Christian Wood

Southwest Notes: Thad, Spurs Youth, Wood, Clarke, Tillman

New Spurs forward Thaddeus Young appears to be staying put in San Antonio for the time being. The Suns continue to be intrigued by the versatile veteran, but an immediate move is “doubtful,” per John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Twitter link).

Young was sent to the Spurs from Chicago in the sign-and-trade package that netted the Bulls pricey small forward DeMar DeRozan during the 2021 offseason. The 33-year-old Young enjoyed a stellar year with the Bulls in 2020/21, averaging 12.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.3 APG while logging time at the small forward, power forward, and center positions for a Chicago team in desperate need of his veteran leadership, passing skills, and defensive savvy.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • With longtime leaders DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay now all gone from the Spurs‘ roster, the club’s young players have developed a strong bond together, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News“The Spurs do a great job of picking people who have great personalities off the court,” said 22-year-old shooting guard Lonnie Walker. “We all hang out every other day, going out to eat, doing something as a team… As we continue to build that trust, it starts to lead onto the court, knowing what each other can do, knowing what each other can’t do, what we should be better at.”
  • When Rockets center Christian Wood first inked a three-year, $41MM deal with Houston in the 2020 offseason, he was not anticipating that he’d soon find himself on a rebuilding roster. Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details how Wood continues to look on the bright side of his new situation. At the time, the club still sported then-All-Star guards James Harden and Russell Westbrook, along with veteran power forward P.J. Tucker. Now all those players have moved on. Westbrook was subsequently traded to the Wizards later in the 2020 offseason (and has now been rerouted to the Lakers), while Harden forced his way onto the Nets and Tucker was sent to the 2021 title-winning Bucks. “I know what we’re trying to build and develop,” Wood said. “I’m looking ahead at the future at what this team has to offer. I know we have a bunch of young talent. I said before, we’re not going to go in try to be the No. 1 seed or No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. But we’re going to try to play every game like it’s our last.”
  • Though they could play together, defensive-oriented 6’8″ Grizzlies bench big men Brandon Clarke and Xavier Tillman Sr. seem poised to compete with each other to carve out rotation roles in Memphis, writes Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian. Herrington suggests that Tillman may have an edge edge over Clarke in the eventual rotation, thanks in part to his solid shooting and half-court passing acumen.

Rockets Notes: Porter, Silas, Theis, Wood, Tate, Gordon

Third-year guard Kevin Porter Jr., who dealt with off-court issues early in his NBA career, said earlier this week that the Rockets “saved my life” and “picked me up when I was down.” Head coach Stephen Silas isn’t taking those words lightly, telling reporters on Tuesday that it means a lot to him to develop such important relationships with players, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“It means everything,” Silas said. “That’s why you coach. For the stories, for the guys who maybe aren’t given a shot or feel like they are not able to have the opportunity they deserve. Hopefully, I can put … him in a position where he can be as successful as he can possibly be, whatever it is.”

Silas only has one year of experience as a head coach under his belt, but showed during his years as an assistant coach that he was capable of making those connections with his players, according to Rockets guard D.J. Augustin.

“Steve’s always been like that,” Augustin said, per Feigen. “I was with Steve in Charlotte when he was an assistant. He’s always been a great people person. Some coaches, they’re not good with communicating with players off the court. Steve is that guy who has the ability to kind of connect with players, especially with younger guys.”

Here’s more on the Rockets:

Rockets Notes: Wall, Wood, Porter, Theis, Vaccines

The Rockets and John Wall mutually agreed earlier this month to hold him out of games and work together on finding a trade, but the veteran point guard believes he still has a role to play with the team off the court.

Wall reiterated several times during his Media Day availability today that his main priority is to serve as a veteran mentor to Houston’s young players, and also stated that he’s 100 percent healthy entering the new season (Twitter link via Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle).

Wall, who isn’t sure which team he’d like to be traded to, told reporters on Monday, “My job is to be here with this team, stay healthy, and see what the future holds” (Twitter link via Kelly Iko of The Athletic).

General manager Rafael Stone and the Rockets’ front office are in lock-step with Wall, a stark contrast to the situation in Philadelphia. Stone says that the communication between the two sides has been great, stating, “In terms of our communication it’s been easy. The challenge was what works for everyone long term. It’s not like our communication ends today” (Twitter link via Iko).

When asked about the possibility of a buyout with Wall, Stone said he doesn’t expect that to happen anytime soon, if at all.

Organizationally we don’t have any interest in this at this time,” Stone said (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston). “I don’t think that makes sense for John and I don’t think that makes sense for us. We’re gonna find things that make sense to both parties.”

There’s more from Houston:

  • Forward/center Christian Wood, who was a borderline All-Star last season prior to injuring his ankle, says he’s fully recovered from the injury and is 100 percent healthy entering the season (Twitter via Kelly Iko).
  • Kevin Porter Jr., whom the Rockets acquired from the Cavaliers last season, is beyond grateful to the Rockets. This organization saved my life,” Porter told reporters today (Twitter link via Iko). “I needed a new change of scenery and they picked me up when I was down.” Porter went on to add that basketball wasn’t an escape outlet in Cleveland because he was depressed at the time, but coming to Houston represented a total 180 for the young player (Twitter link via Iko).
  • Free agent addition Daniel Theis appears optimistic about partnering with Wood in the Rockets’ frontcourt, expressing optimism that the two big men can play alongside one another and telling reporters that he wants to be the anchor of the team’s defense (Twitter link via Iko).
  • The Rockets are 100 percent vaccinated, Stone told reporters today (Twitter link via Iko).

Olympic Notes: Exhibition Game, Beal, Harris, Wood, Adebayo

There have been discussions about canceling Team USA’s exhibition game with Australia on Friday due to the U.S. team’s COVID issues, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Olgun Uluc tweet. Bradley Beal has been ruled out of the Olympics and Jerami Grant has also been placed under health and safety protocols. Australia defeated Team USA earlier in the week.

We have more on Team USA:

  • Coach Gregg Popovich is crestfallen for Beal, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. “I’m dying for him. We all are,” Popovich said. “Since he’s a little kid this has been a dream of his, he was playing great, he was having fun, being a big part of us coming together chemistry-wise and as a family. So for him and his family, his immediate family, it’s devastating. We just feel horrible about it.”
  • USA Basketball is checking into Tobias Harris‘ availability, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Sixers forward is currently out of the country but is expected to return Saturday evening. Rockets big man Christian Wood is also being considered as Beal’s replacement.
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo contributed 12 points, five assists, and five rebounds in the team’s victory over Argentina on Tuesday. Adebayo’s versatility could be a major component for the squad, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “The one thing about it is we don’t want everybody on the court thinking too much,” Adebayo said. “So I feel like with me and (Draymond Green), we have a responsibility to do all the little stuff — the screening, getting people open, making the extra pass. And obviously go score when there’s an opportunity.”

Southwest Notes: Winslow, Mavs, Wood, Marshall

Grizzlies executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman has until August 1 to make a decision on the team’s $13MM option on Justise Winslow, and may still see the forward as part of the team’s future, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

“There’s a lot of encouraging things that we saw from Justise,” Kleiman said. “I think he’s a player who can be very valuable and could potentially fit with what we’re doing.”

The oft-injured 25-year-old appeared in just 26 of a possible 72 games this season for Memphis due to a variety of maladies. He was out of the Grizzlies’ rotation in their first-round playoff series loss to the Jazz.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle acknowledged that, after a 45-point outburst from Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard in Game 6 of the teams’ first-round series, Dallas will need to get creative in a crucial Game 7, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We have done everything in this series, and we’ll have to be ready with the kitchen sink in Game 7.” The Mavericks’ lone All-Star, Luka Doncic, has pushed his team to the brink of an upset thanks to his incredible play. Thus far in the series, he is averaging 40.8 PPG, 9.7 APG, 9.5 RPG, and 1.5 SPG.
  • When he was available, Rockets center Christian Wood proved his mettle during his first season with the club, says Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. The 25-year-old Wood, who has two years and $28MM left on the three-year contract he signed with Houston before the season, averaged 21.0 PPG (shooting 51.4% from the field and 37.4% from deep) and pulled down 9.6 RPG in 41 games.
  • Undrafted Pelicans rookie small forward Naji Marshall grew up as an underdog, which has served him well on his journey to the NBA, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark notes that the Pelicans are hoping that Marshall could prove to be a sharpshooting swingman capable of fulfilling a variety of needs. Last month, New Orleans inked Marshall to a four-year contract (including the rest of the 2020/21 season). The deal is non-guaranteed for the 2023/24 season.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Doncic, Ball, Wood

Thursday is the first day the Pelicans can sign another player to fill their 15th roster spot and avoid the luxury tax, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic.  Hollinger crunched the numbers after the Pelicans signed Didi Louzada, whose $123,056 salary as a draft rookie counts $98,940 less than a veteran signed to the same spot. On Thursday, New Orleans could sign a veteran to a rest-of-the-season deal for $122,097 and stay under the tax by $8,651.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks star point man Luka Doncic is in danger of being assessed a mandatory one-game league suspension, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. Doncic has 14 technical fouls this season after getting ejected from Dallas’ 111-99 loss to the Kings on Sunday. If he gets another technical, he’ll reach the league’s threshold of 15 technicals, which triggers a suspension. Doncic promises to avoid that scenario. “I won’t get another one,” he said.
  • Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball will head into free agency this summer and wherever he lands next season, he plans to prove he’s one of the top point guards in the league, as he told Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Being an All-Star is definitely my next goal on the list and I think that should be coming up pretty soon,” he said. The Pelicans must extend a $14.36MM qualifying offer to make Ball a restricted free agent.
  • The status of Rockets big man Christian Wood this week and the remainder of the season is in doubt. Wood said he’ll likely to need to sit out at least a couple of games, Mark Berman of FOX26 tweets“Right now with my ankle and my quad, I’m not sure about (playing) the next couple games,” he said.

Southwest Notes: Gay, Wood, Louzada, Burke

Spurs forward Rudy Gay has secured a $500K bonus after appearing in his 53rd game of the season on Wednesday night, reports Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

Gay’s contract with the Spurs includes a $500K annual incentive if he plays in at least 60 games. However, that 60-game threshold applies to a typical 82-game season. Prorated across just 72 games this season, that worked out to 52.7, meaning Gay had to play in 53 games to earn his bonus.

Because Gay received the bonus last season as well, it was deemed “likely” entering this year and was already baked into his $14.5MM cap hit for 2020/21, Marks notes. As such, the Spurs won’t have to account for a higher cap charge than expected at season’s end.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Christian Wood, who signed a three-year, $41MM deal with the Rockets just five months ago, is out to prove that he’s deserving of an even bigger payday when that contract expires. “I just want to show fans that by the time this contract’s up I think I’m gonna be a max (contract) player,” Wood said this week, per Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link).
  • While Didi Louzada‘s offensive game remains a work in progress, there’s optimism that he can be a positive contributor on the defensive end soon, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. The 22-year-old wing, a second-round pick in 2019, signed his first NBA contract with the Pelicans on Tuesday.
  • Mavericks guard Trey Burke, who signed a three-year contract last offseason, began the season as a regular contributor, but saw his role cut back starting in February, then fell out of the rotation when J.J. Redick arrived earlier this month. Over the last two games, he has once again been a factor, averaging nearly 30 minutes per game, as Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News details. “It could go from you being DNPs to you playing 15 to 20 minutes a night,” Burke said. “You just never know, always got to stay ready. For me, this year has been tough. It’s been something that I’ve kind of battled with myself.”

Health Updates: Rockets, Nance, Cavs, Hachimura, Clifford

After missing the Rockets‘ last three games while in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, second-year wing Kevin Porter Jr. has rejoined the team and will be ready to play on Tuesday, head coach Stephen Silas said today (Twitter link via Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston).

Rockets big man Christian Wood, who missed Saturday’s game with a minor ankle injury, is also in position to return on Tuesday, Silas said (Twitter link via Berman). The team should get further reinforcements prior to the end of the season, according to Silas, who expressed optimism that D.J. Augustin (ankle), Sterling Brown (knee), and Eric Gordon (groin) will also be back in the coming weeks.

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

  • Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr., who injured his right thumb on Sunday, has been diagnosed with a fracture in that thumb, according to a team press release. Nance has been ruled out for Monday’s game vs. Toronto and will be re-evaluated daily as he undergoes treatment and rehab. Sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com that Nance will probably miss at least a week or two. With less than three weeks left in the regular season, there’s no guarantee we’ll see him again in 2020/21.
  • Within the same release, the Cavaliers provided updates on several more players, announcing that Matthew Dellavedova (neck strain), Isaiah Hartenstein (concussion symptoms), and Lamar Stevens (concussion symptoms) have also hit the injured list and will miss tonight’s game.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura (knee) is set to return on Monday after missing the last four games, the team announced (via Twitter).
  • Magic head coach Steve Clifford, who registered a positive COVID-19 test, will remain out for Monday’s game vs. the Lakers, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic, who tweets that Tyrone Corbin will once again act as the club’s interim head coach. Clifford continues to be asymptomatic, Robbins notes.

Southwest Notes: Tucker, DeRozan, Mavs, Wood, Porter Jr.

P.J. Tucker has been traded by the Rockets to the Bucks but the veteran forward thought he’d be wearing a different uniform much sooner, Kelly Iko and Sam Amick of The Athletic report. Following a team meeting in January, Tucker expected to be included in the James Harden deal where he’s wind up in either Brooklyn or Philadelphia. Instead, Tucker – who is seeking an extension — spent two months waiting for the front office to find a new home for him.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • DeMar DeRozan has rejoined the Spurs, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. DeRozan had been away from the team for four games to attend his father’s funeral. DeRozan will be available to play against Cleveland on Friday.
  • With the Mavericks planning to rest Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis periodically, they might look to add another starting-caliber player before the trade deadline, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News speculates. Another experienced player off the bench who could provide an offensive boost would also be helpful, Caplan notes. But there are also some compelling reasons for the club to stand pat as well, which Caplan details.
  • With Christian Wood back in the lineup after a lengthy absence due to an ankle injury, he can now work on his chemistry with guard Kevin Porter Jr.., Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes. Porter Jr. has averaged 19.6 PPG and 8.0 APG since returning from the G League.

Christian Wood Set To Return For Rockets

Rockets big man Christian Wood is expected to return on Wednesday night vs. the Warriors after missing the last 17 games with a sprained ankle, a source tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). Houston has lost 17 times in a row since Wood went down with the injury.

Wood will start and will be on a minutes restriction, adds Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston (Twitter link).

Prior to the ankle sprain, Wood was making a case for an All-Star spot, averaging 22.0 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game with a .558/.421/.688 shooting line in 17 contests (31.2 MPG).

At the time of Wood’s injury, the Rockets were in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race at 11-10. Now, they have the NBA’s third-worst record and are considered likely to be sellers at the trade deadline, with Wood viewed as perhaps the lone untouchable player on the roster.

Even with Wood back in the lineup, Houston figures to have a shortage of depth on Wednesday vs. Golden State. John Wall (knee), Eric Gordon (groin), David Nwaba (wrist), Danuel House (knee), Ben McLemore (ankle), Dante Exum (calf), and Rodions Kurucs (oblique) are also dealing with injuries, while P.J. Tucker is away from the team as he awaits a trade. However, House and McLemore have been upgraded to questionable for Wednesday’s game, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.