Month: April 2024

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Holiday, Hauser, Nets

Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid is now traveling with club as he continues to progress toward an on-court comeback, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The reigning MVP has rejoined the team for the first time since undergoing surgery to address a meniscus injury in early February.

Mizell adds (via Twitter) that, per head coach Nick Nurse, Embiid took part in a light practice Saturday on the road in Toronto. Nurse indicated that the club “geared” some of the workout toward the recuperating big man.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Celtics guard Jrue Holiday has now earned his $354,960 minutes-played bonus for the 2023/24 season, reports Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). The two-time All-Star has submitted another All-Defensive season during his first year in Boston, though he has taken a step back as a scorer. Nevertheless, Holiday has been an essential component of the top-seeded Celtics’ perimeter attack. According to Marks, this is the seventh straight season that the veteran has reached the minutes played benchmark (2,075) required for this bonus.
  • The Celtics have a cost-effective team option on reserve sharpshooter Sam Hauser for 2024/25. In his latest mailbag, Brian Robb of predicts that Hauser could earn a salary in the range of the mid-level exception if he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2025.
  • The Nets’ recent improvement on defense looks like something the club might be able to develop further in the future, writes Jared Schwartz of The New York Post. As Schwartz writes, the team’s 111.7 defensive rating since the All-Star break is the No. 11 mark in the NBA, a huge improvement from its 116.8 rating prior to the break.

And-Ones: House, Betting, Malauch, Rookie Extensions

Free agent swingman Danuel House has parted ways with agent Raymond Brothers and has replaced him with Tandem Sports’ Jim Tanner, per Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The 30-year-old out of Texas A&M began his season with the Sixers. He appeared in 34 contests off the bench, averaging 4.2 PPG, 1.7 APG, 1.2 RPG and 0.8 SPG across 15.0 MPG.

House was dealt to the Pistons at the trade deadline, but Detroit cut his expiring $4.3MM deal from its books before he could suit up for a game. The 6’6″ wing has yet to find a new NBA home even as the postseason looms.

There’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault is concerned about the impact sports betting could have on the NBA game, per Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). “[It’s] obviously growing the pie,” Daigneault said. “That’s the purpose of it, which everybody benefits from. I do think it’s worth asking what the cost is of that… It does have a bit of fox in the hen house feel to it, if I’m being honest.”
  • It took some seasoning with the NBA Academy in Senegal for possible top 2025 lottery pick Khaman Malauch, a 7’1″ Duke commit, to realize just how high his ceiling could be, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “I didn’t know whether I was good,” Malauch said. “I thought I was just a pick-up player. As soon as I arrived at the academy, that’s when I realized my full potential and what I can be, and then they turned me into who I am.’ “
  • The draft class of 2021 will soon be eligible for rookie scale contract extensions. In a thorough story, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report makes his predictions for which first-round picks will be extended and what it will cost their respective teams to do so, considering potential disparities between a player’s asking price and what his team may think he’s worth. Perhaps most intriguing is the question of what exactly No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham, who has battled injuries as a member of some underwhelming Pistons clubs, will fetch. Pincus expects the young point guard to seek a LaMelo Ball-esque maximum-salary extension and wonders if Detroit will be willing to commit to that sort of deal.

Coby White Talks Most Improved Player Candidacy, Leadership, Development

Coby White has emerged as a top candidate for Most Improved Player honors this season. As he tells K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago, the Bulls‘ point guard feels he is just one among many legitimate contenders for the accolade.

Through 71 games this season, White is averaging a career-best 19.3 PPG on .444/.381/.839 shooting, along with a career-best 5.3 APG and 4.7 RPG.

“There are a lot of guys playing well this year,” White said. “It would mean a lot if I would get that award—just to show the work. And I always say, it would set a standard for other young guys in the league who maybe wasn’t looked at as a power right away. Like, ‘Aw, he was the seventh pick’ and not written off so much but looked at as, ‘He can’t make that leap.’ A lot of people say the leap comes from your second to third year. Mine came from my fourth to fifth year. There’s always still time. I’m only 24. Just continue to trust that work.”

Their conversation is well worth reading in full. Here are some other highlights.

On why he considers his improvement this season more meaningful than his performance in his second pro season (when he averaged 15.1 PPG and 4.8 APG):

“My second season was cool, bro. But we weren’t as competitive as we are now. I think that’s what makes a huge difference. We’re playing for something now. My second season, it was cool. I averaged whatever. But I just feel like this year . . . my second year I was just out there playing. Like, I didn’t know what the hell was going on. I was just out there hooping. This year, I know what’s going on. I know more of what I’m doing. Obviously, I still have to get better. But I feel I’ve grown as a player and person so much since that second season that this feels different.”

On how he’s evolving as a leader:

“I’m comfortable. I was talking to AC (Alex Caruso) last game. I was telling him: I found my voice last year. OK, cool. The challenge this year is with the importance I have on the team, with the role that I have, with the amount of minutes I play, how can I continue to lead on a consistent basis? In the course of a game, emotions are high. A lot of variables go into each game. You’re human. You’re obviously aware of how you’re playing in any given game.

And that’s what I was talking to AC about and he said being consistent with your voice no matter how it’s going for you was one of the hardest things he had to learn. No matter how the game is going or how I’m playing, I want to continue to consistently use my voice and bring my spirit to uplift my teammates and not do it on an inconsistent basis. I feel like I have to continue to grow there.”

On how he’s working with player development coach Ty Abbott to improve his endurance:

“He talked about me solidifying myself as a player now so going into next season, we have to sit down and figure out a way where you still feel comfortable and in a rhythm without putting too much wear and tear on your body on those off days. I’ve had to change a lot of stuff in my routine, even game-day routines. After every shootaround, I used to shoot for 30 or 40 minutes. Now it’s down to like 12 to 15 minutes. It’s been a learning process. It’s an exciting learning process. This is what you want as a player. But it has been difficult to adjust.”

2024 NBA Draft Dates, Deadlines To Watch

We’re still nearly three months away from the 2024 NBA draft, but before we get to June 26, there are several other important dates and deadlines on the calendar. Here are some of those dates and deadlines worth keeping an eye on:

April 27 (11:59 pm ET): Deadline for early entrants to declare for the draft

College players and international early entrants have until the end of the day on April 27 to submit their names into the 2024 NBA draft pool. They can withdraw their names later if they decide they’re not quite ready to go pro, though if college players want to maintain their NCAA eligibility, they can’t hire an agent who’s not certified by the NCAA.

Once the early entrant list is set, NBA teams can begin conducting or attending workouts for those players.

May 11-12: NBA G League Elite Camp

In 2019, the Elite Camp – having recently been revamped by the NBA – consisted of 40 veteran G League invitees participating in the first half of the event, followed by 40 top draft-eligible players (who weren’t invited to the actual combine) taking part in the second half.

After being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Elite Camp returned in 2021, but only featured 40 draft-eligible prospects, without the G League players. That format carried over to 2022, with 44 prospects in attendance, and to 2023, when 50 prospects were invited. It’s safe to assume the event will focus exclusively on draft-eligible players again this season.

May 12: NBA draft lottery

The 2024 draft lottery will be the sixth one employing the format that was introduced in 2019. With the lottery odds flattened out, the NBA’s worst team has a 14% shot at the No. 1 overall pick, as opposed to the 25% chance it had prior to ’19.

While the new system reduced the odds that the league’s very worst teams would claim the picks at the top of the draft, it has been several years since we saw any real long shots become big winners on lottery night.

One of the NBA’s worst three teams has been awarded the No. 1 spot in each of the last four lotteries, including when the Spurs won the 2023 lottery for the right to draft Victor Wembanyama.

Maybe we’re due for a surprise on lottery this May, though it’s also worth noting that this year’s draft class doesn’t feature a clear-cut top prospect like Wembanyama in 2023. Winning the 2024 lottery would still be a boon, but it won’t necessarily be a franchise-altering moment like it was in San Antonio a year ago.

May 12-19: NBA draft combine

This week-long event, which takes place annually in Chicago, allows NBA teams to get a first-hand look at many of the year’s top draft-eligible players.

The combine is often particularly important for early entrants who have yet to decide whether or not to stay in the draft. The feedback they get at the combine could go a long way toward dictating whether they keep their names in the draft or return to school for another year.

In past years, the draft lottery has taken place after the conclusion of the combine. Interestingly, the two events are flipped this year, which may have an impact on which teams are focusing on which lottery-caliber players in Chicago.

May 29 (11:59 pm ET): NCAA early entrant withdrawal deadline

College underclassmen – and seniors who are eligible to play for more one season – who want to retain their NCAA eligibility will have to withdraw their names from the draft pool by May 29. NBA rules call for a later withdrawal deadline, but the NCAA has its own set of rules that say the deadline is 10 days after the combine ends.

An early entrant could technically wait until after May 29 to withdraw from the draft and could still retain his NBA draft eligibility for a future year. However, he would forfeit his amateur status in that scenario, making him ineligible to return to his NCAA squad. College players who want to play overseas for a year or two before entering the NBA draft could take this route.

June 16 (5:00 pm ET): NBA early entrant withdrawal deadline

This is the NBA’s final deadline for early entrants to withdraw their names from the draft pool and retain their draft eligibility for a future year.

By this point, we generally know whether or not a college player decided to keep his name in the draft, but this is an important deadline for international players, who aren’t subject to the same restrictions as college players. We’ll likely hear about several international early entrants withdrawing from the draft during the days leading up to June 16.

June 26 and 27: NBA draft days

The most exciting few weeks of the NBA offseason unofficially get underway on draft day, which is often when several of the first major trades of the summer are completed and when we get a sense of which direction certain teams are heading.

In 2024, for the first time, “draft day” actually refers to two days: Wednesday, June 26 and Thursday, June 27. The NBA and NBPA have agreed to make the draft a multi-day event, with the first round occurring on Wednesday and the second round taking place on Thursday.

The hope is that the move will benefit teams, who will get to regroup halfway through the draft to reset their boards and will have more time to consider possible trades; the NBA’s broadcast partners, who will be able to devote more attention to second-round picks that are often made when the television broadcast is in the midst of an ad break; and fans, who won’t have to stay up so late into the night to see the end of the second round.

The hours and days after the second round ends will be hugely important for many of this year’s draft-eligible prospects — a ton of players who aren’t selected with one of the 58 picks in the draft will reach agreements shortly thereafter to play for an NBA team’s Summer League squad, to attend training camp with a club, or to sign a two-way contract.

Injury Notes: Heat, C. Johnson, J. Brown, Warriors

While Tyler Herro (foot) remains sidelined for Sunday’s game vs. Washington and Caleb Martin (ankle) will also be unavailable, the Heat are getting a little healthier overall.

As Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes, Kevin Love was available on Friday after missing 14 games due to a heel injury, but he wasn’t needed in a 60-point blowout of Portland, so head coach Erik Spoelstra opted to give him another day off.

Love will be active on Sunday and Duncan Robinson appears to be on track to return from a five-game absence due to a back ailment. According to the team (Twitter link), Robinson has been listed as probable to play vs. the Wizards.

Here are a few more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets wing Cameron Johnson, who has missed three straight games due to a sprained left big toe, was upgraded to questionable for the club’s game vs. the Lakers on Sunday, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post. It looks like there’s a good chance Johnson will be available for at least one end of Brooklyn’s back-to-back set on Sunday and Monday against L.A. and Indiana, respectively.
  • Celtics star Jaylen Brown said after Saturday’s win in New Orleans that his left hand has been bothering him as of late and that he plans to get it “looked at” when the team returns home after playing in Charlotte on Monday (Twitter link via Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe). Brown hasn’t missed any time as a result of the injury, but this would be the time to give him a game off if it’s needed, since Boston has already clinched the top seed in the East.
  • The Warriors, in the thick of a race for a play-in spot, were missing Jonathan Kuminga (knee) and Klay Thompson (knee) on Friday in Charlotte (Twitter links via Kendra Andrews of ESPN). Both players are considered day-to-day and have been listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest in San Antonio.

Suns Notes: Young, Thomas, Durant, Thunder

Given a rare opportunity to crack the rotation on Wednesday in Denver with Jusuf Nurkic out, Suns forward Thaddeus Young played well, posting six points, nine rebounds, and a +15 mark in 18 minutes of action.

However, Young was a DNP-CD again in Oklahoma City on Friday, with head coach Frank Vogel explaining this week that the team views the veteran as a small-ball center who’s a better fit in some matchups than others, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

“That’s why we didn’t go out and get just another guy that’s the same as Drew (Eubanks) and Nurk,” Vogel said. “We went out and got somebody that has a little bit of a different dynamic. I think in a next-man-up setting like this, it helps, but if you get in a playoff series where there’s certain matchups that we’re struggling against, you have somebody that can give a different element to our attack. We’re excited to have him.”

According to Young, he and the Suns had conversations before he signed with the club about the certain lineups and sets he might be used in, so he’s not bothered by the fact that his minutes have been sporadic.

“I’m battle tested. I’m prepared to not play a whole bunch of games just like I did and go in and walk right in and fit like a glove. For me, it’s never going to be about the minute aspect of it,” Young said. “Yeah, I would love to play a lot of minutes. I would love to continue to be able to play at such a high level, but at the end of the day, whatever coaches, staff and the team needs me to do, I’m going to do it.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • After word broke that he was signing a second 10-day contract with Phoenix, Isaiah Thomas said he’s “super thankful” for the opportunity that he’s gotten from the club, according to Rankin. The veteran guard has appeared briefly in just two of six games as a Sun so far, but he has reportedly looked good in practice and earned praise from Vogel for his locker room presence. “He’s been a really important voice,” Vogel said on Friday. “Two-time All-Star that guys respect and he’s got a high IQ. So he can point out things that we can do better, we’re not doing well enough. Everybody in the locker room respects him and likes him and his voice carries weight. That’s what you want with guys in those type of roles.”
  • The Suns have slipped out of the top six in the Western Conference and have the NBA’s most difficult remaining schedule, but Kevin Durant believes that, with the postseason around the corner, the club has done a good job building chemistry. For the most part, we understand each other. We see each other’s tendencies,” Durant said (Twitter video link via Rankin). “That’s what you want from a group is to start to understand each other more. We’re doing that.”
  • Following Friday’s loss in Oklahoma City, Vogel called on the NBA to take a closer look at “all the flopping” that Thunder wing Luguentz Dort does (Twitter video link via Rankin). “It’s ridiculous how he gets calls,” Vogel said. “If they’re going to get calls like that, they’re going to have an advantage. You can’t just fall down every time there’s contact and get a whistle.” Given that the Thunder are a potential first-round playoff opponent for the Suns, Vogel’s comments come off as a “preemptive working of the referees” for that possible matchup, suggests Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.

Victor Wembanyama Fined $25K By NBA

Spurs star Victor Wembanyama has been fined $25K by the NBA for throwing the game ball into the stands at the conclusion of Friday’s overtime victory over the Knicks, the league announced today (Twitter link).

Throwing or kicking the ball into the stands typically results in an automatic fine from the NBA, regardless of whether it’s done out of frustration or – as in this case – in celebration, so this announcement isn’t anything out of the ordinary.

Fans of social media took notice of Wembanyama’s ball toss (Twitter video link) since it came at the end of the first 40-point (and 40-point, 20-rebound) game of his career, as well as a game in which Knicks guard Jalen Brunson scored a career-high 61 points. The Spurs’ rookie phenom apparently decided that neither of them would be keeping the game ball.

It’s the second fine of Wembanyama’s NBA career — he was also docked the standard $2K for his lone technical foul on the season in November.

2024 NBA Draft Early Entrants List

Early entrants who wish to declare for the 2024 NBA draft have until the end of the day on Saturday, April 27 to make that decision official.

Players who declare for the draft this year will have to withdraw by the end of the day on May 29 if they wish to retain their NCAA eligibility. The NBA’s withdrawal deadline, which is more relevant for international prospects, is on June 16 at 5:00 pm Eastern time. The 2024 draft, which will be extended to two days for the first time, will take place on June 26-27.

Since 2021, the annual list of “early” entrants has become even bigger than usual because the NCAA granted players an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means seniors who would’ve typically become automatically eligible for the draft now have the option of either declaring or remaining in college for an extra year.

Last year, 242 prospects initially declared as early entrants, with 92 of those players ultimately keeping their names in the draft and going pro. Those totals have been even higher in some recent years, so we’re expecting them to end up at least in the same neighborhood this time around.

We’ll use this post to keep track of reports and announcements on early entrant prospects and their decisions. We’ll archive them all here in a running list, which will be accessible anytime under “Hoops Rumors Features” on the right sidebar of our desktop site, or in the “Features” page found in our mobile menu.

The players below are listed in alphabetical order. If you have any corrections or omissions, please contact us.

Last updated 4-11-24 (2:35pm CT)

College Underclassmen

Expected to remain in draft:

  1. Adem Bona, F/C, UCLA (sophomore)
  2. Trevon Brazile, F, Arkansas (junior)
  3. Carlton Carrington, G, Pitt (freshman)
  4. Devin Carter, G, Providence (junior)
  5. Isaiah Collier, G, USC (freshman)
  6. Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. Justin Edwards, G/F, Kentucky (freshman)
  8. Yves Missi, C, Baylor (freshman)
  9. Jaylon Tyson, G, California (junior)
  10. Kel’el Ware, C, Indiana (sophomore)

Testing the draft waters:

Note: Some of these players may also be transferring to new schools.

  1. Michael Ajayi, F, Pepperdine (junior)
  2. Adama-Alpha Bal, G/F, Santa Clara (junior)
  3. Mark Armstrong, G, Villanova (sophomore)
  4. Brooks Barnhizer, G/F, Northwestern (junior)
  5. Jalen Blackmon, G, Stetson (junior)
  6. Aaron Bradshaw, C, Kentucky (freshman)
  7. Dion Brown, G, UMBC (sophomore)
  8. Wesley Cardet, G/F, Chicago State (junior)
  9. Walter Clayton Jr., G, Florida (junior)
  10. Malik Dia, F, Belmont (sophomore)
  11. Frankie Fidler, F, Omaha (junior)
  12. Elijah Fisher, G, DePaul (sophomore)
  13. BJ Freeman, G, Milwaukee (junior)
  14. Kyshawn George, G/F, Miami (FL) (freshman)
  15. Keyshawn Hall, G, George Mason (sophomore)
  16. Dominick Harris, G, Loyola Marymount (junior)
  17. Bronny James, G, USC (freshman)
  18. Kobe Johnson, G/F, USC (junior)
  19. Miles Kelly, G, Georgia Tech (junior)
  20. Xaivian Lee, G, Princeton (sophomore)
  21. Zeke Mayo, G, South Dakota State (junior)
  22. Robert McCray, G, Jacksonville (sophomore)
  23. Scotty Middleton, G/F, Ohio State (freshman)
  24. Baba Miller, F, Florida State (sophomore)
  25. Jalon Moore, F, Oklahoma (junior)
  26. Great Osobor, F, Utah State (junior)
  27. Noah Reynolds, G, Green Bay (junior)
  28. Payton Sandfort, G/F, Iowa (junior)
  29. AJ Storr, G/F, Wisconsin (sophomore)
  30. Adou Thiero, G, Kentucky (sophomore)
  31. Saint Thomas, F, Northern Colorado (junior)
  32. Aboubacar Traore, G/F, Long Beach State (junior)
  33. Jaylen Wells, F, Washington State (junior)
  34. JZ Zaher, G, Bowling Green State (sophomore)

College Seniors

Expected to remain in draft:

  1. Jalen Cook, G, LSU
  2. Zach Edey, C, Purdue
  3. Eric Gaines, G, UAB
  4. Oso Ighodaro, F, Marquette
  5. Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette
  6. Sion James, G, Tulane
  7. Dillon Jones, F, Weber State
  8. Norchad Omier, F, Miami (FL)
  9. Jamal Shead, G, Houston

Testing the draft waters:

Note: Some of these players may also be transferring to new schools.

  1. Jabri Abdur-Rahim, G/F, Georgia
  2. Chibuzo Agbo, G/F, Boise State
  3. Posh Alexander, G, Butler
  4. Marchelus Avery, F, UCF
  5. Aziz Bandaogo, C, Cincinnati
  6. Mikeal Brown-Jones, F, UNC Greensboro
  7. Lamont Butler, G, San Diego State
  8. DJ Davis, G, Butler
  9. Johnell Davis, G, Florida Atlantic
  10. Xavier DuSell, G, Fresno State
  11. Terrence Edwards Jr., G/F, James Madison
  12. Vladislav Goldin, C, Florida Atlantic
  13. Andrej Jakimovski, F, Washington State
  14. Ben Humrichous, F, Evansville
  15. Chaz Lanier, G, North Florida
  16. Selton Miguel, G, South Florida
  17. Kylen Milton, G, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
  18. Jonathan Mogbo, F/C, San Francisco
  19. Toby Okani, G/F, UIC
  20. Micah Peavy, G/F, TCU
  21. Kasean Pryor, F, South Florida
  22. Max Shulga, G, VCU
  23. Jahmyl Telfort, G/F, Butler
  24. Yacine Toumi, F, Evansville
  25. Trey Townsend, G/F, Oakland
  26. Marques Warrick, G, Northern Kentucky
  27. Amari Williams, F/C, Drexel
  28. Terrance Williams II, F, Michigan

International players

Note: The country indicates where the player had been playing, not necessarily where he was born.

  1. Bobi Klintman, F, Australia (born 2003)
  2. Noah Penda, G/F, France (born 2005)
  3. Armel Traore, F, France (born 2003)

Florida State’s Baba Miller Among Prospects Testing Draft Waters

Florida State forward Baba Miller has decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal while also testing the NBA draft waters, a source tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link).

Miller, who was born and raised in Spain, played for Real Madrid in 2021/22 before coming stateside and joining the Seminoles in 2022.

The 6’11” forward was limited to 15 games as a freshman due to a suspension over a $3,000 payment he received to attend a training camp back in 2020, even though his family paid that money back. He was available for his entire sophomore season in 2023/24, averaging 7.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks in 24.8 minutes per game across 33 appearances (32 starts).

Miller is currently the No. 59 prospect on Givony’s draft board at ESPN, so he’s not a lock to be drafted in 2024. The feedback he receives during the pre-draft process could influence his decision on whether to keep his name in the draft and remain in school for his junior year.

The following college players also indicated in recent weeks that they would enter the NCAA transfer portal while testing the NBA draft waters:

Southwest Notes: Thompson, Sochan, Jones, Mavs

While Jalen Green has been the breakout star of the Rockets‘ recent hot streak, the contributions of Amen Thompson during the team’s 11 straight wins shouldn’t be overlooked, Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link).

After spending most of his rookie season coming off the bench, Thompson has started the past nine games and is averaging 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 30.2 minutes per game during that stretch. While he has provided secondary scoring and play-making for the Rockets, it’s Thompson’s defensive ability that excites the team the most, according to MacMahon.

“The Rockets believe – and have data to back up – that he can be the best non-big defender in the NBA really soon,” MacMahon said.

The primary knock against Thompson is that he has yet to develop an outside shot — he has made just 8-of-55 three-point attempts this season, for an ugly conversion rate of 14.5%. If he can eventually add that facet to his game, his ceiling would only grow higher.

“He’s a jump shot away from being an All-Star for sure, and possibly higher than that,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps added.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan suffered a left ankle impingement during Friday’s win over New York, jeopardizing his availability for the rest of this season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. As Orsborn notes, Sochan hasn’t missed a game this season and had expressed a desire to play in all 82, but he has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest against Golden State and figures to miss more time beyond that.
  • Pelicans forward Herbert Jones met the 65-game criteria for end-of-season award consideration on Saturday night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It was technically Jones’ 68th game of the season, but he played between 15 and 20 minutes in five of them, and only two of those outings could count toward his 65-game minimum. Jones is considered a strong candidate for one of the 10 All-Defensive spots and could earn Defensive Player of the Year consideration as well.
  • The Mavericks‘ backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have come a long way over the past 13-plus months, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). As Townsend observes, the two stars first played together against Sacramento last February, so this week’s back-to-back victories over the Kings, which extended Dallas’ win streak to six games, represented an encouraging full-circle moment. “I always said, this training camp, when got some practices in together, it would be way easier for us to function better,” Doncic said. “And I think it shows, especially now. I think we’re both happy and we’re both doing some good things on the floor. And we have great teammates. So I think this team is special.”