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#pounditFriday, January 27, 2023

Articles tagged: Houston Rockets

Report: James Harden considering return to former team

James Harden dribbles

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden successfully pressured the Houston Rockets into trading him less than two years ago, but the 10-time All-Star might be interested in a reunion.

Harden and those close to him have been openly considering a return to Houston after the season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Harden signed a two-year, $68.6 million extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in July. The deal includes a player option that will allow him to become a free agent next summer. Whether or not Harden remains in Philadelphia will likely depend on how close the Sixers look to being a championship contender down the stretch and in the playoffs.

Even though Harden forced his way out of Houston, Wojnarowski was told by sources that the 33-year-old still has family there and is “drawn to the community.” The Rockets are 9-23 this season and one of the worst teams in the NBA, but there is a scenario where Harden could choose familiarity over immediately contending for an NBA title.

The Rockets have been trying to develop their young core of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith and Kevin Porter Jr. They will have plenty of salary cap space this offseason, but Houston officials would need to evaluate whether they feel bringing Harden back would help them accomplish their goals.

Like with the Rockets, Harden had issues with the Brooklyn Nets last year before he was traded to Philly. Wojnarowski describes his relationships with Joel Embiid and 76ers head coach Doc Rivers as “something close to a work in progress.”

Harden is averaging 21.4 points, 10.9 assists and 6.6 rebounds this season. The Sixers have won seven straight games heading into their Christmas Day Game against the New York Knicks.

Rockets veteran posts curious tweet after team’s latest loss

Eric Gordon looking up

Mar 13, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Houston Rockets guard Eric Gordon (10) warms up before the game between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Houston Rockets at Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

One Houston Rockets veteran may be having his Eric Bledsoe “I don’t wanna be here” moment.

The Rockets got thumped at home on Monday by the LA Clippers, losing 122-106. The loss dropped Houston to a grotesque 2-12 on the season, making them the worst team in the NBA right now.

After the game, Rockets veteran Eric Gordon posted a curious message to Twitter. His tweet consisted of a single angry-face emoji.

Gordon is by far the longest-tenured Rockets player, having been with the team since the James Harden-Patrick Beverley era in 2016. But that also means Gordon has been subjected to a whole lot of losing recently with Houston going 39-129 (.232) over the last three seasons combined.

On a team predominantly populated by young guns under 25 years old, Gordon is an anomaly at 33 (soon to be 34 next month). Houston is clearly no place right now for a veteran still looking for his first career NBA title, so maybe Gordon is hoping that the recent trade rumors involving him start to pick back up again.

Rockets downplay sideline confrontation between Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr.

Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. arguing

The Houston Rockets are trying to write off Monday night’s sideline incident as a nothingburger.

In the fourth quarter of Houston’s win over the Utah Jazz, teammates Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. had a heated argument during a timeout huddle. The two traded words and got in each other’s faces before being separated.

The incident, which took place with just 26.8 seconds left in the game and Houston nursing a two-point lead, did not appear to affect their composure. Smith proceeded to hit four clutch free throws in the closing seconds, and the Rockets won 114-108 for their first victory of the season.

After the game, Green and Smith, two young stars who went to Houston with top-three picks in back-to-back years, both downplayed the incident. Green called the spat “nothing at all.”

The rookie Smith also dismissed the tiff as nothing to write home about.

“We were just competing, ironing some things out, like what coverage we were going to be in,โ€ he said, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. โ€œThat was it.โ€

Sideline arguments between teammates happen all the time in the heat of competition. What is most important is that Houston pulled out the victory over a previously undefeated Jazz team. But the Green-Smith relationship will be something to keep an eye on throughout the season as the Rockets have some other combustible characters in their locker room too.

Kevin Porter Jr.’s contract extension with Rockets has big caveat

Kevin Porter Jr on the court

Mar 17, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. (3) looks on during the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Carmen Mandato/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Porter Jr. got a big contract extension from the Houston Rockets, but the deal isn’t quite like what it seems on paper.

Reports on Monday said that Porter got a 4-year, $82.5 million contract extension from the Rockets. That sounds like a ton of money for a player who has historically been unreliable. But Houston built in key protections to the deal.

According to Shams Charania, only the first year of the deal is guaranteed, and that’s for $15.86 million.

Houston can cut Porter at any point and not owe him more than the just under $16 million figure. That’s key.

Though Porter is a good player, he’s also problematic. He was originally with the Cavs but got traded after an outburst. Last season, he ditched the Rockets mid-game after getting called out by a coach.

Guaranteeing a large amount of money to a player with Porter’s history would have been potentially disastrous, so it’s a smart move to put in limitations as Houston did.

The 22-year-old guard averaged 15.6 points, 6.2 assists and 1.1 steals per game last season and made 37.5 percent of his threes.

Rockets looking to extend controversial player?

Stephen Silas looking on

Nov 20, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas looks on against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Houston Rockets are taking an interesting stance with one of their more divisive players.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported this week that the Rockets share mutual interest with guard Kevin Porter Jr. in a contract extension before the start of the 2022-23 season. Porter, who will be entering his fourth year in the league, is currently due to become a restricted free agent next summer.

The 22-year-old Porter comes with some baggage. He created a serious spectacle last season when he ditched the team at halftime of a game after being called out by a Rockets assistant. Conduct issues also plagued Porter with his previous team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Porter was traded by the Cavs, who drafted him in 2019, following a major locker room outburst.

But Porter’s talent on the hardwood is undeniable. He is a big point guard who plays with explosion, shot a career-high 37.5 percent from three last year, and can give you an almost guaranteed 15-5-5 per night right now.

Despite all the concerns with Porter, developing him into a star would be a notable victory for the culture of the Rockets in the post-James Harden era. It may also be important to build continuity with their young foundation of players that includes Porter, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and high-lottery pick Jabari Smith Jr.

Ex-NBA draft bust getting another shot in league

Willie Cauley-Stein looking on

Nov 6, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein (33) shoots in warmups before the game against the Boston Celtics at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The fifth team will hopefully be the charm for one former lottery pick.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Friday that ex-Kentucky star Willie Cauley-Stein has agreed to a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets. Cauley-Stein will get a chance to compete for a roster spot in training camp.

Now 28, Cauley-Stein split time last season between the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers. He only made 20 total appearances though, averaging 1.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in less than 10 minutes per game.

Expectations were sizable for Cauley-Stein coming out of college, especially after he was named a First Team All-American and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was selected No. 6 overall by the Sacramento Kings in the 2015 NBA Draft (ahead of players such as Myles Turner and Kentucky teammate Devin Booker). While the physical gifts (do-it-all defensive versatility and skywalker leaping ability) were there, Cauley-Stein never quite panned out in the NBA. Other than an All-Rookie Second Team selection and a season or two of empty stats after Sacramento sold off DeMarcus Cousins, Cauley-Stein still does not have much to show for his pro career.

In Houston however, Cauley-Stein might have an opportunity to catch on. Outside of creative second-year Alperen Sengun, the Rockets have a gaping hole in the frontcourt after trading away this other big man. Cauley-Stein could also have an advantage in that Houston head coach Stephen Silas previously coached him as an assistant in Dallas.

1 prominent Rockets trade candidate is off the market?

Stephen Silas looking on

Nov 20, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas looks on against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

With the NBA offseason now over a month-and-a-half old, the Houston Rockets may be starting to disconnect their phones.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported on Friday that the Rockets currently have no urgency to move veteran trade candidate Eric Gordon. Houston sees Gordon as an asset on the floor as well as a veteran mentor to the young core of their team, Scotto adds.

The 33-year-old Gordon was a productive per-minute player last season (13.2 points per game on a glowing 41.2 percent from deep) on a Rockets team that went 20-62. He is also entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, leading many to believe that Gordon would be trade bait.

Scotto notes that Gordon could still be dangled before next season’s trade deadline. But for now, it looks like some of the prestigious teams that were after the sweet-shooting ex-Sixth Man of the Year will have to go elsewhere.

Report: At least 2 teams monitoring John Wall buyout situation

John Wall looking on

Nov 8, 2019; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) walks on the court after the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

John Wall and the Houston Rockets are working on a buyout agreement after Wall exercised his massive player option for next season, and there are at least two teams that are keeping a close eye on the situation.

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat would have interest in Wall if the star point guard becomes a free agent. The Rockets would obviously prefer to trade Wall, but there is not much of a market for an oft-injured player who is on the books for $47.4 million next season.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported on Monday that Wall and the Rockets are nearing a breakup. The most likely scenario is that Wall’s contract will be bought out before free agency begins on June 30. The two sides have to agree to a deal, however.

Wall sat out all of last season after coming to an agreement with the Rockets. He is still playing under a four-year, $171 million extension he signed with the Washington Wizards in July 2017. That deal kicked in prior to the 2019-20 season, which is when Wall’s value disappeared due to injuries.

Wall, 31, hurt his knee in the 2017-2018 season and was limited to 41 games. Then he was bothered by his heel the following season and underwent season-ending surgery in January. As if recovering from heel surgery wasnโ€™t bad enough, Wall then suffered a torn Achilles tendon after an accident in his home.

The Lakers are looking to get creative to make some moves this summer after they missed the playoffs. They may have their eye on an even bigger point guard trade.

Rockets make unusual addition to their practice facility

Stephen Silas looking on

Nov 20, 2021; New York, New York, USA; Houston Rockets head coach Stephen Silas looks on against the New York Knicks during the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Daryl Morey no longer works for the Houston Rockets, but his ghost still appears to roam their halls.

Rockets writer Jackson Gatlin shared an image this weekend of an unusual change that the team has made to their practice facility — adding a four-point line to the court. Take a look.

The concept of a four-point line has been casually kicked around in the NBA discourse over the last several years. One prominent basketball figure even expressed support for the league to officially add one. But we have not really seen what a four-point line prototype would actually look like … until now.

Houston does have some very good shooters from longer distance. Namely, veteran guard Eric Gordon shot a scorching 40 percent on threes from 25-29 feet this past season (per But the Rockets may want to hold their horses a bit since Gordon might not even be on the team next season.

Son of ex-NBA All-Star reportedly seeking trade from his team

Kenyon Martin Jr warming up

Jan 31, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. (6) warms up before the game against the Golden State Warriors at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The son of a former NBA star is looking to carve out his own path … on a different team.

Kelly Iko of The Athletic reported on Monday that Houston Rockets forward Kenyon Martin Jr. recently approached management to discuss a possible trade. Iko adds that there is no bad blood between the two sides but that Martin simply needs more minutes to continue developing.

Martin, 21, is the son of retired ex-NBA All-Star Kenyon Martin, best known for his time as a New Jersey Net in the early 2000s. The younger Martin was just a late second-round pick in 2020 but established himself as a legitimate NBA talent in Houston. He has averaged 9.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game over the last two seasons.

This latest development probably has something to do with who the Rockets intend to pick in this year’s draft. But in any case, there should be plenty of rival teams lining up to pursue Martin, an efficient scorer with good length at 6-foot-7 and highlight-worthy athleticism.