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Houston Rockets

The Limited Trade Market For Thomas Robinson

Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday night that the Rockets are looking to trade Thomas Robinson and “plan to accept the best offer” to get his salary off the books to free up enough money to offer a full max deal to Dwight Howard.

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Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday night that the Rockets are looking to trade Thomas Robinson and “plan to accept the best offer” to get his salary off the books to free up enough money to offer a full max deal to Dwight Howard.

Thomas Robinson

If Dwight Howard to Houston gets serious, trading Thomas Robinson is almost inevitable

Is anyone else getting the feeling that Adrian Wojnarowski has become the Craigslist for today’s NBA general managers? There seems to be no better way to broadcast that you have a player for sale. I think it’s a pretty good bet that this was leaked for a reason — it has a very similar vibe to the “Rockets are shopping Yao Ming” story of a few years ago.

Still, while it is news that the Rockets have placed T-Rob on the trade market, it was not unexpected.

Robinson has the largest salary ($3.5+ million next year) of any player outside of your core rotation and likely has the best trade value. Depending on where the new salary cap is drawn for 2013-14, his contract on the books could be the difference between the Rockets being able to offer a max deal to Dwight Howard (starting at $20.5M) or just a very high salary ($17-19M).

The problem is other teams are well aware of that last fact and it could be used against the Rockets. This is a similar situation to the one the Miami Heat were in with Michael Beasley in 2010. Needing to clear a little extra cap space to make room for both LeBron James and Chris Bosh, Miami dumped Beasley to Minnesota just two years after he was the much-hyped #2 pick of the 2008 NBA Draft.

As a player, the Rockets still like Robinson, but their team goals could be shifting quickly from future contention to present contention. Robinson could become a top-level rebounder, but he has a long ways to go to develop much else, especially on the offensive end. He wasn’t a strong pick-and-roll guy out of Kansas and doesn’t have much shooting range, making it hard to see him getting important playing time at a position on this team that currently requires both of those skills.

So what are the Rockets looking for in a trade partner? The market is limited because the Rockets need a team under the cap (or will be on July 10th anyway) or a team holding a large enough trade exception or non-guaranteed salaries to absorb T-Rob outright. After that, you’re looking for teams that hold future assets, such as a 2014 first or second round pick that would not count against this year’s cap. Given that limited market, cap room alone (along with perhaps a future pick) may be the best return the Rockets can get given their offseason goals. I wouldn’t be surprised if attaching Royce White to unload him (in lieu of getting a draft pick in return) is discussed as well.

Here are the teams that make the most sense:

1. Charlotte Bobcats
Charlotte sticks out as the most logical trade partner. The soon-to-be Hornets strongly considered Robinson with the #2 pick last year and are in the team-building phase where they are looking for as many young building blocks as they can get. They will be under the cap and have plenty of future draft considerations, including a top-8 protected 2014 first rounder from Detroit (not happening) and a top-12 protected 2014 first rounder from Portland. I would consider that Blazers pick to be the high end (if not too high) of what the Rockets could net for T-Rob. A team of Bismack Biyombo, Robinson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kemba Walker and possibly Victor Oladipo (with the 4th pick this year) would be raw and lose a lot of games, but it has a lot of defensive potential down the line.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have the cap room right now to make a move for Robinson if they wanted — they don’t have to wait until July 10th. Cleveland owns a top-12 protected pick from the Kings in 2014, but what might make them more of a match is they own the first and third picks of the second round (#31 and #33, non-guaranteed deals) in this year’s draft. It’s suspected that the Cavs, like the Rockets, are trying to package their assets for a second star around Kyrie Irving, and they also have a similar player to Robinson in Tristan Thompson, but everything else is a match.

3. Phoenix Suns
The Suns already united the Morris Twins… why not go full #TeamFOE Kansas reunion? Phoenix, like Charlotte, simply needs as many irons in the fire as possible when it comes to young talent. They likely will deal power forward Luis Scola this offseason. They are under the cap right now and also own a protected first rounder from Minnesota next year and the Lakers’ 2015 first rounder (top 5-protected).

4. Orlando Magic
The Magic aren’t winning a championship anytime soon. They lost 49 of their last 57 games as GM Rob Hennigan is trying to stockpile young talent to rebuild. They will be under the cap and could buy a prospect here cheap and watch him develop with playing time, similar to what they did in February with Tobias Harris. Orlando also owns future firsts from the Nuggets, Sixers and Lakers.

5. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks will have a crazy amount of cap room in July and, like the Rockets, are going after Howard and Chris Paul, but more than one team is going to fall short in that pursuit. If they lose out (and especially if they let Josh Smith walk), they could very well be interested in a power forward prospect like Robinson. While it’s not likely the Hawks would consider this until they are out of the free agent sweepstakes, the unguaranteed contract of DeShawn Stevenson ($2.25 million) could be a key piece in getting a deal done in June if they so choose. Atlanta owns both of the Rockets’ draft picks this year (#18 and #50) and also has draft pick swap rights the next two years with Brooklyn.

Armed with a bizarre fascination for Mario Elie and a deep love of the Houston Rockets, Dave Hardisty started ClutchFans in 1996 under the pen name “Clutch”.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. fyrebear

    May 31, 2013 at 11:43 am

    Not surprised about the Trob “shopping/trade” leak here. Better to do this now to get better value than like the Miami/Beasley situation where their hand was forced. On July 1st, the Rockets want no obstacles in their way to make a full max offer to DH12.

    • clutchfans

      May 31, 2013 at 11:49 am

      fyrebear You’re right. I would tend to think the Rockets will wait until they know, simply because most teams won’t be under the cap until then anyway, but the Rockets aren’t strangers to making the move even if they don’t have a firm commitment for the bigger move.  They amnestied Luis Scola without any guarantees and dumped Kyle Lowry for a future pick as well.  They may simply be OK with the cap room and a pick for T-Rob, knowing that if they do fall short in the Dwight chase that they can use those pieces/flexibility in a bigger move down the line (as they did eventually in landing Harden).

  2. RedRedemption

    May 31, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    I wish we could keep Robinson. He’s extremely raw, but I feel like with the right development he could become at least a serviceable role player. -RedRedemption

    • clutchfans

      May 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      @RedRedemption The problem is serviceable role players are guys that Daryl Morey can acquire in his sleep.  I think with a guy like T-Rob, you would hope that some skillset he has can become elite or well above average. Best bet there is rebounding. He’s certainly energetic and athletic, but if he’s not a good fit for a team with a set style that is trying to win 50 games minimum, how does he get the time to develop and (more importantly for the Rockets’ selfish purposes) increase his trade value?

      • RollingWave0720

        June 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

        clutchfans

      • RollingWave0720

        June 2, 2013 at 9:36 am

        Should also note that, Raw players sometimes develop after the end of their rookie contract, which makes it a rather bad deal for the team that held on to said rookie contract ( see Jermaine O’Neal.)

  3. DHYLNP

    May 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Agreed. The Rockets have a VERY specific and VERY immediate need– cap space neccesary to chase a max FA. This limits their leverage and the range of potential trade partners.
    Carl Herrera

    • fyrebear

      May 31, 2013 at 1:47 pm

      DHYLNP That’s why they most likely leaked this Trob shopping info now to maximize their ROI. If the Rockets waited until July, they would have to take much less value back like Miami did with Beasley.

  4. Koolaid

    May 31, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Royce White for Josh Smith. Set it up Daryl!

  5. Remii

    May 31, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    They should be looking to trade T-Rob regardless the Rockets have too many PFs and he’s not the best one.
    They say there’s a sucker born everyday so if Morey can find a GM who’s willing to trade for Royce… Go for it.

  6. basketballholic

    May 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Nice article.  Just 2 points I’d like to remind you of.  
    Point 1:  The limited trade market for TRob is offset by the limited draft market of this draft class.  Realistically, if TRob was in this draft, he’d be a top 10 pick.  Mark Deeks stated he’d be the #1 pick.  Now, I don’t know about that.  But when I look at the crap shoot of this draft after about pick 6, then I could easily see TRob going in the top 10 here.  Yes, his value is distorted somewhat and lessened somewhat by his rookie campaign.  But it’s no more distorted than trying to figure out if Trey Burke for instance is going to be anything more than DJ Augustin in this draft.  

    Point 2:  We’ve got 4 guys all playing the PF position coming off their rookie deals.  We really don’t have minutes to give 3 of them much less 4.  So, don’t forget there could be more than 1 guy shipped out…and it may not necessarily be Royce White that is shipped out.  Consider the possibilities of trading out 2 of 3 of TRob/DMO/Jones….now what value do you have?  Specifically what draft pick value do you have…either in this draft or in future drafts?  

    I’ll be surprised if we settle for a couple high second rounders in a trade for TRob.  If that’s all the value he has, I wouldn’t be surprised if we went ahead and pulled the trigger to move both DMO/TJones.  2 of the 3 of these guys should get us a lottery first rounder….either in this draft or a future draft….at least.

    • clutchfans

      May 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

      basketballholic Thanks — good points here. On Point #1, I could be convinced that Thomas Robinson is worth a top ten pick this year, but that’s part of the limited market I’m talking about … that first round pick this year has a cap hit, so unless there is a lot of creativity, the Rockets can’t get both top value and a clean cap wipe. For example, Austin Rivers, the 10th pick last year, had a starting salary of over $2.2M.  So while his current value may be good when compared to this weaker draft, it doesn’t translate to the future picks (2014 is expected to be a strong draft) that you would think the Rockets need to get clean cap room now.
      On point #2, I agree completely. I don’t know if any of the young PFs will be ready to make the jump to 30+ minute a night guy for a contender, which is what the Rockets would be judged as if they sign Dwight (bye bye “youngest team in the league” talk).  I could see a bigger move for a starting PF, but they need to net a little more cap room first somehow to get to the max for Dwight.

      • basketballholic

        May 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm

        clutchfans basketballholic Creativity…..put together the trade…TRob and our 2014 first rounder for the top 10 pick in this year’s draft and a second rounder.  Then execute it this way….Trade TRob for the future second rounder…moves out the salary…allows for the Dwight signing…..then complete the agreed to original deal by trading our 2014 first rounder for the 2013 first round pick we had the other team make for us and they are holding on their roster.

  7. MateoFisher

    May 31, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Not even a little interest from Detroit or New Orleans? I know both those teams have young bigs with potential already, but I would think both are also still trying to stockpile as much young talent as possible, and would bite at the right price.

  8. DHYLNP

    May 31, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    Atlanta won’t be helping Houston create cap room since they are going after CP+DH. Houston will most likely have traded TRob before ATL is out of the CP+DH pursuit.

  9. carolbmt

    May 31, 2013 at 7:34 pm

    I think T-Rob’s value is only that of a high-mid second round pick.

  10. JonathanLovelace

    June 1, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    What about Sacremento?
    Because that would be hilarious.

    • howlatthemoon

      June 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

      JonathanLovelace I hope not.

  11. da_juice

    June 1, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    My money’s on him going to the Bobcats. As you said, they were high on him last year’s draft. Biyombo hasn’t turned the corner yet, and for a team as bad as them- they need to acquire as much talent/potential as possible. I can’t see the Hawks taking on salary until after DHo or CP3 have signed (doesn’t help us out then) and Phoenix already has several PFs (and I personally think they will sign Josh Smith). 

    It be great if we could dump Royce and Trob without taking any salary back.

  12. howlatthemoon

    June 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    I hope T-Rob gets his chance to shine. I watched a video about all the tragedy he and his sister have been through, and it made me cry….He wanted to be with the Bobcats from the start, I hope he gets his chance with a young team, and he flourishes.

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    April 9, 2016 at 5:49 pm

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Houston Rockets

Podcast: Houston Rockets options with the #3 pick of the 2024 NBA Draft

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Houston Rockets 2024 NBA Draft prospects Zaccharie Risacher Stephon Castle Reed Sheppard Donovan Clingan

The offseason is now underway.

The forecast looks good for the Houston Rockets, but… there’s pressure as well this offseason because there are a handful of other West teams that might have rosier futures. Ime Udoka wants to win and win big. As we are about five weeks away from the NBA Draft, what are the Rockets looking to do this summer?

David Weiner joined Dave Hardisty on the ClutchFans podcast to discuss the Rockets shockingly landing the #3 pick and their options in this draft, including Reed Sheppard, Donovan Clingan, Zaccharie Risacher, Stephon Castle, Matas Buzelis and others. They also discuss the possibility of some big game hunting in Houston.


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Houston Rockets

Podcast: Steven Adams, Mikal Bridges and Trade Possibilities for the Rockets

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Houston Rockets Trade Deadline 2024

The Houston Rockets already made one deal, acquiring center Steven Adams from Memphis for a handful of second-round picks, but we still have several days left before this Thursday’s NBA Trade Deadline.

Are more deals on the way?

Rumors of interest in Mikal Bridges have swirled, with the Rockets holding precious (and unprotected) first-round picks from Brooklyn. They also could use some help inside this season, which Adams can not provide. Shooting is always in demand.

David Weiner joined Dave Hardisty on the ClutchFans podcast to discuss the Adams trade, its impact on the Rockets in 2024-25 and beyond, the Mikal Bridges rumors, the Brooklyn picks, other trade possibilities and options for Rafael Stone moving forward. Also discussed is the play of Houston’s core 6 prospects: Amen Thompson, Cam Whitmore, Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason and Jalen Green.


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Houston Rockets

Rockets trade for center Steven Adams

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Steven Adams Houston Rockets

The Rockets made a surprise trade on Thursday, sending the contract of Victor Oladipo and three second-round picks to Memphis for center Steven Adams.

The deal came together quickly and the Rockets had a small window to get it done, hence why this trade was made with a week to go until the trade deadline.

The Price

When you consider that Memphis did this for cost savings primarily and that Adams would not play for any team in the league this season, the price seemed a little high to me. The Rockets gave up the OKC second-round pick this year, which is no big loss, but they also give up the better of Brooklyn’s or Golden State’s second-round pick this season. That’s a pretty good pick (likely in the late 30’s). They also give up the better of Houston’s or OKC’s second-round pick in 2025. If things go as planned for the Rockets, that pick should be in the 45-55 range.

But they didn’t sacrifice a first-round pick, which would have been brutal, and they were not going to use all those seconds this season. So it’s just a matter of opportunity cost — who else could they have gotten for this package?

My understanding is they (particularly Ime Udoka) are very high on Adams.

The Rockets also did this move for cap purposes as well. By moving out the Oladipo contract, which was expiring, and bringing in Adams’ deal, which is signed for $12.4M next season, the window for the Rockets to put together a trade package for a star player is extended out until the 2025 trade deadline. They continue to wait to see which players, if any, shake loose here and become available. They want flexible (see: expiring) contracts that they can combine with assets and this gives them another year to be in that position.

The Trade

It’s not often that the Rockets acquire a player I had not considered beforehand but that’s the case with Steven Adams. The Rockets sorely need a big with size that provides more traditional center strengths, making Clint Capela, Robert Williams, Nick Richards or Daniel Gafford potential candidates, but Adams was overlooked for a few reasons.

First, the 30-year old big man is out for the season after knee surgery cost him the entire 2023-24 campaign, so the Rockets won’t get any benefit from this trade this season. Secondly, Adams is not your traditional center either when it comes to rim protection.

But what Adams does do, he’s really good at and he has some of the same strengths of Brook Lopez, who the Rockets tried to sign in the offseason. Adams is quite possibly the strongest guy in the league and a legitimate 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan. He’s an outstanding screen-setter, something that could really benefit the likes of Fred VanVleet, Amen Thompson and Jalen Green. He was also an elite rebounder last season, finishing 6th in the league in caroms at 11.5 a game despite playing just 27.0 minutes a contest.

After watching Jonas Valanciunas absolutely bully the Rockets inside on Wednesday, it should be apparent by now to everyone that this was a pretty big need.

In 2021-22, the Memphis Grizzlies finished #2 in the West at 56-26. Their top two players in Net Rating that season were Dillon Brooks (+11.0) and Adams (+8.3), key cogs in a defense that held opponents to 108.6 points per 100 possessions. They’re both now Houston Rockets.

So this adds another trusted vet to Ime Udoka’s rotation.

The question is will the 30-year old Adams return to form after the knee injury? Adams sprained the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee a year ago, which cost him the end of that season and the playoffs. He tried rehabbing it and it never got better, so surgery became the option just as this season was kicking off.

I like to think the Rockets did their due diligence on that, despite the short time it took for this deal to come together, but that’s unclear.

If he does bounce back, then Udoka has a big man he can turn to reliably in situational matchups or on nights when the younger bigs struggle. He wouldn’t be Boban or even Jock Landale in that scenario — he’s going to play, so the frontcourt depth in 2024-25 should be better. In the end, they got a starting-caliber center who will have no problems coming off the bench, and that’s what they were looking for.

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Houston Rockets

On the KPJ trade and future of the Rockets

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The Houston Rockets are back to being a professional NBA team once again.

The Rockets finally ended the Kevin Porter Jr. era on Tuesday, coughing up two second-round picks in order to unload his contract to the Oklahoma City Thunder, getting back the contract of Victor Oladipo and third-year forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The move puts an end to a long investment and very rocky tenure with KPJ.

David Weiner joined Dave Hardisty on the ClutchFans podcast to discuss the Porter Jr. Experiment, the price paid to move him, Houston’s potential trade options moving forward, the new culture and the current state of the Rockets young core.

ClutchFans Podcast: On Apple | Spotify

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Houston Rockets

Heavy investment in Kevin Porter Jr raises serious questions about Rockets front office

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Kevin Porter Jr. Rafael Stone

Soon-to-be-ex Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr was arrested last week for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, resulting in a fractured neck vertebra and a deep gash above her right eye after an attack at a hotel in New York. He allegedly woke her up by punching her repeatedly, strangled her and did not stop hitting her until she ran out of the hotel room screaming for help and covered in blood.

“This is a serious domestic violence case,” said assistant Manhattan district attorney Mirah Curzer.

First and foremost, I wish the victim healing. I don’t know what to say about the nightmare she went through. She and her family will forever be impacted. As for KPJ, if this is true, he doesn’t belong on the Rockets or in the NBA at all. He belongs in jail.

Secondly, this can’t be overlooked and just swept under the rug: Why did the Houston Rockets bank on and invest so heavily in this guy?

Kevin Porter Jr. being accused of crimes of this severity should not be shocking – at all. Before he even came to the Rockets, he had a long list of serious problems. He was suspended multiple times in high school. In 2019, he had a “conduct issue” significant enough that USC suspended the 5-star recruit indefinitely. He fell to the end of the first round of the 2019 NBA Draft because of his behavior liability. He was accused of punching a woman in the face in Cleveland. He also had a gun and marijuana charge later dismissed after getting into a car crash. He went into a tirade and got into a nasty confrontation with both the Cleveland coach and GM, resulting in the Cavs severing ties immediately and dumping him to the Rockets for nothing.

You could make the argument that initially giving Porter Jr. a second chance in Houston was praiseworthy, but the Rockets experienced KPJ’s anger management and immaturity issues firsthand on several occasions.

Former Rocket Austin Rivers said this week that this isn’t the first, second or even seventh issue with Porter Jr. and that Rockets “higher-ups” confided in him that they had no idea how to handle him.

“I remember talking to guys in the Houston Rockets organization, higher-ups, [and] they were having issues then,” said Rivers. “They were like, ‘We don’t know what to do with him.’ And that’s when he just got there from Cleveland!”

Porter Jr. was routinely a nightmare for Rockets coaches to deal with. On several occasions, he confronted and cussed out members of the coaching staff, saying they didn’t have the “credentials”, per source, a reference to the fact that him playing heavy minutes at point guard was a decision they did not control.

Once at a night out, Porter Jr. had a disagreement with a DJ over music choice and he snapped, smashing the DJ’s laptop to the floor. He needed to be restrained and removed. Rockets personnel and several of Porter’s teammates witnessed the incident.

Curzer also dropped a bombshell at the arraignment in saying that Porter Jr. has a history of abusing his girlfriend, who he had only been dating since early last year, his second season with the Rockets. Curzer specifically cited an incident in which KPJ allegedly rammed his car into hers.

There were dozens of maturity issues visible on the court to anyone paying attention. He refused to check out of games. He got into an argument on the bench with assistant Lionel Hollins. On numerous occasions, he would visibly shut down when he wasn’t passed the ball. I invite you to watch this video from a game against Memphis on March 20, 2022. Just listen to the Grizzlies broadcasters, particularly starting at the 1:40 mark, talk about what they are witnessing here:



Privately, people around the league would say they were baffled by the Rockets continued fascination with Porter Jr. Nobody could understand it.

That fascination starts with Rockets general manager Rafael Stone, who by every account over the last two years was the driving force behind the investment in Porter Jr. It has been no secret. Trading for him in January 2021 was seen by some with the team as his “Harden acquisition”, code for a signature move that makes an executive’s career, much in the way landing James Harden did for Daryl Morey in 2012.

For example, former Rockets head coach Stephen Silas never considered Porter Jr. to be a point guard, per sources — playing him there was a Stone mandate because the GM believed that is where his future lied.

John Wall also told us as much publicly when he explained the phone call he got from Silas about coming off the bench. He said Silas told him “This is what the GM wants,” adding again that Silas said, “Man, you don’t deserve that. You should be the starter. This is just what they want to do.” Wall was upset because he believed KPJ should have to earn the spot.

“I have a hard time finding anybody outside of the Rockets front office that believes that Kevin Porter Jr. is a starting point guard in the NBA,” said ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon in December.

There were plenty of warning signs about KPJ to the public too.

After Porter Jr. got into a heated argument in which KPJ “physically shoved” Rockets assistant coach John Lucas and quit on the team in the middle of a game against Denver in January of 2022, leaving the arena at halftime, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix famously wrote that the Rockets should “Cut Porter Jr. Waive him. Release him. Whatever. Eat what’s left of the $1.8 million he’s owed this season and the $3.2 million he’s got next and move on.” It became a source of mockery for Porter Jr’s fans, a line they would bring up after each game he hit a few threes or handed out some assists.

In February of this year, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, one of the most connected reporters in the league, flat out warned us that he was hearing awful things about the Rockets culture and locker room. He was blunt in what the Rockets needed to do — waive Kevin Porter Jr. outright and bring in a new coach and GM.

“Just cut him. That’s it,” said Givony of Porter Jr. “And you’re sending a signal to the league that we’re going to do things differently from here on out.”

“When you talk to people around the NBA about Houston, you just don’t hear good things about their culture, about that locker room. You talk to people that are on that team, and they are like, ‘We are a mess’,” said Givony. “Do people want to work with this organization? But you can change that fairly quickly if you come in, get rid of the bad apples and you change the coaching staff, and all of a sudden, you’re Houston. It’s the third-biggest city in America. There’s a history here of you actually being good.”

Porter came to the Rockets for “free” (in exchange for a top-55 protected second-round pick, which was designed not to convey), but he proved far from it as the Rockets continued to pour investment into him. Over the last 2-3 seasons, no Rockets player got more developmental capital than Porter Jr. – not Jalen Green, not Alperen Sengun, not Jabari Smith Jr. The Fertittas paid John Wall $85+ million over two years to sit at home so the team could groom Porter Jr. to be their future point guard.

Then they doubled down. With restricted free agency on the horizon and a seemingly non-existent market for KPJ’s services, the Rockets gave Porter Jr. an extension a year sooner – a contract that was presented as a four-year, $82.5 million deal. The deal was more team-friendly than that, putting team options in it after years 1 and 3. Going from the potential disaster that was initially reported to a deal they could escape after one season felt like a “win”, but the biggest question was why they wanted him long-term at all. The unprecedented nature of a contract that size with that kind of club control clearly showed the Rockets knew there was unique and significant risk here.

After KPJ signed the extension, The Athletic’s Kelly Iko summarized the Rockets view of Porter Jr. – “As has been [their] stance for months, the Rockets have maintained the notion that Porter is a priority and is considered a huge part of their core, along with Green and Jabari Smith Jr.”

The Rockets actions to kick off the 2022-23 season showed exactly that – that he was a priority. They benched Sengun to start the season, in large part to give KPJ a “lob threat” and defender in the starting lineup. They gave him the superstar “Harden Locker”. They introduced him last in the starting lineups. They treated him as the star and empowered him to be the self-proclaimed “Head Honcho” of Clutch City.

But the extension proved unwise and foolish. Porter Jr. never even made it to the first year of it. With over $80 million on the line, he snapped again. The Rockets signed him to one of the team-friendliest deals ever and still managed to both overcommit and overpay as Stone now scrambles to attach real assets to it to get another team to take it off his books.

Is it fair to question the judgment of the Rockets front office? Absolutely and without question. Whether you look at their ability to value character, evaluate risk, scout basketball, build culture, manage assets or allocate development resources, they failed at every level here. Why didn’t they act sooner? Why did they double down? Why didn’t they hold him accountable? Why did everybody in the league see it but them?

“We value the player and the person that [Kevin Porter Jr.] is becoming and are eager to invest in him and his journey,” said Stone after rewarding him with the extension less than a year ago.

The question you have to ask yourself now is, with all they knew and witnessed about Porter Jr. both on and off the court — why were they eager at all?

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