Kevin Porter

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.

Rockets Offering “Several” Second-Rounders To Unload Porter

2:46pm: Houston hopes to either trade or waive Porter prior to training camp, sources tell Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).

2:08pm: Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (Twitter video link) that the Rockets are offering “several second-round draft picks” in an effort to trade Kevin Porter Jr., who was arrested this week on felony charges of assault and strangulation.

According to Charania, Houston is actively discussing potential Porter deals with “multiple teams.” Charania reported yesterday that the Rockets were looking to trade the 23-year-old following his latest alleged off-court incident.

As Charania has pointed out a couple times now, any team considering a move for Porter would have to weigh the negative publicity that would follow, even if the acquiring team never intends for the guard to actually play for the organization.

Porter pleaded not guilty to the assault charges at his arraignment on Tuesday and was ordered to appear in a New York court on October 16. Prosecutors said the attack left his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick, with a fractured vertebra in her neck and a deep cut above her right eye.

Charania suggests the Rockets might be trying to sell rival teams on the fact that if Porter eventually faces a suspension (without pay), a team that acquires him could get financial relief to offset part of his $15.86MM contract for 2023/24, which is fully guaranteed. In that scenario, the suspension may be applied retroactively, since his court case and the league’s investigation into the incident may not be resolved in the near future.

However, that scenario would require an acquiring team to keep Porter on its roster until he’s suspended, which would obviously be extremely unpopular with fans and members of the community. It also assumes that Porter will eventually be suspended, which isn’t certain, even if it seems likely given his history and the severity of the allegations.

Complicating matters further is the fact that Porter’s partially guaranteed salary for 2024/25 has several trigger dates throughout the upcoming season, which means any money a team might save via a suspension would be offset by owing him more money in ’24/25. He’s currently owed $1MM in ’24/25, but that will increase to $3MM on opening night and $6MM if he’s still on a team’s roster five days after the trade deadline.

Even if the Rockets can’t find a trade partner, Charania says Porter’s tenure with Houston — and possibly the NBA — is “most likely” nearing its end.

Rockets Trying To Trade Kevin Porter Jr.

The Rockets are attempting to unload guard Kevin Porter Jr., who was arrested this week on charges of assault and strangulation, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sources tell Charania that Houston has contacted multiple teams about taking on Porter and is offering draft assets as an incentive. The Rockets “are keeping all options open” regarding Porter’s future, according to Charania’s sources, but they would like to use his $15.9MM salary to trade for a player who can help right away.

Charania points out that any team considering a Porter deal would have to weigh the “optics” of acquiring a player who is being charged with two felonies for an assault on his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. It would also have to determine how much draft capital is necessary to take on a player who would presumably be waived right away.

Porter pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment Tuesday and was ordered to appear in a New York court on October 16. Prosecutors said the attack left Gondrezick with a fractured vertebra in her neck, along with other physical damage.

Commissioner Adam Silver called the accusations “horrific” during a press conference on Wednesday, adding that the league’s investigation is being conducted in accordance with its domestic violence policy, which was bargained with the NBPA, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“Every case, though, also depends on its unique facts,” Silver said. “I think here when we’re not in-season there is a little bit more opportunity to absorb what’s happened before we react. I think if it were a case where we were more in the middle of the season, we might be compelled to do something faster.”

Training camps don’t open for nearly three weeks, so there’s not much time pressure for the league to act immediately. Feigen notes that the NBA has typically waited for the legal process run its course in past cases involving criminal allegations, and the most likely outcome appears to be that Porter will be placed on administrative leave until that happens.

The decision on Porter will be up to the league, as the CBA prevents teams from imposing their own fines or suspensions in cases of this type. However, Silver said the league office is communicating with Rockets officials during the investigation.

“Again, I’ve learned over many years of working on these cases not to assume anything here and not just rely on headlines,” Silver said, “but try to truly understand what’s happening here as a combination of what law enforcement has learned and direct interviews. We’re still now in the process of gathering information.”

The timing of any action against Porter could affect his contract, which has a minimum guarantee for 2024/25 that increases from $1MM to $3MM on opening night of the upcoming season. It would rise to $6MM if he’s still on the roster five days after the 2024 trade deadline and become fully guaranteed for $15.86MM on June 30, 2024.

Southwest Notes: Porter Jr., Murphy, Williamson

Kevin Porter Jr.‘s NBA career could be over, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Appearing on the NBA on ESPN show (YouTube video link), Wojnarowski noted that the serious allegations against the Rockets guard, plus his past issues, have put his career in jeopardy.

“There’s no question, Kevin Porter‘s future, not just with the Rockets, but in the NBA, is very much in peril,” he said. “These are extremely serious allegations.”

Porter was arrested in New York City on felony charges involving a domestic incident with his girlfriend. The alleged attack on his girlfriend left her with a fractured neck vertebra and a deep cut above her right eye.

The league could place him on administrative leave until its investigation into the incident is complete.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Sports injury expert Jeff Stotts believes the biggest issue regarding Trey Murphy‘s meniscus tear is the possibility of re-injury in the future, William Guillory of The Athletic writes. The Pelicans wing will now be at an increased risk for future meniscus problems, Stotts told Guillory in a Q&A season discussing the injury and the recovery process. Murphy underwent surgery for a partially torn left meniscus last week with a projected timeline of 10-12 weeks to return to action.
  • Zion Williamson‘s health will be the key to the Pelicans’ season, according to Shaun Powell of The team is built around him and another injury-riddled season could test New Orleans’ patience regarding its current franchise player.
  • In case you missed it, the Spurs waived Cameron Payne on Monday. Get the details here.

Rockets Notes: Brooks, Sengun, Landale, Porter

Dillon Brooks‘ strong World Cup performance for Canada – which earned its first-ever medal at the event – came as no surprise to Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Brooks’ combination of scoring (15.1 PPG), shooting (.588 3PT%), and defense were what Stone was counting on when Houston signed him to a four-year, $86MM contract in July.

“I’m really happy for Dillon,” Stone said. “Largely, he’s the player that we thought we were signing. So, it’s not at all surprising. But it’s great. And more so than any player I can really remember in recent memory, there’s a narrative about him that’s odd and wrong. And I think kind of the whole world over the last week has kind of owned that he’s a really good basketball player.

“The thing he does at a truly elite level, in a funny way is the one thing that every fan and every coach says is the most important thing. Every single day, every single possession, he competes and he’s always ready. And so, it’s kind of funny that that guy, who embodies that ethos, has taken as (much criticism) in the past few months as he has. But I also think … people are going to realize he’s a really good player. And most importantly, he just competes his butt off. Obviously, we really like him. He played like we would expect him to, and we’re really excited to get him back and get him integrated.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Although Turkey wasn’t part of the 2023 World Cup, Turkish center Alperen Sengun suited up for his national team during an Olympic pre-qualifying tournament this summer. The Rockets liked what he saw from the young center at that event, as Feigen relays. “Alpi is on the path we want him to be on. I thought he was moving really, really well,” Stone said. “I thought his decision-making was good. I liked his defensive effort, overall.”
  • Stone said he expects the entire Rockets roster to be healthy for the start of training camp next month, per Feigen (Twitter link). Jock Landale missed the World Cup due to an ankle injury and hasn’t been cleared for 5-on-5 work, but should be soon, per Stone.
  • Prosecutors at Kevin Porter Jr.‘s arraignment in New York City on Tuesday stated that his alleged attack on his girlfriend left her with a fractured neck vertebra and a deep cut above her right eye, according to Michael R. Sisak of The Associated Press. Manhattan’s assistant district attorney Mirah Curzer referred to the incident as a “serious domestic violence case” and indicated that Porter has a history of abusing his girlfriend, former WNBA player Kysre Gondrezick. The Rockets guard, who wasn’t required to enter a plea during Tuesday’s court appearance, was ordered to post $75K in cash or obtain a $100K bond to secure his release.

Latest On Kevin Porter Jr.

Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested in New York City on Monday for assault and strangulation following an alleged incident with his girlfriend. Both charges are felonies, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

While Rockets general manager Rafael Stone previously declined to comment, both the team and the NBA later released statements acknowledging the incident.

We are in the process of gathering information surrounding the matter involving Kevin Porter Jr.,” the Rockets said, per MacMahon. “We have no further comment at this time.”

The NBA’s statement, which was through spokesperson Mike Bass, was quite similar.

The league office is in contact with the Houston Rockets and in the process of gathering more information.”

ESPN’s Bobby Marks doesn’t expect the league to take any discipline against the 23-year-old guard until a full investigation has been completed (Twitter link).

That’s what happened with Hornets forward Miles Bridges, who remained unsigned all of last season following felony domestic abuse charges — he pleaded no contest and later received a 30-game suspension once the league’s investigation concluded. Twenty games of that suspension were applied retroactively, so Bridges will be inactive for the first 10 games of ’23/24.

Bridges’ situation was different than Porter’s because he wasn’t under contract last season — Porter has a guaranteed $15.86MM salary for ’23/24.

As Marks notes, Houston could tell Porter to stay away from the team in the short term. The NBA technically has the power to void his contract as well, Marks adds, though that seems unlikely to occur, particularly in the near future.

The incident will be a tricky one to navigate for the Rockets, because Porter’s extension is uniquely structured due to his prior off-court incidents.

According to Marks, Porter’s $1MM partial guarantee for ’24/25 will increase to $3MM if he isn’t waived by the first day of the upcoming regular season. It will increase from $3MM to $6MM if he isn’t released five days after the trade deadline.

June 30, 2024, is a huge date to watch as far as Porter’s contract goes, per Marks. If he isn’t waived by that date, his full $15.86MM salary for ’24/25 will become guaranteed, as will his identical cap hit for ’25/26. The final year of Porter’s contract, which is a team option, will become guaranteed if he isn’t waived by June 30, 2025.

Rockets’ Kevin Porter Jr. Arrested For Assault, Strangulation

Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested in New York and charged with assault and strangulation, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscriber link).

Police arrived at a hotel at 6:45am Eastern time following a 911 call.

Upon arrival officers were informed that a 26-year-old female sustained a laceration to the right side of her face and was complaining about pain to her neck,” a New York Police Department spokesperson said. “A preliminary investigation on scene determined that a known individual struck her multiple times upon her body and placed his hands around her neck.”

The woman was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.

According to Aaron Katersky of ABC 7 New York, Porter arrived at the Times Square hotel early Monday morning after a night out, and his girlfriend, a former WNBA player, wouldn’t let him into the room because she was upset at the hour of his return. Porter gained access to the room with the help of security and that’s when the alleged assault occurred, police sources tell Katersky.

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone declined to comment on the incident, according to Feigen.

Porter was considered one of the top prospects in his draft class, but he fell to 30th overall in 2019 in part due to off-court concerns — he was suspended indefinitely during a portion of his lone college season at USC for personal conduct issues. During his rookie season with Cleveland, he was suspended for a game for making improper conduct with an official.

During the 2020 offseason, Porter was arrested for improper handling of a firearm following a car accident. He opened 2020/21 on the inactive list due to the gun charge, which was later dropped.

In January 2021, Porter had a locker room outburst, which caused the Cavaliers to publicly say they would either trade or waive him. The Rockets basically got him for nothing in return — they gave up a heavily protected second-round pick.

The following January, Porter was suspended by Houston for a game following a verbal altercation with then-assistant coach John Lucas. The 23-year-old reportedly threw an object in the locker room and left the arena before the game ended.

Porter is undeniably talented — he averaged 19.2 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals on .442/.366/.784 shooting in 59 games (34.3 minutes) last season. However, it’s pretty clear that the Rockets aren’t entirely sold on him being a centerpiece of their future.

For example, Porter signed a four-year, $63.4MM+ rookie scale extension with Houston last October, but only his 2023/24 salary ($15.86MM) is guaranteed. He has a $1MM partial guarantee for ’24/25, followed by a non-guaranteed salary in ’25/26 and a non-guaranteed team option in ’26/27, the final year of the deal.

The Rockets also drafted guard Amen Thompson fourth overall a few months ago and gave Fred VanVleet a three-year, maximum-salary contract in free agency (the third year is a team option), so Porter’s role will likely be reduced this season — assuming he remains on the team following his latest off-court incident.

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

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

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

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

There’s more from Houston:

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

Rockets Notes: No. 4 Pick, Thompson, Porter, Harden

The Rockets will listen to trade offers for their No. 4 pick and they expect a lot of interest around the league, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Houston is hoping for a turnaround next season after spending three straight years in the league’s bottom three, and Iko indicates that the Rockets’ front office would have considered dealing the pick with any lottery outcome short of landing No. 1 and the chance to draft Victor Wembanyama.

“We’ve been looking at this draft for three years,” general manager Rafael Stone said after the lottery results were announced. “This is a really good draft. Very confident that there are uber-talented players that will be available.”

General counsel Clay Allen, who represented the team in the lottery room for the third straight year, admitted being more nervous this time because a potential franchise player like Wembanyama was at stake. According to Iko, Allen mostly sat in silence after the results were official and he realized that the French big man had gone to the division-rival Spurs.

“Severe disappointment,” Allen said. “This is my third year here. We’ve gotten the second and third picks in the past. I was really hoping we were going to be No. 1. … You can’t affect this at all, but you don’t want to let people down.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • Overtime Elite star Amen Thompson is aware that he’s listed fourth in many mock drafts, and he told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he would be excited to come to Houston if that’s how the draft plays out. Thompson has a meeting scheduled with the Rockets at the NBA Draft Combine on Thursday after holding sessions with the Magic and Trail Blazers on Wednesday. He listed several aspects of his game that he believes can help a team right away. “Getting to the cup, getting in the paint, facilitating, defense — that’s already ready,” Thompson said. “The shot’s going to come. Everything’s going to come. I’m not a finished product yet.”
  • Kevin Porter Jr. spoke to players at the combine on Wednesday at the invitation of the NBPA, Feigen adds in another Chronicle story. Porter also sat with Stone and new Rockets coach Ime Udoka as they watched one of the scrimmages.
  • In a separate piece, Feigen examines the risks and rewards of a potential reunion with James Harden. A report earlier today stated that Harden will turn down his $35.6MM player option for next season in hopes of signing a long-term contract.

Rockets Notes: Udoka, Green, Smith, Porter

At his introductory press conference as the Rockets‘ new head coach, Ime Udoka publicly addressed the events in Boston for the first time since his suspension was announced last fall, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Without revealing many specifics of the incident, Udoka admitted that he made a mistake and said he hopes the experience will ultimately make him a better coach.

“Really, that time off and really a full understanding of how many people you impact with a poor decision, that starts with ownership and accountability,” he said. “I preach that to players. I take responsibility for my part in it. I took leadership and sensitivity training and some counseling with my son to help him improve the situation I put him in. You can grow from adversity — and I think I’ve done that this year — if you … take the right steps.”

Owner Tilman Fertitta said the Rockets received approval from the commissioner’s office before hiring Udoka, who received a four-year, $28.5MM contract. After three years of rebuilding, the organization was eager to add a coach with a proven track record.

“The NBA told me that they felt very comfortable with Ime becoming the coach of the Houston Rockets,” Fertitta said. “That felt good to me after a lengthy conversation. We’re a forgiving society, and everybody makes mistakes.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Udoka should have an immediate influence on the Rockets’ young talent, states Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Weiss expects Udoka to help Jalen Green learn how to slow down his game and play under control, and he envisions Jabari Smith Jr. developing into an exceptional defender in the role that Robert Williams plays in Boston. Weiss points to Kevin Porter Jr. as someone who could either improve under Udoka’s guidance or wind up being shipped to another team.
  • With their coaching hire out of the way, the Rockets will turn toward maximizing the roughly $60MM in cap space they’ll have this summer, Feigen adds in another Chronicle article. According to Feigen, the organization is still committed to the core pieces of its rebuilding process — Green and Smith, along with Tari Eason and Alperen Sengun — but Udoka talked about the need for a “different” type of big man. The front office will also prioritize shooting and hopes to add some veterans to an inexperienced roster.
  • Fertitta revealed that the Rockets plan to build a new $70MM practice facility, Feigen states in a separate story. It’s expected to be completed for the 2024/25 season.