Kevin Porter

Rockets Recall Kevin Porter Jr. From G League

Kevin Porter Jr. will make his debut with the Rockets when they resume their season next week. The second-year swingman, who was acquired from the Cavaliers in January, was recalled from the G League today, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

From the time of the trade, Houston laid out a gradual progression for Porter. The 20-year-old showed hints of stardom during his rookie season, but was plagued by legal issues and other off-the-court problems. He wore out his welcome in Cleveland after throwing a tantrum in front of team officials after finding out his locker had been moved.

Porter’s stint in the G League was a huge success, as he averaged 24.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 15 games with Rio Grande Valley and was named Player of the Week last week. He helped the Vipers earn a playoff spot, but he won’t be with the team when the postseason begins.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone told Mark Berman of KRIV in Houston that the plan for Porter has gone just as expected (Twitter link).

“When we acquired him we laid out that we wanted him to play through the break, which he’s done,” Stone said. “We had very specific goals in mind for how we wanted him to play, what we wanted him to try and achieve. We’re extraordinarily happy with him. He did all of that. Part of the plan was for him to rejoin the team post break. We’re going to be able to have one practice. Practice time in the NBA is extraordinarily limited. So he’ll be able to practice with the team and join us. He’s a very young player. He’s a very talented player and hopefully he can contribute.”

Porter hasn’t played in an NBA game since March 4, 2020. The Cavaliers weren’t invited to the NBA restart, and he was held out of the lineup early this season while resolving a legal matter. Porter averaged 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG and 2.2 APG in 50 games as a rookie.

The Rockets also recalled KJ Martin from the G League, Berman adds. The rookie forward appeared in seven NBA games earlier this season.

Southwest Notes: Oladipo, Porter, Ball, Winslow

Word broke over the weekend that Victor Oladipo had turned down a contract extension offer from the Rockets, but the two-time All-Star actually passed on that offer a while ago, he confirmed on Monday. As Oladipo explained, the proposal was just a formality, since the team understood he wouldn’t sign it.

“It was more along the lines, ‘We know you’re not going to accept it, but we still want you to understand we want you here,'” Oladipo said of the Rockets’ offer. “… It was put in front of me or given to me to show me that they want me to be here. I didn’t get a chance to say yes or no. They already knew I wasn’t going to accept it anyway.”

Oladipo’s decision to decline the offer doesn’t necessarily mean that he has no interest in remaining with the Rockets long-term — it’s more about his desire to reach the open market this summer as a free agent. He had previously turned down a more lucrative offer from Indiana for the same reason.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Before he makes his debut for the Rockets, recently-acquired guard Kevin Porter is getting back up to speed in the G League, and his stint with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers is going well so far. Porter was officially named the NBAGL Player of the Week on Tuesday after averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 2.0 steals in his past four games.
  • Lonzo Ball has been the subject of some trade rumors this season, but the Pelicans guard thinks that he, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram could be the start of a formidable long-term core for the franchise, as Christian Clark of writes. “I love playing with those guys,” Ball said of the two standout forwards. “I’m really cool with them off the court as well. We’re all young. I think we can do some big things.”
  • It took nearly a year for him to finally take the court for the Grizzlies, but now that he’s healthy, Justise Winslow is grateful that the team traded for him and stuck with him during his lengthy injury rehab process, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details. “This trade was one of the best things to happen in my life on and off the court for me,” Winslow told sideline reporter Rob Fischer on Sunday. “This organization just being so patient with me. I’m just so thankful. A lot of gratitude and a lot of joy in my heart right now.”

Rockets Notes: Cousins, Oladipo, Croom, Porter

The DeMarcus Cousins era in Houston formally came to an end on Tuesday, as the Rockets announced they’ve officially waived the veteran center.

Explaining the decision to release Cousins, general manager Rafael Stone said they’ve been “talking to him about this for a little while” and decided the time was right to allow him to pursue a new opportunity (link via Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston). Stone added that Houston opted to guarantee Cousins’ full-season salary before parting ways with him because the team appreciated his work ethic and felt “that was the best way we could think of to say thank you.”

For John Wall, who played college ball with Cousins at Kentucky, teaming up with the veteran center in the NBA was something he’d looked forward to for a while, and he expressed some disappointment that it didn’t work out as they might’ve hoped.

Getting to play with him again was what we always wanted in the NBA,” Wall said, per Berman. “It didn’t last as long as we thought it would. The decision that was made is out of my hands. It’s up to the front office, whatever they feel is best for our team going forward.

“I think with his time here he did a hell of a job,” Wall continued. “I think he showed he could come back and play in this league, coming off of injuries. Hopefully he can get another job somewhere very soon…getting back to where he wants to be in this league.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Victor Oladipo (right foot strain) suffered a slight setback when he stepped on teammate Rodions Kurucs‘ foot during a practice, preventing him from returning to action on Monday, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Head coach Stephen Silas said he remains hopeful that Oladipo will be back “sooner rather than later.”
  • Emiliano Carchia of Sportando, who reported last month that the Rockets are looking to hire an executive in an assistant general manager-type role, identifies former Timberwolves executive Noah Croom as a candidate being considered for that position.
  • Kevin Porter has yet to make his Rockets debut since being acquired from Cleveland a month ago, but his new team has a vision for how it will use him, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. The Rockets, who plan to have Porter finish the G League season at the Walt Disney World bubble, expect to have him eventually assume a point guard role on the second unit, per Iko.

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Smoothie King Center, Porter, Bey

The Rockets have dealt with changing lineups in three straight games as they juggle the availability of their injury-prone veteran guards. Head coach Stephen Silas notes that the ongoing lineup flux has impacted potential team chemistry, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays.

“As far as continuity of the group and really getting a feel for where your role is and how you can be effective in the scope of the group, it does affect it quite a bit,” Silas said of the Rockets’ lineup changes.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • After starting the NBA season by allowing 800 fans inside their home arena, the Smoothie King Center, the Pelicans bumped that total up to 1,440 on January 29. They will be increasing their fan capacity again starting next week, to 1,900 fans, starting February 17 against the Trail Blazers, according to Christian Clark of
  • Once word got out of swingman Kevin Porter Jr.‘s locker room outburst, which effectively doomed his time in Cleveland, the Rockets immediately called the Cavaliers about his availability, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who says a future second-round pick was considered a small price to pay, given Porter’s upside. “He just wants to play, hasn’t had an opportunity to really play much this season,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Porter.
  • The Mavericks have sent rookie small forward Tyler Bey from the Long Island Nets to the Salt Lake City Stars as the NBAGL 2021 season in Orlando gets underway, according to an official team tweet.

Southwest Notes: Porter, SVG, Grizzlies-Thunder, Jones

New Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr., who has participated in only one practice since being added to Houston earlier this month from the Cavaliers, has a lot to gain from his new G League assignment, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle opines.

“[The G League assignment] is for him to get his feet wet with what we do and how we do it,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said of Porter. “And then, he hasn’t played in quite a while. So, to have consistent games night after night or every other night is important for him and his growth as far as being a part of our team.”

There’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans have not seen their defense take the strides they were hoping for under new coach Stan Van Gundy, per Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Van Gundy has previously coached several top-10 defenses in his prior head coaching stops with the Heat, Magic and Pistons. “We need a whole different defensive disposition,” Van Gundy said. “We just do. To keep the ball in front of us. To fight. To make shots more difficult.”
  • A GrizzliesThunder matchup in Memphis, initially projected to be played during the second half of the NBA season schedule, has been shifted up to Wednesday, February 17 at 8 p.m. CT, per a Grizzlies press release.
  • Spurs rookie guard Tre Jones has been assigned to San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Jones will travel to Orlando to join the NBAGL “bubble” campus.

Rockets Notes: Oladipo, Wood, Porter Jr., Thomas, Martin

Rockets guard Victor Oladipo feels like franchises he’s played for have been too quick to give up on him, as he told Chris Sims of the Indianapolis Star. Oladipo was acquired from the Pacers in the four-team blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season. “It’s unfortunate going through my career, it just feels like people kind of keep quitting on me, but it’s a part of life and I embrace it,” Oladipo said. “I’m just trying to make the most of every day.” He’s averaging 22.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG and 4.8 APG in his first five games with Houston.

We have more on the Rockets:

  • Big man Christian Wood is one of the 60 players invited by USA Basketball to compete for one of the 12 spots on the Olympic team, Mark Berman of KRIV tweets. He’ll fight an uphill battle to make Team USA but it’s another accomplishment for a player who bounced around the league before his breakout season in Detroit a year ago.
  • Houston is assigning Kevin Porter Jr. Brodric Thomas, and KJ Martin to the G League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Porter is the most notable name among the trio headed to Orlando for G League “bubble” practices and games in Orlando. The second-year swingman was acquired from the Cavs after wearing out his welcome in Cleveland.
  • Should Wood be considered for the All-Star team? Voice your opinion in our latest Community Shootaround.

Rockets Notes: Wood, Cousins, Porter, Oladipo

Rockets center Christian Wood has declared himself “100 percent” after missing three straight games with an ankle injury, which creates a playing time dilemma for coach Stephen Silas, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. DeMarcus Cousins took over the starting role and averaged 17.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists in Wood’s absence.

Wood, who ranks third in the league in scoring among centers at 23.5 points per game, will move back into the starting spot Thursday night. Cousins has been far less effective off the bench, but Silas hopes his performance this week will boost his confidence.

I think the fact that (Cousins) had some success over these last three games will help him moving forward, making sure that he has enough time on the floor to play well and making sure that we’re doing things so he can play to his strengths,” Silas said. “It’s a harder role coming off the bench. When you’re a starter and you’re given more leeway and your minutes are up and you’re not playing behind Christian Wood — who is really playing well — it’s a lot easier for Cuz as a starter.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Second-year forward Kevin Porter Jr., who was acquired from the Cavaliers last week, joined the Rockets for practice for the first time today, Feigen notes in a separate story. Because Cleveland wasn’t included in the summer restart and Porter had been away from the team for personal reasons, today marked the first time he has practiced with a team since last March. Silas said Porter has been “great” and “attentive” in his short time in Houston. “We’re just integrating him slowly,” he said. “We’re coming up with a plan that makes sense for him and for the team. He hasn’t played in a while. He’s kind of just learning. He’s a young kid, but he’s very talented. When he first got here, we had to make sure that we’re really, really smart about the structure we have put in place for him on and off the floor.”
  • Victor Oladipo tells Eric Woodyard of ESPN that he held a funeral service for his injured knee before the start of the season. The ceremony, which took place while he was still with the Pacers, was intended to push aside the mindset of being injured that he had been carrying since having surgery for a ruptured quad tendon in 2019. “I was feeling better, but my mind was so used to protecting me — and being hesitant because of my leg — that I had created a habit of doing that,” Oladipo said.
  • In case you missed it, John Wall talked about the importance of getting a win against his former team Tuesday night and the feeling that the Wizards gave up on him.

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Garland, Thompson, Porter

The controversial Kyrie Irving trade in 2017 gave the Cavaliers a path toward rebuilding quickly after LeBron James left, writes Chris Fedor of The centerpiece of that deal was an unprotected first-round pick from Brooklyn that was used to draft Collin Sexton. Now in his third season, Sexton has developed into a prolific scorer, averaging 26.8 points per game and shooting 46.8% from 3-point range.

“He comes in every night with the mindset that you can’t stop him,” said backcourt partner Darius Garland. “And that’s what he shows the league, that’s what he shows the world and everybody that’s watching this basketball game. He’s getting wherever he wants. Getting teammates involved. I mean, a lot of people don’t do that.”

Cleveland used the other assets it acquired from the Celtics in that deal to gain valuable pieces, Fedor notes. Isaiah Thomas was sent to the Lakers in a deal for Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. The Cavs flipped Jae Crowder in a trade for George Hill and Rodney Hood, and Hill was sent to the Bucks in a deal that brought back John Henson and a future first-rounder. Henson was used to acquire Andre Drummond from the Pistons, while the pick was part of the price for Jarrett Allen.

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • While he’s with the Celtics now, Tristan Thompson continues to send messages of encouragement to Garland, Fedor adds in a separate story. Thompson adopted a mentorship role to Garland last year and helped him get through a difficult rookie season. “TT is like a big brother to me. He texts me before like almost every game.” Garland said. “He took me under his wing. TT has made his name in this league. He’s won a championship in this league. He knows what to do and how to get there. … Just hearing from him and having another guy I can talk to instead of my dad or some of my own teammates and coaches, it’s really cool having him there for me.”
  • Although his time in Cleveland was troubled, Kevin Porter Jr. posted a social media message thanking the Cavaliers after being traded to Houston Friday night, Fedor relays in another piece“Cleveland, thank you for giving me a chance to change not only my life but my family’s as well, and believing in me,” Porter wrote. “To the beloved city, the fans, my brothers I gained, the coaching staff and the entire organization, I appreciate you and won’t ever take the relationships we have for granted.”
  • Early-season injuries to their best shooters forced the Cavs to rely on defense, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. That approach of “playing ugly” has become their calling card and has been reinforced by the trade that brought Allen and Taurean Prince from Brooklyn.

Rockets Notes: Cousins, Wall, Porter, Draft Pick

After putting up his best numbers in several years Saturday night, DeMarcus Cousins admitted there were times when he wasn’t sure he would ever play again, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Cousins, who has suffered three major injuries in the past four years, had 28 points, 17 rebounds and five assists as the short-handed Rockets won in Dallas.

“It’s just proof that the work is working,” he said. “The work, the time, the effort, those days I didn’t want to get up and do it, the days I thought I was wasting my time, the dog days I thought it was over for me — all of those thoughts at some point flashed in my mind. I would be lying if I didn’t have those moments, but just continue to believe in myself.”

Cousins didn’t play at all last season because of a torn ACL and was limited to 30 games with the Warriors in 2018/19 after tearing his quadriceps. He came to Houston on a non-guaranteed veteran’s minimum contract, but hasn’t looked like a former All-Star, shooting just 26.3% from the field before last night.

“I told him it’s a process,” said Rockets guard John Wall. “I mean, I know it’s difficult from being that franchise guy and always being the guy that was dominant and having the game the way you want it to be, and now he has to accept the role of coming off the bench.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Wall returned ahead of schedule Saturday after missing five games with soreness in his left knee, notes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Coming off a two-year absence, the veteran guard doesn’t want to get the reputation of being susceptible to injuries. “It was frustrating because I deal with so much, people say, ‘He’s injury prone,’” Wall said. “I got kneed. You have inflammation, you can’t control that. There was nothing I can do.”
  • The Rockets plan to be cautious with Kevin Porter Jr., who was acquired Friday in a trade with the Cavaliers, MacMahon tweets. Porter’s talent is obvious, but he fell out of favor in Cleveland because of off-the-court issues. “I wouldn’t anticipate him playing in an NBA game relatively soon,” coach Stephen Silas said. Houston added Porter with the $1.62MM trade exception it created last February by sending Gerald Green to Denver, confirms Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets placed heavy protections on the 2024 second-round pick they sent to the Cavaliers in the deal, but it was originally unprotected when they acquired it from Golden State, Marks tweets. Cleveland will only receive the pick if it falls in the 56-to-60 range. Otherwise it’ll remain with Houston.

Cavs Trade Kevin Porter Jr. To Rockets

JANUARY 22: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Rockets and Cavaliers. Houston confirmed in its announcement that Clemons has been released to make room for Porter.

“After careful and thoughtful evaluation, we made the very difficult and collective decision to make this trade,” Cavs GM Koby Altman said in a statement. “Given the culture and environment we have worked to cultivate here in Cleveland, we feel this move is in everyone’s best interest. Kevin has a bright career ahead of him as a professional basketball player and, at his core, is a good person.”

JANUARY 21: The Cavaliers are sending second-year swingman Kevin Porter Jr. to the Rockets, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter).

In exchange, the Cavs will receive a future protected second-round draft pick from Houston, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter). Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets that the pick is top-55 protected and will most likely never actually be conveyed to Cleveland.

As Chris Fedor of notes, the primary benefit of the deal for the Cavs is to open up a roster spot and to move off Porter’s guaranteed rookie-scale salary for this season ($1.72MM) and 2021/22 ($1.78MM). Since Houston can absorb Porter’s salary into a traded player exception, Cleveland won’t have to take a player back in the deal.

After throwing a locker room tantrum on January 15 when he discovered his locker had been relocated, Porter was instructed by the Cavaliers to clean out his locker and expect to be waived or traded.

Porter, who initially dropped in the 2019 draft due to off-court concerns, has had a tough second season. In November, he was arrested on charges of mishandling a firearm (a felony), plus driving without a license and marijuana possession (both misdemeanors). Last month, a grand jury cleared Porter of all charges.

Porter has not suited up for the Cavaliers at all this season. During a solid rookie outing, however, the No. 30 2019 draft pick out of USC impressed with averages of 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.2 APG and 0.9 SPG across 50 contests.

The Rockets, now in asset-accrual mode after sending perennial MVP candidate James Harden to the Nets in a four-team trade last week, are taking a flyer on a talented player in this deal. The hope, according to Fedor and MacMahon (Twitter link), is that veteran player development coach John Lucas can help Porter get his career back in track in Houston.

In order to open up a roster for Porter, the Rockets will waive injured guard Chris Clemons, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

Clemons’ minimum salary for 2020/21 was initially non-guaranteed, but Houston will be obligated to pay it in full after he suffered a season-ending Achilles tear. The Rockets are in better position to eat that money following the Harden deal — team salary is now comfortably below the luxury tax line rather than above it, and the club is no longer right up against its hard cap.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this story.