Raptors' Jontay Porter at center of NBA investigation into gambling activity

The NBA has opened an investigation into Toronto two-way player Jontay Porter amid gambling allegations

The NBA has opened an investigation into Toronto two-way player Jontay Porter amid gambling allegations, something Raptors coach Darko Rajaković said he became aware of shortly before the team's game on Monday night.

A league spokesman confirmed that the probe had been opened. ESPN first reported the investigation, which it said surrounded Porter's performance in games on Jan. 26 and March 20. In both games, Porter played briefly before leaving citing injury or illness.

Porter played 4 minutes and 24 seconds against the Los Angeles Clippers in the first of those games, then played 2:43 against Sacramento in the second game.

“I never doubt injuries. I never doubt honestly from players,” Rajaković said. “Obviously, I've never had a situation like this before.”

In both of those games, Porter did not come close to hitting the prop-wager lines for points, rebounds and 3-pointers that bettors could play. 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.

Porter was away from the Raptors for Monday’s home game against Brooklyn, with the team citing personal reasons. He also was out for Saturday’s loss at Washington, again for personal reasons. His locker was empty ahead of Monday’s game against the Nets, although his nameplate was still in place. Rajaković said he had not discussed the matter with his team.

“I don't know their reaction,” Rajaković said. “I just know nobody wants those kind of situations to happen to anybody, to any team. We've just got to deal with it.”

In Las Vegas, Jay Kornegay, Westgate vice president of race and sports operations, said in a text message that his sportsbook received “alerts that there were betting irregularities” regarding those games but his casino didn’t have any player props up involving Porter for the dates in question.

The 24-year-old Porter, the brother of Denver forward Michael Porter, is averaging 4.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 26 games, including five starts. The 6-foot-10 Porter also played in 11 games for Memphis in the 2020-21 season.

The league requires players to attend one “anti-gambling training session conducted by their Team and/or the NBA” each year. At least four G League players have been suspended, those sanctions ranging from three to five games, for violating gambling policies this season and in 2022, six NBA 2K League players were disqualified for breaking that league's gambling-related rules.

Per NBA rules, any player who “wagers money or anything of value on any game or event in the Association or in the NBA G League” can face sanctions from Commissioner Adam Silver ranging from a fine to “perpetual disqualification” from the league.

“The rules are presented to us at the beginning of the season,” Washington forward Corey Kispert said. “They’re pretty cut and dry. They’re pretty easy to follow.”

The NBA has had business relationships with gaming companies for years, and lists FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings as official gaming partners. The league also has relationships with at least 24 other gaming operators.

Last week, Cleveland Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff revealed he received threats from gamblers last season and reported it to the NBA. "They got my telephone number and were sending me crazy messages about where I live and my kids and all that stuff," Bickerstaff said. "So it is a dangerous game and a fine line that we're walking for sure."

Bickerstaff was asked the question after All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton of the Indiana Pacers indicated days earlier that he's grown tired of regularly hearing criticism from people on social media about their prop bets.

Raptors forward Jordan Nwora offered a similar assessment Monday, saying he and other players routinely hear how their on-court performance affects bettors.

“All the time. Non-stop,” Nwora said in comments published by The Canadian Press. “You get messages. You hear it on the sideline. You see guys talking about it all the time. It is what it is. It comes with being in the NBA. People bet on silly things on a daily basis. So, I mean, it’s part of being in the NBA, it’s what comes with it. I get it.”

And on Monday, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani said he never bet on sports or knowingly paid any gambling debts accumulated by his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Ohtani said Mizuhara lied to him for years and stole millions from him, in what were his first public comments about the illegal gambling and theft allegations involving him and his interpreter.

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AP Sports Writers Mark Anderson in Las Vegas and Andrew Seligman in Chicago, and Associated Press freelance writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA