Month: April 2024

Central Notes: Cunningham, Caruso, Boucek, Brogdon

Cade Cunningham got into early foul trouble the past two games and Pistons coach Dwane Casey says his prized rookie has to play smarter, Keith Langlois of writes. “We need him in the game. We don’t need cheap fouls, reaching fouls and fouling just to be fouling,” Casey said. “He’ll learn. We need his offense. We need his playmaking. We don’t need him sitting over there next to the coaches.” Cunningham has picked up four or more fouls in 19 games.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Alex Caruso is not close to coming back from wrist surgery, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Bulls coach Billy Donovan said Caruso is able to do some on-court work but needs to strengthen the affected area. Caruso can barely pass the ball with his right hand at this time and he won’t be cleared for contact for a couple more weeks.
  • Pacers assistant coach Jenny Boucek turned down a coaching job with the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces, Scott Agness of FieldhouseFiles confirms. Marc Stein was the first to report the news regarding Boucek, a close friend of Becky Hammon, who is leaving the Spurs to become the Aces’ head coach.
  • The Pacers should look to trade Malcolm Brogdon this offseason after adding a young point guard in Tyrese Haliburton, Drew Maresca of Basketball News opines. He’ll turn 30 in December, so his timeline doesn’t align with Indiana’s rebuild. Brogdon signed a two-year, $45MM extension last offseason. The Knicks and Wizards are two teams that could have some interest in Brogdon, in Maresca’s view.

Southeast Notes: Heat Buyout Approach, Gafford, Fultz, Porzingis

The Heat have been active in the buyout market in past years and they could fill their open roster spot will a veteran in the coming weeks, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes. Miami could look to add a power forward if Markieff Morris remains out or wait to see if another rotation player gets injured. Winderman doesn’t expect the Heat to fill the spot with a long-term prospect as they did with Kendrick Nunn three years ago or Omer Yurtseven last season, since they’re focused on winning a championship this season.

We have more info on the Southeast Division:

  • Daniel Gafford has long-term security after signing an extension that runs through the 2025/26 season. However, the Wizards big man had to be patient to regain a starting role, Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes. Following a bout with COVID, he replaced Thomas Bryant in the starting five on Friday and produced 17 points and six rebounds  in 29 minutes. “There was a lot of frustration, but at the end of the day, I wanted to be a good teammate. I didn’t want to wear my feelings on my sleeves,” Gafford said. “There was times where I did, but at the end of the day, I can’t bring that negative energy around the team. So I apologized to the team for that, the times that I did do it.”
  • Markelle Fultz made his season debut tonight. It’s the end of a long hard road of rehab for the Magic guard, who tore his ACL last season. “It’s been a long time coming,” Fultz told Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s been a long time of just all the hard work I put in. All those tough days, I did it for this moment right here, just to be able to go out there and be able to compete. Just happy. Not many words I can express it.”
  • Though Kristaps Porzingis doesn’t appear to be close to making his Wizards debut, coach Wes Unseld Jr. said they’re not thinking about shutting him down for the season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. “You hope that at some point you don’t see the effects they are concerned with and we can kind of expedite the return. But until that point, we’re going to treat it day-to-day and hope that he responds well,” Unseld said. Porzingis has already been ruled out of Tuesday’s game against Detroit due to knee soreness.

Nets Notes: Curry, Drummond, Simmons, Irving, Nash

While Ben Simmons remains out of action, two other players dealt from the Sixers to the Nets have been productive, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In five starts with Brooklyn, Seth Curry is averaging 19.2 PPG on 47.4% shooting from deep, while Andre Drummond is posting a double-double (11.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG) in 22 MPG. Curry’s contract runs through next season, while Drummond will be a free agent this summer.

We have more on the Nets:

  • Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers is pleased to see Drummond take on an expanded role in Brooklyn, Tim Bontemps of ESPN tweets. Rivers was happy the way Drummond accepted a backup role with the Sixers and said the former All-Star is missed from a chemistry standpoint.
  • Simmons’ back soreness that caused a delay in his return is a minor issue and he’ll try once again to work his way into playing shape this week, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne (video link). “This is the same back issue he had at the beginning of training camp when he returned to Philadelphia,” she said. “This is something he’s had for a couple of years. … The plan is the same this week, ramp it up and see where you’re at.” However, coach Steve Nash has already ruled out Simmons from practicing this week, Lewis tweets.
  • As we noted last week, Kyrie Irving is excited by the possibility of vaccine mandates being relaxed in New York City. However, mayor Eric Adams reiterated in a CNBC interview he’s in no rush to do so, according to an ESPN report. “We want to find a way to get Kyrie on the court, but this is a bigger issue,” Adams said. “I can’t have my city closed down again. It would send the wrong message just to have an exception for one player when we’re telling countless number of New York City employees, ‘If you don’t follow the rules, you won’t be able to be employed.'”
  • Nash did not coach on Monday after being placed in the league’s health and safety protocols, Lewis tweets. Jacque Vaughn filled in for him.

Lakers To Waive DeAndre Jordan, Sign D.J. Augustin

The Lakers are waiving DeAndre Jordan and are signing free agent guard D.J. Augustin. They also plan to sign forward Wenyen Gabriel to a two-way deal, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team had been seeking depth at the point behind Russell Westbrook.

Jordan played nine minutes in the blowout loss to New Orleans on Sunday but has seen limited action over the last two months. Overall, Jordan averaged 4.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG in 12.8 MPG in 32 games with the Lakers on a veteran’s minimum contract.

Jordan may not be out of work for long. The Sixers will aggressively pursue Jordan, either via a waiver claim or after he clears waivers, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Augustin, meanwhile, was waived by the Rockets at the trade deadline. The 5’11” point guard, a 14-year NBA veteran, averaged 5.4 PPG, 2.2 APG and 1.2 RPG across 15.0 in 34 contests with Houston this season. Augustin, who has logged 955 regular-season games, will be playing for his 11th team.

Gabriel has spent time with the Nets, Clippers and Pelicans in 2021/22. All of his NBA contracts during this season were 10-day deals under the hardship provision.

Gabriel, who was waived by the Bucks during training camp, has played in seven NBA games this season — six for the Clippers and one for the Nets. The 24-year-old didn’t play at all during his most recent 10-day deal with New Orleans, but appeared in 21 games for the Pelicans last season. Overall, he has 58 career NBA appearances.

Los Angeles has Mason Jones and Sekou Doumbouya on two-way deals, so one of those players must be waived to make room for Gabriel.

Tomas Satoransky Signs With Wizards

Veteran guard Tomas Satoransky has officially signed with the Wizards, according to a team press release.

Satoransky was bought out by the Spurs and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported over the weekend he intended to return to Washington once he cleared waivers. That occurred on Monday.

Satoransky, who was in the final season of a three-year, $30MM contract, appeared in 32 games with New Orleans and one game with San Antonio this season. He was involved in two deadline deals — he was traded from the Pelicans to the Trail Blazers in the CJ McCollum blockbuster, then was shipped to the Spurs in a three-team swap.

Satoransky played his first three seasons in the league (2016-19) with the Wizards. During that span, he appeared in 210 games (87 starts), averaging 6.6 PPG, 2.8 RPG and 3.7 APG.

With Bradley Beal out for the season and Spencer Dinwiddie having been traded to Dallas in the Kristaps Porzingis deal, Satoransky could jump right into the Wizards’ rotation. Washington hosts the Pistons on Tuesday.

Nuggets Notes: Porter, Murray, Jokic, Bench

Following up on ESPN’s report that Michael Porter Jr. (back) is hoping to play at some point in March, Sam Amick of The Athletic provides some additional details, citing a source with knowledge of the situation who says the Nuggets forward is on track to return in mid-to-late March.

Sources tell The Athletic that there’s a “strong sense” within Denver’s locker room that both Porter and Jamal Murray (ACL tear) will be back in time for the playoffs, if not sooner. However, Murray’s timeline is trickier to pin down than Porter’s, according to Amick. Given the severity of Murray’s injury and the sensitivity with which the Nuggets have handled his recovery, the team figures to “handle the final stages of his process with the utmost care,” Amick writes.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • While Nuggets star Nikola Jokic would love to have his injured teammates back in the lineup, he’s not exactly seeking constant updates on their respective situations, as Amick relays. “To be honest, I don’t think about it,” Jokic said. “I’d rather them be healthy than to come back early, so I don’t even think about it. So I just wish them to get healthy, 100 percent.”
  • Mike Singer and Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post discuss the potential impact of Porter’s return, disagreeing about whether he’ll re-enter the Nuggets’ starting lineup. Kiszla doesn’t think that will happen until next season, while Singer believes it makes sense to start MPJ once he’s ready in order to move Jeff Green to the bench and decrease Jokic’s offensive workload.
  • The Nuggets’ second unit was a liability earlier in the season, but it has morphed into a legitimate weapon since the team traded for Bryn Forbes and signed DeMarcus Cousins, Singer writes in a separate article for The Denver Post. The club got a season-high 76 points from its bench in Sunday’s win over Portland, including a combined 39 points and 18 rebounds from Cousins and JaMychal Green.

Lakers’ Struggles Create Draft-Pick Drama For Grizzlies, Pelicans

The Lakers hit a new low on Sunday night, suffering a blowout home loss to the Pelicans in which they were booed repeatedly by the crowd at Arena, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. It was the ninth loss in 12 games for an L.A. team that is now 27-33 on the season and only has a 2.5-game lead on the 11th-place Trail Blazers.

As McMenamin observes, it won’t get any easier this week for the Lakers, who face the Mavericks on Tuesday, the Clippers on Thursday, and the Warriors on Saturday. The Lakers are 1-5 against those teams so far this season, narrowly squeaking out an overtime victory in mid-December over a Dallas squad that was missing Luka Doncic.

As Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes, LeBron James was among the Lakers who had no answers after Sunday’s performance. Russell Westbrook, who had one assist and seven turnovers on Sunday, hypothesized that teams are giving a little extra effort in games against the reeling Lakers.

“Teams are coming in, playing harder, and I believe that’s kind of their scouting report: Just play harder than them and see what happens,” Westbrook said, per McMenamin. “And it’s working. Until we determine and have the determination that we’re not going to allow it, especially on our home floor, it will continue to happen to us.”

The Lakers are expected to be without Anthony Davis for a few more weeks and are currently 3.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Clippers. If they can’t move into the top eight of the Western Conference by the end of the season, they’ll have to win two games in a play-in tournament to even qualify for the playoffs.

The Lakers’ increasingly disappointing season is likely being monitored closely for draft-related reasons by two Western Conference rivals, the Pelicans and Grizzlies. New Orleans acquired the Lakers’ unprotected 2022 first-round pick in the Davis blockbuster in 2019, then flipped it to Memphis in last summer’s Jonas Valanciunas deal.

When the Pelicans traded the Lakers’ 2022 first-rounder to the Grizzlies, they added top-10 protection to it, so New Orleans will get the pick if it falls between No. 1 and No. 10. If it lands between 11 and 30, Memphis will receive it. It seemed like a pretty safe bet entering the season that the pick would end up in the back half of the first round, but that’s far from a sure thing now, as John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link) and others have noted.

If the season ended today and the Lakers didn’t earn a playoff spot in the play-in tournament, they’d likely enter the draft lottery in a tie for the No. 11 spot, as our reverse standings show. That would give them only an 8.5% chance of moving into the top four, so the Grizzlies would still feel relatively confident about their chances of holding onto the pick in that scenario.

However, this situation could change quickly. If the Lakers are passed in the standings by at least one more team, their pick may well end up in the top 10 even without any lottery luck, which would be great news for the Pelicans. Incidentally, New Orleans looks like the team with the best odds of passing the Lakers — there’s currently a 2.5-game gap between the two clubs, and the Pels have looked better since acquiring CJ McCollum.

It’s also worth noting that even if the Lakers hang onto the No. 9 spot in the West, a pair of play-in wins by the West’s No. 10 seed would move that team out of the draft lottery, pushing L.A. up one spot in the lottery standings.

At this point, it doesn’t matter much to the Lakers which team gets their lottery pick — they won’t keep it in any scenario. But it’s a major storyline worth following for the Pelicans and Grizzlies, two teams that could really benefit from having another lottery selection.

If the pick ends up in the top 10 and the Pelicans keep it, they’ll send Cleveland’s 2022 second-rounder and their own 2025 second-rounder to Memphis. If the pick ends up between 11-30 and the Grizzlies get it, New Orleans won’t get anything.

Celtics Sign Matt Ryan To Two-Way Deal

FEBRUARY 28: The Celtics have officially signed Ryan to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

FEBRUARY 27: The Celtics are planning to sign Grand Rapids Gold swingman Matt Ryan to a two-way deal, according to Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). Ryan will join guard Brodric Thomas as Boston’s two-way players.

Ryan has played 16 games in the G League this season, averaging 18.6 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per contest. He has shot 43% from the floor and 39% from three-point range during those outings.

Ryan went undrafted in 2020 after spending collegiate seasons at Notre Dame, Vanderbilt and Chattanooga. The 24-year-old is capable of playing the shooting guard and small forward positions.

Boston signed Kelan Martin and Malik Fitts to 10-day contracts last week. The team ranks sixth in the East at 36-26 and still has an open spot available on its 15-man roster.

Dante Exum To Remain With Barcelona For Rest Of Season

Former NBA lottery pick Dante Exum will be staying in Spain and completing the 2021/22 season with Barcelona, the team announced today in a press release.

After being waived by the Rockets in October, Exum signed a three-month contract with Barcelona in December. That deal ran through February 28 and there was some talk last month about the 26-year-old planning to return to the NBA once it expired. However, Exum and Barcelona reached an agreement to extend the contract through June 30, according to the club.

The fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, Exum appeared in a total of 245 regular season NBA games for Utah and Cleveland, dealing with a handful of injuries after he played all 82 games as a rookie.

This season in Europe, Exum has been a productive rotation player for Barcelona, averaging 6.0 PPG and 2.7 RPG on .500/.538/.905 shooting in 11 EuroLeague contests (16.5 MPG). Barcelona currently sits atop the EuroLeague standings with a 20-5 record.

Exum’s next opportunity to return to the NBA will come during the 2022 offseason.

Raptors Sign D.J. Wilson To Third 10-Day Contract

The Raptors have signed forward D.J. Wilson to a third 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. Toronto had an open spot on its 15-man roster, so no one needed to be waived to complete the signing.

Wilson, 26, initially joined the Raptors on a 10-day deal on December 23, then signed a second one on January 7. During his time with the club, the former first-round pick appeared in three games and played well in a limited role, averaging 8.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.7 steals in 16.0 minutes per contest. He also made 8-of-11 shots from the floor (72.7%).

Because Wilson’s first two 10-day contracts were both completed via the COVID-related hardship exception, he wasn’t ineligible to sign another 10-day deal with the Raptors.

A player is limited to two standard (ie. non-hardship) 10-day contracts per season with the same team, so Wilson could technically sign one more 10-day pact with Toronto after this one before a rest-of-season commitment would have to be made.

Wilson will earn $102,831 during his 10 days with the Raptors, who take on a $95,930 cap hit. The deal will run through March 9, making the forward eligible for the team’s next six games.

Although two-way player Justin Champagnie is still a candidate to eventually be promoted to fill the 15th spot on Toronto’s standard roster, Wilson could make a case for a rest-of-season deal if he plays well in the next 10 days.