Month: April 2021

And-Ones: Graham, Green, James, Free Agents

Free agent guard Treveon Graham has committed to play with Team USA in this year’s AmeriCup qualifying tournament, according to a report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

The tournament is scheduled to be held from Feb. 19-20 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Graham is the fifth reported player to commit thus far, joining Joe Johnson, Isaiah Thomas, Dakota Mathias and Josh Boone.

Other former NBA players could join the team in the coming days, as the tournament is being held in the midst of the G League season. Graham, 27, has made past stops with the Hornets, Nets, Timberwolves and Hawks since going undrafted in 2015.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Ethan Strauss of The Athletic examines the G League dream of Jalen Green, who’s currently preparing to play with the Ignite in the G League bubble next month. Green, 18, is a high-level prospect for the 2021 NBA Draft. “It’s different,” said Green, who opted to join the Ignite instead of attending college last year. “It’s a different path from what others are used to. We’re learning overall NBA terms. We’re getting stronger, faster. We’re getting ahead of the game, so, I think overall it’s been a great experience.”
  • Veteran guard Mike James will stay with CSKA Moscow, according to Lithuanian basketball journalist Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). James was suspended by the team due to an incident with his participation on Jan. 22, prompting him to release a statement on social media. He holds NBA experience with the Suns and Pelicans.
  • Danny Leroux of The Athletic examines the supply and demand of free agency, along with the potential domino effect for the class of 2021. Several players — such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George and Rudy Gobert — opted to sign extensions with their teams last year, choosing not to reach free agency this summer.

Atlantic Notes: DSJ, Knicks, Sixers, J. Green

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau believes the G League will be a great opportunity for Dennis Smith Jr. this season, according to Steve Popper of Newsday.

Smith reportedly asked to play in the G League due to receiving a lack of minutes, a wish that’s expected to be granted. The Knicks’ minor league affiliate team in Westchester is among 18 clubs attending the G League bubble this season, which is set to tip off on Feb. 10.

“I think the G League is a very valuable tool,” Thibodeau said. “I think you see it being used more and more by virtually every team in the league. It’s an opportunity, you can get obviously a lot out of practice, but I think playing time is important, also. So when we have those opportunities, we do want to utilize it. I think it will be great for him.”

Smith has only appeared in three games this season, logging a total of 28 minutes. The former No. 9 pick played 34 games with the team last season, averaging 5.5 points, 2.9 assists and 15.8 minutes per contest on 34% shooting.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • Thibodeau has a decision to make on the team’s starting point guard going forward, Popper examines in a different story for Newsday. New York must choose between veteran Elfrid Payton and rookie Immanuel Quickley, with Payton starting in the club’s first 20 games this season. Quickley has shown flashes of potential, however, averaging 11.6 points in 18.5 minutes per game off the bench. His current shooting marks sit at 39.5% from the floor and 38% from downtown.
  • Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer examines how many All-Stars the Sixers should have this season. Joel Embiid, who’s currently enjoying a career-best season to date, is widely expected to be named to his fourth All-Star Game, but Pompey ponders whether Ben Simmons or Tobias Harris could make cases of their own.
  • Brian Lewis of the New York Post examines the strong production Jeff Green has offered for the Nets. Green, a 13-year NBA veteran, has provided frontcourt depth as a starter and off the bench this season. The 34-year-old is averaging 8.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 25.2 minutes per game, shooting 55% from the field and 44% from three-point range. “He’s been outstanding,” head coach Steve Nash said as part of a larger quote. “He’s been great on the court, his versatility, his experience and his skill has been really important to us. [But] his maturity, his personality, his leadership, he’s really added a ton to our team in that respect.”

Central Notes: Love, Carter, Stewart, Valentine

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (right calf strain) is progressing in his rehab and could be getting closer to a return, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com writes.

No specific timetable has been set for Love, who has missed the past 16 games. The Cavaliers have opened the season with a 9-10 record in his absence, mostly starting Larry Nance Jr. in his place.

“He’s doing light stuff on the court now and our expectation is he’ll do even more,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “Then we’ll get a fair judge of where he is once he gets on the floor.”

Love, 32, is coming off a campaign that saw him average 17.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 31.8 minutes per game. He’s in the second season of a four-year, $120MM extension signed during the summer of 2018.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The injury to Wendell Carter Jr. will force rotation changes for the Bulls, Sam Smith of Bulls.com writes. Carter recently sustained a quad contusion and is expected to miss multiple weeks. “There may be some lineups that maybe we need Gaff (Daniel Gafford) out there, Cris (Cristiano Felicio) out there,” coach Billy Donovan said. “It could be a variety of different things. I think we’re going to have to be prepared to have significant and different rotations based on matchups and who we’re playing against.”
  • Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart embodies the spirit of Detroit, James Edwards of The Athletic writes. Stewart, a tough-minded 19-year-old forward, is averaging 4.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 17.6 minutes through 18 games, showing potential on both ends of the floor. “When you play against him, you’re going to go against a ball of energy,” coach Dwane Casey said, “and you better bring your work boots and hard hat to go against him because he is going to bring it.”
  • Bulls forward Denzel Valentine has benefited from the team’s offseason coaching change, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Valentine appears to be in a much better situation than he was a year ago, with the former No. 14 pick now getting meaningful minutes off the bench. “Man, I actually do think about that,’’ Valentine said. “It’s just funny because at this time last year, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Granted, it’s different seasons. I was in and out of the lineup. It’s just crazy that things come full circle. You never know what can happen in this business. All you can do is bring a positive mindset and work hard every day. That’s what I try to do, no matter the situation. Obviously, it can be hard if you’re not playing or stuff like I went through last year. But I just have to control what I can control, and the rest will take care of itself.’’

Southeast Notes: Butler, Heat, Ball, Isaac

The Heat are looking to “right the ship” and improve on bad habits created during the absence of Jimmy Butler and others this month, Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel writes.

Butler, who returned on Saturday after missing ten straight games due to the league’s health and safety protocols, poured in 30 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in the contest. It was Miami’s first victory in over a week, snapping a five-game losing streak.

“It’s a start,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We just have to continue to forge ahead. Our spirit has been lifted. It feels different than it did two weeks ago.”

Miami has battled COVID-19 and a series of injuries thus far, opening the 2020/21 season with a 7-12 record. The team has upcoming games scheduled against the Hornets on Monday and the Wizards on Wednesday and Friday.

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • The Heat and Butler mutually missed each other during his absence, David Wilson writes for The Miami Herald. Butler is coming off a season that saw him average 19.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and six assists per game, leading Miami to its first Finals appearance since 2014.
  • Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer examines whether Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball is ready to make his first NBA start. Ball scored a career-high 27 points in the team’s win over Milwaukee on Saturday, also adding five rebounds, nine assists and four steals on 8-of-10 shooting.
  • Magic forward Jonathan Isaac is embracing the grind of his rehab, working his way back from a torn ACL suffered last August, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel writes. “I like the work. I like getting in and grinding every day,” Isaac said. “I think most people would think that that’s the hardest part but I take it like I’m out there playing on the court when I’m doing my rehab. This is my game right now. But the hardest part is definitely just being on the sideline and watching those guys fighting and just wishing I was out there with them.

Southwest Notes: Porter, SVG, Grizzlies-Thunder, Jones

New Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr., who has participated in only one practice since being added to Houston earlier this month from the Cavaliers, has a lot to gain from his new G League assignment, Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle opines.

“[The G League assignment] is for him to get his feet wet with what we do and how we do it,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said of Porter. “And then, he hasn’t played in quite a while. So, to have consistent games night after night or every other night is important for him and his growth as far as being a part of our team.”

There’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans have not seen their defense take the strides they were hoping for under new coach Stan Van Gundy, per Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Van Gundy has previously coached several top-10 defenses in his prior head coaching stops with the Heat, Magic and Pistons. “We need a whole different defensive disposition,” Van Gundy said. “We just do. To keep the ball in front of us. To fight. To make shots more difficult.”
  • A GrizzliesThunder matchup in Memphis, initially projected to be played during the second half of the NBA season schedule, has been shifted up to Wednesday, February 17 at 8 p.m. CT, per a Grizzlies press release.
  • Spurs rookie guard Tre Jones has been assigned to San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, per Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). Jones will travel to Orlando to join the NBAGL “bubble” campus.

Grade 1 Calf Strain For Marcus Smart

1:27pm: Smart is now expected to miss two to three weeks with his left calf strain, Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe tweets.


10:31am: Smart is expected to miss one to two weeks, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.


8:56am: The Celtics are relieved this morning after finding out that guard Marcus Smart‘s injury is just a Grade 1 strain to his left calf, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart is expected to be sidelined for a while, sources tell Charania, but there were concerns that the injury was far worse.

Smart underwent an MRI this morning after hurting his leg in Saturday’s loss to the Lakers, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Smart landed awkwardly while pursuing a rebound in the fourth quarter and had to be helped off the court.

Smart didn’t appear to land on anyone’s foot, Bontemps adds, but he grabbed the back of his leg and fell to the ground in pain. He didn’t put any weight on the leg as he was taken to Boston’s locker room. The Celtics announced that he had a strained calf and wouldn’t return to the game.

“Yeah, everybody was concerned with his health,” Jaylen Brown said following the game. “And he just, trying to do our best to redirect that energy, because when one guy goes down, we’ve got to step up. Marcus is essential to our team, man — he’s been great. Whether the numbers show it or not, Marcus has been a leader on this team; he’s been somebody that has been looking to get guys the ball in the right spots, including me. So to have him go down in the middle of the game like that, definitely had everybody concerned. Hopefully, the MRI is negative and we get him and we can get some wins on the road.”

Smart, a first-team All-Defensive selection last season, has stepped up his offensive game this year. He came into Saturday’s game averaging 13.2 points and 6.0 assists, which are career-best marks in both categories.

An extended injury for Smart would have been difficult for the Celtics, who have played extended stretches without Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. The team is already short-handed in the backcourt with rookie Payton Pritchard sidelined with an MCL sprain and Walker remaining on a minutes limit.

Pelicans Target Atlantic Division Contenders For Redick

The Pelicans are targeting Atlantic Division contenders – the Nets, Sixers, and Celtics – as trade destinations for swingman J.J. Redick, per The Athletic writers Shams Charania, William Guillory, Jay King, Derek Bodner, Alex Schiffer and Danny Leroux.

As we relayed last week, teams have been reaching out to New Orleans about guards Redick and Lonzo Ball.

The Athletic piece suggests that Redick, on an expiring $13.1MM contract, would like to play for one of these northeast-based clubs, as his wife and children live in Brooklyn. Should Redick not be dealt by the March 25 deadline, the veteran could also become a buyout candidate for a contending team.

A catch-and-shoot wing like Redick could be a fit for all three clubs, and all three have expressed interest, per The Athletic.

Redick was the starting shooting guard for the Sixers from 2017-19, while Boston could use another reliable shooter. Brooklyn, meanwhile, depleted many of its potential trade pieces in the blockbuster deal that netted the team All-Star guard James Harden. Schiffer notes that the presence of newly-extended swingman Joe Harris – a similar player to Redick – and the Nets’ relative lack of assets may make a deal a longer shot for Brooklyn.

The 36-year-old Redick has been a healthy scratch for the last two Pelicans contests. At 7-11, New Orleans is currently out of the playoff picture in the West.

Redick is averaging 7.9 PPG in 19.9 MPG, his lowest such totals since his age-24 season in 2008/09. A career 41.4% three-point shooter and 89.2% free throw shooter, Redick is connecting on just 29.8% of his long range attempts this season, though he is making a stellar 100% on his 1.6 free throw tries.

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Green, Poole, Schedule

Warriors guard Klay Thompson provided an update on his recovery from a torn Achilles as he joined the broadcast team for Golden State’s game Saturday night, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Thompson admitted that it “kills” him to have to miss a second straight season because of an injury.

“I’m living good,” he said. “To be back in the building that I’m so eagerly awaiting to play in. Just a little bored at times. Stuff’s slow with trying to let my Achilles heal and get to the next stage, which is mobility work, but I’m feeling good. I’m happy to be with my teammates, obviously. Unfortunately, I’m not playing. It kills me every day, but I plan on playing for a long time, and I don’t want to have any mishaps come this rehab.”

The interview marked Thompson’s first public comments since he suffered the injury during a workout in November. He has stayed around the team since his surgery, appearing frequently at home games to cheer on his teammates.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Draymond Green believes he needs more time to get his game back to where it should be, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Green, who missed the start of the season with a muscle strain in his foot, admits he’s not playing the way he is accustomed to. “I think I’m like two, three weeks away,” he said. “Continue to get in better shape. My speed is kind of getting there. I dunked the ball today. That was big time. I was really excited about that. That might’ve been my first dunk of the year. I’m not sure though. No. I got a dunk a couple games ago on two feet. That was my first one-foot dunk of the year.”
  • Jordan Poole turned in possibly the best game of his career the night before leaving for the G League bubble, Slater adds in the same story. Poole, who has been alternating playing time with Mychal Mulder as a reserve guard, scored 16 points in 21 minutes. He has appeared in 15 of the Warriors’ 20 games this season, but averages just 9.5 minutes, and the team decided to send him to the G League to get more playing time. “The G League isn’t looked at as having a negative impact,” Poole said. “I wasn’t getting minutes, I wasn’t playing, I wasn’t able to get on the floor and in the G League, I will be able to play 30-plus minutes.”
  • Golden State’s January 15 game at Phoenix, which was postponed because the Suns didn’t have enough available players, has been rescheduled for March 4, according to the Warriors’ website.

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Herro, Anthony, Hunter

Frustrations may be boiling over for Wizards guard Russell Westbrook, who was involved in his second on-court incident of the week Friday night, writes Chris Cwik of Yahoo Sports. Westbrook was ejected from the loss to the Hawks after a game-long battle with Rajon Rondo. They both received technicals for a second-quarter altercation, then Westbrook picked up another one after shoving Rondo in the fourth quarter.

Westbrook was also involved in a double-technical incident Tuesday in Houston during an exchange with John Wall, the player he was traded for in December. The combination of losing and a sub-par shooting year are undoubtedly contributing to Westbrook’s short fuse.

“Honestly, it’s more on me,” he responded when asked about the dispute with Rondo. “I cannot allow myself to stoop down to anybody’s level. That’s not my character, who I am.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat may have another looming COVID-19 problem, according to an ESPN story. Tyler Herro learned at halftime Saturday night that someone he lives with has tested positive for the virus. He’s not sure yet if he’ll have to quarantine. Kendrick Nunn didn’t play Saturday because the team was awaiting his test results, but he was cleared by the second quarter. Jimmy Butler returned after missing 10 games due to health and safety protocols.
  • The Magic are being patient with first-round pick Cole Anthony as he goes through the ups and downs of being a rookie, notes Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Anthony, who has moved into the starting lineup for the past 12 games, has impressed teammates with his desire to improve. “He’s hard on himself,” said James Ennis, who serves as a mentor to Anthony. “He doesn’t like making mistakes. I give him credit. He’s tough. It’s hard to find young guys like that. He listens, also. So it’s hard to find young guys that come in and listen and want to compete and just want to be perfect.”
  • The Magic aren’t likely to re-sign Evan Fournier when he becomes a free agent after this season, Robbins adds in the same piece. Although Fournier is only 28, Orlando has some cap concerns after giving extensions to Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz. Robbins expects the team to explore trade offers for Fournier if it falls out of the playoff race before the March 25 deadline.
  • De’Andre Hunter‘s condition will be reviewed this week after an MRI Saturday showed articular wear and tear in his right knee, the Hawks announced in a press release. Hunter will be held out of Monday’s game against the Lakers.

Jordan Bell Released By Wizards

JANUARY 31: Bell will join the Erie BayHawks in the G League bubble, tweets JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors. Before the 10-day contract, the Wizards designated Bell as one of their four flex-affiliate players with plans to have him play for the BayHawks. Washington’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, isn’t participating in the Orlando bubble.


JANUARY 30: The Wizards have given center Jordan Bell an early release from his 10-day contract, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

Bell was signed last Saturday under the hardship provision when Washington had seven players sidelined, Katz explains (Twitter link). The six who were in health and safety protocols for COVID-19 will all be back by tomorrow, leaving no room for Bell. The Wizards already have a full roster with 15 guaranteed contracts and both two-way slots filled.

Bell, 26, appeared in three games during his brief stay in Washington, averaging 3.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in 16.7 minutes per night. He helped to fill a gap in the middle with Thomas Bryant lost for the year with an ACL injury and Moritz Wagner in the NBA’s protocols.