Month: April 2024

Warriors Notes: Moody, Thompson, Green, Paul, Payton

Moses Moody hit several big shots in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, but he wasn’t on the floor for the closing minutes as the Warriors fell to the Kings. That’s something coach Steve Kerr may have to change if the third-year guard remains productive, writes Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic.

Moody scored 11 points in the first seven minutes of the quarter, making all four of his shot attempts. However, Kerr opted to replace him with Andrew Wiggins with 4:26 remaining.

“Moses was awesome tonight,” Kerr said. “We needed (Wiggins) on the floor for defense against (De’Aaron) Fox, and we decided to go with Klay (Thompson) and our vets. We thought about keeping him out there. But we made the move that we made.”

Kerr’s loyalty to his veterans cost the Warriors an important division game and a possibly a chance to reach the in-season tournament quarterfinals, according to Marcus Thompson. With Moody and rookie Brandin Podziemski both playing well, Thompson believes Kerr will eventually have to trust them with a game on the line.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Stephen Curry remains as productive as ever, but Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer playing at a championship level, contends Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. He notes that Thompson has been forcing shots and can’t stay in front of quicker players on defense, while Green’s intensity has been out of control lately, resulting in a five-game suspension for an incident with Rudy Gobert and a near ejection for mocking the officials in Tuesday’s game. O’Connor’s recommendation is for the Warriors to shake up their roster with a trade, using Chris Paul‘s salary and some of their young talent. He suggests targets such as the RaptorsPascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, the BullsAlex Caruso, the WizardsKyle Kuzma, or possibly Lauri Markkanen from the Jazz or Kawhi Leonard or Paul George from the Clippers if those teams continue to struggle.
  • Golden State could be heading toward a difficult place with Thompson if he can’t shake his early-season slump, observes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Thompson has an expiring contract, and if he can’t prove that he’s worth the four-year, $220MM extension that he reportedly expects, his only choices next summer will be to either leave the Warriors or re-sign for significantly less.
  • A pair of injuries added to the team’s woes in Tuesday’s loss, notes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Paul was ruled out with lower left leg soreness shortly after halftime, and Gary Payton II hobbled to the locker room with a right calf injury late in the third quarter.

Western Rumors: Rockets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Brogdon

After making several significant changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, the Rockets figure to remain active on the trade market during the season. League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Houston has interest in pursuing further roster upgrades, with Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, Jeff Green, and draft picks among the team’s potential trade chips.

None of those three players are owed guaranteed money beyond 2023/24 and all are being paid between $8-10MM this season, making them logical salary-matching pieces. Forward Jae’Sean Tate has also generated exploratory interest from playoff-caliber clubs in recent years, according to Scotto, who adds that Reggie Bullock also had several suitors before signing with Houston, making him a name to watch too.

One player we shouldn’t expect to end up in Houston? Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Scotto says the Rockets aren’t involved in the LaVine sweepstakes.

Scotto has more trade-related items of interest from around the Western Conference. Here are a few:

  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard and forward John Konchar are among the Grizzlies players who are candidates to be dealt before February’s deadline, Scotto writes, identifying the Celtics, Warriors, and Lakers as some of the teams that have “kept tabs” on Konchar.
  • Rival executives think the Jazz may attempt to stabilize their backcourt by acquiring a veteran point guard, according to Scotto. While rookie Keyonte George has played well, he’s more of a combo guard, Scotto explains, naming Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk as a couple potential trade candidates on Utah’s roster.
  • Keegan Murray is the Kings player whom potential trade partners would covet most, but Sacramento views the young forward as an important part of its core and would be more inclined to move future first-round picks in any deal for an impact player, per Scotto.
  • Three executives who spoke to Scotto believe the Trail Blazers could land a protected 2024 first-round pick – or a similar asset – if they decide to trade Malcolm Brogdon this season.

L.A. Notes: Lakers, Trade Targets, Coffey, Hyland, Harden

Appearing on Hoops Tonight (Twitter video link), Jovan Buha of The Athletic confirmed that the Lakers have some interest in Bulls guard Zach LaVine, but said there are a couple other Chicago players who may be higher on Los Angeles’ wish list.

“I’ve actually heard that they’re more interested in DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso,” Buha said. “AC, he’s the one that got away. Lakers fans, it still bothers them. Inside the organization, it’s a very divisive topic. And then DeMar is someone that the Lakers have courted for several years. Both of those guys are on more manageable contracts (than LaVine).

“… I think both of those guys make more sense within what the Lakers need. There’s real interest in all three guys, but from what I’ve been told, DeMar and Alex are higher on their priority list.”

Here’s more on the NBA’s two L.A. teams:

  • Within a comprehensive look at potential trade candidates around the NBA, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype says that rival executives believe D’Angelo Russell and Rui Hachimura are among the Lakers players worth monitoring as the trade deadline nears. Scotto also cites one exec who suggests keeping an eye on the possibility of an Amir Coffey trade if the Clippers want to try to reduce their tax bill at all.
  • No Clippers players have had their minutes more affected by James Harden‘s arrival than Bones Hyland. He averaged 26.2 minutes per night before Harden’s debut; since then, he has logged 12.9 MPG with six DNPs. As Janis Carr of The Orange County Register details, head coach Tyronn Lue has told Hyland his opportunities will come and the young guard is determined to remain patient. “Obviously everybody would be (bothered), especially for someone who wants to play like myself,” Hyland said. “But at the end of the day, sometimes the coaches see different things and maybe it’s not my time for a reason. … My whole life I try to stay positive, so I don’t let little things throw me off or change my attitude and stuff like that.”
  • Speaking today to reporters, Lue said that he isn’t considering a starting lineup change but that he’s thinking about tweaking his rotation, adding that the Clippers need Harden to be “more aggressive” (Twitter thread via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times).

Eastern Rumors: Nets, Quickley, Hawks, Hayward, Martin

Executives around the NBA continue to monitor Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, who were considered trade candidates during the offseason, writes Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Rival executives believe Brooklyn will seek the equivalent of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith, though they hope that cost will drop closer to the deadline, according to Scotto, who adds that some execs who spoke to HoopsHype think the Nets would want a protected first-round pick for O’Neale. Finney-Smith still has multiple years left on his contract, while O’Neale is on an expiring deal.

Teams are also eyeing Nic Claxton and are curious to see whether Brooklyn is willing to roll the dice on re-signing him as an unrestricted free agent next summer, since he won’t become extension-eligible before then. For now, the Nets view Claxton as part of their core and wouldn’t be inclined to move him unless they get an offer that blows them away, Scotto explains.

Finally, some NBA executives think that veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie might be available on the trade market later this season — and they think he’d have some value. “Dinwiddie can help a team and make big shots,” one exec told Scotto.

Scotto has more trade rumors and notes from around the Eastern Conference. Let’s dive in…

  • Rival teams are keeping an eye on whether or not the Knicks will make Immanuel Quickley available, according to Scotto, who says the guard was seeking about $25MM per year on a rookie scale extension before the season, while New York offered approximately $18MM annually. “I think Quickley might be New York’s best trade asset besides Jalen Brunson,” one league executive told HoopsHype.
  • The Hawks still have some trade interest in Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, says Scotto. De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela were mentioned during the offseason as possible trade candidates for Atlanta and Scotto believes one or both players could be available again before February’s deadline. However, the Mavericks‘ interest in Capela has diminished due to the strong play of rookie Dereck Lively, Scotto notes.
  • Multiple “playoff-caliber” teams have been in touch with the Hornets to gauge the potential availability of veteran forward Gordon Hayward, per Scotto.
  • Scotto also reports that teams have expressed some exploratory interest in Sixers wing KJ Martin, who was part of the James Harden blockbuster earlier this month. Martin has played a limited role in Philadelphia but is coming off a solid year in Houston.

Central Rumors: Pistons, Bulls, Hield, Cavaliers

Veteran forward Bojan Bogdanovic is expected to be the Pistons trade candidate who generates the most interest from rival teams this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that the club turned down two first-round picks from a contender in an offer for Bogdanovic last season.

It’s unclear what sort of protections those first-rounders might’ve had, but head coach Monty Williams “loves” Bogdanovic, per Scotto, so Detroit may set a high asking price for him again at the 2024 deadline.

Alec Burks, Monte Morris, and Killian Hayes are among the other Pistons players who figure to draw trade interest this winter, Scotto writes. League sources tell HoopsHype that Detroit had exploratory talks earlier this year with the Rockets about a trade that would have sent Burks to Houston in exchange for several second-round picks and Kevin Porter Jr. (who would’ve been waived).

Here are a few more of Scotto’s trade-related rumors and notes from around the Central:

  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso would be a hot commodity on the trade market if he’s available, but rival executives who spoke to Scotto say Chicago still hasn’t shown a willingness to move him. Multiple execs believe the Bulls could get a first-round pick and a rotation player for Caruso, Scotto notes.
  • How much might the Bulls get in exchange for Zach LaVine or DeMar DeRozan? “I think Zach LaVine can get a first back, maybe another first-round pick if it’s in this draft since it’s so weak,” one executive told Scotto. “DeMar DeRozan is worth a first in this draft in the 20s since it’s a weak draft, and he’s unrestricted at the end of the season. He can be a third scorer on a winning team.” Scotto says the Bulls are currently valuing players who could help them win immediately, rather than looking to tear down the roster and stockpile future draft picks.
  • Although Buddy Hield was identified in September as a potential trade candidate, the Pacers have set a high asking price for the veteran sharpshooter and don’t appear particularly eager to move him, according to Scotto. Five NBA executives who spoke to HoopsHype suggested it would take a first-round pick and a rotation player to pry Hield away from Indiana. Rival teams are also monitoring veteran Pacers guard, T.J. McConnell, Scotto adds.
  • Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert had their names pop up in trade speculation last season, but the Cavaliers want to keep both players through the 2024 deadline, barring a deal that moves the club closer to title contention, per Scotto.

Players, Coaches Gripe About Tournament’s Point Differential Tiebreaker

As teams battled for a spot in the quarterfinals of the NBA’s first in-season tournament, point differential served as an important tiebreaker. It was used in several instances to determine the winner of a group, a conference’s wild card team, and the seeding of certain quarterfinalists.

That sort of tiebreaker is necessary in the round robin stage of an event that sees 30 teams playing just four games, since there will be many identical records and several instances in which head-to-head record won’t suffice.

However, a number of players and coaches around the NBA weren’t thrilled by the late-game situations created by the focus on point differential, as ESPN details. Knicks forward Josh Hart was one player to express dissatisfaction with the idea that his team had to try to run up the score on Tuesday vs. Charlotte in order to advance.

“It was interesting. I don’t really like it,” Hart said. “We were focused, at first, just about winning. The last couple of minutes it feels weird. At a certain point, you just start chasing points, doing all that. So it kind of messes with the integrity of the game a little bit.”

Teams like the Celtics and Cavaliers, meanwhile, kept their starters on the floor in Tuesday’s games well past the point that the outcomes had been decided in the hopes of widening their respective leads and improving their overall point differentials. Echoing Hart, both Jaylen Brown and Donovan Mitchell referred to it as “a little weird.”

“It’s tough because that’s just not how the game is supposed to be played,” Brown said.

Hawks head coach Quin Snyder, who pulled his starters with about four minutes left vs. Cleveland, said the situation wasn’t “ideal,” while Bulls head coach Billy Donovan was unhappy about Boston padding its lead by repeatedly fouling Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter to send the big man to the free throw line (he made one of six attempts).

“I also understand the situation he’s in too. He’s got to coach his team and do what’s right,” Donovan said of Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla. ”But I think it was putting Andre in a tough spot down 30 points. But this is from the league. This is what the league has done, making this point differential thing.”

Concerns about the effect the point differential tiebreaker had near the end of certain games arose last Friday as well. DeMar DeRozan was ejected late in a loss to Toronto for taking exception to the Raptors attempting to score when the shot clock was off. In that case, Toronto had already been eliminated from qualifying for the quarterfinals, but appeared to be unaware of that fact.

Assuming the in-season tournament returns in 2024/25, it will be interesting to see if the NBA tweaks its tiebreaker rules to address concerns from players and coaches, or if the league will simply count on everyone getting more accustomed to the format and learning to live with it.

Making total points allowed a tiebreaker rather than point differential would be one way to eliminate the incentive for teams to run up the score in a blowout. However, a change along those lines could result in unwanted side effects, including slowing down the pace of tournament games.

Police In California Looking Into Allegations Against Josh Giddey

1:30pm: The Newport Beach Police Department has issued an update, announcing that its investigation into the allegations against Giddey remains “active” and putting out a call for more information.

“The Newport Beach Police Department is actively seeking additional information related to these allegations and pursuing all leads and evidence to obtain the facts of the case,” the statements reads (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

10:58am: The Newport Beach Police Department has opened an inquiry into the allegations against Thunder guard Josh Giddey in an attempt to assess the validity of the claims and determine whether any laws were broken, according to reports from TMZ Sports and Salvador Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times.

As Nolan Clay and Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman detail, a series of posts on social media last week accused Giddey of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl who is a student at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach.

The NBA has confirmed that it’s investigating those claims, and now local police are looking into them as well.

According to The Oklahoman’s reporting, online court records put the Thunder guard in the Newport Beach area in July 2022, when he was ticketed for a pair of traffic violations. However, it’s not clear whether the allegations stem from that time – when Giddey would have been 19 – or if they’re based on a more recent incident.

The age of consent in California is 18. Giddey turned 21 last month.

Clay and Lorenzi explain that a violation of consent laws in California is considered a misdemeanor if the perpetrator and the minor are within three years of age. Otherwise, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The latest reporting from TMZ Sports indicates that the alleged minor and her family have thus far been unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement officials in Newport Beach.

Giddey has remained active while the NBA and California police investigate the accusations. Asked on Tuesday ahead of the Thunder’s game vs. Minnesota about the police inquiry, head coach Mark Daigneault cut the reporter short and said he wouldn’t discuss “anything as it relates to Josh off the court” before confirming that Giddey would play vs. the Timberwolves.

Giddey finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes on Tuesday. He was booed by the crowd in Minnesota every time he touched the ball.

Magic Notes: Carter, Fultz, Okeke, Defense

Speaking to the media on Tuesday for the first time since breaking a bone in his left hand nearly four weeks ago, Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. admitted that he was frustrated at the time of the injury, knowing he would likely be facing an extended absence. However, he’s in better spirits now after having his cast removed, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

“Today was probably one of the best days of my life,” Carter said on Tuesday. “When [the doctor] was saying I didn’t have to wear the cast anymore, it was like, ‘OK, it’s another step in the right direction.’ I’m just super excited just to finally get back out there at some point and help this team continue to win.”

According to Beede, Carter expects it will be about two weeks before he gets the green light from team doctors to resume practicing in full. The former seventh overall pick has been replaced by Goga Bitadze, who has started the past 12 games in the middle for the Magic. As Beede writes, Orlando hasn’t missed a beat during that time, improving its record to 12-5, and Carter has enjoyed watching the team’s success from the sidelines.

“We’re one of those teams that can hold their own against any team in this league,” he said. “Being able to sit on the sidelines and watch the joy that everyone’s playing with, [it] just gives me extra confidence, extra motivation so when I come back I’ll be able to play with that same joy and confidence as they are.”

Here are a few more notes on the Magic:

  • Magic point guard Markelle Fultz will miss a 10th consecutive game on Wednesday due to left knee tendinitis. Fultz hasn’t played since November 9 and has only appeared in one game this month, but head coach Jamahl Mosley indicated on Tuesday that he’s “coming along,” per Beede (Twitter link). “We’re going to constantly see how he reacts to just what is happening each day,” Mosley said. “And he’s progressing. We’re just going to continue to evaluate as we go day-to-day with him.”
  • Chuma Okeke is a name to monitor as a possible trade candidate this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who notes that teams like the Cavaliers, Suns, Bucks, and Nuggets have expressed exploratory interest in Okeke in the past. The fourth-year forward, who will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, is considered a good locker room presence and a hard worker, Scotto adds.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Mosley said the camaraderie and selflessness among the Magic players is one reason why he was confident about the team’s outlook coming into this season. “It’s one of the best groups I’ve been around because it is a genuine care for the next guy,” Mosley said. “… And there was a joy for whoever was successful on any given night. There was never a thing like, ‘Oh, that guy’s got it going, now I need to get mine.’ It was like, ‘Oh man, I’m so proud of you. Keep doing your thing.’ No matter who it was. And that speaks volumes for a younger group.”
  • Both Spears and Josh Robbins of The Athletic took a closer look at the Magic’s hot start this season. Winners of seven straight games, Orlando ranks second in the NBA with a 107.0 defensive rating. “Coach Mos, I give him credit, he came in from training camp saying he wanted to be a No. 1-caliber defensive team in the league,” Paolo Banchero said. “That is what we have been so far. Give huge credit to the coaches for instilling that in us and the players for executing it.”

CJ McCollum Expected To Return On Wednesday

Pelicans guard CJ McCollum, who has missed the past 12 games due to a collapsed lung, is expected to return to action on Wednesday vs. Philadelphia, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that McCollum was aiming to play at some point this week, while Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link) indicated on Tuesday that the veteran was planning to take part in Wednesday’s shootaround and hoped to suit up vs. the Sixers.

The Pelicans officially listed McCollum as questionable for Wednesday’s contest before upgrading him to probable today (Twitter link).

McCollum appeared in just six games before being diagnosed with small pneumothorax in his right lung. He was averaging 21.7 points, 5.7 assists, and 4.8 rebounds in 34.3 minutes per night, with a shooting line of .440/.380/.742.

The Pelicans went 4-2 with McCollum in the lineup and have gone just 5-7 without him, so they’ll be glad to get him in their lineup as they look to make a push up the Western Conference standings.

According to Christian Clark of (Twitter links), McCollum – who wasn’t permitted to fly during his recovery from the collapsed lung – won’t travel with the Pelicans to Chicago for this Saturday’s game, which is the second end of a back-to-back set. However, he intends to meet the club in Sacramento for Monday’s in-season tournament quarterfinal.

Atlantic Notes: Hart, Reed, Dick, Barrett, Thomas, Smith

Knicks wing Josh Hart doesn’t agree with coach Tom Thibodeau‘s assessment of his role, according to Stefan Bondy of the New York Post.

Hart, who signed a four-year, $81MM extension during the summer, believes he has a reduced role in the offense and doesn’t have the ball in his hands as often as he did last season. “I’m a rhythm player. So sometimes if I don’t touch the ball for four or five minutes running up and down the floor, just catch-and-shoot, I might as well be playing with a football,” Hart said.

However, his coach has an opposite view. “There really hasn’t been a change,” Thibodeau said. “To be honest, his usage is up. He’s handling the ball more. The way he’s being used is not any different than last year.”

Following the Knicks’ game against Charlotte on Tuesday, Hart made a point of telling the media he’s not unhappy, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. “Just so you know, I’m not a disgruntled player. Make sure y’all tweet that (stuff). Josh Hart said he’s not disgruntled.”

Katz detailed Hart’s usage in an in-depth piece on Tuesday.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Paul Reed was surprised that his comments about the LakersAnthony Davis during the morning shootaround on Monday went viral, as Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer details. The Sixers big man called Davis “a big flopper” and added, “he’s going to be flailing.” Reed soon found out his comments caused controversy. “I started checking Twitter and Instagram,” he said, “and I’m like, ‘Damn, people are really mad at me in the Lakers community.’” Reed and Davis wound up sharing the court for only three minutes in Philly’s blowout win.
  • Raptors first-round pick Gradey Dick shot 6-for-33 over his first two games with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League team. Dick, who has appeared in 15 NBA games, told Blake Murphy of Sportsnet he’s not worried about his shot. “My confidence hasn’t dwindled at all,” Dick said. “I mean, I’ll go take the next 10 shots, I don’t really care. Because I know me as a shooter, and it’s not any cockiness, but at the same time I think it’s positive cockiness. I’ve put in enough work off the court and I’m still doing it now where I have that confidence and trust.”
  • Knicks wing RJ Barrett says he’s still trying to get back in form after a bout with migraines, Bondy writes. Barrett has shot 33% of the field in the last five games after dealing with the severe headaches. “I didn’t pick up where I left off,” Barrett said. “That’s OK. Honestly, this was going to happen at some point during the season whether I got sick or not. So, I’m just doing what I do all the time, working my way out of it. Not worried.”
  • Cam Thomas and Dennis Smith Jr. are getting close to returning, Nets coach Jacque Vaughn told Dan Martin of the New York Post. A sprained left ankle has sidelined Thomas since Nov. 8, while Smith has missed the last five games with a lower back sprain. They both participated in simulated-game activity after the team’s shootaround on Tuesday. “They’re both trending in the direction of hopefully playing with us soon,’’ Vaughn said. “The fact that they both participated is a good sign.”