Houston has some things to fix, and we’re not talking about the rebuilding roster.
According to multiple reports, a heated exchange at halftime between long-time NBA assistant coach John Lucas and players Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr. devolved into Porter throwing something across the locker room then leaving the arena at halftime, while Wood refused to check in during the second half (although coach Stephen Silas said he chose not to play Wood after halftime).
Here is how Stephen Silas described things at halftime, when the Rockets trailed the Nuggets 77-55.
Stephen Silas: “We were angry at halftime that we had just given up 47 points. We watched the film. We had a spirited debate. I have certain demands of this group as far as playing hard. Making mistakes is different than giving the effort and I wasn’t satisfied with the effort.”
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 2, 2022
Here’s what happened next, according to reports from ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Shams Charania of The Athletic:
• Lucas, who has a tough-love reputation, called out several players, including Porter and Wood, for their first-half effort (Wood came off the bench to start the game due to a previous violation of a team rule).
• Porter and Lucas got into a heated argument, with Porter allegedly throwing an object.
• Porter did not go out with the team for the second half, instead getting dressed and leaving the arena. The team said he was questionable to return with a thigh contusion — something he had been battling over recent weeks — but that is not what kept him out.
• Wood did not play in the second half. Silas said it was a coach’s decision, other reports say he refused to check-in.
• Porter Jr. and team officials have spoken later in the evening, according to Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Per a team source, the Rockets have since spoken to Porter Jr. since the halftime incident and he’s apologetic for the overreaction. https://t.co/nogc86tcqq
— Kelly Iko (@KellyIkoNBA) January 2, 2022
There is no word yet on potential discipline for Porter or Wood.
Wood has come up in trade rumors, but a lack of effort and arguing with coaches does not lift a player’s trade value.
Porter was drafted by the Cavaliers and showed flashes of talent with them, but a weapons charge (which was later dropped), a food-throwing tantrum and other incidents had the Cavs willing to trade him for a highly-protected second-round pick, just to move on from him.
In Houston, Porter continues to show potential. He averages 13 points and 5.9 assists a game as a starter, but he is shooting just 36% overall this season and has not been efficient. The Rockets have a $3.9 million option to bring Porter back next season.
Porter has said the Rockets saved his life, but this kind of overreaction is what the Cavaliers feared. Porter has some apologizing and maturing to do.