- Al Horford is thriving in his new role as a point forward in the Celtics’ offense, Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com notes. Horford is averaging a career-high 5.3 assists and has notched eight or more assists three times after doing that just seven times previously in his career, Forsberg adds. “Coach is calling my number to make plays, and honestly, the guys are just cutting great to the basket, and I’m finding them,” Horford told Forsberg. “It’s a lot of easy looks.”
Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Hawks have assigned forward Mike Scott to the Delaware 87ers of the NBA D-League via the flexible assignment rule, the team announced via press release. “Mike has worked extremely hard to return to full health after missing training camp and the early part of the season. In discussing with Mike how he could get himself back in game shape and contributing to the team faster, we agreed that the best way would be to do an assignment with Delaware where he could play meaningful, competitive minutes,” coach/executive Mike Budenholzer said.
- Sheldon McClellan is also headed to the 87ers via the flexible assignment rule, with the Wizards wanting him to get some solid playing time, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post relays (Twitter links). The guard is expected to remain in Delaware for several games, Buckner adds.
- The Celtics have recalled rookie guard Demetrius Jackson from the D-League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Jackson hasn’t seen much action in Boston, but has been very effective for the Maine Red Claws, averaging 19.6 PPG, 6.5 APG, and 5.9 RPG in eight contests.
- The Rockets have assigned rookie forward Kyle Wiltjer to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the club announced today (via Twitter). Even with Donatas Motiejunas not reporting to the team, the Rockets have more than enough depth at power forward, and can afford to have Wiltjer practice and play in the D-League.
- Rookie forward Georges Niang, the 50th overall pick in the 2016 draft, has been assigned to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, according to a press release issued by the Pacers. Indiana’s D-League affiliate doesn’t play until Thursday, but the squad’s next five games are at home, so it’ll be interesting to see how long Niang’s assignment lasts.
Celtics star Al Horford thought hard about joining the Rockets this summer before opting to go to Boston, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE. Horford listed his finalists as Boston, Houston and Washington, in that order, if he decided to leave Atlanta.
“[Houston] and Boston were probably the two teams I was really, really looking at,” he said before today’s game in Houston. “Just a lot to consider. … “At the end of the day, I just felt I was better off being here in Boston.”
The Celtics haven’t been disappointed after giving Horford a four-year, $113MM deal. He has displayed the versatility that made him a two-time All-Star with the Hawks, averaging 14.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.6 assists through 20 games.
James Harden was part of the recruiting team that nearly convinced Horford to sign with the Rockets.
“I thought we had a chance,” Harden said. “I thought we had a real good chance, but obviously it didn’t work out. Which is fine.”
Someone who didn’t take the news quite as well as Harden was Horford’s father Tito, a former NBA player who went to high school in Houston, tweets ESPN’s Calvin Watkins. Al Horford said his father was “heartbroken” by the decision, but has since gotten over it.
Here are Monday’s D-League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:
- The Nets have recalled guard Yogi Ferrell and forward Chris McCullough from their Long Island affiliate, the team announced in a press release. McCullough led the D-League team with 24 points and eight rebounds in today’s win over Sioux Falls. Ferrell is averaging 5.4 points and 1.6 rebounds in nine games with Brooklyn.
- Bulls forward Doug McDermott has missed the team’s last nine games due to a concussion, but he may be nearing a return. The club announced today in a press release that McDermott has been assigned to the Windy City Bulls, presumably to practice with the D-League squad before he rejoins the NBA team.
- The Nets sent guard Yogi Ferrell back to the Long Island Nets for the team’s afternoon contest against Sioux Falls today, according to the club (Twitter link). Long Island lost the game, and Ferrell barely showed up on the score sheet, scoring four points on nine shots in 12 minutes of action.
- The Lakers have recalled 2016 second-rounder Ivica Zubac from the D-League, the team announced today (Twitter link). Zubac hasn’t seen much action with the NBA club so far in his rookie year, but has played well for the L.A. D-Fenders, averaging 17.3 PPG and 8.5 RPG in six contests.
- Jordan Mickey has returned to the Celtics, having been recalled from the Maine Red Claws, according to the team (via Twitter). Mickey was fairly quiet on Sunday, but had a huge game for Maine on Saturday, putting up 22 points, 15 boards, four assists, four steals, and four blocks.
Between now and the February trade deadline, the Celtics are expected to strongly consider adding a defensive-minded, rebounding big man, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com, who suggests that Mavericks center Andrew Bogut will likely emerge as a trade target for Boston.
While Bogut is considered a logical trade candidate based on his talent, his expiring contract, and the Mavericks’ 4-15 record, sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com that Dallas has “no immediate intention” to shop Bogut, since the team still wants to try to salvage its season. That lines up with owner Mark Cuban‘s comments last week about how the Mavs have no intention to tank this season.
Still, the Mavs don’t look like a playoff contender, particularly with Dirk Nowitzki out indefinitely, and if the February trade deadline draws closer and a postseason berth isn’t realistically within reach for the franchise, Dallas could become motivated to move Bogut, writes MacMahon. As the ESPN scribe notes, Mavs management recognizes that the veteran center has plenty of value on the trade market, with league sources suggesting to MacMahon that Bogut should be worth a first-round pick.
A former first overall pick, Bogut has seen his scoring average dip over the years, and is currently averaging just 4.1 PPG for Dallas. However, the 32-year-old is contributing 10.6 RPG in 25.9 minutes per night, and is the sort of reliable rim protector that a handful of contending teams may covet at the deadline. He’ll earn just over $11MM this season before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2017.
- With their schedule “about to crank into overdrive,” the Celtics continue to be a bit of a mystery, writes Chris Forsberg of ESPN.com.
The Raptors have raced to an impressive start this season, prompting Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun to wonder if Toronto should pull the trigger on a significant deal to improve its chances of winning a title. Wolstat clearly relays that no deal is imminent. He points out that Paul Millsap would make for an “intriguing” addition, but also cautions such a deal with the Hawks would likely risk key parts of the Raptors future. Again, this is speculation, but the Raptors look like a team to watch as the trade deadline rumor mill starts to ramp up.
Here is more out of the Atlantic Division:
- The Knicks will have a dilemma on their hands on whether or not to re-sign Derrick Rose, assuming he stays healthy, and will have to weigh how it impacts Kristaps Porzingis, Micah Adams of ESPN.com writes (Insider subscription needed). The Knicks have been better with Rose on the floor than him off it, but in losses he has often failed to get teammates involved, Adams writes in a deep-dive piece involving analytics.
- Jaylen Brown, who was thought of as a possible trade candidate earlier this season, is learning to make the most out of opportunities as a rookie on a deep team like the Celtics, Taylor Snow of NBA.com relays.
- The Knicks assigned forward Maurice Ndour to the Westchester Knicks and he will play against the Erie Bay Hawks tonight, the team’s PR staff tweets. The power forward has appeared in 10 NBA games this season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.1 minutes.
- The Celtics assigned forward Jordan Mickey to their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, the team tweets. The second-year power forward has appeared in eight games with Boston this season, averaging 2.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 8.3 minutes.
- The Thunder recalled forward Josh Huestis from the Oklahoma City Blue, the team announced in a press release. In four games with the Blue this season, Huestis is averaging 9.3 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 2.00 blocks in 31.8 minutes. He has yet to make his season debut with the Thunder.
- The Spurs assigned Davis Bertans and Dejounte Murray to their D-League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, according to the team’s website. Both players are available tonight for Austin’s game against the Salt Lake City Stars.
- Guard Josh Richardson returned to Miami during the Heat’s current three-game road trip to get treatment for his sore ankle, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Richardson suffered the injury against the Celtics on Monday. Miami is already playing without two of its top wings, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters, due to injuries. “It’s an easy decision for us,” coach Erik Spoelstra told Winderman and other beat writers. “His ankle is really sore. He has a bunch of other little, minor things going on. So we just wanted to go back, get his body right, feel right for the next three days, four days. We’ll reevaluate him then.”