Deandre Ayton

Pacific Notes: Sabonis, Gabriel, Poole, Ayton, Shamet

It’s no coincidence that Kings players lead the league with the fewest games missed due to injury, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Good fortune plays a role, but there’s also a team philosophy that rejects the idea of load management.

Domantas Sabonis is among the players who typify that attitude, Biderman notes. Sabonis only missed one game when he suffered an avulsion fracture to his non-shooting thumb in December and another due to illness in January. Sabonis may need surgery on his thumb, but he refuses to consider it until the season ends and has been playing with a wrap and splint on his right hand.

“We need to win games,” Sabonis said. “We need to put ourselves in the best position for playoffs. If I miss a game and we lose, I’ll never forgive myself.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Wenyen Gabriel played virtually the entire fourth quarter Friday night in the Lakers‘ loss to the Mavericks, per Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times. Gabriel was frequently used to double team Kyrie Irving and cut down on his scoring opportunities. “He has a great, great nose for the ball,” coach Darvin Ham said. “(He had) 11 rebounds. He tries to defend, tries to protect the rim. … He’s just a spark plug, another one of our spark plugs. His size, his ability to run up and down the floor, clean up loose balls, and get offensive rebounds and putbacks. Really defends well. And he showed all of that tonight. That’s why we stayed with him.”
  • Jordan Poole, whose four-year extension begins next season, has been alternating between brilliant and exasperating, observes Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Monte Poole points out that coming into tonight, the Warriors guard has been a minus-50 over his last six games and he failed to deliver Friday night when four rotation players were sitting out the first game of a back-to-back.
  • The Suns won’t have center Deandre Ayton for Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City due to a right hip contusion, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Ayton didn’t travel with his teammates after suffering the injury in the fourth quarter Thursday night.

Nets Notes: Noel, Simmons, Duke, Smith, Ayton

With Spencer Dinwiddie (rest), Nic Claxton (right thumb sprain, left Achilles tendinopathy), Cameron Johnson (right knee soreness), and Royce O’Neale (left knee soreness) all unavailable in Milwaukee on Thursday, the Nets ran out a new-look starting lineup that scored just 15 total points, the lowest mark for any starting five since 2008, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link).

One of Brooklyn’s new starter was Nerlens Noel, who was playing in just his second game as a Net. Despite not scoring a single point, Noel was the only starter who had a plus/minus rating better than minus-14 (he was a plus-2) and made a positive impression on head coach Jacque Vaughn, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post relays.

“He continues to get himself in shape,” Vaughn said. “The charge that he took was great, putting his body on the line, so that was great. A (blocked shot) was great. So those things we want to continue to see from him.”

Noel’s contract with the Nets only covers 10 days, but so far he hasn’t been used like a player the team plans to soon part ways with, logging 18 minutes in consecutive games. Vaughn’s postgame comments also hinted that he expects the big man to be in Brooklyn for more than just 10 days.

“He’ll continue to learn conceptually what we want to do on the defensive end, and we’re switching back and forth between defenses, you know, so you got to turn your brain on and off and back on again,” Vaughn said of Noel. “So that challenge is what’s ahead of him.”

Here’s more on the Nets:

  • Ben Simmons, still dealing with knee and back issues, missed his eighth game in a row on Thursday, and Vaughn said Simmons’ back inflammation remains “in the process of settling down,” per Lewis. “A big piece of it is still the strengthening, to make sure that there’s no reoccurrence,” Vaughn said. “And then for a while we had to kind of press pause a little bit in order for the inflammation in the back to kind of settle down a little bit. So last few days, that’s what that’s look like.”
  • Although Brooklyn’s starting five was ineffective on Thursday, the team showed off its depth, scoring 98 bench points. That total was the highest in a regular season game since at least 1982, according to Reynolds, who notes (via Twitter) that Toronto scored 100 bench points vs. Brooklyn in a playoff game in 2020.
  • Nets two-way players David Duke and Dru Smith got a rare chance to play rotation minutes at the NBA level on Thursday and combined for 30 points. Duke and Smith have spent much of the season playing key roles for a Long Island Nets team that won its 16th straight game on Thursday, led by veteran point guard Chris Chiozza, according to NetsDaily. Brooklyn’s NBAGL affiliate now holds a league-best 22-3 record.
  • Sign-and-trade rules would have made it tricky for the Nets to acquire center Deandre Ayton from Phoenix in a package for Kevin Durant last summer, but Ayton would’ve been much easier to move at last month’s deadline. However, Ayton wasn’t part of the Suns‘ package for Durant and league sources tell Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) that Brooklyn was “never much interested” in trading for the former No. 1 pick.

Suns Notes: Durant, Warren, Payne, Shamet, Crowder, Wainright, Ayton

The Suns have confirmed that Kevin Durant, who is still recovering from an MCL sprain, won’t play until after the All-Star break, but the star forward “looked great” in his first practice with the team on Monday, teammate T.J. Warren said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Durant, who wasn’t wearing a brace on his injured knee, played some 1-on-1 with assistant coach Jarrett Jack, Rankin writes.

Warren, who was sent from Brooklyn to Phoenix along with Durant, said it was a “surreal feeling” to return to the place where he spent the first five years of his career and to have a chance to play alongside superstars and contend for a title (Twitter video link via PHNX Sports).

During Warren’s first five seasons in Phoenix from 2014-19, the club posted a dismal 126-284 (.307) record. This time around, the Suns are the betting favorites to make it out of the West and play in the NBA Finals.

Warren and fellow Suns newcomer Darius Bazley aren’t on the injury report for Tuesday’s game vs. Sacramento, so they should be available to make their debuts for the team, tweets Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports.

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • Suns guards Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet, who are both dealing with foot injuries, will remain sidelined through the All-Star break and will be reevaluated next week, tweets Rankin. Payne hasn’t played since January 4 due to a right foot sprain, while Shamet has been out since Jan. 16 as a result of right foot soreness.
  • Now a member of the Bucks, Jae Crowder declined to take any parting shots at the Suns when asked about the situation that led to him sitting out the first several months of the season. “Obviously I’ve been working with these guys for a trade partner for months now. I think, give or take, they did exactly what they said they were gonna do. Took longer than what we all expected, but it got done,” Crowder said (Twitter link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “… I’m thankful for the organization embracing me the past two years — we had a great run and we did some great things in Phoenix and we turned their culture around. So I’m happy for those guys. I wish them luck moving forward.”
  • Suns two-way player Ish Wainright can only be active for two more games before he reaches his limit for the season, tweets Bourguet. Given that Phoenix plays twice before the All-Star break and then is off for eight days, the club will likely have Wainright active for both of this week’s contests and then use the time off to decide whether to promote him to a standard contract, Bourguet observes. The Suns currently have two openings on their 15-man roster, though Terrence Ross is expected to fill one of them.
  • Deandre Ayton remained with the Suns through the trade deadline, then faced the Pacers on Friday, seven months after signing an offer sheet with Indiana that Phoenix quickly matched. Despite some speculation during the last year about whether Ayton really wanted to be with the Suns, he said he wasn’t thinking last week about what could have been, Rankin writes for The Arizona Republic. “I enjoyed playing against (Indiana) and being out there, but I’m happy with my Suns, though,” Ayton said. “Forget that. That’s behind me. I’m happy I’m with my Suns.”

Pacific Notes: Ayton, LeBron, Westbrook, Warriors

In case you hadn’t heard, the Suns drastically remade their roster this week, trading several picks and young talent in exchange for one of the greatest players in league history, who is still arguably in his prime. But that doesn’t mean there won’t still be questions about at least one of the team’s other priciest players going forward.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, there’s skepticism that Phoenix management truly values Suns starting center Deandre Ayton at his salary of $33MM per year. Fischer suggests that the big man’s long-term future in Phoenix remains “curious.”

Ayton is in the first year of new contract with the Suns, signed only after a maximum offer sheet was tendered by the Pacers this summer. He’s averaging 18.4 PPG on 58.6% shooting from the floor, 10.3 RPG, 2.1 APG and 0.7 BPG.

There’s more out of the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers All-Star power forward LeBron James will be sidelined by ankle soreness Thursday against the Bucks, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN. McMenamin writes that James will be available for a pregame ceremony to commemorate him setting the NBA’s all-time scoring record on Tuesday. L.A. did already celebrate the moment with a mid-game video montage, a presentation from league commissioner Adam Silver and the previous scoring record holder, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and speeches from James and Silver.
  • The situation with former Lakers reserve point guard Russell Westbrook had devolved so drastically in the last week that L.A.’s coaching staff might have pushed to waive him had he stuck on the roster through the trade deadline, according to Jovan Buha and Sam Amick of The Athletic. The Athletic’s duo cites sources who referred to the situation as “toxic.” Westbrook is currently with the Jazz, but is widely expected to be bought out.
  • At today’s trade deadline, the Warriors essentially flipped 2020 No. 2 draft pick James Wiseman for Gary Payton II in a four-team deal. Payton departed Golden State in free agency last summer, but the Warriors wanted to bring back a reliable veteran who had already proven his mettle with the team during its 2020 title run, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Trade Rumors: Reddish, Nuggets, Pistons, Bucks, Rose, Suns, More

The Nuggets are among the teams that have registered some interest in Knicks forward Cam Reddish, according to Ian Begley of, who says the Pistons and Knicks have also spoken recently about Reddish.

In passing along Begley’s latest reporting, SNY’s story notes that Begley has previously identified the Knicks as a team with interest in Pistons forward Saddiq Bey and suggests that perhaps there could be a match between the two teams on a deal involving Bey and Reddish. Bey’s trade value is significantly higher at this point than Reddish’s, however, so New York would need to attach a sweetener or two to make Detroit seriously consider that framework.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks have expressed trade interest in Knicks point guard Derrick Rose, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Milwaukee doesn’t have an obvious salary-matching piece for Rose, who has a $14.5MM salary and has been out of New York’s rotation for much of the season — it’s hard to imagine he’s near the top of the Bucks’ wish list. For what it’s worth, Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said he’d like to keep Rose around, explaining that the former MVP “contributes in a lot of different ways to our club” despite not seeing much playing time this season (link via Peter Botte of The New York Post).
  • John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 shoots down a rumor suggesting that the Mavericks and Suns could make a deal centered around Deandre Ayton, Christian Wood, and Tim Hardaway Jr., tweeting that there’s “nothing” to that speculation. One recent report indicated that Dallas has interest in Ayton, but that report suggested he’d be more of a long-term trade target rather than a player the Suns would have interest in moving this week.
  • Suns veteran Dario Saric is among the power forwards on the Heat‘s radar, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link), though Jackson acknowledges that Miami doesn’t have a clear salary-matching piece to send out for Saric ($9.2MM). Jackson adds (via Twitter) that the Suns, under new ownership, are “very active” in the trade market, but still haven’t been intrigued by the assets Miami has put on the table for Jae Crowder.

Pacific Notes: Paul, Durant, James, Westbrook

Addressing reports that the Suns were willing to trade him in a package to the Nets for Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul took the news like a pro, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets.

Paul knows all about being traded, so he didn’t seem blindsided by the news.

“It’s a business. I’ve seen crazier,” he said. “The way I found out I was traded from Houston. You just show up to work and be a pro day in and day out. Nobody’s exempt from being traded. Find out just like everybody else.”

Coach Monty Williams expressed disappointment that the future Hall of Famer has to deal with these rumors and reports at this stage of his career, Rankin adds in another tweet.

“I don’t think it’s fair when guys have their names thrown out there,” Williams said. “Kind of bothers me, ’cause Chris, his name should never be thrown out there in that way.”

We have more Pacific Division news:

  • While they may have struck out for Irving, the Suns are prepared to make another offer to Brooklyn if Kevin Durant becomes available, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’s unknown just what Phoenix would be willing to part with for Durant, but The Arizona Republic’s Jeremy Cluff cobbles up some speculative pieces around the Internet that suggest Deandre Ayton would likely be part of the package.
  • LeBron James expressed disappointment that the Lakers were unable to land Irving, he told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon (hat tip to Rachel Nichols). “Definitely disappointed. I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed on not being able to land someone…I’ve got great chemistry on the floor with, that can help you win championships,” James said.
  • Lakers coach Darvin Ham said that Russell Westbrook just needs to do his work as trade rumors continue to swirl around him, Mark Medina of tweets. “This is an unforgiving business in terms of different coverage and in terms of covering scenarios and dealing with rumors and different things happening,” Ham said. “All you can do is put your head down and do the work and try to remain as professional as possible. He’s done that.”

Trade Rumors: Raptors, Ayton, Russell, Olynyk, Heat, Celtics

The NBA is still waiting to see what the Raptors will decide to do ahead of next week’s trade deadline, but it’s seeming more likely that they’ll be active.

I would be shocked if they didn’t do anything,” one high-ranking league executive told Josh Lewenberg of

The Raptors are open to offers for everyone on the roster except for second-year forward Scottie Barnes, sources tell Lewenberg. Just because they’re listening doesn’t mean they’re going to totally overhaul the team in the next week though, with Lewenberg pointing out that more options could be available in the offseason.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Raptors came close to landing Deandre Ayton from the Suns via sign-and-trade over the summer, a source tells Lewenberg, who notes that Phoenix is reportedly interested in OG Anunoby.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that trade chatter involving Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell has died down a little with his strong play of late. “He has been a good offensive player for them,” said Lowe (hat tip to RealGM). “That noise, to me, has kind of quieted. I know there are deals out there that they would do. I don’t think any teams have met those deal points yet.” Russell is making $31.4MM in the final year of his contract.
  • Both the Heat and Celtics are interested in a reunion with Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk, sources tell Steve Bulpett of Boston is still trying to figure out what Utah might seek in return for Olynyk, but a source from a team looking for frontcourt help expressed skepticism that the Celtics or Heat will be able to meet the Jazz’s asking price, per Bulpett.
  • A front office source from a rival team doesn’t expect the Celtics to do anything drastic on the wings at the deadline, suggesting that even if they sign someone in a buyout, that player is likely to be a deep-bench reserve who is buried on the depth chart. “I’m not saying they wouldn’t upgrade their end of the bench wings, but there’s really no room in the rotation,” the source told Bulpett.

Western Notes: Lee, Fox, McNair, Ayton, Hyland

Suns point guard Saben Lee is “grateful” for the opportunity the organization gave him, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. Lee’s second 10-day contract with Phoenix expired on Monday, so the team must now offer him a rest-of-the-season contract if it wants to keep him.

Lee has appeared in 10 games with the Suns, averaging 7.0 points and 3.3 assists in 17.3 minutes. “It’s been really good,” Lee said. “Being able to make strides on and off the court. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here the past 20 days. Able to get a good amount of playing time as well.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Guard De’Aaron Fox is pleased the Kings reached a three-year contract extension with GM Monte McNair, he told Chris Biderman of the Sacramento Bee. “It’s great. Just to have consistency throughout the organization, you want that to be the last thing you’re worried about is no extension,” Fox said. “Just from top to bottom, I feel like everybody wants to know that they have a little bit of security. I feel like you do your job better when you’re secure.”
  • Suns center Deandre Ayton could be a long-term trade target for the Mavericks, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on the Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to Hoops Hype). “He’s a name that I’ve heard around the Mavericks,” MacMahon said, explaining that Ayton seems unlikely to be on the move in the next 10 days. “… I think that would have to be a ‘later’ than ‘right now’ type of situation.”
  • Nuggets backup guard Bones Hyland has been mentioned in trade rumors recently. He told’s Harrison Wind that he’s oblivious to the chatter. “I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me at all,” Hyland said. “I don’t pay no mind to it. Whatever happens, happens.”

Suns Notes: Ishbia, Ayton, Booker, Payne

With a change in majority ownership of the Suns franchise imminent, Gerald Bourguet of offers a 10-step wish list for incoming owner Mat Ishbia. Some of the items on the list includes improving relationships with employees, resolving the Jae Crowder situation with a trade, and committing to a G League franchise.

We have more on the Suns:

  • Deandre Ayton indicated during the morning shootaround on Thursday that he’ll play against Dallas tonight, Bourguet tweets. Ayton, officially listed as probable, has missed the last three games due to an illness.
  • In the latest official update on Devin Booker‘s condition on Wednesday, the Suns said their star guard would be reevaluated in a week. Booker, who is recovering from a left groin strain suffered on Christmas Day, could return to action by the end of the month, John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM tweets. Gambadoro anticipates Booker will return next week during either the home game against Toronto on Monday or Atlanta on Wednesday.
  • Cameron Payne missed his 10th straight game on Thursday due to a right foot injury. The team said on Tuesday that he’ll be reevaluated in a week and Payne says he’s not quite ready to play, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. “It’s been an awkward feeling,” Payne said. “I just don’t really feel that comfortable. Like I can’t be myself. When I’m able to be myself, that’s when I want to get back out there on the court.”

21 More NBA Players Become Trade-Eligible

Today is Sunday, January 15, which means that nearly two dozen players who signed free agent contracts meeting specific criteria this past offseason are now eligible to be traded.

Most offseason signees became trade-eligible on December 15, but players who met the following criteria were ineligible to be moved for an extra month:

  1. The player re-signed with his previous team.
  2. He got a raise of at least 20%.
  3. His salary is worth more than the minimum.
  4. His team was over the cap and used Bird or Early Bird rights to sign him.

The following players met that criteria and are eligible to be traded as of Sunday:

(* Players marked with an asterisk have the ability to veto trades.)

Most of the players on NBA rosters are now eligible to be moved, though a small handful still can’t be dealt. That group includes Thunder guard Isaiah Joe, who becomes trade-eligible on Monday, Bucks swingman Pat Connaughton (trade-eligible on Wednesday), and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams (trade-eligible on Friday).

There are also several players who won’t become trade-eligible before this season’s February 9 deadline, including Lakers star LeBron James. Players on 10-day contracts are also ineligible to be dealt.