Alperen Sengun

Rockets Notes: Offseason, Green, Sengun, Draft, Brooks, Landale

The Rockets made major changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, bringing in top free agents like Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks. However, general manage Rafael Stone‘s comments this week suggest the team anticipates a quieter summer this time around, with a focus on internal improvement rather than outside additions, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

“I like my team,” Stone said. “So, I think potentially, we’re just bringing back everybody that we have. It doesn’t mean we won’t look at things, but I don’t think we’re sitting here today feeling like, ‘Oh we need to go get X’ at all.”

As Stone pointed out, the Rockets acquired injured center Steven Adams at the trade deadline and saw Alperen Sengun and Tari Eason go down with season-ending injuries of their own. Simply getting those three players on the court should go a long way toward fortifying the roster, which Stone described as “well-rounded” with “lots of talented players.”

The biggest decisions of the Rockets’ offseason might be whether to lock up Jalen Green and Sengun to long-term deals or to take a wait-and-see approach with those contract situations. Both players will be eligible for rookie scale extensions in July.

“The way the CBA is set up, you can extend — you don’t have to,” Stone said. “And you can always revisit next summer. We’ll have conversations, we’ll see what makes sense for us, what makes sense for them, and then both sides will end up making whatever decisions we make. But not feeling like it’s a burden or a crushing pressure or anything like that.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston will likely lose its own first-round pick to Oklahoma City, but controls a lottery selection via Brooklyn. Stone acknowledged that the team could explore trade possibilities with that first-rounder, given all the young players already on the roster, per Feigen. “We have to do the evaluation of the whole draft. One rule of thumb is, if you can get a really special player, you get him,” Stone said. “You can’t control the timing so anytime you can do it, you just do it. The flip side is we’re extraordinarily excited about our young guys now. There’s not an obvious source of minutes for anybody coming in. That applies equally well, maybe even more so, to a veteran coming in.”
  • Despite missing the postseason this spring for the first time since 2020, Dillon Brooks has no regrets about his decision to sign a long-term contract with the Rockets as a free agent last summer, according to Feigen (subscription required). “I feel good about my choice,” Brooks said. “I want to grow with these guys. I want to get Houston back where it needs to be.”
  • Another one of the Rockets’ 2023 free agent signees, Jock Landale expressed a similar sentiment to Brooks despite struggling for much of the season and not reclaiming a regular rotation role until March. “It was obviously rough early on. It was just about sticking with it and learning more about myself. No regrets at all,” Landale said, adding that he has made “lifelong friends” in Houston.
  • The NBA didn’t make any sort of announcement regarding Alperen Sengun‘s end-of-season award eligibility, but John Hollinger of The Athletic hears that the Rockets center was listed on the ballots sent out to voters by the league. A potential Most Improved Player candidate, Sengun played in 63 games before suffering a leg injury that ended his season. Based on the language of the 65-game rule, he’s award-eligible if an independent doctor determined the injury would likely sideline him through May 31.

Southwest Notes: Cuban, Doncic, Sengun, Pelicans, Spurs

Confirming prior reporting from Forbes, Marc Stein (Substack link) cites sources who say that Mark Cuban‘s sale agreement with Miriam Adelson and Patrick Dumont stipulates that the Mavericks‘ new majority owners have the option to buy an additional 20% of the franchise in four years.

For the time being, Cuban has retained control of 27% of the team and reportedly still maintains a voice in the personnel decisions, though he’s no longer the final decision-maker. However, if Adelson and Dumont exercise that option a few years from now, the extra shares would come out of Cuban’s stake in the team, reducing his holdings to below 10%.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Luka Doncic likely won’t finish higher than second in MVP voting this season, but the fact that he’s legitimately in the conversation is more important to the Mavericks than him actually winning the award, opines Tim Cato of The Athletic. As Cato explains, this version of Doncic raises Dallas’ ceiling and makes the team a bona fide contender.
  • Alperen Sengun (ankle/knee) won’t return for either of the Rockets‘ final two games of the season, Kelly Iko of The Athletic confirms (via Twitter). Sengun is a candidate for this year’s Most Improved Player award, but because he only appeared in 63 games, an independent doctor would need to rule that his injury is likely to sideline him through at least May 31 in order for him to be eligible for award consideration.
  • Although New Orleans has yet to clinch its playoff spot, the team looks better than it has in years and is on track to win the most games it has in a season since being rebranded as the Pelicans in 2013. James Herbert of CBS Sports checks in on the Pelicans to get a sense of why this year’s team is more dangerous than the one we’ve seen in recent seasons, as well as what the next steps are for the franchise.
  • Victor Wembanyama has been everything the Spurs hoped he’d be in his first year in the NBA and figures to only get better going forward, but will San Antonio be able to build a contender around the young star? Isaac Levy-Rubinett of The Ringer explores that question, considering the players the Spurs already have on their roster, their draft assets, and a potential trade target.

Southwest Notes: Sengun, Wemby, J. Green, Pelicans

Rockets center Alperen Sengun, who has been sidelined since March 10 due to knee and ankle injuries, had hoped to get back on the court in the season’s final week, but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

“I would say (it’s) unlikely,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “Alperen still has swelling. A lot was going to be based on our results and how we finished the season. No need to really rush him back.”

Sengun enjoyed a breakout year for the Rockets this season, averaging 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 32.5 minutes per game across 63 starts. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension as of this July.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Spurs will hold Victor Wembanyama out of action on Wednesday at Oklahoma City in the second end of a back-to-back set due to right ankle management, writes Andrew Lopez of ESPN. San Antonio appears to just be playing it safe with its franchise player as the season winds down, but it means Wembanyama won’t get one more matchup with fellow rookie standout Chet Holmgren. The two big men are virtual locks to be the top two vote-getters for this season’s Rookie of the Year award.
  • Mavericks wing Josh Green has missed the club’s past 12 games due to a sprained right ankle, but he appears to be on the verge of a return. As Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News tweets, Green’s status for Wednesday’s game in Miami has been upgraded to questionable.
  • The Pelicans are getting more comfortable playing small-ball, according to Christian Clark of, who notes that Jonas Valanciunas‘ playing time has declined in recent weeks — the veteran center played a season-low four minutes in Sunday’s win over Phoenix. “It’s something I have been watching and studying and feeling for a long time,” head coach Willie Green said. “We are getting more and more comfortable playing a small unit. We got to continue to rebound. We outrebounded them (on Sunday). When we go small, play fast and open up the floor, it’s harder for teams to load up the paint on us.”

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Okoro, Luka, Sengun, Pelicans

The struggling Cavaliers, who have lost seven of their past 10 games, will be without leading scorer Donovan Mitchell on Sunday vs. the Clippers, according to Chris Fedor of, who tweets that Mitchell is out due to injury management related to his knee.

On the plus side, Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro is on track to return after missing the past four games with a toe injury (Twitter link via Fedor).

At 46-32, the Cavs still hold the No. 3 spot in the East, but they’re only a half-game ahead of both Orlando and New York, so they’re in danger of losing home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • After missing Friday’s win over Golden State, Mavericks star Luka Doncic (right knee soreness) will be back in action on Sunday vs. Houston, the team confirmed (via Twitter). A strong finish in the season’s final week would ensure that the 47-30 Mavs secure a top-six seed in the West — they’re currently at No. 5.
  • Even with the Rockets slipping out of the play-in race, center Alperen Sengun hasn’t given up hope of returning to the court this season, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Sengun, who injured his right ankle and knee on March 10, estimated that he’s about 60% recovered, per Feigen, and has begun “light mobility work,” according to head coach Ime Udoka. He hasn’t been ruled out for the season, but it would be a bit surprising if he returned to just play a game or two after Houston is officially eliminated from postseason contention. “Maybe he gets on the court, but it’s nothing we discussed yet,” Udoka said.
  • Pelicans wing Naji Marshall, who left Friday’s game with a left shoulder contusion, didn’t practice on Saturday and is considered questionable to play in Sunday’s game in Phoenix, tweets Erin Summers of Bally Sports. Zion Williamson (left finger contusion) and Jose Alvarado (right oblique strain) are also listed as questionable, but they both practiced on Saturday.

Southwest Notes: Green, Rockets, Mavs, Kidd, Clarke, V. Williams

Jalen Green‘s in-season turnaround in Houston has been remarkable, according to Mark Deeks of HoopsHype. As Deeks writes, after looking like a potential trade candidate at last month’s deadline, the Rockets guard is now making a legitimate case for a maximum-salary rookie scale extension this offseason.

Green led the Rockets to their 10th straight victory on Wednesday in Oklahoma City, putting up an eye-popping line of 37 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. Houston is now one game back of Golden State for the No. 10 spot in the West and Green is confident the club will finish in the top 10.

“We’re going to get a play-in game,” Green said after Wednesday’s win, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We’re going to keep going.”

Whether or not the Rockets pass the Warriors – or another Western Conference team – in the standings before the end of the regular season, head coach Ime Udoka is pleased that his young squad is getting the opportunity to play meaningful games this late in the year after winning no more than 22 games in each of the previous three seasons.

“I think it’s invaluable for our young guys to go through this,” Udoka said. “And obviously making the playoffs or play-in will be another step, but just going through what they are now and coming on the other side of .500 is huge for them.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Although many of Green’s best performances – and the Rockets‘ recent winning streak – have come since Alperen Sengun went down with ankle and knee injuries, Udoka expressed confidence that the two rising stars will be able to excel alongside one another when both are healthy. “I think that they can complement each other very well,” Udoka said during an appearance on The Matt Thomas Show (Twitter audio link).
  • Within a detailed story exploring the Western Conference playoff race, Sam Amick of The Athletic outlines how the Mavericks‘ play on defense has keyed the team’s recent hot streak, which includes nine wins in 10 games. Amick also cites sources who say that head coach Jason Kidd hopes to sign a contract extension with the franchise this offseason. Kidd is under contract for one more season beyond this one, notes Amick.
  • After a long recovery from an Achilles injury, Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke made his season debut on Wednesday vs. the Lakers. Clarke was effective in his return, with a +15 mark in 21 minutes of action in a 12-point loss. The team intends to take a cautious approach to his playing time in the season’s final weeks, according to Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “We’re definitely going to be smart with his minutes after the long layoff,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We’ll take it week by week. It’s not going to be a game by game thing.”
  • While Clarke is back in action, the Grizzlies still have no recovery timeline for injured shooting guard Vince Williams, who has been out since March 8 due to left patellar tendonitis, tweets Cole.

Rockets Notes: Sengun, Play-In, Landale, Brooks

Rockets center Alperen Sengun‘s breakout campaign was cut short after he suffered a right ankle injury in March, but he firmly established himself as Houston’s star, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Not only is he Houston’s best player, but Iko asserts he may just be the most important as the Rockets continue to transition into a contender.

The talent level is real,” head coach Ime Udoka said. “It’s what you see on film and play against, and he’s taken a step as far as that. Competitiveness and going up against specific matchups right from day one. I think he’s improved defensively across the board, some of the things and challenges we’ve presented him with. He’s not even close to reaching his ceiling and has a ways to go, but he’s had a great year, and his future is bright.

Iko talked to 11 of Sengun’s teammates and all of them spoke highly of the All-Star caliber player.

Just being around him, he’s a good guy,” two-way guard Nate Hinton said. “He wants to win. He plays hard every night and tries to give it his all. That’s one thing I learned about him, going out there and taking the game seriously. Trying to dominate every night. He has a lot of game and can be one of the premier guys in this league if he takes care of his body. Just keep developing, lot of potential. Can also be a potential threat from 3 because he’s always open, they don’t guard him out there. If he hits a couple of those moving forward in his career, it will up his game some more.

We have more from the Rockets:

  • A month ago, the Rockets were out of the postseason picture and Udoka was questioning the team’s focus. At the end of February, Houston was 25-34, lost Sengun and Cam Whitmore due to injuries, and shut down injured forward Tari Eason. But now, as Iko explores in another story, Houston has won seven games in a row, as well as nine of its past 10. The Rockets are playing faster, shooting better and are playing aggressive defense. Now, at 34-35, they’re just 2.5 games out of the play-in tournament. The improved play of the likes of Jalen Green, Amen Thompson and Jock Landale is helping propel the team.
  • Landale’s improvement over the course of the season was on full display in Thursday’s win over the Bulls. As The Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen observes (Twitter link), Landale finished that game with a season-high 14 points and season-high 10 rebounds, along with three blocks. He also matched his career high of five assists. Entering Thursday, Landale had been averaging 6.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in his past 10 games after averaging just 2.2 points and 2.1 rebounds before that.
  • Dillon Brooks and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan were ejected after being involved in a scrum on Thursday, ESPN details. DeRozan came off a screen and hip-checked Green, who was bringing the ball up the court, sending the Rockets guard down in pain. The initial foul by DeRozan was declared a flagrant 2 and Brooks was given a technical for responding and getting physical with DeRozan. After the game, Iko asked Udoka about the number of scuffles Houston’s been involved in this season (Twitter link). “Not a bad thing to have chippy games,” Udoka said. “I don’t mind that part of it at all. If a guy takes a hit, teammates gotta stand up for each other.

Rockets Notes: J. Smith, Offense, Sengun, Whitmore

With Alperen Sengun unavailable for the past three games, the Rockets have opted to use power forward Jabari Smith as their starting center rather than moving Jock Landale or another bench player into that role.

According to Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Houston’s coaching staff has been interested since training camp in taking a longer look at Smith as a small-ball center. Head coach Ime Udoka said that getting the opportunity to use Smith in that role is a silver lining of Sengun’s absence.

“I love his versatility. He can go both ways, as far as upsizing, downsizing, and he’s comfortable in that,” Udoka said of Smith. “There’s advantages in both. Really can take advantage of some of the five men in the league. He’s agile enough, strong enough to defend multiple positions. I like what he does there, the versatility he gives us.”

The early returns on the move have been positive, albeit in a small sample size. The Rockets had a -1.8 net rating with Smith on the floor though their first 64 games — that number has jumped to +14.1 in 92 minutes across the past three games, all wins.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Winners of five consecutive games, the Rockets are refusing to fall out of the hunt for a play-in spot and sit 3.5 games behind the Warriors and Lakers. Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required) takes a look at how the team has thrived as of late by making offensive adjustments necessitated by not having Sengun available.
  • Asked to evaluate Sengun’s third NBA season, Udoka said the Rockets’ center is “not even close to reaching his ceiling,” per ClutchFans (Twitter video link). “His future is bright, basically,” Udoka continued. “All the things that we really challenged him with, he kind of stepped up to the plate there and improved in certain areas. Next steps are the shooting and some consistency things.”
  • Count Paul George among the NBA veterans who are high on Cam Whitmore‘s potential. As ClutchFans relays (via Twitter video), the Rockets rookie was the first player George mentioned in the latest episode of his podcast (YouTube link) when he was asked about players who have had strong under-the-radar seasons. “He’s a player that is going to shake up some things in Houston and can be a star player,” George said. “I saw stardom on both ends. He played hard on both ends. He can shoot it. He can handle. He’s explosive. He was strong. He had a nastiness to him that you don’t really see in a lot of super young guys. He was trying to challenge me (when the Clippers faced the Rockets). He was challenging Kawhi (Leonard).”

Rockets’ Sengun Has Severe Ankle Sprain, Bone Bruise On Knee

MARCH 12: It’s a Grade 3 right ankle sprain for Sengun, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), who confirms that the big man will be out for several weeks and is unlikely to return this season. The bone bruise isn’t considered as serious as shouldn’t take as long as the ankle to heal, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).

MARCH 11: Rockets center Alperen Sengun has a severely sprained ankle and a bone bruise on his right knee, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link).

All things considered, the news isn’t as bad as it could have been. Sengun escaped a major injury to his knee, though he’s likely done for the season. While that hasn’t been officially determined yet, “significant healing” would have to occur for him to be cleared to play before the end of the season, sources tell Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Rockets’ regular season finale is April 14 and they’re 4.5 games behind the Warriors for the final play-in spot in the Western Conference.

Sengun underwent an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the damage.

The breakout star big man was taken off the court in a wheelchair with 39.1 seconds remaining the Rockets’ 112-104 victory over Kings Sunday night. Sengun landed awkwardly after contesting a shot in transition by Domantas Sabonis. He immediately grabbed his right knee in agony and put his hands over his face as he was wheeled off the court.

Sengun is averaging 21.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game in his third season with the Rockets and is a prime candidate for the Most Improved Player award, even though he fell short of the 65-game minimum required for award eligibility. A player who appears in at least 62 games and then suffers a season-ending injury can retain his eligibility if he appeared in at least 85% of his team’s games and is deemed more likely than not to be sidelined through May 31.

Sengun will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.

With the Rockets’ starting center out, Jock Landale, Jeff Green and Boban Marjanovic could all see a jump in playing time.

Southwest Notes: Sengun, Landale, Murphy, Jones

Rockets center Alperen Sengun will undergo an MRI on both his right knee and ankle on Monday, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The breakout star big man was taken off the court in a wheelchair with 39.1 seconds remaining the Rockets’ 112-104 victory over Kings Sunday night, according to ESPN News Services. Sengun landed awkwardly after contesting a shot in transition by Domantas Sabonis. He immediately grabbed his right knee in agony and put his hands over his face as he was wheeled off the court.

Sengun is averaging 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in his third season with the Rockets and is a prime candidate for the Most Improved Player award. He’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Even before Sengun’s injury, Jock Landale‘s role as a Rockets reserve had expanded, Jonahan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Landale has played anywhere from six to 17 minutes over the past six games, including a 9-point, 5-rebound, 4-assist outing against the Kings on Sunday. “He always stayed ready,” coach Ime Udoka said. “I think guys across the board on our team have been great as far as that this year. A big part of it is numbers more than anything. We’ve had a lot of guys play well, and they can’t all play. But they stay ready.” Landale has three years remaining on his contract, but they’re all non-guaranteed.
  • Trey Murphy continued his scoring binge against Atlanta on Sunday, firing in 28 points. The Pelicans wing has scored 20 or more points in five of the last six games. Murphy is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. “I knew he (Murphy) was going to figure it out at some point,” coach Willie Green told Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.“From time to time, I may talk to him. But him and (coach) Corey Brewer have done a great job of refocusing and going out and doing the little things. That’s what it takes sometimes when your shot isn’t falling. Concentrating on winning plays, winning habits. There is a lot you can do to contribute to winning without scoring.”
  • Herbert Jones is a candidate one of the league’s top young defenders but the Pelicans forward won’t campaign for All-Defensive honors, he told Clark. “I have been like this all my life,” Jones said. “I have never really wanted the spotlight on me. Especially because it’s a team game. I don’t do anything alone. I really don’t care to get the credit. As long as the team wins, I’m great.”

Southwest Notes: Sengun, Udoka, Rockets, Doncic, Pelicans

Alperen Sengun‘s breakout 2023/24 season almost didn’t happen, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who looks back at the Rockets‘ pursuit of Brook Lopez during 2023’s free agent period. Sengun would’ve still played an important role in Houston if the club had landed Lopez, but he likely wouldn’t have been in position to post the same type of numbers he has as the Rockets’ unquestioned starting center.

“You know, of course, when you’re hearing that sh-t, you’re getting nervous, of course,” Sengun said of last summer’s Lopez rumors. “You don’t want to lose your spot. But if (Lopez) was coming, I was ready for a fight.”

While Sengun has increased his offensive output significantly (21.3 points and 5.0 assists per game), he’s just as proud as the improvements he has shown defensively. He told Fischer that his focus on defense this season wasn’t a direct result of Houston’s interest in last season’s Defensive Player of the Year runner-up.

“I didn’t understand that as, ‘Brook was gonna come and I needed to (improve on defense).’ I just know I have to do a better job on defense. If you want to win, if you want to be a ‘winning player,’ you have to do everything on the court,” he said. “I mean, Brook Lopez is a really good player. A really good defensive player, you know? But, I mean, he’s a good shot blocker. I don’t think he’s as good one-on-one player (as me).

“We have different physical bodies. Like, he’s so tall. He’s big. He can block all the shots. I know I can’t block all the shots. I know that. I don’t have long arms. I’m not (that) tall. I just need to be where I have to be and just stay vertical. To jump straight up and just make their job harder.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Speaking to Fischer, Sengun also had high praise for head coach Ime Udoka and the rest of the Rockets‘ coaching staff. “Ime’s a perfect coach. He’s the best coach I ever had, probably,” Sengun said. “But not just Ime. Our whole coaching staff is amazing. Everybody’s doing a great job. Everybody wants to win. I’ve never seen a coaching staff like this in my life. And when you see, you understand. They’re tough. They’re talking to us. They’re not scared of anything.”
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic takes a look at the burgeoning relationship between young Rockets guards Jalen Green and Cam Whitmore, noting that the team – which ranks 24th in offensive rating – has an opportunity to experiment with the duo down the stretch now that a play-in spot is all but out of reach. “They complement each other well, being two wings that attack and are aggressive,” Udoka said. “When they’re both rolling on the wings and guarding at a higher clip, we like to see what they’re doing together. Two dynamic scorers, and we’ve taken a look at that.”
  • In leading the Mavericks to a win over Miami on Thursday, Luka Doncic helped the team snap a three-game losing streak and became the first player in NBA history to record 35-point triple-doubles in four straight contests. “You’re seeing something as rare as a Picasso,” head coach Jason Kidd said of his All-NBA guard, while recently acquired forward P.J. Washington called his new teammate’s play “insane,” per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Washington said. “I mean, he’s one of the greatest players I’ve ever seen play and just to be on his team, I think it’s special. So just cherish every moment.”
  • After ranking 27th in Willie Green‘s first season with the team and 15th last season, the Pelicans are up to fifth in the NBA in three-point shooting (38.2%) in 2023/24. As Christian Clark of details, a combination of new additions – including rookie Jordan Hawkins – and internal improvements from players like Herbert Jones have made New Orleans a much more dangerous team from outside.