Show Me How to Tank

As the seconds ticked off the clock, Kevin Porter Jr. slowed his dribble on the left wing, lulling the defender to sleep. Then he changed his pace into an emphatic side-step dribble creating enough space to knock down a three-point dagger. 114–111 Houston Rockets win.

The significance of that moment was heightened because Porter Jr., along with Rockets forward Christian Wood, had just returned from their one-game suspension. The former had an awful game with nine points on 3–13 shooting, but he delivered when it mattered most. Wood dropped a respectable 22 and 11 but his play has regressed after an impressive 2020–21 campaign.

The 11–28 Rockets have made their direction clear, but it seems Porter Jr. and Wood are disgruntled with tanking. They lashed out in the locker room earning a one-game suspension. This wasn’t the first time Porter Jr. lashed out in an NBA locker room, in fact, it’s what got him to the Rockets after he was traded from the Cavaliers following a tantrum.

This time seems different because after Porter Jr. hit the game-winning shot, his teammates rushed to celebrate as one, greeting him with elation.

If the Rockets continue in this direction, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of moving on from Wood with how he has regressed this season. It’s a short sample size but they must be questioning if he’s a part of their future. Additionally, Eric Gordon could be a great piece for a contender, and for the Rockets, it’s vital that Josh Christopher sees more playing time. Moving Gordon seems like a no-brainer.

Finally, the Rockets still have the NBA’s worst contract riding their bench: John Wall. A month ago it seemed like there was some movement for Wall to play but that has halted.

It’s time for the Rockets to commit to the tank.

In other news, Kyrie Irving returned to action and helped lead a Brooklyn Nets comeback victory against a depleted Pacers team. Get it together Brooklyn.

League Pass Game of the Day: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Phoenix Suns, 10:30 pm ET.

Tonight’s slate of games is lacking so it seems only right I put the Western Conference finals rematch here. The Clippers are more than shorthanded so the Suns should have no issue running away with this one. I will not be putting any bets on Los Angeles.

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Aaron Heisen

Sports writer at the Daily Emerald. Journalism student at the University of Oregon. NBA fan and writer.