Jontay Porter

Atlantic Notes: Porter, Porzingis, Thomas, Claxton

A pathway to playing time for Jontay Porter quickly opened up after signing with the Raptors on a two-way contract in December, an opportunity he’s taking advantage of, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Michael Grange. Toronto traded away Precious Achiuwa, and then Jakob Poeltl got injured, resulting in Porter starting five games in a row for the Raptors.

Porter, 24, had a brief stint with the Grizzlies in 2020/21 but had his career set back by numerous knee injuries and hadn’t appeared in a game since May 2021. Now with the Raptors, some of his recent starts have been productive, including going for 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Chicago. He also had nine points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and two steals against Utah.

I’d have to write a book to write down all the things I’ve learned in this short period of time,” Porter said. “Every game, every matchup it seems like when I’m learning something new. A lot of the time it’s from mistakes I’m making, which, you know, it sucks to make mistakes, but at the same time, not having a lot of experience, I’m just happy to be out there. But I’m learning so that hopefully the next game out I can do better, eliminate those mistakes, and help our team win. But for the steady minutes and the steady gameplay, it’s just a blessing, man. And yeah, it’s been a lot of fun to just play basketball.

Head coach Darko Rajakovic isn’t just handing out minutes, Grange writes, and Porter’s playing time will likely continue to fluctuate by virtue of the fact that he’s on a two-way contract. He’s also currently dealing with an eye injury. However, Grange points out that Rajakovic was an assistant in Memphis when Porter played there, and that level of comfortability helped Porter get acclimated.

I like his game,” Rajakovic said. “I think he’s a young player with potential and definitely we want to give him a chance. We’re learning a lot about the team, we’re building a new team over here, so we’re going to give him a really good look, so we know what he’s got to do.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis sprained his ankle and left Boston’s Thursday game against the Heat midway through the third quarter. Porzingis went straight to the locker room and the sprain diagnosis was made minutes later, but according to ESPN, Porzingis said postgame he doesn’t think it’s a big deal. “I just went to contest Bam [Adebayo]‘s shot and just landed on his foot and rolled my ankle,” Porzingis said. “Not too bad. Got me pretty good in the moment. But feeling pretty good now.
  • The Nets have experienced a handful of recent close losses and Cam Thomas is frustrated by the “same exact stuff” that’s plaguing them during this stretch, NetsDaily’s Lucas Kaplan writes. Thomas hasn’t been able to crack Brooklyn’s closing lineup and said his fourth quarter minutes seem to be “random.” Additionally, when asked whether most of Brooklyn’s issues came on offense or defense, Thomas said to “ask the coach.”
  • Nic Claxton squared off against Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns on Thursday as the Nets took on the Wolves, holding his own in the matchup and finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. “I think I’m a great big man,” Claxton said via the New York Post’s Bridget Reilly. “Any time I have a matchup like that, one of the quote unquote top centers in the league, I always take it personal to go out and be the best version of myself. I’m an extremely competitive person. I love basketball and I love to compete so I bring that every single night.

Injury Notes: Zion, Suggs, Harris, Jones, Suns, J. Porter

After being considered a game-time decision leading into Friday’s contest vs. Oklahoma City, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson was later ruled out with a bone contusion in his left foot, the team announced (via Twitter).

Williamson has a history of foot injuries, having missed the entire 2021/22 season with a broken fifth metatarsal on his right foot. Obviously though, this new injury is on the opposite foot, and there’s no indication that it will be a long-term issue — head coach Willie Green said imaging on Williamson’s foot “came back clean,” tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

The former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 21.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG and 4.8 APG in 36 games this season. Friday was his ninth missed game in ’23/24.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Starting Magic guard Jalen Suggs sustained a bruised left knee on Friday and was ruled out for the remainder of the matchup with Memphis, per the team (Twitter link). As a third-year former first-round pick, Suggs will be eligible for a rookie scale extension in the offseason.
  • As Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel tweets, Suggs isn’t the only Magic backcourt member injured at the moment. Veteran guard Gary Harris still isn’t doing contact work yet as he continues to recover from a right calf strain, per head coach Jamahl Mosley. Friday was Harris’ 11th consecutive missed game.
  • Mavericks forward Derrick Jones Jr. was in “tremendous pain” after falling on his left wrist during Friday’s win over Atlanta, according to Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Jones went straight to the locker room and was later ruled out with a left wrist sprain, per the Mavs (Twitter link).
  • Suns center Jusuf Nurkic exited Friday’s loss to Indiana due to left thumb injury and did not return, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. After the game, Nurkic said he jammed his thumb a few times, but X-rays were negative (Twitter link via Rankin). Guard Bradley Beal also exited Friday’s game after being inadvertently hit in the nose by Myles Turner, but he was able to return to the contest, Rankin adds. Head coach Frank Vogel said Beal may have suffered a broken nose, Rankin tweets. Beal said he didn’t feel any concussion symptoms but he couldn’t breathe out of his nose, with blood continuing to be an issue, per Rankin (Twitter link).
  • Raptors two-way big man Jontay Porter had to leave Friday’s game vs. the Clippers due to an eye injury he sustained earlier in the week vs. Memphis, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, who says Porter was cleared by an eye specialist on Friday and he has a follow-up appointment on Saturday (Twitter links).

Atlantic Notes: Knicks’ Second Unit, Brunson, Melton, Porter

The Knicks’ bench, depleted by injuries and the OG Anunoby trade with the Raptors, has the front office seeking a proven scorer to bolster the second unit, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

A report from The Athletic indicated that Quentin Grimes has been made available. The Knicks also have draft assets and Evan Fournier‘s contract to dangle to pursue a starter. They may wind up settling for a less high-profile acquisition like the Pistons’ Alec Burks, who was a favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau before the Knicks traded him, Popper notes.

The Knicks’ home loss to Orlando on Monday, which Jalen Brunson sat out, was due in part to the reserves getting outplayed.

“End of the third, start of the fourth,” Thibodeau said. “I thought their bench came in and hurt us.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Speaking of Brunson, he’s listed as questionable to play against Houston on Wednesday. He has missed the last two games due to a calf injury. Josh Hart (knee) is also listed as questionable, Ian Begley of SNY TV tweets.
  • Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine stress response) sat out against Denver on Tuesday and will also miss at least the next two games, Kyle Neubeck of PHLY Sports tweets. Melton, who has only appeared in two games this month due to back issues, will be reevaluated following this weekend.
  • With Precious Achiuwa getting traded to the Knicks and starting center Jakob Poeltl dealing with an ankle sprain, Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter has received steady playing time this month. He’s averaging 4.6 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 15.3 minutes per game during seven January appearances. Porter has been waiting to seize this opportunity, he told Josh Lewenberg of TSN. “You’ve been dreaming about this for the past three years, to get this opportunity again – wake up and attack the day. A million people would die to be in my position,” he said.

Atlantic Notes: Dolan, Embiid, Sixers, J. Porter

Knicks owner James Dolan has been accused of sexual assault, according to reports from Ben Sisario of The New York Times and Marjorie Hernandez and Selim Algar of The New York Post.

Dolan’s accuser, Kellye Croft, filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday claiming that he pressured her into unwanted sex with him and that he coordinated an encounter with Harvey Weinstein, who allegedly sexually assaulted her. Croft worked as a masseuse on a 2013 tour headlined by The Eagles that also featured Dolan’s band, J.D. and the Straight Shot. The incidents with Dolan and Weinstein are said to have taken place in 2013 and 2014.

One of Dolan’s attorneys issued a statement saying that there is “absolutely no merit” to the allegations: “Kellye Croft and James Dolan had a friendship. Mr. Dolan always believed Ms. Croft to be a good person and is surprised she would agree to these claims. Bottom line, this is not a he said/she said matter and there is compelling evidence to back up our position. We look forward to proving that in court.”

Asked today about the lawsuit, commissioner Adam Silver didn’t have much to tell reporters so soon after the publication of the reports, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. “I saw the article and don’t know anything else about it other than I read the article so we’ll stand by and wait to find out more information,” Silver said.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Sixers star Joel Embiid, who returned on Monday from a three-game injury absence, said he’s not worried about meeting the 65-game requirement to qualify for end-of-season awards such as MVP. “It doesn’t matter how many games I play,” Embiid said (story via ESPN.com). “The goal is to be healthy the rest of the year.” Embiid isn’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s contest vs. Denver, so it appears he’ll square off on the second night of a back-to-back set against fellow MVP Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer takes a look at how Daryl Morey‘s and Nick Nurse‘s time together in Houston laid the groundwork for them to reunite with the Sixers. Nurse tells Mizell that he believes his history with Morey has given him a leg up during his first year in Philadelphia. “Where the relationship enhances what’s happened is the speed at which we can move things along,” the head coach said. “Because we know each other, it’s not this, ‘Where’s this guy coming from?’ six-month process. That part I think has been a big plus.”
  • Jontay Porter didn’t open the season on the Raptors‘ roster, but the two-way big man has appeared in each of the team’s past seven games and earned his first start on Monday vs. Boston. Given how Porter has performed so far in Toronto, he could turn out to be a developmental win at a key position for an organization that has lacked those under-the-radar success stories in recent years, writes Eric Koreen of The Athletic.

Raptors Notes: J. Porter, Quickley, Barrett, Dick, Trent

The trade that sent Precious Achiuwa to New York along with OG Anunoby and Malachi Flynn has left the Raptors somewhat thin in the frontcourt behind Jakob Poeltl, observes Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. As a result, two-way big man Jontay Porter got a chance to play in Wednesday’s victory over Memphis, appearing in an NBA game for the first time since May of 2021.

While Porter missed both of his field goal attempts and had a pair of fouls in his seven minutes of action, he also grabbed three rebounds and looked “poised and smart and comfortable” on defense, writes Grange.

In an in-depth look at Porter’s journey to his current spot on the Raptors’ roster, Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca notes that the former Missouri standout was considering walking away from basketball in 2022 after a series of knee injuries – including multiple ACL and MCL tears – derailed his career. But older brother Michael Porter Jr. helped convince him to stick with it and nearly two years later, Jontay is in position to potentially claim a regular role in Toronto.

“I think he’s a rotational big in this league, if not for injuries that kind of slowed down his development,” said Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic, who also coached Jontay as an assistant with the Grizzlies. “His basketball IQ is very high. He can shoot the ball. He’s a very willing passer as well. I think he’s going to be a really good fit for us — for (the Raptors) 905, but also when opportunities present itself to see him play on the big stage with us as well. I’ve got a ton of respect for him, knowing what he was going through.”

According to Murphy, Porter said he was feeling “a lot of emotions” when he took the court in an NBA game on Wednesday for the first time in nearly 32 months and that his mentality was essentially just “don’t mess up.”

“Hopefully, I get to build on this, but if not, regardless, I’ll take what I learned here and go back to 905 and do my thing there,” he said. “Regardless of what happens, I’m blessed to be in Toronto, and that’s the bottom line.”

Here’s more on the Raptors:

  • New starting point guard Immanuel Quickley continued to impress in his second game as a Raptor, scoring a team-high 26 points in the victory over the Grizzlies. Quickley said after the game that a message from Rajakovic after he missed his first four shots helped kick-start his big night, as Aaron Rose of SI.com relays. “He pulled me aside while the game was going on and said, ‘You’re not having fun. Have fun,'” Quickley said.I’ve never really had a coach do that. He told me that. Then I started skipping.”
  • Veteran guard Cory Joseph, one of seven Canadians who had played for the Raptors prior to this season, tells Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca that he believes RJ Barrett will “flourish” as the eighth member of that group. “He’s going to have some of the best years of his life coming up,” Joseph said. “They were for me. It’s what you dream of as a kid, playing in your hometown.”
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic addresses a wide range of topics in his latest mailbag, including why team president Masai Ujiri‘s job remains very safe despite some roster missteps in recent years and whether it’s too early to be concerned about lottery pick Gradey Dick.
  • Raptors wing Gary Trent Jr. hasn’t missed a game since November 15, but he’s been added to the injury report for Friday’s game in Sacramento due to a left quad contusion, tweets Lewenberg. Trent is listed as questionable to play.

Jontay Porter Signs Two-Way Deal With Raptors

DECEMBER 9: The Raptors have officially signed Porter, the team announced today in a press release.


DECEMBER 8: Free agent big man Jontay Porter is signing a two-way deal with the Raptors, his agents Andy Shiffman and Mark Bartelstein tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Toronto has a two-way opening after waiving Ron Harper Jr., who will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, so no corresponding move will be necessary to sign Porter.

Porter, 24, is the younger brother of Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. Like his brother, Jontay dealt with injury issues early in his career, including a pair of ACL tears. However, he appeared in 32 G League games last season for the Wisconsin Herd, averaging 12.4 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 2.2 BPG in 28.2 MPG, with a shooting line of .390/.341/.667.

The 6’11” forward/center signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Pistons in September in a move designed to give him a bonus for playing for their G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise. He was waived in October, before the ’23/24 season began.

In 10 Showcase Cup games (33.7 MPG) with the Cruise this fall, Porter has averaged 16.8 PPG, 10.7 RPG, 2.7 APG and 2.9 BPG on .456/.273/.667 shooting. He seems likely to spend most of his time with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s NBAGL affiliate.

Porter’s only previous NBA experience came in 2020/21, when he saw limited action in 11 games for the Grizzlies.

Pistons Sign, Waive David Nwaba, Three Others

The Pistons have completed a series of signings ahead of the regular season, announcing today (via Twitter) that wings David Nwaba and Treveon Graham, forward/center Nate Roberts, and forward Ryan Turell all received Exhibit 10 deals from the team.

All four players were later waived, per NBA.com’s transaction log. According to the Pistons (Twitter link), camp invitees Buddy Boeheim, Tosan Evbuomwan, Jontay Porter, and Zavier Simpson were originally cut to make room for the new signees.

Of the four newly signed players, Nwaba has the most NBA experience, having appeared in 237 regular season games from 2017-22 for the Lakers, Bulls, Cavaliers, Nets, and Rockets. He averaged 6.8 points and 3.7 rebounds in 19.3 minutes per game at the NBA level, but didn’t play in the league last season, instead spending most of the season with the Motor City Cruise’s Detroit’s G League affiliate.

Nwaba put up 15.8 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 3.1 APG in 27 games (32.1 MPG) for the Cruise last season and appears likely to rejoin the team in 2022/23. His Exhibit 10 contract will put him in line for a bonus worth up to $75K as long as he spends at least 60 days with the club. Graham, Roberts, Turell, Boeheim, Evbuomwan, Porter, and Simpson figure to be headed to the Cruise as well.

Graham, who will turn 30 next Saturday, has 180 games of NBA experience under his belt, but hasn’t been in the league since the 2019/20 season. The former VCU standout has played in the G League and in the Canadian Elite Basketball League since then.

Roberts and Turrell – who went undrafted in 2022 out of Washington and Yeshiva, respectively – were both role players for Motor City last season. The Cruise still control their returning rights.

Notably, Detroit’s series of roster moves didn’t involve Stanley Umude, a training camp standout who was also on an Exhibit 10 deal. The Pistons still have one open 15-man slot and one open two-way slot — Umude looks like a prime candidate to fill one of those openings.

Pistons Sign Jontay Porter To Exhibit 10 Deal

The Pistons have signed free agent forward/center Jontay Porter to an Exhibit 10 contract, sources tell James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link). Detroit now has a full 21-man offseason roster.

Porter, 23, is the younger brother of Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. Like his brother, Jontay dealt with injury issues early in his career, including a pair of ACL tears. However, he appeared in 32 G League games last season for the Wisconsin Herd, averaging 12.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.2 blocks in 28.2 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .390/.341/.667.

While he got off to a hot start with Milwaukee’s G League affiliate, Porter’s shooting percentages fell off over the course of the season. He made just 35.2% of his shots from the field (28.7% of his three-pointers) in 17 NBAGL regular season games after converting 44.0% (41.1% of his threes) in 15 Showcase Cup appearances.

Although the Pistons only have 14 players on standard guaranteed contracts, Porter seems unlikely to open the regular season in the NBA. The Motor City Cruise, Detroit’s G League affiliate, announced today that they’ve acquired Porter from the Herd, which suggests the Pistons plan to have the former Missouri Tiger join the Cruise as a returning rights player.

Assuming Porter is waived by Detroit, his Exhibit 10 contract will make him eligible to earn a bonus worth up to $75K if he spends at least 60 days with Motor City. His Exhibit 10 deal could also be converted into a two-way contract if he impresses in camp.

Porter’s only previous NBA experience came in 2020/21, when he saw limited action in 11 games for the Grizzlies.

Five G League Players Making Bids For NBA Call-Ups

The NBA G League’s regular season won’t begin for another month, but all 30 NBAGL teams are currently competing in the Showcase Cup, a round-robin event that culminates in a single-elimination tournament at the G League’s Winter Showcase from December 19-22.

We’re only midway through the 16-game Showcase Cup, with each NBAGL team having played between seven and 10 games so far, but a number of standout performers are making their mark.

Some of those top players, like Luka Garza of the Iowa Wolves or Jaden Hardy of the Texas Legends, are already under contract with NBA teams and aren’t free agents. But many of the G League players turning heads are free to sign with any NBA club at any time.

Listed below are five early G League standouts who are making strong cases to be considered for NBA call-ups at some point this season. This is hardly a comprehensive list of the NBAGL’s top performers — it’s a safe bet that many more will receive NBA consideration in the coming days, weeks, or months, especially when the 10-day signing period begins in January. But these five players are worth singling out for their early-season play.

Let’s dive in…


Sharife Cooper, G, Cleveland Charge

A two-way player with the Hawks last season, Cooper accepted a two-way qualifying offer from Atlanta in July, but was waived shortly thereafter and spent training camp with the Cavaliers, becoming an affiliate player for Cleveland.

In 10 games so far for the Charge, Cooper has been one of the G League’s most dynamic offensive players, pouring in 25.3 points per game on .489/.433/.811 shooting while also chipping in 6.2 assists, 3.7 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per night.

Cooper isn’t a consistent defender, but his offensive ability will intrigue NBA evaluators. He’s the G League’s reigning Performer of the Week after posting back-to-back 40-point games on November 15 and 17 and has helped lead the Charge to a 6-4 record.

Carlik Jones, G, Windy City Bulls

Jones, 25 next month, got a brief taste of NBA action last winter as a 10-day hardship signee for the Mavericks and the Nuggets, appearing in five total games for the two teams. After spending training camp with the Bulls, he’s back in the G League this season for the Windy City Bulls, whose 6-2 record places them atop the Central.

Jones has been a major reason for Windy City’s early success, leading the team with 17.5 PPG and 8.1 APG. After struggling to consistently make his three-pointers in his first pro season in 2021/22, the former Louisville standout is hitting 41.9% of his treys so far this season and making 1.6 per game.

Jay Huff, F/C, South Bay Lakers

Huff began the 2021/22 season on a two-way contract with the Lakers and made brief appearances in four NBA games before being waived in January. The 24-year-old is still in the organization at South Bay and has emerged as one of the G League’s most fearsome rim protectors — he has blocked 35 shots in his first eight games this season and comfortably leads the league with 4.4 BPG.

Huff’s impact has gone beyond his shot-blocking ability. He’s also one of South Bay’s go-to scorers, averaging 17.9 PPG on 68.1% shooting; he leads the club with 8.9 RPG; and he has even shown off some play-making ability, averaging 3.1 APG.

If Huff can boost his three-point rate a few points (currently 29.4%), he’ll become an even more appealing target for NBA teams looking to develop a frontcourt prospect.

James Akinjo, G, Westchester Knicks

Although Akinjo earned a spot on the All-Big 12 First Team during his final college season in 2021/22, the Baylor guard struggled mightily with his shot, making just 38.3% attempts from the field and 29.5% from beyond the arc. So it has been encouraging to see him boost those averages to 46.4% and 46.7% in his first seven G League games.

The Westchester Knicks are just 1-6 so far, but Akinjo has been a bright spot, pouring in 19.9 points per night and tying for the G League lead with an impressive 11.1 assists per game.

Jontay Porter, F/C, Wisconsin Herd

The younger brother of Michael Porter Jr., Jontay Porter is a former five-star recruit whose college career was derailed by a pair of ACL tears. He’s still just 23 years old though and has been healthy through the Herd’s first 10 games.

Despite playing just 26.2 minutes per game and primarily coming off the bench, Porter has filled up the box score in Wisconsin, averaging 16.2 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 2.9 APG, and 1.8 BPG while making 3.1 three-pointers per game at a 46.3% rate.

The Grizzlies took a flier on Porter during the 2020/21 season and played him in 11 games — it may be just a matter of time before he earns another shot at the NBA level.

Bucks Sign, Waive Jontay Porter

The Bucks signed free agent forward Jontay Porter and subsequently waived him, Hoops Rumors has learned.

The younger brother of Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Jontay Porter appeared in 11 games for the Grizzlies during the 2020/21 season, averaging 2.0 PPG and 1.3 RPG in 4.9 MPG. He suited up this July for Denver’s Summer League team.

Porter signed a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract with the Bucks and will earn a $50K bonus if he spends at least 60 days with the Wisconsin Herd, Milwaukee’s G League squad. His NBAGL rights weren’t previously held by any team, so the Bucks will be able to retain him as an affiliate player.