Northwest Notes: Hyland, Gordon, Towns, Blazers

Nuggets guard Bones Hyland would be open to a trade that allows him to secure a larger role on a new team, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report stated during Tuesday night’s broadcast of the Pelicans/Nuggets game in Denver (Twitter video link).

While Haynes’ info is new, it lines up with what we’ve heard during the last week from other reporters. Jake Fischer said last Friday that “occasional clashes” between Hyland and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone were a factor in Denver’s willingness to gauge his trade market, while Marc Stein alluded this week to “tensions” about the second-year guard’s playing time.

Hyland averaged 19.0 minutes per game during his rookie season in 2021/22 and has played a similar role in year two, logging 19.5 MPG so far in ’22/23. He’s tied for seventh among Nuggets players in minutes per game, but is one of the team’s top five scorers with 12.1 PPG.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In a conversation with Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon spoke about the importance of continuity in Denver, his experience playing alongside Nikola Jokic, and the odds of earning his first All-Star nod. “It would mean a lot to me,” Gordon said of the All-Star possibility. “I hope I make it.”
  • There’s still no set return timeline for injured Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns, who remains out indefinitely due to his calf injury, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said on Tuesday during a radio appearance on KFAN 100.3 (Twitter link via Dane Moore). However, the team’s “full expectation” is that Towns will return at some point this season, Connelly added.
  • After resetting their roster last season with a series of major trades, the Trail Blazers – tied for 11th in the West with a 24-26 record – seem to be back in no-man’s land, writes Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. O’Connor considers what moves Portland can make around star point guard Damian Lillard to become a contender, arguing that center Jusuf Nurkic is a weak link and that the team should be open to the idea of moving any of Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, and Shaedon Sharpe if the return is right.

Warriors Among Teams Eyeing Matisse Thybulle

The Warriors have had internal discussions about the possibility of trading for Matisse Thybulle, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who reports that Golden State likes the Sixers wing as a defensive stopper.

Marc Stein reported earlier in the week that the Kings are also among the teams with some level of interest in Thybulle, which Pompey confirms. A league source tells The Inquirer that Sacramento head coach Mike Brown is a fan of the 25-year-old.

Thybulle has made the All-Defensive Second Team twice in his first three NBA seasons, but has yet to develop into a reliable contributor at the offensive end. He’s averaging just 2.7 points in 12.1 minutes per night (45 games) for Philadelphia this season. The former 20th overall pick is also on an expiring contract and will be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.

Multiple league sources tell Pompey that Thybulle’s inconsistent production and role in Philadelphia (he was out of the rotation earlier in the season) have hurt his trade value, suggesting he’s not worth a first-round pick at this point. As a result, Pompey wonders if the 76ers might be better off hanging onto the defensive ace, pointing out that the club has an 18-4 record when he plays at least 12 minutes and hasn’t lost any of the 10 games in which he has played at least 20 minutes.

It’s unclear what exactly the Sixers would be looking for if they traded Thybulle, who is earning $4.4MM in the final year of his rookie deal. If they talk to the Kings, Terence Davis could be one name who comes up — he’s rumored to be less than thrilled with his dip in playing time and is earning $4MM on an expiring contract. Philadelphia is also said to be in the market for a backup center, so Alex Len ($3.9MM) and Chimezie Metu ($1.9MM) may be of some interest, along with stretch four Trey Lyles ($2.6MM).

As for the Warriors, perhaps veteran stretch four JaMychal Green, who is on a minimum-salary contract and playing center in Golden State, would appeal to the Sixers. It’s hard to imagine Golden State parting with any of its recent first-round picks (James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, or Patrick Baldwin) in a deal for Thybulle. Wiseman would theoretically be an intriguing target for a Philadelphia team seeking size, but he can’t realistically be counted on for regular playoff minutes and his $9.6MM cap hit would complicate salary matching, as well as the Sixers’ reported desire to dip below the luxury tax line.

And-Ones: Napier, All-Star Bonuses, Trade Proposals, Biggest Needs

Former NBA guard Shabazz Napier has signed with Olimpia Milano for the remainder of the season, according to a team press release. Coach Ettore Messina said Napier will be thrown into the fray immediately against Baskonia, Allesandro Maggi of Sportando relays.

“Shabazz Napier had just one team practice, but we will use him, hoping for some minutes in a position where we need them badly,” he said.

Napier last appeared in the NBA during the 2019/20 season, when he played a combined 56 games for Minnesota and Washington.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • Several NBA players could cash in if they’re selected as All-Star reserves, Bobby Marks of ESPN notes. Among that group, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown will earn a $1.5MM bonus if he’s chosen and also appears in 65 regular season games (he has missed six games so far). The Bucks’ Jrue Holiday will collect $324K if he’s chosen, while the Kings’ Domantas Sabonis will receive $1.3MM if he’s selected. The Knicks’ Julius Randle will get an additional $1.2MM if he gets the nod.
  • What are some of the bold moves that playoff contenders could make to improve their chances of success? The Ringer’s Michael Pina explores potential trades that could make the Suns, Clippers, Thunder, Lakers and Pelicans better.
  • The Bulls and Hawks need 3-point shooting.  The Nuggets need defensive help and the Warriors require a stretch wing. The Athletic’s staff runs down the biggest need for every team as the trade deadline approaches.

Southwest Notes: Finney-Smith, Poeltl, Porter Jr., Pelicans

Dorian Finney-Smith signed a four-year extension last season, which ensured financial security. That commitment from the Mavericks doesn’t mean he’ll still be wearing the team’s uniform after this year’s trade deadline. He told The Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan that the fact other teams might want him means they recognize his contributions.

“It’s one of those things that I created value in this league,” the Mavericks forward said. “That’s a good thing, but other teams, the organization, got to do what’s best for them. They’re not always going to make the best decisions in your favor.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Jakob Poeltl is one of the hot names on the trade market, but the Spurs don’t necessarily need to trade the impending free agent, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News notes. Poeltl has said multiple times in recent months he would love to stay in San Antonio and the Spurs have plenty of cap flexibility this summer. They’ll also be on the upswing with the addition of high lottery pick and Poeltl’s skills blend well with any star-level talent.
  • Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr., who will miss his 10th consecutive game on Wednesday, isn’t close to returning, according to Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle. Porter has not begun any basketball activities and doesn’t have a timetable. While the injury has been described as a left foot contusion, his left big toe is the issue. “It’s just irritated. It’s something to do with my joint, but it’ll be fine,” Porter said. “We’ve just been taking it a day at a time, really.”
  • The Pelicans shouldn’t feel pressured to make a move before the trade deadline, Will Guillory of The Athletic opines. Their top players have not seen much court action together due to injuries and they still have a long way to go to develop the chemistry and cohesion they’ll need in the playoffs. With the salary commitments they already have, they should continue building internally with their assets, Guillory adds.

Ben McLemore To Sign With Chinese Team

Ben McLemore has agreed to a one-year contract with the Shandong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets.

McLemore spent the past nine seasons in the NBA but there’s been little news regarding the veteran shooting guard since he became a free agent in the offseason. He participated in a free agent workout with the Warriors in September but obviously didn’t get signed by them or any other NBA squad.

McLemore spent most of last season in the Trail Blazers’ rotation, averaging 10.2 points in 20.1 minutes while appearing in 62 games.

The seventh overall pick of the 2013 draft, McLemore has 556 NBA games on his resume, with stops in Sacramento, Memphis, Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers as well as Portland. He’s averaged 9.0 points in 22.5 minutes during his career while making 36.3% of his 3-point attempts.

Western Notes: Lee, Fox, McNair, Ayton, Hyland

Suns point guard Saben Lee is “grateful” for the opportunity the organization gave him, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes. Lee’s second 10-day contract with Phoenix expired on Monday, so the team must now offer him a rest-of-the-season contract if it wants to keep him.

Lee has appeared in 10 games with the Suns, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 17.3 minutes. “It’s been really good,” Lee said. “Being able to make strides on and off the court. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here the past 20 days. Able to get a good amount of playing time as well.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Guard De’Aaron Fox is pleased the Kings reached a three-year contract extension with GM Monte McNair, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “It’s great. Just to have consistency throughout the organization, you want that to be the last thing you’re worried about is no extension,” Fox said. “Just from top to bottom, I feel like everybody wants to know that they have a little bit of security. I feel like you do your job better when you’re secure.”
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton could be a long-term trade target for the Mavericks, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to Hoops Hype). “He’s a name that I’ve heard around the Mavericks,” MacMahon said. “And again, I think that would have to be a later than right now type of situation.”
  • Nuggets backup guard Bones Hyland has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. He told TheDNVR.com’s Harrison Wind that he’s oblivious to the chatter. “I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me at all,” Hyland said. “I don’t pay no mind to it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Atlantic Notes: Simmons, Warren, Mazzulla, Celtics’ Targets, Barnes

Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said Ben Simmons is “showing signs of progress” regarding his left knee soreness, according to Mark Sanchez of the New York Post. However, Simmons will miss his third consecutive game when the team faces Boston on Wednesday, ESPN’s Nick Friedell tweets. Forward T.J. Warren (left shin contusion) will also miss his third straight contest.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Celtics’ Joe Mazzulla, a little-known assistant when training camp approached, will now coach in the All-Star Game, the league’s PR department tweets. Boston’s interim head coach and his staff will coach Team Giannis, thanks to Boston’s Eastern Conference-leading record.
  • Could the Celtics target Mason Plumlee, P.J. Washington or even bring back Kelly Olynyk for a second stint? The Athletic’s Jay King examines some of the frontcourt trade options the franchise might explore.
  • While the Raptors may be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, their star second-year forward Scottie Barnes — who isn’t going anywhere — continues to shine, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star notes. Warriors coach Steve Kerr compare Barnes to Draymond Green. “Guys like that have a feel for the game. They have a sense of what’s happening on the floor seemingly before the other nine people out there,” Kerr said. “That’s why I enjoy watching Barnes play. For a young guy, he has a great feel for the game.”

Matt Thomas Signs With Panathinaikos

Greek team Panathinaikos has signed veteran sharpshooter Matt Thomas through the 2023/24 season, the club announced in a press release.

Thomas, 28, spent last season with the Bulls, appearing in 40 games and averaging 4.0 PPG and 1.3 RPG on .410/.385/.800 shooting. The former Iowa State standout also played for the Raptors and Jazz from 2019-21, appearing in 126 total NBA regular season contests and making 40.4% of his three-pointers during that time.

As good a shooter as Thomas is, he had a hard time earning regular rotation minutes in the NBA due to his limitations as a ball-handler and defender. He began his professional career by spending two seasons in Europe from 2017-19, but this will be his first time playing in the Greek League.

Panathinaikos, which also competes in the EuroLeague, has no shortage of NBA players on its roster, including swingman Dwayne Bacon and former lottery picks Derrick Williams and Georgios Papagiannis. The team is looking to bounce back and move up the standings following an 8-13 start in EuroLeague play.

Pistons Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Pistons have been granted a disabled player exception due to Cade Cunningham‘s season-ending injury, reports James L. Edwards II of The Athletic (Twitter link). The former No. 1 overall pick underwent surgery in December to address a left tibial stress fracture.

A disabled player exception grants an over-the-cap team some extra spending power when it loses a player to an injury deemed more likely than not to sideline him through at least June 15.

The exception is worth either half the injured player’s salary or the value of the mid-level exception, whichever is lesser. In this case, Cunningham’s salary for 2022/23 is $10,552,800, so Detroit’s DPE will be worth $5,276,400.

As we explain in our glossary entry, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

Although the disabled player exception gives a team extra cap flexibility, it doesn’t open up an extra spot on the 15-man roster. The club must have a roster spot available to use the DPE to add a player.

Teams had until January 15 to apply for disabled player exceptions, so if a player suffers a season-ending injury anytime between now and the end of the season, a DPE won’t be available for his club. The Pistons – and any other team with a disabled player exception – will have until March 10 to use their DPE.

L.A. Notes: LeBron, T. Bryant, Lakers, Conley, Clippers

After missing Monday’s game in Brooklyn due to left foot/ankle soreness, Lakers star LeBron James has been listed as questionable to play on Tuesday in New York, tweets Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times.

While that status indicates that his availability for tonight remains up in the air, sources tell ESPN’s Dave McMenamin (Twitter link) that LeBron will play against the Knicks. He’s just 117 points away from catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer.

Here’s more on the NBA’s two Los Angeles-based teams:

  • While his production fell off last week with Anthony Davis back, Lakers center Thomas Bryant showed on Monday that he remains a crucial – and highly effective – insurance policy, scoring 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting with Davis unavailable, Turner writes for The Los Angeles Times. “I’m willing to do whatever the team needs me to do in order to win,” Bryant said. “Whether that’s coming off the bench, I’m with it. Or if that’s starting, I’m ready as well.”
  • Now that the Lakers have traded away their 2029 second-round pick, Eric Pincus of Sports Business Classroom considers how the team could add protections to their 2029 first-round pick if it’s traded this season. Protections aren’t allowed to be added to picks beyond seven years, so if the Lakers trade their 2029 first-rounder with protections at February’s deadline, they won’t be able to include language that pushes it to 2030.
  • ESPN’s Tim MacMahon is the latest reporter to throw cold water on the idea of the Clippers acquiring point guard Mike Conley from the Jazz. After Jake Fischer reported last week that the idea of the Clips landing Conley was probably “unrealistic,” MacMahon said on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast that it’s unlikely to happen because L.A. is reluctant to give up a first-round pick. “If they are (going to give up a first-rounder) for a point guard, I think it’s more likely (Fred) VanVleet than it is for Conley,” MacMahon said (hat tip to Scott Polacek of Bleacher Report).
  • It took some time for the Clippers‘ star combo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to hit their stride this season, but the pairing is finally paying dividends, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. The team had won five straight games before Leonard and George sat out the second half of a back-to-back set on Sunday. L.A. won’t have another back-to-back until March.