Silver says Toronto’s Jontay Porter could be banned from NBA if gambling probe ties him to bets on games

Toronto Raptors v Portland Trail Blazers
Toronto Raptors v Portland Trail Blazers

If an ongoing investigation finds Raptors two-way player Jontay Porter was involved in a series of unusual prop bets on himself, he could be permanently banned from the NBA, league Commissioner Adam Silver said Wednesday.

Silver discussed it in terms of the integrity of the game, speaking after this week's Board of Governors meeting (a get-together of NBA owners) in New York.

"At the end of the day, there's nothing more important than the integrity of the competition, and so any issue raised around that is of great concern to me and to all commissioners, to all people who are safeguarded — all people who are in a position and have a responsibility to safeguard the game..." Silver said.

"I have an enormous range of discipline available to me. But it's a cardinal sin, what he's accused of, in the NBA, and the ultimate extreme option I have is to ban him from the game. That's the level of authority I have here because there's nothing more serious, I think, around this league when it comes to gambling and betting on our games, and that is a direct player involvement. The investigation is ongoing, but the consequences could be very severe."

The investigation into Porter — the brother of Denver's Michael Porter Jr. — is tied to two games with unusual betting patterns and outcomes, a story first reported by ESPN.

The first game was on Jan. 26 against the Clippers. There was a significant spike in betting the under on Porter props for the game — 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists were the lines, as well as the under of 0.5 made 3-pointers. Porter played four minutes against Los Angeles before exiting the game due to what the Raptors said at the time was a re-aggravation of an eye injury. Porter did not score or hit the over on any prop numbers.

Something similar happened on March 20 against the Kings. After heavy betting on his prop unders, with requests to bet in excess of $10,0000 on these props (5x to 10x times the usual limit). Porter played only a few minutes in that game before leaving due to an illness.

NBA players are not allowed to bet on any games, which may seem obvious, but there are signs in every NBA locker room to remind players of exactly this.

This story presents terrible optics for the NBA, a league growing its ties—read: taking more money—to legal sportsbooks. Sports betting is currently legal in 38 states, with more states expected to join in the coming years. The NBA has announced it will add a betting overlay to some League Pass games in the future, with live odds and updates as well as links to make a wager.

With that in mind, if Porter is tied to the bets through the investigation, expect the Silver to come down incredibly hard, sending a message to any players thinking about walking down that path. There is no timeline for the investigation to be completed.