Month: February 2024

Mindaugas Kuzminskas To Sign With Italian Team

Mindaugas Kuzminskas, who was waived by the Knicks last month, will sign with Olimpia Milano in Italy, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

His new contract will run through June of 2019, but it contains an opt-out clause for next summer in case he gets an opportunity to return to the NBA. He reportedly had offers from five EuroLeague teams, including Anadolu Efes in Turkey, before deciding on the Italian club.

Kuzminskas played just one game in New York this season before being released when the Knicks needed to open a roster spot for Joakim Noah‘s return from suspension. He had a solid rookie season in 2016/17, averaging 6.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 68 games, but lost support in the front office when former team president Phil Jackson was fired.

The 28-year-old small forward had a decade of international experience before coming to the NBA and played for the Lithuanian national team.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/30/17

Here are the G-League moves from around the NBA today:

  • The Grizzlies recalled rookie forward Ivan Rabb from the G League, the team announced on its website. Rabb is averaging 15.9 points and 9.7 rebounds in 16 games with the Memphis Hustle, but has played just five total minutes in three NBA games.
  • The Lakers assigned rookie center Thomas Bryant to their South Bay affiliate so he could play in tonight’s game, the G League team tweeted. Bryant has appeared in two NBA games this season.

Central Notes: LaVine, Rose, Shumpert, R. Jackson

When they stumbled their way to a 3-20 start, no team seemed less likely to have a seven-game winning streak than the Bulls. But that’s what happened, and their improbable play since December 8 has given them the league’s best record during that span at 10-2. With Zach LaVine due back soon, the only thing that could dampen spirits in Chicago is a rumored trade involving Nikola Mirotic or Robin Lopez, writes K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune.

Trade rumors began when the Bulls appeared headed for a high lottery pick and Mirotic was sidelined by facial fractures from a preseason fight with teammate Bobby Portis. Those two have resolved their differences enough to co-exist on the court, and Chicago has pulled to within five games of a playoff spot.

“We’re playing so well you don’t want to interfere with that,” LaVine said about the possibility of a deal. “But that’s not a decision for me or anybody on the team. We go out there to play and win and prove ourselves and impress. That’s what we’re going to do.”

There’s more tonight from the Central Division:

  • Today marked the first of six straight contact practices scheduled for LaVine as he works his way back from ACL surgery, Johnson adds in the same story. LaVine, who was averaging 18.9 points per game for the Timberwolves before the injury last season, said he feels “close” to returning. “I’ve actually picked things up pretty quickly,” he said of the Bulls’ offense. “The main thing is just doing a lot of conditioning. I like being one of the best in-shape dudes out there. I’m getting that down. The touch and feel comes back the more you play.”
  • There’s also positive health news regarding the Cavaliers, relays Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. In addition to the imminent debut of Isaiah Thomas, Cleveland expects to have Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert back soon. Rose has been sidelined since December 7 with bone spurs and a sprained ankle, while Shumpert hasn’t played since having meniscus surgery December 1. “D Rose looked good the other day,” said coach Tyronn Lue. “First time I seen him run without a limp. He was going through some stuff. He was doing three-man weave with a lot of pace and speed. … You know Shump, he’s always healing faster than he’s supposed to, so he’s coming along well also.”
  • Pistons point guard Reggie Jackson can’t start his rehab process until the swelling goes down in his injured right foot, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. That’s expected to happen in about two weeks.

Community Shootaround: Lakers’ First-Rounder

The Lakers’ current five-game losing streak affects more than just the mood in the Staples Center. It could help determine the long-range balance of power in the Atlantic Division and the entire league.

L.A.’s first-round pick for 2018 will belong to either the Sixers or Celtics, depending on where it falls. If it’s No. 1 overall or sixth or later, Philadelphia gets to keep it. If it’s anywhere from second to fifth, the selection goes to Boston. The unusual protection rules were applied in the deal that sent this year’s number one from the Celtics to the Sixers.

The draft choice has been on a long journey since the Lakers sent it to Phoenix in the Steve Nash trade in July of 2012. The Suns moved it on to Philadelphia in a three-team deal in 2015 that brought Brandon Knight and Kendall Marshall to Phoenix. The pick was top five protected in 2015 and top three protected in 2016 and 2017, so the Sixers have been waiting a long time for it to convey.

The Celtics appeared to be out of the running for the pick when the Lakers started the season strong, but they have fallen on hard times over the past month. Their 11-23 record is the third worst in the league, ahead of only the Grizzlies at 11-24 and the Hawks at 9-26. A handful of teams are jumbled just in front of them, so L.A. is just a half-game from catching the sixth-place Kings and moving the odds for the pick back in Philadelphia’s favor. Regardless of where the teams all finish, the final determination won’t be made until lottery night.

The potential payoff for the Celtics or Sixers could be huge. ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Slovenian star Luka Doncic ranked first in his latest mock draft (Insider account), followed by Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. and Texas’ Mohamed Bamba. Either Boston or Philadelphia will be in line to add a cornerstone player to an already impressive roster.

If the Sixers land the top pick, Doncic could be a versatile running mate for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for the next decade or so. The Celtics could upgrade at center by taking Bagley, Ayton or Bamba or they could add another star wing player in Porter.

Our question for tonight is which team would benefit more from landing the Lakers’ pick if it remains high in the lottery? Please leave your comments in the space below.

Kings Notes: Carter, Labissiere, Veterans, Fox

Forty-year-old Vince Carter is sticking to his plan to play one more season after this one, he tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Carter had his best game since joining the Kings with 24 points Wednesday against the Cavaliers, the most points scored by someone 40 or older in less than 30 minutes since 1988.

The performance stood out for Carter, who is playing less than 15 minutes a night after leaving a playoff team in Memphis to sign with Sacramento. He understands that he doesn’t fit well with a rebuilding organization and isn’t surprised to hear his name mentioned in trade rumors.

“It’s a business. … I just have to do my job for what it says on the front of my jersey,” Carter said. “I kind of go from there. I am still going to be me. I am still going to play my best game within the confines of what the coach wants and asks from me. You’ll stress yourself out worrying about what is being said. There are always going to be rumors out there. That’s just how it goes in the league and it’s more prevalent now, whether it’s a superstar, two-way player or you’re a guy that has been around five years.”

There’s more news out of Sacramento:

  • Coach Dave Joerger is ignoring criticism of the way he has juggled the lineup as he searches for the right combinations, relays Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee. Joerger has used 14 starting lineups in 35 games and occasionally makes changes right before tip-off. Among the players affected is Skal Labissiere, who sat out three straight games before starting Friday night. The second-year power forward scored 10 points in the first quarter, but didn’t re-enter the game until the second half and played just 16 minutes total.
  • Of the Kings’ veterans, Zach Randolph and George Hill are most likely to remain with the team next season, Jones writes in a question-and-answer column. Both players signed as free agents over the summer and have contracts that run though the end of 2018/19. Randolph will make nearly $11.7MM next season before heading into free agency, while Hill will earn $19MM with a non-guaranteed $18MM for the following season. Jones expects Garrett Temple and Kosta Koufos to exercise their player options and try to join a contender, while Carter’s contract expires after this season.
  • Rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox, out since December 14 with a partial tear in his right quadriceps muscle, was a limited participant in practice today, tweets Sean Cunningham of KXTV in Sacramento. Fox was shooting and running at full speed, but is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game.

Stephen Curry Will Return Tonight

After missing 11 games with a sprained right ankle, Stephen Curry will be back on the court for the Warriors tonight in Memphis, according to Marc J. Spears on ESPN Now. Coach Steve Kerr plans to limit him to 20-25 minutes and use him in “six or seven minute bursts.”

Golden State managed a 9-2 record without Curry, who suffered the injury December 4 in New Orleans.

Curry underwent a third and final re-evaluation on the ankle Friday and received medical clearance from team doctors, relays Chris Haynes of ESPN. He participated in a three-on-three scrimmage Thursday, followed by a practice focusing on five-man drills with no defenders.

“Oh yeah, he’s excited. He’s fired up,” Kerr said. “The process was just going along with the medical staff’s recommendation and just the daily progress that he was making, combined with the schedule the way it works out tomorrow should be a good game for him to play. I wouldn’t want him to play on a back-to-back with his ankle healing. It appears he is good to go and then we don’t play again for a while. Should be a good time for him to go for it.”

The two-time MVP was averaging 26.3 points through 23 games before the injury. Curry signed a $201MM super max deal over the summer, so the Warriors wanted to protect their investment and make sure he was fully recovered.

L.A. Notes: Clarkson, Randle, Ball, Rivers

Lakers teammates Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle are taking different approaches to being the subject of trade rumors, relays Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times. She describes Clarkson’s attitude as “freewheeling,” as he is having fun with the season and trying not to let off-court distractions affect his performance. His playing time has dropped to a career-low 23.3 minutes per game, but he has remained productive, averaging 14.4 points and 3.2 assists. Randle is naturally more intense and is limited because his inside game doesn’t mesh well with the Lakers’ approach. As a result, his minutes can vary wildly from game to game depending on the opponent.

Clarkson is under contract for two more seasons (at $12.5MM next year and $13.4375MM for 2019/20), so his fate is entirely up to the team. Randle will be a restricted free agent in July and needs to perform well to maximize his value. The Lakers would reportedly like to unload both players as part of their plan to offer two max contracts in free agency.

There’s more today from Los Angeles:
  • Lonzo Ball is recovering quickly from the shoulder sprain he suffered last week, and the Lakers are thinking about taking him on their next road trip, Ganguli writes in a separate story. L.A. plays back-to-back games Sunday in Houston and Monday in Minnesota, and coach Luke Walton is concerned that the rigors of travel might be detrimental to Ball’s health. “His shoulder’s feeling better,” Walton said. “It’s something we’re just going to keep treating and if he feels good enough to go, we’ll get him on the court for shooting, after that we’ll get him to practice and then we’ll get him back on the court.”
  • An MRI on Austin Rivers‘ strained Achilles tendon injury was negative, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical. The Clippers guard, who had to be helped off the court Friday night, will be listed as day to day.
  • Clippers rookie Jawun Evans may have started a league-wide trend with his tight defense on Rockets star James Harden, writes Elliott Teaford of The Orange County Register. Evans forced Harden into multiple offensive fouls in a game last week, and subsequent opponents have followed his approach. Evans didn’t expect to be a trend setter or even play much in a talented L.A. backcourt, but injuries to Patrick Beverley and Milos Teodosic have provided an opportunity. “I’m relaxed, but I still don’t feel like I’m in the league,” he said. “It still hasn’t hit me yet. I’m blessed to be here. I’m just taking advantage of every moment. 

Jonathan Isaac Out Indefinitely

The Magic have decided to withhold rookie forward Jonathan Isaac from game action indefinitely while the sixth overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft tries to fully recover from a stubborn right ankle sprain suffered back on November 11, reports Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.

Isaac missed 17 consecutive games after initially injuring the ankle before returning to action on December 17. Isaac then reaggravated the injury on December 20, causing him to miss two more games on December 22 and 23. Isaac then returned the day after Christmas, but continued to have problems with his ankle.

Magic officials have put Isaac on a rehabilitation and conditioning program to help him continue his development while out with injury. When specifically asked how Isaac’s development has been impacted by the injury, head coach Frank Vogel stated, “It’s hampered him a lot, but mentally he’s still being taught the game and still being kept engaged in everything. There’s still development. There’s still growing. There’s still experience happening. It’s just a lot slower than it would be if he was in there.”

Vogel also commented on the decision to sit Isaac (per Robbins), stating “It’s really just about getting him to where he’s at his best and not yo-yoing him in and out of games and having him re-tweak it. [We want to] strengthen the ankle and strengthen his legs and conditioning so that it’s not an issue anymore.”

Isaac, 20, had been averaging 5.3 PPG and 3.7 RPG in 15 games during his rookie season.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 12/23/17 – 12/30/17

Every week, we at Hoops Rumors strive to create interesting original content to complement our news feed. Below are our original segments and features from the last 7 days.

Five Key Stories: 12/23/17 – 12/30/17

Hoops Rumors has you covered in the event you missed any of this past week’s headlines from around the NBA. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last 7 days.

Jordan Clarkson

The Lakers‘ goal of trading away some of their players in exchange for cap space in the summers of 2018 and 2019 has been well-documented. This week, details of the Lakers’ plan began to more fully emerge. First, the team is confident that it will be able to unload the contract of guard Jordan Clarkson at some point after the season to help with their pursuit of free agents in the offseason. Moreover, the team has also already looked into moving Julius Randle, with the Lakers and Mavericks discussing a deal swapping Randle for Nerlens Noel. Both reports come on the heels of the news that the Lakers have abandoned hope of being able to trade Luol Deng and his remaining $36.81MM in guaranteed money.

Despite the Bulls’ improved play since the return of Nikola Mirotic from injury, Mirotic is still willing to waive his no-trade clause to join a contender. Likely one of the reasons for Mirotic’s openness to being moved is the rocky relationship he still shares with teammate Bobby Portis after the pair’s infamous altercation in October. Meanwhile, the Bulls are reportedly open to a trade as well given the team’s concerns about its rebuilding plans in the wake of Mirotic’s impressive play since his return from injury.

The Bucks have reportedly spoken to the Warriors about a possible trade for center JaVale McGee or Zaza Pachulia. The Bucks, who traded away Greg Monroe in exchange for Eric Bledsoe, believe that either big man will be able to sure up its rotation, and while Pachulia is likely to stay put, McGee may be a name to keep an eye on. Rookie Jordan Bell has moved ahead of McGee in Golden State’s center rotation and McGee hasn’t been pleased with his playing time or the fact that he was only offered a minimum contract last offseason.

The Rockets signed veteran guard Gerald Green to a non-guaranteed minimum salary deal for the remainder of the season. Green, 31, previously played for Houston during the 2007/08 season but was released after appearing in just one game. Injuries have taken a toll on the Rockets’ lately, with both Chris Paul and Luc Mbah a Moute currently sidelined during the team’s five game losing streak.

The Pacers signed second-year forward Alex Poythress to a standard NBA contract on Thursday, becoming yet another player to sign an NBA deal after beginning the season as a two-way player.  Poythress, 24, has played sparingly in 11 games with Indiana this season, but has averaged 20.0 PPG, 9.0 RPG and 2.7 APG with the Pacers’ G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Here are 10 more headlines from around the NBA last week.