Austin Rivers

Three Nuggets Players Enter Protocols

After having cleared their list of players in the health and safety protocols earlier this week, the Nuggets now have three new players in the protocols, as Jeff Green, Bones Hyland, and Zeke Nnaji entered today, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

As Wojnarowski points out, the Nuggets – who will also be without head coach Michael Malone and had two assistant coaches test positive for COVID-19, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link) – are suddenly in danger of not having the required minimum of eight players available for Thursday’s game vs. Golden State.

In addition to Green, Hyland, and Nnaji, the Nuggets are missing four players – Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, PJ Dozier, and Markus Howard – to long-term injuries. On top of that, Vlatko Cancar (non-COVID illness), Aaron Gordon (hamstring), Monte Morris (knee), and Austin Rivers (thumb) are all listed as questionable on the latest injury report.

That leaves the Nuggets with six healthy players. Davon Reed is expected to sign a new 10-day contract today, but that would still just get Denver to seven. The team may have to count on one or more of those questionable players being active and hope that additional testing doesn’t turn up new COVID-19 cases.

On the plus side, since the Nuggets now have players in the protocols, Reed’s new 10-day deal will fall under the COVID-related hardship umbrella, meaning it won’t count against team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Northwest Notes: Rivers, Hyland, Bazley, Wolves

Following his first-hand experience with COVID-19, Nuggets guard Austin Rivers is worried about the increased effect it’s having on the league, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Rivers, who was asymptomatic at first, eventually developed body aches, headaches and breathing issues. He was able to return to the court Friday and expressed concern about the toll the virus is taking on many rosters.

“It’s getting a little bit out of hand in the NBA, to be honest with you,” Rivers said. “I don’t know what we gotta do, whether it’s go back to limiting who’s in the arena, or we gotta test every day. We definitely gotta go back, obviously, to testing every day. I think that’s what we’re doing. The numbers are just getting scary at this point. They’ve got all types of variants.”

Rivers played in the bubble setting in Orlando at the end of the 2019/20 season and said no one wants to bring that back. The Nuggets have emphasized responsible behavior to their players and staff members, but Rivers fears that the virus may be uncontrollable.

“What can we do to minimize chances of spread?” he said. “The problem is, a lot of this is on the onus of what you do when you leave the facility. No matter if we test, or mask, no mask, fans, no fans, at the end of the day, when guys go home, you don’t know what they’re doing, you don’t know whether they’re going out. … You’re gonna stop guys from going out? It’s impossible.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Rookie guard Bones Hyland said he learned a lesson after being benched for the Nuggets‘ game on Wednesday because of a violation of team rules, Singer adds in a separate story. Hyland and coach Michael Malone didn’t reveal any details about the infraction, but they both indicated it’s part of learning how to be an NBA player. “We’re a better team when Bones Hyland is available,” Malone said Friday. “He knows that. This is a learning process for all young men. Tonight, he’s back with the team, he learned his lesson, and he helps us get a really important road win.”
  • The Thunder pulled Darius Bazley from the starting lineup Saturday for the first time since he was a rookie, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Coach Mark Daigneault said Bazley accepted the decision “professionally” when he was told about it (Twitter link). “Anytime we make a decision, it’s under the presumption that it’s going to work,” Daigneault said. “If we didn’t think this had the potential to kickstart him and help him reach the capability he has a player, we wouldn’t do it.” (Twitter link)
  • The Timberwolves need another big man next to Karl-Anthony Towns and should be aggressive about pursuing Pacers center Myles Turner, contends La Velle E. Neal III of The Star-Tribune.

COVID-19 Updates: Rivers, Millsap, Hornets, Holiday, Brooks

The Nuggets are expecting Austin Rivers to exit the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It may take an extra day or two before Rivers is fully cleared to play, but his impeding return means Davon Reed‘s time with the team is likely done for the time being, Singer notes.

Denver signed Reed to a 10-day contract using the hardship exception on December 4. That deal will expire after Monday’s game, and with Rivers due back, the Nuggets will no longer be eligible to carry an extra player via the hardship provision.

Although Reed will likely head back to the Grand Rapids Gold – the Nuggets’ G League affiliate – he made a strong impression on the team during his time in the NBA and could be back later this season, says Singer (via Twitter).

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

  • Nets forward Paul Millsap has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Millsap is averaging a career-low 11.2 minutes per game in Brooklyn this season, so his absence shouldn’t create a huge hole in the team’s rotation.
  • Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels and center Mason Plumlee cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on Monday and were sent to the G League to complete a conditioning/rehab assignment with the Greensboro Swarm, the club announced (via Twitter). Charlotte still has LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith in the protocols, but the team is moving closer to getting all its affected players back after Terry Rozier was cleared on Sunday (Twitter link).
  • Pacers wing Justin Holiday, who has missed the team’s last five games while in the health and safety protocols, returned to practice on Sunday and said he’ll likely remain unvaccinated after having contracted COVID-19, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Assuming his stance doesn’t change, Holiday won’t be eligible to cross the Canadian border to play in Toronto on March 26.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ stint in the health and safety protocols was a short one. The Grizzlies forward received clearance on Saturday after being placed in the protocols on Thursday, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. The quick reversal suggests Brooks may have registered a false positive test.

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, MPJ, G League, Hardship Exception

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers spoke to his son, Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, about how he was feeling after testing positive for COVID-19, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Doc relayed that Austin said he felt fine yesterday, “and then today he felt terrible,” Doc said.

In a follow-up tweet from Mizell, Doc mentioned that Austin was vaccinated. He says his son will be okay, but he’s worried that so many players are getting sick.

[Austin] said, ‘I’ve never felt like this before.’ He’ll be good, but a lot of guys (are getting sick). I’m worried again. Let’s see if we can get through this,” Doc said.

Rookie Bones Hyland was deemed a close contact of someone who tested positive and is also in the NBA’s health and safety protocols.

The Nuggets have been devastated by injuries this season and lost tonight in Orlando, 108-103. They are now 10-11.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Michael Porter Jr. underwent back surgery on Wednesday and his agent said it was very successful, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “They went into surgery hoping to find exactly what they found,” agent Mark Bartelstein, told The Denver Post. “It went great. He can already feel a difference.”
  • With so many players injured and sidelined due to COVID-19, coach Michael Malone said he talked to president of basketball operations Tim Connelly about calling up a player from the G League, per Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Former NBA players Nik Stauskas and Lance Stephenson are members of Denver’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, and could be candidates to receive a promotion.
  • The Nuggets can apply for a hardship exception due to tweaked rules related to COVID-19, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. In a follow-up tweet, Marks provides additional details about what using the exception would entail, if granted.

Nuggets’ Austin Rivers, Bones Hyland Enter Protocols

3:41pm: Hyland hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19 and is in the protocols because he was a close contact of someone who did, tweets Singer. Hyland remains out for the short term, but his absence likely won’t last as long as Rivers’ unless his situation changes.


9:46am: Hyland has also entered the health and safety protocols and – like Rivers – is expected to miss several games, tweets Singer. According to Singer, the belief is that no other Nuggets players will have to join Rivers and Hyland in the protocols.

With Rivers and Hyland sidelined, Monte Morris, Campazzo, and Will Barton figure to play increased roles, with Howard a candidate to enter the regular rotation.


9:04am: Nuggets guard Austin Rivers is the latest NBA player to enter the league’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss several games, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Although Charania’s report doesn’t confirm whether Rivers has contracted COVID-19, a player who enters the protocols and is immediately ruled out for “several” games has generally tested positive for the coronavirus.

Rivers, 29, has played a regular role off the bench for Denver so far this season, averaging 17.4 minutes per contest in 18 games (three starts). He has put up career-worst numbers of 3.9 PPG on .346/.271/.500 in the early going.

Despite Rivers’ struggles, it’s bad news for the Nuggets that they’ll lose yet another piece of their rotation. Denver got a boost earlier in the week when Nikola Jokic and Bones Hyland returned to action, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, but the team is still missing Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier due to long-term injuries. JaMychal Green is day-to-day with an elbow issue.

If Rivers has tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll remain sidelined for at least 10 days, or until he returns consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. The Nuggets may lean more on Facundo Campazzo and Hyland in Rivers’ absence, with two-way player Markus Howard also a candidate to earn minutes.

Northwest Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Olshey, Gay, Rivers

After initially arriving in Oklahoma City as a complementary piece on a playoff roster, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has since become the centerpiece of a rebuild for a Thunder team that appears lottery-bound for a second consecutive season. While Gilgeous-Alexander would obviously like to be winning more, he told Joe Vardon of The Athletic that he’s enjoying his role as the focal point of OKC’s offense.

“Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I’ve dreamed about as a kid,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Everyone wants to be that guy, you know what I’m saying? With high pressure comes great rewards.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazersinvestigation into Neil Olshey may be entering its final stages, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who says Olshey was interviewed earlier this week as part of the probe. Sources tell Begley that Olshey is still owed more than $12MM on his current deal, which could become a sticking point if the franchise decides to part ways with the executive, as we outlined on Thursday.
  • Rudy Gay had an impressive first game back from offseason heel surgery, pouring in a team-high 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 18 minutes in his Jazz debut on Thursday. The performance displayed how Gay is capable of helping Utah this season, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.
  • Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday that his assistant coach Sam Cassell was the first to suggest that the Nuggets would be a good fit for Doc’s son, Austin Rivers. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post details, Rivers signed with Denver last season, then re-signed with the club in the offseason and is playing regular minutes. “It’s always great when your kid is happy,” Doc said.

Nuggets Notes: Gordon, Rivers, Malone, Three-Point Shooting

Aaron Gordon was thrilled to get an opportunity to make it past the first round of the playoffs after being traded to the Nuggets last season, but he was disappointed in how he performed in the postseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. His role on the team changed after the injury to Jamal Murray and he wasn’t as productive as he had hoped to be, particularly in the second-round sweep by the Suns.

“I felt disgusting coming out of those playoffs,” said Gordon, who used the experience as motivation to prepare for the new season. “I felt like my touch was gone, I felt like I wasn’t playing to the capability that I know that I can. It was ugly, especially that Phoenix game. And then I was just worn down.”

Part of the problem was a lingering hamstring injury that Gordon suffered after the NBA’s restart in 2020. He was also dealing with a sore ankle that left him feeling less than 100% all season.

“Last offseason, I had popped my hamstring in the bubble, so I couldn’t do anything over the summer,” he said. “I could barely run, I could barely walk. I couldn’t do anything. My mind was out of it, especially coming out of that bubble. Quick turnaround (to the new season). My fire, my passion, my drive just wasn’t there. I’m so (freaking) excited that Denver brought me in and has embraced me because it’s given me new life. It’s really lit my fire being around all these dudes that can play so well, and love the game, and love to win, like true competitors.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • In a podcast with Singer, Austin Rivers discusses the unexpected instability of his NBA career and the shock of being out of the league when he was traded and waived last March. He signed with the Nuggets in April and got a new contract during the summer, but he’s approaching the new season like he needs to prove he belongs. “I’m not any more comfortable now than I was a year ago,” Rivers said. “I’m still treating this like this is my last shot.”
  • Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is away from the team for the birth of a child and won’t play in Monday’s preseason opener. But the contest is still important to coach Michael Malone, who tells Eric Spyropoulos of NBA.com“Preseason games are never about wins and losses, but every time we go on that floor, it’s an opportunity for us to establish our identity.”
  • Malone is hoping to expand the use of the three-point shot this season, and that was part of the focus of Saturday’s practice, Spyropoulos adds. The Nuggets were a top 10 team in three-point percentage last season at 37.7%. “We got a lot of threes up, but it’s about making sure we’re generating the right threes off of ball movement and off of the ball touching the paint,” Malone said.

Nuggets Re-Sign Austin Rivers

SEPTEMBER 1: Nearly a month after initially agreeing to terms with Rivers, the Nuggets made the deal official on Tuesday, per NBA.com’s transactions log. The one-year contract is believed to be worth the veteran’s minimum, though that has yet to be formally confirmed.


AUGUST 2: The Nuggets have agreed to re-sign Austin Rivers to a one-year contract, agents Aaron Mintz and Dave Spahn tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

After signing with the Knicks as a free agent last offseason, Rivers had a short-lived stint in New York. He was traded to Oklahoma City and subsequently waived before joining a Nuggets team that was hit hard by backcourt injuries down the stretch.

With Jamal Murray and Will Barton sidelined, Rivers played big minutes for the Nuggets in his 15 regular season games with the club, averaging 8.7 PPG, 2.6 APG, and 2.1 RPG on .418/.375/.706 shooting in 26.9 minutes per contest. He played even more in the postseason, starting nine of 10 games and averaging 9.2 PPG on .435/.413/.813 shooting in 30.5 MPG.

With Murray’s absence expected to stretch well into 2021/22, there should be playing time available for Rivers going forward.

It has been a busy night for the Nuggets. Less than four hours into free agency, they’ve already agreed to re-sign Rivers, Barton, and JaMychal Green while also lining up a deal with free agent forward Jeff Green. Denver now has 15 players who project to be on the regular season roster, so the team may be done shopping for the time being.

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, Murray, N’Dong, Fall

Austin Rivers delivered a 21-point performance for the Nuggets while playing 37 minutes in Game 3 against Portland. Rivers, who was an afterthought with the Knicks and got waived by the Thunder after New York traded him, has been a perfect fit with the Nuggets, head coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

“Austin needed a team and we needed a player,” Malone said. “We were decimated by injuries. Austin was out there, he was available. … The timing, the need of it, was perfect on both ends.”

Rivers signed a rest-of-the-season deal after an audition on a 10-day contract.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Rivers is hopeful the Nuggets will re-sign him when he becomes a free agent again this summer, Singer tweetsThe goal’s to be here long-term,” he said. “It’s just been a natural fit. I can’t speak for them, I know it’s a business … I love this team, that’s all I can say.”
  • Jamal Murray may be out for the season with a torn ACL but he’s still a major presence on the team’s bench, serving as a de facto coach, Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post notes. “His energy, his presence and his positivity are really impactful,” Malone said.Monte (Morris) is still a really young player in terms of NBA experience. But Facu (Campazzo) is a rookie. Markus Howard is a rookie. Shaq Harrison has played in the NBA, but these are his first playoff games. … A guy like Jamal who has 33 games of playoff experience at a high level, he can also be impactful in terms of helping those guys with what they’re facing on the court.”
  • Nuggets player development coach Boniface N’Dong and front office associate Dethie Fall, natives of Senegal, believe the new Basketball Africa League will have a major impact on African players and the NBA, Alex Labidou of the team’s website writes. “Africa has a lot of talent,” said N’Dong, who is also the head coach of the Senegal national team. “Africa is pretty big, there are 52 countries. I think you’re going to see a lot of [Pascal] Siakams, a lot of [Joel] Embiids, and a lot of Gorgui Diengs coming out of nowhere.”

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Millsap, Rivers, Barton

Part of Nikola Jokic‘s rise to being an MVP finalist has been his ability to adjust to different teammates, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. A string of roster moves and injuries, most notably to Jamal Murray, have shaken up the Nuggets‘ lineup throughout the season, but Jokic’s production hasn’t fallen.

Singer notes that Denver’s starters for tonight’s Game 1 of the playoff series with Portland will likely be Jokic, Michael Porter Jr.Facundo CampazzoAaron Gordon, and Austin Rivers. Porter is in his first year as a full-time starter, Campazzo is a rookie who has made 19 NBA starts, Gordon has been with the team for 25 games following a midseason trade, and Rivers has played 15 games after signing with the Nuggets last month.

“The attention that (Jokic) draws, being able to do so many things, not just score the ball, but pass and the way he passes and makes plays so easy for his teammates, makes him so unique to play with,” two-way guard Markus Howard said. “… Just the attention that he brings from opposing defenses, and his ability to be creative with the pass, is unlike anybody I’ve ever played with.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • After a decade as an NBA starter, Paul Millsap has adjusted to a reserve role since the trade for Gordon, as Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post writes. The 36-year-old power forward is trying to lead by example and make the best of his new responsibilities. “There are challenges that come with it,” Millsap said. “I want to compete. I want to play every single minute during a game. But that’s not possible and that’s what you have a team for. I’ve always been a guy (to do) whatever the team needs.”
  • Rivers is suffering from a non-COVID related illness, but the Nuggets are optimistic he will be able to play tonight, Singer tweets. He is officially listed as questionable.
  • Will Barton is hoping to be able to play in this series, but it won’t happen in Game 1, according to Clevis Murray of NBC Sports Northwest. Barton has been ruled out for tonight because of the strained hamstring that has sidelined him since April 23. PJ Dozier also remains out with a right adductor strain. “I think Will is definitely closer (to returning) than PJ,” coach Michael Malone said.