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Feeling Left Out, NBA Announces Its Own Betting Scandal

PORTLAND, OREGON - MARCH 09: Jontay Porter #34 of the Toronto Raptors warms up before the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center on March 09, 2024 in Portland, Oregon. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The NBA is investigating Raptors forward Jontay Porter over a series of betting irregularities, according to a report Monday from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The investigation reportedly centers on two games in which bettors wagered and made hefty amounts of money on player prop bets—specifically unders involving Porter in a Jan. 26 game against the Los Angeles Clippers and a March 20 game against the Sacramento Kings.

In the game against the Clippers, Porter's prop numbers were set at 5.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 0.5 made three-pointers. Porter had started the team's previous game against the Memphis Grizzlies, although he injured his eye and came off the bench against Los Angeles. After recording three rebounds, one assist, and zero attempted shots in his four minutes of play, Porter left the game with what the team said was a reaggravation of the eye injury. He had also appeared to avoid grabbing a rebound at the end of the first quarter. Two days later, he played 20 minutes, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven rebounds.

Porter tipping away a rebound at the end of the quarter.

In the other game under investigation, Porter played three minutes in a blowout loss to the Kings, recording one missed shot and two rebounds before he left with an illness. A sportsbook source told ESPN that bettors were trying to put over $20,000 on Porter under prop bets in both instances, significantly more than usual. "People were trying to do whatever they could to bet Jontay Porter props," the source told Wojnarowski.

Porter, the brother of Michael Porter Jr., is on a two-way deal with the Raptors this season, earning $415,000 for his part in the team's otherwise forgettable season. He hasn't played since March 22, sitting out the Raptors' last two games for personal reasons. As the co-founder of a stock tips newsletter called The Financial Cloud, he's been vocal in the past about augmenting his basketball income as a prolific day-trader and crypto guy. Porter has also tweeted about sports betting a few times over the years.

As part of their daily report to users, DraftKings announced following both of those games that the Porter prop was its biggest money-loser of the evening. DraftKings is one of the NBA's two official gambling partners, along with FanDuel. "DraftKings and FanDuel sit at the center of the continued convergence between media and sports betting, and, together, we are excited to bring these unique content experiences to our fans," NBA EVP of media and gaming Scott Kaufman-Ross said in a release announcing the deal in 2021. Continued convergence is right: ESPN, which employs Wojnarowski, has its own sportsbook and runs all manner of cross-platform gambling content. Everyone involved is collapsing any remaining distance between sports and sports gambling, as the latter gains more influence over the former.

Porter is a marginal player, but gambling creep can be found everywhere. Those within the NBA have already talked about it out loud, LeBron James recently became a DraftKings partner, and the most famous baseball player in the world is currently wrapped up in a betting scandal. Earlier this month, the league weakened the barrier further by allowing people to place bets through League Pass. Regardless of Porter's involvement, this genre of investigation is necessarily going to become more commonplace as leagues cede more of their product to gambling interests.

Correction (6:00 p.m. ET): The original version of this article incorrectly phrased what the sportsbook source told Adrian Wojnarowski; the language has been changed for accuracy.

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