Month: April 2024

Nick Young Expected To Miss 2-4 Weeks

After leaving Tuesday night’s game against the Pelicans with what was initially called an Achilles injury, Lakers guard Nick Young has been diagnosed with a strained calf muscle in his right leg, the team announced today in a press release. According to the Lakers, Young is expected to be sidelined for approximately two to four weeks, putting him on track to potentially return in late December.

Young, 31, was widely viewed as a candidate to be traded or even released during the offseason, but the Lakers kept him on the roster and he has started all 18 games he’s played for the club so far this season. While Young may still end up on the trade block prior to February’s deadline, he has been a key part of the Lakers’ early-season success, averaging 13.3 PPG on a career-high .458 FG%.

[RELATED: Lakers’ roster and depth chart at RosterResource.com]

In Young’s absence, the Lakers figure to turn to players like Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams for larger roles. With D’Angelo Russell also out of action for at least another week, the Lakers will be a little shorthanded in the backcourt for their next few games. However, with neither Young nor Russell expected to be sidelined into the new year, a roster move likely won’t be necessary.

Sam Hinkie Mulling Return To NBA In 2017

In a wide-ranging and fascinating interview with Sam Hinkie, Chris Ballard of SI.com explores what the former Philadelphia general manager has been up to since departing the Sixers earlier this year, and suggests that a return to the NBA could be in the cards for Hinkie in 2017. According to Ballard, Hinkie seemed “unsure” in October about whether or not he’d seek out another NBA job, but now appears more certain that he’ll eventually return to the league.

“I think the world probably assumes that I’m recharging and unplugging, and there’s a little of that,” Hinkie said. “This will get me in trouble if I say it, but I think I’m mostly sharpening the sword to come back.”

During his time in Philadelphia, Hinkie engaged in an unprecedented all-out rebuilding process, which resulted in just 47 total wins in three seasons for the Sixers. During that time, the team rid itself of bad contracts and added several promising prospects, including Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. Of course, it wasn’t until after Hinkie’s departure that Embiid made his debut and the Sixers finally landed a No. 1 overall pick, snagging Ben Simmons.

As Ballard writes, Hinkie has been informally approached by “a couple” teams since the spring about potential opportunities, but his agreement with the Sixers still features a non-compete clause. The former 76ers GM won’t have an idea of what the market looks like for him until that non-compete expires at the end of the 2016/17 season.

Speaking to about a half-dozen NBA general managers and executives – including Rockets GM Daryl Morey, who worked with Hinkie in Houston – Ballard found that Hinkie is still held in high regard by many people around the league. Morey indicated that he’d hire his old assistant GM back in a similar role “in a second,” but admitted that Hinkie might not be interested in such a position. For his part, Hinkie will likely remain patient and wait for the right opportunity rather than rushing into a new job next summer, as he tells Ballard.

“I care much more about my life than the likelihood of being employed by next season,” Hinkie said. “The things you learn well compound over time. I’m going to do what I can to stay relevant and dangerous in regards to 2017. But I’m super-focused on what life will look like in 2027 and 2037 and how I can plant seeds now that bear fruit by then, if not before.”

Checking In On NBA’s New Head Coaches

The NBA’s head coaching carousel was in full swing earlier this year, with a third of the NBA’s teams hiring coaches to run the show. Ten teams named new head coaches, while an 11th club – the Suns – removed the interim tag on Earl Watson, making him the full-time coach in Phoenix. We’re now nearly a quarter of the way through the 2016/17 season, so it’s worth checking in to see how those new head coaches are faring.

Of course, when we’re evaluating the performances of the NBA’s new coaches to date, we have to take into account what the expectations were for his team heading into the season. For instance, the Pacers are currently a half-game ahead of the Lakers, but Los Angeles was expected to be a lottery team, while Indiana was viewed as a threat for a top-four seed in the East. As such, Luke Walton has had a more impressive start for the Lakers than Nate McMillan has for the Pacers.

Above .500:

Mike D’Antoni, Rockets: 11-7 (.611)
David Fizdale, Grizzlies: 11-7 (.611)

Only two of 10 new head coaches have their teams above .500 in the early going this year, which perhaps isn’t a huge surprise. Most teams don’t replace their head coaches after successful seasons, so the majority of those new coaches were taking over sub-.500 clubs and shouldn’t necessarily be expected to turn things around immediately.

Fizdale and D’Antoni were hired by playoff teams, putting them in a better position to succeed, but it’s not like the Grizzlies and Rockets were juggernauts last season — they squeaked into the postseason by earning the seventh and eighth seeds in the West, and were quickly dispatched. So far this season, both men have their teams looking good. D’Antoni, in particular, has done excellent work with James Harden in Houston, helping to turn him into the league leader in assists without sacrificing his scoring.

In Memphis, Fizdale has done well to keep the Grizzlies well above .500 so far despite injuries to Chandler Parsons, James Ennis, and Brandan Wright, but the latest blow – a back injury to point guard Mike Conley – could be a major setback for the team. With a challenging schedule on tap over the next six weeks, Fizdale will face one of his first significant challenges during Conley’s absence.Read more

Southeast Notes: Heat, Dragic, Hawks, Mahinmi

The Heat are currently tied for the NBA’s fourth-worst record, as our 2016/17 Reverse Standings show, and the team will continue to be a little shorthanded on its upcoming road trip. According to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters didn’t travel with the team to start the three-game trip to Denver, Utah, and Portland. Winslow is still dealing with a left wrist issue, while Waiters is sidelined with a groin injury. It’s not clear if both players will miss the entire road trip, but if the Heat continue to dig a deeper hole and slip in the standings, it will have an impact on the team’s approach leading up to this season’s trade deadline.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • While a trade isn’t necessarily the end goal for the Heat with Goran Dragic, it doesn’t hurt to be able to point to games like Monday’s if the team has to make a case for the point guard’s value, writes Winderman in another piece for The Sun Sentinel. Dragic posted 27 points, 17 assists, and just one turnover in Miami’s loss to Boston on Monday.
  • The Hawks, who have lost three games in a row and six of seven, recently held a players-only meeting, according to Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “It was just reassuring everybody that we’ve got each other’s back,” one player said of the meeting. “Nobody is pointing fingers at each other. It’s just a matter of us figuring it out together.”
  • The Hawks are one of eight NBA teams without a D-League affiliate this season, so they haven’t assigned any players to the D-League yet this season. However, the team will likely send rookie DeAndre’ Bembry down to get some playing time very soon, tweets Vivlamore. Bembry has only appeared in seven regular season contests for Atlanta so far, playing sparingly in those games.
  • Ian Mahinmi made his Wizards debut over the weekend, but his troublesome knees continue to act up, as Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic.com details. The veteran center, who signed a four-year, $64MM deal with Washington in July, missed Monday’s game and looks questionable for Wednesday.

Central Notes: Reggie Jackson, Pistons, Dellavedova

The Pistons will need Reggie Jackson to be at his best when he returns from knee and thumb tendinitis, writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Coach/executive Stan Van Gundy is hoping to have his starting point guard back in the lineup in another week or two, just in time to face a challenging schedule. Ten of Detroit’s 16 games through the end of December are against teams with winning records. “Reggie will help our offense be a little better,” Van Gundy said. “We’re the only team in the league that’s played without their leading scorer every single game — that tends to affect your offense a little bit.”

There’s more news from the Central Division:

  • Van Gundy continues to search for a reliable backup to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope at shooting guard, relays Keith Langlois of NBA.com. The original plan was to use second-year player Stanley Johnson, but the coach didn’t like his inconsistent performance. Reggie Bullock got the next shot, but he suffered a torn meniscus and is sidelined indefinitely. Darrun Hilliard took the spot in the Pistons’ last game, and rookie Michael Gbinije is another candidate. “Nobody’s been bad,” Van Gundy said. “Everybody’s sort of been OK, but not great. You’d like to have somebody step up and really grab that spot and say, ‘Hey, give me the minutes.’”
  • Matthew Dellavedova, an important reserve on the Cavaliers‘ championship team, is settling into his new role as a starter with the Bucks, writes Jason Lloyd of The Akron Beacon Journal. Cleveland entered the summer planning to match any offer to the restricted free agent, but decided the four-year, $38MM agreement he reached with Milwaukee would have placed too great a strain on the salary cap. “It was tough to decide to leave because you’re coming off the highest of highs and I loved my time in Cleveland,” Della­vedova said. “Fun team, great group of guys, great organization and fans, obviously. But I had an opportunity here that I couldn’t pass up to see how good I could be as a starting point guard and really challenge myself. You never know if or when that opportunity will come along again.”
  • Bulls forward Doug McDermott met with doctors Monday, but still hasn’t been cleared for contact, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. McDermott participated in the non-contact portion of today’s practice, but will miss his seventh straight game on Wednesday. He hasn’t played since suffering his second concussion of the season November 12th.

NBA D-League Assignments/Recalls: 11/29/16

Here are Tuesday’s D-League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

10:35pm:

  • The Spurs have recalled Bryn Forbes, Nicolas Laprovittola and Dejounte Murray from their Austin affiliate, the team announced on its website.
  • The Nets have recalled forwards Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough from their Long Island affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Both started Long Island’s game today and were available for Brooklyn’s game with the Clippers.
  • The Raptors have quickly recalled Caboclo and VanVleet, whose assignments to the D-League were noted below (Twitter link).

2:07pm:

  • After getting a rare shot at playing time for the Raptors on Monday night in the team’s blowout of the 76ers, Bruno Caboclo and Fred VanVleet have been re-assigned to Raptors 905, according to Blake Murphy of Raptors Republic. As Murphy writes, the schedules for Toronto’s NBA and D-League teams overlap neatly this week, so Caboclo and VanVleet could be up and down a couple more times.
  • Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who received some playing time on the other side of that blowout in Toronto on Monday, has been assigned to the Delaware 87ers in advance of the team’s Tuesday night contest, according to a press release issued by the Sixers. The 2016 first-rounder has appeared in 11 games for Philadelphia so far, and one for Delaware.
  • Former first-round pick Josh Huestis has been re-assigned to the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder announced today in a press release. Huestis has appeared in a pair of games for the D-League squad so far, averaging a modest 9.0 PPG and 6.5 RPG.

Western Notes: Young, Brown, Davis, Morrow

Lakers shooting guard Nick Young will undergo an MRI on Wednesday after leaving tonight’s game with a strained right Achilles tendon, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Young suffered the injury about two minutes into the game in New Orleans and had to be helped off the court. The Lakers are concerned that he might be out for an extended period, according to Medina. Young, who many observers thought might get waived during the offseason, has been a pleasant surprise for the Lakers and one of the reasons they are in playoff contention. He claimed a starting job and has averaged 14.6 points per game while shooting 45.8% from the field. The team’s starting point guard, D’Angelo Russell, is already sidelined with soreness in his left knee.

There’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • Pelicans guard Anthony Brown isn’t holding a grudge against the Lakers for waiving him during the preseason, according to Mark Medina of The Los Angeles Daily News. Brown said he understands it would have been hard to earn playing time on a team filled with wing players such as Young, Jordan Clarkson, Lou WilliamsBrandon Ingram and Luol Deng. “He’s a smart kid and a smart player. I think it means he has the right attitude,” Lakers coach Luke Walton said of Brown. “It’s the truth. You can take these situations and pout and blame other people. Or you can use it to make you better and motivate you.”
  • Anthony Davis is rising to the defense of his much-maligned teammates, relays Justin Verrier of ESPN.com. Davis is putting up All-Star numbers once again, but the Pelicans are off to a 7-12 start amid complaints that the front office hasn’t put enough talent around their franchise big man. “I’m on social media, so I see it all the time,” Davis said in a recent interview with ESPN’s Marc Stein. “But I think, for me, it’s just about the guys in that locker room. I know they come out here every day in practice and every night in the game and fight and leave everything on the floor. It’s nothing that I try to pay attention to as much. But you see it. You have to pay attention to it. For me, that’s not my M.O. to get into all the media and all that stuff. I just worry about what’s going on in that locker room and on the floor with the guys I have in the locker room.”
  • Veteran shooting specialist Anthony Morrow is starting to get more playing time with the Thunder, writes Susan Bible of Basketball Insiders. Coach Billy Donovan has expanded Morrow’s minutes over the past three games and he has responded by averaging 15 points per night. “He can score,” teammate Russell Westbrook said. “I’m not worried about A-Mo. This is not a surprise to me. Maybe it surprised some other people, but to me, I’ve seen him do this since I’ve been here.”

And-Ones: Labor Talks, Draft, D-League, McGrath

The NBA’s $24 billion in television money has helped to preserve labor peace in the league, writes TNT’s David Aldridge. The TV contract, which runs through 2025, removed the financial incentive for either the owners or the players to force a work stoppage. The salary cap has nearly doubled over the past three years and the league just came off a summer of free agency with unprecedented levels of spending. Not only are player salaries rising, but so are the valuations of teams. Aldridge cites a recent Forbes Magazine article that estimates the value of all 30 teams at $1.25 billion, up 13 percent from a year ago. Both sides have the right to opt out of the current deal until December 15th, but all indications are that talks are going well and a new CBA will be announced soon.

There’s more basketball news tonight:

  • Kansas forward Josh Jackson remains on top of the list of top 100 draft prospects compiled by ESPN’s Chad Ford. He describes the 6’8″ freshman as a “super athletic wing” with a high basketball IQ. Rounding out Ford’s top five are Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, North Carolina State point guard Dennis Smith and Duke power forward Harry Giles.
  • Sioux Falls point guard Briante Weber is the most likely D-League player to get an NBA callup, according to Chris Reichert of Fansided. The 23-year-old is known for his energy and defense, although shooting remains an issue. Weber played six games with Memphis and one with Miami last season. The Heat waived Weber in the preseason, but promised to monitor his progress in the D-League.
  • Donnie McGrath of the Nets’ D-League affiliate in Long Island has turned down overseas offers to remain with the team, tweets international basketball writer David Pick. The 32-year-old has attracted interest from Spanish teams Fuenlabrada and Betis.

Rob Hennigan On Hot Seat In Orlando?

Magic GM Rob Hennigan could be out of a job if Orlando can’t turn its season around, writes Brian Schmitz of The Orlando Sentinel.

Hennigan had hoped to point the team on a path toward the playoffs with two controversial offseason moves. First came a draft-night trade with the Thunder that brought veteran power forward Serge Ibaka to Orlando in exchange for Victor Oladipo, Ersan Ilyasova and the rights to 11th pick Domantas Sabonis. Next, Hennigan signed Raptors backup center Bismack Biyombo to a $72MM contract over four years.

The moves were designed to improve the Magic’s defense, but the team has encountered so much trouble scoring that it hasn’t mattered. New coach Frank Vogel made three lineup changes this week in an effort to find more offense, but so far all that has done is anger center Nikola Vucevic, who was sent to the bench in favor of Biyombo.

Hennigan has maneuvered himself into a difficult situation, Schmitz contends. After four straight seasons of missing the playoffs, the team can’t tank without fear of alienating its fan base, and it hasn’t been successful enough to land star players through free agency. All that’s left, the writer suggests, is another dramatic trade in which Hennigan sacrifices some of his newly acquired defense to add more offense.

Also, Hennigan’s draft record has been spotty. Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon, two first-round picks from 2014, have both been removed from the starting lineup, and 2015 first-rounder Mario Hezonja plays just 14 minutes per night. The GM’s best pick was Oladipo in 2013, but he is now in Oklahoma City.

With Orlando off to a 6-11 start through a little more than a month of the season, the clock is rapidly ticking on Hennigan. If he can’t turn the Magic into a playoff team, it may cost him his job.

Stephen Curry On: Durant, Free Agency, Hornets

As a result of the Warriors’ offseason addition of Kevin Durant via free agency, Stephen Curry is no longer leading the team in scoring and is averaging 2.5 less shots per game than he did a season ago. Despite the slight hit his statistics have taken in 2016/17, Curry says he is fine with the arrangement and welcomes the addition of Durant, Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer relays. The point guard is still stung by the Warriors’ collapse against the Cavaliers in last year’s NBA Finals, when Golden State blew a 3-1 series lead, thus, making him more amenable to sharing the spotlight if it helps the franchise regain the NBA title this season, Fowler notes. “It’s something you’ll never forget, just because it was so close and we didn’t get the job done,” Curry told the scribe. “Does it haunt me? I would more say that it motivates me.

It’s been a pretty natural transition,” Curry said of the addition of Durant. “Early in the preseason, we had to find the flow, and just trying to figure out how the ball moves and whatnot. …But with the unselfishness of everybody on our team, and obviously the talent, the ball has been hopping. We’re getting everybody involved. It’s been very, very unforced.

When asked about how big an adjustment Curry had to make now that Durant is his teammate, coach Steve Kerr told Fowler, “He [Curry] spent most of the preseason sitting back and letting Kevin score and get acclimated and get comfortable. And then maybe the last preseason game or two, he really got aggressive again. But I don’t think his game has changed a whole lot. He [Curry] came into the season realizing that we’re going to play the same way, but he’s probably going to take maybe a couple fewer shots per game and score a couple fewer points. That’s about it.

The 2016/17 campaign is the only one that Durant and Curry are guaranteed to be teammates, with Curry set to hit unrestricted free agency in July and Durant possessing a player option for 2017/18, Fowler writes. While Curry will assuredly be in wide demand next offseason, re-signing with Golden State appears to be his preference, Fowler adds. “Obviously I love it here in the Bay Area,” Curry said. “It’s all I’ve known in the league. And if the situation is right going forward, this is a place I would love to play.”

One competitor for Curry’s services will be the Hornets, with the guard having grown up in North Carolina. Charlotte already has Kemba Walker at point guard, but Curry could conceivably play alongside him at shooting guard, Fowler opines. When asked if he would consider playing for the Hornets, Curry told Fowler, “I don’t know.” Curry did note that joining Charlotte would have been a greater possibility earlier in his career, Fowler relays.

Obviously I had a strong tie to Charlotte and would have loved to play there. I’m very comfortable in that city. It’s hard to say exactly what the situation will be this summer,” Curry said. “[Free agency] is on my radar, but it’s not really on my mind as much day-to-day. I’m just trying to enjoy what this season is going to bring.