Stephen Silas

Raptors, Rockets Could Have Interest In Ime Udoka

Former Celtics coach Ime Udoka could draw the attention of the Raptors and Rockets, depending on how their coaching situations shake out after the season, according to Steve Bulpett of

There have been some rumblings regarding Nick Nurse’s status in Toronto and if the two parties decide to separate, Udoka would be a candidate to replace him, a league executive told Bulpett.

The Rockets would be interested in Nurse guiding their young, rebuilding team if he becomes available and they decide to change coaches, according to Bulpett, who adds that Houston would also explore the possibility of hiring Udoka if don’t retain Stephen Silas.

Bulpett previously reported that teams had begun the vetting process regarding Udoka. He won’t return to Boston’s bench after Joe Mazzulla had the interim tag removed. Udoka was rumored to be a candidate for the Hawks’ vacancy before they hired Quin Snyder.

Udoka was suspended for reportedly having an improper relationship with a subordinate. Udoka former boss, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, is hopeful he will get a second chance to be a head coach.

“Ime was and is and always will be a great friend, and so you can imagine that I was deeply disappointed and hurt for him, for everybody involved,” Popovich said. “It’s a difficult situation for him, and my hope is that he will bounce back and find a home.”

Rockets Notes: Kaminsky, Deadline Moves, Silas, Green

The Rockets acquired three veteran players at the trade deadline, but have already bought out two of them, placing Danny Green and Justin Holiday on waivers on Sunday and Monday, respectively.

As Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes, Houston didn’t necessarily acquire those players expecting to let them go, since the team likes the idea of having some veteran leaders to complement its young core. Head coach Stephen Silas addressed that issue when he discussed Holiday’s exit from the team, tacitly acknowledging that it’s hard to blame those vets for not wanting to stick around and be part of a 13-44 squad.

“Ideally you want a few guys who have more than three years of experience on the floor and he had 10,” Silas said. “But that’s the business of the game and where we are as an organization as far as rebuilding. Ideally, you don’t want to roll out 10 guys who are first-, second- and third-year guys but these are guys who play hard, try and learn and are improving. That’s where we’re at.”

Frank Kaminsky is the lone veteran acquired at the deadline who is still a Rocket, though there’s no guarantee that’ll be the case for the rest of the season. Team and league sources tell Iko that Kaminsky’s situation is “fluid,” with some teams expressing interest in signing the big man if he’s waived by Houston. While the two sides continue to talk, Kaminsky plans to make the most of his time with the team, even if it’s brief.

“This is the team that wanted me,” he said. “They want me to be here, so I’m going to do whatever I can to help as much as I possibly can. Whether that’s playing or me being a vocal leader in the locker room, practice, shootarounds, whatever.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Asked about the deadline-day trades that sent out Eric Gordon, Garrison Mathews, and Bruno Fernando, general manager Rafael Stone told reporters, including Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he’s confident the cap flexibility and draft assets generated by those moves will make the Rockets a better team in the long run. “We are going to have the most cap space this summer of any team in the NBA, I believe,” Stone said. “We’re going to have a lot of room to sign free agents to make trades into that space to really transform the team. And we decided that we’re really, really valuing that flexibility. And so, within that context, we think that we improved the team.”
  • Stone said he’s not necessarily “satisfied” with the development of young players like Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Jabari Smith, but remains confident in the upside of Houston’s young core. “We want them to be great players, and they’re not, yet,” Stone said, per Feigen. “The goal is not to be OK. It’s not to be improving; it’s to be great. And we’re realistic. We knew that they wouldn’t be great in this time frame. But that’s the goal. So, until we get to the goal, we’re not going be satisfied. We like them. We liked their work ethic. We’re excited about their future. But we all have a lot of work to do.”
  • Stone declined to comment about the future of head coach Stephen Silas beyond this season. According to Feigen, Silas is under contract for 2023/24, but his salary is not yet guaranteed.
  • Danny Green gave up $289,472 as part of his buyout agreement with the Rockets, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link). That reduces his cap hit from $10MM to $9,710,528. Green is expected to receive $2MM from Cleveland on a rest-of-season deal.

Southwest Notes: Mavs, Doncic, Jackson, Brooks, Rockets

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd isn’t pleased with the team’s effort on defense, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who notes that Dallas’ defensive rating, seventh in the NBA last season, has plummeted to 25th in 2022/23.

Two solid defenders, Dorian Finney-Smith and Josh Green, returned to action on Wednesday following injury absences, but it was still the third consecutive game in which the Mavericks gave up at least 130 points.

“It’s attention to detail and focus,” Finney-Smith said. “It’s everything. I tried to come out here with some energy, but we still end up doing the same thing. It’s everybody. It ain’t just one person. We all gotta take the challenge and start guarding. Gotta be about the care factor. We’ve got to care about stopping somebody. You should get mad if they keep scoring.”

The Mavericks’ offense, which ranked 14th last season, is up to fifth so far in ’22/23, but Kidd told reporters on Wednesday that he doesn’t want his club to get in the habit of trying to outscore its opponents in shootouts.

“Tonight, we gave up 130 points and a team shot 57 percent,” Kidd said after the loss to Atlanta. “It’s a shootaround. In this league, if you do that, no matter if you have Luka or Kareem or LeBron, you’re going to lose. It doesn’t matter how many points you score, you’re always going to be short.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Echoing Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic denied a report that suggested he has “strongly indicated” he wants the team to make roster upgrades by the February 9 trade deadline, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “Obviously, I know, the people who are next to me, who I talk to, they know that’s not true,” Doncic said. “I didn’t say nothing about that. I talk to (president of basketball operations) Nico (Harrison). I talk to Fin (assistant GM Michael Finley) more than I used to. But that’s just not the way I talk to them. We have great communication and that just stays between us.”
  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant isn’t just advocating for one of his teammates to win Defensive Player of the Year — he thinks two of them should share the award. As Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal writes, Morant believes Jaren Jackson Jr. and Dillon Brooks both deserve DPOY honors, jokingly suggesting that voters (who can pick just one winner) write in “Jaren Brooks.”
  • Responding to John Wall‘s criticism of the Rockets and their culture, head coach Stephen Silas said he understood the veteran’s frustration about how his time in Houston played out, but pushed back against the notion that the team let its young prospects get away with too much, per Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. “As far as holding them accountable, some of it is learning from mistakes, learning through adversity, and learning from film sessions,” Silas said. “It’s important for me to lay out what the expectations are. But to expect young kids not to make mistakes is unrealistic.”

Rockets Notes: Mathews, Eason, Green, Tate, Gordon, Silas

After Kings guard Malik Monk took exception to a loose-ball foul committed by Rockets guard Garrison Mathews in the fourth quarter of Friday night’s contest in Sacramento, a brief on-court fracas broke out between the two teams (Twitter video link via Bleacher Report).

Following an official review, referees ejected both Monk and Mathews, along with Kings big man Chimezie Metu, who was deemed an “escalator,” and Rockets forward Tari Eason, dubbed an “instigator,” according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee.

Fines or suspensions could follow for the four players ejected from Friday’s game, and two more Rockets players could be in danger of one-game bans, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Jalen Green and Jae’Sean Tate both left the bench area during the altercation, which typically results in an automatic one-game suspension from the NBA. Orlando recently had eight players receive one-game suspensions for similar violations.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • With Eric Gordon once again on the trade block in Houston, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tries to find a deal that would make sense for both the Rockets and a potential trade partner. Iko cautions that expectations about Gordon’s value should be tempered — three of his four suggestions don’t involve Houston acquiring a first-round pick, and the one scenario that does include a first-rounder sees the Rockets taking on Richaun Holmes‘ multiyear contract from Sacramento.
  • The 10-32 Rockets are in danger of finishing with the NBA’s worst record for the third straight year, and Stephen Silas, who now has a 47-149 (.240) since becoming the club’s head coach, is no lock to coach the team beyond this season — or even for the rest of this season. Exploring that possibility, Jerome Solomon of The Houston Chronicle argues that Silas deserves better and has been dealt a terrible hand since getting his first head coaching job.
  • After making 33 starts and averaging a career-high 26.3 minutes per game last season, Garrison Mathews has come exclusively off the bench in 2022/23 and is playing just 12.7 MPG. However, he’s taking the demotion in stride and trying to make an impact in his limited role, writes Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. “It’s my role, and I’ve got to try to do it the best I can,” Mathews said. “I gotta go out there and hit shots. And if I don’t, then that’s my role. So I gotta be able to do that.”
  • The Rockets’ defense has been bad during their current slide (nine straight losses, 14 in their last 15 games), and those issues go beyond the team’s talent on that side of the ball, Lerner writes in another Chronicle story. According to Lerner, it often appears that Houston’s defensive effort is lacking, with basic assignments missed, especially in transition. The Rockets are allowing an NBA-worst 26.2 transition points per game this season, per

Southwest Notes: Green, Bane, Rockets, Tate, Spurs

Grizzlies swingman Danny Green is inching closer to making his season debut, tweets Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last May and has begun doing 5-on-5 work, according to Cole.

Participating in 5-on-5 scrimmages generally represents one of the last hurdles a player must clear in his rehab process before returning from a major injury, though it doesn’t necessarily mean Green’s return is imminent. Ricky Rubio and Jonathan Isaac, both coming off ACL tears, were cleared for 5-on-5 play in early December, and both players only returned to the court this week (Rubio in the NBA, Isaac in the G League).

Green has spoken about wanting to make it back before next February’s All-Star break and it sounds like he remains on track to meet that timeline.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Although Grizzlies swingman Desmond Bane has returned from a toe injury and is playing well, he doesn’t expect to be 100% for the rest of the season, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. “That’s something I’ll probably have to get taken care of in the offseason,” Bane said of his toe injury during an appearance on the Old Man and the Three podcast. “You never know how much you need to use your big toe until you can’t use it.”
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Kelly Iko discusses several Rockets-related topics, including Stephen Silas‘ job security, Kevin Porter Jr.‘s future in Houston, and potential offseason veteran targets. Iko says he’d bet on Silas finishing the season with the Rockets and identifies Myles Turner as a player he thinks the team should prioritize as a free agent this summer.
  • Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate, who played for the Sydney Kings in 2019/20, likes the idea of eventually finishing his professional career back in Australia. “Australia is by far one of my highlights,” Tate told The Ballers Magazine (link via “When I’m old and can barely get up and down there I would love to come back and just bee around the guys because the energy, the organization in Sydney – from top to bottom – was great.”
  • The Spurs‘ home game vs. Golden State at the Alamodome on Friday night is on track to break the NBA record for largest single-game attendance. As of Thursday, the club had sold 64,387 tickets for Friday’s contest, according to a press release. The previous attendance record was 62,046 for a Bulls/Hawks game at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.

Rockets Notes: Gordon, Martin, Silas

The Rockets have had preliminary trade talks about veteran shooting guard Eric Gordon with approximately a half-dozen teams, a source tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

According to Feigen, a number of contenders are expected to target Gordon, given his ability to make outside shots and defend multiple positions. His pseudo-expiring contract, which is non-guaranteed for next season, should also be appealing to potential suitors.

However, Gordon’s cap hit of $19.6MM will make him a tricky piece to move, and the Rockets don’t feel any urgency to get a deal done, given that he remains under contract for 2023/24. Although the 33-year-old’s $20.9MM salary for next season isn’t cheap, Houston projects to have significant cap room and may decide that hanging onto Gordon is the best way to use of a chunk of that room.

The Rockets’ asking price for Gordon remains high, which will also complicate a potential trade. According to Feigen, Houston doesn’t just want a 2023 first-round pick from a contending team, since such a first-rounder would likely end up in the mid- to late-20s. The Rockets would be looking to add a pick in a future season or one from a third team that has a chance of landing higher in the first round, Feigen explains.

Acquiring a future pick may be a more realistic outcome, since three-team deals are complicated and Houston isn’t all that interested in adding a third 2023 first-rounder to its collection with so many young players already on the roster, says Feigen. The Rockets owe their own first-rounders to Oklahoma City in 2024 and 2026, so they may be more inclined to fortify their cache of draft assets in those years (though they do control Brooklyn’s ’24 and ’26 picks).

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • As Shams Charania reported earlier in the week, the Rockets’ asking price for Kenyon Martin Jr. is even higher than their price for Gordon. Feigen classifies Houston as “hesitant” to move Martin, since he’s enjoying a career year and still has room to grow at age 21. Feigen also observes that Martin’s contract would give the Rockets the option of declining his 2023/24 team option to sign him to a long-term contract as a restricted free agent — the club took that path with Jae’Sean Tate this past summer.
  • The proposed three-team trade involving the Rockets, Suns, and Bucks that Charania mentioned on Monday didn’t get very far down the line. According to Feigen, it “never gained traction past the proposal stage or a second phone call.”
  • Stephen Silas rejoined the Rockets for Tuesday’s game just three days after the death of his father Paul Silas and his emotions remained raw before and after his club’s upset win over Phoenix, Feigen writes in another Houston Chronicle story. “Definitely great to be back,” said Silas, who added that his father would have told him to “get his butt out there and coach” his team. “I love these guys. I love this team. I kind of didn’t want the game to end because now, real life starts up again.”

Rockets Notes: Porter, Stone, Christopher, Silas

Rockets starting point guard Kevin Porter Jr. continues to develop for a rebuilding Houston club, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic. Iko notes that Porter has developed right along with his head coach Stephen Silas, both of whom are in the midst of their third season with the team.

“We’ve really been on the same page this season when it comes to [Porter executing Silas’ offensive schemes],” Silas said. “A lot of it is his comfort with me, my comfort with him, comfort with his teammates. And it continues to grow as we go along.”

“From an emotional standpoint, he’s grown a lot from last year to this year,” starting Rockets shooting guard Jalen Green added. “He’s become more of a leader and a point guard — getting us involved and making sure everyone gets their shots. Being that person to take control of a game towards the end, too. He’s had a lot of growth.”

“Just me being out there finding my balance,” Porter told Iko, explaining how his instincts have improved. “[Knowing] when to take shots, when to facilitate, where guys are supposed to be at. Me just learning how to read the defense, I feel like I’ve been getting better at that. And it’s been much easier to get my guys the ball that way. Just reading the help defense and not so focused on who’s guarding me. But seeing on the second hand, help side defense, the low man, that’s what I’ve been paying attention to. And it’s been a lot easier making reads.”

There’s more out of H-Town:

  • Rockets general manager Rafael Stone is happy with Houston’s growth thus far this season, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Though the team’s development has yet to yield much of an uptick in wins, the club’s leading front office executive is positive about how his players have improved year-over-year. “It feels like we’re pretty on track,” Stone said. “We’ve seen a lot of good things. We’ve seen a lot of growth from a lot of different players. We’ve seen some team growth, too. Sitting here right now, at a really early stage, we feel comfortable that we’re talented and our guys are really hardworking, which is, from a macro perspective, our two largest goals. (Last season’s draft picks) are materially better basketball players this year than they were last year. I think that’s evident when you watch them. Their weaknesses are not as weak, and their strengths are stronger. They’re far from finished products. We’re really happy with all our young guys.”
  • Rockets rookie Josh Christopher was recently sent to the team’s G League club for in-game reps, having not been able to quite crack Houston’s rotation for the first quarter of the 2022/23 season. Head coach Stephen Silas applauded his play for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, writes Feigen in a separate piece. “He needed some minutes he needed to get out there and play when he needed to get this confidence back and just let it flow a little bit,” Silas said. “He had a great game (Friday) night. But we talked a bunch of conversations about it, and we value him so much that for him to get out of rhythm and for him to get spot minutes here and there, it made sense for him to be able to go on back-to-back and play a couple games or so for the Vipers…  So, yeah, it’s not a demotion at all and he doesn’t see it as a demotion. But sometimes they can see it as a demotion. So, his perspective, his personality, everything about him is really good.” 
  • Rockets assistant John Lucas is set to step in tonight as acting head coach against the Bucks for Silas, reports Mark Berman of Fox Sports 26 Houston (Twitter link). As we wrote earlier, Silas’ father, former player and coach Paul Silas, has just passed away at age 79.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Murphy, Grizzlies, Silas

After sitting out a week with a right foot contusion, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said he’ll “definitely” be ready for Monday’s game, writes Christian Clark of Williamson suffered the injury last Saturday in a game against the Rockets when he stepped on Usman Garuba‘s foot on a drive to the basket. Williamson landed awkwardly and awoke with pain the next day.

“I felt it a little bit, but it wasn’t nothing for me to be like, ‘This is really something crazy,’” Williamson said. “I didn’t feel it til I woke up the next morning. I was like, ‘Man.’ Felt like I could barely walk on it. Went and got all the scans. It was a simple bone bruise.”

The incident brought back bad memories for Williamson, who missed all of last season with a fracture in his right foot. He has managed to avoid serious injury so far this year and is averaging 23.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 11 games.

“There was a moment when I was like, ‘I ain’t trying to go through this again. I just went through it,’” Williamson said. “Scans were positive outside of the bruise. I’m straight.”

There’s more from the Soutwest Division:

  • Trey Murphy, who took Williamson’s place in the Pelicans‘ starting lineup, is also dealing with a foot issue, Clark adds. Murphy left Friday’s game after 12 minutes with a contusion in his right foot. “Kind of rolled his ankle a little bit,” coach Willie Green explained. “All his imaging checked out fine. He’ll be day-to-day. We’ll evaluate him and see where he is.”
  • The Grizzlies are counting on their depth to sustain them until Desmond Bane and Ja Morant are able to return, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Bane is sidelined with a sprained toe, and Morant suffered a sprained left ankle Friday night. “It is frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Dillon Brooks said. “We still got guys ready to play, ready to be active and have their shot. It was a tough one, but at the same time, though, next man up.”
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas remains optimistic despite a disappointing start to the season, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston is 3-13 and in danger of posting the league’s worst record for the third straight year, but Silas is confident that patience will eventually pay off for a roster filled with young players. “I was with LeBron (James) in his first year and I was with (Stephen Curry) in his first year and I was with Luka (Doncic) in his first year,” he said, “and things were uneven and hard, but you have to go through it. I am more than prepared to go through it and will be happy to see the results of it.”

Rockets Notes: Smith, Sengun, Silas, Season Preview

Rockets rookie big man Jabari Smith Jr. remains sidelined as he continues to rehabilitate from a sprained left ankle, though he was cleared for contact practices on Tuesday, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The 6’10” power forward, the third pick out of Auburn, expressed confidence that he might be available for Houston’s 2022/23 season opener, scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, against the Hawks.

“I’m working to get back in shape now, just getting ready, getting my body ready for the first regular-season game,” Smith said. “It’s been tough, just sitting out, watching my teammates get better. I’m working to get better. I know I’ll be back in no time. It’s a long season.”

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Second-year Rockets center Alperen Sengun is working to get more involved in Houston’s offense, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle in a separate piece. “Al-P’s strength is having the basketball and he hasn’t had the ball much,” head coach Stephen Silas remarked. “He’s been a pick-and-roll player. As we go through training camp, which is still going on, he’ll get his post-ups and he’ll get his elbow catches and it’ll be more comfortable for him.”
  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has rejoined the club following a week-long absence due to his second COVID-19 infection, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas missed two Houston preseason contests and four team practices. Assistant coach John Lucas led the team in Silas’s absence. “It wasn’t a great experience going through it… but I feel good now,” Silas said. “I told the guys this; the hardest part is not seeing them and not being around them. The practices, it is what it is, the drills and the games and stuff. But just being around these guys, they’re such a fun group — I missed them.”
  • With Rockets first-round draft selections Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and TyTy Washington Jr. now in the fold, joining young players Jalen GreenKevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., Josh Christopher, and Usman Garuba, the rebuilding Rockets appear poised to enjoy a fascinating 2022/23 season of development, though that probably won’t translate to wins. John Hollinger of The Athletic previews the club’s season outlook, projecting a 22-60 finish.

Texas Notes: Roby, Bates-Diop, Fernando, Silas

Forward Isaiah Roby has been a fan of the Spurs‘ organization since childhood, reports Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. After the fourth-year power forward was waived by the Thunder over the summer, San Antonio claimed him off waivers.

“[The Spurs] were the team my grandpa really liked watching,” the Dixon, Illinois native said. “… Ever since then, I’ve had an interest in the Spurs and the way they play basketball.”

Roby was initially drafted with the No. 45 pick out of Nebraska by the Pistons. The Mavericks traded for his draft rights later that summer. He suited up for the team’s G League affiliate, the Texas Legends, before being flipped to the Thunder in January 2020. He averaged 10.1 PPG on .514/.444/.672 shooting splits in 45 games during his 2021/22 season with Oklahoma City. The 6’8″ forward also contributed 4.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG.

According to McDonald, Roby was apparently surprised to be waived by the Thunder during the offseason. In San Antonio, he joins another rebuilding effort that features plenty of intriguing young prospects, with presumably more to come in the next few seasons. The Spurs have liked what they’ve seen from Roby so far.

“He is really more skilled than I was expecting, and he’s a little bigger than I expected,” head coach Gregg Popovich observed. “He handles himself really well.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Spurs forward Keita Bates-Diop is in the running for the last open spot on San Antonio’s standard 15-man roster, having turned in solid performances in two preseason games as a starter, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. McDonald notes that Bates-Diop may start tonight against the Pelicans in the team’s third preseason contest after averaging 9.5 PPG in the first two. “His game improves with every increase in his confidence,” coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s why he’s still here.” Though Bates-Diop may not ultimately start for the Spurs, McDonald predicts he’ll remain in San Antonio through opening night, thus guaranteeing he gets paid his full $1.9MM salary. “Whether you just signed a new deal or you’re on a one-year or whatever it is, you should always feel like you’re battling for it,” Bates-Diop said. “You don’t want to get too comfortable.”
  • The Rockets front office is excited about the fit of 6’9″ fourth-year center Bruno Fernando as a rim-runner, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). Iko notes that Fernando becoming a lob threat will open up the downhill offensive games of starting guards Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green.
  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has yet to clear the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link). Berman adds (Twitter link) that assistant coach John Lucas, acting as the team’s head coach while Silas remains ill, has expressed optimism that Silas will clear protocols and be able to travel later to join the team in Miami for its next preseason game.