Brandon Clarke

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Favors, Rockets, Clarke

When the Pelicans announced on Monday that they’d signed Sindarius Thornwell, they indicated in their press release that the guard is a substitute player, but didn’t reveal which player on the roster he’d be replacing. More than 24 hours later, we have no further clarity on which New Orleans player will be supplanted by Thornwell.

According to John Hollinger of The Athletic (Twitter link), Thornwell is replacing a player who tested positive for the coronavirus and the Pelicans can’t name that player for privacy reasons. The team previously announced that three players tested positive for COVID-19, but the identities of those players wasn’t reported. Still, it will likely just be a matter of time until we know which Pelican won’t participate in the summer restart, if only by the process of elimination.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Pelicans center Derrick Favors, whose contract expires at season’s end, admitted today that he weighed the risk of suffering a pre-free-agency injury this summer before ultimately deciding to play. I definitely thought about it,” Favors said, per Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). “But I trust my body and I trust what I’ve done.”
  • Rockets GM Daryl Morey said this week that he isn’t too concerned about the 2020/21 salary cap uncertainty, having concluded that any fluctuation is “probably not going to impact us too much,” tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets – and as I pointed out when I previewed Houston’s ’20/21 cap – a shifting tax line could affect the Rockets, since they already have more than $123MM committed to six guaranteed contracts.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, who missed the team’s last eight games before the hiatus due to a quad injury, said on Monday that he feels like he’s back to full health, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “Over these past five to six weeks, I’ve gotten back to the player that I was. I feel like I’m pretty much the same health that I was pre-injury,” Clarke said. “I got the same balance and running habits, so it’ll all just be about my habits on the court.”

Lou Williams Expected To Play In Restart; Beal Still Undecided

Seven players so far have opted out of the NBA’s restart this summer, but Clippers guard Lou Williams is unlikely to join that group. Despite previously expressing uncertainty about his status, Williams is expected to suit up for the Clippers as they pursue a title at Walt Disney World, head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday.

“As far as Lou, all indications (are) that yes, he is (playing),” Rivers said on a Zoom call, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com. “Obviously, up until we get on the plane, anything can happen. But I do expect Lou to be with us. I would be very surprised if he’s not.”

Meanwhile, another high-scoring guard, Bradley Beal, remains uncertain about his status for Orlando, as Youngmisuk writes in a separate story. Beal’s teammate Davis Bertans has already pulled out due to injury concerns ahead of his upcoming free agency. Beal’s backcourt mate and fellow All-Star John Wall won’t be in attendance either, as he continues to focus on his Achilles rehab and a 2020/21 return.

According to Youngmisuk, Beal is considering health factors too as he weighs his options.

“I have yet to make (my decision),” Beal told reporters on Wednesday. “I am still working my tail off every single day as if I am playing. It is more or less a decision that will come down to the medical staff and coming back from zero to 100, and then I have some nagging stuff from the end of the year that we are trying to clean up, too. We are looking at it from all angles. I am definitely working out every single day here. It is good to be back in the facility. … I am not swayed one way or another.”

Here’s more on certain players’ participation decisions:

Grizzlies Expect Jackson, Winslow Back Within Next Week

The Grizzlies will be getting some reinforcements off the injured list soon as they continue their push to secure the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. The team announced today in a press release that forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee) and Justise Winslow (back) are both likely to return to action within the next week.

Jackson, who is dealing with a sprained left knee, has been on the shelf since suffering that injury on February 21. Before going down, he was one of Memphis’ leading scorers, with 16.9 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 1.6 BPG in 54 contests (28.0 MPG).

As for Winslow, he has yet to actually appear in a game for the Grizzlies, having been acquired from the Heat in the three-team trade that sent Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder to Miami at last month’s deadline. The centerpiece of that trade from Memphis’ perspective, Winslow has been limited to just 11 games on the season due to injuries. In 2018/19, he recorded 12.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 4.3 APG in 66 games (29.7 MPG) for the Heat.

The Grizzlies have been holding their own without Jackson and Winslow — their 32-32 record gives them a four-game lead on the Pelicans and Kings for the West’s final playoff spot. Still, Memphis isn’t in the clear yet. New Orleans, in particular, is a candidate to make a run at the No. 8 seed, since the Pels have the league’s easiest schedule for the rest of the season, per Tankathon. The Grizzlies have the second-hardest rest-of-season slate.

Although Jackson and Winslow are close to returning, the same can’t be said for Brandon Clarke, who remains sidelined with a right quad strain. The Grizzlies’ announcement today did offer some optimism on Clarke’s recovery though, indicating that he’s still expected to return before the end of the season.

Grizzlies’ Clarke Out At Least Two Weeks With Quad Injury

Already missing Jaren Jackson Jr. due to a knee injury, the Grizzlies will now be without another key forward as they attempt to hold onto their playoff spot. The team announced on Tuesday night that Brandon Clarke has been diagnosed with a right quad injury and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Clarke suffered the injury on Monday night against the Clippers, leaving the game early in the first quarter with what was initially referred to as hip soreness.

The 21st overall pick in the 2019 draft, Clarke has been one of the NBA’s most impressive rookies this season, averaging 12.0 PPG and 5.8 RPG with a .623/.404/.785 shooting line in 50 games (21.7 MPG) for the upstart Grizzlies.

Clarke and Jackson are both among the top five Memphis players in minutes per game this season, so the team will have to rely on its depth to fill those holes in the next couple weeks. Having also traded away forwards Jae Crowder, Solomon Hill, and Bruno Caboclo prior to this month’s deadline, the Grizzlies figure to lean more heavily on players like Kyle Anderson, Gorgui Dieng, Josh Jackson, and Jordan Bell. Grayson Allen and Justise Winslow also remain on the shelf with injuries of their own.

The 2019/20 season has already been a success for the 28-29 Grizzlies, whose win total has surpassed their preseason over/under projection. Still, down two important rotation players and facing the NBA’s toughest remaining schedule, the club will be hard-pressed to hang onto its three-game lead for the No. 8 seed in the West.

Doncic, Young, Zion Headline Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has officially announced the 20 rookies and sophomores who have been named to the league’s Rising Stars game for All-Star weekend. Those 20 players, selected by assistant coaches from around the league, will be divided into a U.S. Team and a World Team, as follows:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

Williamson’s inclusion is notable since he has appeared in just four games due to injuries. It’s not surprising that the NBA found a way to get him into the game, since he’s one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in years, but it’s a tough break for youngsters who have been on the court since the fall for contenders, such as Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle. or Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Snubbed players like Thybulle, Porter, and others could eventually make their way into the Rising Stars game if players have to pull out due to injuries, or if All-Stars like Doncic and Young opt not to play in both events.

The Rising Stars game will take place in Chicago on Friday, February 14.

Western Notes: Jazz, Kings, Grizzlies, Spurs

There haven’t been a ton of roster moves made around the NBA since the regular season began, but the Jazz completed a surprising one this week, officially waiving forward Jeff Green on Tuesday, less than six months after signing him as a free agent. According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, the team loved Green’s professionalism, but wanted to open up minutes for Georges Niang, whose shooting is a threat off the bench.

While Niang might be the main beneficiary of Green’s departure, sources tell Jones that Utah is also very happy with two-way player Jarrell Brantley and views him as a rotation player at some point. Additionally, John Hollinger of The Athletic suggested on Monday that the Jazz may want to create more minutes for G League standout Juwan Morgan, who signed a standard contract with the club last month.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings had to get by without De’Aaron Fox and Marvin Bagley III for much of the season’s first two months. Now, with both players healthy, the challenge will be integrating Fox and Bagley while the team finds its identity, writes Jason Jones of The Athletic. “There’s some things as a group that we have to find our rhythm again,” head coach Luke Walton said over the weekend. “I believe in our group and we are going to get there, but in the meantime, the only way to do is to watch film and work harder. So that’s what we are going to do.”
  • When the Grizzlies played back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday last week, rookies Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke appeared in both contests for the first time this season. Expect that to happen more often going forward, says David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • The Spurs have begun to see “positive steps” in the development of 2018 first-rounder Lonnie Walker, who has been playing more regular minutes lately, as Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News details. Head coach Gregg Popovich said Walker is still learning how to “be a pro” and play with his teammates, but praised the 21-year-old’s intelligence.

Injury Updates: Clarke, Lowry, D-Lo, Crabbe, More

Just three days after ruling out Ja Morant with a week-to-week injury, the Grizzlies have done the same with their other prized rookie. Forward Brandon Clarke aggravated a sore left oblique muscle during Sunday’s game and will be sidelined on a week-to-week basis, the team announced today in a press release.

The 6-14 Grizzlies are certainly lottery-bound, but Morant and Clarke have at least been two bright spots – and reasons to keep an eye on the young team in Memphis – so far this season. Clarke has averaged 11.8 PPG and 5.9 RPG with a .630 FG% in 18 games (21.2 MPG). In his absence, the club will presumably lean a little more heavily on bigs like Jaren Jackson Jr., Solomon Hill, and Bruno Caboclo.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Kyle Lowry, who has missed nearly a month with a left thumb injury, will return to the Raptors‘ starting lineup tonight. As Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca tweets, head coach Nick Nurse said he’d like to ease Lowry back in, but the veteran point guard won’t have a specific minutes cap.
  • Another star point guard who has been out with a thumb injury appears to be nearing a return as well. Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets that D’Angelo Russell, who hasn’t played since November 15, has been upgraded to questionable for the Warriors‘ game in Charlotte on Wednesday.
  • Hawks wing Allen Crabbe underwent a non-surgical procedure on his right knee today, according to the team. The club didn’t provide a timeline for Crabbe’s recovery beyond saying he’ll miss Wednesday’s game vs. Brooklyn, but this is the same knee that gave him trouble earlier in the year.
  • A Thunder spokesman said on Tuesday that Andre Roberson will continue his injury rehab process in Los Angeles, away from the team, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Billy Donovan said the decision wasn’t related to a setback or another operation, but the head coach’s comments didn’t sound overly promising. “He can’t get himself back to play, and he just wants to try some other avenues to try to get himself back to play,” Donovan said of Roberson. “He’s gotten to a point, and he can’t get past that point.”
  • Clippers swingman Rodney McGruder remains sidelined with a right hamstring strain, and head coach Doc Rivers said earlier this week that he didn’t believe McGruder was close to returning (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic).

Team Canada Dealing With Depleted Roster

Much has been made of the withdrawals from Team USA by prominent players as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup in China this summer. Team Canada has experienced similar issues.

Canada Basketball unveiled its training camp roster in a press release and many notable names are missing. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, Luguentz Dort, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Mfiondu Kabengele, Naz Mitrou-Long, Trey Lyles, Dwight Powell, Marial Shayok, Nik Stauskas, and Tristan Thompson were among the invitees who opted not to participate.

Knicks lottery pick RJ Barrett and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are on the roster but will only participate in training camp. Barrett is dealing with a mild calf strain, while Murray is nursing an ankle injury, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets.

Among the NBA players who are on the roster and intend to participate in the tournament are Kings guard Cory Joseph, Heat forward Kelly Olynyk, Magic center Khem Birch and Raptors big man Chris Boucher. Toronto’s Nick Nurse is the head coach of the team, which will play seven exhibition games before its FIBA opener against Australia on September 1.

Western Notes: Smith, Cuban, Fertitta, Daniels, Clarke

The Lakers are unlikely to sign shooting guard J.R. Smith once he clears waivers, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. The Cavaliers cut Smith loose on Monday after failing to find a trade partner. The lack of interest shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the Lakers have signed shooting guards Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Troy Daniels in free agency.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has been fined $50K by the league for leaking information from the Board of Governors meeting, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon reports. Cuban revealed the vote to allow coaches to challenge an official’s ruling next season.
  • The league has also fined Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta $25K for making public comments about the Russell WestbrookChris Paul swap before it was officially completed, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.
  • Troy Daniels chose the Lakers over the Warriors and Thunder, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Daniels was wooed by Anthony Davis during the decision-making process. Daniels signed a one-year, minimum salary contract.
  • Grizzlies forward Brandon Clarke, the 21st player selected in the draft, has been named the Las Vegas Summer League MVP, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal relays. Clarke averaged 14.7 PPG and 9.8 RPG in 22.0 MPG over six games.

Grizzlies Sign Brandon Clarke To Rookie Contract

Shortly officially finalizing their trade with the Thunder to acquire his draft rights, the Grizzlies have officially signed No. 21 overall pick Brandon Clarke to his rookie scale contract, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

Clarke, 22, was viewed as a potential lottery pick entering the draft after he posted 16.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and a .687 FG% in his junior year at Gonzaga. When Clarke slipped a little, Memphis took advantage of his slide by packaging the No. 23 pick with a future second-rounder to move up to No. 21 to nab him.

As our chart of rookie scale salaries shows, Clarke’s first NBA deal figures to be worth approximately $2.48MM in year one and $12.15MM if he plays out the full four seasons.

Teams haven’t wasted any time in locking up their first-round picks to rookie contracts — Clarke is already the 19th of 30 first-rounders to formally sign, joining teammate Ja Morant in that group.