Sixers Notes: Oubre, Harden, Nurse, Morey, Embiid

Sixers forward Kelly Oubre has been cleared to play on Wednesday after going through a full practice on Monday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Oubre has been sidelined since Nov. 10 due to injuries suffered in a reported hit-and-run accident. Oubre, who was signed to a one-year contract as a free agent, was off to a hot start before the incident, averaging 16.3 points and 5.1 rebounds.

Oubre was reluctant to share details about it due to an ongoing police investigation. However, he’s upset that some people have expressed doubts about his story.

“This was and is a very traumatic situation for me and my family,” Oubre said. “I just wish that my life wasn’t The Truman Show, where everybody can kind of watch it and have their own opinion about my life. This is very hard for us to have to deal with — and for me to miss being on the court, which keeps me sane. A lot of people are very inconsiderate and insensitive to try to worry about video cameras and [stuff]about something that happened with my life, and it’s very detrimental to me and missing time with my job.”

We have more on the Sixers:

  • James Harden told Sam Amick of The Athletic that he was promised a max deal by the Sixers front office. However, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack post that he spoke to a Sixers source on Monday who refuted Harden’s claim. According to the source, no such promise was made after Harden agreed to a two-year deal with a player option in the summer of 2022.
  • They have thrived since the Harden trade and Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports details how coach Nick Nurse and top exec Daryl Morey put plans in motion even before the deal was made. They were tweaking schemes in order to maximize the team’s potential without the mercurial guard. Nurse also gave Joel Embiid advice on how he could be more effective in the postseason. “Just having more variety and less predictability,” Nurse said. “Not having the same rhythm to every game, not doing the same thing over and over, just making things a little bit more unpredictable. That way [opponents] don’t know what’s coming as much, and you’re hard to prepare for.”
  • Embiid and Tyrese Maxey were both at Sixers practice on Monday after missing Friday’s game at Boston due to illness, Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Magic’s Mosley, Timberwolves’ Finch Earn Coach Of Month Honors

The Magic’s Jamahl Mosley has been named the Eastern Conference Coach of the Month, NBA Communications tweets. The Timberwolves’ Chris Finch earned Western Conference Coach of the Month honors.

This is the first time that Mosley has won the league’s top monthly honor. It’s also the first time a Magic coach has received the honor since Steve Clifford in March/April 2019. During October and November, Mosley guided Orlando to a 13-5 record, which was second-best in the Eastern Conference and third-best in the NBA. The Magic went 11-3 in November.

Finch also gained the honor the first time. He’s the third Timberwolves head coach to win the award and first since Kevin McHale in January 2009. The team’s 14-4 start marked the best 18-game record to begin a season in Timberwolves history. Finch also led Minnesota to a 13-2 record in November.

J.B. Bickerstaff (Cavaliers), Rick Carlisle (Pacers), Joe Mazzulla (Celtics) and Nick Nurse (Sixers) were the other nominees in the East. Mark Daigneault (Thunder), Jason Kidd (Mavericks), Michael Malone (Nuggets) and Ime Udoka (Rockets) were the other nominees in the West (Twitter link).

Tyrese Haliburton To Play In Tournament Quarterfinal

Barring a last-minute setback, the Pacers will have their best player available for their in-season tournament quarterfinal game against the Celtics tonight.

Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said he expects Tyrese Haliburton to play, Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star tweets. Haliburton sat out Indiana’s 144-129 win over Miami on Saturday due to a right knee bone bruise and an upper respiratory infection.

Haliburton is averaging 27.0 points and 11.8 assists for the league’s high-scoring team while shooting 51.9% from the field. The Pacers emerged as the No. 2 seed in the East after the group stage, while the Celtics — who are the current favorites among oddsmakers to win the tournament — grabbed the third seed.

The winner of the quarterfinal matchup will face the survivor of the KnicksBucks game on Tuesday in the semifinals of the inaugural tournament. Reaching the semifinals guarantees each player a $100K bonus.

Obi Toppin, who was listed as questionable to play due to an ankle injury, is also expected to play, according to Carlisle.

Injury Notes: Grant, Simons, Duarte, Hachimura, Wolves

Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol, Portland announced on Monday (via Twitter). Grant sustained the injury during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Utah and did not return, per the team.

Grant, who re-signed with Portland on a five-year, $160MM contract over the summer, is averaging 22.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists on .437/.412/.830 shooting in 19 games this season.

In other injury news for the Blazers, guard Anfernee Simons is nearing a return, tweets Sean Highkin of the Rose Garden Report. Simons, who has been out since Oct. 25 after tearing a ligament in his thumb and undergoing surgery, practiced on Monday and is considered day-to-day, according to Highkin.

Here are some more injury notes from around the league:

  • Kings wing Chris Duarte will miss Monday’s in-season quarterfinal matchup against New Orleans due to knee soreness, league sources tell Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). It will be the second straight absence for the former first-round pick, who is averaging 4.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in 15.1 minutes in his first season with Sacramento.
  • Lakers forward Rui Hachimura was cleared for Saturday’s contest against Houston, but head coach Darvin Ham opted to be cautious and held him out after he missed a week due to nasal fracture surgery. “In all likelihood” Hachimura will play in Tuesday’s quarterfinal against the Suns, Ham said on Monday (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin). Hachimura practiced today while wearing a face mask and he thinks he’ll be ready tomorrow, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic.
  • Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards was a partial practice participant on Monday and is day-to-day after missing the past two games with a hip injury, head coach Chris Finch told reporters, including Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link). Jaden McDaniels (ankle sprain) did not practice and will not play this week, but the team is hopeful he might be able to practice next week, Finch added. As for Jordan McLaughlin, who has missed the past month with a knee sprain, he was a full practice participant and he could return as soon as later this week, according to Hine.

Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum Named Players Of The Month

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum have been named the NBA’s players of the month, the league announced on Monday (Twitter link). Jokic won for the Western conference, while Tatum won for the East.

A two-time MVP and the reigning Finals MVP, Jokic put up staggering averages of 29.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.2 steals on .571/.316/.800 shooting in 18 games played in October and November (33.7 minutes). Denver went 12-6 in games he played and 13-6 overall the past two months.

Jokic, 28, currently leads the league in total points, rebounds and assists. On a per-game basis, he’s eighth in points, first in rebounds and third in assists.

Tatum, meanwhile, averaged 27.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals on .494/.361/.807 shooting in 18 games played in October and November (37.0 minutes). Boston went 14-4 in those games, which tied Minnesota for the best record in the league over that span (both clubs are now 15-4).

According to the NBA (Twitter links), the other nominees in the West were Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Alperen Sengun, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Jalen Brunson, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tyrese Haliburton and Donovan Mitchell were nominated in the East.

Chet Holmgren, Jaime Jaquez Named Rookies Of The Month

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren and Heat wing Jaime Jaquez have been named the rookies of the month for the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively, the NBA announced on Monday (via Twitter). Since the 2023/24 season started in late October, the awards count games played in both October and November.

The No. 2 overall pick of the 2022 draft, Holmgren missed all of last season due to a foot injury. In his first taste of regular season action, he filled the stat sheet in impressive fashion, averaging 17.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks on .537/.410/.871 shooting in 18 games over the past two months (30.0 minutes).

The Thunder are currently 13-6, the No. 2 seed in the West. Holmgren is tied for second on the team in points per game, and leads OKC in rebounding and blocked shots.

Jaquez, who was selected No. 18 overall in this year’s draft, has stepped into a major rotation role for Miami and fit in seamlessly, averaging 12.0 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals on .529/.390/.875 shooting in his first 19 games, including four starts (26.6 minutes).

The Heat have dealt with several injuries again this fall and are currently 11-9, the No. 7 seed in the East.

According to the NBA (Twitter link), the other nominees in the West were Jordan Hawkins, Dereck Lively and Victor Wembanyama, while Brandon Miller, Craig Porter Jr. and Ausar Thompson were nominated in the East. Porter, who went undrafted out of Wichita State, is the lone player on a two-way contract who was nominated — all the others were first-round picks.

De’Aaron Fox, Julius Randle Named Players Of The Week

Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Knicks forward Julius Randle have been named the NBA’s players of the week, the league announced (via Twitter). Fox won for the Western Conference, while Randle won for the East.

It’s the second weekly award thus far in 2023/24 for Fox, who led Sacramento to a 2-1 record last week. The 25-year-old averaged 31.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.7 steals in his three games (38.7 minutes per night). The Kings host the Pelicans tonight in the quarterfinal of the league’s inaugural in-season tournament.

Randle, meanwhile, averaged 24.7 points, 13.3 rebounds and 7.3 assists in guiding New York to a perfect 3-0 record last week (36.0 minutes). As Tommy Beer tweets, Randle joins Jalen Brunson — who won two weeks ago — as the first pair of Knicks teammates to win the weekly award in the same season since 2012/13, when Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith were honored.

The Knicks will play the Bucks in Milwaukee on Tuesday for their quarterfinal matchup.

According to the NBA, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Shaedon Sharpe were nominated in the West, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Patrick Beverley, Mikal Bridges, Donovan Mitchell, Franz Wagner and Coby White were nominated in the East (Twitter links).

Atlantic Notes: Porzingis, Mazzulla, Thomas, Barrett

Kristaps Porzingis has already been ruled out of Monday’s in-season tournament quarterfinal at Indiana, but the Celtics are optimistic he’ll return to action this week, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter).

According to Woj, there’s “increasing confidence” that Porzingis will be available for the semifinal against either Milwaukee or New York if Boston advances past the Pacers. That would take place on Thursday if the Celtics win tonight, but if they lose and are eliminated, their next game would be a normal regular season contest on Friday.

Here’s more from the Atlantic:

  • Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla has ruffled some feathers amongst rival teams this season with some of his decisions, including intentionally fouling Bulls center Andre Drummond in the fourth quarter of a blowout victory last week when Boston was trying to secure a berth in the quarterfinal via point differential. Mazzulla says he’s not worried about being friendly with opposing coaches, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe (subscriber link). “How do I say this nicely? I don’t care,” he said. “But I also have respect for people. Like I learn from every coach, I think they’re a lot of great coaches in the league. I’ve studied what other teams do. But as far as having an off-court relationship with a coach? I don’t. That’s like last on the list.”
  • Nets guard Cam Thomas shot just 7-of-23 from the floor in Saturday’s victory over Orlando, which snapped the Magic’s nine-game winning streak. However, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes, Thomas contributed in other ways in his second game back from an ankle injury, drawing double-teams while recording seven rebounds and a season-high five assists. “Look at the passes that he threw. He can play-make. He’s more than a scorer,” said head coach Jacque Vaughn. “He’s really taken a step on the defensive end of the floor, which makes me extremely happy as a coach that he wants to defend. He’s gotten better at defending.” Vaughn also praised Thomas’ preparation and ability to draw fouls.
  • Knicks forward RJ Barrett had a strong start to the 2023/24 season interrupted by migraines, which caused him to miss three games, and he’s still trying to regain his prior form, writes Zach Braziller of The New York Post. The 23-year-old is shooting just 34.4% from the field and 25.0% from long distance over the past seven games. “Having a week where you don’t play, it’s not ideal,” Barrett said. “But at the end of the day, I’ve also had a [few] weeks where I’ve been playing. No excuses; I’m kind of getting back to it.”

Mavericks Notes: Exum, Doncic, Lively, Kleber, Green

Dante Exum credits pre-draft advice he received from Kobe Bryant for helping him withstand the many challenges of his career, writes Mark Medina of Sportskeeda. Exum’s NBA path was derailed by numerous injuries and he spent two seasons playing in Europe before signing with the Mavericks this summer.

“There will be a lot of distractions off the court,” Exum said Bryant told him. “It’s about how you handle those and focus on the court. That’s what’s going to define my career.”

The Australian guard was projected to be a star when Utah selected him with the fifth pick in the 2014 draft. However, his second season was wiped out completely by a torn ACL, and after appearing in 66 games in his third year, he hasn’t been available for more than 42 in a season since then. He had brief stops in Cleveland and Houston, and it appeared his NBA career might be over when he left the league after the 2020/21 season. But Exum reestablished himself in Spain and Serbia and got another chance with Dallas.

“Definitely through the injuries, I stayed motivated to stay that way,” Exum said, referring to Bryant’s advice. “A lot of days were hard. I didn’t want to be there [for rehab]. I felt like life was unfair. But it’s something I have to go through and something that I have to keep pushing through. It made me mentally strong.”

There’s more on the Mavericks:

  • Luka Doncic admitted to being exhausted after Saturday’s game, and it wasn’t just because he played 46 minutes and put up incredible numbers with 36 points, 15 rebounds and 18 assists, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Doncic became a father for the first time this week and only got four or five hours of sleep before the game. The team considered giving him a night off, but he insisted on playing because Kyrie Irving, Tim Hardaway Jr. and several other rotation players were already out of action. “It was the happiest day of my life with the baby, but then today’s game was a big roller coaster too,” said Doncic, who led a comeback that included a 30-0 run but fell short. “I’m so sad we didn’t win this game, but man, we gave a big, big effort.”
  • Rookie center Dereck Lively II has been a major reason for the Mavericks’ early-season success, notes John Hollinger of The Athletic. Coaches have been urging Lively to take a larger role in the offense, Hollinger adds, and he responded by making all nine of his shots from the field Saturday, scoring 20 points to go with 16 rebounds and seven blocks.
  • Maxi Kleber‘s absence with a dislocated toe appears as though it will last for a while longer, as coach Jason Kidd tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News that Kleber still hasn’t been cleared to start running (Twitter link). Kidd also expressed concern that Josh Green‘s elbow injury could be a long-term concern.

Jaylen Nowell Signs Second 10-Day Deal With Grizzlies

DECEMBER 4: Nowell’s second 10-day contract is official, the Grizzlies announced today in a press release.

DECEMBER 3: Guard Jaylen Nowell is signing another 10-day deal with the ailing Grizzlies, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Memphis was granted another hardship exception to re-sign Nowell on this short-term contract, Woj notes.

Across his five contests with the club, the 6’4″ shooting guard has been averaging 6.2 PPG, 2.4 RPG and 1.4 APG. He’s logging 18.8 MPG off the bench for an injury-plagued Memphis team.

Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal tweets that combo guard Shaquille Harrison, another 10-day hardship signing, is most likely done in Memphis, at least for now.

Seven Grizzlies are currently sidelined with long-term ailments. Nowell has helped make up for the absences of wings Luke Kennard, Ziaire Williams and Marcus Smart. Point guards Ja Morant and Derrick Rose are also on the shelf. Morant is healthy, but remains suspended for the next six contests.

At a lowly 5-14, Memphis is suffering from all these absences. The team is currently the No. 14 seed in a deep Western Conference.