Jalen Green

Rockets Notes: Brooks, Jeff Green, Jalen Green, Porter

Canadian national team head coach Jordi Fernandez was impressed by the professionalism Dillon Brooks showed during the World Cup, writes Ben DuBose of Rockets Wire. Before signing with Houston this summer, Brooks wore out his welcome in Memphis with his abrasive tactics and questionable shot selection, but Fernandez told Toni Canyameras from Mundo Deportivo that he didn’t see any of that with Team Canada.

“(He’s) excellent,” Fernandez said. “He is nothing more than a normal person who comes in and is very professional. He takes good care of himself (and does) all the work to be 100% ready to play. His work in the gym, the things he does on his own — he is a superb professional.

“Inside the locker room, he connects with his teammates, everyone respects him. He is like the rest of the group, he is nothing out of this world. He is one of the best competitors I have ever seen, and on the entire court, not only defensively, where he has superpowers, but he’s shown offensively that he can not only score but also be efficient with the quality of the shots.”

The Rockets are counting on having that version of Brooks after giving him $86MM over four years. They’re hoping he can help establish an identity on defense, where Houston has been among the league’s worst teams during its three years of rebuilding.

There’s more from Houston:

  • There are incentives in the new contracts for Brooks and fellow free agent addition Jeff Green, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Brooks will receive $1MM if the Rockets reach the first round of the playoffs, while Green can earn $1.6MM by playing in at least 55 games and averaging 19 minutes per night. Green’s bonuses are considered likely, Marks adds, based on what he did in Denver last season.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner singled out Jalen Green during a recent appearance on Tidal League’s “Run Your Race” podcast, according to a tweet from ClutchFans. Addressing the trend of young players getting overhyped on social media because of their “cutesy handles,” Turner said Green is different. “The one kid who I will say who had a lot of that hype, and I’m actually really impressed with how he’s handling it, is Jalen Green,” Turner stated. “Jalen Green came (into the league) with a LOT of that hype, bro, even before he got to the Ignite with that social media stuff. Watching him develop into the player he is right now … I have to give him a shout out. It’s actually really impressive.”
  • Attorneys for Kevin Porter Jr. are asking the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to drop second-degree assault charges after determining that he didn’t break his girlfriend’s neck during last week’s attack, per Priscilla DeGregory of The New York Post. Documents showed that Kysre Gondrezick‘s fractured vertebra was the result of a congenital defect, according to his defense team. Porter still faces a second-degree strangulation charge, which carries a maximum of seven years in prison, along with a third-degree assault charge.

Southwest Notes: VanVleet, Green, Reaves, Pelicans

Rockets fans shouldn’t expect Fred VanVleet‘s production to match up with the three-year, $128MM+ contract he received in free agency, Eric Koreen of The Athletic states during a discussion with fellow Athletic writer Kelly Iko.

VanVleet’s salary is based on the amount of money the Rockets had to spend and a late bidding war with the Raptors, who were trying to keep him. Although Koreen expects VanVleet to help move the Rockets in the right direction, he adds that the veteran point guard won’t become the number one option in clutch situations.

Houston’s disorganization over the past three seasons began with the lack of a true point guard, which is why there was a desire to add VanVleet. Koreen points out that he averaged 3.54 assists per turnover last season, which ranked third in the league. VanVleet should create better scoring opportunities for his young teammates while avoiding costly turnovers that have plagued the Rockets during their rebuilding process.

Koreen also expects VanVleet to make a difference as a team leader. New coach Ime Udoka doesn’t mind challenging players directly, so VanVleet won’t have to do that. Koreen sees his role as a “translator” who can help make sure that Udoka’s harsh messages are received constructively.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets officials are happy with the commitment they’ve seen from Jalen Green this summer, team sources tell Iko in a separate story. Green trained extensively with other NBA players in California, and Udoka was often in attendance. Green was reportedly “stronger, fitter and most importantly, smarter” when he showed up in Las Vegas to be part of the Select Team.
  • The Spurs considered two potential offers for Lakers guard Austin Reaves in free agency, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. San Antonio pondered a maximum contract that would have paid Reaves about $100MM over four years and a shorter arrangement valued at $60MM over three years. The Spurs and everyone else were eventually dissuaded by L.A.’s insistence that it would match any offer given to Reaves.
  • The Pelicans are offering fans a chance at cash prizes if the team wins the first-ever in-season tournament, writes Christian Clark of NOLA. One hundred fans would split a $1MM cash prize, giving them $10,000 each. To be eligible, fans must purchase a mobile ticket and attend at least one tournament game in New Orleans.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Green, Spurs’ Arena, Pelicans

Ja Morant‘s father used his son as a warning in a speech to basketball campers on Saturday, writes Elaine Sung of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Speaking at the Up Next Elite Camp in New Orleans, Tee Morant said Ja’s troubles are a result of his poor judgment.

“My son didn’t get in trouble ‘cause of people around him,” Tee Morant said. “He got in trouble for his decisions.”  

The Grizzlies guard has been suspended for the first 25 games of the upcoming season because of a second incident in which he was displaying a gun in public. The missed time will prevent him from being considered for postseason awards under the NBA’s new guidelines and will cost him more than $7MM in salary. His first offense resulted in an eight-game suspension last season.

“Anytime, anywhere, know the capabilities of everybody around you,” Tee Morant told the camp participants. “Always be mindful of every decision you all make. Because pretty much, it will take over you, consume you, and make you think who you’re not.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets guard Jalen Green saw a lot of time as the primary ball-handler with the Select Team in Las Vegas, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko adds that Green’s speed and explosiveness stood out even on a talented roster, and Magic coach Jamahl Mosley, who guided the Select Team, believes he will benefit from the on-ball experience. “I think coach Ime (Udoka)’s going to do a fantastic job communicating that with him,” Mosley said. “And I think in a leader that you have in Fred (VanVleet), that’s going to help a ton because when he plays off the basketball — back screening, moving and cutting — once he gets that ball in his hands, you’re not playing against closeouts. I think that’s going to work to his advantage a ton.”
  • Greg Jefferson of The San Antonio Express-News has uncovered emails and texts involving an effort by some city officials to get the Spurs to move to a downtown arena. Jefferson states that the attempt was inspired by the team’s 50th anniversary game in January, which set an NBA record by attracting 68,000 fans to the Alamodome, its former arena. Winning the lottery and drafting Victor Wembanyama intensified the enthusiasm to bring the Spurs back downtown, but Jefferson notes that no one informed officials from Bexar County, which owns the Frost Bank Center (previously the AT&T Center), where the Spurs currently play.
  • After missing the playoffs last season, the Pelicans have just 12 nationally televised games for 2023/24, their lowest total in the past five years, notes Christian Clark of NOLA.

Rockets Notes: Green, Stone, Sengun, Smith

Jalen Green made a positive impression during his time scrimmaging against Team USA in Las Vegas, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Green helped the Select Team pick up an early victory in the competitions, and Grant Hill, managing director of USA Basketball, liked what he saw from the Rockets‘ young guard.

“He played well,” Hill said. “He was one of the few guys that I had not seen in person. I obviously had seen him in highlights and on videos, even going back to high school. He’s dynamic. He’s explosive. He’s very confident.”

Green has experienced individual success during his first two NBA seasons, averaging 17.3 and 22.1 points per game, but the rebuilding Rockets have been among the NBA’s worst teams. Houston aggressively upgraded its roster this summer, and Hill sees a brighter future for Green and the organization.

“He’s had a couple of seasons to really understand what the NBA is, and that’s important,” Hill said. “I like the moves the Rockets made this offseason bringing in veteran guys, guys who have been around the league, guys who have had success — Fred (VanVleet) has been a champion — but can still play. You bring in coach (Ime) Udoka, who brings in a level of accountability and teaching. All of that, for a guy like Jalen, is a great chance for him to really grow. I think he’s ready and that team is ready to take a step this season.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • NBA teams don’t have full control over whether their players take part in international competitions, but Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is happy to see so many of his players involved, Feigen adds. Australia’s Jock Landale and Canada’s Dillon Brooks will both participate in the FIBA World Cup. “If we were in a position to have more control, it would be a very player-by-player thing,” Stone said. “This summer, I’m really happy for our guys. They’re at points in their careers the additional reps are very valuable. … I can see where teams have concerns. In our case this summer, we’re comfortable, and we’re encouraging those guys not just to play but to play great and come back as better players.”
  • Another Rockets player getting international experience is center Alperen Sengun, who is on Turkey’s roster for an Olympics pre-qualifying tournament that begins Saturday, per Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops. The Turkish team will face Bulgaria, Iceland and Ukraine.
  • A survey conducted by Kelly Iko of The Athletic finds that fans are optimistic about the Rockets’ chances to improve and are expecting a breakout season from Jabari Smith Jr.

Southwest Notes: G. Williams, Pelicans, Green, Morant

In an appearance on J.J. Redick’s “The Old Man and the Three” podcast, Grant Williams talked about the thrill of teaming up with Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (hat tip to Eurohoops). Williams, who was acquired from the Celtics in a sign-and-trade, is looking forward to the easy scoring opportunities that Doncic can create for him.

“Whenever you are open, he is going to find you,” Williams said. “I am excited just because he brings so much pressure and attention to himself. He does a good job of getting others involved. His growth and his next step is understanding that as much as that happens he also has to power others to play their games as well.”

Williams is part of a revamped roster in Dallas, which is hoping to bounce back after missing the playoffs last season. He will restore a defensive presence that the Mavs lacked after trading for Kyrie Irving in February, while Doncic and Irving will be counted on to power the offense.

“Kyrie has been in this league long enough that he knows how to make a tough shot and also get off the ball,” Williams told Redick. “And Luka does a good job of seeing the full court from the beginning.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The upcoming season will provide a good test of whether the Pelicans are willing to pay the luxury tax, writes Christian Clark of NOLA. New Orleans is currently about $3MM over the tax line after moving E.J. Liddell from a two-way contract to a standard roster spot. If the Pelicans remain at that figure when the tax is calculated after the end of the regular season, they will pay a $4.4MM penalty and won’t be able to share in the leaguewide distribution for non-taxpaying teams. New Orleans and 20 other clubs each received $17.3MM this summer. Sources told Clark that they believe owner Gayle Benson will eventually be willing to pay the tax, but they’re skeptical that she’ll do it this season with the Pelicans coming off a non-playoff year.
  • New Rockets head coach Ime Udoka wants to see Jalen Green start to build “winning habits,” per Michael Shapiro of The Houston Chronicle. Green has put up impressive scoring numbers in his first two seasons, but Udoka has instructed him to improve other aspects of his game. “The one thing we have stressed to him is being an all-around player,” Udoka said. “He is a natural scorer. But he has to do it on each side of the ball. He is a guy who can get anywhere on the court.”
  • Davonte Pack, a close friend of Grizzlies star Ja Morant, was arrested this week for misdemeanor assault stemming from a pick-up basketball game at Morant’s house last summer, according to Baxter Holmes of ESPN. Morant and others are involved in a civil lawsuit for allegedly striking a teenager during the game.

Thunder’s Williams, Holmgren Among Players Joining USA Select Team

Jalen Williams and Chet Holmgren of the Thunder and Jalen Green of the Rockets are among the young players joining the USA Select Team ahead of the upcoming FIBA World Cup, league sources tell Shams Charania and Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Those three players will be eligible to travel with Team USA to the Philippines and could potentially be added to the 12-man national team roster in the event of an injury, per The Athletic.

Williams, Holmgren and Green will be joined by Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Kings forward Keegan Murray for Team USA’s training camp in a couple of weeks, where they will practice and scrimmage against the main roster, according to Charania and Vardon. As many as 12 players could end up being named to the Select Team.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported (via Twitter) that Cunningham would attend the training camp. The 2021 No. 1 overall pick was actually offered a spot on the senior team’s roster, according to Wojnarowski, but decided to forgo the opportunity in order to focus on the 2023/24 season. Cunningham was limited to 12 games last season due to a shin injury which required surgery.

Williams, the runner-up for the ’22/23 Rookie of the Year award, is coming off a stellar first season with OKC, averaging 14.1 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 3.3 APG and 1.4 SPG on .521/.356/.812 shooting in 75 games (30.3 MPG). Holmgren, the No. 2 overall pick last year, missed the entire season due to foot surgery, but he’s healthy again and recently played during Las Vegas Summer League.

Green, the No. 2 overall pick in 2021, averaged 22.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG on .416/.338/.786 shooting in 76 games (34.2 MPG) for Houston last season. Murray was the fourth pick of last year’s draft. The former Iowa product averaged 12.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG while shooting 41.1% from three-point range during his All-Rookie First Team campaign.

The Americans will start training camp for the World Cup on August 3 in Las Vegas, with their first game scheduled later that month in the Philippines.

Southwest Notes: G. Williams, Curry, Zion, Green

Grant Williams is excited about his new start with the Mavericks, but he didn’t enjoy the process that got him there, writes Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. As a restricted free agent, he had to wait for offers while many of his peers got their new contracts right away. The sign-and-trade that sent Williams from Boston to Dallas didn’t become official until Wednesday.

“Very difficult. Restricted free agency is terrible,” Williams said. “Unrestricted, you have a good understanding of where you want to go, but restricted, you’re pretty much in a waiting game. You want to make sure you understand what the offers are, but also understand that teams might match or a team might be asking for more than another team is willing to give. It’s definitely an interesting process. I still think free agency is a little bit fun, but also a little bit nerve-wracking.”

Williams has been spending the last few days meeting his new coaches and teammates and getting an idea of what they expect from him this season. He’s close to getting the splint off his left hand after having surgery in June for a torn ligament.

“It’s going great,” he said of his recovery. “I should be out of it (the protective splint) in four days, five days. So pretty much back to the court and moving from then on.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Seth Curry‘s new contract with the Mavericks is non-guaranteed in the second season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Dallas used its mid-level exception to sign Curry, who will have cap hits of $4MM in each season, instead of its $4.5MM bi-annual exception as originally anticipated, adds Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype (Twitter link). That leaves the Mavs with the bi-annual exception still intact and $5.4MM of their MLE remaining, according to Gozlan.
  • Zion Williamson‘s statements about accountability during a recent podcast appearance with Gilbert Arenas are an encouraging sign for the Pelicans, observes Rod Walker of NOLA. He notes that Williamson is only 23 and still has time to establish himself as a reliable player.
  • Jalen Green has been through a lot of losing during his first two years with the Rockets, but he believes the team is headed for a turnaround after its offseason moves, writes Michael Shapiro of The Houston Chronicle. Houston started the offseason with a coaching change, landed two projected lottery players in the draft and then upgraded its defense and experience with a series of moves in free agency. “I’m excited about what’s going to happen with us,” Green said. “We got Ime (Udoka), we got a whole bunch of vets, we got young talent. The sky’s the limit right now.” 

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Kyrie, Bane, Rockets, Liddell

Victor Wembanyama‘s Summer League experience is over after just two games, the Spurs confirmed on Monday (story via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press). Wembanyama had an up-and-down debut on Friday, making just 2-of-13 shots from the floor, but showed on Sunday why he’s considered the best prospect to enter the NBA in years, racking up 27 points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks in 27 minutes of action vs. Portland.

As Reynolds writes, shutting down Wembanyama at this point will give the Spurs an opportunity to evaluate other young players during the club’s remaining games in Vegas. It will also give the No. 1 overall pick a much-needed break — his season in France didn’t end until June, and he has had a demanding schedule of media obligations since arriving stateside last month.

“In the past month, I think basketball wasn’t even 50% of my schedule,” Wembanyama said on Sunday. “I can’t stand it. I know it’s a special moment in my life, but I’m glad it’s over. Honestly. I just want to hoop. I just want to work out, lift because this is my life. Obviously, every first pick is going to go through this. And it just makes me better for the future.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Kyrie Irving‘s new three-year, $120MM+ contract with the Mavericks features a 15% trade kicker, per Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). There’s also a 15% trade kicker in Desmond Bane‘s five-year, $197MM+ extension with the Grizzlies, Hoops Rumors has learned.
  • New Houston forward Dillon Brooks sees similarities between his new team and his old one, suggesting that the Rockets are where the Grizzlies were a few years ago, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link). “I feel like it’s almost the exact same team,” Brooks said. “Three, four years ago, we had almost the same type of players. Jalen Green (is) like Ja Morant. Jabari (Smith) is like Jaren (Jackson Jr.). Young guys that can expand their game to be among the best or the best in the league. I feel like those two guys are almost the same type of deal.”
  • After missing his entire rookie season due to an ACL tear, E.J. Liddell was thrilled to get a promotion from his two-way deal to the Pelicans‘ standard roster, as he tells William Guillory of The Athletic. “They told me how happy they were about my approach during the recovery process, and that meant everything to me,” said Liddell, whom New Orleans signed using a small slice of the mid-level exception. “I’m just going to keep embracing this opportunity. Keep showing up and doing what I’ve got to do everyday. I’ve just got to keep being me, and it’s great to know they appreciate me for being me. It means the world.”

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Free Agency, Brooks, Thompson

Fred VanVleet was one of the biggest winners in free agency, landing a max contract to join the Rockets as their new on-court leader, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The veteran point guard said Houston officials have assured him that he won’t have to change anything about his game.

“They don’t want me to be anybody but myself,” VanVleet said. “And I know people are crazy about the number, but the league is growing every year and that number won’t be that number in a few years. So I know it’s a shock factor with the narrative that I have around me as an undrafted guy, but I’m going to work every day to make sure I prove every penny.”

VanVleet worked out this week with his new backcourt partner, Jalen Green, and he’s in Las Vegas to watch more of his young teammates in Summer League action. He’s looking forward to a fresh start after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Raptors.

“I owed my whole NBA career to them, but I think it was just time for a change of scenery,” VanVleet said. “I’m just really excited about being with a new group and trying to lead these guys the best I can.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • General manager Rafael Stone was looking for players with “an edge” when he went shopping with more than $60MM in cap space, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston was among the NBA’s worst defensive teams during its three years of rebuilding, so Stone was determined to find players who are willing to compete on that end of the court. In addition to VanVleet, he landed Jeff Green, Jock Landale and Aaron Holiday in free agency, along with Dillon Brooks in a five-team sign-and-trade deal that was finalized Saturday night. “First, they’re really good basketball players who have won a lot of games and not by accident,” Stone said. “We really wanted to add veteran players who still fit our timeline and knew how to win. And we think we accomplished that.”
  • In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Brooks said he’s looking forward to bringing his influence to a young team that needs to learn how to win. “I can’t wait to work with Tari (Eason),” Brooks said. “I feel like he can be a great player in this NBA — especially a great defender — and grow his game, his athleticism and everything.”
  • Amen Thompson‘s Summer League debut provided more evidence that the Rockets made the right pick at No. 4, Iko adds in a separate story. Before leaving with an ankle injury, the 6’7″ point guard produced 16 points, four rebounds, five assists, four blocks and three steals in 28 minutes and showed he knows how to attack a defense that’s daring him to shoot from the outside.

Rockets Notes: Free Agency, Green, Lopez, Whitmore, Tate

The Rockets were the most active team on the free agent market this weekend — signing four players and jettisoning a significant amount of their young talent — but their future will still be built around the core they put together in the last three drafts, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

The big-money additions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks, along with smaller deals for Jock Landale and Jeff Green, are designed to complement Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Amen Thompson, according to Feigen. Kevin Porter Jr. should also be considered part of that group, Feigen adds, as he remains in the team’s long-term plans along with Tari Eason and Cam Whitmore.

All the new additions will have clear roles alongside those players, Feigen notes. VanVleet will run the offense for a team that often seemed disorganized during its three years of rebuilding. He also improves the defense with his ability to get steals and deflections and has shown that he can be effective while playing off the ball. Brooks will be the team’s best perimeter defender, while Landale and Green will back up Sengun and Smith.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Green’s new $6MM contract is small enough to be absorbed with the team’s $7.7MM room exception before the Brooks trade is completed, Feigen adds. However, he says the more likely scenario is that the team will keep the exception open and use it, along with roughly $4.5MM in remaining cap space, to see if it can sign anyone else.
  • The Rockets are surveying the market to find guard depth with the money they have left, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko states that a veteran who can handle either backcourt position would be ideal for the current roster.
  • Iko cites “genuine internal disappointment” among Rockets officials when center Brook Lopez opted to remain in Milwaukee instead of taking their offer, which was reported to be around $40MM for two years. Having Landale and Green on the roster instead of Lopez makes Sengun the clear starting center and should help with his development, Iko notes.
  • The roster additions mean the Rockets can afford to be patient with rookie Cam Whitmore, with Iko suggesting that the 20th overall pick could see some time in the G League.
  • Teams have asked about swingman Jae’Sean Tate during the offseason, but the Rockets still appear to view him as an important part of their future, Iko tweets.