Jalen Green

Rockets Rumors: Green, Bridges, Trade Market

Executives around the NBA believe the Rockets are willing to include former No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green in a trade package for a marquee wing, according to reports from Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports and Marc Stein at Substack.

Both reporters mention Mikal Bridges as a top target for the Rockets, with Stein citing a belief around the league that Houston has been open to parting with Green and “an array of first-round picks” in exchange for the Nets forward. However, Brooklyn continues to resist inquiries for Bridges, so those talks didn’t gain any traction, according to Fischer.

When the Rockets conducted head coaching interviews last spring, they asked their candidates their thoughts on which of the team’s younger players the front office should consider including in a deal for a star, league sources tell Fischer. Houston’s group of youngsters includes Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith, Tari Eason, Amen Thompson, and Cam Whitmore.

Fischer’s report doesn’t state that head coach Ime Udoka identified Green as a potential trade chip, but the 21-year-old is the young Rocket whose name has popped up most often in trade rumors as of late.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • While many rival front offices have viewed the Rockets’ willingness to discuss Green as a signal that they’re looking to accelerate their rebuilding process and push for a postseason spot, their acquisition of Steven Adams – who is out for the rest of the season due to a knee injury – suggests they have more patience than advertised, Fischer writes. As Fischer observes, it’s more accurate to classify Houston as “eager to be opportunistic” rather than determined to make a second-half push.
  • The Rockets – like the Knicks and some other teams – were prepared to be players for the next star player that became available this season, sources tell Yahoo Sports, but no player of that magnitude is currently on the market.
  • While Houston remains a team to watch ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, a significant deal appears more likely to occur in the offseason than this week, says Fischer.

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Thunder, Green, Caruso, Bulls

It may be a quiet trade deadline for the defending champions. As Bennett Durando of The Denver Post details, the Nuggets will explore the market in search of frontcourt depth and bench scoring, but their options are limited for a variety of reasons.

For one, the Nuggets are well above the luxury tax line and are just a few million dollars away from their hard cap, which will make it difficult to take on extra salary in a deadline deal. Because Denver’s salary is above the first apron, the team is subject to more restrictive salary-matching rules, further complicating trade negotiations. On top of that, the Nuggets can’t freely trade any future first-round picks, since they’ve already moved first-rounders in 2025, 2027, and 2029.

The Nuggets haven’t ruled out the possibility of a trade, but they’re less likely to make one this season than they were a year ago, when they moved Bones Hyland and landed Thomas Bryant, writes Durando.

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Thunder aren’t expected to make a major splash at the trade deadline, but they could make a smaller move, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Kenny Beecham Podcast. “The one thing they could use is size,” Charania said (hat tip to Rylan Stiles of SI.com). “I have heard that they are a team that will at least look into veteran big-man play.”
  • Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) shares a couple trade rumors within his latest article, citing sources who say that Rockets guard Jalen Green has “generated some trade buzz” and that several playoff teams have expressed interest in Bulls guard Alex Caruso. If Chicago were open to moving Caruso, Lowe wouldn’t be surprised to see him moved for a couple protected first-round picks.
  • While a Zach LaVine trade remains possible, the Bulls haven’t been seriously discussing most of the rest of the players on their roster as trade possibilities, including Caruso, says Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. That could change before the deadline, but there’s a sense that if LaVine stays put, the team’s biggest move may be something around the edges, such as an Andre Drummond deal, Cowley adds.

Rockets Rumors: Bridges, Centers, Tate, Brogdon, Core

Despite a modest 22-24 record that places them 11th in the West, the Rockets are motivated to be buyers on the trade market at next week’s deadline and will be seeking high-level talent, according to Kelly Iko, Shams Charania, and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

As The Athletic’s trio explains, the presence of new head coach Ime Udoka – and his strong influence with the team’s top decision-makers – has contributed to an acceleration of the Rockets’ timeline. Udoka has been frustrated by the team’s “inconsistencies” and is determined to make the postseason, and his level of urgency has helped convince the front office to adjust its expectations for the club and its strategy on the trade market.

The Rockets’ interest in Nets forward Mikal Bridges, reported earlier today by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, is one example of the club’s pursuit of impact players. The Athletic’s reporters confirm that Houston’s level of interest in Bridges is “extremely high,” but echo Scotto in saying that Brooklyn continues to view the 27-year-old as a cornerstone piece and has no interest in moving him.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston also continues to scour the trade market for more frontcourt help, with Kelly Olynyk (Jazz), Clint Capela (Hawks), Andre Drummond (Bulls), and Robert Williams (Trail Blazers) among the big men on the team’s radar, per Iko, Charania, and Amick. Udoka would like to find a center capable of not only manning the position when Alperen Sengun is on the bench but also potentially playing alongside Sengun, like Williams and Al Horford did during Udoka’s time in Boston.
  • While the Rockets will likely look to package draft capital with expiring or pseudo-expiring contracts like those belonging to Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, and Boban Marjanovic, they also view forward Jae’Sean Tate as “movable,” according to The Athletic’s report. League sources tell The Athletic that the Celtics and Suns have shown some level of interest in Tate.
  • A ball-handler who can defend would also be on the Rockets’ wish list, league sources tell The Athletic’s trio, who mention Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon as one player who fits the bill. However, Houston isn’t eager to cut into Cam Whitmore‘s or Amen Thompson‘s minutes, which may affect the club’s aggressiveness in pursuing backcourt help.
  • Whitmore and Thompson are considered off-limits in most trade talks, according to Iko, Charania, and Amick, who say the Rockets aren’t interested in moving Jabari Smith or Tari Eason either. Jalen Green is also in that group of young players Houston would be very reluctant to trade, though The Athletic’s reporters suggest he’s not necessarily viewed as untouchable like he would’ve been a year or two ago, with Sengun having overtaken him as the player prioritized in the Rockets’ schemes. It sounds as if Houston won’t move any of its young core players in a deal for a mere rotation upgrade, but would consider including one in a package for a star.

Southwest Notes: K. Johnson, Smart, Mavs, J. Green

A longtime starter for the Spurs, Keldon Johnson has come off the bench in each of the past three games, and head coach Gregg Popovich expects that to continue for the foreseeable future, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).

As McDonald explains, the thinking is that Johnson can breathe some life into a second unit that hasn’t been as effective as hoped this season. The move will also give starters Devin Vassell and Victor Wembanyama an opportunity to establish more chemistry as they continue working on their two-man game.

Although he had started 230 of his previous 233 games prior to last Saturday, Johnson has no problem with the role change, indicating that he doesn’t need to be sold on it if Popovich believes it’s in the team’s best interest.

“If that’s what we need and that’s what we’re going to try, then that’s what we’re going to do,” Johnson said. “I don’t have an ego about it.”

Johnson’s performances in his first three games off the bench have been up and down, but he’s certainly not getting any fewer offensive opportunities in the new role. After averaging 13.5 field goal attempts in 33.0 minutes per game in his 26 starts, he has launched 15.7 attempts in 28.0 MPG this past week.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Upon returning this week from a left foot sprain that had sidelined him since November 14, Marcus Smart rejoined the Grizzlies‘ starting lineup and has made an immediate impact, notes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. In Smart’s first two games back – a win over New Orleans and loss to Denver – the Grizzlies outscored their opponents by two points in his 52 minutes of action and were outscored by 38 in the 49 minutes he sat.
  • Explaining the decision to sign Brandon Williams to a two-way contract, Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said the team wanted to make sure it still had plenty of point guard depth with Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving both banged up (Twitter link via Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com). While Kidd indicated that Williams would have a chance to play on Thursday with the two star guards out, he was a DNP-CD, as Jaden Hardy (31 minutes) and Seth Curry (30 minutes) played increased roles.
  • After getting a vote of confidence from head coach Ime Udoka earlier in the week, slumping Rockets guard Jalen Green showed signs of progress on Wednesday, scoring 23 points in 26 minutes and making 6-of-12 three-pointers. “He was aggressive, hunting his shots … and getting downhill more aggressively and making the right reads,” Udoka said, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “With their big (Jusuf Nurkic) back, he got some easy ones early on and it snowballed from there. He got aggressive looking for the three. That’s what we want him to do on a nightly basis.”

Southwest Notes: Cuban, Brooks, J. Green, Pelicans

Mark Cuban has clarified his role once the Maverickssale is finalized, confirming that he will continue to handle most of the team’s personnel decisions, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Cuban spoke with reporters tonight after he finished a pre-game shooting session at American Airlines Arena and said he looks forward to working with the Adelson and Dumont families, who will soon have the controlling stake in the team.

“Nothing’s really changed except my bank account,” Cuban said. “I feel really good. I think it’s a great partnership. It’s what the team needed on the court and off. I’ll still be overseeing the basketball side of it, but having a partner like Patrick and Sivan (Dumont) and Miriam (Adelson) and their ability to build and to redevelop the arena and whatever comes next beyond that just puts us in a much better position to compete. That’s all. That’s what it comes down to.”

Cuban confirmed that there’s “no contractual language” in the purchase agreement that outlines his authority, but he has an understanding with the new owners about what he’ll do. He will keep a 27% stake as the Mavericks’ sole minority owner, but admitted that Patrick Dumont, who will serve as the team’s governor, will have “final say” on every decision.

Cuban expects the new owners to focus mainly on business interests, including a long-term plan to build an arena with a resort hotel and casino. He added that the new facility will be located somewhere within the city of Dallas.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets forward Dillon Brooks sat out tonight’s game with a strained oblique he suffered Tuesday and the team doesn’t have a timetable for him to return, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Jae’Sean Tate took Brooks’ place in the starting lineup, Feigen adds, while rookies Amen Thompson and Cam Whitmore both got minutes in the first quarter.
  • After Tuesday’s game, Rockets coach Ime Udoka told reporters that he has “not thought about” moving guard Jalen Green to the bench, according to Michael Shapiro of The Houston Chronicle. Green has struggled in his first season under Udoka, averaging 16.7 PPG while shooting career worsts from the field (39.4%) and three-point range (31.9%). “Obviously, with [Green] playing that way, if he was playing the other way we obviously wouldn’t struggle as much offensively and have to lean on other guys as much or play other guys minutes,” Udoka said. “We’ll continue to keep him confident, continue to [help] him improve in certain areas, and he’ll take a jump eventually.”
  • The Pelicans announced the renewal of naming rights this week for Smoothie King Center, relays Rod Walker of NOLA.com. A statement from the team said the name will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Morant, Nowell, Green, Bassey

Dillon Brooks doesn’t know what kind of reception to expect when he returns to Memphis on Friday, but he’s been looking forward to it ever since he signed with the Rockets this summer, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Brooks’ new team has beaten the Grizzlies twice already, including on Wednesday night, but both games were played in Houston. He knows the atmosphere will be different in front of the fans at FedEx Forum.

“I can’t wait to get back out there playing,” Brooks said. “This has been circled out there on my schedule.”

For six seasons, Brooks was a fiery part of a brash Grizzlies team, clashing with opponents and challenging teammates to raise their intensity level. However, after saying last month that he felt like a “scapegoat” for the team’s playoff loss to the Lakers, he’s not sure how Memphis fans will receive him.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I miss the Forum. I just can’t wait to get out there, shoot on the court and see what it’s all about. We’ll see what happens.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Ja Morant, who may be nearing the end of his suspension, will speak to the media Friday morning, Cole tweets. If commissioner Adam Silver agrees to reinstate Morant after 25 games, he will be eligible to return Tuesday at New Orleans.
  • With the Grizzlies facing a roster crunch ahead of Morant’s return, they’re not likely to keep Jaylen Nowell, whose second 10-day contract expired Wednesday. Nowell called his time with the organization “a blessing,” according to Cole (Twitter link). “They accepted me, and I’m real thankful for that,” he said. “I definitely think that these guys are going to pick it up and be one of the best teams in the West, for sure.”
  • Rockets coach Ime Udoka is proving that he’s willing to bench anyone who isn’t performing up to expectations, notes Kelly Iko of the Athletic. Jalen Green sat out the entire fourth quarter for the second straight game on Wednesday amid a poor shooting night and questionable decision making. “Play harder like the group that was in,” Udoka responded when asked about his advice for Green. “It starts with effort. Continuing the play through it. Learn from those things, but it’s not always a result of what they don’t do. It’s more so the other lineup and what they’re doing.”
  • Spurs teammates say Charles Bassey is in good spirits despite suffering a season-ending ACL tear, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “He is resilient,” Collins said. “He has come back from stuff before. He is a very positive guy. But we are going to miss him.”

Rockets Exercise 2024/25 Options On Green, Sengun, Smith, Eason

OCTOBER 30: The Rockets have officially exercised their options on all four players, the team tweets.

OCTOBER 12: While the decisions won’t be formally announced until the end of the month, the Rockets plan to exercise their 2024/25 team options on Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith and Tari Eason, a person with knowledge of the situation tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required).

The news was expected, as all four players are considered core pieces for the Rockets. The decisions don’t impact any of the players this season, but will guarantee their contracts for ’24/25.

The No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 draft, Green will earn $12,483,048 in 2024/25. Sengun, who was the No. 16 pick of the same draft, will have a $5,424,654 salary in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal. Both players will now be eligible for rookie scale extensions in 2024.

Smith was the No. 2 pick of last year’s draft. He will earn $9,770,880 in ’24/25, his third season, while Eason, the No. 17 pick in 2022, will make $3,695,160. Next October, the Rockets will have to decide whether or not to pick up Smith and Eason’s fourth-year options, though that also seems like a formality.

A 6’4″ guard, Green averaged 22.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG on .416/.338/.786 shooting last season. Sengun, a 6’9″ Turkish center, averaged 14.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.8 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.9 BPG on .553/.333/.715 shooting in ’21/22. Both players are starters, as is Smith. Eason is one of Houston’s main bench players.

Smith, a 6’10” forward, averaged 12.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .408/.307/.786 shooting as rookie in ’21/22. Eason, another forward, averaged 9.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG and 1.2 SPG on .448/.343/.752 shooting last season.

The full list of decisions on 2024/25 rookie scale team options can be found right here.

Southwest Notes: Morant, Spurs, Sochan, Pelicans, J. Green

Baxter Holmes and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com published a lengthy investigative story this week detailing the transformation of Grizzlies guard Ja Morant from a Murray State prospect with “zero” red flags into a player whose worrisome off-court behavior led to multiple sit-downs with the team’s brass and – eventually – to suspensions of eight and 25 games.

While ESPN’s report includes several new details and quotes and is worth checking out in full, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins rejected the idea that it created an “elephant in the room” for his club, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. According to Cole, shortly after ESPN’s article was published, Jenkins met with the team — and separately with Morant.

“I read the article, and I’m not going to comment on anonymous sources,” Jenkins said. “I’m not really going to comment on the past. I’m really just focused on the present right now — the strides he is making, positive strides, and the strides that the team is making. … I want him to know he’s got 100% support from us and his teammates.”

Morant’s teammates were equally dismissive of the ESPN report and expressed their support for the point guard, who will serve his 25-game suspension to begin the 2023/24 season. Big man Xavier Tillman called it “annoying” to have to relitigate Morant’s past behavior, while Desmond Bane said the rest of the team has “got his back.”

“People are bringing up anything they can just for people to have anything to read,” Bane said. “We ain’t worried about that. We with 12.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Spurs‘ starting five for the regular season will consist of Jeremy Sochan, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Victor Wembanyama, and Zach Collins, head coach Gregg Popovich revealed this week (story via Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News). The 6’9″ Sochan will serve as the de facto point guard in the super-sized lineup, though he expects to share the ball-handling duties. “It doesn’t mean I have to control (the offense) or be the main ball-handler,” Sochan said. “Whoever gets the ball can push it and play with a flow instead of playing slow.”
  • Pelicans big men Larry Nance Jr. (ankle) and Cody Zeller (back) took part in contact drills in practice on Thursday, while guard Jose Alvarado (ankle) was a limited participant, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans will be without Naji Marshall and Trey Murphy when the season gets underway, so having Nance, Zeller, and Alvarado available would help bolster the club’s depth.
  • Rockets guard and former No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green sat down with Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link) to discuss what he worked on during the offseason, his thoughts on the addition of free agent point guard Fred VanVleet, and his impressions of several of his new teammates, among other topics.
  • Mavericks wing Josh Green, who injured his back earlier this week, was a full participant in practice on Thursday and doesn’t sound concerned about his availability when the regular season begins next week, as Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News relays (via Twitter).

And-Ones: Dybantsa, Weatherspoon, Breakout Candidates, More

A.J. Dybantsa, a 6’8″ wing from Massachusetts and one of the top high school prospects in the country, intends to reclassify to the 2025 recruiting class, as Jeff Borzello of ESPN.com writes. Dybantsa had previously been the No. 1 player in ESPN’s 2026 recruiting rankings. Now, he becomes the favorite to be selected first overall in the 2026 NBA draft, according to Borzello.

As Borzello explains, Dybantsa, Cooper Flagg, and Cameron Boozer are widely considered the best high school prospects in the country. When ESPN asked 20 college coaches and NBA evaluators to rank the trio this summer, Dybantsa earned seven first-place votes and placed second behind Flagg, who is the frontrunner to be the top pick in the 2025 draft.

“Dybantsa is just the most complete,” one coach told ESPN. “Scores at all three levels. Super athletic. He’s the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft whenever he goes.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the league:

  • Former Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon will be the next head coach of the WNBA’s Chiacgo Sky, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former WNBA star was an assistant in New Orleans for four seasons before the team parted ways with her in June.
  • In John Schuhmann’s general manager poll, two players received more votes than Magic forward Franz Wagner for this season’s top breakout candidate. However, Wagner sits atop the list compiled by Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who spoke to 25 executives around the NBA and has shared the top nine vote-getters. Pistons guard Cade Cunningham and Rockets guard Jalen Green round out Scotto’s top three.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic lists a dozen under-the-radar NBA players whom he expects to have a real impact this season, including Celtics wing Oshae Brissett, Nuggets forward Peyton Watson, Thunder guard Vasilije Micic, and Pelicans forward Naji Marshall.
  • The Capital City Go-Go have traded the returning rights to Isaiah Mucius to the Delaware Blue Coats along with a 2024 first-round pick and 2023 second-round pick in the G League draft. In exchange, the Sixers‘ G League affiliate has sent Michael Foster Jr.‘s returning rights to the Wizards‘ affiliate, the Go-Go announced today (via Twitter).

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Green, Zion, Smart, K. Johnson

Just four-and-a-half minutes into his first game with the Rockets, Dillon Brooks provided a reminder of his occasional tendency to take his defensive tenacity a step too far, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Brooks was ejected from Houston’s preseason opener with 7:27 left in the first quarter after officials determined he struck Pacers center Daniel Theis in the groin.

Speaking to reporters after the game, Brooks – who signed a four-year, $86MM deal with the Rockets in July – suggested his reputation was a factor in the quick hook he received on Tuesday.

“I tried to navigate a screen,” he said. “I might have tapped him below waist. But he got right back up. I don’t know. It’s weird that every time it happens to me, I get picked on. I guess it’s part of reputation.”

Asked if there’s a target on his back due to his past actions, Brooks didn’t dispute the idea.

“I don’t know. What’s my name?” he said, per Feigen. “The name is ‘Dillon the villain,’ so I guess.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Asked about his goals for the 2023/24 season, Rockets guard Jalen Green provided a simple response, according to Feigen (subscription required): “Winning. Winning. Winning. … Winning is very important in the NBA. I haven’t done any of that. It’s time for that to change.”
  • Following a promising offseason in which he invested heavily in his personal training staff, forward Zion Williamson and the Pelicans‘ new-look offense looked good in Tuesday’s opener, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Williamson had 12 points, five rebounds, and five assists in just 15 minutes of action. “You can condition,” head coach Willie Green said. “You can lift. You can do a ton of cardio. But the best basketball shape is to play basketball.”
  • Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins offered a minor update on Tuesday on injured guard Marcus Smart, who has missed the team’s first two preseason games due to ab soreness. “It’s day-to-day. It’s kind of light core work right now,” Jenkins said (Twitter link via Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com). “Just being smart, anticipate a little bit more ramp up as week goes on.”
  • In a conversation with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, Spurs wing Keldon Johnson spoke about his desire to become a better defender, what his role will look like in 2023/24, and his first impressions of Victor Wembanyama.
  • In case you missed it, you can vote on the 2023/24 win totals for all five Southwest teams right here.