Month: September 2022

Nets Notes: Aldridge, Harden, Durant, Harris, Crawford

The Nets are awaiting the results of an MRI on LaMarcus Aldridge‘s left ankle, according to Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Aldridge sprained the ankle during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss at Golden State. He left the arena in a walking boot and had the MRI in Arizona. Aldridge is averaging 13.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG in 22.9 MPG.

We have more news on the Nets:

  • James Harden is questionable to play against Phoenix on Tuesday due to a strained right hand, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes. Harden, who was able to practice Monday, was a late scratch on Saturday after waking up with discomfort in the hand and had an MRI in San Francisco.
  • There’s still no timetable for the returns of Kevin Durant or Joe Harris, Friedell tweets. Durant (knee) hasn’t played since January 15 while Harris (ankle) has been sidelined since November 14.
  • Brooklyn’s G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, has requested waivers on Jordan Crawford, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets. His contract only ran through January. It’s possible he could return to the Long Island club but he could also be claimed by another G League team or even go overseas. Crawford hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2017/18 season.

Western Notes: Williams, James, Robinson-Earl, Murray

Suns coach Monty Williams and his staff will coach Team LeBron (James) at the All-Star Game in Cleveland, according to an ESPN report. Phoenix is guaranteed to have the best record in the conference before the cutoff date of February 6. Williams will coach in the All-Star Game for the first time, and he’ll be the first Phoenix head coach to do so since Mike D’Antoni in 2007.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • An MRI on James’ left knee revealed only general swelling and he might return to action as soon as Wednesday, Lakers coach Frank Vogel told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin and other media members. James has missed the last three games. “Just going to keep an eye on it day to day,” Vogel said.
  • The Thunder assigned Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, for a Monday afternoon game, according to a team press release. It was somewhat surprising, since Robinson-Earl has started 36 games for the Thunder and has averaged 24.7 MPG this month. Head coach Mark Daigneault said it was part of the development process, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. “Obviously on the surface it looks a little peculiar,” he said. “What I’d say is, one thing that we’ve learned and that we’re trying to apply is that changing environments, changing circumstances, changing roles is good for development.”
  • Klay Thompson, Victor Oladipo and Zach LaVine are among the opposing players who have reached out to Nuggets guard Jamal Murray during his recovery from a serious knee injury, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Those players have also gone through the process of a long rehab.

Central Notes: DiVincenzo, McConnell, Brogdon, White, Sexton

Bucks swingman Donte DiVincenzo has heard his name in trade rumors but he’s not fretting over it, as he told Eric Nehm of The Athletic. DiVincenzo hopes to remain in Milwaukee this season.

“What can you focus on? What can you control? I can control my attitude and my effort every day,” DiVincenzo said. “And those are two things that no matter what, the business side is going to handle itself, I can control the attitude and effort. And if a trade happens? I went through a trade! I experienced that. I’m cool. I want to be here.”

DiVincenzo wasn’t signed to a rookie scale extension during the offseason. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.

“I’m not one to focus on what’s four or five months ahead of me,” he said. “If you sit down and focus on coming in every day and focus on what do I have to do today and get better today? Everything else takes care of itself.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • T.J. McConnell had the pin taken out of surgically repaired right wrist but the Pacers guard is “weeks, not days” away from returning, coach Rick Carlisle told James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (Twitter link). When McConnell underwent hand surgery in early December, the prognosis was that he could be out the rest of the season. There’s still no timetable for Malcolm Brogdon‘s return, Boyd adds in a separate tweet. Brogdon was shut down 10 days ago due to right Achilles soreness.
  • Coby White has been showing versatility as the Bulls try to figure out what role he’s best suited for with the current roster, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. White isn’t upset about having to switch gears on the fly. “Whatever the team needs me to do,” he said. “My role changes all the time. I’ve just got to adapt and continue to adjust. It’s nothing new for me. I’ve been doing it for awhile. Whatever the team needs I’m down to do whatever.”
  • The Cavaliers are not expecting Collin Sexton to return from meniscus surgery this season even though the young guard is optimistic about his recovery, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer said on the Wine and Gold Podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). “Everybody that I’ve talked to in the organization, there is nobody that even in their mind once considered the possibility of Collin Sexton returning for the postseason,” Fedor said. Sexton indicated recently he hadn’t ruled out a potential return during the playoffs.

Southwest Notes: Bates-Diop, Jones, Collins, Ingram

Keita Bates-Diop is out of the league’s health and safety protocols, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. The Spurs forward, who has missed four games, is no longer on the team’s injury report. San Antonio plays Golden State on Tuesday.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones is out of the league’s health and safety protocols, according to the team’ PR department (Twitter link). Jones was available to play against Philadelphia on Monday.
  • The Spurs have recalled forward Zach Collins from their G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, Marc Spears of The Undefeated tweets. Collins played four games and averaged 15.3 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.8 BPG in 25.7 MPG. Collins, who has only appeared in 11 NBA games the past two seasons due to shoulder, foot and ankle injuries, has yet to make his San Antonio debut after undergoing foot surgery last summer.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram didn’t suit up against Cleveland on Monday but he should return soon, Jim Eichenhofer tweets. Ingram has been out since January 20th with an ankle injury. “He’s getting better and better,” coach Willie Green said. “We expect him back soon.”

Clippers Seek Point Guard; Bledsoe, Ibaka, Morris Available

The Clippers are shopping for a play-making point guard and are willing to move several veterans in order to achieve that goal, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer reports.

The Clippers believe a starting point guard is the missing piece to become a championship contender when Kawhi Leonard and Paul George return to action, even though it’s uncertain whether they’ll be back this season or next year.

The front office has made Eric Bledsoe, Serge Ibaka, and Marcus Morris available to acquire another floor leader, O’Connor says. The team views current starter Reggie Jackson as more of a scorer than a pure point guard.

Bledsoe is signed through next season but his $19.38MM salary next season is only guaranteed for $3.9MM. Ibaka is making $9.7MM this season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Clippers would prefer to hold onto Morris, who is in the second year of a four-year, $64MM contract, but the forward may be their most attractive trade piece.

O’Connor suggests the Clippers would also be willing to part with Luke Kennard, Terance Mann, Ivica Zubac, Jason Preston, Brandon Boston Jr., or Keon Johnson if the right deal came along.

As O’Connor notes, the Clippers have been linked in some fashion to Jalen Brunson, Dennis Schröder, Kemba Walker, Goran Dragic, Spencer Dinwiddie and John Wall in recent weeks. Brunson would seemingly be the best fit, though the Mavericks aren’t inclined to deal him, despite the fact that he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Dragic, currently in limbo, might be a good short-term fit. Wall, who hasn’t played this season while the Rockets seek a new home for him, could also be an intriguing possibility. The salaries of Bledsoe, Ibaka and Morris could be matched up to obtain Wall. The Clippers could also simply wait to see if Wall winds up on the buyout market and make a play for him at that point.

Domantas Sabonis Enters COVID-19 Protocols

Pacers center Domantas Sabonis has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and will miss Monday’s game vs. the Clippers, the team announced today (Twitter link).

If he registered a false positive or inconclusive test result, Sabonis could clear the protocols quickly. But if he tested positive for COVID-19, the big man figures to be sidelined for at least five or six days unless he can return two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart before then.

Sabonis, who recently missed four games due to an ankle sprain, had been terrific since returning, averaging 22.5 PPG, 16.5 RPG, 9.0 APG, and 1.5 BPG on 65.4% shooting in games in Oklahoma City and Dallas on Friday and Saturday.

With Sabonis unavailable, the Pacers could find themselves pretty shorthanded up front. Myles Turner (left foot) is also out, while Goga Bitadze (right foot) is questionable to play. As James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star writes, rookies Isaiah Jackson and Terry Taylor should be in line for larger roles, especially if Bitadze is ruled out.

As our tracker shows, Sabonis one of just seven players currently in the health and safety protocols, with the league’s COVID-19 situation looking a lot better than it did a month ago.

Nuggets Granted Disabled Player Exception

The Nuggets have received a disabled player exception as a result of Michael Porter Jr.‘s back surgery, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The exception is worth $2,629,368, half of Porter’s $5,258,735 salary.

A salary cap exception designed to give teams extra flexibility when a player suffers a major injury, the disabled player exception can be used to sign a free agent, to claim a player off waivers, or to acquire a player in a trade. The exception can only be used on a single player and can only accommodate a player on a one-year deal. A free agent signee can’t get a multiyear contract, and any trade or waiver target must be in the final year of his contract.

Although the disabled player exception gives a team extra cap flexibility, it doesn’t open up an extra spot on the 15-man roster. The club must have a roster spot available to use the DPE to add a player.

The fact that Denver has been granted a disabled player exception related to Porter’s injury is interesting, since multiple reports this month have suggested the forward could make his return this spring.

The Nuggets receiving a DPE doesn’t mean that Porter can’t return this season. However, it does mean an NBA-designated physician determined he’s more likely than not to be sidelined through June 15. That suggests Denver’s medical staff may be more bullish about Porter’s recovery timeline than an independent doctor is.

The Nuggets will have until March 10 to use their new disabled player exception. It would expire at that point if it hasn’t been used. If Porter returns before March 10 (which seems like a long shot), Denver would lose the disabled player exception. If the team uses the DPE to acquire a player and then MPJ returns later in the season, the player acquired using the exception wouldn’t be affected.

Besides the Nuggets, the Cavaliers ($8.9MM) and Pelicans ($1.9MM) have also been granted disabled player exceptions this season for season-ending injuries to Ricky Rubio and Kira Lewis, respectively.

Chris Paul, Joel Embiid Named Players Of The Week

Suns guard Chris Paul and Sixers center Joel Embiid have been named the Players of the Week for the Western Conference and Eastern Conference, respectively, the NBA announced today (via Twitter).

Paul led the Suns to a 4-0 week from January 24-30, averaging 22.3 PPG, 12.8 APG, and 7.5 RPG on .542/.588/.714 shooting in 38.5 minutes per contest. He posted his second triple-double of the season on Friday vs. Minnesota, with 21 points, 14 assists, and 10 boards.

The 76ers, meanwhile, enjoyed a 3-0 week, with their star center leading the way. Embiid put up 34.7 PPG, 11.7 RPG, and 5.7 APG in victories over over the Pelicans, Lakers, and Kings. He’ll get a breather following his big week, sitting out Monday’s game vs. Memphis for rest purposes. It’ll be the first game he has missed since December 13.

Both Paul and Embiid would likely show up on plenty of MVP ballots if the season ended today, so it’s a little surprising that neither star had won a Player of the Week award yet this season. Embiid was named the East’s Player of the Month for December.

Devin Booker, Jaren Jackson Jr., Ja Morant, Nikola Jokic, and Karl-Anthony Towns were this week’s other nominees in the West, while Jimmy Butler, Darius Garland, Jayson Tatum, Franz Wagner, and Trae Young received consideration in the East, according to the league (Twitter link).

Joe Ingles Out For Season With Torn ACL

Jazz forward Joe Ingles has been diagnosed with a torn left ACL, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who reports (via Twitter) that Ingles will miss the rest of the 2021/22 season.

The plan is for Ingles to undergo surgery to repair the ACL tear within the next few weeks, once he gets a range of motion back in his knee, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter links).

Ingles, the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year award to teammate Jordan Clarkson in 2020/21, was having a down year this season, averaging just 7.2 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 2.9 RPG on .404/.347/.773 shooting in 45 games (24.9 MPG). However, he was still a regular rotation player for the Jazz and is viewed as one of the club’s locker-room leaders.

Ingles’ injury is a tough blow to a slumping squad that is already dealing with a series of other injuries. Donovan Mitchell has been in the concussion protocol for two weeks, having last played on January 17, while Rudy Gobert has missed Utah’s last four games due to a calf ailment. After starting the season with a 28-10 record, the Jazz have lost 11 of their last 13 games, including five in a row.

Mitchell’s and Gobert’s injuries, at least, aren’t considered long-term issues, but the Jazz will need to find a way to make up Ingles’ production. In the short term, forwards like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and Rudy Gay will be leaned on more heavily.

Because he’s in the last year of his contract and has had an up-and-down season, Ingles had been viewed as a potential trade candidate for a Utah team seeking an upgrade on the wing. The 34-year-old and his $13MM expiring deal seem even more likely to be moved now. Like the Cavs have done with Ricky Rubio since he suffered an ACL tear of his own, the Jazz will probably shop Ingles with a draft pick in the hopes of acquiring a player who can help the club contend this season.

The Jazz won’t be able to apply for a disabled player exception in response to Ingles’ injury, since the deadline to submit a DPE request was January 15.

Mavs Rumors: Brunson, Finney-Smith, Kleber, Powell, Dragic

Although Jalen Brunson and Dorian Finney-Smith have been frequently mentioned in trade rumors within the last few weeks, Marc Stein says in his latest Substack article that the safe money is on both players remaining with the Mavericks through the February 10 trade deadline.

Dallas has rebuffed trade interest in Brunson and Finney-Smith so far, according to Stein, who notes that both players are important parts of the team’s current roster. Discussing Brunson specifically, Stein says the Mavs believe the point guard wants to stick with the team long-term and haven’t considered the idea of sending him to the Knicks in a deal that would allow them to reacquire their 2023 first-round pick.

While the Mavs would ideally like to extend both Brunson and Finney-Smith before they reach unrestricted free agency this summer, it’s unclear if either player will be interested in a four-year, $55.6MM deal, which is the most Dallas can offer at this point. A previous report stated that Finney-Smith may be seeking $15MM+ annually on his next contract, and Stein says Brunson is believed to after $18MM+ per year.

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • As they consider potential deadline moves, the Mavs are looking to upgrade their offense rather than their defense, which is why they backed off pursuing rim-protecting Pacers center Myles Turner, Stein writes.
  • Dallas’ ability to make an impact trade may be hindered by the lack of interest in many of their players outside of Brunson and Finney-Smith, according to Stein. Tim Hardaway Jr. was having a down year before he got hurt, and the perceived trade value of Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell has “waned,” Stein adds.
  • Sources tell Stein that using their $10.9MM trade exception to acquire guard Dennis Schröder from the Celtics isn’t in the Mavs’ plans.
  • If Goran Dragic is bought out, either by the Raptors or by a team that acquires him as a salary-matching piece, Dallas would be among the frontrunners to sign him, but multiple clubs would be in the running, according to Stein.