Brandon Knight

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/30/18

Here are Sunday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Texas Notes: Gordon, Knight, D. Smith, Gasol

The Rockets‘ backcourt, already depleted by Chris Paul‘s hamstring injury, may be even more shorthanded after Eric Gordon limped off the court late in last night’s win at New Orleans. Gordon will undergo an MRI today to determine the severity of a bruised right knee, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Gordon tells Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle that he banged knees with someone early on and the pain increased throughout the game.

“I don’t have an answer right now,” Gordon said Saturday about the possibility of missing games. “I’ll know a lot more tomorrow probably. My knee is a little painful to play. We’ll see what happens. I hate to come out of the game like that, being injured.”

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • Rockets guard Brandon Knight was willing to accept a G League assignment to get more playing time, Feigen writes in a separate story. As a seven-year veteran, Knight could have refused, but he wants to get on the court as much as possible after missing a year and a half following an ACL tear. “It’s just an impossible situation with us,” coach Mike D’Antoni explained. “He played very limited minutes. He would have wasted three or four months just sitting there watching. That’s what the G League’s made (for.) More guys should probably take advantage of it. Our team uses it a lot.”
  • Rumors that the Mavericks are looking to trade second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr. are way overblown, announcer Chuck Cooperstein said in a radio interview excepted by The Dallas Morning News. Marc Stein of The New York Times recently reported that executives around the league expect Smith to eventually be moved because of the emergence of rookie Luka Doncic, but Cooperstein stressed that the story never indicated Dallas is actively looking for a deal.
  • Spurs center Pau Gasol was on the active roster for the first time in nearly two months Friday, but it’s not clear what his role will be for the rest of the season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. Jakob Poeltl has been averaging nearly 20 minutes a game, and coach Gregg Popovich hasn’t explained how he plans to fit Gasol back into the rotation. “He’s Pau,” Popovich said before last night’s game. “He does what he does. … He’s a good passer. He’s been doing the same thing for a million years.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/29/18

Here are Saturday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Rockets have assigned veteran guard Brandon Knight to their affiliate in Rio Grande Valley, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston. This will be the second G League trip of the year for Knight, who is working his way back after missing a year and a half with an ACL tear. Knight has seen limited minutes in six games with Houston since returning to action.
  • The Raptors sent Malachi Richardson to their Raptors 905 affiliate, according to a tweet from the G League team. Richardson has appeared in 19 games for Toronto, but is only seeing 5.0 minutes per night.
  • The Jazz tweeted that they have recalled Tony Bradley from the Salt Lake City Stars. Bradley has made several trips back and forth to the G League, but has yet to play in an NBA game this season.
  • The Bucks recalled Donte DiVincenzo from their Wisconsin affiliate, according to a tweet from the team. The rookie guard had 17 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Herd last night.
  • The Kings recalled Harry Giles after sending him to Stockton for Friday’s game, the team announced on its website. Giles had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his latest G league trip.

Southwest Notes: Doncic, Payton, Knight, Walker IV

Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic has drawn comparisons to a young LeBron James early in his rookie season, stuffing the stat sheet and impacting the game on both ends of the floor as the team’s lead player through 33 games.

Doncic, who was drafted by the Mavs with the No. 3 pick in June, has been a prime Rookie of the Year candidate with averages of 19 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5.1 APG on 43% shooting from the field. The sudden comparisons to a player of James’ caliber have amazed the young star.

“I mean, it’s amazing,” Doncic said of the comparisons, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “You all know that he’s my idol, so it’s just amazing to be there.”

Doncic’s preferred team on draft night was the Mavericks, with agent Bill Duffy making a strong push to land his client in Dallas at the time, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Doncic has quickly become a household name at just 19 years old, working to become the next face of the Mavericks organization.

“He’s made a name for himself,” Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki said. “Any time you’re known by just your first name after just a few months in the league, that’s a great sign.”

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton participated in parts of practice Thursday with a splint on his finger, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). Guillory also reports the Pelicans are hopeful Payton can return in the next week, with the 24-year-old rehabbing from a broken finger suffered in November.
  • Brandon Knight is still acclimating to his new situation with the Rockets, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes“He’s in a tough spot,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Knight. “He hasn’t played in a year and a half. This is not an experimental league. We don’t really practice. He needs to play, and we’re not in a position to allow that.” Knight has appeared in six games with the Rockets this season.
  • Spurs rookie Lonnie Walker IV continues to have a positive mindset despite not making his season debut yet. Walker has traveled to the Spurs’ G League team and back several times this season, working to improve after tearing his meniscus in the preseason. “Everyone always has higher hopes,” Walker said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s your rookie season. You can’t compare yourself to other people. It’s a horse race. You’ve got to stay in your own lane. Sooner or later, I see that light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s now or next year or my third year, it’s only a matter of time until people understand who Lonnie Walker is. So I’m not (in) too much of a rush. Patience is key.”

Rockets Notes: Rivers, Paul, Knight, Mbah A Moute

Austin Rivers is downplaying talk of a feud with Chris Paul during their five years as Clippers teammates, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Rivers, who officially signed with the Rockets yesterday, points out that he never would have been welcome in Houston if Paul hadn’t agreed to the move.

“I have no problems with Chris, as you guys will see,” Rivers said. “Obviously, if I had a problem with Chris I wouldn’t be here. Chris has a huge input on this team as he should. He’s a Hall of Fame point guard. If that was that serious, I wouldn’t be here. That will show you that’s not real.”

Paul’s latest hamstring injury, suffered last Thursday, opened the door for Rivers to become a Rocket. Houston needs backcourt help with Paul out of action for at least two weeks, and Rivers was looking for playing time on a contending team after agreeing to a buyout with the Suns, who acquired him from the Wizards earlier this month.

“This is a team I always admired and wanted to play for with (coach Mike) D’Antoni and the way they play, getting up and down,” Rivers added. “It’s a very fitting place.”

There’s more today from Houston:

  • Even though he just joined the team and hasn’t played in more than a week, Rivers won’t be on a minutes restriction as he makes his debut with the Rockets today, tweets Houston play-by-play man Craig Ackerman.
  • The addition of Rivers will cut into Brandon Knight‘s playing time, but that was the plan all along, Feigen writes in a question-and-answer column. Knight missed a year and a half with an ACL tear and only had a couple of practices before taking the court. The Rockets intended to bring him along slowly and didn’t want to increase his minutes because of Paul’s injury.
  • Rockets management had concerns about the condition of Luc Mbah a Moute‘s shoulder, which limited what they were willing to offer him in free agency, Feigen adds in the same piece. Mbah a Moute, who got $4.3MM to rejoin the Clippers, has only played four games this season, but it has been a knee issue rather than the shoulder that has limited him.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Knight, House, Doncic

Despite all of the attention on Anthony Davis and the speculation about his long-term future, Scott Kushner writes for The Journal Times that the Pelicans have more pressing issues to solve, most notably their inability to close out games.

As Kushner points out, the Pelicans are the worst clutch team in the NBA, as they are 5-11 in games that are within five points in the final five minutes. In fact, during those situations the Pelicans are outscored by 28.6 points per 100 possessions, the worst net rating.

This is a stark contrast to last season, when the Pelicans led the league in clutch wins with 30. Before they have to deal with Davis’ future, the Pelicans have to figure out how to win this season, which will often come down to their ability to close out games in crunch time.

There’s more from the Southwest division:

  • With Chris Paul out for the next couple of weeks, Brandon Knight is ready to step up and contribute if given the playing time. As Jonathan Feigen writes for The Houston Chronicle, Knight has struggled to find his shot since returning from injury, and with the Rockets adding Austin Rivers earlier today, Knight may find himself short on minutes in the rotation.
  • Danuel House has provided an unexpected lift for the Rockets off the bench in recent weeks, and he even started against the Spurs this weekend due to Paul’s injury. As Feigen reveals for The Houston Chronicle, starting in his hometown was a meaningful experience for House.
  • When asked about his comments regarding his desire to play with Anthony Davis, LeBron James mentioned several other great players in the league that he would love to play alongside. As SportsDay Dallas points out, James included Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic in that list, highlighting his respect for the rookie’s strong start to the season.

Rockets Dangling Knight, First-Round Pick In Trade Talks

The Rocketssearch for wing help remains ongoing, and the team has made calls around the NBA, offering Brandon Knight and a first-round pick in potential packages, writes Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic.

Houston’s willingness to offer Knight and a first-rounder doesn’t exactly come as a huge surprise. The veteran guard has been viewed as the team’s most likely trade chip due to his $14.63MM salary, which would allow the Rockets to match a wide range of incoming contracts. The Rockets also reportedly offered four first-round picks to Minnesota during the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, so attaching one to Knight in trade discussions makes sense.

This specific package of a Knight and a first-round pick was recently cited by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer as being offered up in a four-way trade that would have seen Houston acquire Kentavious Caldwell-Pope from the Lakers. In that scenario, Knight and the first-rounder would’ve been redirected to Atlanta, but the deal didn’t come to fruition.

[RELATED: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sits atop Rockets’ wishlist]

According to Bijani, the Rockets have been active in their efforts to insert themselves and participate in multi-team deals in order to facilitate the acquisition of a wing. The team is said to be seeking a veteran that would provide reliable three-point shooting and solid perimeter defense, allowing Houston to stabilize its rotation.

While Caldwell-Pope is one player who could fit that bill, there are many others. I’m not sure the Rockets would be willing to surrender a first-round pick for some of the trade candidates out there though, even if it meant moving Knight’s multiyear contract. That list of trade candidates includes J.R. Smith, Kent Bazemore, DeMarre Carroll, and Wesley Matthews, among others.

O’Connor’s Latest: Ariza, Suns, Lakers, Love, Knicks

Earlier this morning, we relayed a report from Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggesting that the Jazz are among the teams with interest in Bulls forward Jabari Parker. O’Connor’s full article for The Ringer includes a number of other interesting tidbits worth passing along, so we’ll round up some of the highlights in the space below…

  • Many NBA executives expect it to be a quiet trade season in 2018/19, since there will be a ton of buyers and the sellers don’t have all that many attractive trade assets, says O’Connor.
  • After Friday’s three-team Trevor Ariza trade fell apart, the Lakers jumped back in by offering Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and a second-round pick, but the Suns wanted a young player – likely Josh Hart – instead of the draft pick, according to O’Connor. The Lakers, as previously reported, refused to include Hart or any of their other top prospects.
  • One of the other variations of an Ariza deal that was discussed before the Suns sent him to the Wizards featured the Rockets and Hawks, league sources tell O’Connor. In that scenario, Ariza would have gone to the Lakers and the Rockets would have acquired Caldwell-Pope. The Suns would have received Jeremy Lin and an additional asset, while the Hawks got Brandon Knight and a first-round pick.
  • Reports have suggested that the Cavaliers don’t plan to trade Kevin Love unless they’re blown away by an offer. Even if that stance changes, front office executives don’t expect Cleveland to receive any viable offers for Love unless the big man looks healthy and productive before the deadline, O’Connor writes.
  • The Knicks‘ clearest path to a maximum-salary slot for the 2019 offseason would involve trading Courtney Lee or Tim Hardaway Jr. However, according to O’Connor, front office sources believe New York would need to attach an asset in order to move either player without taking back multiyear salary.

Rockets Emerging As Suitor For Caldwell-Pope

The Rockets are emerging as a potential suitor for Lakers wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic. While no deal is imminent and Houston isn’t the only club interested in Caldwell-Pope, the Rockets appear to be targeting the 25-year-old in multi-team trade scenarios, according to Charania.

On Sunday, we heard that the Lakers and Suns had discussed trade scenarios in which Trevor Ariza would land in Los Angeles and the Lakers would trade away Caldwell-Pope. However, KCP has the power to veto any trade and almost certainly wouldn’t want to end up with the NBA-worst Suns, who in turn wouldn’t have much use for another wing. As such, the Lakers and Suns are said to be on the lookout for a third team to help facilitate a possible deal.

[RELATED: At least eight teams have inquired on Trevor Ariza]

The Rockets make some sense as that third team, given their need for another three-and-D player. Houston would also be a much more favorable landing spot than Phoenix for Caldwell-Pope if he hopes to play a regular role for a contending team this season.

However, the Rockets’ best salary-matching piece in the range of Ariza ($15MM) and Caldwell-Pope ($12MM) is Brandon Knight ($14.63MM), and Houston can’t send him back to Phoenix during the 2018/19 league year, since the Suns traded him away in August. As such, the Rockets, Lakers, and Suns would likely need to search for a fourth team to acquire Knight and draft picks, sources tell Charania.

Ariza and Caldwell-Pope will become trade-eligible on Saturday, so it’s possible that these talks will get more serious at that point.

Injury Updates: Knight, Pistons, Grizzlies, MPJ

Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since the 2016/17 season, is expected to make his Rockets debut next week, head coach Mike D’Antoni said on Tuesday evening (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com). While Knight isn’t expected to take on a major role for his new team, he could help provide some backcourt depth if James Harden, Chris Paul, or Eric Gordon are banged up, perhaps regaining some trade value if he looks good.

As the Rockets prepare to welcome Knight to the active roster, they’re dealing with another injury to a rotation player. As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle relays (via Twitter), James Ennis will miss Thursday’s game and will likely remain on the shelf for a few more days due to a right hamstring issue.

As Houston looks to get healthy, here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • A pair of Pistons players, Glenn Robinson III and Henry Ellenson, have been diagnosed with ankle sprains and will be re-evaluated in two weeks, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. Ellenson had only appeared in two games this season, so his absence won’t impact the team significantly, but Robinson has started 16 games so far, averaging 16.0 MPG.
  • The Grizzlies provided updates on four players today, announcing in a press release that Dillon Brooks is expected to return by the end of the month while Chandler Parsons will be re-evaluated in two weeks. Jevon Carter and Yuta Watanabe are set to resume basketball activities within the next week, according to the club.
  • We haven’t heard much this season about Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr., who continues to recover from back surgery. However, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hears that Porter is “looking impressive” and says Denver has been surprised with how well Porter has been shooting from beyond the arc.
  • Hawks big man Miles Plumlee recently underwent a non-surgical procedure on his left knee and will be re-evaluated on December 18, according to a press release from the team.