Otto Porter

Northwest Notes: Porter, Hayward, Biyombo, Billups, Nuggets

The Jazz have allowed Otto Porter to return home to contemplate where he wants to finish the season, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. The team is willing to negotiate a buyout with Porter, Jones adds, but it will have to be completed by March 1 to make him eligible for the playoffs with another organization.

Porter hasn’t played since being acquired from Toronto two weeks ago, even though Jones’ sources say he is completely healthy. Utah is committed to giving more minutes to rookie forward Taylor Hendricks, according to Jones, which is why the front office is open to a buyout.

Jones notes that Porter was in uniform last Thursday for the final game before the All-Star break, even though he wasn’t used. He only played 15 games for the Raptors this season before the deal, but Jones points out that Porter had an important role in Golden State’s 2022 championship and could draw attention from several contenders if he hits the open market.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Gordon Hayward expects to be ready to make his Thunder debut when the season resumes Thursday night, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The veteran forward, who hasn’t played since December 26 because of a calf injury, appreciated having extra time to prepare after Oklahoma City acquired him from Charlotte at the trade deadline. “The nice thing about when I got traded was I’ve had another week and a half, because of the break, to continue to get work in,” Hayward said. “I was here for most of the break.” 
  • Coach Mark Daigneault sees newly signed center Bismack Biyombo as a “situational player” for the Thunder, per Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder. “That was something we were honest about upfront [with Biyombo],” Daigneault said. “… He is a great professional, very serious competitor, and I think he will help the environment in that way.” 
  • Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups had his arm in a sling at Wednesday’s practice after undergoing surgery this week to fix a long-standing problem with his right wrist, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. The issue involves a ligament tear that Billups suffered as a player in 2009.
  • Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports looks at three issues that will define the closing part of the Nuggets‘ season: how hard they’ll pursue the No. 1 seed, whether coach Michael Malone will consider expanding his rotation, and how effective Christian Braun and Peyton Watson can continue to be.

Pacific Notes: Suns’ Buyout Options, Durant, Booker, Harden, LeBron, Curry

The Suns have numerous options on the buyout market, but their preferred targets may not be available, writes Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports. Phoenix had two roster spots open after an active trade deadline, and one of those will be filled by Thaddeus Young, who is expected to finalize his reported deal with the team early this week, according to Bourguet.

The Suns are looking for help in several areas, and one of their top priorities was reportedly Delon Wright, who is expected to sign with Miami. Sources tell Bourguet that Phoenix also considered Danilo Gallinari, but he was crossed off the list after the agreement with Young and wound up signing with Milwaukee. Bourguet also cites mutual interest in a reunion with Bismack Biyombo before he reached a deal with Oklahoma City.

Bourguet identifies ideal targets as Spurs forward Cedi Osman and Jazz forward Otto Porter, who hasn’t played since being acquired from Toronto at the deadline. However, there hasn’t been a strong indication that either player will reach a buyout before the March 1 deadline to be eligible for the postseason with a new team. If they aren’t available, Bourguet looks at Danuel House as a potential signing, along with the possibility that Saben Lee could be promoted from his two-way contract.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns stars Kevin Durant and Devin Booker both talked Saturday about the connection they’ve formed after a full year as teammates, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “We have the same likes in life,” Booker said. “We’re hoops junkies and that’s where it started. Now we spend a lot more time together, man. We like to kick it, chill. Talk basketball and play video games.”
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue believes the early-season trade for James Harden relaxed the burden on Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, enabling both stars to stay healthier, according to Janis Carr of The Orange County Register.“(Having Harden) makes it a lot easier on Kawhi and PG not to have to handle and make every play for themselves and for our team,” Lue said. “So, James has been great, just keeps everybody happy … takes a lot of grind off of PG and Kawhi.”
  • In the wake of a report that the Warriors contacted the Lakers about LeBron James before the deadline, Bruce Jenkins of The San Francisco Chronicle looks at what would have to happen if James and Stephen Curry decide they want to join forces with Golden State.

Jazz Notes: Frustration, Markkanen, Hendricks, George, Porter

Following the Jazz‘s 129-107 loss to Golden State on Monday, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that the team’s locker room was as frustrated as he’d seen it following a regular season game. As Larsen explains, Utah players weren’t just upset about the loss but by the trade-deadline deals that sent out three rotation players (Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, and Simone Fontecchio) and returned none.

Asked prior to the 2023/24 season about Lauri Markkanen‘s desire to make the playoffs, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said the front office shared that desire and was on board with it, Larsen notes. But with the team in a play-in position in the West entering last Thursday’s deadline, Ainge essentially sold off players for draft picks, leaving the remaining players feeling as if “they were sold a bill of goods,” Larsen writes.

Jazz general manager Justin Zanik explained the front office’s thinking in a post-deadline press conference last week, essentially saying that the goal is to build a roster capable of legitimate contention in the long term rather than focusing on sneaking into the play-in tournament in the short term.

“All of us want to win,” Zanik said, per Tony Jones of The Athletic, pointing out that Utah hasn’t won more than a single playoff series in a season since 2007. “But I want to win for a long time. We don’t want to just have a year where we had a good run. The goal isn’t the play-in or the first round of the playoffs. Those aren’t the goals. The goal is to win a championship.”

Since the trade deadline, the Jazz have gone 0-2 while the Warriors have gone 3-0, pulling ahead of Utah by 1.5 games for the No. 10 seed in the West.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • The primary focus for the rest of the season in Utah will be the ongoing development of Markkanen and rookies Taylor Hendricks and Keyonte George, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Todd takes a look at what to look for and what the Jazz will be expecting from those three players down the stretch.
  • There has been some confusion over the health of newly acquired forward Otto Porter Jr., Todd writes in a separate Deseret News story. Zanik said during last week’s presser that Porter is “not fully healthy right now, which we knew,” and the veteran forward was ruled out on Monday due to left foot soreness. However, when asked on Saturday how he was feeling, Porter stated that he was “OK, health-wise.” Informed of Zanik’s comments, the former Raptor replied, “Just got to figure some things out as far as my health. There’s some things that I just can’t go into detail with, but with the new training staff here, they should be able to get me back.” As Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca tweets, Porter wasn’t on Toronto’s injury report and was active for several games prior to the trade sending him to Utah. He’s not on the Jazz’s injury report for Wednesday’s contest vs. the Lakers.
  • As we wrote on Tuesday, Utah is one of many teams around the NBA that currently has an open 15-man roster spot. The Jazz could create a second opening by waiving either Porter or Kira Lewis if those newly acquired players on expiring contracts aren’t in their plans, but there has been no indication yet that such a move is coming.

Celtics Notes: Tillman, Porzingis, Springer, Buyout Market

When they were teammates with the Grizzlies, Xavier Tillman used to ask Marcus Smart about the experience of playing in Boston, never expecting to get the opportunity to do so himself before the end of the season, writes Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe. Seeking help in the frontcourt, the Celtics acquired Tillman from Memphis on Wednesday in exchange for Lamar Stevens and a pair of second-round picks. He’s looking forward to experiencing first-hand everything Smart said about Boston fans.

“The main thing he told me is it’s very similar to Memphis in terms of the grit and the grind and how hard you have to work for the fans and appreciation and stuff like that,” Tillman said. “And once you do show that you’re willing to hustle, they’re going love you. I love it.”

The Celtics had their eye on Tillman for several years and considered selecting him in the 2020 draft, Himmelsbach adds. Memphis took him with the 35th overall pick, and he has built a reputation as a hard worker and versatile defender during his four NBA seasons.

“It’s crazy, to be honest with you,” Tillman said. “I’ve always watched the Celtics in terms of just the winning history of it, back with [Kevin Garnett] and all that stuff and seeing these guys repeatedly go to the Eastern Conference finals all the time, I’m always locked in on that. So for me to get the opportunity to be part of a winning organization, it’s pretty awesome.”

There’s more from Boston:

  • Kristaps Porzingis wasn’t upset about being passed over as an injury replacement for the All-Star Game, Himmelsbach adds. Trae Young and Scottie Barnes were selected this week to take the place of Joel Embiid and Julius Randle. “Of course there’s some prestige in that and maybe five years ago that was something that was always on my mind, but it doesn’t change anything,” Porzingis said. “To be honest there’s a big part of me that’s kind of happy I can go to Miami or somewhere where there’s sun, get some tan, lift some weights, prepare my body for the rest of the season and then postseason.”
  • President of basketball operations Brad Stevens had been hoping to acquire Jaden Springer from the Sixers since watching him when their teams met in the preseason, according to Jared Weiss of The Athletic. Stevens got his chance when Philadelphia opted to unload the 21-year-old guard to create more financial flexibility and add an extra second-round pick. Weiss notes that Stevens also faced an urgency to add talent before the deadline because of the limitations that will be placed on teams above the tax apron starting this summer.
  • A Celtics reunion with Danilo Gallinari appears unlikely, Brian Robb of MassLive states in a mailbag column. The Pistons waived Gallinari on Friday, but Robb believes his mobility is still affected by last year’s ACL tear, causing teams to target him on defense. Robb views Otto Porter as a more desirable option if he reaches a buyout with the Jazz, but he cautions that Boston would face competition from several teams.

Raptors Acquire Olynyk, Agbaji From Jazz For 2024 First-Round Pick

2:52pm: The trade is official, the Raptors and Jazz announced in a pair of press releases.


9:38am: The Jazz have agreed to trade center Kelly Olynyk and wing Ochai Agbaji to the Raptors, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Utah will receive Kira Lewis, Otto Porter, and a 2024 first-round pick from Toronto in the deal.

That 2024 first-rounder will be the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Clippers’, Rockets’, and Jazz’s picks, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link), so it figures to land near the end of the first round. Utah’s pick is top-10 protected, meaning there’s a scenario in which the Jazz end up hanging onto their own first-rounder and receive a separate pick (likely OKC’s or L.A.’s) as a result of this deal.

While it’s a little surprising to see a lottery-bound team like the Raptors surrender a first-round pick, the deal will net them a solid big man in Olynyk and a promising young prospect in Agbaji, who was the 14th overall pick in the 2022 draft.

Assuming the Raptors intend to hang onto Olynyk, the Toronto native will become the ninth Canadian to play for the franchise and will provide some depth in a frontcourt that’s relatively thin behind Jakob Poeltl. A forward/center who can stretch the floor, Olynyk is averaging 8.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, and a career-high 4.4 assists in 20.4 minutes per game across 50 appearances this season. The 32-year-old has made 42.9% of his three-pointers, boosting his career rate to 37.0%.

Olynyk is on an expiring contract, but the Raptors will control his Bird rights this offseason, giving them the ability to go over the cap to re-sign him or to figure out a sign-and-trade.

As for Agbaji, the young wing hasn’t shown much offensive game since entering the league last season, but is a solid defender who still has room to grow and is under contract through 2026. The Raptors have liked Agbaji for a while, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca, and presumably view him as the type of player who can develop alongside the team’s young core of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley, and RJ Barrett.

The Jazz and Raptors had reportedly been discussing a similar deal that would have included Bruce Brown – rather than a first-round pick – going to Utah. However, Toronto controlled an excess of picks in a 2024 draft that the club isn’t believed to be especially high on, while the Jazz are at risk of losing their own ’24 first-round selection, so the inclusion of the low first-rounder makes some sense.

The Raptors still own the Pacers’ first-round pick and the Pistons’ second-round pick in 2024, and would hang onto their own first-rounder if it ends up in the top six.

Lewis’ salary couldn’t be aggregated in a trade after being acquired from Indiana last month, but that won’t be necessary, since Porter’s $6.3MM cap hit is enough on its own to match Olynyk’s $12.2MM incoming salary, while Lewis’ $5.7MM salary will be used to match Agbaji’s $4.1MM cap hit.

It remains to be seen whether the Jazz will hang onto Lewis and/or Porter for the rest of the season. Lewis is a former lottery pick and Porter has had some strong seasons as a three-and-D wing, but both players have battled injuries in recent years and haven’t played much outside of garbage time in 2023/24.

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.

Raptors Notes: Boucher, Brown, Trade Deadline, Temple

Chris Boucher has fallen out of the Raptors rotation and he’d be “cool” with a change of scenery, he told Michael Grange of Sportnet.

“I mean, everything has to end, right? So if that’s what’s gonna happen, then cool,” Boucher said. “Hopefully it will [put me] in a better position. But … you never know what could happen. With what’s been going on this year, obviously, I just got to wait my turn, I guess. If a better situation shows up and they decide to send me somewhere else, so be it.”

Boucher has another year left on his contract. Bruce Brown, recently acquired from Indiana, is more likely to be moved. He’s trying to ignore the trade rumors.

“Not even thinking about it, to be honest,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to control what I can control, and I can’t control that end of it.”

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Speaking of the trade deadline, Blake Murphy of Sportnet believes Brown is the player most likely to be dealt. He speculates that Toronto would take a decent second round pick to shed Boucher’s contract. Murphy also evaluates the potential market for Dennis Schröder, Gary Trent Jr, Otto Porter Jr. and Thaddeus Young.
  • Eric Koreen of The Athletic argues the Raptors should take whatever they can get for the above-mentioned players, as well as Kira Lewis Jr, Jalen McDaniels and Garrett Temple.
  • In a separate story, Koreen emphasizes the need for the organization to avoid a lengthy rebuild and developing a loser’s mentality.
  • Temple would like to keep playing beyond this year but knows that at age 37, he may have difficulty getting another contract. “I know people around the team understand how important veterans are, and I think teams (across the league) do honestly. But at the end of the day, it’s still a numbers game, and I learned that part of the business in my first year,” he told Grange.

Fischer’s Latest: Wiggins, Paul, Portis, Looney, Kuzma, Stewart, Beauchamp, Hield, Bogdanovic

The Mavericks and Bucks are mulling whether to make a serious run at the Warriors’ Andrew Wiggins, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer reports.

Wiggins’ name has been prominently mentioned in trade rumors, due to his subpar production, the Warriors’ disappointing record and a contract that runs through the 2026/27 season.

Dallas is willing to part with either Grant Williams or Tim Hardaway Jr. for salary-matching purposes to acquire a frontcourt player who can shoot and also make a difference defensively. The Mavs are also willing to include their 2027 first-round pick for the right player, Fischer adds.

As for the Bucks, they’d have to include Bobby Portis to cobble salaries to match Wiggins’ $24.3MM. It’s a tough call for the Bucks, considering Portis’ steady contributions in recent years. Fischer notes that Portis was one of Golden State coach Steve Kerr’s favorites during the FIBA World Cup run with Team USA.

Here are several more interesting tidbits from Fischer:

  • Chris Paul, whose $30MM contract for next season is non-guaranteed, is unlikely to be dealt by the Warriors. Jonathan Kuminga is off limits. However, Kevon Looney and his $7.5MM contract could be swapped out, depending what need Golden State ultimately wants to target. Looney’s contract for next season is only guaranteed for $3MM.
  • The Wizards are unwilling to deal Kyle Kuzma unless they get multiple first-rounders for him. The Mavericks and Kings have known interest but would likely need to find a third team to facilitate such a deal. Washington has made it known it’s looking for draft capital in any trade.
  • Along with previously reported interest in the Hornets’ P.J. Washington, the Mavericks have their eyes on Pistons forward Isaiah Stewart. The latter signed a four-year, $64MM extension last offseason. Dallas also showed interest in Magic big man Wendell Carter but Orlando doesn’t seem inclined to move its starting center.
  • The Bucks are willing to include MarJon Beauchamp and the 2024 second-round pick that the Trail Blazers owe them in trade discussions.  The Bucks and Sixers have also contacted teams that hold plenty of draft capital, such as the Thunder and Pelicans, regarding potential future first-round pick swaps or packages of second-round picks in exchange for extra first-round selections.
  • Speaking of the Sixers, they’re interested in Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield. Hield would upgrade their offense and his $18.5MM expiring contract wouldn’t impact their desire to have more cap space than any other team this summer. Picking up more first-round capital, as mentioned above, would facilitate their ability to acquire a wing like Hield or the Pistons’ Bojan Bogdanovic.
  • The Celtics are willing to use their $6.2MM trade exception for bench help. Otto Porter Jr. and Lonnie Walker are among the names Fischer has heard as potential Boston acquisitions.

Injury Notes: Mobley, Embiid, Brunson, Little, O. Porter

Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley missed his first game of the 2023/24 season on Friday due to left knee soreness. The third-year forward/center also didn’t participate in the team’s shootaround, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscriber link), who reports that Mobley could miss multiple games with the injury, though that depends on how he responds to treatment.

The Cavs’ next game is Monday in Orlando, so Mobley will have a couple more days to determine how he’s feeling, Fedor notes. Forward Dean Wade started in Mobley’s place during Friday’s victory in Miami.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Reigning MVP Joel Embiid will be reevaluated on Saturday after sustaining a left leg injury in the Sixers‘ victory over Atlanta on Friday, tweets Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Embiid grabbed at his knee after falling on a drive, Vorkunov adds, but he was able to play through it while favoring his left leg.
  • Knicks guard Jalen Brunson sustained an injury to his lower left leg after stepping on Payton Pritchard‘s foot with 21 seconds remaining and the Knicks down 12 to Boston, per New York Basketball (Twitter video link). The team’s leading scorer was able to head to the locker room under his own power, but had a noticeable limp. Head coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn’t regret having Brunson in the game, despite the loss being all but guaranteed (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy of The New York Post). Brunson didn’t speak to the media afterward, tweets Steve Popper of Newsday.
  • Suns wing Nassir Little took a hard fall in the first quarter of Friday’s contest vs. Sacramento and appeared to be woozy after the incident, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Little was later ruled out of the remainder of the contest, as he’s being evaluated for a concussion. He could be sidelined for multiple games if he did indeed sustain a concussion.
  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. exited Friday’s game with a left foot contusion. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca observes (via Twitter), that’s the same foot that caused Porter to miss most of last season after he had surgery. This injury hopefully isn’t serious, however, as X-rays were negative, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Barnes, O. Porter, Oubre, D. White

While the Raptors have been up and down so far this season, they’ve gotten consistent strong production from third-year forward Scottie Barnes, who has scored at least 17 points and grabbed eight or more rebounds in every game so far.

Through seven contests, Barnes is averaging 22.6 points, 9.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 2.1 blocks, and 1.1 steals in 36.5 minutes per night, with an impressive shooting line of .513/.421/.759. It’s a small sample, but the 22-year-old appears to be solidifying his place as the franchise’s long-term cornerstone, says Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca.

“What stands out? Everything!” one scout said in a text message to Grange when asked about Barnes’ play this season. “He’s a whole different player. He’s bigger and stronger but hasn’t lost any of his mobility or agility. His shot is much, much smoother and in better balance. And most importantly he’s hungrier. He seems to be on some kind of mission.”

If Barnes’ breakout year continues, it will have a major impact on the Raptors’ roster decisions going forward, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

The team will take more time to assess how its potential core pieces fit together, but for what it’s worth, Barnes and OG Anunoby have exhibited strong chemistry in the early going, posting a net rating of +21.6 together, whereas the pairing of Barnes and Pascal Siakam has “felt a bit clunkier,” Lewenberg observes. Both Anunoby and Siakam are eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2024.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Raptors forward Otto Porter Jr. missed all but nine games in his first season with the team in 2022/23, but his contributions in wins over Milwaukee and San Antonio in the last week have made it clear why Toronto wanted him in the first place, Grange writes for Sportsnet.ca. “He helps us so much,” Barnes said of his veteran teammate. “He’s a leader when he’s out there on the floor, talking to us, communicating, seeing those different reads, making those big-time plays on the defensive end, boxing out. He stretches the floor when he’s out there. He has so much IQ and knowledge of the game. He makes an instant impact.”
  • When Kelly Oubre moved into the Sixers‘ starting lineup to replace P.J. Tucker, head coach Nick Nurse warned that it may be temporary. However, Philadelphia has won all three games with Oubre as a starter and he has averaged 17.0 PPG on 52.8% shooting in that role, so Nurse appears to be in no rush to change things up. “(It’s) kind of probably silly to just make changes or use somebody else or change the rotation if the information is good, right?” Nurse said on Monday (Twitter link via Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer). “So on we go with evaluating it.”
  • Celtics guard Derrick White is listed as probable to play in Wednesday’s showdown vs. Philadelphia after missing a pair of games due to the birth of his son. According to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, while White’s absence was brief, he was clearly missed — his +28.2 net rating so far this season is the best mark of any NBA player who has averaged at least 20 minutes per game.