Month: March 2020

Wizards Notes: Howard, Miles, Beal

After injuries wiped out nearly all of his 2018/19 season, Dwight Howard made promises to new Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard that he never got a chance to fulfill, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Howard suffered a back injury before training camp and played just nine games last year. Entering the second season of his two-year contract, Howard vowed to Sheppard that things were going to be different.

“I told Tommy I was gonna lose 30 pounds and come back in the best shape of my life and we were gonna have a shot at winning a championship,” Howard said. “That was my goal all summer, to lose weight and come back better than ever.”

Howard delivered on his promises, but not in D.C. He was traded to Memphis in July to create more minutes for centers Thomas Bryant, who re-signed this summer, and Moritz Wagner, who was acquired in a trade. Howard reached a buyout with the Grizzlies and accepted a non-guaranteed offer from the Lakers. It marked his second straight summer with a buyout arrangement and his seventh team in the past five years, but he’s grateful for the chance to rebuild his reputation.

“A lot of times, you gotta outlive the lie,” he said. “I’ve been lied on for many years about who I am as a player, person, my character. So, I just wanted to get into good shape. If I say something, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna be that way, and (that’s) not gonna change.”

There’s more Wizards news to pass along:

  • The team is holding out hope that C.J. Miles won’t need surgery for his injured left wrist, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Miles damaged ligaments while taking a charge in Tuesday’s game and can’t visit a specialist until Monday when the Wizards are back from their current road trip. An operation would sideline him for about four months and likely end his season. “Right now, they’re talking to the doctors, talking to C.J. as well and our staff and have a game plan, I’m sure, the next couple of days,” coach Scott Brooks said.
  • Bradley Beal doesn’t regret his decision to accept a two-year extension, even though Washington is off to a poor start at 6-11, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times. Beal could have turned down the offer and possibly paved the way for a trade to a contender, but he opted to commit to the organization through at least 2021/22. “It’s easy for people in all walks of life to see the grass as greener on the other side and not to see and appreciate your current environment,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “And I do admire that in Bradley.”
  • Beal blamed weight gain over the past two seasons on Couvade Syndrome, also known as “sympathetic pregnancy,” writes Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington. Beal’s partner has delivered two children in the past two years. “I gained about 12-15 pounds,” he said. “Coach Brooks used to make fun of me and say my uniform was fitting a little tighter, and not in a good way. I was up at 3, 4 o’clock in the morning eating ice cream when I shouldn’t have been eating ice cream. That’s all because momma was pregnant and I had the exact same symptoms. I was craving stuff that I never had the desire to eat before.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/30/19

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

  • The Pacers assigned Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner to their Fort Wayne affiliate, the team announced in a press release. Both players are recovering from injuries and are scheduled to practice with the Mad Ants today, Tuesday and Wednesday. Oladipo, an All-Star the past two years, suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee last season. Sumner had a non-displaced fracture of the third metacarpal in his right hand.
  • The Kings recalled Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan from their affiliate in Stockton, according to a tweet from the team. Swanigan was sent back to the G League after today’s game, the Kings tweeted.

Five Key Stories: 11/23/19 – 11/30/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Here are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

Nets guard Kyrie Irving missed his first trip back to Boston because of a shoulder injury, then responded on Instagram to derisive chants from Celtics fans. “It happens all the time and Tonight just shows how Sports/Entertainment will always be ignorant and obtrusive,” Irving wrote. “It’s one big SHOW that means very little in the real world.”

Zach LaVine had a meeting with Bulls coach Jim Boylen to discuss a perceived lack of trust. The clash came after LaVine was pulled from a game early after a couple of defensive mistakes.

Carmelo Anthony continues to impress since signing with the Trail Blazers last week and said he never intended for this season to be a farewell tour. Playing on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract, Anthony is averaging 17.7 PPG as Portland has turned its season around with three straight wins.

The Magic were successful in their petition to the NBA to have the remaining $16.7MM of Timofey Mozgov‘s salary removed from their books. The 33-year-old underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in January.

The NCAA upheld a 12-game suspension for potential No. 1 pick James Wiseman. The Memphis center will also have to make a donation of $11.5K, which is the amount his family received as moving expenses from coach Penny Hardaway.

Here are 10 more noteworthy headlines from around the basketball world this week:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Hoops Rumors Originals: 11/23/19 – 11/30/19

Every week, the Hoops Rumors writing team creates original content to complement our news feed. Here are our original segments and features from the past seven days:

Ja Morant Sidelined With Back Spasms

Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant will be out of action on a “week-to-week basis” with back spasms, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The star point guard first hurt his back in Monday’s game at Indiana when he collided with a camera operator after a layup attempt, writes David Cobb of The Commercial Appeal. He was helped off the court and appeared to be pointing to the middle of his upper back, Cobb adds, but later returned to the game.

Morant scored just 11 points against the Jazz last night, shooting 4 of 13 from the field, and appeared to be bothered by back pain. He is off to a strong start in his first NBA season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists through 17 games.

Morant’s absence provides an opportunity for Tyus Jones, who came to Memphis this summer when the Timberwolves declined to match a three-year, $24MM offer sheet. He is averaging 19.3 minutes per night as a backup to Morant. Marko Guduric and De’Anthony Melton should also get an increase in playing time.

Dion Waiters’ 10-Game Suspension Ends

The 10-game suspension for Heat guard Dion Waiters has officially come to an end, with the final game of his punishment coming on Friday in a 122-105 home win against the Warriors.

Waiters, who’s in his fourth season with the Heat organization, was suspended by the team earlier this month after consuming an edible laced with THC and suffering a panic attack on a team flight, according to an report from ESPN.com.

Heat president Pat Riley never confirmed the specifics of the reported situation, with this being Waiters’ second suspension of the young season (he also received a one-game suspension in October after getting into a verbal exchange with coach Erik Spoelstra).

“His conditioning is at least at a level where we can work with him and get him to the next step,” Spoelstra said of Waiters, as relayed by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel (Twitter links). “And we just want to put this all behind us, get him with the team and move on from here.

“We’ve had enough time around each other, we understand that a lot of things happen over the course of an NBA season. What we discussed in the sanctuary of our locker room, I just want to keep between us. But we want to move on from this.”

Waiters, 27, originally signed a deal with Miami in July of 2016. He quickly impressed the franchise with averages of 15.8 points and 3.8 assists per game, leading him to sign a four-year, $52MM contract in the summer of 2017.

Various injuries have kept the Syracuse product from playing more than 50 games in his three seasons with the organization. He has yet to appear in a contest with the team during the 2019/20 campaign.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, coaches, basketball staff, the fans and the entire organization for the incident that happened on the team plane,” Waiters said in a statement released Saturday. “I was wrong and take responsibility for what happened and am sorry for what it put everyone through. I am happy to be back with my teammates and am looking forward to getting back on the court playing basketball.”

The Heat have upcoming road games against Brooklyn on Sunday, Toronto on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday, followed by a four-game homestand that takes the team into mid-December. Waiters is under contract for this season ($12.1MM) and next season ($12.65MM), with the veteran guard set to reach free agency in the summer of 2021.

Miami has opened the 2019/20 season with a red-hot 13-5 start. The Heat have been led by a combination of young talent, veteran play and strong camaraderie, leading some to wonder how Spoelstra can incorporate Waiters into a crowded rotation that already consists of established guards such as Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro.

Western Notes: Crowder, Lakers, Holiday, Bates-Diop

Former Jazz forward Jae Crowder took time this week to discuss his time with the team, detailing the close friendships he made and the impact head coach Quin Snyder had on him.

Crowder, who was acquired by the Grizzlies last July, also discussed Memphis’ slow start to the 2019/20 season in an interview with Aaron Falk of Jazz.com.

“We’ve come out on the losing end, so obviously we’re not where we want to be but we’re figuring it out,” Crowder said. “We’re competing at a high level and trying to do what it takes to win games. At this level, with a young team, it’s just hard to win games. We’re learning from our losses and wins and trying to build every day.”

The Jazz traded for Crowder in February of 2018, giving the 29-year-old roughly one-and-a-half seasons with the franchise. He averaged 11.9 points in 80 games for the team last season, quickly gaining respect from the fans and confidence from the coaching staff.

“He just gave me a mindset that added on to fueling my fire,” Crowder said of Snyder. “To always compete at a high level and always embrace wherever you’re at in life. He gave me a role on that team and I’m appreciative of him. I’ve told him that personally. I appreciate him believing in me, believing in my effort and coaching me the way that he coached me.”

There’s more from the Western Conference today:

  • The Lakers tied a team record on Friday for the best start in franchise history, extending their current record to 17-2. The team recorded their 10th straight win with a victory over Washington, led by the likes of Anthony Davis (26 points, 13 rebounds) and LeBron James (23 points, 11 assists). “Obviously, this is a historic franchise; they have done so many great things,” Davis said, as relayed by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “To be a part of a franchise like this is definitely amazing. I just want to leave my mark here and just keep it going. Obviously, our goal is to add another banner here. It’s something we feel like we can do, and if we do that, to be a part of that would be nothing but great.”
  • Andre Iguodala, one of the league’s all-time great defenders, has tabbed Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday as the best defensive player in the NBA today. “Best defender in the league… @Jrue_Holiday11”, Iguodala wrote on social media. Holiday is consistently mentioned as one of the toughest defenders in the NBA, with the 29-year-old making the All-Defensive Second Team in 2019 and All-Defensive First Team in 2018.
  • Timberwolves forward Keita Bates-Diop is slowly but surely forcing his way into the team’s rotation, Chris Hine writes for the Star Tribune. Bates-Diop, 23, was drafted 48th overall in 2018 by the Wolves after spending four seasons at Ohio State. He’s averaged 8.9 points in seven games (17.9 MPG) this season.

Wizards’ C.J. Miles Could Miss Rest Of Season With Wrist Injury

The Wizards could be without forward C.J. Miles for the rest of the season as he heads to see a specialist about damaged ligaments in his left wrist, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post reports (Twitter link).

Miles, 32, will see a specialist on Monday and if he needs to undergo surgery, he would miss the remainder of the season. He was recently ruled out for Washington’s upcoming road trip due to the wrist injury before the severity was known.

In 10 games this season, Miles has averaged 6.4 PPG while shooting 32.2% from the field. The veteran was seeing just over 16 minutes per contest.

While Miles has not been a focal point of the offense, he provides scoring punch and floor spacing off the bench that the Wizards would need to replace.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Ayton, Doncic, Bagley, Joseph

With the Suns playing above expectations to start the season, the development of Devin Booker has been a focal point of the team’s season. A recent three-game skid has put Phoenix two games under .500 but Booker’s play has been generally solid this season.

The 23-year-old is averaging 24.5 PPG and 6.3 APG while shooting from the field (51%) and from three (41.9%) at career-best rates. As the season has progressed, new head coach Monty Williams has taken a proactive approach in trying to get his young star to the next level, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic writes.

Whether it’s late-night text sessions, extra work after practice or going over film and studying, Williams has been impressed with the work Booker has dedicated to improvement. While Williams feels he drives Booker nuts, the guard says he’s thankful for his new head coach.

“I understand most of it, I mean, all of it,” Booker said. “It’s just the way I am. I’ve said since the beginning, I trust him.”

Check out more Pacific Division notes:

  • Deandre Ayton is nearing a return from his 25-game suspension and the young center’s role is still unclear, Rankin writes in a separate story. The Suns’ big man has appeared in just one game this season but given Phoenix’s recent struggles, some scoring punch from the 21-year-old could help the team.
  • Mavericks‘ guard Luka Doncic has started off his sophomore season with a bang, becoming a daily triple-double threat and an early MVP candidate. Rankin writes once again how Doncic’s development makes Suns fans think about how different things would have been if Phoenix took Doncic in lieu of Ayton in last year’s draft.
  • Kings‘ forward Marvin Bagley III has only played in one game this season after breaking his thumb. Five weeks after the injury, Bagley is still not cleared to return but is getting closer, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “Marvin is much closer than De’Aaron [Fox] is, but it’s one of those things that he hasn’t been cleared to go contact yet without (a brace) on,” head coach Luke Walton said. “So will he play tomorrow or Monday? No, but is he getting closer? Yes.”
  • While the personal stats may not be outstanding, the play of Cory Joseph, given the absence of Bagley and De’Aaron Fox has helped the Kings maintain pace in the Western Conference, James Patrick of the Sacramento Bee writes.
  • Jovan Buha of The Athletic answered several Clippers questions in the latest mailbag. Buha covered the possibility of the team pursuing Andre Iguodala, Landry Shamet‘s return, and more.

Carmelo Anthony’s Trainer Talks Adjustment To Current NBA

After the Trail Blazers inked Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed deal, his year-long absence from the NBA ended but it remained to be seen what he had left. The early results have been positive as Anthony has shown flashes of the ability that made him a likely Hall-of-Famer.

Anthony, 35, is averaging 17.7 PPG and 6.0 RPG through six games for Portland with the team going 3-3 during that stretch. The 10-time All-Star has had some strong performances, including a 25-point outing against the Bulls on Monday and 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting versus the Thunder on Wednesday.

It was a tumultuous journey for Anthony before his return, as his trainer Alex Bazzell detailed to Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News. Bazzell spoke to Anthony’s in-game adjustments on both sides of the ball and the perception higher-ups had of his value versus the distraction he might be.

Check out some highlights:

Bazzell on Anthony changing his playing style:

“He’s gone 95% of his career where he’s been able to catch the ball, turn, face, have time. He’s never really been the guy that’s setting a ton of ball screens and popping and making quick decisions. So it’s new for him. But it’s something he worked extremely hard on. He understands. He’s not the type of guy who is bullheaded the way people want to portray him. He understands he has to adjust his game for the new style and he’s got to make some sacrifices to be on a team and contribute the way a team wants him to and he wants to.”

On his conversations with higher-ups about Anthony’s value:

“I had talked to a couple assistant GMs and GMs and the whole thing was that it wasn’t about his play. It wasn’t even about him personally. But it was about the media attention that was going to follow him, like the questions that were going to come every day: Is he happy? Is he getting enough shots? Is he good in the role he’s in? So a lot of teams that, not to his fault, they just thought it was too much of a media distraction to have to deal with early in the season. I think the whole mystique of ‘Melo hurt him.”

On how Anthony felt after his return to the NBA:

“We talked a little bit after the game. He’s actually pretty happy with how it went. There’s obviously a lot of emotion involved, a lot of expectations when you have so many people vouch on your behalf on social media and what’s been going on for the last year. You almost feel a need to live up to those expectations right off the bat. It’s just like anything else. All these dudes are human. They need time to really get acclimated, get comfortable.”