Kenyon Martin Jr.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Porzingis, Spurs, Grizzlies, Rockets

Asked by ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith during an appearance on First Take about rumors that there has been some friction between Mavericks teammates Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, head coach Jason Kidd dismissed the idea that there are any issues between the team’s two leading scorers (video link).

“I think we all heard in the NBA circle that there was tension between the two, but I would have to say that’s fake news,” Kidd told Smith. “… There were some other issues that I thought they did a great job of keeping in-house that had nothing to do with those two.

“I’m excited, I think the relationship between the two of them is at a high level. They’re basketball players who want to compete and who want to win. For a coach, I have to put them in that position to be successful. But I think their relationship is great.”

Smith didn’t press Kidd on what those “other issues” in Dallas were that didn’t involve Doncic or Porzingis, but it’s possible the Mavs’ new head coach is referring to some of the conflicts that were outlined in a report from The Athletic back in June. Presumably, given the way the front office and coaching staff were overhauled this summer, the franchise believes those issues are in the rear-view now.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

Mitchell Robinson, Terance Mann, Kenyon Martin Jr. Receive Salary Guarantees

Knicks center Mitchell Robinson ($1.8MM), Clippers guard Terance Mann ($1.8MM) and Rockets guard Kenyon Martin Jr. ($1.5MM) all saw their 2021/22 salaries become fully guaranteed on Sunday, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

Robinson had his team option picked up by the club on Saturday, but his salary for next season didn’t guarantee until today. The 23-year-old center played only 31 games for New York this season, averaging 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 27.5 minutes per contest.

Mann, 24, showed flashes of potential with the Clippers this past season. He was the team’s No. 48 pick in 2019 and averaged seven points per game in 2020/21, shooting 51% from the floor and 42% from three-point range.

Martin, a 20-year-old swingman, was selected by the Kings on behalf of the Rockets with the No. 52 overall pick in last year’s November draft, then signed a four-year contract with Houston. His $1.78MM salary in 2022/23 remains non-guaranteed, while he also has a team option worth $1.93MM for 2023/24.

Both Robinson and Mann are also extension-eligible with their respected clubs, Marks notes.

Southwest Notes: Martin, Lillard, Lee, Vinson

Rookie Rockets small forward Kenyon Martin Jr., a second-generation NBA player, showed promise during his first NBA season, per Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle.

Martin noted that living his childhood while his father Kenyon Martin Sr. enjoyed a successful 15-year NBA career helped prep him for the ups and downs of the Rockets’ fortunes during Jr.’s first season.

“My first game back from the G League, I honestly got kind of nervous or whatever but I just thought to myself, ‘It’s still basketball,’ so I just go out and play and not really think about that,” Martin said. Across 45 games for the Rockets, the 6’6″ rookie averaged 9.3 PPG and 5.4 RPG, while shooting a solid .509/.365/.714.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • If Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard truly wants to be dealt from the team where he has spent his entire NBA career, the Pelicans should do all they can to acquire him in a trade, says Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. Given that New Orleans has 2020 All-Star Brandon Ingram and a litany of draft picks to trade, the club can at least get in the mix with a competitive offer, Kushner adds. Pairing Lillard with rising Pelicans All-Star Zion Williamson could benefit both players in their quest to win the West.
  • 36-year-old Bucks assistant coach Charles Lee has served under two largely successful tenures with head coach Mike Budenholzer with the Hawks and Milwaukee since 2014. Will Guillory of The Athletic explores Lee’s potential fit guiding the similarly youthful roster of the Pelicans to the next level, should he become the club’s next head coach.
  • Current Pelicans assistant coach Fred Vinson, a former international player (who had a 13-game NBA cameo) known particularly for his skills as a shooting coach, has been on New Orleans’ bench since 2010. Will Guillory of The Athletic wonders if the 50-year-old is ready to take the next step with the team.

Southwest Notes: Bradley, Porter, Pelicans, Martin

Rockets reserve guard Avery Bradley is close to returning to the floor from a calf injury, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Bradley has missed the past two games for Houston, and four of the last five.

“I’ve just been dealing with this calf situation all season,” Bradley noted. “Unfortunately, it came back a little bit. I’m just trying to be smart and making sure I’m working hard each and every day so I can come back strong.”

The Heat signed Bradley to a two-year, $11.6MM deal during the 2020 offseason, though the second year is a team option. Injuries and COVID-19 have limited the 30-year-old to just 25 games combined for Miami and Houston this season.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Though recently-acquired Rockets swingman Kevin Porter Jr. enjoyed a career night against the Bucks on Thursday, head coach Stephen Silas is hopeful Porter can have more consistently effective scoring nights, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t really know if we have a true feel for how good he can be or not,” Silas observed. “I think if you take the game that he had against Minnesota (10 points on 2-of-12 shooting) and the game he had against Milwaukee, you don’t want to really focus on either. You want to focus somewhere in between. He had a poor game and then a great game. You can’t do that in an NBA season where you’re kind of going up and down, up and down with your emotions or your evaluations.”
  • As the Pelicans remain in the play-in tournament mix, Will Guillory of The Athletic assesses several important threads worth tracking in May. Key among these is the play of Brandon Ingram, who Guillory believes needs to improve his passing and defense to be a true long-term compliment to All-Star forward Zion Williamson. Guillory also hopes to see more of versatile guards Lonzo Ball and Kira Lewis Jr. in tandem on the floor.
  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle appraises the growth of athletic rookie wing Kenyon Martin Jr., the youngest Rockets player. Martin is all too aware of what he needs to improve going forward to achieve his full potential. “I know what I need to work on and I need to focus on to get ready for next season,” Martin said. “Making my shot more consistent… Being comfortable on the ball and defensively, just learning from watching film and picking it up on that side of the floor.” Martin is averaging 13.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting across his past four games.

Rockets Notes: Fertitta, T. Brown, Wilson, Exum

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has watched his team go from among the NBA’s best to the league’s worst record very quickly, and he’s realistic about how long it will take to get back on top, writes Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston arrived in training camp with playoff aspirations and a veteran core in place, but after a massive roster overhaul, the Rockets are just 4-35 since February 5.

“It’s really, really hard because I am competitive and I hate to lose,” Fertitta said. “But my people, including (CEO) Tad (Brown) and (general manager Rafael Stone) and even my son Patrick, just (say) the biggest mistake you can make right now is use all these picks to be a .500 club, because you’re never able to be a championship caliber club,” Fertitta said. “But I hate losing so much I’m totally staying out of it, because I’m scared that I can make the wrong decisions. I want to win today. I just have to (stay out of it) because they’re right and they just gave me examples and examples.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • Tad Brown has become the latest high-profile figure to leave the organization, announcing Friday that he will step down as CEO at the end of the season, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Brown made it clear that he wasn’t being pushed out and said he spent several months considering his future before deciding to leave. “This is something that is going to be a part of my heart and soul for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s very difficult to transition out, but I do believe it’s the right thing to do.”
  • The Rockets were down to seven healthy players for Saturday’s loss in Denver, which meant extended minutes for some players who aren’t used to a lot of court time, Feigen notes in a separate story. D.J. Wilson played 40 minutes and K.J. Martin was on the court for 42 minutes. “We put the work in behind closed doors,” Wilson said. “When our number is called, we’re definitely going to be ready, each and every one of us. When you’re not getting those minutes on a game-to-game basis, you can’t do much but ask to play. I don’t think anyone was asking for a sub. Everybody was enjoying the minutes. It was just tough we couldn’t get the W.”
  • Dante Exum, who was acquired in January as part of the James Harden trade, is considered out for the rest of the season, Feigen tweets. Exum only played six games this season because of a calf injury and hasn’t been available since the trade. He has a $9.6MM expiring contract.

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.”

NBA G League Announces 2020/21 All-NBAGL Teams

After being named the G League’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year on Monday, Delaware Blue Coats forward Paul Reed – who is on a two-way contract with the Sixers – headlines the All-NBA G League First Team, as the league announced today in a press release.

Reed was joined on the All-NBAGL first team by MVP runner-up Kevin Porter Jr. of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, as well as Oklahoma City Blue big man Moses Brown, Lakeland Magic forward Mamadi Diakite, and Westchester Knicks guard Jared Harper. All of those players are currently on either standard NBA contracts or two-way deals.

That’s a common theme for this year’s All-NBAGL teams. The majority of the 15 players named to the three squads are either currently under contract with NBA teams or have past NBA experience.

The complete list of the 2020/21 All-NBA G League teams, along with the All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, is below. Players currently on NBA contracts are noted with an asterisk (*), while those on two-way contracts are noted with a caret (^).


All-NBAGL First Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Kevin Porter Jr. (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) *
  • Moses Brown (Oklahoma City Blue) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Jared Harper (Westchester Knicks) ^

All-NBAGL Second Team:

All-NBAGL Third Team:


NBAGL All-Rookie Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Malachi Flynn (Raptors 905) *
  • Brodric Thomas (Canton Charge) ^
  • KJ Martin (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) *

NBAGL All-Defensive Team:

  • Paul Reed (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Moses Brown (Oklahoma City Blue) ^
  • Mamadi Diakite (Lakeland Magic) ^
  • Tahjere McCall (Lakeland Magic)
  • Gary Payton II (Raptors 905)

Of the 18 players who earned a spot on one of the G League’s All-NBAGL, All-Rookie, or All-Defensive teams this year, only four – Brissett, Uthoff, McCall, and Payton – haven’t been on some form of standard, two-way, or 10-day NBA contract since the ’20/21 season began. All four of them have previous NBA experience.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

And-Ones: Trade Market, Olympics, Draft

Executives and scouts around the NBA view Rockets forward P.J. Tucker as a logical trade target for the Bucks, whose typically stout defense has fallen off a little this season, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report. Tucker’s versatility and defensive ability make him a good fit in just about any system, which would make him an ideal option for a team looking to make a deep playoff run.

The execs and scouts who spoke to Blakely also think that the Nuggets will target a versatile frontcourt player and could see the Suns making a run at Andre Drummond if he reaches the buyout market.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

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.

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.