Bryn Forbes Headed To Nuggets In Three-Team Trade

Shooting guard Bryn Forbes is headed to the Nuggets as the headliner of a three-team deal between Denver, the Spurs and the Celtics are finalizing a three-team trade agreement, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Beyond Forbes once again joining a playoff contender, power forward Juancho Hernangomez and Denver’s 2028 second-round pick are heading to San Antonio. Finally, two injured players, power forward Bol Bol and guard PJ Dozier, are en route to the Celtics in a cost-cutting move.

Woj adds that the Nuggets, who at 22-20 are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference, are looking to get some additional (healthy) scoring out of Forbes as a reserve wing. Forbes, averaging 9.1 PPG on .432/.417/.898 shooting, fits the bill. The Nuggets had been linked to Forbes as a trade target as recently as yesterday.

Hernangomez failed to crack the 23-22 Celtics’ rotation this season, averaging 1.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG across 5.3 MPG in jus 18 contests.  Woj also notes that, by getting off Hernangomez’s $7MM salary, the Celtics get that much closer to ducking the NBA’s punitive luxury tax.

San Antonio’s decision to acquire a future draft pick and move on from Forbes, a valuable contributor on the 2021 championship-winning Bucks, could signal that the team has accepted it should be in asset-accrual mode in the weeks leading up to the league’s trade deadline.

The Nuggets, struggling with injuries to several players across several positions, tried to trade Bol to the Pistons last week, only to see the deal rescinded when Bol failed his team physical. Bol subsequently went under the knife for a foot surgery this week, and is scheduled to miss several months of game action. Dozier is set to miss the rest of the 2021/22 NBA season as he continues to recover from a surgery of his own to treat a torn ACL.

Woj adds that, at least at present, the Celtics intend to retain both Dozier and Bol through this season’s trade deadline.

By trading two sidelined players for one available new addition, Denver also opens up a roster spot. Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets that a source has indicated interest from the Nuggets in possibly adding free agent center DeMarcus Cousins to shore up the team’s frontcourt depth.

Cousins began the 2021/22 season with the Bucks on a non-guaranteed deal. The 6’11” big man averaged 9.1 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.1 APG and 0.9 SPG in 17 games with Milwaukee before being waived.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Nuggets, Thunder, Nowell

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum saw his first on-court action in over six weeks on Monday, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Having recovered from a collapsed lung suffered on December 4, McCollum chipped in 16 points during 28 minutes of action in his first game back with Portland, helping the team secure a 98-88 victory over the Magic.

“I think this is probably the most happy and at peace I’ve ever been in my life,” the 30-year-old McCollum said, noting that his outlook has shifted following the birth of his first child earlier this month. “I’ve always had a purpose before, but now I really, truly have a real purpose in my life, which is to be a good man and try to raise my son to the best of my abilities.”

In 25 games this season, McCollum is averaging 20.4 PPG, 4.4 APG and 4.0 RPG. McCollum’s return to the court for the Trail Blazers arrives at a crucial time, as his backcourt mate Damian Lillard underwent surgery to address an abdominal strain last week and is scheduled to miss at least 5-6 weeks of action.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone discussed the recent right foot surgery of forward Bol Bol and the team’s plans for the NBA trade deadline, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Malone revealed that Bol ultimately opted for the surgery after the team saw its intended trade of Bol to the Pistons scuttled due to injury concerns following a failed physical. “Bol, his representation, once that trade was rescinded because of the failed physical, they felt that it was in his best interest to have the surgery and to address why that physical was failed,” Malone said. Malone acknowledged that the team’s issues with injuries and coronavirus health and safety protocols have impacted the front office’s ability to discern exactly where the club may look to make upgrades via trade.
  • The Thunder front office hopes to be install a culture of winning habits despite the team’s less-than-stellar record, writes Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman“You can’t put players in bubble wrap and not expose them to the tough stuff,” noted Oklahoma City team president Sam Presti.
  • Timberwolves third-year shooting guard Jaylen Nowell points to his time logged learning from game tape with his improvement on the floor, per Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “I’m putting more work in off the court as far as watching film damn near every single game, for real,” Nowell said. “I don’t look at it as, ‘Oh this is fun.’ I’m looking more at how guys are getting open, our defensive schemes. I’m watching every team way harder.” Nowell is averaging 7.9 PPG, 2.0 APG and 1.9 RPG with Minnesota this season.

Lakers’ Frank Vogel On Hot Seat

9:20PM: The Lakers have “no current plans” to fire Frank Vogel, sources tell Brad Turner and Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. This response certainly reads less like an emphatic denial of the rumor that Vogel is on the hot seat for Los Angeles, and rather a half-hearted vote of confidence.

Turner and Woike reveal that Los Angeles GM Rob Pelinka and Rambis spoke with Vogel and assistant coach David Fizdale following the team’s 125-116 loss to the Kings about figuring out how to improve the team’s on-court results, their third such meeting recently. Rambis next attended a Lakers pregame coaches meeting this past Monday, and pushed for reinserting traditional centers Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan into the team’s rotation, despite both players not inspiring much confidence in their play to this point in the 2021/22 season.

8:40AM: Frank Vogel was coaching for his job on Monday vs. Utah, according to Bill Oram and Sam Amick of The Athletic, who hear from sources that there’s a real chance the Lakers‘ head coach would’ve been let go if the team’s losing streak had extended to four games last night.

Oram and Amick report that Vogel “narrowly avoided being fired” after the Lakers’ 37-point loss to Denver on Saturday and that he continues to be evaluated on a game-to-game basis, meaning he’ll likely remain firmly on the hot seat going forward. It’s not clear to what extent Monday’s victory relieved the pressure on him, The Athletic’s duo writes.

The Lakers’ decision-makers are keeping a close eye on the situation and monitoring whether Vogel still has “command of the locker room,” per Oram and Amick.

Vogel has been under pressure for much of 2021/22 campaign, with Lakers executive Kurt Rambis informing the coaching staff in the fall that there was a mandate to right the ship after an underwhelming start to the season, sources tell The Athletic.

Shortly after Rambis conveyed the front office’s message, Vogel entered the health and safety protocols and missed six games. The Lakers went 1-5 under David Fizdale and then won four straight games when Vogel returned, which seemed to bode well for his job security. However, that streak was followed by three consecutive losses, including Saturday’s embarrassing blowout in Denver.

The Lakers, projected in the preseason as the favorites to come out of the West, currently have a 22-22 record and are in play-in territory at No. 7 in the conference.

Los Angeles has had to deal with a series of injuries that have hindered the team’s forward momentum. LeBron James has missed 11 games; Anthony Davis has been unavailable for 17 games and hasn’t played since December 17; and Kendrick Nunn, who got most of the team’s taxpayer mid-level exception in the summer, has yet to make his debut.

If the Lakers continue to fall short of their expectations, Vogel would be a convenient scapegoat. Despite leading the franchise to a championship in 2020, he had just one year tacked onto his current contract when he signed an extension in the offseason, so he’s only locked up through the 2022/23 season.

Central Notes: Lyles, Olynyk, Lopez, Caruso

Veteran Pistons big man Trey Lyles appears to be maximizing his time with his new team, writes James L. Edwards III of The Athletic. Edwards takes a look at how Lyles, a former lottery pick out of Kentucky, has reinvented himself as a role player with a lottery-bound Detroit club. Lyles discussed his struggles with mental health during his early NBA tenure.

“My first couple years, if my confidence was down, I’d be out there and wouldn’t shoot the ball,” Lyles said. “Over the years, I’ve tried to improve my mental ability to bounce back… I’ve done a lot of work in the offseason on my mental state of mind. Just being confident in who I am as a player is huge.”

Lyles signed a two-year, $5.1MM contract with the club during the 2021 offseason, and has spent most of his on-court time at center.

“[Therapy] has helped me out a lot,” Lyles, still just 26, reflected. “I have a tendency to get in my head. I just want to go out and use my muscle memory. Therapy has helped me in a variety of ways.”

Lyles is averaging 9.6 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.2 APG across 39 games with the Pistons thus far.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Injured center Kelly Olynyk is excited to return to the court for the Pistons soon, writes Rod Beard of the Detroit News. An MCL sprain has limited Olynyk to just 10 healthy games with his new team. The 6’11” big man has returned to basketball activities during the last few weeks and expects to rejoin the Pistons on the hardwood at some point during the team’s current four-game road trip. “It’s a long process and you can’t cheat any of the steps,” Olynyk said, per Beard. “You just miss it. You miss competing, miss being with the team, all that kind of stuff, especially in today’s world.”
  • Bucks center Brook Lopez has resumed on-court workouts at Milwaukee’s practice facility, writes Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lopez, 33, has been recovering from a back surgery that has limited him to just a single game of availability this season for the reigning champs.
  • Injured Bulls reserve combo guard Alex Caruso has proven in his absence how valuable he is to the club, posits Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago’s defense ranks 24th during the team’s last 13 games without Caruso. The 27-year-old out of Texas A&M, one of the Bulls’ best defenders, is expected to rejoin the club at some point this week.

Kemba Walker Returning, Will Start

Knicks point guard Kemba Walker will return tonight against the Timberwolves after missing the team’s previous nine games due to a sore left knee, the Knicks’ PR team has announced (Twitter link).

Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets that Walker will start at the point for New York. He’ll displace combo guard Alec Burks in the starting lineup and probably siphon off some minutes from fellow guards Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. Key reserve point guard Derrick Rose is out for an extended period of time as he recovers from an ankle surgery.

Walker, a Bronx native, has had an up-and-down first year with his hometown club. After opening the season as the team’s starting point guard, his defensive deficiencies led to his benching. COVID-19 issues compelled head coach Tom Thibodeau to re-insert Walker into the starting lineup, and he promptly enjoyed some of his best games of the season.

In his 24 games with the Knicks, all starts, Walker is averaging 13.6 PPG, 3.6 APG, 3.5 RPG and 0.8 SPG this season. The four-time All-Star, 31, will be counted upon to help stabilize the team’s point guard position. At 22-22, the Knicks currently occupy the No. 11 seed in a hyper-competitive Eastern Conference this season.

Donovan Mitchell Enters Concussion Protocol

All-Star Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol, per Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune adds (via Twitter) that the Jazz think Mitchell suffered the concussion in the first half of the team’s 101-95 Lakers loss on Monday. Walden reports that the 6’1″ guard began dealing with symptoms following the game last night.

Mitchell, 25, is enjoying yet another All-NBA caliber season. Through 40 games, he is averaging 25.5 PPG, 5.2 APG and 4.0 RPG, with shooting splits of .450/.339/.876.

The Jazz, led by Mitchell, Defensive Player of the Year candidate Rudy Gobert, and veteran point guard Mike Conley, currently occupy the fourth seed in the Western Conference with a 29-15 record.

Southwest Notes: Gordon, Chriss, Mavs, Pelicans, Spurs

Rockets guard Eric Gordon has been the subject of plenty of trade speculation already this season, and those rumors figure to continue heating up with the February 10 deadline just a few weeks away. However, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, Gordon isn’t dwelling on the possibility that he could be playing for a new team next month.

“I’m not even thinking or worried about that,” Gordon said. “Things happen. Get traded or not, you’ve still got to play the game of basketball. Fortunately, I’ve been here for going on six years now, and it’s been really good. I know the situation I’m in. I’m looking to just continue to play my game and look forward to continue to thrive with this group of guys.”

A Monday report indicated that the Rockets are expected to seek a first-round pick in any Gordon trade.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Marquese Chriss‘ new two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Mavericks includes a fully guaranteed salary for 2022/23, according to Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link).
  • New Mavericks president of basketball operations Nico Harrison will be involved in some key decisions at this season’s trade deadline, but he’s hoping to get a good look at the roster at full strength before making those decisions, per Brad Towsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think you can always improve,” Harrison said. “But as I look at our team, we haven’t been whole for a while. I’m really excited to see how [good] we are, now that we’re whole.”
  • Examining the Pelicans‘ outlook for the trade deadline, Will Guillory of The Athletic contends that the team should try to acquire one more reliable perimeter player, while Christian Clark of makes a similar argument, writing that the team lacks consistent creators in its backcourt.
  • Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia has joined the Spurs as a minority owner, as first reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic and officially announced by the team. The franchise has brought in multiple minority stakeholders since Peter J. Holt took over as managing partner in June, according to Charania, who says 13 previous investors have sold off equity. Besides Gebbia, other new minority owners include Bay Area investment firm Sixth Street and Michael Dell, the founder of Dell Technologies.

Nuggets’ Bol Undergoes Surgery On Foot, Out 8-12 Weeks

5:08pm: The Nuggets confirmed that Bol has undergone surgery on his right foot (Twitter link). The team didn’t provide an exact timeline for his recovery, announcing that he’ll be out indefinitely.

12:34pm: Nuggets forward Bol Bol will undergo foot surgery and will miss 8-to-12 weeks, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The operation will be on his right foot, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Bol had surgery on his left foot when he played at Oregon.

The news comes less than a week after the Pistons pulled out of a trade for Bol because their team doctors refused to give him medical clearance. He hasn’t appeared in a game since January 5, but that could be related to falling out of the rotation as well as his medical condition.

Bol, 22, has shown flashes of promise since being selected with the 44th pick in the 2019 draft, but he’s in the middle of a disappointing third season, appearing in just 14 games and averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per night.

He will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer if Denver makes a qualifying offer.

Latest On Jerami Grant

The Pistons aren’t a lock to trade Jerami Grant before the February 10 deadline, but the veteran forward may be this winter’s most popular trade candidate, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.

“He’s the grand prize of this deadline,” one team strategist told Fischer. “… He fits everywhere.”

“He’s gonna have so many suitors,” an assistant general manager said. “They’re just gonna wait them all out.”

According to Fischer, the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Jazz, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers, Timberwolves, and Kings are among the teams that have signaled some level of interest in Grant. Sources tell Bleacher Report that the Pistons are seeking multiple first-round picks, or one first-rounder along with a high-upside young player.

Fischer likens Grant’s situation this season to Aaron Gordon‘s in 2020/21, a comparison Shams Charania made when first reporting Grant’s availability in December. Like Gordon, Grant is a versatile frontcourt defender who has one-and-a-half seasons left on his contract and will be extension-eligible.

That extension eligibility will be important. Any team acquiring Grant will want assurances he’ll sign a new deal, according to Fischer, who hears from sources that the 27-year-old hopes to receive a four-year offer in the range of $112.7MM (the maximum he can get prior to 2023 free agency).

Fischer does share one complicating factor, writing that Grant wouldn’t be enthusiastic about joining a new team that doesn’t feature him as a “primary offensive option.”

Here’s more on Grant:

  • A November report indicated that the Pistons may be willing to offer a package of Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Saddiq Bey, and a future first-round pick for Ben Simmons. According to Fischer, the Sixers weren’t particularly enthusiastic about that concept, but when it leaked, it alerted teams that Grant might be available, which has helped accelerate his market.
  • Some people around the league view the Wizards as the favorites for Grant, says Fischer, noting that Wes Unseld Jr. coached the forward as an assistant in Denver. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Wizards center Montrezl Harrell, who is on an expiring $9.7MM contract, has been considered available via trade. Harrell could be included in any Washington offer, along with at least one of Rui Hachimura or Deni Avdija, Fischer suggests.
  • Fischer classifies the Lakers and Jazz as unlikely destinations for Grant based on the limited assets those teams have to offer. He also downplays the possibility of the Celtics or Grizzlies acquiring the Pistons forward, writing that neither team is expected to seriously pursue him.
  • As others have reported, the Bulls don’t appear comfortable with the idea of moving Patrick Williams in a deal for Grant, according to Fischer.
  • According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, there’s a belief that the Pelicans will look to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline, and Grant is considered a possible target for them.

Lakers Notes: Davis, Nunn, Johnson, Vogel

The Lakers have cleared Anthony Davis to begin on-court, full-contact workouts, according to Dan Woike and Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Davis, who hasn’t played since December 17 due to a sprained left knee, underwent a reevaluation on Monday and team doctors determined that recent testing showed no damage to the knee.

Although Los Angeles hasn’t provided a specific timeline for Davis’ return, people with knowledge of the situation tell Woike and Turner that the big man could be back during the club’s upcoming six-game road trip. That trip will begin on Friday in Orlando and runs through Sunday, January 30.

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • While the update on Davis was relatively positive, the same can’t be said of point guard Kendrick Nunn. As Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group relays, head coach Frank Vogel told reporters on Monday that Nunn’s right knee “didn’t respond well” during his ramp-up process, and his Lakers debut isn’t imminent. “Bone bruises are tricky, and his timeline is delayed,” Vogel said. “Still have no firm timeline on it, but he’s pulled back from workload until it calms down.”
  • Stanley Johnson, back under contract on his third 10-day deal, scored 10 fourth-quarter points on Monday vs. Utah and played a key role in helping the Lakers snap their three-game losing streak. As Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times, Johnson’s impact and role keep growing and he’s making a strong case for a rest-of-season commitment.
  • In case you missed it, Vogel is firmly on the hot seat, with the team said to be evaluating him on a game-to-game basis. In his latest Substack column, Marc Stein argues that, while Vogel isn’t blameless in Los Angeles’ up-and-down performance this season, holding him culpable for the team’s struggles is “outright laughable.”