a look at Jeffries the rest of this season and see if it wants to exercise that option.

Jeffries missed time this season due to a Grade 3 ankle injury and fell out of Sacramento’s rotation. He averaged 3.1 PPG and 1.6 RPG across 17 games for the Kings this season after appearing in 13 games as a rookie on a two-way contract last season.

He had a season-high 18 points against Milwaukee on February.