Andre Drummond

Hawks Notes: McMillan, Young, Capela, Shooting

After starting the season with a 14-20 record, the Hawks have gone 22-10 since Nate McMillan took over as the team’s head coach. The role McMillan has played in turning around Atlanta’s season hasn’t been lost on leading scorer Trae Young, who appeared on Adrian Wojnarowski’s Woj Pod this week and praised the Hawks’ head coach for “connecting with the players.”

Asked about McMillan’s potential future with the team, Young said he’d be surprised if the interim coach isn’t retained beyond 2020/21.

“I couldn’t see a scenario where he’s not back with us,” Young said. “The way we’re winning right now. If we go into the playoffs and do really well, it’s hard to see him not back next year. At the end of the day it’s not up to me, but as a player, I don’t see why he wouldn’t be back.”

While Young is right that the decision won’t ultimately be up to him, Hawks management will likely take the All-Star guard’s opinion into account when they determine what’s next for McMillan, who looks like a pretty safe bet to have his interim label removed.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • In an in-depth profile, Zach Lowe of ESPN examines the growth of Hawks center Clint Capela, who has gone from a rookie the Rockets initially viewed as a draft-and-stash prospect to the anchor of Atlanta’s defense and a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
  • Within his story on Capela, Lowe cites sources who say the Hawks discussed the possibility of trading for Andre Drummond and Steven Adams before ultimately acquiring Capela from Houston a year ago. Atlanta believed that elements of Capela’s pick-and-roll game with James Harden would work for Trae Young, Lowe notes.
  • After finishing dead-last in three-point percentage a year ago, the Hawks prioritized shooting in the offseason when they signed Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari to lucrative multiyear deals, and those moves have helped make the Hawks a playoff team, writes Mark Bradley of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bogdanovic (42.0% on threes) and Gallinari (41.6%) have been two of the club’s most reliable marksmen in 2020/21.

Pacific Notes: Drummond, Metu, Bagley, Curry

LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond played together for the first time as teammates on Friday night in the Lakers‘ loss at home to the Kings.

Drummond, who signed a free-agent deal to join the team in March, had yet to play with the superstar duo together as James and Davis recovered from injuries. The 28-year-old finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and 24 minutes in the losing effort against Sacramento.

“He makes the game very easy for everybody,” Drummond said after his first game with James, according to Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “I feel like he sees everything. He’s like a quarterback, so having him out there’s been really fun — my first game being on the same side as him. It’s definitely been a great learning experience for me, I’m looking forward to being on the court with him more to do better things.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division today:

  • Kings center Chimezie Metu underwent an X-ray on his lower back that came back clean on Friday, Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento tweets. Metu is experiencing back soreness after sustaining a hard fall in the contest. He left in the second quarter and didn’t return.
  • Marvin Bagley III‘s recent time away from the Kings was something that he and the team both agreed upon, Jason Jones of The Athletic tweets. Bagley, who returned on Friday after missing 23 games due to a fractured left hand, told reporters that his absence wasn’t a vacation and said that both sides felt it was best.
  • Warriors superstar Stephen Curry is continuing to accelerate his team’s timeline, Ethan Strauss of The Athletic writes. Curry has put forth an MVP-caliber season despite Golden State owning just a 31-32 record, averaging a career-high 31.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

Pacific Notes: CP3, Lakers Centers, Vogel, Davis

With the 42-17 Suns now firmly ensconced in the West’s No. 2 seed, All-Star point guard Chris Paul has emerged as a possible 2021 MVP candidate, writes Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.

The offseason additions of Paul and Jae Crowder, plus the marked improvement of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson, have all contributed to Phoenix’s (very probable) return to the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. But the 35-year-old All-Star has been a driving engine for the Suns, averaging 16.0 PPG, 8.8 APG, and 4.7 RPG with a shooting line of .487/.377/.927.

“I think at the end of the day, I know who I am and I know what I bring to a team, but I also understand with our team, it’s about us,” Paul said of his season with the Suns so far. “It’s not something I worry about or wake up and think about or anything like that. It’s just about the process, like getting ready for tomorrow’s game. I think everything else will take care of itself.”

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • As Anthony Davis has returned (albeit on a minutes limit), the Lakers have continued to balance their center rotation, writes Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register. Marc Gasol missed three games with a dislocated pinky, but immediately supplanted Montrezl Harrell as L.A.’s backup center when he did return, behind new starter Andre Drummond. Head coach Frank Vogel indicated that Harrell had been briefed about the situation. “He understands the big picture and what we’re trying to get accomplished,” Vogel said.
  • The Lakers plan to engage head coach Frank Vogel in contract extension conversations during the 2021 offseason, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski indicated on an NBA Countdown broadcast Saturday, as relayed by Paul Kasabian of Bleacher Report. Vogel is in the second year of a three-season contract he signed with L.A. in 2019. During his first season, the Lakers won their first title in 10 years.
  • With All-Star big man Anthony Davis now back in the fold, the Lakers are still figuring out their lineups during the home stretch of the 2020/21 NBA season, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN“It’s like you’re starting over with the guys and just trying to find a connection with these guys again,” Davis said. “They’re trying to find a connection with me. So, it’s like we’re starting from zero, which is tough so late in the season.”

New York Notes: Knicks, Nets, Rose, Claxton/Perry

The outstanding recent play of Knicks veteran big men Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson has appeared to validate the team’s decision not to make a big offer to center Andre Drummond on the buyout market, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman notes that head coach Tom Thibodeau ultimately made the call to not add Drummond.

“Those guys cover so much for us on the defensive end, blocking shots, being in the right position,” All-Star forward Julius Randle raved of the Knicks’ two veteran bigs. “They anchor our defense, honestly. They make my job easier, our guards’ job easier. It’s just amazing to have those two guys behind you. If you make mistakes, they’re going to cover for you.’’

Noel and Gibson have had to step up in the absence of Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, anticipated to miss the rest of the year with a broken foot.

There’s more out of the Big Apple:

  • Thanks to sharpshooting Nets duo Landry Shamet and Joe Harris connecting on 43% of their triples combined since the league’s All-Star break, Brooklyn might have its own poor man’s version of a “Splash Brothers” shooting tandem, writes Matthew Brooks of NetsDaily.
  • 32-year-old veteran Knicks reserve guard Derrick Rose is relishing his second tour of duty in New York, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News“It’s great being on a young team where everybody is locked in, everybody loves playing with one another and everyone is on the same page — which is to win games,” Rose said. “So it’s perfect.”
  • Nets center Nicolas Claxton and power forward Reggie Perry have entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, tweets Malika Andrews of ESPN.

Western Notes: Morris, Drummond, Jones, Toscano-Anderson

Markieff Morris has served as an unsung hero for the Lakers in the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register writes.

Morris, 31, has given Los Angeles a steady level of production in his 10th NBA season. In 49 games with the team (25 starts), the veteran has averaged 7.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 20.5 minutes per contest, shooting 44% from the floor and 35% from deep.

“I mean, (expletive), look at my production throughout my career,” Morris said. “I would think they would know I could be this consistent. Everybody’s trying to judge you off of how the season starts, but the tide always turns.”

As Goon notes, Morris has reached double-digit scoring in 10 of his last 13 games. The Kansas alum is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

There’s more from the Western Conference tonight:

  • Another player who’s produced for the Lakers is Andre Drummond, Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes. Drummond has averaged 16.5 points, 12.6 rebounds and 27.9 minutes in six games since joining the Lakers, performing at a high level as the team’s starting center.
  • Grizzlies guard Tyus Jones earned a $817K bonus after the team beat Milwaukee 128-115 on Saturday, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). Jones had an incentive in his contract for 33 wins, but the total was prorated down to 29 due to the shortened season. Memphis currently holds the eighth-best record in the Western Conference at 29-26.
  • Warriors guard Juan Toscano-Anderson has been diagnosed with a concussion, Mark Medina of USA TODAY tweets. Toscano-Anderson suffered a brutal fall in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Boston and left the contest early. As a result, he’s now in the league’s concussion protocol.

L.A. Notes: Drummond, Gasol, George, Rondo

Andre Drummond is giving the Lakers a lot of what they expected, but he still hasn’t found his scoring touch, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Drummond scored just four points Tuesday in Charlotte and three points Monday at New York. He’s averaging 9.2 PPG in his five games with L.A.

“Offensively, this is probably the worst I’ve played in my career,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure it out here. I’m not allowing it to take me out of my game. I know why I’m here, which is to help this team defensively. Offensively, it will come for me.”

Part of the problem is the absence of Anthony Davis and LeBron James, who have been injured since Drummond signed with the team late last month. Drummond believes he’ll settle into a more natural role once the two stars return.

“We’re going to find a way to get it done when guys come back healthy,” he said. “Because you got to think, we’re playing with a different five every night when we’re stepping on the court. So you can’t expect us to have much chemistry when we don’t know who we’re playing with each and every night. So we’re hanging our hat on defense and allowing that to project us to a win.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • Marc Gasol became the Lakers‘ third center after Drummond was signed, but Jovan Buha of The Athletic contends there are games where he should play ahead of Montrezl Harrell. Gasol has outplayed Harrell lately, Buha notes, and is a better fit in certain matchups.
  • Clippers forward Paul George is determined to not let his injured toe affect him mentally, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George knows the pain may last for the rest of the season, but he has learned to accept it, scoring at least 30 points in each of his last four games. “The injury allowed me to kind of make an excuse for myself,” he said. “But then I put it in perspective … if I’m gonna play, then don’t let it limit me. I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough because of that mindset.”
  • By playing in 33 games this season, Rajon Rondo is in line for a $750K bonus if and when the Clippers reach the first round of the playoffs, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The bonus was switched from unlikely to likely when Rondo was traded to L.A. last month.

Los Angeles Notes: Drummond, Jackson, Rondo, LeBron

Lakers center Andre Drummond put forth a key performance in the team’s win over the Nets on Saturday, guiding the club to a 126-101 victory, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

Drummond finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in just over 22 minutes of action. He served as an enforcer on both ends of the floor, controlling the interior and pounding Brooklyn on the glass.

“He can do that against opposing centers,” coach Frank Vogel said of Drummond. “He can beat them up with his physicality, on the post or on drives, on the offensive glass and then he can more than hold his own and guard his position defensively as well as all the pick-and-roll defensive coverages that we put him [in] as well. He’s a two-way player and it’s a great sign to see him stepping up as a leader the way he did tonight.”

There’s more from Los Angeles today:

  • The Clippers plan to start Reggie Jackson at point guard for “the long haul” with Patrick Beverley sidelined, coach Tyronn Lue said, as relayed by Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). Beverley is expected to miss at least three-to-four weeks after suffering a fracture of the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand.
  • Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe explores Clippers veteran Rajon Rondo‘s case for the Hall of Fame. Rondo is a two-time NBA champion, four-time All-Star and has made four All-Defensive teams in his career, playing 15 seasons with eight teams.
  • Mark Medina of USA TODAY examines LeBron James‘ ankle injury, with the help of opinions from various medical experts. James sustained a high ankle sprain on March 20 and has missed 11 straight games for the Lakers, though a recent report from ESPN indicated that he’s likely to return in three weeks.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Pacific Division

Throughout the season, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents this off-season. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Pacific Division:

Nicolas Batum, Clippers, 32, PF/SF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.56MM deal in 2020

Batum had several teams interested in him last fall when Charlotte waived him and stretched out the $27.1MM remaining on his contract. He’s proven to be a bargain for the Clippers after signing for the veteran’s minimum.

Batum has been a regular presence in the rotation (28.4 MPG), serving as a “glue guy,” content to play defense and grab some rebounds without getting a lot of shot opportunities. His shooting percentage has dropped lately, but he’s still averaging a career-best 41.4% on 3-point attempts. It’s been a bounce-back season after he languished on the Hornets’ bench a year ago. He’ll get offers commensurate for a veteran role player.

Andre Drummond, Lakers, 27, C (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $794K deal in 2021

Cleveland couldn’t find a way to trade Drummond due to the $28.75MM in the final year of his contract. Once he cleared waivers, he had a choice of contenders and landed with the defending champions. It’s a tricky situation with Marc Gasol still on the roster and not thrilled about losing his starting role, but Drummond finds himself pursuing a championship for the first time in his career. If he can blend well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis once they return from injuries, the league’s most prolific rebounder can enhance his resume as he heads into unrestricted free agency this summer.

Damion Lee, Warriors, 28, SG/PG (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.5MM deal in 2019

Lee started 36 games for Golden State last season after the team went into tank mode. He earned his way from a two-way contract to a standard three-year deal. However, his 2021/22 salary – albeit a modest $1.9MM by NBA standards – isn’t guaranteed. It includes a partial guarantee of $500K if he’s still on the roster in mid-summer.

Lee has gotten steady minutes as a second-unit player, but really hasn’t contributed much offensively – he’s averaging 4.4 PPG over his last seven games. As a tax team, Golden State needs to fill its bench with low-cost options, so Lee could stick but the club could also seek a better scoring threat at that spot.

Frank Kaminsky, Suns, 28, PF, (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $1.88MM deal in 2020

It’s been a rough stretch for Kaminsky, who was placed under the league’s health and safety protocols at the beginning of the month. Prior to being sidelined, Kaminsky saw his playing time diminish – he averaged 3.5 PPG in 13.3 MPG during six appearances in March. Kaminsky was on Phoenix’s roster last season, had a $5MM option declined, then returned to the Suns after the Kings placed him on waivers. The ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft will find it difficult to regain his second-unit role once he returns. Kaminsky will likely have to settle for the veteran’s minimum to stick around in the league next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

California Notes: McLemore, Cousins, Jones, Gasol

The newest Lakers addition, athletic veteran wing Ben McLemore, brings competent perimeter defense to the club, but more than that, his three-point shooting will fulfill a need for Los Angeles, writes Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was effusive in his praise for the new reserve: “Ben instantly elevates our ability to knock down 3s on the backside when double teams come and we can play the drive-and-kick game that the modern NBA is made on. So we’re thrilled about his addition and looking forward to getting him into some minutes and into our program.”

The latest Laker is a career 36.3% three-point shooter on 4.0 attempts per game. This season with the rebuilding Rockets, he converted a somewhat below-average 33.1% of his 5.2 long-range looks per contest. Last season, with Houston in the thick of a playoff hunt, McLemore was connecting on 40% of his 6.4 deep looks a night.

There’s more out of California:

  • Clippers All-Star forward Paul George conveyed his excitement for the club’s newest backup center, former four-time All-Star DeMarcus Cousins, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN“He’s still one of the most skilled bigs in the league,” George raved. Cousins discussed his focus on his fitness in striving to remain in the NBA following a string of major lower body injuries. “I’ve put an incredible amount of work to get to this place,” Cousins said. “I’m in probably the best shape I’ve been in my entire career.”
  • New Kings center Damian Jones, inked to a 10-day deal with the team, has observed similarities between Sacramento’s plays and those of his former team in Golden State, tweets Jason Jones of The Athletic. Kings head coach Luke Walton was an assistant coach on the Warriors bench before departing for his first head coaching opportunity with the Lakers.
  • Recently-demoted Lakers center Marc Gasol made a strong case for continued rotation minutes when he stepped in for new starting center Andre Drummond recently, writes Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. Gasol appeared to be more positive about his reduced role in Los Angeles alongside Drummond. “No matter if it’s five minutes, 10 minutes, if it’s whatever position — if it’s some nights, I might not play,” Gasol acknowledged. “It’s been a process for me to reassess this situation a little bit, but like I said, I’m fully committed to this team. So, whatever is thrown at me, I’ll be ready.” Previously, Gasol had expressed frustration with the move. With Drummond now back, Gasol did not play at all in tonight’s 110-104 loss to the Heat.

VanVleet, Bembry, Horton-Tucker Receive One-Game Suspensions

The NBA has suspended three players – Raptors guards Fred VanVleet and DeAndre’ Bembry, along with Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker – for one game apiece, the league announced today in a press release.

The three players left the bench area during an on-court altercation during the Raptors/Lakers game on Tuesday (video link). After Dennis Schröder committed a foul on a OG Anunoby shot attempt, the two players got tangled up and Anunoby grabbed Schroder by the leg, flipping him to the ground. Players from both teams entered the fray at that point.

According to today’s announcement, Anunoby received a $30K fine for initiating the incident, while Lakers big man Montrezl Harrell has been docked $20K for aggressively entering the altercation and shoving Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the one-game suspension will be costliest for VanVleet, who will forfeit $146,552 of his salary. Bembry ($11,980) and Horton-Tucker ($10,469) will also each lose one game’s worth of pay.

Horton-Tucker and Bembry will serve their suspensions tonight, while VanVleet will serve his one-game ban once he’s healthy and ready to return from his hip ailment.

Although they’ll be missing Horton-Tucker, and Kyle Kuzma is listed as questionable with calf tightness, the Lakers will get some reinforcements for Thursday’s contest vs. Miami, as head coach Frank Vogel said today that both Ben McLemore (protocols) and Andre Drummond (toe) will be available (Twitter link via Mike Trudell).