Kevin Porter

Western Notes: Curry, Green, Porter Jr., Kings, Kuminga

Warriors superstar Stephen Curry downplayed the hand injury suffered during his team’s 138-96 win over Chicago on Saturday, as relayed by ESPN. Curry landed on his right hand after driving to the rim, but the two-time MVP remained in the game.

“Anything that involves the hands, especially the right one, you’re a little concerned,” he said. “But the feeling came back, the strength came back. It hurts, but I’ll be all right.”

Curry feels the injury isn’t significant, but out of caution, he’ll undergo additional examination. Golden State is 31-11 largely because of his play, as the 33-year-old is averaging 26.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game so far this season.

“I have some PTSD from two years ago,” Curry explained, referring to when he broke his hand. “When I landed it felt kind of the same, but we’ll get it looked at and figure it out. Should be all right.”

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas expressed optimism that Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. will be the team’s backcourt duo for years to come, as relayed by The Athletic’s Kelly Iko in a story about the duo. “They’re better together than they were at the beginning of the season,” Silas explained as part of a larger quote. “Scoot’s (Porter) development as a point guard, where at the beginning of the season, he was really struggling with the turnovers but wasn’t as bad before he got hurt. And then Jalen’s growth as a player, you can see it. I mean, you can see it. So the improvement of those two guys connected to the improvement of the group is the most gratifying thing to me. They’re gonna be together for a long time.”
  • The Kings didn’t get involved in the Knicks-Hawks trade involving Cam Reddish for a variety of reasons, as James Ham of ESPN 1320 explains (via Twitter). One major reason is how Sacramento doesn’t have the draft assets that New York has, as the Knicks traded away a first-round pick in the deal to acquire Reddish.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic examines the comparison between Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga and former NBA player Shawn Marion. As Slater writes, head coach Steve Kerr recently explained how he wants Kuminga to play, noting that it’s similar to how Marion played during his career. “When I was in Phoenix as a GM, we had Shawn Marion. One of the best athletes in the league,” Kerr said as part of his full quote. “Every night, he’d just run the floor hard. He wasn’t the greatest 3-point shooter, wasn’t the greatest passer, wasn’t the greatest ballhandler. But he was an All-Star because he just played hard. By running the floor, all kinds of good stuff would happen.”

Southwest Notes: Morant, Porter, Pelicans, James, Chriss

While there has been some debate this season about whether Grizzlies guard Ja Morant will make his first All-Star team, teammate Desmond Bane believes the answer to that question is obvious. In Bane’s view, Morant should be the subject of another discussion, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes.

“People debate whether or not he should be an All-Star, but I think we should be debating whether he’s the best point guard in the league,” Bane said. “I don’t think it’s any question he’s an All-Star. The real conversation is, ‘Is he the best point guard in the league?'”

While it may be premature to place Morant above the likes of Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic, he matches up favorably with the Western Conference’s star point guards this season — and he looks like a good bet to join them on this year’s All-Star team. In 27 games (32.5 MPG), Morant is averaging a career-high 25.1 PPG on .489/.400/.772 shooting while also contributing 6.7 APG, 5.7 RPG, and 1.4 SPG.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. said on Tuesday that he apologized both “to the group” and “individually” following the locker-room incident that resulted in him being suspended for Monday’s game, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “I think just as a man and as a human, that’s the right thing to do,” Porter said. “Even if you feel like you’re in the right, there’s ways to approach things in situations, and I felt as a man, I didn’t approach it the right way. So I apologize. I feel like that’s just something you need to do as a principled thing.” Porter added that he still feels supported by the organization.
  • The Pelicans don’t plan to re-sign Justin James, whose 10-day contract expired overnight, sources tell Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). With the team getting healthier, there wasn’t an immediate need to retain James, Lopez explains.
  • Marquese Chriss, currently on his second 10-day contract with the Mavericks, would love to remain in Dallas beyond the expiration of his current deal on January 9, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com. However, even if he isn’t retained, the big man is happy to be back in action after losing nearly an entire season due to a broken leg. “Being able to be back on the court, I’m just thankful for that,” Chriss said. “And I’m just trying to make the most out of the opportunity that I can. Hopefully it’s here (in Dallas).”

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.”

Rockets Suspending Porter, Wood For Monday’s Game

The Rockets are suspending guard Kevin Porter Jr. and big man Christian Wood for Monday’s game in Philadelphia vs. the Sixers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Both players are being disciplined for their poor behavior on Saturday night vs. Denver. As we detailed over the weekend, Porter left the arena following a halftime altercation with assistant coach John Lucas, while Wood told coaches he wasn’t interested in playing in the second half after being held out of the lineup because he missed a mandatory COVID-19 test.

The ESPN report provides a few more details on Saturday’s incident. According to Wojnarowski and MacMahon, one young Houston player challenged Wood and told him that – as a veteran – he should be setting a standard for the team. ESPN’s duo also says the Rockets believe Porter has made progress on his anger-management issues, which resurfaced on Saturday.

It’s unclear if this will be the extent of the punishments for Porter and/or Wood. At this point, there’s no indication that either of their suspensions will extend beyond Monday’s contest. Houston’s next game is on Wednesday in Washington and both Porter and Wood are still traveling with the team.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, a one-game suspension will cost Porter a little over $12K and Wood approximately $94K. That works out to 1/145th of their respective salaries.

Kevin Porter Jr. Leaves Arena, Christian Wood Sits After Rockets’ Halftime Blowup

Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood may have uncertain futures in Houston following a locker-room altercation with coaches at halftime of the Rockets‘ loss to Denver Saturday night.

According to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Porter left the arena after assistant coach John Lucas challenged him, Wood, and several other players for a lack of effort. Porter reportedly threw an object and had to be separated from Lucas during the exchange. When told that he wouldn’t play in the second half, he responded by driving away rather than joining his teammates on the bench.

Wood, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, was held out of the starting lineup after missing a mandatory COVID-19 test earlier in the day, the authors add. He played eight minutes in the first half, going scoreless and missing all four of his shots from the field, and sources tell Charania and Iko that he informed coaches at halftime that he wasn’t interested in playing in the second half.

Head coach Stephen Silas said the incident was sparked by a “spirited debate” after allowing the Nuggets to score 77 points in the first half, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. It marked the second straight game in which the Rockets had surrendered more than 70 points in the first half.

“I mean, we were angry at halftime that we had just given up 47 points (in the second quarter),” Silas said. “So, we watched the film. We had a spirited debate at halftime. And you know, I have certain demands of this group as far as playing hard. Making mistakes is different than giving the effort, and I wasn’t satisfied with the effort. So, halftime took a little bit longer and then getting more organized after halftime (took a) little bit longer as well.”

Porter has spoken to team officials and expressed regret about the incident, a Rockets source told Iko. He has a history of anger issues, which is why Houston was able to acquire him from the Cavaliers midway through last season for a conditional second-round draft pick.

After the trade, the Rockets sent Porter to their G League affiliate to learn how to become a point guard. The organization has committed to him for that position, to the point of keeping John Wall, the team’s highest-paid player, inactive so he won’t affect Porter’s minutes. Porter will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, and this latest issue will surely affect the Rockets’ willingness to make a long-term commitment.

There have already been trade rumors surrounding Wood, who is in the second season of a three-year contract he signed as a free agent in 2020. He’s having another productive year, averaging 16.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 35 games, but Houston isn’t winning and he’s probably the team’s best trade asset.

No disciplinary action has been announced against either player, although fines and possible suspensions seem likely.

The Rockets barely made it back to the court in time for the second half, Feigen adds, and the incident reveals problems that go far beyond a seven-game losing streak.

“There is, you know, when you’re competitors, there’s times where you’re in the locker room and in the locker rooms … you’re getting after it and you’re showing examples,” Silas said. “And you know, when you want a team to do better, you have to let them know. And tonight, was the night I had to let them know.”

Southwest Notes: W. Green, Porter Jr., Mavericks, Dudley

The faith that first-year Pelicans coach Willie Green showed in his players during a horrendous start is beginning to pay off, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. It appeared New Orleans might be headed for a lost season after opening with a 3-16 record and having no clarity on the return of star forward Zion Williamson, who had offseason foot surgery. Williamson still hasn’t played, but his teammates have turned things around, winning eight of their last 13 games and moving to within two games of the play-in tournament.

“That patience came with a lot of prayer,” Green said. “It was rough at the beginning, and it was challenging, even on me, to stay patient. It’s a long season, and this is an unbelievable group — high-character guys. We can see improvement every week. We didn’t get the results initially, but the guys are believing more and more.”

After making coaching changes the past two offseasons, Pelicans management needed Green to succeed, Guillory adds. Beyond the results on the court, the front office was looking for someone who could get through to the team’s best players and convince them to buy into what he wants to do.

“He didn’t change. … He continued to believe in what got him the job and continued to believe in us,” Josh Hart said. “That was the biggest thing for us — to obviously have a coach who’s confident, a coach who has trust in us to go out there and execute and play.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Injured Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. doesn’t have a return date yet, but he’s continuing to make progress with his bruised left thigh, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Porter, who hasn’t played since December 3, has been ramping up his workouts over the past week. “We’re getting there,” he said. “It has been a work in progress, but we’ve just been making progress each and every day. I’m feeling good. We’re taking steps forward. It’s always hard waiting. Honestly, when it first happens, I feel like it’s the worst because (the rehab) is a long-ball game, but almost being back is a boost of confidence and (to) your self-esteem about everything every day, everything you do daily.”
  • Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News takes a closer look at the six hardship additions the Mavericks are making in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak. Theo Pinson, Marquese Chriss and George King have already joined the team, and the signings of Charlie Brown, Carlik Jones and Brandon Knight are expected to become official soon.
  • Jared Dudley, a first-year assistant coach with the Mavericks, talks to Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times about the transition from playing to coaching. “I really wanted to play one last season with the Lakers, to be honest, but I’m also loving coaching,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be a coach and for (Jason Kidd) to give me this opportunity, I am so grateful.”

Western Notes: Morant, Rockets, Zeller, Bazley

After going 10-2 while Ja Morant was out due to a knee sprain, the Grizzlies lost at home in Morant’s return on Monday. The defeat came at the hands of an Oklahoma City team that Memphis had beaten by 73 points earlier in the month.

Morant, who had 16 points and eight assists in 28 minutes, was happy to be back on the court, but he admitted after the game that the reaction from the fans in Memphis was a far cry from the “MVP” chants he heard earlier in the season.

“Running down the court, I heard some of our fans courtside tell me I need to sit back out,” Morant said, per Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I just want to know what they wanted me to get out of that. I feel like that just makes it worse.”

Although the Grizzlies are just 9-11 with Morant in the lineup this season, the general consensus is that they benefited from a favorable schedule and some good luck during his absence. As Barnes relays, teammate Desmond Bane scoffed at the idea that the team was better off without its star point guard.

“That’s nonsense. Nonsense,” Bane said. “People just want something to talk about. Ja’s an easy target because he’s the best player on the team. He’s an All-Star in his third year and we happened to win some games and guys were out with teams we were playing. … There was something that popped up on my phone talking about trading Ja Morant. He’ll be in Memphis as long as he wants to be in Memphis. He’s our franchise, for sure.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:

  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas is hopeful that Jalen Green (hamstring), who has been out since November 24, will be back in the lineup before Christmas, but said Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh), who last played on December 3, will remain sidelined through the Christmas break, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. The Rockets are in action on Wednesday in Milwaukee and Thursday in Indiana, then will resume play next Monday in Charlotte.
  • The Trail Blazers announced on Sunday in a press release that Cody Zeller (small fracture of right patella) is making progress in his recovery and increasing his on-court activity. However, he’s still unavailable for the time being and will be reevaluated in a week.
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman explores how and why the Thunder decided to move Darius Bazley to the bench after he had started his last 82 games across two seasons. Head coach Mark Daigneault talked to general manager Sam Presti before making the move, as Mussatto writes.

Rockets Notes: Wood, Mathews, Fertitta, Injury Timetables

Rockets center Christian Wood discussed his role in Houston’s recent turnaround, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The Rockets, winners of six straight games, have moved their way up to a still-bad 7-16 record on the 2021/22 season, in no small part thanks to Wood becoming the lone big man for much of his time on the floor. The 26-year-old is currently averaging 16.5 PPG, 11.1 RPG, and 1.1 BPG, with a shooting line of .466/.368/.574. In the win streak, Wood has boosted those counting stats to 19.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG and 1.8 BPG.

“So my job is just to make sure everybody touches the ball,” Wood said of his role as a calming influence in the Rockets offense. “Make sure everybody’s not going to so many isos and it’s not as contagious. Because once you start getting contagious, it gets a little bad, gets a little stagnant. We start taking bad shots, and my job is just to make sure everybody’s cool, everybody’s touching the ball and tapped in.”

There’s more out of Houston:

  • The Rockets appear to have uncovered a new floor-spacing threat in their win streak, thanks to the emergence of Garrison Mathews, writes Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle. The 6’5″ shooting guard is averaging 11.9 PPG and 3.1 RPG across 10 games with Houston and owns a shooting line of .488/.420/.800. The three-point percentage is particularly encouraging, as the 25-year-old is taking a volume 6.9 triples per game. Beyond simply excellent percentages, Mathews also has helped open up the club’s offense as the team’s only real catch-and-shoot threat who can operate on the run. Huq observes that Mathews now boasts the best efficiency differential for the Rockets, meaning that the team’s offensive output is better with him on the floor than without him at a level beyond anyone else on the team.
  • Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has discussed how the team’s approach to a full-on tank will help the club re-shape its roster for the long haul, per Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle. “We don’t want to be one of those building programs that are just mediocre for four years or five years,” Fertitta said of the team’s plans going forward. “And when you’ve been as good as we were for so many years, yeah, we could have had the eighth seed in the playoffs or the ninth seed. But it’s better to tear it apart and start over and build up again. It will last for many years to come.” Huq praises Fertitta for acquiescing to deals that sent out veteran win-now players like P.J. Tucker and Victor Oladipo last season. Along these lines, Huq wonders if the team will look to ship out current veterans like Wood and Eric Gordon in exchange for either young players with upside or future draft equity.
  • There is no return timeline yet for the starting Rockets backcourt of Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Green continues to recuperate from a hamstring injury that has kept him on the shelf for the Rockets’ five previous games, all victories. Porter suffered a thigh injury and missed Sunday’s contest. “Kevin, we’re still kind of evaluating what is necessary but he is doing his treatment and we’ll have an update sooner or later,” head coach Stephen Silas said.

Southwest Notes: Johnson, Wood, Porter Jr., Augustin, Harrison

Keldon Johnson is open to signing a rookie scale extension with the Spurs, he told The Athletic’s Shams Charania in an interview (video link). Johnson can sign an extension next offseason. “I love being in San Antonio, I love the Spurs, I would definitely love to be there (long-term),” he said. “We’ll cross that road when we get there.” Johnson is averaging 14.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG and 2.1 APG this season.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • If the Rockets get a solid offer that includes a prospect or two, they should consider trading Christian Wood, Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle opines. The club has to look at the big picture and the next two drafts are crucial to the franchise, due to the picks owed in the ill-fated Russell Westbrook trade, Huq notes. A report earlier this week declared the Wood would generate significant trade interest before the deadline.
  • Wood is currently dealing with an ankle sprain but it’s not considered serious, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. He’s considered probable to play against Orlando on Friday. However, guard Kevin Porter Jr. could miss a little time after aggravating a thigh contusion, MacMahon adds in another tweet. He’s listed as questionable to play on Friday, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen (Twitter link). D.J. Augustin is not on the injury report, an indication he’s cleared the league’s health and safety protocols.
  • New Mavericks GM Nico Harrison says he’s not concerned about rival executives trying to take advantage of his inexperience and fleece him in a trade, as he told Dwain Price of the team’s website. “I would imagine that if people can take advantage of me, they will, for sure. But I always tell people this is not the Nico Harrison Show,” he said. “There’s a team of people that’s surrounding me. There’s (Michael) Finley, obviously (owner) Mark (Cuban). There’s Jason Kidd. There are so many people around the team that are going to influence what we do, so it’s not just Nico making decisions.”

Injury Notes: Towns, Butler, Morris, Warren, Wood, KPJ

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns hopefully avoided a major injury Wednesday night, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

Towns fell on his lower back after slipping off the rim after a dunk. However, Woj says X-Rays on Towns’ lower back came back clean. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s an update from the team to determine if Towns might be sidelined.

Here are some more injury notes:

  • Heat star Jimmy Butler (tailbone) missed his second consecutive game Wednesday night against the Cavs and it sounds like he could miss more time. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweets that he’s likely to miss the back-to-back games Friday and Saturday against the Pacers and Bucks.
  • Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters there’s still no update on Markieff Morris, who has now missed 12 games in a row with whiplash, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said that scans on T.J. Warren‘s foot had positive results, but there’s still no timeline for his return, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Rockets starters Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. were both injured in Wednesday night’s game against the Thunder and did not return. Wood suffered a sprained ankle, while KPJ has a left thigh contusion, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).