Sterling Brown

And-Ones: Brown, Bates, Afflalo, All-Underrated Team

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved a $750K settlement in a lawsuit brought by former Bucks player Sterling Brown over his 2018 arrest, according to an Associated Press report. Brown was taken to the ground and shocked with a Taser after he was approached by police over a parking violation.

As part of the settlement, Brown was given an apology from the city and Milwaukee police that “recognizes that the incident escalated in an unnecessary manner and despite Mr. Brown’s calm behavior.” It also requires the city to commit to changes in the police department’s standard operating procedures. Brown is currently playing for the Rockets.

We have more news and notes from around the basketball world:

  • High school star Emoni Bates decommitted from Michigan State and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeff Borzello take a look at where Bates might end up. Bates, who is currently attending a prep school created by his father, won’t be eligible for the draft until 2023. Numerous colleges have made offers to Bates after he decommitted but he still has another year to go before he pursue that route. He could take the G League route if he graduates this spring but would have to stay there for two years due to the NBA’s age limit.
  • Former NBA player Arron Afflalo was part of a group that tried to purchase the Timberwolves and Afflalo is continuing to seek other opportunities to become a part-owner of a franchise. The Athletic’s David Aldridge spoke with Afflalo about his conversations with the Timberwolves and other topics.
  • Rudy Gobert, Jrue Holiday and De’Anthony Melton top the list of players on John Hollinger’s All-Underrated Team. The Athletic columnist lists his top 10 in that category, plus another group of that made his Honorable Mention list.

Rockets’ Kevin Porter Jr. Fined $50,000

Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. has been fined $50,000 for violating the NBA’s health and safety Protocols, the league announced in a press release.

Porter, who will turn 21 next week, violated these rules when he attended a club in Miami on April 19. The NBA’s protocols prohibit players and staff from attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people, along with entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments.

The $50K fine is in line with what other players have received this season for protocol violations, though losing $50K will be more meaningful for Porter than for violators like James Harden and Kyrie Irving. The second-year Houston wing is making just $1.72MM this season, a fraction of what Harden and Irving are earning.

Porter has served as a key cog in the Rockets’ rotation this season, averaging 15.2 points, 6.2 assists and 31.8 minutes in 22 games (19 starts).

Sterling Brown, who was assaulted and severely injured in the incident, will not be fined, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The NBA considers its investigation closed unless new information arises, Stein adds (via Twitter).

Health Updates: Rockets, Nance, Cavs, Hachimura, Clifford

After missing the Rockets‘ last three games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, second-year wing Kevin Porter Jr. has rejoined the team and will be ready to play on Tuesday, head coach Stephen Silas said today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).

Rockets big man Christian Wood, who missed Saturday’s game with a minor ankle injury, is also in position to return on Tuesday, Silas said (Twitter link via Berman). The team should get further reinforcements prior to the end of the season, according to Silas, who expressed optimism that D.J. Augustin (ankle), Sterling Brown (knee), and Eric Gordon (groin) will also be back in the coming weeks.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who injured his right thumb on Sunday, has been diagnosed with a fracture in that thumb, according to a team press release. Nance has been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. Toronto and will be re-evaluated daily as he undergoes treatment and rehab. Sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Nance will probably miss at least a week or two. With less than three weeks left in the regular season, there’s no guarantee we’ll see him again in 2020/21.
  • Within the same release, the Cavaliers provided updates on several more players, announcing that Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion symptoms), and Lamar Stevens (concussion symptoms) have also hit the injured list and will miss tonight’s game.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (knee) is set to return on Monday after missing the last four games, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who registered a positive COVID-19 test, will remain out for Monday’s game vs. the Lakers, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who tweets that Tyrone Corbin will once again act as the club’s interim head coach. Clifford continues to be asymptomatic, Robbins notes.

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.”

Southwest Notes: S. Brown, Mavs, Louzada, Eubanks

Rockets wing Sterling Brown was jumped outside of a club in Miami late on Sunday night, according to Shams Charania and Kelly Iko of The Athletic, who say Brown was hit in the head with a bottle and required medical attention into Monday. Brown, who was admitted to a local hospital early Monday morning, suffered facial lacerations in the incident and was discharged later in the day, per Charania and Iko. The 26-year-old didn’t know the assailants.

While Brown was ruled out of the Rockets’ game on Monday in Miami, that was the fifth straight game he has missed due to left knee soreness, unrelated to Sunday’s incident. It’s not clear whether the attack will push back his potential return date at all.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • The Mavericks have fired director of player personnel Tony Ronzone, sources tell Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. It’s unclear when the dismissal occurred, per Townsend. However, Ronzone was accused of sexual assault in 2019 and that allegation became public last year. According to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, the Mavs fired Ronzone after learning new information related to that allegation.
  • While signing draft-and-stash prospect Didi Louzada to a rest-of-season contract will benefit the Pelicans from a cap perspective, allowing them to fill their 14th spot while remaining out of tax territory, John Hollinger of The Athletic questions whether the 2019 second-rounder is ready for the NBA. Louzada, 21, has struggled with his shot in Australia’s NBL and signing him now will make him a little more expensive in 2021/22, when New Orleans will likely be up against the tax line once again.
  • Several members of the Spurs‘ young core are thrilled to see big man Drew Eubanks thriving in an increased role lately, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Eubanks has averaged 10.6 PPG and 9.2 RPG in just 19.8 MPG in his last five games, including his first career start on Saturday. “He’s out there killing it,” Keldon Johnson said after Eubanks put up 13 points and 13 rebounds in Saturday’s win. “I can’t be any happier for Drew. He works so hard.”

Rockets Notes: Olynyk, Bradley, Martin, Brown

The qualifying tournaments to determine the final four men’s basketball teams that will participate in the Tokyo Olympics will begin on June 29, about a month before the NBA’s free agent period gets underway.

Rockets big man Kelly Olynyk will be a free agent this summer, but he’s not planning to skip those qualifiers to avoid risking an injury before signing a new contract. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle details, Olynyk acknowledged that he’ll take his impending free agency into account as he considers his decision, but he wants to represent his home country as Team Canada looks to secure an Olympic berth.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to play in the Olympics and represent Canada on the highest stage. Hopefully, we can this summer,” Olynyk said. “… Usually, your free agency is done July 1 and the Olympics are the beginning of August and you’re good to go. Now, the Olympics are the end of July and free agency is the beginning of August, so it’s kind of flip-flopped. Obviously, that plays a role and you have to think about it, whether it’s insurance or what the best route to go is. We’ll cross those bridges when they come but my goal is to go out there and play and represent my country.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Since the Rockets don’t project to be able to open up much cap room this offseason, John Hollinger and Kelly Iko of The Athletic wonder if the team might opt to remain over the cap, perhaps bringing back Olynyk and Avery Bradley on short-term deals as possible 2022 trade chips.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Iko takes a deep dive into Kenyon Martin Jr.‘s development as a rookie this season, exploring the strides he has made and how he fits into Houston’s long-term plans. Martin pointed to improving his shot off the dribble as something he intends to work on before his second season.
  • Rockets wing Sterling Brown has missed the team’s last two games with left knee soreness, but head coach Stephen Silas doesn’t expect the injury to be a “long-time thing,” predicting that Brown will return soon, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas also offered high praise for Brown’s play this season: “He’s shooting the ball consistently for us, shooting the ball extremely well, having a career season. He’s someone I can put on the floor whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he will produce on both ends of the floor.”

Rockets Notes: Olynyk, Stone, Wall, Brown

The Rockets are experimenting with Kelly Olynyk playing alongside Christian Wood before facing a decision on Olynyk this offseason, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Acquired from the Heat in the Victor Oladipo trade last month, Olynyk has a $12.5MM expiring contract. He has been playing well since coming to Houston and may be raising his value on the free agent market. Iko suggests the Rockets have a limited figure in mind to offer Olynyk and want to take a long look at how his game meshes with Wood’s.

“It seems like they’re getting better every game,” coach Stephen Silas said of his frontcourt combination. “They’re both getting their opportunities, obviously. … They’re starting to play well together and figure it out. There’s a lot I could tell them as far as where they need to be on the floor, but when you play five-out basketball, it’s hard to tell a guy where they should be all the time. They’re both two smart guys; they’re figuring it out. It’s a work in progress, but I like what I see so far.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • In a radio appearance today on SportsTalk 790, Rockets general manager Rafael Stone promised the organization will be “aggressive” on the trade and free agent markets this summer, but his goal remains to “build really smart,” relays Ben DuBose of USA Today’s RocketsWire. “We do think we can be competitive very quickly. We would hope to field a much more competitive team next year,” Stone said. “But in terms of how long the rebuild takes, a lot of that depends on how long it takes us to acquire a player or two who have the ability to be truly elite. Maybe we even have one or two of those guys on our roster. But it’s not a one-day process.”
  • John Wall returned to the court tonight after missing the past four games with hip, hamstring and knee issues, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Silas said Wall’s minutes will be limited, but he didn’t provide a specific number.
  • Sterling Brown has earned Silas’ faith in any role, Feigen writes in a full story. Brown signed a one-year deal in the offseason and will be back on the market this summer. “I trust Sterling as a starter (or) coming off the bench,” Silas said. “He’s been super, super consistent for us this season. Him as a starter, him coming off the bench, he’s very steady.”

Rockets Likely To Trade Oladipo Before Deadline

The Heat and Knicks, two of the teams linked most frequently to Victor Oladipo, are reluctant to offer substantial packages for the Rockets guard, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). However, that doesn’t mean that Houston is considering moving the two-time All-Star for pennies on the dollar.

[RELATED: Heat, Knicks, Pistons have shown interest in Oladipo]

According to Wojnarowski, a market has developed for Oladipo, with teams offering some combination of young players and/or first-round picks. The clubs making those offers will be capped out this offseason, Woj notes, which means acquiring Oladipo’s Bird rights would be crucial to locking him up long-term. Miami and New York, on the other hand, project to have significant cap room and could conceivably sign Oladipo outright in free agency.

The Rockets appear likely to move Oladipo before this Thursday’s trade deadline, says Wojnarowski.

[RELATED: Hawks worth keeping eye on for Oladipo]

Oladipo hasn’t recaptured his All-Star form since suffering a ruptured quad tendon in 2019, but remains relatively productive, averaging 20.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 4.7 APG on .411/.333/.767 shooting in 29 games (33.4 MPG) for Indiana and Houston this season. He’ll be seeking a raise on his current $21MM salary this offseason when he reaches unrestricted free agency.

Besides Oladipo, not many other Rockets players who are on the trade block are generating major interest ahead of this week’s deadline, per David Aldridge, Kelly Iko, and Danny Leroux of The Athletic. Danuel House has generated some interest, but the market for Sterling Brown and Ben McLemore appears limited.

Rockets Rumors: Oladipo, Tucker, Gordon, More

With the Rockets in the midst of a 13-game losing streak and their playoff chances dwindling, people around the NBA are wondering if general manager Rafael Stone will launch a full-scale rebuild this month in what could be a seller’s market, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

One rival scout told Fischer that he keeps hearing the Rockets will hold a “fire sale” prior to this year’s deadline, while an assistant general manager predicted that the club will “burn the house down.” Another assistant GM told Bleacher Report that Houston has been starting to call teams about deals.

The Rockets haven’t had a sub-.500 season since 2005/06 and it’s unclear whether team owner Tilman Fertitta would have the patience for a multiyear rebuild. As Fischer explains, Houston still had playoff aspirations when it traded James Harden to Brooklyn in January — the decision to flip Caris LeVert for Victor Oladipo in that blockbuster deal was made in part due to the club’s belief that Oladipo would make more of an impact in the postseason race.

However, the Rockets also have incentive not to try to fight their way back up the standings, as their first-round pick will be swapped with either the Thunder’s or Heat’s pick (whichever is worse) if it doesn’t land in the top four. Even a last-place finish won’t guarantee that the Rockets hang onto their own first-rounder, but the lower they finish, the better their odds are of hanging onto a top pick that could help them secure a long-term franchise cornerstone.

Here’s more on the Rockets:

  • Fischer suggests that if the Rockets hang onto Oladipo through the trade deadline, a sign-and-trade deal in the offseason appears to be the most likely outcome. “They’re too smart to just whiff and get nothing off of him,” a Western Conference official said. Still, getting anything of value in a sign-and-trade would hinge on Oladipo wanting to join a team that doesn’t have the cap room available to sign him outright.
  • The Sixers are on a long list of potential suitors for P.J. Tucker, according to Fischer, who says the veteran forward would welcome the opportunity to join a 76ers team led by former Rockets GM Daryl Morey. League sources tell Bleacher Report that Houston could’ve gotten a late first-round pick from the Timberwolves in the 2020 draft for Tucker, but the team will be hard-pressed to get that strong a return now, since the 35-year-old has had a down year. “If they had a first for him now, he’d already be gone,” one GM said.
  • Fischer adds that there has been a “long-whispered rumor” that the Nets and Rockets could make a swap involving Tucker and Spencer Dinwiddie. According to Fischer, wherever Tucker ends up, he’ll be looking for one last lucrative contract in the offseason, having turned down a two-year extension from the Rockets earlier in the season.
  • There’s little expectation that the Rockets will trade Eric Gordon, sources tell Fischer. However, clubs may target some of the team’s other, more affordable wings, including Sterling Brown, Danuel House, Ben McLemore, and Jae’Sean Tate.

O’Connor’s Latest: Ball, Rockets, Dieng, A. Johnson

While Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball was a subject of frequent trade speculation earlier in the season, trade talks involving the former No. 2 overall pick have “fizzled” for the time being, sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. A report last week also suggested that a Ball deal is becoming less likely as the trade deadline nears.

Still, that doesn’t mean that Ball will be untouchable before March 25. As O’Connor writes, New Orleans will have to assess how high it’s willing to go to retain the fourth-year point guard in restricted free agency this summer. If they think there’s a chance a rival team will give him an offer sheet they won’t want to match, the Pelicans have to at least consider getting something in return for Ball now.

Executives around the NBA still aren’t sure whether the Pelicans will end up as buyers or sellers, according to O’Connor, so they’ll be a team worth keeping a close eye on at the start of the second half.

Here are a few more items of interest from O’Connor:

  • While the Rockets are getting calls about veterans like Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker, multiple league sources believe that young wing Sterling Brown will garner interest and is another candidate to be moved, per O’Connor.
  • Multiple front office executives believe Grizzlies big man Gorgui Dieng is a trade candidate to watch, says O’Connor. His $17.3MM cap hit may be a challenge to match for some teams, but his contract is expiring and he’s a solid role player.
  • Raptors 905 forward Alize Johnson, who has played well in the G League bubble, is receiving interest from the Raptors, Magic, Rockets, Spurs, and Suns for a possible NBA contract, a league source tells The Ringer.