Dante Exum

Northwest Notes: Jokic, MPJ, Exum, Wolves

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who earned All-NBA First Team honors this season, expects to play for Serbia this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and is confident the club can win a medal, as he tells Serbian outlet Tanjug (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Jokic wasn’t on Serbia’s roster for the 2014 World Cup, but he did join the squad for the 2016 Olympics. In both instances, Serbia lost the championship game to Team USA and took home silver medals.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets are attempting to balance optimism and caution when it comes to 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr., who is expected to make his professional debut in Summer League play this July, writes Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.
  • Injured Jazz point guard Dante Exum is trying to focus on the positives as he goes through another rehab process, per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com. “It’s frustrating to go into an offseason injured,” said Exum, who underwent knee surgery in March. “But I’ve thrown a lot of my energy and time into planning what my offseason will look like so I can be the best player I can be coming out of it.”
  • After participating in Houston’s free agent minicamp this week, veteran guard Xavier Munford will attend a similar camp hosted by the Timberwolves during the first week of June, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Munford last played in the NBA in 2017/18, when he appeared in six games for Milwaukee.
  • Sid Hartman of Star Tribune examines the Timberwolves‘ decision to retain head coach Ryan Saunders, including how big a factor Glen Taylor‘s support of Saunders was.

And-Ones: Combine, Coach Challenges, World Cup

Eleven prospects who participated in this week’s G League Elite Camp in Chicago have been invited to stick around to attend the actual draft combine, which will begin today and run through this Sunday.

According to a tweet from the NBA G League, those 11 players are as follows: Oshae Brissett (Syracuse), Tyler Cook (Iowa), Terence Davis (Ole Miss), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jared Harper (Auburn), Dewan Hernandez (Miami), DaQuan Jeffries (Tulsa), Terance Mann (Florida State), Cody Martin (Nevada), Reggie Perry (Mississippi State), and Marial Shayok (Iowa State).

A total of 40 draft-eligible prospects who weren’t initially invited to the draft combine worked out in front of NBA teams at the G League Elite Camp. Teams were then polled on which prospects they’d most like to get a longer look at for this week’s combine. The group of 11 prospects who were chosen will join the 65 players who were initially announced as combine participants last week.

Here’s more from around the basketball world:

  • Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that the “liveliest” topic of discussion at Tuesday’s GM meetings involved the possibility of instituting a system for coaches’ replay challenges, which exist in many other major sports. According to Lowe, not everyone agreed on what should be reviewable, with some GMs arguing that coaches should be able to challenge foul calls, while others disagreed. There was also discussion about whether a challenge should cost a team a timeout, regardless of whether a call is reversed or upheld.
  • Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons announced this week that he intends to play for Australia in the 2019 FIBA World Cup (link via ESPN.com). He’ll be joined on the Australian squad by Jazz sharpshooter Joe Ingles, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. However, Roy Ward of The Age Sport (Twitter link) hears that Ingles’ teammate Dante Exum is unlikely to participate in the event due to his knee injury.
  • The NBA and the National Basketball Coaches Association are creating a program intended to better identify and illuminate potential coaches among groups that are underrepresented, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “We are not talking about a quota system,” Mavericks coach and NBCA president Rick Carlisle told ESPN. “Rival leagues have proven that mandates and demands for diverse hiring practices do not work. Our goal is an absolute equal opportunity for all our members to develop their skills on a level playing field.”

Jazz’s Dante Exum Undergoes Knee Surgery

MARCH 28: Exum underwent surgery today to fix the patellar tendon, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Rehab will start right away, but Exum remains out of action indefinitely.

MARCH 15: Jazz point guard Dante Exum has a partially torn patellar tendon in his right knee and will be sidelined indefinitely, according to a team press release.

Exum’s latest injury was uncovered during an MRI on Friday. He will continue to seek opinions on how best to treat the injury, according to the release, which suggests that he hopes to avoid surgery.

Exum is averaging 6.9 PPG and 2.6 APG in 15.8 MPG through 42 games this season. Exum just returned to action earlier this week after being sidelined 25 games with a sprained ankle and bone bruise. He suffered his latest injury during Utah’s game against Minnesota on Thursday.

The snakebit point guard missed all of the 2015/16 season with a torn ACL and was limited to 14 regular-season games last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in October 2017.

Raul Neto will see his minutes increase behind starter Ricky Rubio in Exum’s absence.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Jokic, Jazz, Exum

Thunder star Russell Westbrook will be suspended one game after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season on Saturday, the league announced today. Westbrook will serve his one-game suspension on Monday night against the Heat.

League rules mandate that any player who receives his 16th technical foul receive a one-game suspension and a $5,000 fine. For Westbrook, every other technical foul between now and the end of the regular season will result in another one-game suspension.

Westbrook, known as a highly expressive player during his 11 NBA seasons, was upset over a questionable no-call in the team’s game against Golden State. Westbrook attacked the basket and drew some contact from Klay Thompson, receiving a technical shortly afterward.

The Thunder are battling for a high playoff seed in the Western Conference, currently leading the No. 6 Spurs by one game and trailing the No. 4 Blazers by a half-game. Westbrook’s poor shooting could’ve played a role in his frustration on Saturday, with the 30-year-old scoring just seven points on 2-for-16 shooting.

In addition to his fine, Westbrook will lose $245,891 in salary by sitting Monday’s game, ESPN’s Royce Young tweets. The Thunder will save $522,518 toward the luxury tax.

There’s more from the Northwest Division today:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was ejected Saturday after accruing two technical fouls, expressing his frustration to the media after the game. “It’s extremely hard because it’s not equal for everybody,” Jokic said, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Jokic was adamant that he didn’t say anything to referee Tony Brothers, who assessed Jokic his second technical. “I didn’t say nothing, I don’t know what he was talking (about).”
  • Jazz owner Gail Miller sent an important message to Utah fans following the incident with Russell Westbrook and a disruptive fan last week, sharing the importance of keeping a respectful atmosphere while attending home games. “We do not permit hate speech, racism, sexism or homophobia,” Miller said as part of a larger statement. “We also do not allow disruptive behavior, including bullying, foul or abusive language, or obscene gestures. Violators may be subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban.”
  • Jazz players have rallied around Dante Exum after the 23-year-old suffered yet another injury last week. Exum, who already missed 25 straight games due to injury this year, suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee and will be out indefinitely. “They’ve been very supportive,” Exum said, as relayed by Aaron Falk of Jazz.com. “Just every day they wanted to make sure I was right.” Exum, the No. 5 pick in 2014’s draft, has only appeared in 42 games with the team this season.

Western Notes: Lacob, Exum, Thomas, George

Warriors owner Joe Lacob is unfazed by the spotty play of his team, which he expressed to The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. Golden State has gone 4-6 in its last 10 games, including a home loss to the last-place Suns on Sunday. “We have the best team in the world. Why wouldn’t I be confident?” Lacob said. “I think we have a great team, great talent. In the NBA, talent usually wins. … Guys usually figure it out. We have an intelligent group. As long as we stay healthy. That’s the caveat. But I’m confident and believe in our team.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Jazz backup point guard Dante Exum returned to action on Monday after missing the previous 25 games due to a sprained ankle and bone bruise. Coach Quin Snyder is confident Exum can reestablish himself as a rotation piece, a feeling he relayed to Aaron Falk of the team’s website and other media members. “We realize he hasn’t played in two months, but it will be good to have him back out there and start to work through some of the rust,” Snyder said. “The longer you’re out, the more difficult it is to pick up where you left off. But there’s no reason he won’t get back to that.”
  • Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas has Monday, March 18 circled on his calendar, according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. He will play against Boston for the first time since he was traded to Cleveland prior to last season. “I can’t wait,” Thomas said. “That’s going to be a special moment for me. Even if they don’t do a video or whatever, just being back in that city and that arena is going to be unbelievable. I had the best basketball moments of my career in that arena. Boston’s always going to be in my heart, no matter what.”
  • Thunder forward Paul George was fined $25K by the league over the weekend, according to an ESPN report. He criticized the officiating after the Thunder’s 118-110 loss to the Clippers on Friday. “It’s just bad officiating,” George said after the game. “I’m sorry, just bad officiating. We don’t get a fair whistle. We haven’t gotten a fair whistle all year.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/9/19

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

  • The Jazz assigned Dante Exum, who has been sidelined since January 5 with an ankle injury, to their Salt Lake affiliate, along with Grayson Allen and Georges Niang, the team announced on Twitter. All three players were recalled after today’s practice.
  • The Jazz also recalled Tony Bradley, according to a tweet from the team.
  • The Bucks assigned Christian Wood to the Wisconsin Herd for tonight’s game with Canton (Twitter link).
  • The Rockets recalled Isaiah Hartenstein from Rio Grande Valley to add some center depth heading into a back-to-back, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
  • The Sixers assigned Amir Johnson and Justin Patton to play for Delaware in tonight’s game, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Both will be recalled after the game.

And-Ones: R. Wallace, Exum, Underclassmen

Four-time NBA All-Star Rasheed Wallace has secured a new job, having been named the boys’ basketball coach at Jordan High School in Durham, North Carolina, according to Jonas Pope IV of The News & Observer. Wallace, who last played in the NBA during the 2012/13 season, says that he considered taking an NBA job before instead opting for a head coaching position at the high school level.

“I did have some offers from a few NBA teams to be on their staff,” Wallace said. “The money was good, but it’s not about the money to me, it’s about that knowledge. Knowledge should be free and it doesn’t cost anything to pass that knowledge to these young men.”

A member of the Pistons’ 2004 championship team, Wallace briefly served as an assistant coach on Detroit’s staff in 2013/14 after he retired as a player.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Jazz offered an update on Dante Exum today, announcing that the point guard – who has been on the shelf since January 5 due to an ankle injury – plans to return to practice this week. The news suggests that Utah should expect to get Exum back in its rotation sometime in the not-too-distant future.
  • Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com identifies eight NCAA underclassmen who could face tough decisions on whether or not to forgo their remaining college eligibility and go pro this season. Tyler Herro (Kentucky), Jordan Nwora (Louisville), Tre Jones (Duke), and Coby White (UNC) are among the prospects on Daniels’ list.
  • Brian Windhorst’s latest column at ESPN.com focuses on several subjects of interest, including the challenges facing the Heat as they try to acquire a star, and commissioner Adam Silver‘s recent comments on the state of the NBA.

Northwest Notes: Exum, Wolves’ Search, Middleton, Towns

Jazz reserve guard Dante Exum will miss at least two more weeks due to a bone bruise on his left ankle, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Exum hasn’t played since January 5. He was averaging 7.4 PPG and 2.7 APG with the second unit in 39 games. Exum signed a three-year contract with an annual base salary of $9.6MM over the summer.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves have yet to contact any potential executives or coaches as possible replacements for GM Scott Layden and interim head coach Ryan Saunders, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Saunders, son of former Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, was elevated when owner Glen Taylor fired Tom Thibodeau. Taylor is expected to use the rest of the regular season to evaluate Layden and Saunders, Krawczynski adds.
  • The Thunder showed a lot of interest in Bucks swingman Khris Middleton prior to the 2012 draft, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe. Middleton tore the meniscus in his right knee in early November of his final college season with Texas A&M and it affected his play, causing his draft stock to tumble. He was selected in the second round by Detroit with the 39 overall pick.
  • The Trail Blazers are in a better spot than they were last season entering the stretch run, an Associated Press story notes. They were sixth in the West a year ago at the All-Star break but held the fourth spot this season. Moreover, the Blazers picked up some reinforcements this winter by signing center Enes Kanter and trading for guard Rodney Hood.
  • It wouldn’t be surprising if Nuggets forward Trey Lyles signs his $3.7MM qualifying offer, Mike Singer of the Denver Post opines. Lyles’ production has fallen off recently and he may not even stay in the playoff rotation, Singer continues. The Nuggets are thin at the power forward spot, which would increase the odds of them extending the qualifying offer and making Lyles a restricted free agent. However, he’s a poor 3-point shooter and will probably have a tough time attracting an offer sheet, Singer adds.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has entered the league’s concussion protocol after being involved in a car accident on Thursday, Michael Scotto of The Athletic tweets. The Timberwolves’ star big man will not play against the Knicks on Friday. That will end his streak of 303 straight starts.

Northwest Notes: Kanter, Morris, Exum, Lillard

Enes Kanter‘s decision in free agency came down to two teams: the Trail Blazers and Lakers. Kanter, of course, chose to join the Blazers less than two weeks after being waived by the Knicks, labeling one major reason why he made his choice.

“I think it’s just the culture,” Kanter said, according to Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. “After I got released from the Knicks I got a lot of offers but I just wanted to wait. After (Blazers president of basketball operations) Neil (Olshey) talked to me, I was like ‘You know what, I think Portland is the team that I want to go to because I already know their good culture from four years ago when they offered be the contract.’ I think it’s the best decision for me. Then Dame (Lillard) texted me and I was like, ‘You know what, this is the best place that I can (be).’ Be with the team and go far.”

Kanter, a bruising center who holds career-averages of 11.9 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, is expected to provide depth off Portland’s bench as the postseason nears. He has an opportunity to prove his worth on a competitive team ahead of free agency, joining the Blazers as a locker room leader and veteran presence.

“It’s amazing, like a first year of school,” Kanter said. “I was actually nervous but I think they help me a lot. Amazing locker (room). From the first moment that I stepped in everybody was trying to help, talking to me about lots of stuff. It’s become very easy, I feel like I’ve been a part of this team for a long time from the first day.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • New Thunder forward Markieff Morris was cleared two weeks ago and is “feeling great,” Royce Young of ESPN tweets. Morris officially signed with Oklahoma City this week, having being diagnosed with transient cervical neuropraxia in his neck early last month.
  • Dante Exum participated in his first practice with the Jazz on Thursday since suffering a left ankle sprain in January, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News writes. “It was great,” teammate Rudy Gobert said about seeing Exum in practice, according to Woodyard. “I think when he’s playing well, he can have a big impact for us and having him back soon is going to help us a lot.” Exum was re-evaluated by the team and ruled out for Friday’s game against Oklahoma City, though his return date doesn’t appear to be far off. He’s missed 17 straight games with the injury.
  • Blazers star Damian Lillard explained why he’s stayed with the team throughout his career, appearing on the Posted Up podcast with Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes this week. “I’m not willing to sell myself out for championships,” Lillard said. Lillard, drafted by Portland in 2012 with the No. 6 overall pick, is currently in his seventh season with the franchise.

Trade Rumors: Davis, Randolph, Wolves, Morris

The Knicks and Lakers are equal on Anthony Davis‘ list of preferred destinations, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times. The Clippers and Bucks also remain in the top four, Stein adds. New York may make a bid for Davis before the deadline, but it should be in a stronger position after the draft lottery when everyone knows where its first-rounder will fall (Twitter link).

League sources tell Stein that Davis doesn’t expect to sign his next contract before he reaches free agency in 2020, no matter where he is by then (Twitter link). That means anyone who trades for Davis won’t be assured of a long-term extension.

He has been sidelined with a fractured left index finger, but Davis intends to resume playing regardless of what happens at the trade deadline (Twitter link). He has received medical clearance to return to action, but the Pelicans haven’t divulged their plans for Davis if there’s no trade on Thursday. He was held out of two games this week to avoid further injury.

Here’s a roundup of rumors heading into the trade deadline:

  • The Lakers are running out of hope that a Davis trade will be completed before the deadline, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Pelicans GM Dell Demps hasn’t responded to Magic Johnson’s latest offer, and it appears New Orleans is content to run out the clock. The Pelicans may never have been serious about dealing with L.A. and might have been trying to sabotage the Lakers as revenge for what they consider to be tampering, tweets Rachel Nichols, host of ESPN’s “The Jump.” “It’s not just possible, it’s what happened,” colleague Brian Windhorst said today in an appearance on the show.
  • The Mavericks will have buyout talks with newly acquired Zach Randolph, Wojnarowski tweets. The 37-year-old hasn’t played yet this season, but he may be able to help a contender.
  • The Timberwolves continue to look for someone to take Jeff Teague and Gorgui Dieng, sources tell Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Teague has a $19MM player option for next season, while Dieng still has two seasons left on his four-year, $63MM deal. Minnesota hasn’t found much interest, but it may be willing to attach Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver or Luol Deng as incentives.
  • New Pelican Markieff Morris could become a buyout candidate once he’s fully recovered from a neck injury, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • The Thunder plan to watch what the Suns do with Wayne Ellington and may be interested if he hits the buyout market, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link).