Month: March 2018

LaMarcus Aldridge Exits Game With Ankle Injury

LaMarcus Aldridge could potentially undergo an MRI tomorrow for a right ankle injury that he suffered in the first quarter of the Spurs’ 121-116 loss to the Pelicans tonight, according to a tweet from Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News. Aldridge attempted to return to the game after sustaining the injury but did not play in the second half.

There’s no word as to the severity of the injury, and the MRI could simply be precautionary, but for an already short-handed team missing superstar Kawhi Leonard and in the midst of a tight playoff race, the latest setback could prove devastating.

With 7:17 remaining in the first quarter, Aldridge landed awkwardly after attempting to block a shot attempt by Rajon Rondo. He fell to the floor but was able to stay in the game until the 3:02 mark, when he headed to the locker room. Aldridge returned in the second quarter for little over four minutes of game time before calling it quits for the night.

Aldridge, 32, was averaging 22.8 PPG and 8.3 RPG in 56 games before tonight’s contest and was named to his sixth All-Star team earlier this season.

Southwest Notes: Gasol, Harden, Mills, Powell

The Grizzlies are on a 10-game losing streak and Marc Gasol is admittedly highly frustrated, he tells Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal. As he sees it, the NBA is about winning, not about getting more repetitions for younger players or player development, which, in Gasol’s view, should be left to the G League. In a piece for Yahoo Sports, Chris Mannix adds that head coach J.B. Bickerstaff acknowledges the frustration that Gasol is experiencing.

“A guy as competitive as he is, and a guy who every day matters to him, whether it’s practice, drill work, three-on-three, he’s trying to win… A guy who is so unselfish, he doesn’t care how many points he scores. The only thing that matters to him are wins and losses. I think we all understand and appreciate guys who are that way. There’s no doubt about it, it’s frustrating for him.”

Despite the frustration, Gasol is trying to improve different areas of his game, says Bickerstaff.

“He’s working on different parts of his game. The way teams are playing, you don’t see a ton of post-up opportunities any more, (so) he’s working on his face-up game, he’s working on a different array of shots, in the paint, how he gets to those spots, things like that. Playing from the perimeter, being able to attack off the catch versus other big guys. Those things we’ve seen him be able to implement. He’s been able to implement them quick. As soon as he puts his mind to it, he can add it that night.”

There’s more news out of the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets have the best record in the NBA and are currently one game ahead of second-place Golden State in the loss column. FiveThirtyEight gives them the best odds (40%) of winning the NBA title. And as MVP-favorite James Harden sees it, “this is (Houston’s) year”, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
  • Spurs guard Patty Mills has replaced incumbent Danny Green in the starting lineup for now, reports Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. As is typical for head coach Gregg Popovich, he wouldn’t elaborate on the change, but Mills appears to give the Spurs a bit more offensive firepower in the first unit, while Green improves the second-unit’s defensive presence.
  • Mavericks big man Dwight Powell is making a case to be the team’s primary center moving forward, opines Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Averaging 14.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per contest over the last seven games, Powell excels at playing hard. “(T)he thing I like about Powell is you’re going to get unconditional, boundless energy and the highest of high-care factors when it comes to the team,” said head coach Rick Carlisle.

Ersan Ilyasova Signs With Sixers

FEBRUARY 28: The Sixers have officially signed Ilyasova, the team announced in a press release. Assuming the contract is a rest-of-season, minimum salary deal, Ilyasova will count as approximately $357K towards the cap.

FEBRUARY 25: Ersan Ilyasova plans to sign with the Sixers once his buyout with the Hawks is complete, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports.

The 30-year-old stretch four played 53 games for Philadelphia last season before being traded to Atlanta at the deadline. He is having a typically productive season for the Hawks, averaging 10.9 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting .359 from 3-point range.

Ilyasova is making $6MM is the final year of his contract, but with about three quarters of the season gone, the buyout cost should be minimal. He will have to work out the arrangement with Atlanta by Thursday to be eligible to join the Sixers for the postseason.

Philadelphia, which already added former Hawk Marco Belinelli after a buyout, has a full roster and will have to waive someone before signing Ilyasova.

Sixers Waive Trevor Booker

8:30pm: The Sixers have officially waived Booker, according to a press release from the club.

1:15pm: The Sixers intend to waive veteran forward Trevor Booker in order to open up a spot on their roster, reports Michael Scotto of The Athletic (Twitter link). That roster opening is required in order for Philadelphia to finalize its deal with Ersan Ilyasova, who will clear waivers later today. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), Booker agreed to a buyout.

Booker had been viewed as the most likely candidate to be waived by the 76ers since word of the team’s agreement with Ilyasova broke. Although there are other players on the roster who play fewer minutes and/or earn smaller salaries, Booker’s situation made him expendable — he is one of the few Sixers on an expiring contract, and he plays the same position as Ilyasova, meaning his already-modest role would have been further reduced if he’d stuck around.

Booker, acquired earlier this season in a trade that sent a second-round pick, Jahlil Okafor, and Nik Stauskas to the Nets, has been solid since arriving in Philadelphia. In 33 games (15.0 MPG), Booker has averaged 4.7 PPG and 3.7 RPG with a career-high .560 FG%.

The 30-year-old’s ability to contribute as a role player should make him an appealing target for playoff-bound teams, as Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype tweeted earlier this week. Sam Amick of USA Today noted today (via Twitter) that several teams were monitoring the Booker situation in Philadelphia, and the big man himself sounds confident that he’ll find a new home quickly.

“If I do get waived or bought out, whatever it is, I have a lot of teams interested in me,” Booker said on Tuesday, acknowledging that he knew he may be the odd man out for the Sixers.

If the 76ers officially waive Booker today, he’ll clear waivers on Friday, at which point he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.

Northwest Notes: Teague, Butler, Shabazz, Millsap

If the Timberwolves want to continue their winning ways while All-Star Jimmy Butler is sidelined, point guard Jeff Teague must continue to play with pace and aggression, opines Britt Robson of The Athletic Minnesota.

Despite an apparent tendency and preference to let his teammates get involved as playmakers, Teague no longer has that luxury, at least for the time being, with Butler out of the equation. Teague must also continue to push the pace of play, as he has done in the team’s last two games.

In fact, in the team’s first full game since Butler’s injury, Minnesota launched a season-high 35 three pointers, primarily a product of Teague’s ability to  get into the half-court offense quickly, beat defenders off the dribble, and present a viable threat to score at the rim or kick it out to the perimeter for a shot or extra pass.

As head coach Tom Thibodeau described, “We have to make sure we get to the right spots so we can get that pass out. And once you get that pass out, usually the second pass will get you a great shot.” 

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves‘ reserve guard Shabazz Muhammad is not likely to be bought out after all, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. When asked about the possibility, Thibodeau simply said, “Nope, we like the team we have.”
  • In a piece for The Athletic Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski details Butler’s decision to have surgery on his damaged right meniscus. Fortunately for Butler and the Timberwolves, the procedure was neither a major repair nor a removal, and the hope is that he will be able to return to action without facing some of the long-term risks involved with removal.
  • With last night’s loss to the Clippers, the Nuggets have fallen to ninth place in the Western Conference, percentage points behind the Clippers, who now also own the the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two teams. Part of the problem recently is Denver’s defense, reports Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone is particularly frustrated, saying the recent struggles defensively have left him “questioning (his) whole being as a coach.”
  • In brighter news for the Nuggets, forward Paul Millsap played last night for the first time since he injured his left wrist on Nov. 19.

Central Notes: LeBron, Clarkson, Portis, Booker

Despite never playing college basketball himself, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James has a pretty strong opinion of the sport’s governing body, the NCAA, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Asked recently about the federal investigation into college basketball recruiting, James called the NCAA a “corrupt” organization and said the NBA needs to further develop a minor league-type system.

“I don’t know if there’s any fixing the NCAA. I don’t think there is,” James said. “It’s what’s been going on for many, many, many, many years. I don’t know how you can fix it. I don’t see how you can fix it… The NCAA is corrupt, we know that. Sorry, it’s going to make headlines, but it’s corrupt.

“We have to shore up our G League, continue to expand our G League… I just looked at it like the farm league, like in baseball. Or you look at pros overseas; some of those guys get signed at 14, but they get put into this farm system where they’re able to grow and be around other professionals for three or four years. Then, when they’re ready, they hit the national team, or when they’re ready, they become a pro. So I think us, we have to kind of really figure that out, how we can do that.”

Here’s more from out of the Central:

 There’s more from the Central Division:
  • Jordan Clarkson was largely seen as a price the Cavaliers had to pay to rid themselves of Isaiah Thomas while simultaneously obtaining the young, reasonably priced Larry Nance Jr. Yet, Clarkson has performed admirably thus far in Cleveland, and as relayed by Chris Fedor of, the Cavs believe three-point shooting could actually become a strength for the career 33% shooter from deep.
  • The Bulls have Bobby Portis under contract through next season and can make him a restricted free agent in the summer of 2019. Mark Strotman of NBC Sports Chicago takes an in-depth look at whether Portis fits into Chicago’s rebuilding plans.
  • We found out earlier today that Trevor Booker plans to sign with the Pacers after his release from the Sixers is finalized. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype opines that Booker will be a great fit with Indiana’s offense, immediately providing a new threat to score in transition and when cutting to the basket.

And-Ones: Seattle, Wilkins, Trash Talk, Lottery

Last week, we touched upon how the NBA is planning to hold a preseason game in Seattle next season, the first NBA game at KeyArena since the Sonics left after the 2007/08 season. Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the ownership group that applied to bring the NHL to Seattle is leaving the door open for bringing an NBA franchise back to the city as well.

The Oak View Group, comprised of investment banker David Bonderman, longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is hoping to found the NHL’s 32nd team, and the NHL is reportedly likely to accept the bid. The OVG plans to begin remodeling KeyArena this October with the hope to begin play during the 2020/21 season.

As for the potential for an NBA franchise, Leiweke says, “The way we are going to structure all of our contractually obligated income is making sure there will be revenue upside built in should the NBA ever consider Seattle. We are committed to making sure the building, all of our contracts, all of our partnerships and all of our relationships, are done in a way that we can maximize value.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Having been waived by the Pacers earlier this season, Damien Wilkins has been a man on a mission in the G League, averaging 29.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG for the Greensboro Swarm this month. As Scott Agness of details, the 38-year-old Wilkins badly wants to finish the season on an NBA roster.
  • In an entertaining piece for, Tim MacMahon and Law Murray break down some of the unwritten rules of NBA trash talking.
  • Speaking of entertaining pieces, Andrew Sharp of lays out his idea for a end-of-season tournament featuring non-playoff teams that would replace the draft lottery and determine the order of the top 14 picks.
  • With a win over Puerto Rico this week, Team USA clinched a spot in the second round of the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, per an AP report (link via USA Today). The next round of qualifying games begins in September.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 2/28/18

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers have assigned rookie center Ante Zizic to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Zizic will suit up for the Canton Charge on Wednesday night in the club’s game against the Maine Red Claws.
  • Forward Tyler Cavanaugh has been sent to the G League by the Hawks, according to a press release from the team. Cavanaugh, who has averaged 16.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG in seven G League games, will play for the Erie Bayhawks (Atlanta’s affiliate) on Wednesday night.
  • After assigning him to the G League on Tuesday, the Jazz have recalled Naz Mitrou-Long, the team announced today. Mitrou-Long is currently on a 10-day contract with the Utah, but remains more likely to see minutes for the Salt Lake City Stars.
  • Rookie center Thomas Bryant has been recalled from the G League by the Lakers, per a team release. Bryant has played well lately for the South Bay Lakers, recording three straight double-doubles.

Lakers Buy Out Corey Brewer

2:04pm: The Lakers have officially waived Brewer, the team announced in a press release. He’ll clear waivers on Friday. For now, the Thunder seem to be the frontrunners to sign him, though several teams are in the mix, according to various reports.

9:58am: The Lakers and Brewer have reached an agreement on a buyout, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

8:44am: The Lakers and veteran swingman Corey Brewer are engaged in “advanced negotiations” on a buyout agreement, reports Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link). Assuming the two sides finalize a deal and Brewer is waived today or tomorrow, he’ll retain his playoff eligibility for a new team.

Brewer, who was traded from Houston to Los Angeles in last year’s Lou Williams trade, finished the 2016/17 season with the Lakers and has spent the entire 2017/18 campaign to date with the club.

The former seventh overall pick, who will turn 32 next Monday, has played a very limited role for the Lakers, averaging a career-low 12.9 MPG in 54 contests. His numbers in several other categories, including PPG (3.7), RPG (1.7), and 3PT% (.186) are also career worsts.

While Brewer hasn’t played particularly well this season, he has a reputation as a solid defender. If he and the Lakers make a buyout official, he could draw interest from playoff-bound teams seeking one more perimeter player. However, his limited offensive ability – including an inconsistent three-point shot – will reduce his appeal.

Brewer is in the final year of his contract, with a cap hit of $7,579,366. Assuming he agrees to give some money back to the Lakers as part of his release, the team will be able to slightly reduce that cap charge. L.A. won’t be on the hook for any salary for Brewer beyond the 2017/18 season.

Update On Open NBA Roster Spots

Earlier this month, we identified the NBA teams with open roster spots. Since then, clubs have completed a flurry of 10-day signings, and a couple players have even received rest-of-season deals.

However, there are still plenty of teams around the league with openings on their respective rosters, which could come in handy with Thursday’s de facto buyout deadline around the corner. Once March 1 comes and goes, teams will have a better idea of which players will or won’t have postseason eligibility the rest of the way, creating a clearer picture for how to fill those open roster spots.

In the space below, we’ll take a closer look at teams with an open roster spot, breaking them down into three categories. Each of the clubs in the first group actually has a full 15-man roster right now, but in each instance, one of those 15 players is only a 10-day contract. With those contracts set to expire soon, it’d be very easy and inexpensive for these teams to create an opening if they need to.

Teams with full 15-man rosters who are carrying at least one player on a 10-day contract (10-day player noted in parentheses):

The next list of teams includes the clubs with one open spot on their roster and no players on 10-day contracts. These clubs each have 14 players on standard, full-season NBA deals, leaving one spot open for either a 10-day player or a rest-of-season signing.

Teams with one open roster spot:

  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Los Angeles Lakers
    • Note: The Lakers will create a second opening when they officially waive Corey Brewer.
  • Memphis Grizzlies
  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Sacramento Kings
  • Toronto Raptors

Finally, the last group of teams features four clubs that have been grouped together before. These four teams saw their roster counts slip to 13 players around the time of the trade deadline, and each had to add a player to get back up to the NBA-mandated minimum of 14. To reach that minimum, each team signed a player to a 10-day contract. That means these four franchises still only have 12 or 13 players on full-season contracts, with at least one player on a 10-day deal.

Teams with one open roster spot, plus at least one player on a 10-day contract:

  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
    • Note: 13 full-season contracts, plus Brandon Rush on 10-day contract.
  • Washington Wizards
    • Note: 13 full-season contracts, plus Ramon Sessions on 10-day contract.

For roster-count details on all 30 teams, be sure to check out our roster count page, which we updated daily throughout the 2017/18 season.

Note: Roster info current as of Wednesday, February 28 at 12:00pm CT.