NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/18/19

Here are Monday’s assignments from around the NBA G League. There were no recalls today:

  • The Grizzlies assigned 6’9″ small forward Bruno Caboclo and second-year point guard De’Anthony Melton to their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, for a contest tonight against the South Bay Lakers, the team tweeted. Caboclo has logged minutes in 10 games for the Grizzlies this year. Melton, who has seen time in five NBA contests this season. According to Memphis, both players will be recalled immediately following the game so that they may join the Grizzlies for a bout with the Warriors tomorrow night.
  • The Knicks have assigned rookie wing Ignas Brazdeikis to their Westchester affiliate, according to SNY’s Ian Begley (via Twitter). The 6’6″ small forward from Michigan was drafted with the 47th pick by New York this summer. He has played sparingly in four NBA games.

Aron Baynes Talks Celtics Tenure

After spending two seasons with the Celtics, center Aron Baynes found himself off-loaded in a trade to the Suns this summer when president of basketball operations Danny Ainge needed to make cap room to sign maximum free agent Kemba Walker.

A 25-game suspension to 2018 No. 1 draft pick Deandre Ayton has paved the way to a starting slot for Baynes, and he has been having the season of his life thus far, at age 32.

Baynes had never averaged more than 6.6 points, 1.2 three-point attempts, or 18.3 minutes in any of his prior seven NBA seasons. Now, he is averaging 15.6 PPG and shooting 4.3 three-pointers a night at a 46.8% clip, all while playing 23.8 MPG.

Interviewed at a shootaround ahead of tonight’s road tilt against his former team, Baynes discussed his old Boston running mates. His conversation was relayed by Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.

On the influence of the Celtics brass on his three-point shooting:

“[Celtics coach Brad Stevens] definitely gave me confidence. Danny also says the 3-point line’s there for a reason. Everyone knows that. So it’s kind of one of those things. I was told one day by Brad that if I don’t take the shot, then that’s hurting the team. So, you know, I’ve got to go out there and do what I do in practice. Having that confidence from your coach, it’s a good thing.”

On his trade away from Boston:

“There’s no reason to look back. You know, you can always ask, ‘What if?’ But you’ve got to think about what I get to [do]. So I get to get to come out here and keep playing, and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

On keeping tabs on his former teammates:

“You build friendships with guys, and that’s the most fun thing for me to watch is the friends that I have in this league and how they’re still doing well. So that’s what I watch more so than just the teams. It’s always good to keep an eye on your mates.”

Poll: Will James Harden Average 40 PPG?

James Harden might make NBA history this season, the kind of history that only one all-time luminary has ever achieved before. James Harden might average at least 40 points a game.

The 30 year-old Rockets guard may scale a height only heretofore reached by the Big Dipper himself, Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt the Stilt averaged 50.4 PPG in 1961/62 for the then-Philadelphia Warriors. He reached a similarly insane 44.8 PPG the next season, after the team had relocated and rebranded itself the San Francisco Warriors. Keep in mind, the three-point line did not exist in the NBA until the 1979/80 season.

Harden is currently averaging an eyeball-popping 39.5 PPG in 2019/20, to go along with 7.8 APG and 5.6 RPG. Yes, it might just be a scorching hot start, just 13 games into this young season. But the reason Harden might really hit the big 4-0 is fairly simple: he actually is not shooting that well yet.

His 39.5 PPG tally is being achieved while he shoots 41.7% from the field and 33.2% from behind the three-point line. He is shooting 14.6 long-range attempts a night. For his career, Harden is connecting on 44.2% of his field goals and 36.4% of his three-point tries. That efficiency was not abetted by the 49 points Harden scored when the Rockets beat the Timberwolves 125-105 on November 15th. He connected on just 16 of a career-high 41 field goal attempts.

Harden was named his conference’s Player of the Week for his phenomenal offensive work last week (he received the same honor last week). His highest scoring average prior to this season was a league-leading 36.1 PPG, achieved last year.

Outside of the obvious big personnel change this season, why is Harden scoring so much? As was mentioned in today’s edition of the Brian Windhorst and the Hoop Collective Podcast on ESPN, a pace change has been key. In replacing half-court specialist Chris Paul with speed demon Russell Westbrook, the Rockets ramped up their pace, which has translated into more possessions, and thus more opportunities for Harden to score. Houston has transitioned from the 26th-fastest team in the NBA last season to the third-fastest so far this year.

Harden’s scoring has helped his Rockets keep pace in the chippy Western Conference as they battle through injuries to several core pieces. The team has won its last seven games in a row after starting out the season 3-3. They currently sit second in the West. Houston will try to strengthen its record when the Trail Blazers come to town tonight.

So will The Beard average 40 points a game in a season? Will he at least come close to that lofty number? Weigh in with our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

Stanley Johnson Out Two Weeks With Groin Injury

Raptors bench swingman Stanley Johnson has been ruled out of commission for tonight’s bout against the Hornets due to a stress reaction in his groin, per Blake Murphy of The Athletic (via Twitter).

The Johnson injury has cleared a path for the team to recall 6’7″ two-way rookie wing Oshae Brissett from Toronto’s G-League affiliate, Raptors 905, for tonight’s contest. Murphy indicates that the team anticipates Johnson to sit for two weeks as he recovers.

The No. 8 pick in 2015, Johnson was signed to a two-year, $7.5MM deal with Toronto in July after wings Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green vacated the premises in free agency. Johnson played his first 3 1/2 seasons on the Pistons before being dealt to the Bucks and then the Pelicans just ahead of the 2018/19 season’s trade deadline.

Johnson has been unable to crack the Raptors’ forward rotation. He has appeared in just five games with Toronto, averaging 3.8 minutes. In a follow-up tweet, The Sports Network’s Josh Lewenberg reports being told that Johnson has not been “100%” healthy this entire season. For his career, Johnson has averaged 6.9 PPG, 3.3 RPG, and 1.5 APG.

Community Shootaround: Next Notable Veteran FA To Sign?

With Carmelo Anthony set to join the Trail Blazers, the NBA’s most notable veteran free agent is finally coming off the market. There aren’t many players still looking for work who have a résumé as decorated as Carmelo’s, which includes 10 All-Star appearances and six All-NBA nods, but there are still several intriguing veteran free agents available.

Longtime Sixth Man of the Year contender – and three-time winner – Jamal Crawford recently reiterated that he remains in the market for a new NBA home. Crawford is 39 years old, but he’s not ready to retire, and had a handful of big scoring nights in 2018/19, including a 51-point outburst in the final game of the season.

J.R. Smith is free to sign with any team after being exiled by the Cavaliers last season. The 34-year-old hasn’t played in over a year, but isn’t far removed from knocking down 37.5% of his three-point attempts in 80 games in 2017/18.

Much was made of Joe Johnson‘s NBA comeback this fall after he lit up Ice Cube’s BIG3 league in the summer, but the 38-year-old was beaten out by Christian Wood for the Pistons‘ final roster spot and hasn’t caught on with a new team since then.

Joakim Noah (age 34), Luc Mbah a Moute (33), Corey Brewer (33), and Jodie Meeks (32) are among the other 30-something free agents still out there. Marreese Speights (32), Amir Johnson (32), Dante Cunningham (32), Lance Thomas (31), Michael Beasley (30), and Jonathon Simmons (30) could be had as well. And as our list of current veteran free agents shows, there are several other options available for teams looking for reclamation projects.

What do you think? Are any of these unsigned veterans still capable of having a positive impact on an NBA playoff team this season? Which one(s) will be next to follow in Anthony’s footsteps and catch on with a new club?

Head to the comment section below to share your two cents!

Luke Kornet Undergoes Nasal Surgery

Bulls big man Luke Kornet underwent a surgical procedure to correct a sinus obstruction and will be out an undetermined amount of time, according to a team press release.

The 7’2” Kornet broke his nose last December while playing for the Knicks. After a prolonged period of treatment, the Bulls determined that surgery was necessary.

Coach Jim Boylen told reporters, including NBC Sports Chicago’s Kelly Twardziak, that his initial understanding was that Kornet would be out a week or two. That projected timetable could change.

“He had blockage and some issues from a previous fracture from when he was in New York. We just felt it was time to go in there and clean that thing out,” Boylen said. “That happened this morning at 6 AM. He’s out. Surgery went well. We’ll have more to report as we go. Originally, it was a seven-ten-day thing where he’d be back. I think it’s one of those things they don’t know until they get in there how extreme it is. But he had blockage and it needed to be done.”

In 10 games this season, Kornet is averaging 4.0 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 11.6 MPG. He signed a two-year, $4.5MM deal in July.

Central Notes: Mitrou-Long, Markkanen, Griffin, Drummond

Injuries have thrust Pacers two-way players Naz Mitrou-Long and Brian Bowen into action more than anticipated in the early going, Mark Monteith of the team’s website notes. Backcourt injuries forced Indiana to play Mitrou-Long 14 minutes on Saturday one night after he scored 28 points for its G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Bowen made a five-minute appearance in the loss to Milwaukee.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen hasn’t reached the 20-point mark since scoring 35 points in the season opener and shooting guard Zach LaVine is looking to change that, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “He just doesn’t seem in rhythm right now man. It’s a new offense. And I think it has a part to do with it,” LaVine said. “We’ve just got to help him find it.”
  • Injuries to Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose have contributed greatly to the Pistons’ 4-9 start. With some days off and both stars back in action, coach Dwane Casey is hoping to get things back on track, Keith Langlois of the team’s website writes. “We’ve got three or four days we can practice,” he said. “Before, there was one day in between.  … Sounds like an excuse. But it’s going to take a while for our guys to jell together, work together, learn each other. With Blake and Derrick back, for them to learn each other. It’s going to be a marathon.”
  • The Pistons will have to consider drastic changes if they don’t break the cycle of mediocrity soon, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The trade for Griffin hasn’t resulted in a huge uptick in the team’s fortunes, Beard continues. Andre Drummond, who can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, hasn’t impacted winning significantly enough to warrant another long-term deal in many people’s minds, Beard adds.

Rockets Release Forward Ryan Anderson

2:04pm: The Rockets have officially waived Anderson, the team’s PR department tweets.

12:30pm: The Rockets will waive forward/center Ryan Anderson, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports.

It’s an uninspiring and swift end to Anderson’s second stint with the franchise. He signed a partially guaranteed contract after being waived by Miami under the stretch provision. Anderson received a $500K guarantee on his $2,564,753 salary when he made the opening night roster.

Anderson is still collecting on the four-year, $80MM deal that Houston gave him in the summer of 2016. He spent two years with the team before being traded to Phoenix last August in a salary dump. The Suns shipped him to Miami in February and he was waived in July.

Anderson played just 14 minutes this season and remained glued to the bench despite the team being shorthanded last week due to injuries, including a concussion suffered by starting center Clint Capela.

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Musa, Kerr, Knicks

Joel Embiid‘s numbers are down in the major categories and the Sixers center feels that must change in order for the team to get rolling, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Embiid, who has missed four games during the Sixers’ 8-5 start, is averaging 22.9 PPG, 11.4 RPG and 1.4 BPG. He averaged 27.5 PPG, 13.6 RPG and 1.9 BPG last season.“I need to do more,” Embiid said. “I felt like I haven’t done enough. So that’s what I think I need to do.”

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The role of Nets second-year shooting guard Dzanan Musa has expanded with Caris LeVert sidelined by a thumb injury, Brian Lewis of the New York Post relays. Musa has averaged 9.0 PPG in 21.0 MPG over the last four games. “We need his scoring on that second unit now, with no Caris,” coach Kenny Atkinson said. “You can’t just have Spencer (Dinwiddie) out there taking every possession.” We’re going to need Musa to play well.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes the FIBA World Cup helped the Celtics get off to a fast start, Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe writes. Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown all played for Team USA. “You could tell [Team USA] was a head start for them,” Kerr said. “You could tell over the summer that those guys would click, and they absolutely have.”
  • Small, quick guards have lit up the Knicks lately, Howie Kussoy of the New York Post notes. Charlotte’s Devonte’ Graham, Chicago’s Coby White and Cleveland’s Collin Sexton have all enjoyed big games against them, forcing head coach David Fizdale to consider going smaller in his backcourt. “The battle that we are fighting is the speed guard who can shoot, those little guards that can get anywhere on the floor that can shoot the ball from the moon,” Fizdale said. “Those guys have been giving us headaches.”

Josh Jackson Making Progress In G League

The early returns on Josh Jackson‘s stint in the G League have been promising but it remains uncertain when he might return to the NBA, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.

Memphis took a flyer on the former lottery pick, who had fallen out of the favor with the Suns, and made the unusual decision early on to have him start off in the G League. It appears Jackson is on track to soon join the Grizzlies, as he has averaged 19.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 4.5 APG and 1.8 BPG in 33.3 MPG through four games with the Memphis Hustle.

Moreover, Jackson, who is making a little over $7MM this season, is showing improvement in two areas of concern. A subpar 3-point shooter with Phoenix, Jackson has made 10 of 17 attempts from long distance while embracing the responsibility of guarding the opponent’s top offensive threat.

The No. 4 overall pick of the 2017 draft had his 2020/21 rookie scale option turned down by Memphis, an understandable move since the Grizzlies had taken a wait-and-see approach with the 22-year-old forward from the moment they acquired him. That means Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer. But the Grizzlies would certainly be interested in bringing him back if things continuing trending in the right direction.

“He’s filling up the stat sheet, making an impact on the defensive end,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins told Cobb. “(He is) wanting to take on the toughest matchups that we’re facing.”

Jackson had some well-documented off-the-court issues after getting drafted, and the Grizzlies are continuing to monitor Jackson’s behavior, according to Cobb. However, if Jackson returns to the league soon and produces, he could be a trade piece before February’s deadline, Cobb adds.