Draft Notes: Jackson-Davis, Washington, Delph, Williamson

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis tested positive for COVID-19 and did not attend the Draft Combine this week in Chicago, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star reports.

Jackson-Davis declared for the draft in April while maintaining his college eligibility. He averaged 18.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 2.3 BPG last season. Jackson-Davis is currently listed at No. 66 on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related notes:

  • Kentucky’s TyTy Washington, who is participating at the combine, says he’ll work out for the Spurs and Pelicans, Adam Zagoria of tweets. The point guard is a potential lottery pick — he’s at No. 16 on ESPN’s list. San Antonio owns picks at No. 9, 20 and 25; the Pelicans have the No. 8 pick.
  • Appalachian State guard Adrian Delph will remain in the draft and has hired an agent, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports tweets. Delph averaged 17.7 PPG and 5.4 RPG while making 39.8% of his 3-point tries last season.
  • Wake Forest Daivien Williamson has withdrawn from the draft and will return to the Demon Deacons, according to another Rothstein tweet. Williamson averaged 11.8 PPG last season.

Celtics Notes: Horford, Smart, Udoka, Tatum

The Celtics aren’t counting on big man Al Horford clearing the NBA’s health and safety protocols in time to return for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

Horford entered the COVID-19 protocols just hours ahead of Game 1 on Tuesday. While there’s a chance he could register the negative tests necessary to exit the protocols prior to tip-off on Thursday, Haynes classifies those odds as “minuscule,” with sources telling him it’s highly unlikely.

If Horford registered a positive COVID-19 test, he’ll have to remain in the protocols for at least five days unless he records two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. A five-day absence would sideline him for Game 3 as well.

The Celtics missed the presence of Horford and starting point guard Marcus Smart on Tuesday, surrendering 118 points and allowing Miami to shoot nearly 49% from the field in the Game 1 loss.

“Obviously, we weren’t prepared to be without Al,” Jaylen Brown told reporters after the game. “We definitely weren’t prepared to be without Al and Smart. So, it’s not an excuse. We got to be better.”

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • Smart, who was unavailable for Game 1 due to a right mid-foot sprain, is aiming to return on Thursday, according to Haynes. However, his status will hinge on how his foot responds to treatment today and tomorrow.
  • Several Celtics staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 during the last few days, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during an appearance on Get Up on Wednesday morning (video link). The team also announced that head coach Ime Udoka is dealing with an illness, though it’s said to be a non-COVID ailment (Twitter link via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press).
  • The Celtics don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s draft, but last night’s lottery results could still have an indirect impact on the team going forward. Brian Robb of explains how.
  • Christopher L. Gasper of The Boston Globe praises Jayson Tatum‘s growth as a leader this season, but says the star forward will have to show more mental toughness in order for the Celtics to to win their series vs. Miami.

Marcus Smart, Al Horford To Miss Game 1 Of Eastern Finals

Celtics starting point guard Marcus Smart and big man Al Horford will miss the first game of their Eastern Conference Finals matchup against the Heat tonight, Boston has announced (via Twitter).

Smart, the 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, had previously been considered questionable with a right mid-foot sprain. Reserve guard Derrick White could get the starting nod in Smart’s absence.

The absence of Horford is a surprise. The Celtics have revealed that the 35-year-old veteran, a former five-time All-Star, has entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

Horford was a crucial part of the Celtics’ interior attack against the Bucks during the Eastern Semifinals. Sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) that the Celtics are anticipating they will be without Horford at least through Game 2 of the series on Thursday.

Starting center Robert Williams, who has not played since Game 3 of the Conference Semifinals for Boston with a knee injury, will be available to play. Reserve forward Grant Williams turned in a stellar Game 7 in the place of Robert Williams, and could get the starting nod as Horford’s replacement tonight. Daniel Theis may also receive additional minutes. Wojnarowski tweets that Robert Williams underwent some encouraging team practices and will be able to log major minutes against the Heat.

Miami is not without its own injury issues heading into the series. The Heat will also be missing their starting point guard, former six-time All-Star Kyle Lowry, as he continues to deal with a hamstring injury. Guards Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Caleb Martin have all been listed as questionable ahead of tonight’s contest, as has starting power forward P.J. Tucker.

Warriors’ Otto Porter Jr. Out For Game 6

Warriors acting head coach Mike Brown told reporters, including Mark Medina of (Twitter link), that Otto Porter Jr. will miss Friday’s Game 6 against the Grizzlies. Porter had previously been listed as questionable with right foot soreness.

Brown said he’s contemplating tweaking the rotation with Porter sidelined, with more minutes for Kevon Looney, Jonathan Kuminga and Nemanja Bjelica, Medina tweets.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic observes, Porter’s absence is a major loss for the Warriors, as he’s been a key cog of Golden State’s best lineups against Memphis. In the second-round series, the Warriors are +45 in Porter’s 106 on-court minutes, and -55 in 134 minutes without him (Twitter links).

In 63 regular season games this season, Porter averaged 8.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals on .464/.370/.803 shooting in 22.2 minutes per night. Those figures seem relatively modest, but the 28-year-old forward is a good rebounder, smart defender and has a high basketball IQ. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

In other Warriors news, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that head coach Steve Kerr, who’s currently in the league’s health and safety protocols, might miss Game 7 if the Grizzlies win tonight. The Warriors currently lead the series 3-2, so it’s an elimination game for Memphis. Kerr still needs to return two negative COVID-19 tests prior to making his return, but he’s been actively involved in creating game plans via phone and video calls, Kawakami notes.

Steven Adams Clears Protocols, Active For Game 3

MAY 6: Adams will be available for Game 3, per Cole (Twittter link). Memphis isn’t sure if he’ll start or come off the bench, but he has made enough progress to play.

MAY 5: Grizzlies center Steven Adams has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols and practiced with the team on Thursday, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Adams has missed the team’s last three playoff games after entering the protocols last week. After leading the league in offensive and total rebounds, the Grizzlies have been outdueled in both of those categories in the first two games of their second-round matchup with the Warriors.

Adams’ possible return for Saturday’s Game 3 would provide a major boost, as he led the NBA in offensive rebounds and offensive rebounding percentage this season and was the team’s top rebounder overall.

We’ll get him another intense vitamin tomorrow, put him through practice, see where he’s at, and then we’ll kind of make a decision from there,” head coach Taylor Jenkins said.

In 76 regular season games in 2021/22, Adams averaged 6.9 points, 10.0 rebounds (4.6 offensive) and 3.4 assists in 26.3 minutes per contest. The rebounds and assists were both career highs.

Due to a poor matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns, Adams dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams logged fewer than seven minutes of action for the rest of the series prior to entering the COVID-19 protocols.

Grizzlies Center Steven Adams Enters Protocols

Steven Adams will miss Game 6 of the Grizzlies‘ first-round series against the Timberwolves after entering the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Adams started 75 games for the team with the Western Conference’s second-best record during the regular season. Due to matchups, Adams has dropped out of the rotation during the opening playoff round. After playing 24 minutes in Game 1, Adams has only seen seven minutes of action.

Forward Ziaire Williams is listed as doubtful with right knee soreness. Williams has appeared in all five games during the series, averaging 5.6 PPG in 11 MPG.

Zach LaVine Enters Protocols, Will Likely Miss Game 5

Bulls guard Zach LaVine has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is expected to miss Game 5 of the series with the Bucks on Wednesday, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

LaVine won’t travel with his teammates when they leave for Milwaukee today, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). He and the team will follow the procedures recommended by the league, and he will undergo further testing before Wednesday’s game.

This is LaVine’s third COVID-19 experience in the past 12 months, notes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). LaVine was also placed in protocols last April and again in December, and he had a close contact scare that forced him to take a later flight to the Olympics in July.

The loss of LaVine would be devastating for the Bulls as they try to extend the series following two blowout losses in Chicago. LaVine, who is in the playoffs for the first time in his career, is averaging 19.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 points per game and is coming off a 24-point, 13-assist performance in Sunday’s Game 4.

Central Notes: Caruso, COVID-19, Bridges, Joseph, McGruder

Guard Alex Caruso played 33 minutes in the Bulls’ Game 1 loss to the Bucks on Sunday. Coach Billy Donovan said Caruso has been dealing with back pain for several weeks and is trying to tough it out, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times writes. He was limited to seven points and missed all but one of his five 3-point attempts.

‘‘He’s felt the best I think he has felt,’’ Donovan said. ‘‘Is he 100%? No, but he’s a lot better than he was those games before he sat out. I do think with Alex [that minutes restrictions are] going to be somewhat important. I think if you start pushing him with his back up into the high 30s, I don’t think that would be really, really wise. You want to see how he’s feeling in the game. He kind of throws his body in there and plays incredibly hard and physical, so we’ll have to see how he responds.”

We have more from the Central Division:

  • The Bucks are wary of how a positive COVID-19 test could affect their playoff run, coach Mike Budenholzer told Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He noted how Paul George missed the Clippers’ second play-in game after testing positive. “There’s been a lot of positive movement. You just don’t want to forget, you’ve just got to know it’s still out there,” Budenholzer said. “When we had the conversation what happened with the Clippers and Paul George had happened and the coaching staff with Chicago. I’m guessing those things pop up in conversations in the locker room or at baskets and things like that. It’s not good, but in the sense of it just being a reminder in conversation, I think it’s helpful. Certainly our guys are aware.”
  • The Pistons could have the most cap space in the league this summer but a giant offer sheet for Hornets restricted free agent Miles Bridges wouldn’t be a wise move, James Edwards III of The Athletic opines. Bridges’ best position is probably at power forward and putting him in that spot wouldn’t be a long-term upgrade over Saddiq Bey, who can play either forward spot.  If Detroit winds up with a top-three pick, the team will likely draft a power forward, which would force Bridges to play small forward with Bey moving out of position to shooting guard. The only way adding Bridges would make sense would be to trade Jerami Grant for a wing or to draft one with their lottery pick, Edwards writes.
  • Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press predicts that Grant, Cory Joseph and Rodney McGruder won’t return next season but that the Pistons will re-sign restricted free agent Marvin Bagley III.

Central Notes: LeVert, Cavaliers, Bulls, Pacers, Westbrook

Cavaliers guard Caris LeVert hopes to sign a contract extension and remain with the team long-term, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. LeVert, who was acquired by Cleveland in February, averaged 13.6 points on 43.5% shooting in his 19 games with his new club.

“Yeah, this is where I want to be. They know that,” LeVert said. “The front office knows that, my teammates know that. So I don’t know what’s gonna happen with that contract extension, but I know where my heart is.”

LeVert, who was born in Columbus, Ohio, is set to earn $18.8MM next season in the final year of his current deal, and will be extension-eligible this summer. The 27-year-old averaged a career-high 20.2 points with Brooklyn and Indiana in 2020/21, shooting 44% from the floor and 33% from three-point range.

There’s more from the Central Division today:

Injury Notes: Mavericks, Murray, Curry, Adebayo, More

Mavericks star Luka Doncic, who will reportedly miss Game 1 of the team’s playoff series against Utah on Saturday, has officially been listed as doubtful on the team’s injury report (Twitter link). Tim Hardaway Jr. (recovering from left foot surgery) and Frank Ntilikina (recovering from an illness) will also miss the contest.

Hardaway is considered unlikely to return this season, though he hasn’t given up hope of a comeback if Dallas makes a deep playoff run. The Mavs later announced (via Twitter) that Ntilikina underwent a tonsillectomy, which is why he’s sidelined. The 23-year-old is back with the team and gradually returning to on-court activities.

Here are some more injury and COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has been ruled out for Game 1 against Golden State on Saturday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The news isn’t surprising, as Murray has missed the entire season while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last April.
  • Slater also notes that Stephen Curry has been listed as probable for the Warriors. He’s on track to play his first game since suffering a left foot sprain and bone bruise on March 16.
  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team is hopeful that Bam Adebayo will clear the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols in time to play in Game 1 against Cleveland or Atlanta on Sunday, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Adebayo entered the protocols on April 10 and players must stay isolated for at least five days unless they return two straight negative tests at least 24 hours apart, so he should be cleared soon.
  • Suns guard Landry Shamet was unable to practice on Friday due to a left foot injury, according to a report from The Associated Press. “Injuries are a part of it,” coach Monty Williams said. “We’re not sure the severity of it. He just didn’t practice today and that’s all we have to report. But we’re built for situations like this. … We just have to deal with stuff as it pops up.”
  • Luke Kennard will miss Friday’s win-or-go-home game for the Clippers, as Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group relays (via Twitter). Kennard is dealing with a right hamstring injury and his absence will be a key one for Los Angeles, who faces New Orleans to determine the No. 8 seed in the West.