Bones Hyland

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Trade Deadline, Hyland, Nnaji, Reed, Porter Jr.

After the Nuggets signed veteran center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract on Friday, head coach Michael Malone hinted that Cousins might stick beyond those 10 days, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets“I anticipate it going well,” Malone said. Cousins didn’t play in the loss to the Grizzlies on Friday.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The Nuggets are looking for a bigger wing on the trade market, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Ideally, they’d like to find a 3-and-D player who won’t cost an exorbitant amount. To that aim, Orlando, Indiana, Portland and Sacramento are potential trade partners, Singer adds.
  • Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji and Davon Reed have received significant playing time recently due to injuries but only Hyland is likely to remain in the rotation when the team gets healthier, Singer opines in the same mailbag post. That’s due to his ability to ignite and create offense on the second unit.
  • ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this week there’s growing optimism Michael Porter Jr. will play again this season. Wind posted a video on Twitter showing the forward, who underwent back surgery in early December, warming up prior to Friday’s game. Wind noted that the warmup looked similar to the one Porter typically does before actually playing.

COVID Updates: Towns, Russell, Tucker, Hyland, Robinson, Bryant, Neto

Players around the NBA continue to enter and exit the league’s health and safety protocols. Here’s the latest update:

  • Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell have exited the protocols but won’t play against the Clippers due to reconditioning, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Heat forward P.J. Tucker has been upgraded to questionable to play on Monday against Golden State after exiting the protocols, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets.
  • Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland has exited the protocols and is expected to be available for Monday’s road game against Dallas, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets.
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson has cleared the protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant and guard Raul Neto have cleared the protocols, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. However, Tremont Waters, who is on a 10-day hardship contract, has entered the protocols, Robbins adds in a separate tweet.
  • Bucks forward Jordan Nwora has entered the protocols and will miss Monday’s game against Detroit, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.
  • Rockets big man Usman Garuba has entered the protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.

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.

Northwest Notes: Ainge, Jazz, Hyland, Nowell, Wolves

Jazz owner Ryan Smith pitched Danny Ainge on the idea of taking on a role with the franchise during a recent trip to the Bahamas for Tiger Woods’ Hero World Challenge golf tournament, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon. The two men had discussions during the trip about the concept of Ainge coming aboard, then worked out a deal when they returned to Utah, resulting in the Jazz hiring Ainge as their CEO and alternate governor.

“I’ve never been ready to talk about this before, but Ryan and I had a chance to spend a lot of time together,” Ainge said, explaining that he took the last six months to spend time with family and decompress. “We hashed it out, and we were both excited about this opportunity. I think it was the timing more than anything.”

Ainge will oversee Utah’s basketball operations and will work closely with general manager Justin Zanik, who will continue to run the day-to-day operations. As Eric Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune write, the team is enthusiastic about the idea of a “collaborative” approach to the front office and isn’t all that interested in establishing a linear hierarchy in which one person ultimately makes all the decisions.

“If you’re in the league, everyone knows to call Justin right now. I think that’s pretty clear,” Smith said. “(But) I think when it comes to decision-making, we’re the kind of culture where it doesn’t really work that way. … When it comes to that, you want to be right a lot more than you’re wrong, because some decisions aren’t clear. Bringing Danny on board helps increase our chances of getting that right.”

Sources close to Ainge told Tony Jones and Jared Weiss of The Athletic that the veteran executive always wanted a Jerry West-type role that would give him the flexibility to play plenty of golf and spend time with his grandchildren. He’ll work with the Jazz every day, but won’t be putting in the 16- and 18-hour days that he became accustomed to in Boston.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Dan Clayton of Salt City Hoops, writing for The Salt Lake Tribune, provides a trade primer for the Jazz, examining the team’s needs, expendable assets, and possible targets.
  • Nuggets guard Bones Hyland was held out of Wednesday’s game for a violation of team rules, but will be available on Friday in Atlanta, according to reports from Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports and Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links).
  • Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell has been out of the rotation for most of the season, but has appeared in the last there games and logged a season-high 15 minutes last Friday. Nowell is hoping that he can carve out a more regular role, as Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes. The stakes are particularly high for the 22-year-old, whose 2021/22 salary still isn’t fully guaranteed.
  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes an in-depth look at the chemistry that’s developing between the Timberwolves‘ two young franchise cornerstones, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns. “If me and KAT just lock in here with each other, I feel like we will win so many more games,” Edwards said of his star teammate. “… He dominates, man. He can shoot, he can drive, he can pass, he can do everything. So playing with him makes my game a lot easier.”

Northwest Notes: Hyland, Nance Jr., Howard, Jazz

Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland is starting to win fans over in Denver with his electric play and personality, Alex Kennedy of writes. Hyland has provided solid backcourt production for the Nuggets this season, showing flashes of potential at just 21 years old.

“That’s honestly what I do,” Hyland said about becoming a fan favorite. “I’m getting more and more comfortable being out there and, as you can see, I’m showing a lot more. But that’s what I do: I get the crowd involved. I’m a fan favorite, I can already tell that. That’s been me for my whole life! It’s just going to keep happening as the season goes along.”

Denver drafted Hyland with the No. 26 pick in July, expressing confidence in the VCU product. The team will need his production as star guard Jamal Murray continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered last April.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers made a starting lineup adjustment on Sunday, choosing to start Larry Nance Jr. over Robert Covington at power forward, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). While the move adds more size to the lineup, it could hurt the team’s ability to space the floor and shoot. Nance has made just 29% of his attempts from three-point range this season, while Covington has hit 35%.
  • Nuggets guard Markus Howard made the most of his opportunity against the Spurs on Saturday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Howard, who is on a two-way contract, finished with 21 points in 21 minutes off the bench. “I just know any time I’m put in a position to be in the game, I know my skillset, and I know what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “And so do my teammates. They have trust in me to be able to make plays.”
  • The Jazz are urging vigilance against COVID-19, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune writes. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to go anywhere soon,” center Rudy Gobert explained. “So we have to be smart, keep moving forward, be smart, and that’s it. It’s unfortunate when someone tests positive, but it’s going to be our reality for a while, so we’ve got to just live with it.”

Northwest Notes: Campazzo, Hyland, Bol, Dozier, Dort, Gobert

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, who played professionally in Argentina and Spain from 2008-20 before arriving in the NBA, will be a free agent at the end of the 2021/22 season. However, Campazzo said this week that he has no intention of returning to Europe or to his home country to continue his career next year — his goal is to remain in the NBA beyond his current deal, despite playing a lesser role than he did internationally.

“My mind is 100 percent set on this, in the NBA,” Campazzo said, per David Fernandez Novo of (hat tip to RealGM). “This league demands the most out of you both physically and mentally.”

Campazzo, 30, has averaged 21.1 minutes per contest in 88 games for Denver since the start of the 2020/21 campaign and has moved up on the depth chart since Jamal Murray tore his ACL in the spring. So far this season, he’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 2.6 APG on .409/.362/.810 shooting in 23 games (19.0 MPG).

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets had Bones Hyland and Bol Bol available on Wednesday after the two players cleared their quarantine and exited the health and safety protocols, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets.
  • Nuggets swingman PJ Dozier underwent surgery to repair his torn left ACL this week, the team confirmed (via Twitter). Dozier, who has been ruled out indefinitely, is expected to miss the rest of the season.
  • Thunder wing Luguentz Dort met the starter criteria when he made his 23rd start of the season on Wednesday night, based on the NBA’s adjusted rules for 2021/22. Dort has a $1,930,681 team option for ’22/23, but if Oklahoma City picks up that option, he’d be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Turning down the option would allow the team to re-sign Dort as a restricted free agent in 2022. In that scenario, his qualifying offer would be worth about $4.87MM.
  • Despite losing to the Jazz by 32 points on Wednesday, Timberwolves guards Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards didn’t exactly heap praise on their opponents after the game. As Sarah Todd of The Deseret News relays, Beverley suggested that three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert isn’t guarding the best players on the court, while Edwards said that Kristaps Porzingis is a better rim protector than Gobert. “I don’t get why we couldn’t finish on Rudy Gobert,” Edwards said. “He don’t put no fear in my heart.” The Wolves and Jazz will face each other three more times this season, including twice more in December, Todd notes.

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.

Nuggets Notes: Injuries, Losing Streak, Hyland, Nnaji, Cancar, Bol

The Nuggets have had a run of bad luck over the past several months. They looked like a championship-caliber team last season, and then playoff star Jamal Murray tore his ACL in April.

Michael Porter Jr. looked very out of sorts to start the season. It turns out he was dealing with a nerve issue in his back, and he might be out for the season.

Despite losing two of their three best players, the Nuggets started the season 9-4 after reeling off five straight home wins. Two games later, MVP Nikola Jokic suffered a wrist injury.

A few games after that, with their top three players all sidelined, backup wing PJ Dozier suffered a torn ACL that will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Dozier was one of the team’s best and most versatile defenders.

The Nuggets now sit at 9-10 after losing six in a row. Jokic has missed the past four games, and it’s not clear when he’ll return. With the string of bad luck, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post wonders what the team’s next steps should be.

Kiszla opines that veterans Jeff Green, JaMychal Green, and Facundo Campazzo, all 30-plus years old, are not the future of the team, and coach Michael Malone should trust in Denver’s player development and give the young players a chance to play meaningful minutes.

He states that rookie Bones Hyland, currently sidelined with a sprained ankle, should have a significant role upon his return. He also thinks young forwards Zeke Nnaji (who’s also dealt with an ankle sprain) and Vlatko Cancar should get a chance to prove themselves as NBA players, instead of defaulting those minutes to the veterans.

Here’s more from Denver:

  • In a mailbag Q&A for The Denver Post, Mike Singer answers several questions about the team. He says 7’2″ center Bol Bol doesn’t have the trust of Malone, which is why he remains stuck on the bench despite all the injuries. One major reason for that is the lack of hustle from Bol in the few times he’s received opportunities. Singer agrees with Kiszla that Nnaji should get more of an opportunity, and is curious how Lance Stephenson might fit defensively if he gets called up from Denver’s G League team at some point.
  • Within the same column, Singer says there’s still a lot of unknowns about Porter’s back injury, but he does know that MPJ is trying to avoid having another back surgery. Both Kiszla and Singer agree that tanking isn’t an option for the Nuggets with Jokic in the middle of his prime.
  • The defense has collapsed during the losing streak, Singer writes in a separate article. The team is preaching a defense-first mindset with so many important offensive players out. Singer states that the team desperately misses Jokic’s high defensive IQ and MPJ’s length and rebounding. Malone jokingly said Jokic should receive award consideration for something he’s not known for. “In the last six games, I know for a fact we’re the 30th-ranked defense in the NBA,” Malone said. “And that is a far cry from the defense that we started the year off playing. And that’s why … I think Nikola (Jokic) might be Defensive Player of the Year.”

Northwest Notes: Giddey, Jokic, Hyland, Vanderbilt

The Warriors were planning to take Josh Giddey with the seventh pick in this year’s draft if the Thunder hadn’t scooped him up at No. 6, Giddey’s father tells Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Warrick Giddey says the Warriors told his son’s agent, Daniel Moldovan, that Josh would be their target if he was still on the board.

The Thunder and the Warriors were the only teams to hold private pre-draft workouts with the Australian guard, and both came away impressed. Giddey is averaging 10.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.6 assists through his first five NBA games and appears ready for the league at age 19.

“We’re not overly surprised by what we’ve seen,” coach Mark Daigneault said, “but obviously there’s a lot of work to do and we’re excited to continue to work with him. He’s gotta get a lot better as well.” 

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic didn’t consider sitting out Friday’s game after suffering a bruised knee earlier in the week, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Jokic underwent an MRI that showed no structural damage and said he plans to keep going as long as the knee doesn’t feel weak. “They’ve been making him go through the protocols, the testing, different drills and they felt that he was more than capable of getting out there and playing,” coach Michael Malone said.
  • The Nuggets have one of the lowest-scoring benches in the league and may turn to rookie guard Bones Hyland for a spark, Singer adds in a separate story. Hyland saw his first game action this week and scored seven points in 10 minutes. “I keep on saying it, but Bones Hyland,” Malone said. “That second unit’s struggling to score, make shots. Well Bones has shown he can do that.”
  • His Timberwolves teammates love playing alongside Jarred Vanderbilt, who got his first start of the season this week so he could guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, per Megan Ryan of The Star Tribune. The fourth-year power forward is known for an aggressive, unselfish approach to the game. “He’s a contagious person,” Anthony Edwards said. “Anytime he’s on the floor, we’re playing better, we’re playing harder. We’re making the extra pass, making the extra closeout. We’re one step faster.”