Christian Braun

Haynes’ Latest: Hyland, Hornets, Anunoby, Reddish, Barton

The Hornets are among the teams to register some interest in Nuggets guard Bones Hyland, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report stated during the latest episode of his #thisleague UNCUT podcast with Marc Stein.

Haynes, following up on his TNT report on Hyland from Tuesday, reiterated that the second-year guard would be open to a trade that sets him up for a larger role elsewhere. There has been “friction” between Hyland and Denver’s coaching staff, Haynes notes, adding that the Nuggets have confidence in rookie Christian Braun to take on some of Hyland’s minutes if a trade happens.

Echoing previous reports, Haynes also confirms that the Timberwolves are among the teams with interest in Hyland, but expresses some skepticism that the Nuggets would want to send the former first-round pick to Minnesota, since there’s still some resentment from Denver’s ownership group about how Tim Connelly‘s move to the Wolves played out.

Here are a few more items of interest from the podcast:

  • Based on rumblings he has heard, Haynes believes that Raptors forward OG Anunoby would “embrace a change of scenery,” even if he hasn’t explicitly asked to be traded. Haynes also suggests that neither the Grizzlies nor the Pelicans want their Southwest rival to land Anunoby, which is a factor to keep in mind if Toronto seriously considers moving him.
  • The Cavaliers, who have been in the market for help at the small forward position, are among the potential trade suitors to watch for Knicks forward Cam Reddish, according to Haynes. Dylan Windler‘s expiring $4MM contract would be a logical salary-matching piece in a Reddish trade if the Knicks are simply seeking a second-round pick, though that’s just my speculation.
  • Things haven’t worked out well for Will Barton with the Wizards so far, Haynes notes, reporting that the veteran guard would be open to a change of scenery. Haynes identifies the Nets and Bucks as two teams worth keeping an eye on. It’s unclear whether Washington will find a trade for Barton or if he might emerge as a buyout candidate after the February 9 deadline.

Nuggets Notes: Power Forwards, Gordon, Jokic, Braun

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said on Sunday that the team will take a by-committee approach to replacing Jeff Green‘s minutes with the forward expected to miss at least a month or so due to a finger injury.

As Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets, Malone mentioned Zeke Nnaji as a logical replacement from Green at power forward, but noted that Vlatko Cancar, Michael Porter Jr., and Bruce Brown could all see minutes at the four as well. Nnaji was ineffective vs. Phoenix on Sunday, picking up three fouls and no points or rebounds in nine minutes of action.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Aaron Gordon had 28 points, 13 rebounds, a highlight-reel dunk, and a key blocked shot in Sunday’s victory and has now been a plus-65 during Denver’s four-game winning streak (the Nuggets have been outscored by 31 points with Gordon off the court during the streak). As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, the forward’s ability to contribute all over the court has Malone talking about him as a potential All-Star and Nikola Jokic referring to him as the “soul of this team.”
  • Gordon is questionable to play on Tuesday in Sacramento due to a right shoulder strain, tweets Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette.
  • Voter fatigue will likely work against Jokic as he makes a bid for a third consecutive MVP award, but the Nuggets’ star center is building a strong case for consideration, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. The 27-year-old is nearly averaging a triple-double for the top team in the Western Conference and has scored more efficiently than ever, with a career-best .616 FG%. Additionally, the Nuggets have a plus-11.3 net rating with Jokic on the floor, compared to an abysmal minus-13.6 mark when he sits, per
  • Within the same Athletic story, Hollinger checks in on Nuggets rookie wing Christian Braun, who has been playing rotation minutes as of late. Hollinger is intrigued by the potential Braun has shown on defense, but acknowledges his role on offense is unlikely to expand beyond “guy who stands in the corner” anytime in the near future.

Nuggets Notes: Hyland, Defense, Braun, Green

Everything was back to normal for Nuggets guard Bones Hyland Tuesday night after he was benched over the weekend for a lack of effort, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Hyland returned to his usual role, sparking Denver’s second unit with 20 points, including five three-pointers, and handing out five assists in 30 minutes of action.

Hyland played just five minutes Sunday in New Orleans, being pulled from the game as Jose Alvarado was lighting up Denver’s reserves on the way to a career-high 38 points. Nuggets coach Michael Malone talked to Hyland about the benching at Tuesday’s shootaround, according to Singer, and came away encouraged that his young guard understands what’s expected of him.

“As I told him this morning, ‘Offensively, we need your scoring, but it’s required to give forth the same effort on both ends of the floor,’” Malone said after Tuesday’s game. “… I felt he competed, I felt he fought, he contested, he tried to be physical with guys. That’s all I’m ever asking for, from Bones or for anybody.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Team defense continues to be a concern for the Nuggets, who rank 26th in the league on that end of the court, per Harrison Wind of DNVR. Denver allowed the Mavericks to shoot 50% from the floor and 47.2% from beyond the arc Tuesday night in a one-point loss. “We’re losing games that we’re supposed to be winning,” Hyland said. “We know we’re not giving a sense of urgency to defend and go out there and compete every night. The locker room’s definitely frustrated.”
  • Malone is hoping to carve out a greater role for first-round pick Christian Braun, Singer tweets. “I gotta get him minutes,” Malone told reporters Tuesday. “… He’s a part of our future.” Braun has played in 22 of the team’s first 24 games, but is averaging just 12.9 minutes per night.
  • Jeff Green returned Tuesday after missing seven games with a knee contusion, but he’s been able to make a contribution even when he’s not playing, according to Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette. “His voice, he has the respect of the entire locker room. I think when he uses his voice and he steps up, I think it’s critical to our success, and it’s critical to our young players,” Malone said. “If it’s me all the time, that’s cool. We’re only going to be a good team. When our players and our veterans take ownership and leadership, I think that allows you the potential to go much further, much farther and much deeper.”

Western Notes: Porter Jr., Braun, Mitchell, Eason

Michael Porter Jr. has made 48.9% of his three-point attempts this season while shooting a high volume (7.8 per game). The Nuggets forward believes the pace is sustainable, as he told Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “Fifty percent (from) three, to me, is not an unrealistic number,” Porter said. “I’m not saying that that’s easy to do, but I missed a lot of shots that I feel like I should make, and I’m at 50%. … I think in high school I shot like 75% from three. Like, literally.”

We have more from the Western Division:

  • Nuggets rookie Christian Braun has guarded a wide variety of players in the first two weeks and held his ground, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post writes. The coaching staff has been impressed by the first-round pick. “He doesn’t blink. He doesn’t get rattled,” coach Michael Malone said. “He’s just really, you know, a Cool Hand Luke, calm, cool, collected … aggressive, drives and finishes. A fun kid to watch.” Braun is averaging 17.7 minutes off the bench.
  • The revamped Jazz have surprised a lot of people but not one of their former All-Stars. Donovan Mitchell says Utah still has plenty of talent, the Cavs guard told Steve Bulpett of “They got hoopers,” Mitchell said. “I don’t know why everybody was so quick to write them off. I think they got phenomenal leaders in that locker room. Mike Conley is a phenomenal leader. Jordan Clarkson is a phenomenal leader. Then they got Collin Sexton and Lauri Markkanen, guys who can really go … Malik Beasley. Like, they’re just not some slump. They have guys that can really go.”
  • Tari Eason has brought a much-needed defensive mean streak to the Rockets, Kelly Iko of The Athletic writes. Eason, a rookie forward out of LSU, is averaging 16.8 minutes off the bench and one of his coaches draws a comparison to a well-known agitator. “He’s a prime example of a better Dennis Rodman,” Rockets lead assistant John Lucas said of the 17th overall pick. “That is a good fit for him. I have been trying to see who he plays like. You don’t have to run plays for him, but you can pencil in 16 to 18 points for him, and he is getting better. He is crashing the offensive glass. He is running the floor and getting steals.”

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Braun, Jokic, Vanderbilt, Beasley

The 1-1 Timberwolves are continuing to adjust to their new-look roster as the 2022/23 season gets going, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“The smaller we go, the better it is for me,” star Minnesota shooting guard Anthony Edwards said after the team’s 132-126 overtime loss to the rebuilding Jazz Friday night. Given that the team’s highest-paid players are seven-foot frontcourt starters Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, Krawczynski notes that this is a loaded statement.

“I have to get him the ball more,” head coach Chris Finch said of Edwards. “We ran a couple things to get the ball in his hands. And then, again, the ball got sticky. We tried to play through KAT there. But he’s got to get some looks. That’s on me.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets rookie shooting Christian Braun seems to be carving out a solid bench role already, having logged a productive 23 minutes as a reserve for the Warriors, writes Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. The 21-year-old Braun, selected out of Kansas in this year’s draft with the No. 21 pick, has emerged as a multi-faceted defender, and could prove to be a vital role player for a team with championship aspirations.
  • Reigning two-time Nuggets MVP Nikola Jokic, one of the league’s best passers, looks set to thrive surrounded by sharpshooting colleagues, notes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Braun raved about the depths of the center’s hoops knowledge. “Jok is unbelievable,” Caldwell-Pope said. Braun added: “You try to learn from him because he knows your spot probably better than you do.”
  • Jazz role players Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley have already been through their share of rebuilds, and hope to use their wealth of experience to help guide the youth movement in Utah, writes Sarah Todd of Deseret News. “Just trying to bring those same qualities and pretty much we’re in the same boat, trying to rebuild and establish a culture and create winning habits,” Vanderbilt said. “[W]e’ve been on three programs [with the Nuggets and the Timberwolves] that before we got there they weren’t playoff contending teams. “We ended up helping be a part of rebuilds and being a part of changing culture. This is not new for us.”

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, McDaniels, Azubuike, Sharpe

After replacing his old boss Tim Connelly this offseason, new Nuggets head of basketball operations Calvin Booth had a busy summer, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, signing Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, and using first-round picks on Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

Speaking to Mark Medina of, Booth said the Nuggets’ offseason goals were to upgrade their defense, get more athletic, and add more two-way talents. He feels the team accomplished those goals.

“With KCP, we have one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league, someone with championship experience and a proven vet,” Booth said. “Bruce was one of the most underrated guys in the league last season. We’re finding that out every day in the game with how sophisticated of a game he has.

“Christian and Peyton will eventually address those needs. We valued DeAndre’s vet leadership and the way he communicates. He’s one of the best rebounders of his generation, and he can still do that. Ish Smith has been a great addition as well and brings different levels of speed and pace to the game.”

In his Q&A with Medina, Booth also discussed several other Nuggets-related topics, including Nikola Jokic‘s chances of winning a third consecutive MVP award, Jamal Murray‘s return from an ACL tear, and Booth’s own contract extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Nuggets have a chance to come out of the West this season, he thinks there are still too many question marks related to the team’s depth and returning stars to actually forecast such a scenario. In his preview of Denver’s season, Hollinger projects a 50-32 record and a fourth-place finish in the West.
  • Jaden McDaniels will be the Timberwolves‘ starting small forward to open the 2022/23 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. McDaniels, whom the team worked hard to keep out of the Rudy Gobert trade, will fill out a star-studded lineup that features Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns up front, with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, who underwent surgery on his right foot and ankle in March, was cleared to practice in full on Thursday for the first time in seven months, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I was excited about it,” Azubuike said. “We did some exercises in the morning before practice, and that felt good. Then, me going out there, getting a rep and you know, I’m just excited. It really felt good.” It remains to be seen if the former first-round pick will earn a spot on Utah’s regular season roster, since the team has 18 players on standard contracts and will need to make cuts by Monday.
  • Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe has signed with agent Mike George of One Legacy Sports for representation, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Northwest Notes: Green, Jazz, Wallace

Nuggets forward Jeff Green put together a voluntary minicamp for himself and some of his Denver teammates this week in Miami, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Davon Reed, Zeke Nnaji, Christian Braun, Peyton Watson and Jack White joined Green for the workouts. Wind adds that additional players hoped to join them but were unable to carve out the time in their schedules.

The Nuggets are preparing for an exciting 2022/23 NBA season, with reigning two-time MVP Nikola Jokic set to be rejoined by point guard Jamal Murray, who missed all of 2021/22 due to a left ACL tear, and small forward Michael Porter Jr., who appeared in just nine games before back surgery waylaid him for the rest of the year. The team’s starting lineup will be rounded out by power forward Aaron Gordon and newly-acquired 3-and-D specialist Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Nuggets role players like Green, Reed, and Nanji, plus the three rookies joining them in Miami this week, could prove to be important contributors during what Denver hopes will be an extended postseason run.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • After the Jazz appeared to signal the beginning of a rebuild with their trade of All-Star center Rudy Gobert for a package comprising young players, movable veterans and draft compensation, they seem set for a lackluster 2022/23 season. Brandon Judd of the Deseret News notes that Kendra Andrews, Andrew Lopez and Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link) projects the club to finish with a 26-56 record next season.
  • Former Nuggets scouting coordinator Jon Wallace is departing his post in Denver to join the Timberwolves as both Minnesota’s director of player personnel and the general manager of the club’s NBAGL affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, reports Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Wallace tweets that Wallace was especially valued with the Nuggets for his impact on their guards. Wallace is joining a revamped Minnesota front office led by Tim Connelly, himself the former Denver team president.
  • In case you missed it, Timberwolves majority owner Glen Taylor recently sat for a long-ranging discussion about the new-look team’s personnel and expectations.

Nuggets’ Booth Talks Offseason Moves, Murray, MPJ, Jokic

Following Tim Connelly‘s departure for Minnesota, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth was thrust into the lead role of Denver’s front office just weeks before the 2022 draft and wasn’t shy about immediately shaking up the roster this offseason.

Of the 17 players who currently have standard guaranteed contracts or two-way deals with the Nuggets for 2022/23, eight have joined the team since the ’21/22 season ended. That group includes wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown and rookies Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, among others.

Speaking to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Booth said that last year’s team was “a little bit smaller” than the front office had envisioned, so it was a priority this summer to add some size, especially on the perimeter. Upgrading the defense was also a goal, according to Booth, who discussed a few specific roster moves in his conversation with Vorkunov.

Here are a few of the most noteworthy comments from the Nuggets’ new head of basketball operations:

On the motivation for the trade that sent JaMychal Green to Oklahoma City:

“It helped us open up another roster spot to get a more regarded or better defender on the perimeter. JaMychal brought a lot of toughness and explosion around the rim and he’s a great shooter, but (defending) in space wasn’t his strength. So, it allowed us to open up a roster spot where we can get somebody that could be more versatile and switch and do something like that.”

On whether Booth thinks the defense will be better in 2022/23, particularly on the perimeter:

“Yeah, definitely do. I think, again, with the injuries, and Jamal (Murray), I think, is an underrated defender. Obviously, it’s gonna take a while to get back into tip-top form for him coming back off the injury, but I fully expect him to be a two-way guy once he’s back feeling like himself.

“But Aaron Gordon had to cover a lot of holes last year; he had to go into the backcourt a lot more probably than Coach (Michael) Malone or himself would have liked to. So, hopefully with the addition of KCP and Bruce Brown and Christian Braun and some of the guys of this nature — Davon Reed, he’s back, he does some good things for us — Aaron won’t have to go into the backcourt quite as much.”

On the plan for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. as they return from injuries this fall:

“I definitely think they’ll both be healthy (to start the season). Especially with the nature of Mike’s injury, and even Jamal, we’ll probably have to be wary about back-to-backs and things of that nature. As we get close to the season Coach Malone and I will sit down with performance staff and map out a plan for what that looks like during the regular season.”

On attempting to maximize Nikola Jokic‘s prime years:

“That’s just a priority. That’s the No. 1 focus. Maximize the timeline. Put personnel around him that allows him to play his best and get the most out of his teammates. So, that’s the No. 1 priority in our organization right now.”

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Porter, Caldwell-Pope, Braun

The Nuggets‘ Summer League practice on Tuesday was enlivened by the presence of Jamal Murray, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). Murray participated in several drills and took part in some scrimmages. Summer League coach Ryan Bowen said practicing was Murray’s decision and although he wanted to keep playing while the media was present, that idea was vetoed.

Murray, who missed the entire season due to a torn ACL, was involved in some non-contact drills on Monday that sparked his competitive instincts, Bowen explained. The reviews on Murray were positive, and coach Michael Malone called it “probably the most serious 5-on-5” that Murray has played since the injury, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

“He looked mobile, agile and hostile,” Malone said, citing a quote from “Remember the Titans.” “He looked confident. That’s the most important thing to me. I wasn’t charting his makes and misses. I was trying to see the confidence level. How was he moving, defensively … he looked good.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from Denver:

  • Jontay Porter, who’s on the Nuggets’ Summer League roster, offered a positive update on his brother, Michael Porter Jr., whose season was cut short by back surgery, Singer states in the same story. Jontay said Michael “looks great” and they’ve been playing 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games to get themselves back into shape. Jontay played for the Grizzlies last year, but was limited to 11 games because of a knee injury.
  • In a press conference today welcoming veteranswingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Malone said he was the main player the Nuggets focused on acquiring, Singer adds in a separate story. Malone likes having a 6’5″ guard who can play defense, and the team hasn’t forgotten the way that Caldwell-Pope shut down Murray in the 2020 Western Conference Finals. “He’s seen what it takes to win a championship,” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets also introduced first-round pick Christian Braun, and Malone suggested that he might have a regular role as a rookie, Wind tweets“I love his maturity. I love his IQ,” Malone said. “The things I really love about him the most are his toughness and physicality. Some guys shy away from physicality, Christian embraces physicality.”

Nuggets Sign Christian Braun, Peyton Watson, Collin Gillespie

The Nuggets have signed first-round draft picks Christian Braun and Peyton Watson to their rookie contracts, the team announced in a press release. Denver also officially signed undrafted Villanova guard Collin Gillespie to a two-way contract.

Braun, 6″7″, was drafted No. 21 overall last month. He helped Kansas win the NCAA championship this past season, averaging 14.1 points and 6.5 rebounds in 34.4 minutes per game. He also shot 49.5% from the floor and 39% from downtown during those outings. Assuming the usual 120% of the rookie scale, his deal will be for four years and $13.77MM.

Watson, 6’8″, was selected with the final pick of the first round. He played 32 games with UCLA as a freshman last season, ranking second on the team in blocked shots. He’s also only 19 years old. His deal is expected to be worth $11.27MM across four years.

Gillespie agreed to a two-way deal with Denver shortly after the draft. He averaged 15.6 points per game for Villanova last season, shooting 41.5% from three-point range. Gillespie, Braun and Watson are all set to play for the team during summer league this month.