Stephen Silas

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Pelicans, Silas, Allen

Luka Doncic played Saturday’s bronze medal game with an injured left wrist, but he tells Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News that it’s nothing Mavericks fans need to worry about. Doncic hit his wrist on plexiglass at courtside during Thursday’s semifinal contest. He had it wrapped in ice afterward and used several strips of tape to stabilize the wrist and forearm area for the bronze medal showdown.

“My wrist is going to be fine,” Doncic said. “I need a couple of days off from basketball. I’ve had every day basketball since the beginning of NBA season. A lot of games, so I need a couple days off.”

Doncic will return to Slovenia and will host a Mavericks contingent next week that includes owner Mark Cuban, new head coach Jason Kidd, general manager Nico Harrison and special advisor Dirk Nowitzki. They will finalize a five-year max-salary extension for Doncic that projects to be worth up to $207MM.

After that meeting, Kidd and director of player health and performance Casey Smith will head to Latvia to meet with Kristaps Porzingis, tweets Marc Stein of Substack.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans were hoping to make a splash in free agency, but the results have been disappointing, writes Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. New Orleans was rumored to be in contention for an established point guard such as Chris Paul or Kyle Lowry, but instead the team got rid of three starters with no obvious upgrade in return. Kushner notes that it’s dangerous for a team in the NBA’s second-smallest market with no tradition of success to rely on signing free agents.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is ready to focus on basketball again after spending 10 days in quarantine following a positive COVID-19 test, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas, who wasn’t able to be in the draft room or attend the post-draft press conference, expressed his enthusiasm about the team’s four first-round picks — Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher. “I was excited to get all four guys because I had done research on all for of them and studied them. We had talked a lot about them,” Silas said. “It all worked out almost as a perfect world for us as far as who we got and where we got them and now looking forward with them.”
  • The Grizzlies received a B-minus from ESPN’s Kevin Pelton for Friday’s trade that sent Grayson Allen to the Bucks in exchange for Sam Merrill and two second round picks. Pelton states that Allen wasn’t in Memphis’ long-term plans and may not have gotten another contract after his rookie deal expires next summer.

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stone, Williams, Moore, Hayes

Rockets coach Stephen Silas didn’t attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team’s draft picks because he’s been placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Silas has “very minor” coronavirus symptoms and is fully vaccinated. He was involved in the team’s draft preparations, including the workout of Jalen Green, whom the Rockets chose with the No. 2 pick.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets kept their three first-round picks on Thursday and also acquired a fourth pick to select big man Alperen Sengun in the first round. The team’s GM, Rafael Stone, said the rookies now must show they were worthy of the front office’s faith in them, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s going to be on Jalen and on us to prove it out, but not just him,” Stone said. “It’s all these guys and the guys on our current roster, we’re all in it together. We got to grow. We’ve got to help each other and we’ve got to get better.”
  • Ziaire Williams was hoping the Grizzlies would use the No. 10 pick on him, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I kept it a secret because I didn’t want to mess it up,” Williams said. “But truthfully, my family will tell you, (VP of basketball affairs) Tayshaun Prince, (GM) Zach (Kleiman), everyone, this is where I really wanted to be.”
  • Ben Moore will play on the Grizzlies’ summer league team, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Moore, who spent last season in Australia with South East Melbourne, played two games with the Pacers in 2017/18.
  • Jaxson Hayes was shocked twice with a stun gun and may have had force applied to his neck during an altercation with Los Angeles police, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. An investigation into whether officers’ use of force was appropriate is underway while Hayes faces a count of resisting arrest, Vargas adds. The Pelicans center was arrested early Wednesday following a domestic dispute call. He was charged with a felony.

Southwest Notes: Green, Grizz, Holt, Silas

Despite a disappointing Game 7 first-round elimination, rookie Mavericks shooting guard Josh Green learned plenty during his first NBA playoff experience, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.

Green, the No. 18 pick in the 2020 draft out of Arizona, only made a brief cameo in the series, logging four minutes during a 106-81 Game 4 blowout.

“I’ve got a whole experience the last three weeks of watching five of the best players in the NBA,” Green said during his media exit interview for the season. “I think it’s just one of those things where, obviously you want to be on the court playing. But at the same time, just try to take away as much as you can from being around great veterans on your team and just in general just watching games and just taking in as much as you can.”

Green will represent his native Australia in the Olympics next month, where he hopes to soak up more NBA knowledge from veteran teammates like Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • After the Grizzlies returned to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal pinpoints three key elements the club needs to focus on during the 2021 offseason. Barnes notes that the club could use upgrades in bench scoring, veteran leadership out of a new player who sees rotational minutes, and long-range shooting. When it comes to the latter category, Barnes notes that the Grizzlies connected on 35.6% on of their three-point attempts during the 2020/21 season, just the 20th-best percentage in the league.
  • The Spurs have promoted chairman Peter J. Holt to a managing partner position, the team has announced in a statement. Holt’s father, Peter M. Holt, bought the franchise in 1996, and his mother, Julianna Hawn Holt, succeeded Peter M. Holt as company chairwoman from 2016-2019. In the same press release, the Spurs also announced that Austin billionaire Michael Dell and global investment firm Sixth Street have joined the club as strategic partners. Tom Orsborne of the San Antonio Express-News opines that adding Dell and Sixth Street strengthens the team’s long-term commitment to staying in San Antonio.
  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas spoke with Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle about how growing up around the NBA as the son of  former player and coach Paul Silas informed his appreciation of the game. “Being Paul Silas’ son has always been great for me, and it obviously comes with challenges for me but I never shied away from that,” Stephen said.

Rafael Stone Talks Upcoming Draft, Scouting, John Wall, More

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone sat down for an extended conversation with Kelly Iko of The Athletic as the team heads into a major offseason, looking to continue a massive roster overhaul.

After being compelled into trading All-Star guard James Harden to Brooklyn, an injury-plagued Houston team finished with a 17-55 record during its inaugural season under new head coach Stephen Silas.

In the interview, Stone discusses a variety of topics, including how he and his front office team are prepping for what could be a loaded 2021 draft, the way he and his staff evaluate talent in an effort to land under-the-radar depth, and what he projects as the futures of two of the team’s priciest veteran players.

The full story is well worth a read, as Stone also touches on his relationship with team owner Tilman Fertitta, how the team dealt with COVID-19-related challenges during the 2020/21 season, his chemistry with Silas, and more.

Here are some highlights:

On taking an open-minded approach to talent in the upcoming 2021 draft:

“I’m definitely not geared towards any one type of player; we’re just going to try and find the player or players that we think have the potential to be the best. We’re not a team in our iteration that should be focused on this position versus that position, A. But B, I don’t know that any team is generally doing that in the draft. I think the draft is where you’re trying to find just good talented basketball players, I think, where you start thinking about real positionality and holes is more free agency.”

On Houston’s scouting process:

“It’s definitely a collective effort. It’s not just me, I’d say I do my best to use as many different sources of information as I can… I watch a ton. I try to watch them in different situations, I try to envision how they’ll look in our system, both offensively and defensively… My way of thinking about it is you try to funnel. If you can get people who think about basketball differently excited about the same guy, then maybe that’s an interesting guy. When you get to undrafted free agents, or the end of the second round in some respects, you can take a little bit more risk.”

On pricey point guard John Wall‘s long-term fit with Houston:

“John was great… Highly competitive guy who’s nice, super high basketball IQ. We were talking to our young guys the other day, and they were laughing about how John looks like he’s half-listening, and then they’ve got questions and he’s walking them through A, B, C through quadruple Z. He’s been around long enough now. He understands his position, he understands his teammates’ positions, he understands what the defense is doing. Having guys around like that, that’s just about what a pro is supposed to do; you’re supposed to get the whole thing… It’s great for young guys to see that because that’s the level of knowledge that you should attain. You’re not going to have that as a rookie.”

On talented swingman Kevin Porter Jr.:

“His ballhandling is exceptional. That’s not a secret. His passing is really good, too. It did seem like he was miscast playing off the ball. So maybe we were a little more excited about him because we thought that we could maybe unlock a higher upside by moving him onto the ball. We might have been more excited about him than other teams. I’m not in their room, I don’t know what other teams were doing, so I have no idea. But we really liked him.”

Texas Notes: Tate, Silas, DeRozan, Doncic

Rockets wing Jae’Sean Tate enjoyed being able to hone his raw defensive promise at the pro level in his rookie season, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

“If you pay attention to later in the season,” Tate told Iko, “I started to play without my hands and try to beat (players he was guarding) to the spot. I think my angles have improved tremendously since the beginning of the season, just picking my angles and how to cut people off.”

Iko notes that Rockets head coach Stephen Silas has entrusted a variety of defensive assignments across a variety of positions to the 6’4″ Tate, who ranks in the top 97th percentile of league players in his ability to guard all of the NBA’s positions.

“I’ve been grateful enough to be able to play different positions throughout this year,” Tate said of his positional versatility for the depleted Rockets this season. “And for them to give me that freedom to play point guard — I played a little bit a point guard (in the past) but to actually start at the one certain games and be the floor general where I got other younger players telling me to lead us out there — that was a big eye-opener for me because I’ve never been in a position like that.”

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Despite a lackluster season in Houston that will send the 17-55 Rockets to their first lottery appearance in years, new head coach Stephen Silas still has the approval of owner Tilman Fertitta, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
  • As Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan enters free agency, he is amenable to testing the market, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 32-year-old vet, a four-time All-Star during his time with the Raptors, acknowledged his appreciation for the three years he has spent in San Antonio. “It’s definitely an honor to play for this organization,” DeRozan said when the club’s season officially concluded this week. “Everything they did for me and how they treated me, it was definitely A1.”
  • Mavericks All-Star guard Luka Doncic and his team are applying lessons learned during last season’s Orlando “bubble” playoffs for Dallas’ second consecutive first-round matchup with the Clippers, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News“I think last year helped this year,” said Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith. “When the game goes down to the wire, we know we’ve got to get that one more stop or that one more rebound.” With Doncic and fellow prime Dallas scorer Kristaps Porzingis going cold in the fourth quarter, Doncic knew to turn to the team’s role players to help ice a Game 1 victory over the Clippers.

Rockets Notes: Silas, Offseason, Stone, Sheirr

Rockets coach Stephen Silas dealt with a pandemic and frequent roster churn during his inaugural season as an NBA head coach. Kelly Iko of The Athletic details how Silas handled coaching a team that suddenly found itself shifting into rebuild mode midway through the 2020/21 season, and what he’s expecting out of the club moving forward.

“I’m definitely encouraged,” Silas said of the team’s future prospects. “It was a tough year for sure but going into next year I’ll be a better coach than when I first came in the door. We’ll have dealt with a lot of things that I haven’t dealt with before. To be discouraged isn’t even in the realm of things.”

Silas intends to utilize standout young guard Kevin Porter Jr. more at the point next season. Silas appears excited to explore the abilities of center Christian Wood, who looked promising when healthy during the first season of the three-year, $41MM contract he inked in the 2020 offseason.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle takes a look at what could be a productive offseason for the Rockets. Feigen appears optimistic that Kevin Porter Jr., and rookies Kenyon Martin Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate could serve as intriguing players if they continue to develop along the trajectory that Houston management is anticipating.
  • Rockets team president Rafael Stone discussed the team’s ongoing rebuild and its offseason, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. It appears Stone is opening to trading future draft equity if it can yield team improvement. “For sure, draft picks are at least as valuable as trade assets as they are as picks,” Stone said, though he tempered that note by painting a long-term perspective. “We’re really committed to building something to give us a chance to win a championship. We’re not packaging a bunch of picks to barely make the playoffs for a year or two, not at all. We’re trying to build something sustainable and with players that will be good now and great later.” 
  • The Rockets have promoted Gretchen Sheirr as their new president of business operations, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Sheirr will enter her 21st season with the club next season, having started as an account executive before eventually becoming the team’s CRO, then COO.

Tilman Fertitta Says He’s Excited About Rockets’ Future

The Rockets have lost an incredible 43 of their last 48 games, will finish the season with the NBA’s worst record, and will only have a 52.1% chance to keep their first-round pick, which is top-four protected. However, team owner Tilman Fertitta tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he remains bullish on the future of the franchise.

“I never thought I could feel this good after winning only 16 games,” Fertitta said of his 16-53 club. “I never thought I could feel this good when I’ve been so upset about losing. But when I look at all the draft picks that we have and the future, I’m just happy. I know it’s unusual to feel this good with your coach (Stephen Silas) and your general manager (Rafael Stone), but I do.”

If the Rockets’ 2021 first-round pick falls outside of the top four, they’ll have to send it to the Thunder in exchange for Miami’s first-round selection. Houston also owes two more future first-rounders to Oklahoma City, in 2024 (top-four protected) and 2026 (top-four protected).

However, the Rockets have acquired several other first-round picks and swaps in various trades, including the James Harden blockbuster — they’ll have Portland’s and Brooklyn’s first-round picks this year, as well as first-rounders from the Nets, Pistons, Wizards, and Bucks in future drafts. Fertitta expressed a willingness to be patient waiting for those extra selections to pay dividends.

“It could be 2027 that we get a top-five pick that ends up being the next greatest player,” Fertitta told MacMahon. “We don’t know, but my people have shown all they’ve done so far is made the right decision, and I’m proud of all of them. I’m proud of the basketball ops people and I’m proud of Silas, because they keep showing me they’re doing the right things.”

Fertitta specifically credited Stone for the acquisitions of Christian Wood and young building blocks like Kevin Porter and Kenyon Martin Jr. He also praised Silas for the work he has done dealing with adversity this season and developing those young players. The Rockets’ owner added that he doesn’t have a specific timeline in mind for the club becoming a legit contender again.

“I can tell you this: I’m going to be patient,” Fertitta told ESPN. “I know my basketball guys know what they’re doing. We’re not going to go do something stupid to try to get into the playoffs next year that then will prevent us from competing for a championship in a couple years. … I think we’ll be much better next year and we’ll be much better the following year and then we’ll be much better the following year.”

Southwest Notes: Bradley, Porter, Pelicans, Martin

Rockets reserve guard Avery Bradley is close to returning to the floor from a calf injury, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Bradley has missed the past two games for Houston, and four of the last five.

“I’ve just been dealing with this calf situation all season,” Bradley noted. “Unfortunately, it came back a little bit. I’m just trying to be smart and making sure I’m working hard each and every day so I can come back strong.”

The Heat signed Bradley to a two-year, $11.6MM deal during the 2020 offseason, though the second year is a team option. Injuries and COVID-19 have limited the 30-year-old to just 25 games combined for Miami and Houston this season.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Though recently-acquired Rockets swingman Kevin Porter Jr. enjoyed a career night against the Bucks on Thursday, head coach Stephen Silas is hopeful Porter can have more consistently effective scoring nights, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “I don’t really know if we have a true feel for how good he can be or not,” Silas observed. “I think if you take the game that he had against Minnesota (10 points on 2-of-12 shooting) and the game he had against Milwaukee, you don’t want to really focus on either. You want to focus somewhere in between. He had a poor game and then a great game. You can’t do that in an NBA season where you’re kind of going up and down, up and down with your emotions or your evaluations.”
  • As the Pelicans remain in the play-in tournament mix, Will Guillory of The Athletic assesses several important threads worth tracking in May. Key among these is the play of Brandon Ingram, who Guillory believes needs to improve his passing and defense to be a true long-term compliment to All-Star forward Zion Williamson. Guillory also hopes to see more of versatile guards Lonzo Ball and Kira Lewis Jr. in tandem on the floor.
  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle appraises the growth of athletic rookie wing Kenyon Martin Jr., the youngest Rockets player. Martin is all too aware of what he needs to improve going forward to achieve his full potential. “I know what I need to work on and I need to focus on to get ready for next season,” Martin said. “Making my shot more consistent… Being comfortable on the ball and defensively, just learning from watching film and picking it up on that side of the floor.” Martin is averaging 13.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting across his past four games.

Rockets Notes: Brown, Porter, Silas, House

The incident in which Rockets guard Sterling Brown was assaulted in Miami was more serious than first reported and could get several players in trouble for violating the league’s health and safety protocols, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko and Shams Charania report. Brown was beaten up by several assailants and was hit over the head with a bottle, leaving him woozy. The assault occurred after Brown after he entered the wrong “sprinter van” while exiting a strip club.

Brown required stitching in multiple areas for his facial injuries and underwent several tests. The team initially feared he might be in critical condition.

Five or more Rockets went to the strip club early Monday, which would violate NBA protocols that prohibit players from going to bars, lounges or clubs. The league has opened up an investigation into the incident.

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • Kevin Porter Jr. stepped in to protect Brown during the incident and suffered minor injuries, Charania tweets. Porter won’t be able to play until Sunday, as he has been placed on the NBA’s health and safety protocols list.
  • The altercation is the latest off-court distraction that first-year coach Stephen Silas has dealt with this season. He says it comes with the territory, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets“I’m dealing as well as I can,” he said. “It’s not an easy situation, but that’s the job. That’s what I’m here for. My job is to lead us through these choppy waters.”
  • There’s still no timetable for Danuel House‘s return from a sprained right ankle, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. He suffered the injury on April 5. “We’re doing a good job of rehabbing and taking our time and making sure it is handled in the right way,” House said. “The medical staff hasn’t really given me a precise date. I’m just going by rehabilitation and movements day-by-day until they give me the OK.”

Rockets Notes: Young Players, Tucker Deal, Lamb

As injured Rockets veterans continue to rejoin the roster, head coach Stephen Silas still intends to keep some rotation minutes open for the development of Houston’s youth movement, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

The most recent player to return to the Houston lineup is center Christian Wood, who rejoined the team on the floor last night after a 17-game absence due to a sprained ankle. Wing Danuel House Jr. also recently returned from his own injury absence, and veteran guards John Wall and Victor Oladipo are expected back Friday.

A pair of tantalizing 20-year-olds – Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. – still figure to earn major minutes even with the older players back on the floor. “I will say I am working on it and I am attentive to the fact I want those young guys to play,” Silas said.

There’s more out of Houston:

  • Following the deal that sent P.J. Tucker, Rodions Kurucs and a 2022 first-round draft pick (Milwaukee’s own) to the Bucks, Kelly Iko of The Athletic explains why he thinks both the Rockets and Milwaukee should be happy with the trade. In return, Houston received some promising draft assets, plus veteran reserve point guard D.J. Augustin and young power forward D.J. Wilson. Iko is intrigued by the lengthy Wilson’s upside and fit within a Silas system, Augustin’s veteran know-how, and the Rockets front office’s acquisition of two Bucks first-round picks in the deal.
  • Rockets two-way player Anthony Lamb was named the G League’s Most Improved Player due to his stellar output for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, G League affiliate for the Rockets, according to an NBAGL press release.
  • As we previously relayed, Rockets swingman David Nwaba initially opted to avoid surgery on his injured wrist to help a Rockets club riddled with player absences. He subsequently re-aggravated the injury, making surgery a possibility once again.