Month: July 2024

Western Notes: Thunder, Doncic, Spurs’ Arena, Edwards

Youth and playoff inexperience didn’t matter in the Thunder‘s sweep of the Pelicans in the opening round. They’re the youngest team in NBA history to win a playoff series and ESPN’s Tim MacMahon notes that the Thunder got only one basket in the entire series from a player older than 25 (Twitter link).

“There’s a difference between age and maturity,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said, per The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. “And we have a mature team. We have a committed team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been fighting through a knee injury since the first quarter of Game 3 of their series against the Clippers, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. Game 5 will be played on Wednesday. “It’s hurting, obviously, but it shouldn’t be an excuse, man,” Doncic said after the Game 4 loss. “We just came out a little sloppy. We’ve got to do way better than that.”
  • There’s a hush-hush tone to the discussions about San Antonio building a downtown arena for the Spurs, Molly Smith of the Express-News reports. City officials have not only been trying to keep their talks secret, they’ve signed legally binding contracts that would penalize them for saying anything about the discussions, or even acknowledging that they’re considering building a new arena. The project, if it advances, could cost $1 billion or more, and San Antonio taxpayers could be asked to foot at least part of the bill.
  • Anthony Edwards has quickly grown into a leadership role on the Timberwolves at a young age, according to Chris Hine of the Minnepolis Star Tribune. “One thing about Ant, he’s become more of a vocal leader,” assistant coach Micah Nori said. “But he’s also one of those guys that he puts in the work, so guys see him working. He’s got some self humor — you’ve seen all of his interviews — he’s the first one to congratulate and move all of his glory or whatever over to his teammates.”

Suns Notes: Booker, Gordon, Beal

Don’t believe the rumor that Suns All-Star guard Devin Booker wants to be moved to the Knicks, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports reports.

ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith claimed on an episode of First Take that Booker “wants to be in New York.” However, a source in Booker’s camp told Bourguet that these rumors are unequivocally false.

The Knicks have been interested in acquiring Booker since Leon Rose became their team president. Rose would like to pair him up with Jalen Brunson, according to Bourguet, and would be willing to do just about anything to make it happen. But the Knicks’ interest in Booker is one-sided, Bourguet writes, as the All-Star guard is loyal to the Suns and likes the idea of sticking with one team his entire career.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Several Phoenix players hold contract options for next season and none will be watched more closely than Eric Gordon. According to the Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin, Gordon hasn’t made a decision on his player option. “There’s no way I’m going to make a decision right now,” Gordon said. “Just enjoy the offseason, watch a lot of these games, see what everybody is doing. We still have a talented team. We just got to jell and mesh together, but I’m not going to make a decision right now.” It’s generally expected that Gordon will decline his $3.36MM option and look for a more lucrative deal.
  • Bradley Beal fully expects that the team’s big three – himself, Booker and Kevin Durant – will be more dangerous next postseason, ESPN’s Baxter Holmes relays. “We didn’t look at this thing as a one-year thing and we’re going to come in and just, we only got this year to figure it out,” Beal said. “No, we’ve got time. You don’t want to use that as a cop-out, but the reality we live in, that’s the game plan. We have a window. Yeah, it’s a short window, but we have a window, so we want to maximize it as much as possible. And obviously, we still have a lot of room to grow.”
  • In case you missed it, Booker and Durant spoke about the value of continuity in the aftermath of getting swept in the playoffs.

Southeast Notes: Jaquez, Aller, Harrel, Redick

Add Jaime Jaquez Jr. to the list of injured Heat players. Jaquez suffered a right hip flexor strain during Game 4 of the team’s first-round series against Boston on Monday, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

The Heat rookie has already been ruled out for Game 5, Winderman tweets. Terry Rozier (neck) has also been ruled out for Wednesday’s game, the team tweets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have expressed significant interest in hiring Brock Aller to Jeff Peterson‘s front office staff, SNY TV’s Ian Begley reports. Aller has been the Knicks’ vice president of basketball and strategic planning since 2020. Aller, who has already been contacted by Charlotte, has been instrumental in salary cap strategy, general strategy and contract structure for New York.
  • The Hornets are hiring Patrick Harrel as their new vice president of basketball insights and analysis, Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer tweets. Harrel has been working for the NBA’s data science department, where he led game scheduling optimization.
  • Hiring J.J. Redick as head coach would be an outside-the-box move, but he would inject life into the Hornets organization, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer opines. Redick’s candidacy was revealed early last week. His lack of coaching experience would be the major concern, but he played in the league for a long time and can relate to today’s players.  The possible move is already being met with positive vibes, Boone adds.

Bucks’ Giannis, Lillard Out For Game 5

APRIL 30: Antetokounmpo and Lillard are both out for Tuesday’s Game 5, Rivers told reporters prior the game, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.

APRIL 29: The Bucks are on the verge of elimination and it’s unlikely they’ll have their two best players available for Game 5 of their first-round series with the Pacers. The team is listing both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard as doubtful to play on Tuesday, The Athletic’s Eric Nehm tweets.

Antetokounmpo hasn’t played the entire series due to a left calf strain that he suffered late in the regular season. Damian Lillard missed the Bucks’ Game 4 loss on Sunday due to right Achilles tendinitis. Lillard averaged 32.3 points and 5.3 assists in 40.7 minutes per contest during the first three games of the series.

Prior to Game 4, Milwaukee coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism that Antetokounmpo could return to action after the superstar went through a rugged workout on Sunday morning. “I think there’s a chance for him to play in this series. I really do,” he said.

Patrick Beverley (right oblique muscle strain) and Khris Middleton (right ankle sprain) are listed as probable to play.

The Pacers’ top player isn’t a lock to suit up, either. Tyrese Haliburton is listed as questionable due to back spasms, Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star tweets.

Jarrett Allen Ruled Out For Game 5 With Rib Injury

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen has been ruled out of tonight’s Game 5 against the Magic due to a bruised rib, The Athletic’s Shams Charania tweets.

It’s a major blow to Cleveland, especially on the boards, as Allen has been a force during the series. The big man is averaging 17.0 points and 13.8 rebounds in the four games and was particularly dominant inside during Cleveland’s Game 1 and 2 victories.

With Allen sidelined, the Cavs will go with a smaller lineup, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. Forward Isaac Okoro will join the starting five alongside Evan Mobley, Max Strus, Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland with the series knotted at two games apiece.

Tim Connelly Among Potential Targets For Pistons’ President Opening

The Pistons would be interested in Timberwolves president of basketball operations Tim Connelly if Connelly exercises the opt-out clause in his contract with Minnesota at the end of the season, Marc Stein reports in his latest Substack post.

The dispute between current Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor and minority owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore could cause Connelly to weigh his future in Minnesota. Connelly signed a five-year, $40MM contract with the organization in 2022. The Pistons announced after their season ended that they would hire a president of basketball operations.

Here’s more info on the Pistons’ search for a new president, via Stein:

  • Detroit’s search is expected to ramp up during the second and third rounds of the playoffs, when more potential candidates will be available for interviews. Stein confirms that Bucks general manager – and former Pistons employee – Jon Horst will be a candidate if he is willing to move on from Milwaukee.
  • Mavericks consultant and former Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey is another name to watch for the basketball ops position, per Stein.
  • J.J. Redick, a candidate for the Hornets’ coaching vacancy, could get an interview if he’s interested in a front office job, Stein says. Pistons chairman Arn Tellem represented Redick in his days as a player agent.
  • The new president of basketball operations will have the ability to decide whether current GM Troy Weaver will remain in his position, be reassigned to a different front office role, or get cut loose, according to Stein. The new exec will also determine whether head coach Monty Williams, who just completed the first year of a six-year contract worth nearly $80MM, will remain in his position.

Pelicans Notes: Offseason, Ingram, Center, Point Guard

Entering the final day of the regular season earlier this month, the Pelicans just needed a victory to secure the No. 6 seed in the West. However, they lost that game, lost their first play-in game, and lost star forward Zion Williamson in that contest to a hamstring injury that turned out to be a season-ender. New Orleans ultimately claimed the No. 8 seed in the West, but was quickly dispatched by the Thunder in a four-game sweep.

Speaking on Tuesday to reporters (Twitter video link), head of basketball operations David Griffin said there were “so many positives” to take away from the season, pointing to the Pelicans’ league-best 28-14 road record and their sixth-best net rating (+4.6). But while he acknowledged that the team was once again bitten by the injury bug at an inopportune time, he said the front office can’t just bring back the same group and hope for better health luck next season.

“In the past, we’ve always erred on the side of continuity, and our takeaway has always been, ‘Let’s see this group healthy.’ I think we’ve seen it enough,” Griffin said. “I think we had a really, really good opportunity to see Zion play a career high in games. I think we saw it for segments of time well enough to understand that we’ve got a lot of work to do. Because it is a historically good Western Conference, there are teams that didn’t make the playoffs that are going to get radically better this offseason. We need to do the same. I think you’ll see a real sense of urgency from all of us to do that.

“… I want to be really, really clear,” Griffin added (Twitter video link). “This is not going to be a summer of complacency. It’s time to get better.”

The Pelicans aren’t quite as loaded with draft assets as they once were, but they’re still in good position to make a deal heavy on picks. They control all their own future first-round selections, an unprotected Lakers first-rounder (they can take this year’s No. 17 pick or defer it to 2025), an unprotected Bucks first-rounder (2027), and swap rights with Milwaukee in 2026.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The Pelicans will face a significant decision this offseason on Brandon Ingram, as the star forward prepares to enter the final year of his maximum-salary contract following an ugly series vs. the Thunder (14.3 PPG on .345/.250/.895 shooting). As Christian Clark of writes, if they don’t want to enter next season with Ingram on an expiring deal, the Pels will have to determine this summer whether to trade or extend him. “That’s not in the front of my mind right now,” Ingram said after Monday’s Game 4 loss. “This is a place where I got my first All-Star (appearance). Where they let me be myself. I have good relationships with everyone. But you never know. I will take a few weeks off and think about what’s best for me, what’s best for my family. Then take it from there.”
  • While sorting out Ingram’s future will likely be their top priority, the Pelicans have plenty of important items on their summer to-do list, according to offseason previews from ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) and Mark Deeks of HoopsHype. Trey Murphy will be eligible for a rookie scale extension, Naji Marshall will be an unrestricted free agent, and New Orleans would presumably like to find a center who can reliably close games after having to bench both Jonas Valanciunas and Larry Nance in certain matchups. Valanciunas will also be a free agent this offseason.
  • Adding a traditional point guard to their roster may be another item on the Pelicans’ offseason to-do list. Asked today about that possibility, Ingram acknowledged, “It would definitely be helpful” (Twitter link via Clark). CJ McCollum has been New Orleans’ primary point guard since being acquired from Portland, but it’s not his original position.

Celtics’ Porzingis To Miss Game 5 With Strained Calf

4:30pm: Porzingis is expected to miss multiple games, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

4:03pm: Porzingis has been ruled out for Game 5 due to what the Celtics are calling a right soleus strain (Twitter link via Brian Robb of

The soleus is the same calf muscle that has sidelined Giannis Antetokounmpo since the final week of the regular season, though it’s unclear whether Porzingis’ strain is as severe as Antetokounmpo’s.

7:40am: The Celtics took full control of their first-round series vs. Miami on Monday by picking up their second consecutive road victory and extending their series lead to 3-1. However, as Chris Herring of ESPN writes, the Game 4 win might have come at a cost, as big man Kristaps Porzingis exited in the second quarter due to a right calf injury and didn’t return.

The Celtics’ starting center is expected to undergo an MRI on Tuesday to assess the severity of the ailment, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who hears from sources that early indications are that Porzingis didn’t suffer an Achilles injury.

Porzingis initially appeared to start limping with about 3:15 left in the second quarter when he stepped on Tyler Herro‘s ankle (video link). However, he turned his left ankle on that play, and the injury was said to affect his right calf, so it may have been unrelated. Less than a minute later, as he caught a pass from Jaylen Brown, Porzingis began limping again and gestured toward the bench that he needed to be subbed out of the game (Twitter video link).

Porzingis has been relatively healthy for the past two seasons, appearing in 57 regular season games in 2023/24 and 65 a year ago. But he has missed significant time due to health problems in the past, having made just 151 total appearances in the four seasons prior to 2022/23. As such, any injury is a concern, though there have been some signals that this isn’t a significant one.

Abby Chin of NBC Sports Boston reported at the start of the second half that Celtics assistant Charles Lee was “cautiously optimistic” that Porzingis would be OK (story via Brian Robb of MassLive). And Porzingis himself tweeted after the win that he “will be good.”

If Porzingis is unable to play in Game 5 on Wednesday, it would mean an increased role for Al Horford, with reserve bigs Luke Kornet, Xavier Tillman, and Neemias Queta moving up on the depth chart. As Jared Weiss of The Athletic notes, Boston gave up a pair of second-round picks at February’s trade deadline for Tillman precisely so the team didn’t find itself shorthanded in the frontcourt in a situation like this.

“Luke, Xavier, Neemie, have to kind of be ready to step up and answer the call,” Horford said after the game, per Weiss. “They’ve been doing a good job of that all year. Obviously, it’s the playoffs now, it’s different, but I have confidence in those guys if they need to come in and bring energy and impact the game.”

The Celtics had another injury scare in the fourth quarter of Game 4, as Jayson Tatum turned an ankle when he came down on Bam Adebayo‘s foot while attempting a jump shot after a whistle (Twitter video link). However, Tatum was able to walk it off and finish the game — he’ll presumably be good to go for Game 5.

And-Ones: Media Rights, Awards, Hall Of Fame, Lithuania, More

The NBC is making a strong play for the right to broadcast NBA games beginning in 2025/26, according to Joe Flint, Amol Sharma, and Isabella Simonetti of The Wall Street Journal (subscription required). People familiar with the situation tell the WSJ trio that Comcast’s NBCUniversal is prepared to pay $2.5 billion per year for a package of NBA games.

As we wrote last week, Amazon Prime Video is in strong position to become a broadcast partner for the NBA, with ESPN/ABC (Disney) also making good progress in talks.

After operating with just two partners (ESPN/ABC and TNT) in its current media rights deal, the NBA is looking to expand to at least three partners this time around. If Amazon and NBC were to join the mix with Disney, it could leave TNT (Warner Bros. Discovery) on the outside looking in, though the league reportedly hasn’t ruled out making four separate deals.

As Flint, Sharma, and Simonetti detail, TNT Sports paid about $1.2 billion per year for its NBA rights the previous media rights agreement, which will expire after the 2024/25 season. TNT remains involved in negotiations with the league and will have the right to match NBC’s offer, but would be looking at a substantial increase in cost.

If Comcast is able to reach a deal with the NBA, their package would include both regular season and playoff games on NBC and their streaming service Peacock, according to the WSJ report.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • After revealing its Executive of the Year winner on Tuesday, the NBA has two more minor award announcements on tap this week, per the league (Twitter link) — Teammate of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, with the Hustle Award to follow on Thursday.
  • The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced that its enshrinement ceremony for 2024 has been postponed from August to October, primarily for Olympic-related logistical reasons. Vince Carter and Chauncey Billups are among the headliners of the ’24 class, which was revealed earlier this month.
  • Eight years after being told by a Pistons doctor that he wouldn’t be able to play basketball again due to a back injury, Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas remains active in the EuroLeague and has played in 123 consecutive games. In a conversation with Donatas Urbonas of (subscription required), Motiejunas discussed how that incident – which resulted in a voided deadline-day trade – changed the trajectory of his professional career.
  • Speaking of Lithuanian big men, Kings center Domantas Sabonis and Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas are both expected to suit up for Lithuania’s national team in their Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Rico this summer, according to head coach Kazys Maksvytis. Eurohoops has the story, via a report from Lithuanian outlet
  • With LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Stephen Curry combining for a single playoff win, this spring feels like a passing-of-the-torch moment for the NBA, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.

Knicks’ Bojan Bogdanovic To Undergo Season-Ending Foot, Wrist Surgeries

3:32pm: The Knicks have confirmed (via Twitter) that Bogdanovic will undergo left foot surgery, announcing that he’ll be reevaluated in three months.

The team’s announcement didn’t mention anything about a procedure on his wrist, though it sounds based on reports as if that will happen as well.

2:52pm: Knicks forward Bojan Bogdanovic has played his last game of the 2024 postseason, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the veteran will undergo surgeries to address two separate injuries affecting his wrist and foot.

A weekend report indicated that Bogdanovic’s left wrist surgery would likely require offseason surgery, but that he was attempting to play through that injury until the Knicks’ season ended. However, he hurt his left foot during Sunday’s Game 4 win and had already been ruled out for Tuesday’s Game 5 as a result of that new ailment.

Bogdanovic’s foot issue had been described as a contusion, though the fact that it will apparently require surgical treatment suggests there’s more to the diagnosis than that. He reportedly has ligament damage in his wrist.

One of the most notable players on the move at the trade deadline, Bogdanovic headed from Detroit to New York along with Alec Burks in exchange for a package headlined by young wing Quentin Grimes. The hope was that the two veterans would provide scoring and shooting off the Knicks’ bench, but their production dipped following the trade.

Bogdanovic’s 43.0% field goal percentage in 29 regular season games as a Knick would have been a career low, and his 37.0% rate on three-pointers was also well below his career average. He made just 7-of-24 shots (29.2%) in a limited role during the first four games of the series vs. Philadelphia.

While Bogdanovic had only been averaging about 13 minutes per contest in the postseason, his injury further diminishes an already thin Knicks frontcourt. Julius Randle is also out for the season, while Mitchell Robinson is considered day-to-day due to an ankle injury.

Bogdanovic and Robinson are two of only nine players that Tom Thibodeau has used so far in the first round, so if they’re both unavailable, the club will need to either identify a new eighth man or try to close out Philadelphia in Game 5 using a seven-man rotation.

Bogdanovic is under contract for next season, but only $2MM of his $19MM salary is guaranteed.