Alen Smailagic

Pacific Notes: Smailagic, Wiseman, Caruso, Beverley

An underwhelming performance in the G League may mean that Alen Smailagic‘s time with the Warriors is close to an end, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Golden State traded up in the 2019 draft to acquire Smailagic with the 39th pick, but he hasn’t done much to reward the team’s confidence. He appeared in 14 games for the Warriors last year and hasn’t played at all in the NBA this season.

The 20-year-old power forward/center has two years left on his contract, but both are non-guaranteed. A $1,782,621 guarantee for next season kicks in August 7, but Smailagic won’t have much of an opportunity to prove himself before then. The G League season is done and there may be just an abbreviated version of Summer League.

Smailagic suffered a knee injury in training camp that caused him to miss the first two months of the season. He joined Santa Cruz in the G League bubble, but appeared to be out of shape, according to Letourneau. He averaged 7.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.9 fouls and 2.1 turnovers in 10 games and shot just 15% from three-point range.

“He wants to be a contributor to something really good, but sometimes the timing doesn’t allow for that,” Santa Cruz head coach Kris Weems said. “He probably does need at least another year of development.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Warriors hope James Wiseman‘s missed COVID-19 test was a learning experience for the rookie center, according to Nick Friedell of ESPN. Although Wiseman was cleared for Thursday’s game, coach Steve Kerr kept him on the bench for the first half. “I’m not going to go into detail, but this is all part of development as a young player,” Kerr told reporters. “You’ve got to take care of your business. Everything matters. This was just a reaction to him missing the test and not being able to practice last night.”
  • The Lakers‘ injury list continues to grow, notes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Alex Caruso is the latest addition after hitting his head on the floor in Friday’s game and being diagnosed with a concussion. Anthony Davis is still sidelined with a right calf strain and won’t be re-evaluated for two more weeks. Marc Gasol and Kostas Antetokounmpo remain in COVID-19 protocols and have been ruled out for the next two games.
  • After leaving Thursday’s game with right knee soreness, Patrick Beverley didn’t accompany the Clippers on their three-game road trip, tweets Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Beverley will remain in Los Angeles to get treatment on the knee.

California Notes: Poole, Kostas, Smailagić, Walton

As the Warriors strive to make a return to the playoffs, they owe it to themselves to give young reserve guard Jordan Poole more minutes, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area opines. Poole can provide some ball-handling for the second unit, a skill that is not a strength for his fellow backup guard Brad Wanamaker. With a 19-18 record, the Warriors are currently the No. 10 seed in the crowded Western Conference, which would qualify them for the play-in portion of the 2021 playoffs.

After Jordan Poole outperformed expectations playing for the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League Orlando “bubble,” Monte Poole believes the time has come for him to get extended run spotting Stephen Curry in the second and fourth quarters during the All-Star point guard’s allocated rest breaks. Poole averaged 22.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 3.5 APG across 11 games (all starts) with Santa Cruz.

There’s more out of California:

  • Lakers reserve forward Kostas Antetokounmpo, who signed his second two-way contract with Los Angeles during the offseason, has entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Center Marc Gasol remains away from the team in coronavirus protocols as well.
  • Warriors forward Alen Smailagić has been recalled from Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced in a press release. Smailagić averaged 7.5 PPG and 4.4 RPG in 10 games for Santa Cruz.
  • While Kings head coach Luke Walton‘s job remains safe entering the second half of the 2020/21 season, Sacramento’s roster may undergo some changes with the March 25 deadline fast approaching, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee.

California Notes: Haliburton, Smailagić, Gasol, George

Kings rookie shooting guard Tyrese Haliburton, selected with the No. 12 pick out of Iowa State in the 2020 draft, is looking like a great long-term addition for Sacramento, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.

The 6’5″ two-guard is averaging 11.8 PPG, 5.4 APG, and 3.8 RPG across 20 games for the Kings. He also holds sparkling shooting numbers, boasting a slash line of .484/.433/.867.

“Ty has that ‘it’ factor,” veteran Kings forward Harrison Barnes said. “He’s going to be special in this league for a long time on and off the floor.”

There’s more out of California:

  • The Warriors are sending second-year big man Alen Smailagić to join their G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, for the Orlando NBAGL “bubble” campus season, according to a team press release. Across 14 games, the 6’10” Smailagić averaged 4.2 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 9.9 MPG during his rookie season in 2019/20. He has yet to play for Golden State this year, having undergone knee surgery last month.
  • Though Lakers starting center Marc Gasol is averaging a career-low 3.8 PPG (albeit in a career-low 19.4 MPG), Los Angeles head coach Frank Vogel is not concerned, according to Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Gasol’s shooting numbers, however, are a bit unsettling: he is connecting on just 36.8% from the field and 31.7% from deep. He made 38.5% of his three-point looks last season. “He’s out there to defend and rebound and play-make from the top of the key and sometimes that’s going to mean he’s going to get a couple of good looks at the 3-point line, a few short rolls and some other situations, some post-up on switches and whatnot,” Vogel said.
  • Clippers star forward Paul George has been sidelined for the past two games with a bone edema in his foot, according to Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. Head coach Tyronn Lue would not speculate on the duration of George’s absence. “I don’t know,” he said. “We’re going to miss him. We wish him a speedy recovery.” George is averaging a stellar 24.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 5.5 APG in 20 games this season.

Warriors Notes: Looney, Wiseman, Wiggins, Poole, Smailagic

After opening the door over the weekend to a possible starting lineup adjustment, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr made a change at center on Monday night, inserting Kevon Looney into his starting five in place of rookie James Wiseman, as Nick Friedell of ESPN details.

Looney scored just two points on the night, but he was a plus-21 as Golden State defeated Minnesota 130-108. While the lineup change was effective on Monday, Kerr wasn’t ready to commit to it becoming a permanent solution.

“From the beginning, we’re trying to win games too,” Kerr said, per Friedell. “And so I have to figure out what that means. All it meant tonight was let’s start Loon, let’s try to get off to a better start, flip their roles, and I think it worked out well. It doesn’t mean I’m going to do it the whole year. It just feels like what I should do right now.”

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • Following Monday’s win over Minnesota, Kerr admitted that he’s not ignoring the impact that beating the Timberwolves – and keeping them near the bottom of the NBA standings – has on the Warriors’ draft outlook (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Golden State will receive the Wolves’ first-round pick if it doesn’t land in the top three.
  • Andrew Wiggins, who had spent his entire NBA career in Minnesota before being traded to the Warriors a year ago, praised Golden State’s “winning culture” after beating his old team on Monday. “It’s very positive over here, very positive, everyone’s getting along. No egos, nothing like that,” Wiggins said, per Friedell. “Everyone just wants to win. It’s just a winning attitude, winning culture, everything is about winning.” Although Wiggins didn’t specifically address the Wolves’ culture, it’s probably safe to assume he wouldn’t describe it in exactly the same terms.
  • Jordan Poole and Alen Smailagic will join two-way player Nico Mannion in the G League bubble, Kerr confirmed on Monday, per Marcus White of NBC Sports Bay Area. All three players will depart Sunday and will suit up for the Santa Cruz Warriors at Walt Disney World next month. “Hopefully we stay healthy during that time so those guys get as much experience as they can,” Kerr said. “They all need to play.”

Warriors’ Smailagic Undergoes Knee Surgery

Second-year Warriors power forward Alen Smailagic underwent surgery today to address a minor meniscus tear in his right knee, the club announced in a press release.

According to the Warriors, Smailagic will begin the rehab process immediately. He’ll be re-evaluated in about four weeks, so we won’t see him back on the court until at least February.

The 39th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Smailagic appeared in 14 games as a rookie for Golden State, averaging 4.2 PPG and 1.9 RPG in 9.9 MPG. He has also played in 66 G League contests since the start of the 2018/19 season, recording 10.8 PPG and 4.7 RPG on 50.3% shooting in 19.8 MPG for the Santa Cruz Warriors.

While Smailagic is unlikely to be a regular rotation player for the Warriors in ’20/21 even once he gets healthy, the club still appears to be committed to his development for now. The 20-year-old is on a minimum-salary contract that runs through 2022/23, though it’s not guaranteed beyond this season.

Pacific Notes: Horton-Tucker, Harrell, Smailagic, Kings

Both L.A. teams are filled with stars, but the talk of the first preseason matchup between the Lakers and Clippers was second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Horton-Tucker only got into six games for the Lakers last season, spending most of the year in the G League, but he erupted for 19 points and nine rebounds on Friday night.

The performance drew online raves from his teammates, with LeBron James tweeting, “Telling you right now! This kid is flat out SPECIAL! Mark my words.” An injury slowed Horton-Tucker during last year’s training camp, but he got to display his skills during the restart and is now aiming for a rotation role.

“He’s young, but he’s got all the tools,” said new Laker Wesley Matthews. “He’s a dog. He’s tough on the offensive end, the defensive end. He’s crafty. He’s got some stuff to him, and he’s only gonna get better. I mean obviously he’s learning from one of the best (James) to ever touch a basketball.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Montrezl Harrell said he felt “definitely weird emotions” playing against the Clippers after leaving the organization to sign with its cross-town rival, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Harrell talked briefly with Reggie Jackson and Patrick Beverley during warm-ups before Friday’s game. “As far as seeing my old teammates and communicating with those guys, I did that after the game, for the most,” Harrell said.Lou (Williams) and Pat, I kind of spoke to before the game just ‘cause I’ve been around those guys my whole career. But this is my job. This is where I’m at. … This wasn’t a come out, ‘Hey, how are you guys doing?’ and laughing it up. Nah, I had a job to do and I had a mindset of what I came here to do.”
  • The Warriors are hoping Alen Smailagic can develop into the same type of player as Davis Bertans, writes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. Golden State recognized that Smailagic would be a project when he was drafted in the second round last year, so he’s virtually guaranteed a roster spot this season, Letourneau adds. “I think there’s a lot there to work with, and he has a really good chance to be a really good player in the NBA,” Warriors two-way coach Seth Cooper said. “I’m glad that the organization is willing to see that through and hopefully reap the benefits from this investment down the line.”
  • Kings coach Luke Walton hopes Marvin Bagley III and Hassan Whiteside will be ready for preseason action next week, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Bagley missed workouts because of COVID-19, while Whiteside is dealing with a mild calf strain.

Warriors Notes: Curry, Thompson, M. Gasol, Smailagić

Warriors guard Stephen Curry was devastated after learning that his backcourt partner, Klay Thompson, will miss another full season after suffering a torn Achilles last week, writes Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Golden State had hoped to return to title contention after an injury-plagued year, but the loss of Thompson is a major setback.

“To get that call was a gut punch for sure. A lot of tears,” Curry said. “You don’t really know what to say because a guy like that is having to go through two pretty serious rehabs now. But at the end of the day, we have to have his back. We hope that he is around and a part of what we do through his rehab and staying connected with us. He can come back strong. He’s a guy that loves the game so much. He is going to do whatever it takes to get back out there on the floor and be himself. That’s what we hope and the confidence that we have. Two-and-a-half years of rehab is tough for anybody. We’re hoping for the best.”

Curry was limited to just five games last season after breaking his left hand in October. He will return to a roster that’s much different than the one that dominated the league for five years, with additions such as Kelly Oubre, who was acquired in a trade, and James Wiseman, the No. 2 pick in last week’s draft.

“Not seeing (Thompson) on the court, at first, is going to be weird,” Curry said. “But I think we’ve done a really good job in the offseason with James and our draft picks and in the free agency pool to put together a really solid roster. We’re going to have to learn a lot really quickly, and we will need a full commitment from everybody.”

There’s more Warriors news this morning:

  • Thompson’s injury may have cost Golden State a chance to sign free agent center Marc Gasol, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. At age 35, Gasol was looking to join a contender and ended up with the defending champion Lakers. The Warriors are still in the market for veteran help and expect to receive a $9.3MM disabled player exception in the wake of Thompson’s injury.
  • Management doesn’t believe Alen Smailagić is ready for regular playing time, but he’s likely to be kept on the roster with a $1.5MM guaranteed contract, Slater adds in the same piece. However, Smailagić could be waived later in the season if there’s an opportunity to sign someone. Second-round pick Nico Mannion is expected to be a two-way player and will see a lot of time in the G League, if there is a G League season.
  • Oubre, who will be a free agent next summer, is hoping for a long-term stay with Golden State, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.
  • In case you missed it, the team’s deal with free agent guard Brad Wanamaker is now official. It was completed using a portion of Golden State’s taxpayer mid-level exception.

Pacific Notes: Chriss, Bogdanovic, Kings Draft, Lue

Warriors big man Marquese Chriss could see his role expand offensively as a passer, Anthony Slater of The Athletic speculates. Chriss showed off his versatility and vision during a recent intrasquad scrimmage. Alen Smailagić doesn’t seem ready to break into the team’s rotation and he’s destined to spend another season in the G League, Slater adds.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Hawks, Bucks, Suns and Heat are among the teams that could be interested in Kings free agent swingman Bogdan Bogdanovic, in the view of James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. All but Milwaukee have the cap space to hand Bodganovic an attractive offer sheet. With the recent changes in the front office, it’s more uncertain whether Sacramento will match an offer sheet or whether it would rather pursue a sign-and-trade.
  • While the Kings have a quality young point guard in De’Aaron Fox, it’s not out of the question they’ll draft another one with their lottery pick, Jason Jones of The Athletic writes. RJ Hampton, Kira Lewis and Cole Anthony are some of the point guard prospects Sacramento might consider with the No. 12 overall pick.
  • Tyronn Lue has the right track record for a championship contender like the Clippers, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register opines. After winning a title in Cleveland, the new Clippers head coach has already established a track record of cultivating chemistry by holding stars accountable, maximizing role players and making smart strategic moves, Swanson adds.

Pacific Notes: Wiseman, Warriors, Sarver, Clippers

The Warriors have already met with some prominent draft prospects via Zoom, including center James Wiseman and guard LaMelo Ball, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Wiseman is currently rated at No. 3 by ESPN with Ball at No. 2, just behind Georgia guard Anthony Edwards. With the draft rescheduled to October 15th, the Warriors anticipate they’ll get to evaluate prospects in person at some point.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • With the Warriors left out of the 22-team restart of the season, Draymond Green stands to benefit the most among the franchise’s players, Slater opines in a separate story. Green had been nursing a variety of injuries prior to the suspension of play and now he’ll get plenty of time to heal up prior to next season. Young players such as Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic and Mychal Mulder will be hurt the most by the long gap between seasons, Slater adds.
  • Suns owner Robert Sarver says there are many hurdles to clear before play can resume in Orlando on July 31, according to Matt Layman of ArizonaSports.com. Sarver made his comments in a radio interview with 98.7 FM. “The logistics with Disney — you know a number of these hotels have had layoffs, have been partially closed or fully closed, and so there’s a re-startup there,” he said. “And then there’s the whole health concern with COVID-19 and how that plays out and making sure that we go back to what our first priority was, which was the health and safety of the players and the staff.”
  • If the Clippers are able to re-sign free agents Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, they’re likely to bring back virtually the same team next season, John Hollinger of The Athletic predicted in a conversation with fellow Athletic writer Jovan Buha. Hollinger believes in that scenario the only additions will be a second-round draft pick and a minimum-contract point guard to replace Reggie Jackson.

Warriors Notes: Giannis, Okongwu, Draft, Eliyahu

Every now and then, over the last year, a report has surfaced detailing the Warriorsinterest in Giannis Antetokounmpo or suggesting that Golden State has been preparing its pursuit of the Bucks star for “years.” However, Anthony Slater of The Athletic is highly skeptical that anything will come of the Warriors’ interest in Giannis, whose current contract with Milwaukee expires in 2021.

As Slater explains, the fact that the Warriors were able to land Kevin Durant in 2016 means they’ll never be ruled out when they pursue other superstars, but in that case, everything lined up perfectly for the franchise — Durant was able to team up with the Warriors’ stars when they were all in their primes and took advantage of a huge cap spike in 2016 to join the team on a max-salary deal.

Several years later, the cap situation for the Warriors and the NBA as a whole isn’t nearly as rosy — Golden State’s cap is loaded with big-money contracts for its stars (and Andrew Wiggins), offering no realistic path to landing Antetokoumpo as a free agent or in a sign-and-trade. The league’s lost revenues also mean that a major dip in the cap is more likely than another spike.

On top of all that, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are in their 30s now, meaning that if he were to become a Warrior, Giannis “would be joining what’d probably become the early stages of a rebuild around him,” Slater writes.

If a star player badly wants to get to a specific team, there’s often a way to make it work, as we saw with last summer with the likes of Anthony Davis and Paul George. But there has been zero indication that Giannis is itching to leave the team with the NBA’s best record for the one in dead last. And even if that’s what he wanted, the roadblocks in the way would be substantial.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • In a mailbag for The San Francisco Chronicle, Connor Letourneau discusses Alen Smailagic‘s development, possible options for the Warriors’ $17MM trade exception, and potential draft targets, among other topics. Interestingly, Letourneau indicates that, when it comes to draft-eligible big men, Golden State is higher on Onyeka Okongwu than James Wiseman.
  • While there has been plenty of speculation about the Warriors potentially trading their 2020 lottery pick for win-now veteran help, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic contends that it might make more sense for the club to move the Timberwolves’ 2021 first-rounder if a major trade opportunity arises.
  • Veteran Israeli forward Lior Eliyahu, who spent the 2019/20 season with Maccabi Ashdod, is considering retirement, per an Israel Hayom report (relayed by Sportando). How is that news relevant to the Warriors? Well, Golden State technically holds Eliyahu’s NBA rights, having acquired them in a trade with Minnesota last July. The No. 44 pick in the 2016 draft never came stateside, but has had a decorated playing career in his home country, winning six Israeli League titles and earning seven All-Star nods.