KJ Martin

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, Harden, McLemore, Martin, House, More

New Rockets center Christian Wood has been a revelation on offense in Houston so far, but in order to maximize his overall impact, he needs to become a more consistently reliable rim protector, as Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes.

“For us to be a great defense, it’s all about protection in the paint, protecting that rim,” Eric Gordon said on Monday. “If guards come down and they have to think about scoring over Christian Wood, that’s gonna help us.”

According to Iko, rebounding is also an area the Rockets will need to improve. When the team was playing micro-ball last season, its poor rebounding numbers were understandable, but those struggles have carried over to the early part of 2020/21, even with Wood and other big men now part of the rotation. Houston currently ranks 29th in rebounding percentage.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • While James Harden has made it clear that he wants to be traded out of Houston, he still has to prove what sort of sacrifices he’s willing to make if he wants to win a championship, writes Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated. Some executives who spoke to Beck were skeptical that the former MVP would readily change his playing style to help a new team. “James is like Allen Iverson: He wants to win his way and put up historical numbers while he’s winning,” one veteran Eastern Conference executive said. “I would never question their desire to win, but they all want to win on their terms.”
  • Ben McLemore and KJ Martin, who were self-isolating after reportedly testing positive for COVID-19, have returned to the team but are focusing on improving their conditioning and aren’t traveling to Indiana for Wednesday’s game, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Danuel House, who continues to be nagged by a sore back, also won’t be with the club for that game.
  • In a separate article for The Houston Chronicle, Feigen takes a look at the strong start Sterling Brown has enjoyed after signing with the Rockets as a free agent in November.
  • Kelly Iko and Tim Cato of The Athletic revisit Stephen Silas‘ days as an assistant coach with the Mavericks and explore how that position helped prepare him for his first head coaching job in Houston.

Rockets Notes: Wall, Cousins, Harden, Hard Cap

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon all practiced today for the first time since being forced to quarantine after an ill-fated haircut last week, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The Rockets‘ Dec. 23 season opener was canceled because they didn’t have enough active players, and they were short-handed for the two games that followed.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Wall said. “All I did was get a haircut in my apartment. And one of the teammates tested positive and the next four or five tests I had all came back negative. So, I was like ‘Oh, it was me and three people can’t get a haircut.’ I’d rather get a haircut in my apartment than be in a barbershop somewhere where random people are coming in constantly. Even the barber tested negative. That was a frustrating thing.”

Assuming no more setbacks, Wall will play his first game in more than two years on Thursday. He and Cousins, who responded to the quarantine with an online post of an angry emoji, will both make their debuts with the Rockets.

“It’s tough in general to be sitting around for seven days, no type of activity,” Cousins said. “It’s tough for any person, but especially for a professional athlete, sitting at home for seven days straight then jumping back in a full-speed practice or game. There’s not a lot of positive on that side.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Head coach Stephen Silas said league protocol requires Ben McLemore and KJ Martin, who are believed to have tested positive for COVID-19, to remain in quarantine through the weekend, tweets Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
  • The Sixers are farther away from trying to acquire Rockets star James Harden than they were two weeks ago, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on today’s episode of “The Jump” (video link). With a 3-1 record and Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid playing well together, Philadelphia doesn’t feel any urgency to make a move. Windhorst believes Simmons gives the Sixers the best asset of any of the teams rumored to be involved in talks for Harden, but he doesn’t think either side is in a hurry to complete a deal.
  • The Rockets are currently $1.077M below the hard cap, which means they will be able to add a pro-rated 15th player to their roster starting February 9, tweets salary cap expert Albert Nahmad. Teams can begin signing players to 10-day contracts on February 23 (Twitter link).

Latest On Rockets’ Roster Situation For Opener

Half the Rockets‘ roster appears to be in jeopardy for the team’s opener against the Thunder, according to reports. As we relayed earlier today, James Harden may not be able to play tonight due to an apparent violation of the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, while several other players are caught up in contact tracing after KJ Martin returned a positive COVID-19 test.

As Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN explains (via Twitter), Martin tested positive and then returned a negative test in the last 24 hours. Martin and the Rockets are now awaiting the results of another test.

Several players that were in close contact with Martin have reportedly been sent home for contact tracing purposes as the team awaits the latest test results. Earlier today, we learned that group of players includes John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Jae’Sean Tate. Wojnarowski (Twitter link) adds two-way player Mason Jones to that list. However, there’s no indication that any of those players have tested positive.

In addition to the six players noted above, the Rockets are also missing Chris Clemons (torn Achilles) and Ben McLemore (self-isolating due to COVID-19). That would leave just eight players of the team’s 16-man squad available for tonight’s game — as Wojnarowski points out (via Twitter), that’s the minimum number of active players mandated by league rules.

Since this is the first instance of a potential positive test affecting an NBA regular season game since March 11, we’re in wait-and-see mode to see how the team and the league will handle it. If Martin returns another negative test and it’s determined that his positive test was a false positive, it would seemingly open the door for him – and those players in close contact with him – to be activated.

Meanwhile, Harden – who had COVID-19 over the summer prior to the restart, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon – tested negative on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, tweets Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

According to Shelburne, the league is still reviewing Harden’s situation and potential eligibility for tonight’s game. Harden, who was captured in a video that appears to show him partying at a Houston club this week – told investigators that he believed he was in compliance with the NBA’s healthy and safety protocols, Shelburne adds (via Twitter).

As Shelburne details, Harden told the league he attended a seated dinner for a friend who had been promoted at work and took a photo with her when he gave her a gift. He claimed he came in through a separate entrance and sat in a separate section of the venue with his security detail, then left after about 30 minutes (all Twitter links).

Several Rockets Could Miss Opener Due To Contact Tracing

12:51pm: KJ Martin is now listed on the Rockets’ injury report as self-isolating and not with the team, tweets MacMahon. The contact tracing is related to Martin’s test results, Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter).

As Woj explains (via Twitter), a group of Rockets players, including Martin, Wall, and Cousins, were away from the team facility at an apartment getting haircuts. Since Martin tested positive, contact tracing is required for others who were there – including Wall and Cousins – as the team waits for confirmation on Martin’s test result.

Wall and Cousins have both tested negative, Woj adds (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Jae’Sean Tate has also been sent home for contact tracing, tweets MacMahon.


12:25pm: Wall tested negative for the coronavirus but is among a group of Rockets sent home because a teammate tested positive, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). Woj adds that Ben McLemore tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago but has been in isolation and isn’t the player whose positive test initiated today’s contact tracing.

Meanwhile, Sam Amick of The Athletic clarifies (via Twitter) that the contact tracing isn’t tied to Harden, while Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets that the Thunder haven’t received any communication from the NBA about the status of tonight’s game.


11:47am: Several Rockets players are expected to miss the season opener tonight because of COVID-19 contact tracing, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania mentions John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins and says other players could also be affected.

Although Charania doesn’t specify, the action could be related to an investigation into James Harden‘s apparent visit to a strip club. NBA officials are examining a video on social media to determine if it was recent, making it a violation of the league’s health and safety protocols.

Harden published – and later deleted – an Instagram story claiming that the video in question wasn’t from a strip club, but it would still be a violation of the NBA’s protocols, which prohibit players from visiting bars, lounges, and clubs, notes Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter links).

Information on who else will miss tonight’s game against the Thunder should become available later today, but the news delays a return for two players who have been sidelined with major injuries. Wall hasn’t played in two years because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, while Cousins sat out all of last season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

Southwest Notes: Burke, Terry, Martin, Spurs, Konchar

The Mavericks used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign both free agent guard Trey Burke and No. 31 pick Tyrell Terry, as Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports details (Twitter links).

Burke’s three-year contract with the Mavericks, initially reported as a $10MM deal, actually has a total value of $9.45MM, starting at $3MM in 2020/21, per Smith. However, it does include a third-year player option and a 7.5% trade kicker, which would provide Burke with a modest bonus if he’s dealt before the contract expires.

Terry, meanwhile, will get a first-year salary of about $1.29MM, well above the rookie minimum. The final three years will be all be worth the minimum, with a team option on the final season, according to Smith. In total, Terry’s four-year contract with the Mavericks is worth $6.52MM, with $4.59MM in guaranteed money.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Rockets‘ four-year deal with KJ Martin (aka Kenyon Martin Jr.) is worth the minimum and is fully guaranteed in 2020/21 only, tweets Smith. His salaries for the three subsequent seasons will become guaranteed two days before the start of the offseason moratorium of each new league year.
  • Derrick White (recovering from toe surgery), Quinndary Weatherspoon (knee surgery), and Keldon Johnson (foot ailment) won’t be available when the Spurs begin practicing in the coming days, head coach Gregg Popovich said this week (link via Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News). “I’m not sure exactly when they are coming back, but they won’t be there in the beginning,” Popovich said.
  • After signing a two-way contract as an undrafted rookie last season, Grizzlies guard John Konchar parlayed a strong first-year audition into a four-year deal with the team this fall. As Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes, Konchar got on FaceTime with his mother immediately after agreeing to terms with the club. “It seemed like she was about to cry. I mean, the feeling was just amazing,” Konchar said.

Rockets To Sign KJ Martin To Four-Year Deal

The Rockets are signing rookie KJ Martin, the son of former NBA player Kenyon Martin, to a multi-year contract, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

It’s a four-year contract with the first year fully guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). The Rockets will use a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Martin.

Martin was the 52nd pick of the draft. Houston acquired the draft rights to the 6’7” forward from the Kings. He prepared for the draft at IMG Academy.

Rockets, Kings Finalize Kenyon Martin Jr. Trade

NOVEMBER 25: The Rockets and Kings have each sent out press releases confirming that the trade is complete. Houston officially acquired the rights to Martin in exchange for the Lakers’ 2021 second-rounder and cash, as detailed below.


NOVEMBER 18: The Rockets have agreed to reacquire their pick at No. 52 and used it to select Kenyon Martin Jr., tweets Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated.

In order to land Martin at No. 52, the Rockets sent $1MM in cash and the Lakers’ 2021 second-round pick to Sacramento, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).

Martin, the son of the first pick in the 2000 draft, played this year at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, after originally committing to Vanderbilt. The 19-year-old was among the players selected for the NBA’s virtual draft combine.

The Rockets originally sent the pick to Sacramento in a three-way trade in 2019 to acquire Iman Shumpert.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Kenyon Martin Jr. Declares For 2020 Draft

Kenyon Martin Jr., the son of former No. 1 overall draft pick Kenyon Martin, has declared for the 2020 NBA draft, his father told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The younger Martin opted not to play college basketball at Vanderbilt in 2019/20, instead spending the year at IMG Academy. The 6’7″ wing confirmed his draft decision in a post on Instagram, thanking the “coaching staff, the weight trainers, my teammates, and everyone at IMG” for helping him through the last year.

“I appreciate everyone who has supported me and my decisions is up to this point,” Martin Jr. wrote. “There was a lot of hate and doubt about my journey but I feel I’ve done what was best for me and now is the time to take the next step which is to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft. It has been a lifelong dream of mine and I will continue to work day by day to prove to myself and everyone that this is where I belong.”

The pre-draft process, which will be limited this spring, could be important for Martin Jr., who will get feedback from NBA teams after not playing against NCAA competition this season. As Wojnarowski notes, the youngster averaged 20 points and eight rebounds at IMG Academy. He’s currently the No. 53 prospect on ESPN’s big board.