Jock Landale

Southwest Rumors: Rockets, George, Pelicans, Grizzlies, Sharpe, Doncic

The Rockets are among the teams with interest in Paul George if he can’t work out an extension with the Clippers this week, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Even though Houston is considered an unlikely destination for George, it’s an indication that the team is engaged in “big game hunting” ahead of the draft and free agency, Scotto adds.

He also hears that Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has been involved in exploratory conversations about dealing the No. 3 pick for a “win-now player upgrade” and possibly moving down in the draft.

For Houston to land George, he would have to exercise his $48.8MM player option for next season and request a trade. The organization has six recent first-round picks on its roster, along with the rights to Brooklyn’s first-rounders over the next three years.

Scotto notes that even if the Rockets don’t acquire George, they have plenty of flexibility for a major move, holding team options on Jeff Green ($8MM) and Jae’Sean Tate ($7.57MM), along with an $8MM non-guaranteed salary for Jock Landale. Houston is expected to hang onto all three of those players through their various option/guarantee deadlines, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required), who also reports that the team is open to re-signing free agent guard Aaron Holiday.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • With Jonas Valanciunas considered likely to leave in free agency, the Pelicans are willing to trade the 21st pick in this year’s draft for center help, sources tell Scotto. Along with New Orleans, NBA executives consider the Grizzlies and Thunder to be possible destinations for Hawks center Clint Capela, Scotto adds. If the Pelicans keep their pick, Scotto sees Baylor center Yves Missi as a potential selection, comparing him to Capela as an athletic big man who should thrive in the pick and roll. Scotto also hears that the organization will target another former head coach for Willie Green’s staff if it loses associate head coach James Borrego.
  • The Grizzlies have renewed their interest in Nets backup center Day’Ron Sharpe after holding talks with Brooklyn at the trade deadline, Scotto states. He adds that Memphis considered making an offer for forward Dorian Finney-Smith before the Nets acquired him at the 2023 deadline. In his aggregate mock draft, Scotto suggests the Grizzlies might take Tennessee shooting specialist Dalton Knecht as a potential replacement for Luke Kennard, who has a $14.8MM team option for next season and is considered a possible trade candidate.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic has joined the Slovenian national team and plans to participate in an Olympic Qualifying Tournament July 2-7 in Greece, according to NBA reporter Marc Stein (Twitter link).

And-Ones: Ball Lawsuit, McCollum, Australia’s Olympic Team

LaMelo Ball and the Hornets are being sued by a North Carolina woman who claims Ball allegedly struck her son with his vehicle during an attempt to obtain Ball’s autograph, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday. The alleged incident occurred in October 2023, when the Hornets hosted a fan event at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte.

A number of fans, including the woman’s 11-year-old son, approached Ball’s vehicle at a traffic light. According to the lawsuit, when the light turned green, Ball drove “in a grossly negligent and reckless manner in that he accelerated his vehicle forward suddenly and without warning and struck” her son, “severely injuring him.” She claimed that Ball then left the scene.

The youngster suffered foot and back injuries due to the incident, according to the lawsuit.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Pelicans’ CJ McCollum was chosen for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award by the Pro Basketball Writers’ Association (Twitter link). The honor is presented annually by the PBWA to a player, coach or athletic trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community. McCollum was honored for his extensive community work in and around New Orleans, with a focus on education, social-justice reform and efforts to provide equitable resources and opportunities for youth.
  • The Australian National Team recently announced a 17-man roster that will take part in the official training camp in late June, before two games against China in Melbourne on July 2 and 4. The roster will then be pared to 12 players for the Paris Olympics. ESPN’s Olgun Uluc breaks down the roster player by player to determine who will make the cut. Josh Giddey, Jock Landale, Josh Green and Dante Exum are among the NBA players Uluc considers locks to make the squad.
  • Kendrick Nunn is thriving overseas but he has not ruled out an NBA return. Get the details here.

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.

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.

And-Ones: Australia, McLemore, York, Jerebko, Calipari, Klutch

The Australian national team has revealed its preliminary roster for the 2024 Olympics, announcing a list of 22 players that are in the mix to play in Paris. That group will have to be cut down to 12 players ahead of this summer’s tournament.

Australia’s preliminary roster includes several NBAers, including Thunder guard Josh Giddey, Mavericks guard Dante Exum, Trail Blazers forward Matisse Thybulle and big man Duop Reath, Mavericks wing Josh Green, Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels, Magic forward Joe Ingles, Heat guard Patty Mills, Rockets center Jock Landale, and Grizzlies forward Jack White.

As Olgun Uluc of ESPN notes, the newest addition to the Boomers’ roster is 19-year-old Johnny Furphy, who played for the Kansas Jayhawks in 2023/24 and is projected by ESPN to be a potential first-round pick in this year’s draft.

The most notable absence is Ben Simmons, as the Nets guard underwent back surgery last month that will sideline him for the Olympics. Simmons doesn’t have much history with the Australian national team, so it’s unclear if he would’ve been part of the Boomers’ roster in Paris even if he’d been healthy.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Ben McLemore was arrested and jailed this week in Oregon and faces multiple felony sexual assault charges, reports Baxter Holmes of ESPN. The charges, which include first-degree rape, stem from an alleged incident in 2021, when McLemore was a member of the Trail Blazers.
  • Former NBA guard Gabe York, who appeared in five games for the Pacers across two seasons from 2021-23, has signed with Basquet Girona, the Spanish team announced this week in a press release. York played for the G League Ignite earlier this season.
  • Following a two-year hiatus from basketball, Swedish forward Jonas Jerebko is making a comeback, having signed with Puerto Rican team Santeros de Aguada, according to Eurohoops. Jerebko, who turned 37 last month, appeared in 635 NBA regular season games for four teams from 2009-19. He last played professionally for CSKA Moscow in 2022.
  • Shams Charania and Kyle Tucker of The Athletic take an in-depth look at John Calipari‘s decision to leave Kentucky for Arkansas after 15 years with the Wildcats, detailing how Calipari’s deal with the Razorbacks came about.
  • One Legacy Sports Management, led by veteran agent Mike George, is becoming part of Klutch Sports, CEO Rich Paul tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Jamal Murray, Dillon Brooks, and Shaedon Sharpe are among George’s clients, per RealGM.

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.

Southwest Notes: Wembanyama, Rockets, Pippen, Bane, Clarke

Spurs rookie phenom Victor Wembanyama looked like he was hitting the so-called “rookie wall” early in February when he posted a 5-of-16 performance and a 15-point, one-rebound game within days of each other, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez writes. However, Wembanyama shut down all talk about any potential slump when he put up a triple-double with blocks against the Raptors just before the All-Star break.

Since then, he’s had one of the finest stretches of his young career, averaging 22.5 points, 11.7 boards, 4.9 assists and 4.9 blocks in his last 11 games. Lopez writes that Wembanyama is focused on ending the season on a high note.

How important is it? It’s the whole point,” Wembanyama said. “Coach said it again tonight in the locker room. It’s our job and this is what we’re here for, to win as soon as possible but also in the long run. So there is no other option.

In the past month, Wembanyama has posted that aforementioned triple-double, recorded a 5×5, and is on pace to lead the league in blocks. Lopez writes his teammates have become used to his absurd stat lines.

There’s still moments where we’re like, ‘Oh, what was that? We ain’t never seen that before.’ But I think overall, we’ve seen so much of what he’s done and what he can become and what he is going to become that it’s kind of normal for us now,” teammate Jeremy Sochan said.We just know he can do way more than he’s doing right now, and what he’s doing right now is unbelievable.

According to Lopez, there are no plans to shut down Wembanyama for the rest of the season even though the Spurs have nothing to play for after being eliminated from postseason contention.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rockets bench players Reggie Bullock, Jock Landale and Jae’Sean Tate are embracing a next-man up mentality after recent injuries to Cam Whitmore and Alperen Sengun, writes Houston Chronicle’s Danielle Lerner. “We talk every day. We just talk about opportunity,” Bullock said of discussions between him, Landale and Tate. “We know that we are the guys that need to be able to step up with guys that’ve been out, and we all got that same mindset of going out and take whatever needs to be done to help the team win.” All three players saw a spike in playing time on Tuesday against San Antonio.
  • After being out since Feb. 12 with an injury, Grizzlies two-way guard Scotty Pippen Jr. returned to the lineup on Wednesday against Charlotte. He scored nine points and 10 assists in his return. As Memphis Commercial Appeal’s Damichael Cole observes (Twitter link), due to the amount of time he missed with injury, the Grizzlies don’t have to worry about Pippen hitting his games played limit per his two-way deal and will likely lean on him moving forward. Pippen was eligible to be active for up to 26 games after signing his two-way on Jan. 16 and the Grizzlies played 27 times since then, so he wouldn’t have been eligible for all of their games anyway.
  • Key Grizzlies players Desmond Bane and Brandon Clarke did some “extensive” work this week with Memphis’ G League affiliate, the Hustle, according to Cole (Twitter link). Clarke is now back to playing five-on-five after suffering an Achilles injury last season. Cole expects Bane to be back within the next couple games and Clarke to be back before the end of the month.

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.”

Western Notes: Wolves, Graham, Suns, VanVleet, Rockets

The Timberwolves‘ front office has been scouring the trade market in the hopes of addressing a couple areas of concern on the bench and better positioning the team for a deep postseason run, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. According to Krawczynski, Minnesota would like to bolster its second unit by adding another ball-handler and/or a scorer or shooter.

Krawczynski confirms a number of previously reported point guard targets for the Wolves, including Tyus Jones and Monte Morris, while also naming Dennis Schröder and Kyle Lowry as a couple more players of interest. Lowry would have to be a buyout target, since Minnesota isn’t in position to match his $29.7MM salary on the trade market.

If the Wolves focus on a scorer rather than a point guard, Alec Burks and Bones Hyland are among the players who could be fits, Krawczynski writes.

Krawczynski doesn’t expect Minnesota to move Kyle Anderson, referring to him as a key part of the team’s defense and an important voice in the locker room. That’s notable, since hanging onto Anderson and their other five highest-paid players (Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Mike Conley, Anthony Edwards, and Naz Reid) would leave the Wolves with no trade chips earning more than $5MM, limiting their ability to salary-match for players earning much beyond the mid-level.

Here are a few more notes and rumors from around the Western Conference:

  • Veteran point guard Devonte’ Graham hasn’t griped about not having a role with the Spurs this season and has enjoyed being in San Antonio, but he acknowledged that he wouldn’t be opposed to a trade if it gives him an opportunity to play more, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “I mean, yeah,” Graham said. “Everybody wants to play.”
  • Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic previews the trade deadline for the Suns, noting that a potential package of Nassir Little and second-round picks hasn’t generated a ton of interest among prospective trade partners.
  • The Rockets will be without starting point guard Fred VanVleet on Tuesday in Indiana, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle, who says VanVleet has been ruled out due to a left adductor strain. That injury often requires a multi-game absence, but Houston hasn’t issued an update on the guard’s status beyond Tuesday.
  • Rockets center Jock Landale and forward Jae’Sean Tate are trying to tune out the trade rumors surrounding them as Thursday’s deadline nears, Feigen writes in another story for The Chronicle. “Whether they choose to trade me or keep me is completely up to them. I signed here to play for (head coach) Ime (Udoka),” Landale said. “I signed here to help the Rockets to get back to their winning ways. It’s not a decision that’s in my power or my control. We’ll see what happens.”

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.