Jeff Green

Rockets Rumors: No. 3 Pick, Mitchell, Tate, Green, Landale, Beasley

Prior to the draft lottery, a report indicated that the Rockets were interested in trading their 2024 first-rounder for future draft assets. That’s still a possibility, but after moving up from No. 9 to No. 3 on lottery day, Houston has a more valuable asset on its hands and will consider all potential paths with that pick, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Team and league sources tell Iko that a handful of clubs have already expressed interest in the Rockets’ No. 3 overall selection, either in a trade-up scenario or by trading into the first round altogether. Houston is open to the idea of moving back and acquiring extra assets, Iko notes, though at the draft combine, the club was doing its homework on potential top-five picks. Team officials spoke to prospects like Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle, Reed Sheppard, and Matas Buzelis, according to Iko, who hears from a source that Buzelis’ interview, in particular, was “excellent.”

Including that No. 3 pick in a trade package for an impact player is another avenue the Rockets figure to explore, and league sources tell Iko that Houston is among the teams with interest in Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, having monitored his situation for the last several months. Mitchell wouldn’t be available if he ends up signing an extension to remain in Cleveland, but if he’s on the trade block, the All-NBA guard would be a more “suitable” target for the Rockets than players like Brandon Ingram or Mikal Bridges, opines Iko.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Confirming a report from The Houston Chronicle, Iko says the Rockets have interest in the future Suns draft picks controlled by the Nets. Houston, which controls a handful of Brooklyn’s draft assets, is expected to reengage the Nets in trade talks prior to next month’s draft, team sources tell Iko.
  • According to Iko, “all signs point toward” the Rockets exercising their team options on Jae’Sean Tate ($7.07MM) and Jeff Green ($9.6MM) for 2024/25. That’s somewhat surprising, given that Tate’s role declined significantly last season and Green would be extremely unlikely to match his option salary as a free agent. But those expiring contracts for Tate and Green would perhaps have some value as salary-matching pieces in a trade. For what it’s worth, Houston could pick up Green’s option and then waive him by July 11 to avoid being on the hook for his ’24/25 salary.
  • Iko also suggests that the Rockets may retain Jock Landale, whose $8MM salary for 2024/25 is non-guaranteed until June 29. Landale played better in the second half of his first season in Houston, especially after Alperen Sengun went down, but he’s another player who wouldn’t be a bargain on his current deal and might have more value as a trade chip. He has non-guaranteed $8MM salaries for ’25/26 and ’26/27 too, so his contract could be treated as an expiring deal. If they hang onto Tate, Green, and Landale on their current contracts, the Rockets would still have plenty of breathing room below the projected luxury tax line, with access to the full mid-level exception.
  • Houston’s front office recognizes that outside shooting and floor spacing are areas of need this summer and has some interest in Bucks sharpshooter Malik Beasley, according to Iko, who hears from sources that Beasley is also generating early interest from the Magic and the Warriors.

Trade Rumors: Tate, Mavs, Rockets, Suns, Porter, Raptors

The Mavericks and Rockets spoke recently about Houston forward Jae’Sean Tate, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic. However, league sources tell Iko that Dallas only offered a pair of second-round picks and Houston insisted on three, so the two sides didn’t reach a deal.

As Iko writes, if they do trade Tate, the Rockets would prefer to get a player who could contribute right away, but there was a belief that they could potentially reroute those second-round picks to land that sort of player.

With the trade deadline just over two hours away, the Rockets remain in the market for shooting help and a backup center, Iko reports. Houston traded for Steven Adams last week, but he’s out for the season, so the team wouldn’t mind acquiring a big man who could help in the short term.

Here a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • According to Iko, the Rockets have received some inquiries on guard Aaron Holiday and forward Jeff Green, but won’t be looking to dump those players for minor returns, since they’ve established roles and have good relationships with head coach Ime Udoka.
  • Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link) has heard veteran wing Otto Porter mentioned as a possible fallback trade option for the Suns. Toronto agreed to trade Porter to Utah earlier today, but there’s no guarantee the Jazz will keep him. Phoenix has no interest in Bulls center Andre Drummond, however, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7.
  • A league source tells Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link) that there has been “not a peep” on Raptors trade candidates Bruce Brown, Chris Boucher, and Gary Trent Jr. so far today. However, it remains possible that will change in the next couple hours.

Rockets GM Stone Talks Strong Start, VanVleet, Green, Holiday, More

After winning no more than 22 games in a season for three straight years from 2020-23, the Rockets are off to a 13-11 start in 2023/24, and while they’re currently outside of the top eight in the Western Conference, they’re within three games of the No. 3 seed.

General manager Rafael Stone is happy with what he has seen from the team so far, but he’s certainly not celebrating the results of the first two months of the season, as he tells Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

“December is not the right period of time to measure how good any team is,” Stone said. “We feel good about the progress we’ve made to date, but it’s just too early to tell where exactly we are. We’re a quarter of the way through the season, not at the end of the season.

“… I think we’re happy with where the group has been to date. But again, the challenge is to make sure that we’re not complacent and that we keep improving because we do need to improve in all facets of the game.”

Stone praised the progress that young Rockets players like Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith, and Tari Eason have made so far this fall, especially on the defensive end, and lauded the work the coaching staff has done to maximize the players’ strengths.

Stone’s conversation with Iko also covers many more topics and is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber, but here are a few highlights:

On his early impressions of major offseason addition Fred VanVleet:

“With Fred, we had all heard good things. But again, I take all that with a grain of salt. And so one thing that’s been nice is not only has he lived up to kind of those expectations, but he’s exceeded them. He’s just a great guy off the court. He’s been great for our group. He’s willing to talk and able to talk and communicate, but he’s mostly a quiet guy. What’s awesome about him is that he says everything that absolutely needs to be said. He provides a voice every time we need a voice. A nice guy who’s incredibly tough, tough-minded, physically tough. We’ve been really happy with Fred.”

On the impact of under-the-radar free agent signings Jeff Green and Aaron Holiday:

“Well, both of those guys are guys that we’ve liked for a long time. We were lucky that they were free agents at a time when we could play in free agency. And so yeah, they’ve done well and I’m happy for that. Jeff’s a super veteran player, but Aaron’s been around for a while, too. So they both have come in and done exactly what we thought they would do. And we thought that with our current mix, they fit well. And it’s been nice that through a quarter season that’s been the way it’s played out.”

On whether the Rockets will continue to aggressively pursue roster upgrades leading up to the trade deadline:

“We like our current group. We like the way they are playing on the court, we like the way they’re interacting. We think there’s a lot of room for improvement just in the guys we have playing better and getting better. So by no means, this year at least, are we aggressively hunting a particular deal or series of deals.

“Having said that, it’s kind of my job to talk to everybody and to hear what other teams are trying to do and see if there are things that make sense for both parties. And we’ll make sure we make every phone call and run out every ground ball. At least right now, we need a better sense of exactly where our team is before we start thinking, ‘Oh, we need to add this.’ We’ll have a better sense, honestly, a game from now, right? Like every game gives us critical information.

“I think it’s too early to predict how active we will or will not be at the trade deadline or in the days in between. But we are not feeling any need to do something, per se. We like where this group is and mostly we want there to be internal improvement.”

Northwest Notes: George, Yurtseven, Kessler, Brown, Green

The early part of the season has been a struggle for the Jazz as they battle through stints of inconsistency, according to The Athletic’s Tony Jones. Still, there have been some bright spots, the biggest of which is finding their starting point guard of the future in rookie Keyonte George, Jones writes.

George is running the floor with confidence and his efforts helped the Jazz earn back-to-back wins over the Pelicans on Saturday and Monday, as he put up a combined 34 points and eight assists over that stretch. George is averaging 11.8 points and 6.3 assists to 2.4 turnovers in the 10 games since becoming Utah’s full-time starter.

Other highlights from that two-game stretch for the Jazz include players like Simone Fontecchio, Omer Yurtseven and Talen Horton-Tucker stepping up.

The best thing for me watching us is that we felt like a team,” head coach Will Hardy said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Yurtseven and Walker Kessler, the latter of whom moved to the bench with the former starting, were key factors in the Jazz‘s back-to-back wins, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Players and coaches on the team agreed that Yurtseven’s strength allows the Jazz to be more physical with traditional centers, per Walden. “Those two guys are giving us a big presence on both sides of the ball,” Hardy said. “… Having a couple of traditional bigs has definitely helped us the last two games.
  • Timberwolves guard Troy Brown was mostly out of the rotation to begin the year, but began earning minutes after Jaden McDaniels went down with an ankle injury. Now, Brown is playing late into games and impressing with his performance, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Brown scored 17 points in a win over the Thunder on Tuesday and is averaging 11.0 points per game and hitting 46.2% of his threes since receiving an uptick in play time. “At this point, that’s the NBA. You can literally go from being sixth man to not in the rotation,” Brown said. “It’s just based off what the team needs at the time. To me, I’ve had my ups and downs in the career. Just being in different positions and learning how to deal with all that mentally has helped me a lot. Now I just try to be as happy as I can and bring energy to my teammates and stay ready.
  • As the Nuggets sort through their bench rotation, it’s clear they miss forward Jeff Green, writes The Denver Post’s Bennett Durando. “I wish Jeff was still wearing a Nuggets uniform,” head coach Michael Malone said. Green broke down his decision to join the Rockets this offseason, leaving the Nuggets he spent two seasons and one championship run with. “It’s very hard [to leave], especially when you do what we did last year,” Green said. “You create a bond, and that’s something that’s forever. And the relationships that were built last year off the journey that we had, it’s tough to kind of deter away from that. But at the end of the day, it’s a business.

Southwest Notes: Jones, Doncic, Green, Giddey, VanVleet

Herbert Jones made an immediate impact after returning from a three-game absence due to a right fibula contusion. Jones sparked the Pelicans on a defensive end as they avenged a loss to the Mavericks two days earlier. Two days after Luka Doncic dropped 30 points on New Orleans, Jones held the Mavs star to 16 points in the Pelicans’ 131-110 win.

Doncic gave high praise to the Pelicans swingman after the game, Rod Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes. “He’s just a great defender,” Doncic said. “You could see his impact today when he wasn’t there for the first game (Sunday). I really admire that guy.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Speaking of Doncic, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the in-season tournament court at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, he told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, outside all of the colors the court today was really bad,” the Mavericks star said. “It was really slippery. And then some places the ball didn’t really bounce. So you know, if we’re going to have these courts we’ve got to make sure that it’s a stable court, so you can play on it. Like in Dallas, you know? It wasn’t stable, so we had to change it.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green‘s minutes have fluctuated in his first nine games with the Rockets, but he has been more than just a veteran voice in the locker room, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Head coach Ime Udoka lauded Green for his versatility, noting that he has been a good fit as a small-ball five in certain lineups.
  • The Spurs’ No. 1 goal this offseason should be to bring in a lead ball-hander, Kelly Iko of The Athletic opines. A scout that Iko interviewed indicated that the Thunder’s Josh Giddey could be a future target, though there’s no indication Giddey will be available in the short term. Within the same mailbag, Iko gives the Rockets high praise for their Fred VanVleet addition in free agency. VanVleet has improved the club at both ends of the floor, empowered their young players and displayed his leadership skills, Iko notes.

Western Notes: McDaniels, Kleber, Prince, J. Green, Grizzlies

Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels is dealing with a minor left calf strain and hasn’t been able to practice this week, sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Krawcyznski, McDaniels won’t be available for Saturday’s preseason game vs. New York, and the expectation is that he’ll be reevaluated in a week-and-a-half.

That puts McDaniels’ availability for the regular season opener on October 25 in potential jeopardy. It’s also possible the 23-year-old will have signed a new contract extension by the time he sees the floor again. The deadline for rookie scale extensions is Oct. 23, and McDaniels is among the prime remaining candidates to receive one.

Here are a few more items from around the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber has missed at least 22 games in each of the last three seasons, including 45 in 2022/23. The focus this offseason for Kleber, who didn’t play for Germany during the World Cup, was ensuring that he felt 100% entering the NBA season. “I wanted to make sure I was healthy,” Kleber said, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “That was obviously not the case last year and it was very frustrating when you can’t be out there with the team. So the goal (in the summer) was to progressively increase the workouts to be ready for the long NBA season.”
  • Lakers head coach Darvin Ham isn’t committing to Taurean Prince as his fifth starter to open the season, but the veteran forward has started the team’s last three preseason games – including twice alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, and Austin Reaves – and scored 17 points in 20 minutes vs. Golden State on Friday. “You can just throw him on the floor,” Ham said of Prince, according to Khobi Price of The Orange County Register. “He’s a pro’s pro. He’s the quintessential three-and-D guy. His scrappiness. His activity. His communication with his teammates trying to keep everybody focused on that side of the ball. As well as a guy who doesn’t have to force anything. He knows his spots. He knows where to be. He can finish in the paint, make threes obviously. But just the consummate professional.”
  • Jeff Green‘s playing career could’ve ended prematurely when he underwent open-heart surgery in 2012, but the Rockets forward is now the NBA’s ninth-oldest player and says he’s trying to “enjoy the little things” as he enters his 17th season, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). “I’m really appreciative of all the things that I’ve been through to get to this point,” Green said. “I could have ended at year five. And here I am, going into year 17 and able to still play this game that I love.”
  • Memphis finished last season third in the NBA in defensive rating. New Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart sees no reason why the team can’t finish first in that category this season, as Teresa M. Walker of The Associated Press details.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Collins, Milton, Division Preview

After winning the 2023 NBA Championship, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic made headlines throughout the summer by expressing his desire to go back home and then later partying in his hometown of Sombor, Serbia. ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk took a look back at “the summer of Jokic” and explored the center’s approach to the offseason.

Nuggets team president and governor Josh Kroenke didn’t text Jokic like normal this summer, Youngmisuk writes, instead allowing the two-time MVP to refresh.

We all kind of left him alone,” Kroenke said. “For him to get away from basketball, be with his family and reconnect with who he is fundamentally is only going to be a benefit for the Nuggets and for basketball because he comes back fresh.”

Jokic claimed he only touched a basketball “a couple of times” this summer, but did stick to a routine he’s used through the past three years, which resulted in two MVPs and a championship, Youngmisuk details. Head coach Michael Malone noted the time of seemed to benefit Jokic mentally and when teammate Aaron Gordon came to visit during the summer, he was impressed by the depth of Jokic’s routine, according to Youngmisuk.

He’s the best player in the world,” Gordon said. “He works out like a monster. … His regimen, his diet and how detail-oriented he is with his body, is second to none.

Youngmisuk notes Jokic has been more vocal in practices and team settings, displaying a new type of confidence as he and the team aim for a second straight title.

He’s only 28,” Gordon said. “So he’s going to get even smarter at manipulating the defense [and] offense. … I don’t see anybody stopping him. They still haven’t found the answer for him yet.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz traded for forward John Collins this offseason after he had a productive six seasons with Atlanta, averaging 15.8 points and 8.0 rebounds. However, both Collins and Utah’s coaching staff understand getting the 6’9″ forward acclimated in a new system might take some time, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “I have to adapt to a bunch of things that I wasn’t used to doing in Atlanta, and that’s part of the game, and I’m embracing it because it’s a new chapter for me and it also allows my game to grow,” Collins said.
  • Eight players in the Timberwolves‘ likely rotation for their first regular season game on October 25 were on the team at the end of last season, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes. However, Wolves head coach Chris Finch said he’d like to ideally play a nine-player rotation, and Hine believes free-agent addition Shake Milton is likely to be that ninth player. Minnesota signed Milton to a two-year, $10MM deal after the guard averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists across his first five NBA seasons in Philadelphia.
  • The Northwest Division hosts the defending champion Nuggets, but also one of the few rebuilding teams in the league in the Trail Blazers. Tony Jones, Jason Quick and Josh Robbins of The Athletic preview the division which features rising stars like the Jazz‘s Walker Kessler and the TimberwolvesAnthony Edwards. The trio is bullish on the Thunder‘s Chet Holmgren, with Jones saying Oklahoma City getting him back from injury is the best offseason “addition” in the division. Meanwhile, Quick and Robbins believe Denver losing Bruce Brown and Jeff Green are the moves with the biggest potential to backfire. I recommend checking out the article in full, if you’re an Athletic subscriber, to get a solid picture for the division next season.

Rockets Notes: VanVleet, Brooks, Eason, Green, Bullock

The addition of Fred VanVleet provides a major upgrade as the Rockets try to move up the standings after three years of rebuilding, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic says in a discussion with Kelly Iko about the team’s prospects. Vecenie notes that VanVleet will be a reliable leader for Houston, which gave about 2,000 backcourt minutes last season to Daishen Nix, TyTy Washington and Josh Christopher.

The Rockets had been using Kevin Porter Jr., who is away from the team due to assault charges, as their point guard even though it’s not his natural position. Vecenie expects improvement just from having a true leader on the court, even though he views VanVleet as the league’s 12th- to 15-best point guard.

Vecenie adds that VanVleet’s shooting was down last season, but it was notably better after the Raptors traded for Jakob Poeltl to give them an effective screener. VanVleet can hit threes, make the right decisions on offense and challenge opponents on defense, and Vecenie notes that those are all areas where the team needed to improve.

There’s more from Houston:

  • Vecenie also likes the addition of Dillon Brooks, but believes his four-year contract might be “a bit aggressive” because of the potential of Tari Eason. Vecenie says Eason was “phenomenal” at Summer League, and there’s a chance that he’ll be better than Brooks by the end of the season. Vecenie observes that Eason provides the same type of high-energy defense as Brooks, but without the questionable shot selection that can bog down offenses. At 40.2%, Brooks had the fourth-worst effective field goal percentage in the league last season.
  • Coach Ime Udoka talked about the need for Brooks to play under control after he was ejected early in Tuesday’s preseason opener (video link). “You have to learn to control your emotions and stay in the game, Udoka said. “You can’t get yourself taken out in the first quarter.” Brooks said his reputation was responsible for the ejection, but referees determined that his low blow to Pacers center Daniel Theis was intentional.
  • Free agent additions Jeff Green and Reggie Bullock are expected to make their debuts with the Rockets on Thursday night in New Orleans, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Green signed with Houston this summer to be a veteran leader after winning a title in Denver last season, while Bullock was added last week for outside shooting help after the Spurs waived him.

Rockets Notes: Green, Harden, VanVleet, Veterans

In an interesting article for ESPN, Zach Lowe details why Jalen Green could be the key for the Rockets to turn the corner in 2023/24 and beyond.

Green, 21, had impressive counting stats in his second season, averaging 22.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG and 3.7 APG in 76 games (34.2 MPG). However, as Lowe notes, the former No. 2 overall pick struggled at times with scoring efficiency (.416/.338/.786 shooting), decision-making (2.6 turnovers per game) and defense.

According to Lowe, Green has shown he can make all the pick-and-roll passes necessary to manipulate defenses, but has been inconsistent with actually executing them. Lackadaisical play on both ends has also been an issue, but the team believes it can be corrected.

This is a huge year for him,” GM Rafael Stone told ESPN. “It’s on him to really put together all the things he’s worked on. You see individual games where he’s locked in — whether it’s on-ball defense, help-side defense, making the right reads in the pick-and-roll. And then there are other games where he just kind of let go of the rope. He’s a bucket. It’s about all the little things.”

Green will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Houston wants to lean into Green’s play-making, which is one reason why the team went after Fred VanVleet — who is adept at playing both on and off the ball — instead of James Harden in free agency, Lowe writes in the same story. “Nothing against James,” head coach Ime Udoka told ESPN, “but Fred is just a better fit. I coached James in Brooklyn. He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever been around. The words ‘Ime doesn’t want James’ never came out of my mouth. It was, ‘Let’s look at the best fit.’ If we want Jalen and the young guys to take the next steps, we need them to have the ball. As for me saying I don’t want James, that was never the case. It was about fit.”
  • VanVleet has made an immediate impact on Houston with his leadership and savvy two-way play, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. “I’m more of a booster, a confidence giver, energy giver with all of these guys — especially Jabari (Smith),” VanVleet said. “Keep boosting and instilling that confidence because when guys go out there and play free, you’ll get the best version of them.”
  • VanVleet isn’t the only veteran the Rockets added in free agency this summer, with Dillon Brooks and Jeff Green also in the fold. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link) writes, their experience and skill should help a young team going forward. “First and foremost, I would say experience,” Green said of what he will bring. “Being in every type of situation possible, winning the championship last year, going to the playoffs multiple years, I bring the experience itself and teaching these young guys what it takes to be a true professional. The winning aspect, what it takes, the everyday grind, them seeing it, I think it will help in the long run.”

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.