Jalen Green

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:

Rookies:

Sophomores:

G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Western Notes: Wall, Rockets, Kessler, Gordon

Appearing on the Run Your Race podcast (YouTube link), Clippers point guard John Wall revisited his tenure with the Rockets, suggesting that the team went into tanking mode after trading James Harden during Wall’s first year in Houston. According to Wall, the culture during his stint with the club was so lax that he had to tell his young teammates not to get accustomed to how little was expected of them.

“I always talked to Jalen Green, Kevin Porter, K.J. (Kenyon Martin Jr.), I’m like, ‘Don’t get adjusted to this losing s–t, this is not how the league is,'” Wall said. “But at the same time, I had to tell them, like, ‘This s–t y’all are getting away with over here, if you go to any other team, you’d be out of the f—ing league. You wouldn’t play.’ I’m trying to explain that to them because they think it’s sweet. But I’m like, ‘If you ever get traded and go somewhere else, you going to be like, ‘This motherf—er was right.””

Wall also reiterated his disappointment with how his second year in Houston played out, when he sat out for the entire season. Wall said he would have been fine playing for the rebuilding club and mentoring its young players, but wasn’t comfortable with the team asking him to accept a limited bench role of no more than 10 or 15 minutes per night when he felt as if the Rockets’ prospects were being handed starting jobs instead of earning them.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic rank the Rockets‘ players in terms of value, agreeing that Jalen Green and Jabari Smith are in the top tier and Tari Eason and Alperen Sengun are in the second. However, the two authors disagree on the order within those tiers, as Iko favors Green and Eason while Vecenie prefers Smith and Sengun.
  • Jazz rookie Walker Kessler had his best game of the season on Monday against the team that drafted him, racking up 20 points and 21 rebounds in a one-point win over Minnesota. As Tony Jones of The Athletic observes, it was the latest instance of Kessler showing why Utah lobbied to have him included in the Rudy Gobert blockbuster over the summer and why the Timberwolves initially resisted his inclusion after having just drafted the young center.
  • Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon has been the second-best player for the top team in the Western Conference so far this season and is building a strong case for an All-Star spot with his two-way play, writes Law Murray of The Athletic. “For us to be the team that wanted to win at a high level, we had to have a much greater buy-in and commitment (on defense). And Aaron definitely fits that bill,” head coach Michael Malone said. “He guards the other team’s best player almost every night. And he never shies away from a challenge. … We wouldn’t be where we’re at at the halfway point without Aaron Gordon’s play, his attitude, and his team-first mentality.”

Rockets’ Green, Tate Suspended One Game By NBA

Rockets guard Jalen Green and forward Jae’Sean Tate have each been suspended one game without pay for leaving the bench area during an on-court altercation on Friday in Sacramento, the league announced today (via Twitter).

As we previously detailed, the skirmish began in the fourth quarter of Sacramento’s win over Houston when Kings guard Malik Monk took exception to a loose-ball foul committed by Rockets guard Garrison Mathews (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report).

Following an official review, referees ejected both Monk and Mathews, along with Kings big man Chimezie Metu, who was called an “escalator,” and Rockets forward Tari Eason, who was referred to as an “instigator,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

The players directly involved in the incident escaped without suspensions, though the NBA has fined Mathews $35K and Monk $25K. The league deemed Mathews to be the instigator of the altercation, but said Monk continued it, with both players taunting one another.

While Metu won’t face an additional penalty, Eason has been fined $30K for escalating the fracas and making inadvertent contact with a game official, per the NBA.

Green and Tate weren’t directly involved in the incident, but a player who is not already in the game and leaves the bench in a situation like this one automatically receives a one-game ban. Orlando, for instance, recently had eight players hit with one-game suspensions for doing the same thing during an altercation in Detroit.

Green and Tate will serve their suspensions on Sunday when the Rockets visit the Clippers. They’ll lose 1/145th of their full-season salaries, which works out to about $65K for Green and $49K for Tate.

Rockets Notes: Mathews, Eason, Green, Tate, Gordon, Silas

After Kings guard Malik Monk took exception to a loose-ball foul committed by Rockets guard Garrison Mathews in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s contest in Sacramento, a brief on-court fracas broke out between the two teams (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report).

Following an official review, referees ejected both Monk and Mathews, along with Kings big man Chimezie Metu, who was deemed an “escalator,” and Rockets forward Tari Eason, dubbed an “instigator,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Fines or suspensions could follow for the four players ejected from Friday’s game, and two more Rockets players could be in danger of one-game bans, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Jalen Green and Jae’Sean Tate both left the bench area during the altercation, which typically results in an automatic one-game suspension from the NBA. Orlando recently had eight players receive one-game suspensions for similar violations.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • With Eric Gordon once again on the trade block in Houston, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tries to find a deal that would make sense for both the Rockets and a potential trade partner. Iko cautions that expectations about Gordon’s value should be tempered — three of his four suggestions don’t involve Houston acquiring a first-round pick, and the one scenario that does include a first-rounder sees the Rockets taking on Richaun Holmes‘ multiyear contract from Sacramento.
  • The 10-32 Rockets are in danger of finishing with the NBA’s worst record for the third straight year, and Stephen Silas, who now has a 47-149 (.240) since becoming the club’s head coach, is no lock to coach the team beyond this season — or even for the rest of this season. Exploring that possibility, Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle argues that Silas deserves better and has been dealt a terrible hand since getting his first head coaching job.
  • After making 33 starts and averaging a career-high 26.3 minutes per game last season, Garrison Mathews has come exclusively off the bench in 2022/23 and is playing just 12.7 MPG. However, he’s taking the demotion in stride and trying to make an impact in his limited role, writes Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. “It’s my role, and I’ve got to try to do it the best I can,” Mathews said. “I gotta go out there and hit shots. And if I don’t, then that’s my role. So I gotta be able to do that.”
  • The Rockets’ defense has been bad during their current slide (nine straight losses, 14 in their last 15 games), and those issues go beyond the team’s talent on that side of the ball, Lerner writes in another Chronicle story. According to Lerner, it often appears that Houston’s defensive effort is lacking, with basic assignments missed, especially in transition. The Rockets are allowing an NBA-worst 26.2 transition points per game this season, per NBA.com.

Kenyon Martin Jr. Signing On For Slam Dunk Contest

Rockets small forward Kenyon Martin Jr. has committed to take part in the 2023 Slam Dunk Contest, sources inform Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). He will join previously announced rookie Trail Blazers shooting guard Shaedon Sharpe in the competition.

Martin, 22, has been enjoying a solid third NBA season with the 10-29 Rockets, as Charania notes. The 6’7″ swingman is averaging 10.4 PPG on .550/.317/.651 shooting splits, along with 4.8 RPG, 1.4 APG and 0.5 SPG.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets that second-year Rockets shooting guard Jalen Green was also invited to participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, but he turned down league overtures.

This year’s dunk contest will take place on Saturday, February 18, as part of the All-Star Weekend festivities in Utah.

Southwest Notes: Mavericks, Doncic, Wood, Rockets, Vassell

The Mavericks will play a preseason game next fall in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi, Marc Stein reports in a Substack story.

Dallas will also play a game against perennial Spanish League power Real Madrid during the overseas journey. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wanted to arrange a preseason game in Madrid for Luka Doncic, who played for Real Madrid until he became an NBA lottery selection.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Southwest Notes: Wood, Williamson, Hayes, Wembanyama

Christian Wood is “open” to signing an extension with the Mavericks, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Wood became eligible this weekend to sign an extension for as much as four years and $77MM.

“I’m happy to be here,” the Mavericks big man said. “That’s what I’ll say. The vibe is good. … I’m open to it.”

On Christmas Day, Wood had arguably his best game since being acquired by the Mavericks from Houston during the offseason. He piled up 30 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, four steals and two blocks in a victory over the Lakers.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Zion Williamson is no longer in the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez tweets. He’s not listed on the injury report heading into the Pelicans’ game against Indiana on Monday. Williamson missed two games this past week.
  • Jaxson Hayes has been buried on the Pelicans’ bench, but with Williamson out on Friday, Hayes produced his best outing of the season, William Guillory of The Athletic notes. Hayes had 21 points, six rebounds and four assists against the Thunder. “As a player, you never want to be out of the rotation, but obviously things happen. … Having this opportunity to come back in and show what I can do still was really nice,” Hayes said. The Pelicans will have to extend Hayes a qualifying offer, currently valued at $9,170,460, to make him a restricted free agent next summer.
  • Adding Victor Wembanyama in the draft would make the Rockets a true title contender, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Jabari Smith Jr. and Wembanyama would make them equally adept in the frontcourt on both ends, Vecenie continues, while Wembanyama would play well off 2021 lottery pick Jalen Green in two-man offensive settings. Vecenie and Kelly Iko take a closer look at Houston’s young core, as well as other fits in next year’s draft.

Western Notes: SGA, Gobert Trade, Daniels, J. Green

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is having an outstanding season in 2022/23, and looks destined for his first All-Star and All-NBA appearances. He’s third in the league in scoring at 31.1 PPG, and is also averaging 4.7 RPG, 6.0 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG on .500/.324/.926 shooting through 23 games (35.7 MPG).

In a lengthy profile on Gilgeous-Alexander’s emergence as a star, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (subscriber link) writes that, despite external speculation that the 24-year-old might grow impatient with the Thunder’s rebuild and eventually seek a trade, there’s no sense of that happening within the organization. Gilgeous-Alexander says he has a lot of faith in GM Sam Presti.

It’s always easy to trust someone when they haven’t given you a reason not to trust them,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “It’s always easier to trust someone when they tell you something and it happens. And that’s been my relationship with Sam so far.

Everything he’s told me has happened, and he’s never lied to me … It’s easy to work — well, it’s crazy that basketball is work — but it’s easier to play basketball and put your all into every day and believe in the future when it’s a guy like that running the show.”

Here’s more from the West:

  • Prior to the Timberwolves‘ matchup with the Jazz on Friday, which the Wolves won 118-108 to move to 13-12, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune wrote an article about whether Minnesota would still make the Rudy Gobert deal right now, with the knowledge that the start to the season would be uneven. He believes the answer is “probably,” because while there have definitely been bumps along the way, Gobert has played better of late and he’s starting to develop some chemistry with teammates.
  • Dyson Daniels, the No. 8 overall pick in June’s draft, has emerged as an immediate contributor to the West’s No. 1 seed due to his strong defense, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. The 19-year-old Pelicans guard says he welcomes the challenge of guarding top players. “I like when people go at me. I love to accept that challenge,” Daniels said. “I want to show them that I’m here for a reason and I can defend. … Guys always want to go at the rookie, and I’m fine with that. It only makes me better.”
  • Rockets guard Jalen Green, last year’s No. 2 overall pick, has had a bit of an up-and-down second season thus far, which is to be expected for a young player on a rebuilding club. According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Green focuses on big-picture growth and has proven to be a sponge when it comes to soaking up information and watching film.

Rockets Exercise Options On Green, Sengun, Garuba, Christopher

6:55pm: The Rockets have officially picked up their options on all four players, according to a press release from the team.


6:20pm: The Rockets plan to pick up the 2023/24 contract options of all four players they drafted last season — lottery pick Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh ChristopherJonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports.

It was a mere formality that the options of Green and Sengun would be picked up. They are two key building blocks for one of the youngest teams in the league. The option on Green’s contract is $9,891,480, while Sengun will take in $3,536,280.

The other option decisions weren’t quite as obvious. Garuba only appeared in 24 games last season due to injuries and he’s averaging just over 12 minutes in four appearances this season. However, the front office was encouraged by his performances for Spain in the Eurobasket tournament and by what he displayed in training camp and preseason workouts, according to Feigen.

Christopher saw action in 74 games as a rookie, though his playing time has dropped in the early going this year. Garuba’s contract will be guaranteed at $2,588,400, while Christopher will earn $2,485,200.

Southwest Notes: Campazzo, Morant, Durant, Sengun, Rockets

Facundo Campazzo‘s visa issues have been resolved and he’ll be in uniform Tuesday and ready to play in the Mavericks’ game in New Orleans, coach Jason Kidd told Dwain Price of the team’s website (Twitter link) and other media members.

Campazzo was signed to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract last week to add depth for the Mavericks at point guard. Campazzo spent the last two seasons with the Nuggets after establishing himself as one of the top point guards in the EuroLeague.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant poured in 49 points against Houston during the opening week of the season and Nets perennial All-Star Kevin Durant is dazzled by Morant’s talent, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes. “He’s a unique player. A lot of athleticism and creativity out there,” Durant said. “Body type reminds you of somebody like — well he’s taller than A.I. [Allen Iverson], but a wiry, strong player … but he’s an incredible player, man.”
  • The Rockets’ rotation, particularly at center, remains a fluid situation, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle notes. Alperen Sengun didn’t start on Saturday even with Bruno Fernando out with a sore left knee. While there are some matchups where Sengun will be suited for the starting lineup, there are others where it’s wise for him to be on the second unit with Fernando or Usman Garuba in the starting five. Sengun missed Monday’s game with an illness, Feigen tweets.
  • Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. are the main building blocks in the Rockets’ rebuild and Kelly Iko of The Athletic takes a deep dive into the state of the franchise and its plans to develop those young players.