Stephen Silas

Rockets Notes: Wall, Porter, Offseason, Silas

John Wall ended up sitting out the entire 2021/22 season, as the Rockets‘ front office was unable to find a trade it liked involving the veteran point guard. However, general manager Rafael Stone is confident that won’t be the case again in 2022/23 as Wall enters the final year of a contract that will pay him more than $47MM next season.

“I think there’s a real market for John,” Stone said on Monday, per Kristie Rieken of The Associated Press. “I think we’ll find a deal that will work for him and for us, and if one doesn’t materialize, we’ll we’ll cross that bridge (of a possible buyout) if and when it occurs. But that that is not something he’s focused on, and is not something I’m focused on.”

While it’s possible there could be a small handful of teams interested in discussing a deal for Wall, the Rockets will be hard-pressed to get anything of value for him — even with just one year left on his contract, the 31-year-old has negative trade value due to his exorbitant cap hit.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr., who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, admitted he was thinking about his contract situation earlier in the 2021/22 season and believes it negatively impacted his play, as Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle relays. “At the beginning of the season, I kind of put too much pressure on myself thinking about that type of thing,” Porter said. “Once I eased my mind off of it, I started to play better. So I don’t really want to put no mind to it. I love Houston, and they love me, so I’m sure that I’ll be here for a minute.”
  • The Rockets posted an NBA-worst record of 20-62 in 2021/22, but both Stone and head coach Stephen Silas believe the team’s young players improved over the course of the year. Although Silas acknowledged that Houston will still have a young team next season and won’t become a contender overnight, he suggested on Monday that his expectations will be higher. “We really started at zero this year with a lot of guys,” Silas said, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “So getting to the point where we played an 82-game season with these guys and their roles will be similar next year … we’ll still be starting at a much higher place than we were this season as far as understanding. (The Rockets will not be) so bland on both ends of the floor because there’ll be a much higher level of understanding when it comes to the young guys.”
  • In a separate story for The Houston Chronicle, Feigen explores a number of offseason questions facing the Rockets, including whether Porter will be extended, what the team will do in the draft, and what will happen with Wall and some other veteran trade candidates on the roster. Feigen adds that Houston intends to bring back Silas for 2022/23, though he and the front office will have to be sure they remain on the same page with the rebuilding plan going forward.

Northwest Notes: Murray, Porter Jr., House, McLaughlin, Wolves

The Nuggets scrapped their plan to send Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. to the team’s G League affiliate in Grand Rapids on Friday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Murray is rehabbing from a torn ACL, while Porter is recovering from lumbar spine surgery.

The pair was set to travel to Grand Rapids, but logistical concerns and the team only being able to practice once nixed the idea — it’s about a two-and-a-half hour flight from Denver to Grand Rapids. It remains possible that Murray and Porter could practice or scrimmage with the Gold down the road, Singer notes.

Denver currently ranks sixth in the West with a 37-26 record. Porter is eyeing a return sometime this month, as we previously relayed, while the Nuggets still hope Murray can return before the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest:

  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas expressed support for Jazz forward Danuel House, who played for Houston from 2018-21, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune tweets. House signed three 10-day contracts with Utah before earning a standard deal. “I’m happy for him and proud of him because he’s a contributor for a winning team,” Silas said. “I love him. It wasn’t anything he did wrong (here). I’m happy he landed on his feet.”
  • The Timberwolves‘ coaching staff hesitated to get Jordan McLaughlin into the team’s flow earlier this season, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. McLaughlin has since taken on a bigger role for Minnesota, playing double-digit minutes in his last 16 games. “He kind of fell through the cracks in our player development structure a little bit,” head coach Chris Finch admitted. “So that was on us for the beginning of the season.”
  • Speaking of the Timberwolves, the team’s bench unit has benefited from its off-court chemistry, Hine writes in a separate story for the Star Tribune. Minnesota finished with 74 bench points a 138-101 victory over the Thunder on Saturday, headlined by strong performances from Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince and Naz Reid.

Southwest Notes: Augustin, Silas, Mavericks, McCollum

Veteran Rockets point guard D.J. Augustin, 34, hopes to remain in Houston through the NBA trade deadline, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Should the Rockets opt not to pick up his partially-guaranteed deal this summer, the rebuilding club’s oldest player could become a free agent. The 5’11” guard is averaging 5.4 PPG and 2.2 APG in just 15.0 MPG this season.

“At this point in my career, man, whatever the team needs from me, whatever the coach needs from me, the organization needs, I’m going to do my job and do what I need to do,” Augustin said.

At times this season, head coach Stephen Silas has opted not to play Augustin at all, in favor of giving the team’s younger prospects more run. Augustin does concede that he would like a consistent role in the Rockets’ rotation, but accepts that that may not be what Houston requires.

“I would like minutes, period,” he said. “That’s not my role right now with this team.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With NBA trade deadline chatter swirling, Rockets head coach Stephen Silas is trying to help his current Houston players focus on the task at hand as much as possible, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Feigen notes that the Rockets have been active at the trade deadline for the past 16 straight years. “It is our job as a coaching staff, as a management team to make sure everybody is pointed in the direction of things that you can control,” Silas said. “I know that there’s other stuff out there and rumors. There’s always rumors and false narratives going on. But really focusing on what you can control makes everybody’s job easier. Whatever happens, you adapt to that.”
  • The 32-23 Mavericks could opt to develop their current chemistry at the trade deadline or make changes. In a roundtable, Callie Caplan, Brad Townsend and Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News debate how Dallas should move forward at the deadline. Sherrington cautions that it may prove difficult for the Mavericks to re-sign both Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith. Caplan suggests that the Mavericks maintain their core players, noting that the team seems capable of fending off most Western Conference contenders. Caplan adds that Raptors point guard Goran Dragic could make a nice addition with the Mavericks, should he get a buyout.
  • After acquiring sharp-shooting guard CJ McCollum, forward Larry Nance Jr. and deep-bench reserve Tony Snell from the Trail Blazers today, the Pelicans are clearly hoping to make a play-in tournament push, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic. The club has gone 19-16 in its last 35 contests. Guillory notes that McCollum, an excellent scorer and ball-handler, could prove to be a stellar partner for star forwards Brandon Ingram and, when healthy, Zion Williamson. New Orleans is currently the tenth seed in the West, with a 22-32 record.

Rockets Notes: Silas, Mathews, Wood, Porter, Sengun

The Rockets lost big on Monday night in Philadelphia with Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. both serving a one-game suspension, but coach Stephen Silas said the game with the Sixers wasn’t a consideration in deciding how to discipline two of his starters, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Both players were suspended for their actions on Saturday, with Wood being late for a COVID-19 test and refusing to enter the game in the second half and Porter leaving the arena at halftime after a confrontation with assistant coach John Lucas.

Silas, the son of former NBA player and coach Paul Silas, said he turned to his father’s advice of “follow your gut” in deciding how to handle the situation. Especially with a young team, he believes it’s more important to set boundaries about proper behavior than to worry about the results of one game.

“There isn’t a balance (between winning and disciplining) to me,” Silas said. “There’s doing what’s right and doing what’s best for this organization. That’s how you build culture. You do it through a lot of different things. Accountability is huge, making sure everybody knows what is acceptable and is not acceptable and learning from that. That’s the big part, learning from those moments and learning from those experiences so we can improve and we can be better.”

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  • Garrison Mathews tied his season high with 23 points Monday shortly after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols, Feigen adds in the same story. Mathews described his time off as “boring” and was happy to be back on the court. “From the jump, I felt good,” he said. “Having six, seven days off, it’s hard to take that many days off and come back and get right to it. My body felt fresh. It wasn’t sore like it was before. It was good to have a few days off, but when you take seven days off, your conditioning starts to wear down at the end.”
  • In the wake of Saturday’s incident, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated believes the Rockets should get rid of Porter and Wood as soon as possible, even if that means waiving Porter, whose contract is guaranteed for $3.2MM next season. Mannix also criticizes general manager Rafael Stone for assembling the current roster, which Mannix claims is becoming a distraction for talented young players such as Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Jae’Sean Tate, and for having Silas deal with the media whenever there’s a personnel issue.
  • Fans have been calling for Sengun to get more playing time, but the rookie center told a Turkish magazine that the Rockets are bringing him along slowly so he can adjust to the NBA, relays Matt Young of The Houston Chronicle“(The Rockets) played nine games in 15 days, we used to play nine games in nine weeks in Turkey, we did it in two weeks here,” Sengun said. “It’s hard to get used to it right away.”

Rockets Notes: Wood, Mathews, Wall, Silas

After losing 15 straight games, the Rockets have now won two in a row and the turnaround started with a lineup change, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Free agent addition Daniel Theis, who had been the starting center, hasn’t played the last two games as coach Stephen Silas opted for a smaller starting lineup with Christian Wood in the middle. Wood set two career highs this week with six assists Wednesday and 33 points Saturday.

“We’re moving the ball, we’re taking open shots and we’re making shots,” Silas said after Saturday’s win over Charlotte. “How many games in a row did we shoot under 30% from three? We shot 47 (percent) tonight. Part of it is playing Armoni (Brooks) a little bit more, playing Garrison (Mathews) a little bit more. But also having some space out there so we can get our drive-and-kicks. Once a few go, you get a lot more confident about shooting your shots. Pretty confident shooting right now.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Another part of the new lineup is Mathews, who was claimed off waivers before the start of the season and given a two-way contract, Feigen adds. With Jalen Green sidelined by a strained hamstring, Mathews made his first start Saturday and provided 20 points while going 5-of-9 from three-point range. “He’s showing up when his name is called,” Wood said. “That’s all you can ask for a guy like that. He’s shooting the ball great. I told him, whenever he sees the rim and he’s open, let it go. Same with Armoni Brooks. Whenever those two guys see it, shoot it. Don’t hesitate. Don’t try to take a dribble. Just shoot it. That’s what you’re on the floor for. That’s what you’re great at.”
  • Silas told reporters that he hasn’t talked to John Wall about his interest in starting to play again, Feigen states in a separate story. Wall spoke to general manager Rafael Stone on Friday, and another meeting is planned today. According to Feigen, it will focus on what Wall’s role might be on a team that remains committed to its young backcourt. “Being around John and him working out all the time and him being around the team and him being the competitor that he is, John just being John, of course you know that he is itching (to play),” Silas said. “As far as a conversation between he and I as far as him wanting to come back, no.”
  • Saturday’s game against the Hornets was special for Silas, who still feels a strong connection to the organization after spending 10 years there as an assistant coach, Feigen adds in another piece.

Southwest Notes: Poeltl, Landale, Zion, Silas

Spurs center Jakob Poeltl returned to action last Thursday after missing six games due to COVID-19, but he’s still feeling the effects of the layoff, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Poeltl, who is fully vaccinated, was in the league’s health and safety protocols for 16 days and said the adjustment of returning to a full-time schedule has been difficult.

“I had to get my conditioning, but also sitting at home for a week and a half, you’re not shooting the basketball,” he said. “It’s tough to get back in game rhythm. But it’s feeling better with every minute I am out there.”

Poeltl, who moved into the starting lineup in the middle of last season, has been putting up career-best numbers this year with 12.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He said recovering from the virus has been different than coming back after being injured.

“It’s a little weird, because with getting COVID and stuff, it takes the wind away,” Poeltl said. “Everybody is cautious about running or whether you’re putting out too much energy. So even the build-up process was slower than it would be for a regular injury.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie center Jock Landale has also cleared protocols, McDonald adds. Landale, who has only appeared in four games this season, is available tonight for the first time since November 10.
  • The Pelicans are waiting for a foot specialist to process the latest scans on Zion Williamson, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Williamson has been playing 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games, but hasn’t been cleared to participate in practice. The team expects the results to be available within a few days.
  • Amid rumors about his job security, Rockets coach Stephen Silas hasn’t lost track of his dual responsibilities of trying to get a few wins while developing his young players, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. “It’s yeah, we want to win a game,” Silas said in tonight’s pre-game session with the media. “We want to get off this (15-game losing) streak. We want to get off this slide and I want it so badly for the group, but I also understand it’s developing these guys and I got to do both.”

Rockets Weighing Stephen Silas’ Future?

The Rockets are weighing the future of head coach Stephen Silas, sources with knowledge of the situation tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Fischer suggests Silas could become the next NBA head coach on the hot seat following Luke Walton‘s dismissal earlier this week.

Fischer’s report comes with a handful of caveats. Unlike Walton’s Kings, there were no playoff expectations for Silas’ Rockets this season. Additionally, staffers in Houston aren’t “waiting for this shoe drop” in the same way that team personnel in Sacramento were anticipating Walton’s exit. Still, Fischer says whispers have grown louder as of late about Silas’ job security — he has just one more year left on his contract after the 2021/22 season.

Silas’ primary goal for a Houston team without real playoff aspirations has been developing young players like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Those youngsters have gotten off to slow starts in 2021/22, and Fischer says rival coaches characterize the team’s offense as “disorganized and undisciplined.”

The 1-16 Rockets have the NBA’s worst offensive rating, worst assist-to-turnover ratio, and highest turnover rate. Of course, those numbers may be more the byproduct of the young, inexperienced roster than of Silas’ coaching.

As Fischer points out, Houston didn’t initially hire Silas expecting him to oversee a full-fledged rebuild, but the team has gone in that direction over the last 12 months, opting to pass on promising young players in favor of future draft picks in January’s James Harden blockbuster. Some people around the league believe Silas has been put in an impossible position.

“(Silas) is genuinely one of the nicest people in the NBA. He actually cares about people,” one assistant general manager told Fischer. “To put him with a bunch of really young dudes who probably don’t care about anything but their numbers and playing time, he’s just not the right fit.”

Another Western Conference executive who spoke to Bleacher Report wondered what exactly Silas was supposed to do with this year’s roster.

Although there’s no indication that any head coaching change is imminent, Fischer hears from multiple sources that veteran assistant John Lucas II, who has a strong relationship with general manager Rafael Stone, would be the likely interim replacement if Silas is let go during the season.

According to Fischer, Stone is more hands-on than the average NBA general manager, having walked onto Houston’s practice court at one point to preach defensive philosophy. If he were to make a coaching change, the GM would likely want to continue to have the same level of input into on-court tactics and decisions that he does now.

Rockets Notes: Losing Streak, Gordon, Silas, Wall

The frustration in Houston has increased as of late, with the Rockets‘ losing streak reaching 15 games, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes. The Rockets didn’t enter the season expecting to make the playoffs, but the goal was to be more competitive than they’ve been so far — the team has an NBA-worst 1-16 record.

Head coach Stephen Silas wants his club to keep its collective head up, telling reporters that when the Rockets eventually end this slide and look back on it, they’ll see the character they built by fighting to end the streak.

“We have 19-year-olds on the floor,” Silas said, per Feigen. “We have a young 21-year-old point guard (Kevin Porter Jr.) We have a second-year player (Jae’Sean Tate) playing the three. Christian Wood is still a young player. We’re looking at other teams that have gone through this, and we’re staying positive. And we’re keeping the pressure on as far as coaching the guys and making sure we’re at least attempting to do the right things as much as possible.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Eric Gordon began the season as the Rockets’ sixth man, but has started the last three games. As Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, head coach Stephen Silas‘ hope is that playing alongside Gordon will make it easy for rookie Jalen Green to create off the dribble. “Being out there with Eric helps him because Eric is a vet and he knows what he is trying to do and what he’s trying to get to,” Silas said of Green.
  • Feigen of The Houston Chronicle and Kelly Iko of The Athletic both recently published mailbags examining several Rockets-related topics, including how much patience the team will have with Silas. Feigen suggests Houston should give Silas “a leash that is years long, not weeks,” while Iko says he remains confident that the team’s current coach can be the one to successfully lead the multiyear rebuild.
  • Veteran point guard John Wall, who is being held out of games until the Rockets can find a trade partner, may be getting a little restless. As Dan Feldman of NBC Sports notes, Wall agreed on Monday night with a tweet that said he’s “getting punished for something (he) can’t control.”

Texas Notes: Wood, Theis, Forbes, Johnson

Rockets big man Christian Wood has used a perceived Team USA Olympic selection slight and a positional switch from center to power forward as fuel for his own development, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

“(The move to power forward from center) allows me to show what I can do, and it allows the floor to be open, and I can create for other guys and I can create for myself,” said Wood, who connected on 37.4% of his 5.0 three point looks per night during the 2020/21 season. “I wanted to be one of the best bigs in this league, and I have to go out every night and show that.”

“There’s been big-time growth, there’s been big-time maturity, there’s been a lot,” head coach Stephen Silas raved following a 31-point, 14-rebound, three-block performance from Wood in a 124-91 victory over the Thunder on Friday. “I think another part of it is the fact that this is the first time he’s been on the same team for two consecutive years. And you see the growth from year to year, you see the trust that goes back and forth between he and I, the trust that goes back and forth between him and his teammates who know him and know what he can do.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Newly-acquired Rockets center Daniel Theis hopes to stick around Houston to watch the club’s exciting young core develop, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I want to help them grow and get better on court, off court,” Theis said. “I have a good relationship with Jalen (Green). He listens a lot on the court, off the court he’s going to learn a lot. The same with Scoot (Kevin Porter Jr.)… Just help them to grow and get better.” The 6’8″ Theis is starting at center after signing a four-year, $36MM contract with Houston in a sign-and-trade with the Bulls over the summer. The addition of Theis has allowed for the 6’10” Wood to move to the power forward position.
  • On Saturday night, Spurs shooting guard Bryn Forbes reunited with his last club, the Bucks, with whom he won the NBA title this summer. Ahead of the game, he expressed his eagerness to collect his championship ring, per Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “I’m excited to have that in my possession and hold it,” Forbes said. “It’s an accomplishment you dream of your whole life.”
  • Young Spurs small forward Keldon Johnson appears to be developing nicely during this early portion of his third NBA season, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 22-year-old Johnson, selected with the No. 29 pick out of Kentucky in 2019, set a career high for points in a half with 18 against the Nuggets Friday, finishing with 27 for the game. “I just keep pressure on the rim,” Johnson said. “That’s what I do.” In recent comments, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich offered a frank appraisal of Johnson’s strengths — and weaknesses. “When he catches and makes quick decisions — shoots it or passes it — that works best for him,” Popovich said. “When he’s just dribbling and trying to beat somebody, that doesn’t work out very well.”

Rockets Notes: Porter, Silas, Theis, Wood, Tate, Gordon

Third-year guard Kevin Porter Jr., who dealt with off-court issues early in his NBA career, said earlier this week that the Rockets “saved my life” and “picked me up when I was down.” Head coach Stephen Silas isn’t taking those words lightly, telling reporters on Tuesday that it means a lot to him to develop such important relationships with players, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“It means everything,” Silas said. “That’s why you coach. For the stories, for the guys who maybe aren’t given a shot or feel like they are not able to have the opportunity they deserve. Hopefully, I can put … him in a position where he can be as successful as he can possibly be, whatever it is.”

Silas only has one year of experience as a head coach under his belt, but showed during his years as an assistant coach that he was capable of making those connections with his players, according to Rockets guard D.J. Augustin.

“Steve’s always been like that,” Augustin said, per Feigen. “I was with Steve in Charlotte when he was an assistant. He’s always been a great people person. Some coaches, they’re not good with communicating with players off the court. Steve is that guy who has the ability to kind of connect with players, especially with younger guys.”

Here’s more on the Rockets: