Tad Brown

Rockets Notes: Fertitta, T. Brown, Wilson, Exum

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has watched his team go from among the NBA’s best to the league’s worst record very quickly, and he’s realistic about how long it will take to get back on top, writes Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston arrived in training camp with playoff aspirations and a veteran core in place, but after a massive roster overhaul, the Rockets are just 4-35 since February 5.

“It’s really, really hard because I am competitive and I hate to lose,” Fertitta said. “But my people, including (CEO) Tad (Brown) and (general manager Rafael Stone) and even my son Patrick, just (say) the biggest mistake you can make right now is use all these picks to be a .500 club, because you’re never able to be a championship caliber club,” Fertitta said. “But I hate losing so much I’m totally staying out of it, because I’m scared that I can make the wrong decisions. I want to win today. I just have to (stay out of it) because they’re right and they just gave me examples and examples.”

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • Tad Brown has become the latest high-profile figure to leave the organization, announcing Friday that he will step down as CEO at the end of the season, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Brown made it clear that he wasn’t being pushed out and said he spent several months considering his future before deciding to leave. “This is something that is going to be a part of my heart and soul for the rest of my life,” he said. “It’s very difficult to transition out, but I do believe it’s the right thing to do.”
  • The Rockets were down to seven healthy players for Saturday’s loss in Denver, which meant extended minutes for some players who aren’t used to a lot of court time, Feigen notes in a separate story. D.J. Wilson played 40 minutes and K.J. Martin was on the court for 42 minutes. “We put the work in behind closed doors,” Wilson said. “When our number is called, we’re definitely going to be ready, each and every one of us. When you’re not getting those minutes on a game-to-game basis, you can’t do much but ask to play. I don’t think anyone was asking for a sub. Everybody was enjoying the minutes. It was just tough we couldn’t get the W.”
  • Dante Exum, who was acquired in January as part of the James Harden trade, is considered out for the rest of the season, Feigen tweets. Exum only played six games this season because of a calf injury and hasn’t been available since the trade. He has a $9.6MM expiring contract.

Antetokounmpo, Griffin, Williamson To Help Arena Workers

Bucks forward and reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo and his family are donating $100K to Fiserv Forum staff members to help them weather the financial storm during the league’s suspension of play, according to his Twitter account.

Antetokounmpo is following the lead of the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love, who pledged a similar amount to arena employees in Cleveland. The Pistons’ Blake Griffin is making the same donation to workers at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena, according to the Detroit News’ Rod Beard.

Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson is pledging to cover the salaries for all of their arena staff workers for the next 30 days, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

Numerous teams have come forward to say that they’ll keep their employees on the payroll during the stoppage as well as compensate full-time and part-time staff who work their games. However, many other workers in these arenas, such as security guards and concession workers, are often employed by other companies. The players donations would presumably provide assistance to those workers.

The Pistons added their name to the list of teams that will compensate workers on Thursday, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Wizards did the same, Candace Bucker of the Washington Post tweets. The Kings have also stepped forward, according to James Ham of NBC Sports, The Trail Blazers are formulating a plan to pay their part-time arena employees for the team’s nine remaining home games and will reassess the program in 30 days, Jason Quick of The Athletic tweets.

Rockets CEO Tad Brown vowed to make sure their employees would “take care of our part-time employees as well as all of our employees,” Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle relays.

The Mavericks, Hawks, Cavaliers, and Nets have already stated their intentions to provide financial support to employees and arena workers.

Southwest Notes: Capela, Rondo, Chalmers, Temple

Rockets CEO Tad Brown sounded an optimistic note regarding negotiations with restricted free agent Clint Capela, Marc Berman of KRIV tweets. While much of the talk surrounding the Rockets in recent days has been focused on the possibility of signing Carmelo Anthony, Capela is a more important piece. He’s the only player on our list of the top 10 free agents this summer who hasn’t signed a contract. Brown believes that will change quickly.

“We love Clint. Clint is a big part of our team…We are very hopeful we’re going to get something done very soon,” Brown told Berman. “I know (Rockets GM) Daryl (Morey) and (Clint’s) representatives are working on that every day.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Rajon Rondo‘s leadership will likely be missed more by the Pelicans than his on-court contributions, according to Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Advocate. The Pelicans believe they can replace Rondo, who signed with the Lakers, at the point with a combination of Elfrid Payton, Jrue Holiday, Ian Clark and Frank Jackson. But Rondo’s innate ability to understand nuances of the game and translate them to teammates, his professionalism in film study and his role in team bonding experiences will be hard to replace, Kushner adds.
  • Former Grizzlies guard Mario Chalmers is confident he’ll find an NBA job even though he remains unsigned, Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star reports. Chalmers, 32, appeared in 66 games last season with Memphis, averaging 7.7 PPG and 3.0 APG in 21.5 MPG. “It’s just a matter of time,” he told Bedore. “They [NBA teams] are getting all the young guys, all the big free agents out of the way now. I’m just waiting my turn.”
  • Garrett Temple could step into a starting role with the Grizzlies, Peter Edmiston of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Temple, who was acquired in a trade with the Kings, can provide above-average defense at the shooting guard spot. Offensively, he will be a factor in catch-and-shoot situations, Edmiston notes. His unselfishness will also facilitate the offensive flow, Edmiston adds.
  • The Mavericks have hired former WNBA head coach Jenny Boucek as assistant to the basketball staff/special projects, Tim McMahon of ESPN tweets. She spent last season as a player development coach with the Kings.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Leonard, Matthews

It’s inevitable, Keith Smith of RealGM writes, that the Grizzlies will need to trade Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. The two veterans were the last longtime core players standing after Zach Randolph and Tony Allen departed during the offseason and could help the franchise land desperately needed assets on their way out.

Although both players are approaching the wrong side of their primes, they could make an impact for contending teams. Gasol, Smith writes, could even land the Grizzlies a package of draft picks and young players if dealt.

Finding a suitor for Conley may be slightly more difficult as he’s owed nearly $114MM through 2020-21. For that reason, the scribe suggests that the Grizzlies should jump at any opportunity to get out of the deal if they get a chance, even if the yield is less than expected.

The moves may be difficult, Smith adds, but they’d put the Grizzlies on the quickest course to building a new contender.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • While it was announced that Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard would be out for an “indefinite period” of time to rehab his right quadriceps injury, the injury isn’t as disastrous as some have interpreted it as. “Career-threatening shouldn’t even be in the conversation,” one person close to Leonard told Jabari Young of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).
  • Rockets CEO Tad Brown was surprised that the league didn’t come down on Blake Griffin for allegedly hitting head coach Mike D’Antoni, Sam Amick of USA Today writes. Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza were the only players suspended for their parts in the kerfuffle that unfolded in Los Angeles on Monday night.
  • Unsure of where the Mavs currently fall in the To Tank Or Not To Tank debate, Tim Cowlishaw of The Dallas Morning News writes that there’s no major incentive to unload Wesley Matthews. The economics of the league have changed since Matthews signed his four-year, $70MM contract back in 2015. These days, the approximately $18MM cap hit for the lockdown perimeter defender doesn’t seem as outlandish as it did in the past.