Danny Green

Southwest Notes: Johnson, Branham, Rockets, Green

Veteran forward Stanley Johnson has managed to grind his way to a major rotation role with the Spurs this season, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). McDonald notes that Johnson’s committed practice regimen has endeared him to this young rebuilding San Antonio club. Johnson joined the Spurs following a brief stint with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the G League in December.

“I’m trying to put everything I have, all my focus and energy, into the games and practices,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to have any chance to play, even if it’s two minutes a game… I don’t take that lightly. To see a coaching staff that believes in me enough to put me out there on a nightly basis, I’m really grateful for it. It hasn’t happened for my whole career, and it could go away at some point.” 

Through 25 games with the Spurs, Johnson is averaging 5.7 PPG on .531/.444/.647 shooting. The 6’6″ vet is also chipping in 3.0 RPG and 2.3 APG.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs rookie shooting guard Malaki Branham is growing as a ball-handler, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (subscriber link). Branham has gotten extended run due to injuries to several San Antonio wings ahead of him in Gregg Popovich‘s rotation. “It’s being thrown in the fire and being ready to play every night,” Branham said. “I feel like I have been doing a good job at that.”
  • The rebuilding Rockets have a significant supply of draft equity as well as the contracts of veterans Eric Gordon and Boban Marjanovic to play with as the trade deadline looms. Kelly Iko and John Hollinger of The Athletic examine Houston’s options and how any moves might impact the club’s long-term future.
  • Grizzlies swingman Danny Green made his season debut for his new team on Wednesday following a knee surgery last spring, writes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green scored three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the floor in 10 minutes against the Trail Blazers. “It was good to get out there and be with the guys,” Green said. “Trying to figure out some things offensively and defensively. Try to build the chemistry… It was fun. Obviously, would’ve been nice to win the game but for me it was good to get out and play a little bit.” Green, 35, is on an expiring $10MM contract this year.

Lowe’s Latest: Hart, Hachimura, Crowder, D. Green, T. Davis, More

Trail Blazers forward Josh Hart “is a name that is very, very hot right now,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said in the latest episode of his Lowe Post podcast.

In a conversation with ESPN colleague Bobby Marks about Portland’s possible approach to this season’s trade deadline, Lowe stated that there are “a lot” of teams around the NBA who would like Hart, specifically citing Miami as a possible suitor since the 27-year-old is a “Heat kind of guy.”

Hart is playing a crucial role this season for the Blazers. In addition to starting all 45 games he has played, he’s averaging 34.0 minutes per contest and ranks third on the team in total minutes played (1,530). However, his contract situation has made him the subject of trade speculation — he holds a player option on his contract for 2023/24, so he could become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Here’s more from Lowe and Marks:

  • Both Marks and Lowe have heard rumblings that the Wizards and Rui Hachimura had discussions prior to the season about a rookie scale extension worth in the neighborhood of $12MM annually, but Hachimura opted to play out his contract year. The forward was traded to Los Angeles on Monday, so the Lakers will have to find common ground with him in free agency if they intend to keep him beyond this season.
  • A source from a team with interest in Jae Crowder told Lowe that the Suns are seeking two of the following three things in exchange for the veteran forward: A first-round pick, a good young player, and a solid rotation player. Both Marks and Lowe are skeptical about Phoenix’s chances to get that sort of return, with Lowe remarking that the asking price is why Crowder is still a Sun.
  • Lowe keeps hearing that the Grizzlies love Danny Green‘s locker room presence and don’t want to trade him. Green is on track to make his season debut next Wednesday.
  • In a discussion about possible deadline moves for the Kings, Lowe said that he’s not sure guard Terence Davis is “loving his playing time” this season and suggested that Davis could be a trade chip. The fourth-year guard is averaging a career-low 12.7 minutes per contest.
  • Echoing a recent report from Marc Stein, Lowe indicated that the Hornets appear motivated to hang onto forward P.J. Washington and re-sign him as a restricted free agent this offseason rather than moving him at the deadline.
  • Lowe believes the Clippers are a good bet to make a deadline move, but suggests it might be more around the edges than anything major, since the team is reluctant to move Terance Mann and doesn’t have many movable first-round picks left.

Rory Maher contributed to this post.

Danny Green Plans To Make Season Debut On February 1

Grizzlies swingman Danny Green is targeting February 1 for his return from an ACL tear, he announced in the latest episode of his Inside The Green Room podcast. Memphis will be hosting the Trail Blazers on that date, one week from today.

Green, who spent last season with the Sixers, tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee during Philadelphia’s season-ending Game 6 loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Semifinals last May.

The 35-year-old was attached to a first-round pick in the offseason trade that sent De’Anthony Melton to the 76ers, but the Grizzlies made it clear they didn’t just view him as a salary-matching piece. Despite a preseason roster crunch and the fact that he wouldn’t be ready to return for several more months, Green made Memphis’ 15-man roster to open the regular season in October.

Now, Green – who has already won titles with the Spurs, Raptors, and Lakers – believes he can help a young Grizzlies team realize its championship potential, as he tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

“What I bring is definitely needed here: perimeter shooting and perimeter defense,” Green said. “I think I can bring maturity and help a young team understand what it takes to win. This has been an A-1 organization from top to bottom in handling this entire rehab with me.”

In recent years, many NBA players who have suffered torn ACLs have missed a full calendar year, or even longer, but Green will be making his return just eight-and-a-half months after sustaining his injury. He noted in his podcast that he’s fortunate to have been able to accelerate his recovery timeline.

“It’s not realistic (to come back from this injury this quickly),” Green said, per Wojnarowski. “Everybody’s body is very different, but I’ve been lucky … to have a pretty good surgeon, a pretty good body that healed really well and quickly, and the right people around me to help me get there. A lot of things had to fall in place for this to happen this way.”

As Green ramps up for his Memphis debut, it’s worth noting that he’s on an expiring $10MM contract and the Grizzlies have already been quite successful without him (their 31-16 record places them second in the West), so he could become a trade candidate at the February 9 deadline if the team wants to acquire another piece and needs to send out some salary.

However, general manager Zach Kleiman and head coach Taylor Jenkins have praised the veteran wing for the leadership he has brought to the franchise. And for his part, Green doesn’t sound like someone who would welcome a change of scenery.

“This is a place I hope that I can call home for the next couple years,” he told Wojnarowski. “I’m lucky to be in a great situation with a winning team.”

Scotto’s Latest: Reid, Allen, Reddish, Poeltl, Anunoby

The Clippers and Nuggets are among the teams that have expressed interest in Timberwolves center Naz Reid, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype writes in his latest roundup of trade rumors.

Reid will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, and Scotto says there’s a belief around the league that he could land a contract worth the full taxpayer or non-taxpayer mid-level exception. Although he’s primarily a backup, Reid has been effective amid injuries to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, averaging 15.4 PPG in seven games as a starter this season.

The Wolves are also exploring offers for D’Angelo Russell, and Scotto suggests that both Minnesota players might be moved in deals involving L.A.’s Terance Mann or Denver’s Bones Hyland, whom Connelly drafted during his time with the Nuggets.

Scotto offers more insight into the trade market with the deadline nearing:

  • The Knicks would like to acquire Grayson Allen from the Bucks as part of a deal involving Cam Reddish, although Scotto notes that might not be realistic given Allen’s inclusion in other trade rumors. Allen is a starter in Milwaukee and is a valuable shooter, connecting at 39.5% from three-point range, while Reddish has been benched in New York for the past 25 games. Allen has been mentioned in deals involving the Suns’ Jae Crowder and the Rockets’ Eric Gordon, which Scotto sees as more likely. However, he adds that the Bucks and Knicks have talked about a Reddish deal that doesn’t involve Allen, so the fourth-year forward could still wind up in Milwaukee.
  • The Spurs may be able to land a first-round pick and a young player in exchange for center Jakob Poeltl. That’s probably the limit, Scotto adds, because Poeltl will be a free agent this summer and will likely get a new contract starting around $20MM per season. If they don’t trade him by the deadline, Scotto expects the Spurs to give him that deal so they don’t lose him without getting something in return.
  • Two other Spurs are also in demand, with Scotto viewing one or two second-round picks as the price for Doug McDermott and one second-rounder enough to land Josh Richardson. McDermott is under contract for $13.75MM in 2023/24, while Richardson is headed toward free agency.
  • The Grizzlies are an interesting team to watch if the Raptors decide to part with OG Anunoby, Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype adds in the same piece. Memphis owns all its first-round picks, along with a Warriors first-rounder in 2024 that’s top-four protected. Gozlan believes the Grizzlies might offer Danny Green and a young asset like Ziaire Williams in addition to draft capital, although Toronto might insist on Dillon Brooks. Other teams that could get involved in the Anunoby bidding, according to Gozlan, include the Trail Blazers, who reportedly offered the No. 7 pick to Toronto for Anunoby before last year’s draft, along with the Knicks, Kings and Suns.

Injury Updates: Booker, Paul, Metu, Green, Smith Jr., Ingram

Devin Booker isn’t close to returning from his groin injury, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. The Suns star, who was injured on Christmas Day, has been limited to non-contact drills, according to coach Monty Williams. There’s no firm date for Booker’s re-evaluation.

Suns point guard Chris Paul suited up on Sunday against Memphis after missing seven games due to a sore right hip, Rankin adds.

We have more injury news:

  • Kings forward Chimezie Metu underwent an MRI on his left knee, which showed no structural damage, James Ham of TheKingsBeat.com tweets. Metu has a bone bruise and is listed as questionable for Monday’s game against Memphis.
  • Grizzlies shooting guard Danny Green continues to progress from the torn ACL in his left knee, which he suffered last May, Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com tweets. Green is playing 5-on-5 with no setbacks, but there’s no timetable on his return to action. The veteran wing was traded by Philadelphia in June.
  • Rockets rookie forward Jabari Smith Jr. is listed as questionable to play on Monday against Minnesota, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. He missed Saturday’s game due to a right ankle sprain. Kevin Porter Jr. will sit out for the seventh straight game due to a foot injury.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram played 5-0n-5 in practice on Saturday, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Ingram has been sidelined since Nov. 25 due to a toe contusion.

Southwest Notes: Green, Bane, Rockets, Tate, Spurs

Grizzlies swingman Danny Green is inching closer to making his season debut, tweets Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. Green is recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last May and has begun doing 5-on-5 work, according to Cole.

Participating in 5-on-5 scrimmages generally represents one of the last hurdles a player must clear in his rehab process before returning from a major injury, though it doesn’t necessarily mean Green’s return is imminent. Ricky Rubio and Jonathan Isaac, both coming off ACL tears, were cleared for 5-on-5 play in early December, and both players only returned to the court this week (Rubio in the NBA, Isaac in the G League).

Green has spoken about wanting to make it back before next February’s All-Star break and it sounds like he remains on track to meet that timeline.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Although Grizzlies swingman Desmond Bane has returned from a toe injury and is playing well, he doesn’t expect to be 100% for the rest of the season, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. “That’s something I’ll probably have to get taken care of in the offseason,” Bane said of his toe injury during an appearance on the Old Man and the Three podcast. “You never know how much you need to use your big toe until you can’t use it.”
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Kelly Iko discusses several Rockets-related topics, including Stephen Silas‘ job security, Kevin Porter Jr.‘s future in Houston, and potential offseason veteran targets. Iko says he’d bet on Silas finishing the season with the Rockets and identifies Myles Turner as a player he thinks the team should prioritize as a free agent this summer.
  • Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate, who played for the Sydney Kings in 2019/20, likes the idea of eventually finishing his professional career back in Australia. “Australia is by far one of my highlights,” Tate told The Ballers Magazine (link via NBL.com.au). “When I’m old and can barely get up and down there I would love to come back and just bee around the guys because the energy, the organization in Sydney – from top to bottom – was great.”
  • The Spurs‘ home game vs. Golden State at the Alamodome on Friday night is on track to break the NBA record for largest single-game attendance. As of Thursday, the club had sold 64,387 tickets for Friday’s contest, according to a press release. The previous attendance record was 62,046 for a Bulls/Hawks game at the Georgia Dome on March 27, 1998.

Grizzlies Notes: Morant, Bane, Green, Konchar

Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant raised eyebrows earlier this week when he was asked by ESPN’s Malika Andrews in an NBA Today interview (video link) which teams around the league had caught his eye as opponents Memphis will have to “run through” to win a title. After Morant named the Celtics and fell silent, Andrews observed that he didn’t mention any Western Conference teams.

“Nah,” Morant said. “I’m fine in the West.”

Speaking to reporters later in the week, Morant didn’t back off those comments at all, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. In fact, while the All-NBA guard identified the Bucks as another team he might add to his list, he doubled down on his feelings about his Western rivals.

“Honestly, I don’t care about anybody else feedback but ours,” Morant said. “That’s how we feel. That’s how confident we are in our abilities and where we think we stand in the Western Conference.”

Here’s more out of Memphis:

  • Although the Suns were missing leading scorer Devin Booker, Memphis’ 25-blowout win over Phoenix on Friday showed just how good the Grizzlies can be when they’re at full strength, Cole writes for The Commercial Appeal. Desmond Bane was only 4-of-13 from the floor in his return from a toe injury, but he “played decisively and looked fluid in his movements,” according to Cole. The starting five of Morant, Bane, Dillon Brooks, Jaren Jackson Jr., and Steven Adams had a plus-44.8 net rating in its first 11 minutes together this season.
  • During ESPN’s broadcast of Friday’s game in Phoenix, Danny Green said he’s aiming to return from his ACL tear before February’s All-Star break, according to Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal. Green added that he did some 1-on-1 work on Friday for the first time during his recovery. “The knee is going smoothly,” the 35-year-old swingman said. “We’re in a good pace and hopefully you’ll see me before the break. That’s the target right now.”
  • Based on the current construction of the Grizzlies’ roster, Cole believes a healthy Green would likely take John Konchar‘s rotation minutes (Twitter link).
  • The Grizzlies will be in action on Christmas Day for the first time in franchise history. Mark Giannotto of The Memphis Commercial Appeal explores what it means for the team to finally be considered one of the NBA’s marquee attractions.

Southwest Notes: D. Green, Kemba, Pelicans, K. Martin

Appearing on NBA Today on Friday alongside Grizzlies wing Danny Green, who is recovering from an ACL tear, Brian Windhorst said that his fellow panelist might end up being a trade chip before February’s deadline.

“This is awkward, I’m sorry to say this, Danny,” Windhorst said (YouTube video link). “… One of the (trade possibilities) that people are talking about is if the Grizzlies want to upgrade, will they call about Danny Green and a draft pick? … I do think you will hear your name, I’m sorry to say, in some trade discussions.”

“I’m not shocked. At this point in my career, I hear my name quite often,” Green, who has been traded four times since the 2018 offseason, responded with a smile.

While it would make sense for the Grizzlies to dangle Green’s expiring $10MM contract along with a draft pick or two in an effort to upgrade their rotation, Windhorst also offered a couple reasons why a deal might not happen. As he points out, Memphis wants veteran leaders to complement its young core, and Green has won three championship rings. Additionally, the club has a solid record in the draft and may be reluctant to part with its picks.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • With several Mavericks regulars sidelined, point guard Kemba Walker played 42 minutes in Saturday’s loss to Cleveland and looked like his old self. Walker put up 32 points and seven assists and was a plus-7 in a game Dallas lost by a single point, then told reporters after the game that he felt “really good out there” (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News). While they shouldn’t expect that sort of production on a regular basis, Walker’s impressive play could be a significant development for the Mavs, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Pelicans no longer have All-Defensive mainstays like Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis on their roster, but homegrown players like Naji Marshall, Jose Alvarado, Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels are buoying one of the NBA’s best defenses, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com (subscription required). New Orleans currently ranks sixth in the league in defensive rating (109.7).
  • In an in-depth story for The Houston Chronicle (subscription required), Danielle Lerner profiles Kenyon Martin Jr. and explores how the forward has become a crucial “glue guy” for the Rockets. “He’s always been like a smart player, but I think he’s even smarter now,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Martin. “You know he’s not gonna make a mistake. He knows where he’s supposed to be. When it comes to defensive coverages or offensive plays, he’s usually in the right spot. And, you know, he is one of the guys that kind of gets us going with our transition game as well. So to have someone who’s running the floor and crashing the glass and using all this athleticism, but also a cerebral player, that makes him valuable.”

Southwest Notes: Rockets, Grizzlies, D. Green, Doncic

Having extended Kevin Porter Jr. earlier this week, the Rockets now have all but one of the players on their current 15-man roster locked up through the 2023/24 season, observes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. While not every player’s salary is guaranteed in ’23/24, Boban Marjanovic is the only Houston player who has a standard contract that doesn’t cover at least the next two seasons.

“Stability is always good,” Rockets head coach Stephen Silas said of the team’s situation. “It feels good to have the guys we have. I love our group. The guys that have been here with Eric (Gordon) and J.T. (Jae’Sean Tate) and K.J. (Martin) and then the new guys from last year and now the new guys from this year, it does seem like we’re moving in the right direction as far as solidifying who we’re going to be.”

Even with so many players locked up beyond this season, the Rockets can create a significant chunk of cap room next summer, since most of the roster will be earning salaries between $2-10MM. Only Gordon, whose $20.92MM cap hit is non-guaranteed, and Porter, who will earn a guaranteed $15.86MM, have eight-digit salaries in 2023/24.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Can the Grizzlies continue to ascend the ranks of the Western Conference’s contenders without making any major roster additions? Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal explores where Memphis stands in the West, noting that the team is coming off another quiet offseason and hasn’t signed an outside veteran free agent since 2019.
  • As he continues to recover from an ACL tear, Grizzlies wing Danny Green will appear on ESPN as an analyst this season, Cole writes in a separate story for The Commercial Appeal. Green, with an eye toward his post-retirement plans, agreed to a deal for 15 TV appearances, according to Cole. “When I’m done playing, it’s something that I always wanted to venture out into,” Green said. “This an opportunity to build a résumé and can get some reps.”
  • With Mavericks star Luka Doncic entering the season as the betting favorite to be named the NBA’s 2023 Most Valuable Player, Tim Cato of The Athletic takes a look at Doncic’s potential path to winning the award. In Cato’s view, as long as Doncic puts up his usual huge numbers, he would be a strong candidate for MVP if Dallas wins 50 games and “overwhelmingly likely” to win the award if the team gets to 55 or more victories.

Jae Crowder Rumors: Hawks, Jazz, Celtics, Grizzlies

Rival teams are a little surprised by the way the Suns have handled the Jae Crowder situation, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that keeping a player away from the team generally lowers his trade value. Crowder didn’t join the Suns for training camp this fall as the two sides attempt to find him a new NBA home.

“I thought the way Phoenix played the situation was strange,” a Western Conference executive told Fischer. “You’re not a super deep team. You’re a contender. Doesn’t it seem like there’s some other way to resolve this other than him sitting out and hurting your depth?”

An Eastern Conference exec who spoke to Fischer offered a similar assessment: “For Jae to hold out is pretty rare. It’s pretty extreme. It’s really interesting they didn’t just play hardball with him.”

A Shams Charania report earlier this week indicated that the Hawks are among the teams with interest in Crowder, and Fischer confirms that Phoenix and Atlanta have had conversations about the veteran forward throughout the offseason. The Hawks are believed to be one of Crowder’s preferred landing spots, along with the Heat, Fischer writes.

As for what the Hawks might be willing to give up for Crowder, that remains unclear. Front office personnel have speculated about the possibility of a Crowder/Landry Shamet package for Bogdan Bogdanovic, but one source told Fischer that Shamet isn’t part of the Suns’ discussions with the Hawks. Some league executives have wondered if Atlanta would give up De’Andre Hunter in a deal for Crowder, says Fischer, but there’s no indication the team is exploring that scenario.

As I suggested on Monday, a package of Justin Holiday and a young player such as Jalen Johnson could theoretically work from a salary-matching perspective. According to Fischer, it’s possible that structure would work if a third team were involved, allowing the Suns to acquire a different player on their wish list.

Here’s more on Crowder from Fischer:

  • The Suns have inquired about acquiring Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson in exchange for Crowder, sources tell Fischer. It’s unclear whether Phoenix would be willing to attach a draft asset to Crowder to land Clarkson. The rebuilding Jazz wouldn’t have much interest in Crowder as a player, so they’d need to be enticed to make a deal.
  • The Suns are believed to have interest in Celtics guard Derrick White, but Boston hasn’t entered the mix for Crowder so far, according to Fischer.
  • While the Grizzlies could theoretically build a package for Crowder around Danny Green‘s expiring contract, there are a couple roadblocks, as Fischer explains. The Suns don’t want to take on Green while he recovers from a torn ACL and are reluctant to send Crowder to a Western Conference rival unless the deal makes Phoenix significantly better. Sources tell Fischer that Memphis isn’t actively pursuing Crowder.