Sports

Toronto Raptors reeling after Jontay Porter gambling allegations

The Toronto Raptors were still largely in the dark a day after it was confirmed that the NBA was investigating backup centre Jontay Porter for gambling irregularities.

“I was just praying for him,” said small forward Bruce Brown on Tuesday after Raptors practice. “Obviously, you don’t want to see somebody go through something like that.

“But other than that, I mean, I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want to comment too much, but I don’t know.”

Centre Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., said that he and his teammates learned about the investigation surrounding Porter the same way fans learned: through media reports.

“We don’t really know anything is going on, so it’s hard to comment on that,” said Olynyk. “You (reporters) probably know more than us, which is how these things usually work.”

ESPN first reported the investigation on Monday night about an hour before tipoff in Toronto between the Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. The American sports broadcaster said the probe included Porter’s performance in games on Jan. 26 and March 20.

Porter played briefly in both games before leaving, citing injury or illness. He played four minutes 24 seconds against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of those games, then played 2:43 against Sacramento in the second game.

In both cases, Porter did not come close to hitting the prop-wager lines for points, rebounds and three-pointers that bettors could play.

A prop bet, short for proposition bet, is a wager not tied to the final score or outcome of a game. Although usually tied to the performance of a player or group of players, it can cover a wide variety of occurrences including the colour of a team’s Gatorade or how long the singing of the national anthems will take.

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ESPN said the props surrounding Porter for the Clippers game were 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists; he finished with no points, three rebounds and one assist. For the Kings game, they were around 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds; Porter finished that game with no points and two rebounds.

Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic said that, to the best of his knowledge, no one on the team had been approached by investigators. Toronto Police Service told The Canadian Press that they are not investigating Porter, even though both games were at Scotiabank Arena.

“Nobody reached out to me and as far as I know, they did not reach out to players,” said Rajakovic, who added he did not know where Porter was.

The investigation surrounding Porter is the latest twist in a disappointing season for the Raptors. Toronto started its rebuild in earnest, dealing away starters Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Dennis Schroder in separate deals. Although Toronto’s rebuilt roster could potentially have earned a play-in berth, injuries and other off-court issues scuttled any hopes of seeing the post-season.

All-star forward Scottie Barnes (left hand fracture), centre Jakob Poeltl (left hand torn ligament), swingman RJ Barrett (personal reasons), point guard Immanuel Quickley (personal reasons), forward Chris Boucher (partial MCL tear) and guard D.J. Carton (right ankle sprain) are all on the Raptors inactive list.

Barrett, from Mississauga, Ont., took a leave of absence after the death of his younger brother. Quickley’s absence has not been explained. Both practised on Tuesday at OVO Athletic Centre and could return to the lineup soon.

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“It’s been really tough. It’s been a gauntlet of injuries, off the court stuff, hard-hitting stuff,” said Olynyk. “It’s something that you literally cannot prepare for. It’s tough to handle as players, staff, organization.

“But I think it’s one of those things all in all it probably makes you stronger and makes you come together as a unit and team more.”

Brown said that the players who have not missed time have just tried to keep their focus on the court.

“Half the stuff you can’t control, right? RJ’s situation, Quick’s situation, you can’t control those things,” he said. “The guys who are here, we just focus on what we can control and that’s hooping.

“We have games that we need to try to win so that’s our main focus.”

Toronto hosts the New York Knicks (43-28) on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 26, 2024. 

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