Month: November 2022

Pistons Notes: Ivey, Cunningham, Bogdanovic, Duren, Lineups

The Pistons have lost six of their last seven games but the last two outings have been encouraging. They snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating defending champion Golden State on Sunday and lost on the road to Milwaukee by two points on Monday.

Jaden Ivey, the fifth pick in the draft, has scored in double digits in every game he’s played, including a combined 34 points the last two nights. Backcourt partner Cade Cunningham notched a total of 50 points, 16 rebounds and 16 assists in those two games.

“It’s a confidence builder for a young group, for a kid like Ivey and we keep forgetting Cade’s in year two, for those guys to understand what it takes to beat great teams like we’ve played the last couple nights,” coach Dwane Casey said during Monday’s postgame press conference.

We have more on the Pistons:

  • When Bojan Bogdanovic was acquired from Utah just before training camp, many people speculated he’d be flipped this season for assets. That could still happen but it seems less likely after he signed a two-year extension, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. Having a veteran like Bogdanovic has been a boon to an otherwise green starting group, and his deal looks quite reasonable compared to recent extensions given to other veterans around the league with the salary cap expected to significantly rise.
  • Rookie center Jalen Duren is grateful 21-year-old Isaiah Stewart has taken him under his wing, he told Sam Yip of HoopsHype. “It means a lot, because I came in kind of with the same mentality, just team success,” he said. “However we can do that I’m all for. So, for me coming in, of course, playing the same position as Isaiah and him already being there, you know, just welcoming me with open arms was huge.” Duren missed Monday’s game with a left ankle sprain but could rejoin the team for its next game at Milwaukee on Wednesday, Mike Curtis of Detroit News tweets.
  • Nerlens Noel made his Pistons debut on Monday, though Marvin Bagley III is still sidelined by a knee injury. When all of Detroit’s frontcourt pieces are healthy, Casey may utilize bigger lineups, according to Curtis. Casey has been hesitant to play Duren and Stewart together because he didn’t want either of them to get into foul trouble.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Herro, Westbrook, Strus

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes the team will soon solve its offensive issues after losing five of its first seven games, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. The fact that they play six of the next seven games at home should help the Heat fix their problems.

We’re closer than we are further away from it,” Spoelstra said. “But when you add losses to it, sometimes it can feel like you’re far away. But we’re not that far away.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • The issue regarding Tyler Herro is not whether he’s worthy of a starting role but rather if he’s better off as a sixth man, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. What the Heat have gotten so far from Herro is a player still finding his way in that role. Herro is averaging 19.9 points and 2.9 assists in seven starts, compared to 20.7 points and 4.0 assists last season while playing the same number of minutes.
  • Trading Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook wouldn’t make any sense, given that the franchise is always focused on going deep in the playoffs, Winderman writes in a separate story. While Westbrook’s $47MM contract would come off the books next summer, that would only ease luxury tax concerns rather than opening up significant cap space.
  • Max Strus is headed for free agency next offseason and he’ll get a huge bump in salary wherever he winds up. A mid-level taxpayer deal is a likely scenario, according to an executive interviewed by Heavy.com’s Sean Deveney. Strus says he’s not sweating the details. “If you get caught up in that stuff, it affects your play so I try not to think about it. I just do my best and put myself in a position for good things to happen,” he said.

Spurs Rookie Blake Wesley Sidelined 6-8 Weeks

Spurs rookie guard Blake Wesley will miss six-to-eight weeks due to a torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee, Tom Noie of the South Bend Tribune reports.

Wesley suffered the injury during the second quarter against Minnesota on Sunday when he bumped knees with Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels.

Wesley was the 25th overall pick of the June draft after playing one season at Notre Dame, where he led the Irish in scoring (14.4 PPG). He was making just his second NBA appearance against the Timberwolves after contributing 10 points and four assists in 15 minutes against Chicago on Friday.

Wesley got a chance to join the rotation when the Spurs abruptly waived Joshua Primo last week after Primo allegedly exposing himself to women. Wesley’s injury could force San Antonio to make a move to shore up its backcourt depth.

Pacific Notes: Okpala, Lakers, Clippers, Crowder

The Heat are happy that KZ Okpala has found a new home in Sacramento, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes.

Okpala was traded by Miami to Oklahoma City last season. The Thunder then waived him. Okpala signed with the Kings in September and earned a spot on the regular season roster.

“We’re rooting for him,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said, “because he really put in a lot of time with us and we saw improvement, and that’s a tough thing to do in this league is to carve out a niche, where you can see a vision of where you can make an impact. You also have to have the right fit and a coaching staff that values what you bring, and that’s clearly what he has there with (Mike Brown).”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Could the Lakers’ win over Denver on Sunday be a turning point for the season? First-year coach Darvin Ham certainly hopes so, Jovan Buha of The Athletic writes. “We needed to prove something to ourselves,” Ham said. “Not to the world. Not to the media. We had to prove it to ourselves — and I felt great about how we responded.”
  • The Clippers enter their game against Houston on Monday with a 2-4 record. They were very displeased with their effort in a 21-point loss to New Orleans in their previous game, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “Right now, I think we are just showing up,” forward Marcus Morris said. “And thinking we can win because of the talent we have, because of all the things we have on this team. That’s just not the case.”
  • Jae Crowder remains away from the Suns as the veteran forward awaits a trade. Crowder posted a hopeful message on his Twitter page that the situation will be resolved soon. “YEA NO WORRIES STAY PATIENT COMING SOON I PROMISE!” he wrote.

Atlantic Notes: Brunson, Knicks, House, Embiid, Curry, Boucher

The Sixers were docked two second-round draft picks for holding early free agent discussions with forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. The Knicks could be the next team to be penalized.

The league’s investigation into early contact regarding the Knicks’ pursuit of free agent Jalen Brunson remains ongoing, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. New York signed the former Dallas guard to a four-year, $104MM deal in July.

We have from the Atlantic Division:

  • House has played 15 or fewer minutes over the past three games. He was signed to a two-year, $8.4MM contract this summer. The Sixers forward taking the minutes reduction in stride, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “It’s a team game, so I can’t really get too overwhelmed and too locked into myself,” House said. “There’s too much going on for me to be thinking of myself. You’ve just got to sit back and play the game.”
  • Sixers star Joel Embiid isn’t playing in Monday’s game against Washington due to a non-COVID illness, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post tweets.
  • Guard Seth Curry isn’t playing in the Nets’ game against Indiana on Monday due to left ankle injury management, the team tweets. Ben Simmons is also sidelined due to left knee soreness, ESPN’s Marc Spears tweets.
  • Raptors big man Chris Boucher has endeared himself to coach Nick Nurse and his teammates with his energetic performances, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes. “He’s been very professional,” Nurse said. “That’s one thing about Chris: First of all, he’s a guy that practices hard. He kind of just has a gear that he plays in and that is good. Even if it’s 5-on-0 he’s flying around in his mode. That, I think, is leading by example.” Boucher is in the first season of a three-year, $35.25MM contract.

Former Spurs Guard Joshua Primo Goes Unclaimed

Joshua Primo went unclaimed on Monday after the Spurs placed him on waivers on Friday night, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

It’s not surprising, given the circumstances surrounding San Antonio’s decision to cut ties with Primo, the 12th pick of the 2021 draft. Primo had multiple allegations of indecent exposure lodged against him. A former female Spurs employee has hired legal representation after Primo allegedly exposed himself to her.

San Antonio exercised its $4.3MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season shortly before it waived Primo, who had a $4.1MM salary this season. If a team had claimed him, it would have been obligated to pay him this season’s salary as well as the $4.3MM option for 2023/24 that the Spurs picked up.

Now an unrestricted free agent, Primo has pledged to focus on his mental health treatment. He played 50 games as a rookie and made 16 starts. He was used off the bench in four games this season, averaging 7.0 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 23.3 minutes per game.

Jazz Notes: Sexton, Conley, NAW, Bolmaro, Strong Start

Jazz point guard Mike Conley has taken new teammate Collin Sexton under his wing and is helping him see the game in a new way, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. With 16-year veteran Conley held out of the second game of a back-to-back set, Sexton received his first start of the 2022/23 season in Saturday’s win over Memphis, recording 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four assists in nearly 32 minutes.

We’ll walk through, and he’ll be like, ‘Alright, what are you doing in this situation?’ And I’ll let him know, and then he’ll be like, ‘Well, in this situation, I think you should do this. Just try it,’” Sexton explained. “During the game, he’ll be like, ‘OK, you got to the basket — now let’s see if you can pitch [the ball] behind two or three times.’ And I’ll do it. And then he’s like, ‘Alright, now the next time, try to see if you can get all the way there [to the rim].’ It’s opening my mind to multiple ways of playing, and also multiple ways of seeing the game, too. I know he sees it from a different angle than I do.”

As Walden writes, the Jazz have been cautious not to overextend Sexton after he only played 11 games last season with a torn meniscus, which required surgery. He’s technically not on a minutes restriction, but that’s partly why he’s only averaging 19.0 MPG.

Sexton is eager to prove his worth after inking a four-year, $71MM deal as part of the Donovan Mitchell sign-and-trade with Cleveland, but he recognizes he’ll have more opportunities as the season goes on, per Walden.

Just giving [it all in] the time that I’m out there and just making an impact. And I might play four-minute spurts, so in those four minutes, giving it all I can, whether it’s pressuring the ball or pushing the ball and changing the pace of the game, whether it’s on the defensive side or offensive side,” Sexton said. “Just trying to use the little time that I’m given just to make sure that they know I’m out there, you know what I mean? Because I know once the season continues to go, more minutes, more time [will come].

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Little-used guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker got an opportunity for extended run with Conley sidelined against the Grizzlies, and he showed that he can be a positive player when given the opportunity, writes Sarah Todd of The Desert News. Alexander-Walker played solid defense against Desmond Bane and Hardy was pleased with his effort, as Todd relays. “He came in with such a fire,” head coach Will Hardy said of Alexander-Walker. “He really got into the ball with Desmond Bane and I think he got two steals on the ball, just taking the dribble. He has really good instincts and really long arms and he did a good job of just trying to speed up their ball handlers, which I thought was great…It’s a difficult situation. He hasn’t played that much and he got thrown into a big game with Mike out, and I thought he handled himself great.”
  • Second-year guard Leandro Bolmaro, who recently had his third-year option declined by Utah, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out for Monday’s game against Memphis, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Rudy Gay and Simone Fontecchio are still in the protocols. Rookie center Walker Kessler (non-COVID illness) has also been ruled out for the contest, according to Jones (Twitter link).
  • How have the Jazz gotten off to a 5-2 start? Tony Jones tackles that topic for The Athletic, concluding that the team’s depth, offensive pressure, floor spacing, and key adjustments from head coach Will Hardy have been instrumental to the surprising seven-game stretch.

Sixers Lose 2023, 2024 Second-Round Picks Due To Gun-Jumping

After discovering that the Sixers held early free agent discussions with forwards P.J. Tucker and Danuel House prior to the permitted date, the NBA announced today (via Twitter) that it has rescinded the team’s 2023 and 2024 second-round picks.

The league noted that Philadelphia “fully cooperated” with its investigation into tampering, or “gun-jumping.” The Sixers released a statement confirming the news (Twitter link via ESPN’s Tim Bontemps).

The Philadelphia 76ers fully cooperated with the NBA’s investigation and acknowledge the league’s ruling. We’re moving forward, focused on the season ahead.”

As Shams Charania of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), while the NBA did dock the Sixers for the early discussions with Tucker and House, it found no wrongdoing with James Harden‘s significant pay cut, which gave the Sixers the flexibility to use their full non-taxpayer mid-level exception to sign Tucker and their bi-annual exception to sign House. Both players previously played with Harden on the Rockets under former president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who is now Philadelphia’s top basketball executive.

Some around the league have wondered whether the Sixers and Harden already have a future deal in place, which is against the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Such a handshake agreement would involve declining his player option in 2023 and signing a lucrative new contract at that time.

Marc Stein first reported that the Sixers were likely to face a tampering investigation, and he was also one of the first reporters to link Tucker to Philadelphia, with rival teams reportedly convinced that Tucker was signing a three-year deal for the mid-level multiple days before free agency officially opened.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), the NBA and the Players Association are expected to discuss tampering and the punishments that teams face when found guilty, as early free agent discussions are “rampant, but hard to police and largely impossible to eliminate.” The two sides are currently in early negotiations for a new CBA.

Warriors Exercise 2023/24 Options On Wiseman, Kuminga, Moody

2:50pm: The options have been officially picked up, the Warriors announced (via Twitter).


12:29pm: The Warriors are exercising their 2023/24 rookie scale options on center James Wiseman, forward Jonathan Kuminga and wing Moses Moody, sources tell ESPN’s Kendra Andrews (Twitter link).

All three players will have their contracts for next season fully guaranteed. Wiseman will earn $12,119,440 in year four, while Kuminga and Moody are set to make $6,012,840 and $3,918,480, respectively, in year three.

Wiseman, the second pick of the 2020 draft, has been limited to 46 career games due to a series of knee injuries and setbacks, but he’s back and healthy again to start the ’22/23 season, averaging 8.7 points and 4.4 rebounds through seven games (14.6 minutes per contest). The 21-year-old will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next summer after having his fourth-year option picked up.

Following a promising rookie year that saw him average 9.3 points and 3.3 rebounds in 70 games (16.9 minutes), Kuminga has struggled to gain traction early in his second season, averaging just 2.7 points and 1.8 rebounds in six games (10.8 minutes). Still, the seventh pick of last year’s draft just turned 20 years old earlier this month, so he has a lot of time to improve.

Moody played less as a rookie compared to Kuminga last season, appearing in 52 regular season games (11.7 minutes), but he’s playing more in year two, averaging 6.4 points and 2.4 rebounds while shooting 36% from deep through seven games (17.0 minutes). Moody was the 14th pick in 2021.

Today is the deadline for teams to exercise ’23/24 rookie scale team options. As our tracker shows, the defending champions were the last team with decisions to make.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Players Of The Week

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo have been named the NBA’s players of the week for October 24-30, the league announced (via Twitter).

Gilgeous-Alexander, the Western Conference winner, led Oklahoma City to a 3-0 record in victories over the Clippers (two times) and Mavericks with averages of 31.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.3 blocks on .500/.500/1.000 shooting in 37.4 minutes per contest. The Thunder now sit with a 3-3 record after Gilgeous-Alexander’s stellar performances.

Two-time MVP Antetokounmpo, the East’s winner, averaged 35.7 points, 15.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.7 blocks during Milwaukee’s 3-0 week. The Bucks defeated the Nets, Knicks and Hawks, and are now 5-0 to start the 2022/23 season.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Desmond Bane, Devin Booker, Luka Doncic and Keldon Johnson, while Paolo Banchero, Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield, Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young were nominated in the East. Antetokounmpo, Booker, Banchero and Mitchell were all nominated for the second consecutive week.