February 27th, 2020 at 4:20pm CST by Dana Gauruder
The Mavericks are concerned that point guard Jalen Brunson may have a torn labrum in his right shoulder, Tim MacMahon from ESPN tweets.
A natural left-hander, Brunson plans to play through the pain and delay a possible surgical procedure until the offseason, MacMahon continues. He has already been ruled out for the remaining two games of the team’s current road trip.
Brunson’s most recent appearance was Friday, when he played 20 minutes against Orlando. The Mavs’ postseason spot seems safe — they’re 10 games ahead of ninth-place Portland in the conference standings — but f Brunson can’t make it through the season, it would be a blow to the team’s postseason rotation.
Brunson has played 57 games, including 16 starts, and averaged 8.2 PPG and 3.3 APG in 17.9 MPG. The 2018 second-round pick out of Villanova started 38 games last season.
4:04pm: The Grizzlies have officially signed Uthoff to his 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. As expected, Hannahs’ 10-day deal has been ended early in order to create a roster spot for Uthoff.
11:39am: The Grizzlies are signing G League forward Jarrod Uthoff to a 10-day contract, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).
Uthoff, 26, has spent the season with the Grizzlies’ G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle, averaging a double-double (19.0 PPG, 10.7 RPG) in 34 contests (34.9 MPG). Uthoff has also filled up the box score by averaging 3.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, and 1.1 BPG with a shooting line of .491/.367/.790.
An undrafted free agent out of Iowa in 2016, Uthoff appeared in nine games with the Mavericks during his rookie season, but hasn’t played in a regular-season NBA game in nearly three years.
Memphis doesn’t currently have an open spot on its 15-man roster and doesn’t qualify for a hardship exception, so a corresponding move will need to be made to bring Uthoff aboard. The obvious move would be to terminate Dusty Hannahs‘ 10-day contract a little early.
Hannahs signed his deal, which is set to expire on Sunday night, before Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke went down with injuries. Now that the Grizzlies are in need of frontcourt depth, it makes sense to replace Hannahs, a guard, with a forward like Uthoff.
The NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award has been Lou Williams‘ to lose in recent years. Williams has earned Sixth Man honors twice in a row and three times overall in the past five seasons.
Williams is a strong candidate for Sixth Man of the Year once again in 2019/20, leading all bench scorers with 19.1 PPG in 55 games. However, his scoring numbers aren’t quite as gaudy as they’ve been in past seasons, and his .414 FG% and .351 3PT% represent his lowest marks since the 2015/16 season. On top of that, if there’s any voter fatigue with the Clippers guard this spring, there are several other viable candidates to choose from.
One is another Clipper, Montrezl Harrell, who has nearly matched Williams’ scoring rate this season. In 57 games, Harrell has posted new career highs in PPG (18.6) and RPG (7.0), and if L.A. uses a center in crunch time, it’s Harrell rather than starter Ivica Zubac. Harrell isn’t the league’s most talented rebounder or rim protector, and centers with size can give him problems, but he has arguably been the NBA’s most productive backup big man this season.
The other contender for that title would be Davis Bertans, who has had a breakout year playing at the four and five for the Wizards. Always a strong three-point shooter, Bertans has maintained an impressive .421 3PT% in 2019/20 while nearly doubling his previous career high in three-point attempts per game, from 4.4 to 8.4. He has been a crucial floor-spacer and scorer (15.0 PPG) for Washington on offense and has held his own on defense.
In Oklahoma City, meanwhile, the Thunder have an All-Star point guard (Chris Paul) and a second point guard who received All-Star consideration (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), meaning the team’s third point guard, Dennis Schroder, has flown somewhat under the radar. Schroder has been better than ever this season though, with 19.1 PPG off the bench to go along with 4.1 APG and 3.8 RPG. His shooting rates of 47.3% from the floor and 38.6% from beyond the arc are both career bests, and the team has a +6.6 net rating when he plays, compared to a -3.1 mark when he sits.
Finally, Zach Harper of The Athletic wrote today that his current pick for Sixth Man of the Year would be Pistons guard Derrick Rose. The former MVP has missed a little time due to injuries, and Detroit isn’t a playoff team, which hurts his case. However, Rose has been arguably the Pistons’ best player this season, with 18.0 PPG and 5.7 APG, and he has produced consistently despite a ton of roster upheaval, Harper notes.
One other issue with Rose’s case is that he has been a starter since mid-January, which isn’t likely to change going forward. If he starts the Pistons’ remaining 22 games, Rose would end up with 35 starts and 35 games off the bench, making him ineligible. I expect he’ll miss at least one game before the season ends, but if he ends up with 30+ starts, voters may not view him as a true “sixth man.”
There are a few other candidates who I believe should receive Sixth Man of the Year consideration, including Heat guard Goran Dragic, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, and even Lakers center Dwight Howard. But Williams, Harrell, Bertans, Schroder, and Rose look to me like the favorites at this point.
In today’s poll, we want to know what you think. If you had to place a Sixth Man of the Year vote today, would you pick Williams for the three-peat? Or do you think one of his challengers has a stronger case?
Vote below our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!
New Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon underwent a non-surgical procedure to address pain in his right elbow today, as Chris Kirschner of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). Atlanta has ruled out Dedmon for its next three games, but he’ll be re-evaluated on Monday, with his status updated at that point, Kirschner adds.
Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:
The Sixers haven’t provided many details or a specific recovery timeline for Ben Simmons‘ back injury, so Rich Hofmann of The Athletic spoke to a pair of outside medical experts to try to get a sense of what may be causing the nerve impingement in Simmons’ back. Both doctors suggested that the most common cause would be a disc injury.
Raptors swingman Norman Powell (finger) has been cleared to practice and will be listed as questionable for Friday’s game vs. Charlotte, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca. Head coach Nick Nurse had said on Tuesday that Powell was scheduled for a check-up next week, but it sounds like the 26-year-old could make it back this weekend.
Appearing today on Toucher and Rich in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said big man Robert Williams (hip) remains on track to return to action as early as this weekend, or shortly thereafter (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).
Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams, who hasn’t played since January 6 due to a back injury, had his first full-contact practice today and has a chance to play on Friday, per head coach Alvin Gentry (Twitter link via ESPN’s Andrew Lopez).
Suns forward Kelly Oubre has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus after undergoing an exam on his injured right knee today, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Oubre is in the process of seeking a second opinion from a specialist, Haynes adds.
There are multiple ways to treat meniscus tears, so a recovery timeline for Oubre will depend on the extent of the tear and what sort of treatment he requires. Still, the recovery period for the injury is typically measured in weeks or months, rather than days — Zion Williamson missed the first half of 2019/20 after undergoing meniscus surgery, for instance. It’s possible the injury will bring Oubre’s season to an early end.
Oubre, 24, was acquired from the Wizards by the Suns during the 2018/19 season, then signed a two-year, $30MM deal with Phoenix last summer. He was in the midst of a career year in 2019/20, with 18.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.3 SPG, and a .452/.352/.780 shooting line in 56 games (34.5 MPG).
While the Suns haven’t confirmed the report of a torn meniscus, Oubre’s teammates were talking on Wednesday as if the knee injury wasn’t just a day-to-day issue, as Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes.
“It’s tough when you see one of your guys go down,” Aron Baynes said after Wednesday’s game. “Right now, he’s got to do the right thing for him because he needs to be able to come back whenever that is in the right shape to contribute and do what he’s done for us all season long. We all feel for him and whatever he needs to do to take care of himself right now, he’s got everyone’s support.”
Dario Saric started in Oubre’s place on Wednesday and figures to see his role increase going forward. Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson are among the team’s other top candidates for a bump in minutes.
FEBRUARY 27: Mulder has officially signed his 10-day contract with the Warriors, the team confirmed today in a press release. It will run through March 7.
FEBRUARY 26: The Warriors will use one of the open spots on their 15-man roster to sign G League guard Mychal Mulder to a 10-day contract, league sources tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Mulder, 25, has been a G League mainstay since going undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, appearing in a total of 134 games for the Windy City Bulls and Sioux Falls Skyforce over the last three seasons. In 39 games (33.2 MPG) with the Heat’s NBAGL affiliate in 2019/20, the Canadian has averaged a career-best 17.0 PPG with 4.5 RPG on .451/.399/.700 shooting.
Mulder sign an Exhibit 10 contract with Miami last fall and spent training camp and the preseason with the club, but has never been on an NBA roster during the regular season.
Since clearing several roster spots in trades before the deadline, the Warriors have been auditioning a variety of players on 10-day deals. After signing Jeremy Pargo and Zach Norvell earlier in the month, Golden State will now have Dragan Bender and Mulder on 10-day contracts.
The Warriors, who are being careful to stay below the tax line, currently have two openings on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be required to make room for Mulder. As our breakdown of 10-day salaries shows, he’ll earn nearly $51K on his new deal. If he signs it on Thursday, rather than today, it will cover Golden State’s next six games instead of just five.
Despite a disappointing season so far in Portland, there’s no reason to believe Terry Stotts‘ job will be in any danger this spring, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Sam Amick of The Athletic. Coming off the Trail Blazers‘ appearance in the Western Conference Finals a year ago, the team extended Stotts’ contract through the 2021/22 season.
This season, the Trail Blazers are in danger of missing the postseason altogether. Even if they sneak in, they’re extremely unlikely to win a series. However, major injuries to key contributors like Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, and Rodney Hood have played a significant role in Portland’s slide, so regardless of how the season ends, Stotts looks safe going forward, Amick writes.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
The Timberwolves have the most valuable combination of first-round picks for the 2020 draft, according to research by ESPN’s Kevin Pelton (Insider link). Besides their own lottery pick, the Wolves will have Brooklyn’s first-rounder, which will almost certainly fall in the 15-17 range.
ESPN’s Royce Young reported earlier this week (via Twitter) that Thunder wing Luguentz Dort has 16 days of NBA service time available on his two-way contract. Since Dort is only moving closer to his 45-day limit on days when Oklahoma City actually plays, the team should be able to have him active through March 28, the last day of the G League season. After that date, he can spend the rest of the regular season with the Thunder.
As I explained earlier today, Dort won’t be eligible for the postseason unless the Thunder promote him to their 15-man roster. Young suggests (via Twitter) that talks on a standard contract likely won’t pick up until late in the season, since it could be in both sides’ best interests to wait — OKC would save some tax money and Dort could continues increasing his value.
Bulls center Luke Kornet may have played his last game of the season, according to a press release from the team, which indicates that the big man will miss approximately six-to-eight weeks due to foot and ankle injuries.
Kornet, who sustained the injuries in a practice last Friday, has been diagnosed with a severe left ankle sprain and a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, per the Bulls.
Even if Kornet is able to make a quick recovery and return to action at the six-week mark, that would leave just three games on the Bulls’ schedule. The more likely scenario is that he’s done for the season. His two-year contract with Chicago includes a guaranteed second year, so barring an offseason trade, he figures to be back in the mix for the team in 2020/21.
Kornet has been limited to 36 games in his first season as a Bull. He has averaged 6.0 PPG and 2.3 RPG in a part-time role (15.5 MPG). A 36.0% career three-point shooter prior to 2019/20, Kornet has made just 31-of-108 attempts (28.7%) since arriving in Chicago.
Veteran NBA big man Marreese Speights will be joining the BIG3, Ice Cube’s professional three-on-three league, for the 2020 season, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. According to Spears, Speights will be a player and co-captain for Bivouac this year.
Bivouac, one of the teams introduced in the BIG3’s 2019 expansion, was captained last season by former NBA forward Josh Smith, and he’s one of several captains who have re-signed for the coming season, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard (Twitter link). Speights will fill one of just seven open captain or co-captain slots available around the league.
Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:
Former first-round pick John Jenkins, who suited up for the Wizards and Knicks last season, has signed with Hapoel Eliat in Israel, the team announced (hat tip to Sportando). Jenkins had just joined a team in China last month, so it seems he was let out of that contract when the CBA went on hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.
HoopsHype provides an informative breakdown on which NBA players are on track to earn bonuses in their contracts this season and which will fall short of those incentives.
In an interesting piece for NBC Sports, Tom Haberstroh and Monte Poole take an in-depth look at marijuana use in the NBA. Despite league rules prohibiting marijuana use, six players surveyed by Haberstroh and Poole estimated that more than half of the NBA’s active players use it in some form.
As we’ve noted a few times leading up to this Sunday’s deadline, March 1 is the final day in an NBA season that a player can be waived and retain his playoff eligibility for a new club. Any player released after March 1 can still sign with another NBA team once he clears waivers, but he wouldn’t be able to participate in the postseason with his new team.
The playoff-eligibility rules are fairly clear for players on standard NBA contracts, but how exactly do they work for players on two-way contracts? Let’s take a closer look…
1. Players on two-way contracts aren’t eligible for the postseason.
We’ll start with the simplest rule — a player on a two-way contract can’t play for his team in the postseason, even if he hasn’t used up his full allotment of 45 NBA days. A two-way player can travel and practice with the team during the playoffs, but has to remain on the inactive list during games.
2. Two-way players waived after March 1 aren’t eligible to play in the postseason for a new team.
The same waiver rules that apply to players on standard NBA contracts apply to players on two-way deals when it comes to playoff eligibility. If a player on a two-way contract is waived after this Sunday, but before the end of the regular season, he won’t be eligible to join another team for the postseason.
Although these first two rules significantly restrict the ability of two-way players to participate in the playoffs, it’s still possible for a player who is on a two-way contract next week to play in the postseason.
3. A player on a two-way contract who has his contract turned into a standard NBA deal by his current team any time up until the last day of the regular season can play in the postseason for that team.
Rookie wing Luguentz Dort, who has started the last 15 games for the Thunder, is the most obvious example this season of a two-way player who has contributed to his team’s success and could have a role in the playoffs.
If the Thunder want to ensure they’ll have Dort available for the postseason, they could unilaterally convert his two-way deal into a standard, one-year NBA contract or negotiate a standard, multiyear pact anytime between now and the end of the regular season. As long as a two-way player gets moved to the 15-man roster on or before the last day of the regular season, he’s eligible to participate in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City is in a pretty good position to make this move with Dort. The team has an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no one would have to be released to make room. The Thunder also have a portion of their mid-level exception available, so they could potentially negotiate a contract of up to three years with the first-year swingman if he’s open to it.
Moving Dort to the 15-man roster would increase the Thunder’s projected tax bill, which may dissuade them from promoting him sooner rather than later. But if OKC were to make a move near the very end of the season, the effect on the club’s cap and tax bill would be minimal. If the Thunder want Dort available in the postseason, they have a clear path to making it happen.
Although these eligibility rules for two-way players shouldn’t create any problems for most of the league’s 30 teams, the Thunder represent at least one team that has a decision to make before season’s end. In order to make a player on a two-way contract available for the postseason, a club will have to convert that player to a standard NBA deal by April 15.