Brandon Ingram

Injury Notes: Sabonis, Ingram, Doncic, Williams

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said on Thursday that the team doesn’t have a “definitive” timeline for Domantas Sabonis‘ return from a left ankle sprain, but told reporters the All-Star big man will likely miss “at least a few games” (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).

As we observed on Thursday, it’s bad luck for the Pacers that two of their top trade candidates – centers Sabonis and Myles Turner – are battling injuries with the February 10 deadline around the corner. However, Sabonis’ injury in particular seems unlikely to be a long-term concern. There’s still a good chance Indiana hangs onto Sabonis, but any trade offers the team gets shouldn’t be negatively impacted by what appears to be a minor ailment.

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

  • The Pelicans held Brandon Ingram out of the fourth quarter of their Thursday win over New York due to a sprained right ankle, says Andrew Lopez of ESPN. There are currently no plans to have the forward an undergo an MRI, but the team will evaluate the injury further before determining how much time – if any – he’ll have to miss. New Orleans doesn’t play again until Monday, so Ingram’s ankle will have a few days to heal.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic landed on his back after a drive to the basket during Thursday’s game against Phoenix and admitted after the game that his neck was “pretty sore” following the hard fall, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. However, Doncic expressed optimism that he’d be “OK in a couple days” and won’t miss any time.
  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams is no longer on the team’s injury report, an indication that he has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols. A regular rotation player for Oklahoma City, Williams could draw trade interest from playoff teams in the next few weeks as a lower-cost three-and-D option.

Trade Rumors: Simmons, Pelicans, Lakers, Harris, Magic

In the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto said he’s heard the Pelicans discussed a deal with the Sixers that would’ve seen New Orleans give up a series of first-round picks and swaps in exchange for Ben Simmons. The 76ers have been seeking an All-Star caliber player in any Simmons deal, but Scotto says Brandon Ingram wasn’t included in those discussions.

The Pelicans do have an excess of first-rounders as a result of their Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades. However, I imagine Philadelphia would want to turn those picks into players who could make an immediate impact, rather than simply loading up for the future. So perhaps a third team would be necessary in order for the Pelicans and Sixers to make real progress.

Scotto and his guest, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, talked about a handful of other trade rumors from around the NBA during the podcast. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Following up on his report about the Lakers internally discussing the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook, Fischer says the team’s only outgoing call in which Westbrook’s name may have come up was to the Sixers about Simmons. “The conversation pretty much was, ‘We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?'” Fischer explained. “The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.”
  • Fischer also said he received some push-back from Brooklyn about his report that the Nets may be open to moving sharpshooter Joe Harris. “Perhaps, teams who had early conversations with Brooklyn about Joe and they didn’t categorically shut them down, maybe that’s all this was,” Fischer said.
  • Addressing Shams Charania’s recent report that the Magic want a first-round pick for Terrence Ross, Scotto says some executives have talked about being open to giving up two second-rounders for the veteran swingman. However, Scotto’s not sure that would “move the needle” for Orlando. As I noted on Monday, Ross is under contract through 2022/23, so there’s no urgency for the Magic to move him.
  • Fischer has heard that before the Nuggets agreed to send R.J. Hampton the Magic as part of the Aaron Gordon trade in March, they were trying to include Bol Bol in Hampton’s place.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Ingram, Morant, Primo

New concerns have emerged about Zion Williamson‘s weight after a photo was tweeted from the Pelicans‘ game last week in Houston in which he looked larger than usual, writes Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post. Williamson hasn’t played yet this season while recovering from foot surgery, and he suffered another setback last week when soreness in the foot further delayed his return.

Meanwhile, there has been increased speculation about his bulkiness, which has been an issue dating back to his time in college. On Tuesday’s “Lowe Post” podcast with Zach Lowe, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said sources have told him that Williamson’s weight has ballooned to 330 pounds, well above his listed playing weight of 284.

In response to last week’s photo, a friend of Williamson tweeted out a different picture today at a youth basketball event in which the Pelicans star looks much lighter and called the weight controversy “fake news.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Brandon Ingram has been putting up big numbers over the Pelicans‘ last seven games, and he and new coach Willie Green agree it’s because they’ve figured out the best way to use him, per William Guillory of The Athletic. Despite being double teamed more frequently, Ingram is averaging 25.4 PPG over that stretch. “He’s just been playing at a higher level, playing faster, more aware of what’s going on around him,” Green said. “Really, there are times when he’s just taking over the game, which I love to see from him.”
  • Injured Grizzlies star Ja Morant was placed into the league’s health and safety protocols today, but coach Taylor Jenkins isn’t worried about Morant’s health, according to Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Jenkins didn’t reveal if Morant tested positive for the virus, but said he recently got a booster shot and is feeling fine. “There’s still more testing to be done so it’s too early to know exactly how that’s going to impact timelines and all that stuff but there’s definitely rules,” Jenkins said. “That’s why fortunately he’s fully vaccinated and has his booster so whatever comes, hopefully there’s more positive for us, not testing wise.”
  • Spurs guard Joshua Primo has seen some NBA action lately with Devin Vassell injured, but the organization plans to have him return to the G League, states Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. “We want him to have more time in Austin for obvious reasons,” coach Gregg Popovich said of the 18-year-old rookie. “He needs to mature in every way, shape and form because of his age. But, having said that, he has a confidence that belies his age. He’s pretty steady in his emotions, shows a great affinity for the game, understands what is going on better than most people, and he is willing to stick his nose in.”

Southwest Notes: Kevin Porter Jr., Spurs, Hart, Ingram

Rockets guard Kevin Porter Jr. has developed a unique sensibility in his new role this season as Houston’s starting point guard, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Porter calls his own style “Scoot ball.”

“Basketball today is hardly traditional,” said Porter of his role with the Rockets. “I tried to become a traditional (point guard), but that’s not me at all. I’m ‘Scoot.’ I get a bucket or set my guy up.”

The 6’4″ guard, who was a small forward during his rookie season with the Cavaliers and a shooting guard last year with the Rockets, is averaging 13.3 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.2 RPG and 1.2 SPG for a tanking Houston club in the second season of a rebuild.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs forward Doug McDermott was well aware of teen rookie shooting guard Joshua Primo years before they were teammates, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News details. “I’ve been impressed with him for a long time,” McDermott said. “My dad [Creighton head coach Greg McDermott] recruited him really hard at Creighton. I think it came down to Creighton and Alabama. So I’ve been watching Josh for a long time. I’ve always known he was going to be a hell of a player.” The 18-year-old Primo is currently logging significant minutes with San Antonio’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs. “[My college decision] came down to [Creighton] and Alabama,” Primo confirmed. “I went to Alabama, but we still kept in touch.”
  • Pelicans guard Josh Hart appreciates new head coach Willie Green‘s confidence in his shot creation, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “Willie has all the trust in me to go out there and play my game and play with confidence,” Hart said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that we talked about. It wasn’t just standing in the corner and hoping and praying for the ball.”
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram returned to action following a seven-game absence due to a hip contusion, and his activity helped fuel just the second New Orleans victory of the year, a 112-101 defeat of the Grizzlies. William Guillory of The Athletic examines how Ingram’s 19 points helped the Pelicans end their nine-game losing streak. Ingram addressed the calming influence of new head coach Willie Green through a tumultuous start to the club’s 2021/22 season. “(He’s) just keeping guys positive — making sure their heads (are) up, making sure they’re staying confident in everything that they’re doing,” Ingram said. “Our guys have put in the work. He sees that, and he just wants everybody to be successful on the basketball floor.”

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Ingram, Alexander-Walker, Young

The Pelicans currently have a 1-11 record, worst in the NBA. They’ve lost eight games in a row. David Griffin, the team’s executive VP of basketball operations, is reportedly on the hot seat.  All-Star Zion Williamson has yet to play a game following foot surgery. Fellow former All-Star Brandon Ingram is out for the seventh consecutive game with a hip contusion, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com (Twitter link).

Coach Willie Green said Ingram could return soon following a full practice yesterday, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Obviously, that won’t happen tonight.

Needless to say, things are not going well in New Orleans.

According to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com, Griffin has done a poor job building the roster around Zion and Ingram. Kushner says the team’s first-round draft picks under Griffin (aside from Zion) haven’t proven to be reliable rotation players, let alone pieces to build around. He didn’t list them by name, but he was referring to Jaxson Hayes (8th), Nickeil Alexander-Walker (17th), Kira Lewis (13th), and rookie Trey Murphy (17th).

Kusher notes that despite modest expectation from fans, the team is failing to deliver an interesting, competitive product that has a clear direction, and that falls squarely on Griffin.

Here’s more from the Southwest:

  • Alexander-Walker has been heavily scrutinized for a slow start to the season, but he was one of the silver linings of the Pelicans‘ loss to the Thunder on Wednesday, scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter. Will Guillory of The Athletic opines that keeping Alexander-Walker in attack-mode is one of the keys for the Pelicans to turn their losing streak around. Guillory also believes the team needs to shorten the rotation and keep believing in each other.
  • Despite being in-and-out of the lineup, Thaddeus Young‘s professionalism and workman-like mentality have rubbed off on the young Spurs. He’s also been highly productive in his limited minutes. Young is a free agent at the end of the season and is viewed as a valuable trade chip. He knows he may not last the entire season with the team, but that hasn’t impacted his mindset, writes Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News. “I am not sure what is going to happen with me, whether I will be here next year or if I will be here past the trade deadline,” Young said. “But, at the end of the day, at this point in time, this moment, I am here, I am a San Antonio Spur and I am planning on giving 120 percent each night.”
  • Check out our Pelicans and Spurs team pages for the most recent notes and rumors on the two teams.

Southwest Notes: Porter Jr., Ingram, Vassell, Martin Jr.

The Rockets are showing patience and a commitment to third-year player Kevin Porter Jr., Rahat Huq of the Houston Chronicle writes. Although it was an expected move, Houston recently exercised Porter’s fourth-year option for the 2022/23 season, further cementing the team’s commitment to the guard.

The Rockets, whose young nucleus consists of Porter, Jalen Green, and Alperen Sengun, among others, has opened the season with just a 1-8 record. For his part, Porter has averaged 12.4 points and five assists through nine contests, shooting only 37% from the floor.

Porter’s best performance last season was a 50-point, 11-assist outing against the NBA champion Bucks, which showed his potential as a scorer. The 21-year-old has dealt with some off-the-court issues in the past, however, including a 2020 weapons charge and a well-documented locker-room outburst with the Cavaliers.

There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • The Pelicans are listing star forward Brandon Ingram (right hip contusion) as questionable for Monday’s contest against Dallas, the team relayed. Ingram has missed four straight games due to the injury. New Orleans is also listing Herb Jones (ankle soreness) as questionable.
  • Spurs guard Devin Vassell is on a “good track” to start the season, head coach Gregg Popovich said, as relayed by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. Vassell is averaging 11.9 points on 46% shooting and is showing an increased level of confidence to start the season. San Antonio drafted him with the No. 11 pick in 2020.
  • Rockets second-year player Kenyon Martin Jr. is continuing to earn playing time with the team, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Martin, 20, is part of the club’s young core. He was traded to Houston on the night of the 2020 draft after being selected No. 52 overall by Sacramento.

Zion Williamson Out At Least 2-3 More Weeks

Pelicans head coach Willie Green provided a health update on Zion Williamson today, telling reporters that doctors are encouraged by the latest scans on the forward’s foot (Twitter link via Andrew Lopez of ESPN).

According to Green, Williamson is participating in 5-on-0 workouts and has shown the ability to cut, but hasn’t yet been cleared for 5-on-5 work. The plan is for the former No. 1 overall pick to undergo more scans in about two or three weeks in the hopes of clearing him to participate fully in practice and determine a timeline for his return (Twitter link via William Guillory of The Athletic).

When Pelicans head of basketball operations David Griffin first revealed on Media Day last month that Williamson had undergone surgery on his foot in the offseason, he conveyed optimism that the 21-year-old would be ready to go by the regular season. However, prior to opening night, Griffin walked those comments back, suggesting that he hadn’t meant the start of the regular season.

Even if Williamson is cleared to return to action in three weeks, which is an optimistic timeline, he’d miss about 12 more games for a Pelicans team that has started the season with a 1-6 record. New Orleans has playoff aspirations this season, but the club hasn’t looked good on either end of the court with the former No. 1 overall pick out of the lineup and risks digging a deeper hole for itself in the coming weeks.

Green also said today that Brandon Ingram, who is dealing with a right hip contusion, is still sore and is considered day-to-day (Twitter link via Guillory).

Pelicans Notes: Ingram, Zion, Murphy, Succession Plan

As he prepares to play for his third head coach in the past three seasons, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram is looking for more stability under Willie Green, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Ingram has added some muscle mass to his lean frame, and he thinks it will help him be more efficient around the rim.

I thought it would help my game out a lot, just the way I’m playing,” Ingram said. “Driving to the basket. Taking a lot of contact. I wanted to be able to deliver the blows. Being able to finish. Being in good, low positions. And being able to finish. It was something I just wanted to work on this summer.

Ingram has also taken on a leadership role for the Pelicans, Clark notes, helping to organize voluntary workouts in Phoenix over the summer. Green believes the key to Ingram’s new role as a team leader is to be himself.

I’m looking forward to seeing him lead in his way. I think that’s the key for Brandon. Not to try to do something that is not him. I can see that early with who he is and what his personality is. He’s been great all summer.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • William Guillory of The Athletic recently spoke to Jeff Stotts, a certified athletic trainer who runs a website tracking injuries and how they affect NBA players, about whether Zion Williamson‘s injury might be a cause for long-term concern. Stotts says that Williamson’s fractured fifth metatarsal on his right foot has a relatively high re-injury rate, and can be especially problematic for larger players, noting that Kevin Durant, Brook Lopez, and Glen Davis all suffered setbacks with similar injuries. Guillory adds that this is the third injury to Zion’s right leg since 2019, which is certainly worrisome. However, Stotts says that Pelicans head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson is elite, as his teams have consistently been in the top tier for fewest games missed due to injury or illness, and Robin Lopez had a successful recovery from the same injury while under Nelson’s care in Phoenix.
  • Rookie Trey Murphy is “one of many” players in the running for a starting roster spot, Clark writes for NOLA.com. Clark thinks Murphy’s ability to space the floor and make quick reads could be a nice complement for stars Ingram and Williamson.
  • Pelicans owner Gayle Benson recently revealed the franchise’s long-term succession plan, per Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com, with the primary goal to keep the team in New Orleans.

Pelicans Rumors: Griffin, Vaughn, S. Mitchell, Vinson, Hayes

Before the Pelicans decided to hire Willie Green as their new head coach, they were looking hard at Nets assistant Jacque Vaughn, who ultimately removed his name from consideration.

At the time, Vaughn’s desire to spend more time with his family in Brooklyn was cited as the motivating factor for his decision to withdraw, but Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report suggests that Vaughn’s discussions with Pelicans executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin also played a part. During those conversations, Griffin conveyed that he intended to be involved in determining the team’s rotation, planning players’ skill development, and filling out Vaughn’s coaching staff.

“He wants to have some level of involvement in every decision,” one Pelicans source said of Griffin, per Fischer.

Here’s more out of New Orleans:

  • After Vaughn withdrew from the Pelicans’ coaching search, the team expanded its list of candidates, according to Fischer, who says NBA TV broadcaster and former Coach of the Year Sam Mitchell was among those to receive a call. Mitchell is expected to receive consideration for a spot on Green’s staff, Fischer adds.
  • Pelicans assistant Fred Vinson, who interviewed for the head coaching position, is considered likely to remain in his current role. Sources tell Bleacher Report that Vinson’s interview with New Orleans lasted over four hours and was “exemplary.” Vinson and fellow Pelicans assistant Teresa Weatherspoon are said to have good relationships with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, per Fischer.
  • During the interview process, the Pelicans wanted to know how each head coaching candidate would scheme their offense around Williamson and Ingram, and asked them to present development plans for the team’s other young players, writes Fischer.
  • Fischer refers to center Jaxson Hayes as “a personal favorite” of Griffin’s.
  • In case you missed it, the Pelicans are reportedly likely to trade at least one of Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams this offseason and may go after Kyle Lowry in free agency.

Pelicans Notes: Van Gundy, Ingram, Ball, Hart, Adams

There were signs that Stan Van Gundy might not return for another season as Pelicans head coach well before the news became official Wednesday, according to Shams Charania, Joe Vardon and William Guillory of The Athletic. Earlier today, we shared their insights into Zion Williamson‘s future in New Orleans, and they have information on the coaching situation as well.

Van Gundy expressed his frustrations about the team’s performance to an assistant coach during a late-season bus trip, and someone relayed those comments to executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin with a warning that Van Gundy may not want to go through another season. Additionally, a meeting between Van Gundy and Griffin prior to the last weekend of the season turned out poorly, according to sources.

Sources also tell the authors that Brandon Ingram, who earned an All-Star nod under previous coach Alvin Gentry, didn’t like Van Gundy’s coaching methods. Ingram frequently talked about the way he and Williamson were used when they were on the court together, saying they rarely created better shot opportunities for each other.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans will face important decisions this summer on two players who were at the heart of the Anthony Davis trade, Charania, Vardon and Guillory add in the same story. Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart will both be restricted free agents and will be seeking substantial raises. Hart has become a vocal leader on a team without a strong veteran presence, and Williamson and Ingram have spoken out in favor of bringing both players back.
  • The puzzling decisions to trade for Steven Adams and then give him a two-year extension look worse than ever, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. New Orleans gave up a first-round pick in the deal for the veteran center, who clogs the lane and takes away room for Williamson to operate. Hollinger also questions the choice to take Eric Bledsoe‘s sizable contract from the Bucks instead of George Hill in the Jrue Holiday trade.
  • The latest coaching change comes at a crucial time for the franchise, Hollinger adds. The Pelicans’ lease in New Orleans expires in 2024, so there’s a need to put a competitive team on the floor as soon as possible to ease any fears of relocation. He adds that owner Gayle Benson is very connected to the city and isn’t currently looking to sell, but the team continues to lose money while missing the playoffs.