De'Andre Hunter

Southeast Notes: Hunter, Magic, Hawks, Heat

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, limited to just 21 games this season due to a pesky right knee injury, has seen the knee responding well after returning to the court for Atlanta Monday, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

Kirschner tweets that Hunter will miss Wednesday’s contest against the Wizards for scheduled maintenance on the knee, but will be available on the second night of the Hawks’ latest back-to-back, Thursday against the Magic.

Hunter had a nonsurgical procedure last month to treat remaining soreness in the knee. The 23-year-old forward out of Virginia, selected with the fourth pick in the 2019 NBA draft, has averaged career highs of 15.5 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 2.0 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG in his second NBA season with the Hawks.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Though the Magic have been eliminated from playoff contention and appear to be prioritizing high lottery picks in a packed draft, there are still plenty of intriguing chemistry elements the club can evaluate among its current young players down the stretch, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic assess the offseason of the seemingly playoff-bound Hawks, including decisions facing the club on restricted free agent big man John Collins and disappointing 2019 lottery selection Cam Reddish. Kirschner and Hollinger wonder if Reddish should be flipped now should an improvement at the bench small forward position become available via trade, or if Atlanta should wait to see if he improves while still on his rookie deal. Collins has evolved into a valuable two-way contributor, and the speculation revolves more around the price point at which he will be re-signed rather than whether or not he’ll be brought back.
  • The Heat have seen a performative uptick lately, despite several backcourt absences. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald takes a look at how the in-season additions of veterans Trevor Ariza and Dewayne Dedmon, both 2021 unrestricted free agents, have benefited Miami. Ariza, 35, has started in 24 of the 27 games he has appeared in with the Heat, during which the team went 15-12. In a smaller but still crucial role as the team’s reserve big man willing to do the dirty work on defense, Dedmon has averaged 13.5 MPG across his 13 appearances with Miami — the club has gone 9-4 in those games.

Heath Updates: Porzingis, Kleber, J. Brown, R. Williams, Hunter, Carter, Bradley

The Mavericks are in good shape to avoid a play-in game, but they may have to finish the regular season without big men Kristaps Porzingis and Maxi Kleber, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Porzingis has already been declared out for today’s game against the Cavaliers, marking the sixth straight game he will miss and the ninth in the last 10 games. He suffered a sprained left ankle on March 22, then returned three games later and had to leave with soreness in his right knee. He tested the knee before Friday’s game, shooting for about 15 minutes.

Kleber has sat out the past three games with pain in his right Achilles. He is officially listed as questionable for today, but coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect him to play.

“Not having Kleber or Porzingis puts us in a more precarious situation,” Carlisle said. “But we’ve just got to figure it out. Five games left. Every game is super meaningful. We understand it. We’re just going to stay in the present, stick to the process and keep working.”

Here are some more injury-related updates:

  • Celtics forward Jaylen Brown will miss today’s showdown with the Heat because of a sprained right ankle, tweets Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The team had hoped Brown could be ready, but he will sit out his third straight game. Robert Williams is considered probable for today with turf toe, but coach Brad Stevens said there will be a lot of game-time decisions for him for the rest of the season, Murphy adds (via Twitter).
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter will be a game-time decision at best on Monday, according to Kevin Chouinard of NBA.com (Twitter link). Coach Nate McMillan indicated that a final decision will be made after today’s practice and Monday’s walkthrough. Hunter has missed the past 24 games and has only played twice since January 29.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. is dealing with blurry vision and slightly impaired depth perception, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. He will miss tonight’s game with a left eye abrasion (Twitter link).
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas said there’s no timetable for a return by guard Avery Bradley, who is out for personal reasons, relays Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston (Twitter link).

Hawks Notes: Playoff Prospects, Okongwu, Hunter, Rondo

The Hawks have assembled a roster that could be a surprise force in the East when the playoffs start, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. General manager Travis Schlenk focused on adding shooting over the offseason, signing Bogdan Bogdanovic as a free agent and trading for Danilo Gallinari and Tony Snell.

Atlanta made a powerful impression on the Suns this week, putting up 135 points in a 32-point victory.

“They have a lot of guys who can knock down shots, but not just 3-point shots,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “Bogdanovic and Trae (Young) are two guys who can get into the paint and make shots creating off the dribble. (Clint) Capela has been huge for them. He generates offense diving and gets extra possessions. His defense covers up a lot of the mistakes that the guards can make. Gallinari is a versatile scorer. They’re deep. They look like a playoff team. They look like they’re getting into playoff shape. I don’t think many teams want to play them if they’re going to continue to shoot the ball like that.”

There’s more on the Hawks:

  • Lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu hasn’t been impactful during his rookie season, playing just 11.6 minutes per night and averaging 4.2 points and 3.0 rebounds, but he’s turned in some recent performances that may cause coach Nate McMillan to consider him for the postseason rotation, Kirschner adds. One of those came against the Suns, when he had 14 points and seven rebounds off the bench. “A young guy like that, he seems to get better each time he steps on the floor,” McMillan said. “… As long as he continues to play like that and show growth, he’ll get minutes. This year is basically a year for him to get his feet wet and get out there and just play.”
  • De’Andre Hunter continues to make progress toward returning from an injured right knee, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was able to play five-on-five today, and the team will wait to see how his knee responds Sunday before planning his next step.
  • Former Hawks guard Rajon Rondo praised the organization this week for how it handled his trade to the Clippers, relays KL Chouinard of NBA.com (Twitter link). “Travis (Schlenk) and I talked a couple of days before and that morning as well,” Rondo said on a TNT interview. “We had a conversation. It was a pleasant one, and one that I never had in my entire career. Big ups to the Hawks organization. I wish those guys well.”

Injury Notes: Porzingis, Hart, Adams, Hayward, Walker, Hartenstein, Hunter, Beverley

The Mavericks will hold center Kristaps Porzingis out of both games this weekend as he deals with pain in his right knee, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s going to rehab and work out,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “He’s doing better than he was two nights ago in Detroit. Things are moving in a good direction.”

Porzingis was also dealing with a sprained left ankle last week, so Thursday’s game against the Pistons marked the only time he has played since April 22. Carlisle said he had no other specifics to offer and no timetable beyond this weekend. He added that Porzingis is “very diligent” about rehab work.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Pelicans aren’t sure if guard Josh Hart will be able to return before the end of the regular season, according to Jim Eichenhofer (Twitter link). Hart had surgery April 6 to fix a torn UCL in his right thumb. “We knew going in that his timetable to get back (in uniform) would be the last week to 10 days (of the regular season), coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ll have to wait and see as we get later into next week.”
  • Pelicans center Steven Adams suffered a sprained toe this week, but Van Gundy said it’s a day-to-day issue and Adams should be available for the rest of the season (Twitter link from Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward no longer needs a walking boot for his sprained right foot, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
  • Celtics guard Kemba Walker is listed as doubtful for Sunday with a strain in his left side, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). It would be the fourth straight missed game for Walker.
  • Cavaliers center Isaiah Hartenstein was able to work out at the arena tonight for the first time since entering concussion protocol, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Hartenstein has missed the past four games.
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has been out since March 23 with a knee injury, hasn’t been able to work out for several days, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Coach Nate McMillan said he has no idea if Hunter will be able to play again this season.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley may be able to return in the “next couple games” if his left hand continues to improve, coach Tyronn Lue told Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Hawks’ De’Andre Hunter Undergoes Non-Surgical Procedure

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter underwent a non-surgical procedure at the Emory Sports Medicine Complex earlier today and will return to activity following three days of “unloading,” the team announced today in a press release.

Atlanta’s announcement is light on specifics, but it’s safe to assume the procedure relates to Hunter’s right knee. He underwent meniscus surgery in February and was experiencing some swelling and soreness upon his return. A PRP injection is a logical possibility, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, though it’s worth noting that’s just informed speculation.

While the Hawks and Hunter certainly would’ve preferred to be able to avoid a follow-up procedure altogether, it doesn’t sound like this one was too serious. As Chris Kirschner of The Athletic tweets, head coach Nate McMillan said today that the procedure “absolutely” won’t keep Hunter sidelined for the rest of the season. We’ll have to wait for more details on his recovery timeline, but it could be a relatively short-term absence for the former lottery pick.

In 20 games so far this season (31.3 MPG), Hunter has averaged 16.0 PPG and 5.1 RPG on .502/.356/.867 shooting. Until he returns, the Hawks figure to lean more heavily on wings like Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, Tony Snell, and Lou Williams.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Beal, Gafford, Hornets, Hunter

While the Heat didn’t make a deal for Kyle Lowry at last week’s trade deadline, their acquisition of Victor Oladipo and their salary cap situation put them in a good spot, says Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. As O’Connor explains, Miami will get a shot to evaluate Oladipo for the rest of the season before deciding whether or not to re-sign him. If they opt to let Oladipo go, the Heat are in position to open up enough cap room to make a serious run at Lowry.

Of course, Pat Riley and the Heat may prefer to go after a higher caliber of star than the 35-year-old Lowry. But it doesn’t look right now as if there will be many available this offseason, O’Connor notes. That could change if Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who shut down trade speculation all season, eventually reconsiders his stance.

As O’Connor writes, Beal still might be the most realistic target for teams seeking a superstar, since he’ll be on an expiring contract in 2021/22. Sources tell The Ringer that Beal’s decision to remain in D.C. for at least the rest of this season was motivated in part by wanting to get through the worst of the coronavirus pandemic before making any life-altering decisions.

Beal has repeatedly pledged his loyalty to Washington, so even after the pandemic – and with his free agency nearing – he still may not want to be dealt. But teams are continuing to monitor that situation. According to O’Connor, the Heat, Celtics, Knicks, and Pelicans are among the teams interested in pursuing Beal, with the Raptors also looming as a possible sleeper.

Here’s more from around the NBA’s Southeast:

  • Daniel Gafford had a strong Wizards debut on Saturday, racking up 13 points, five rebounds, and three blocks in just 14 minutes, impressing his teammates and head coach Scott Brooks. “He had just a fantastic game. It was a great first game for him,” Brooks said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “We’re going to keep working with him. He’s definitely a keeper. He has a chance to be good for a lot of years with his skill set.”
  • Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak said on Friday that his team will monitor the buyout market, though he acknowledged that the top players to shake loose may not have Charlotte atop their wish lists, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Kupchak also conceded that the team will need to address its center position this offseason at the latest. “Since Cody (Zeller) and Biz (Bismack Biyombo) are both going to be free agents, that would be an area of concern going forward,” Kupchak said. “This summer they’re going to have options and we may or may not have options. That is, and was, a focus (of trade talks).”
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter is dealing with some swelling in his surgically repaired knee. While GM Travis Schlenk downplayed the issue, a medical expert who spoke to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic believes it could be something Hunter has to deal with for the rest of the season.

Health Updates: Rose, Nets, Hunter, Embiid, Giannis

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (via Twitter). However, it remains to be seen when he’ll be cleared to return to action, since he’ll have to rebuild his strength and conditioning following a bout with COVID-19, as Peter Botte of The New York Post writes.

“I was away because I actually had (the virus),” Rose told reporters, including Botte, on Monday. “I felt all of the symptoms, sick and everything.

“… It was completely different. They say everybody is different, but with me, I never felt anything like that before. I’ve had the flu. It was nothing like the flu. You’re drained and everything. It was that times 10. So like I said, slowly getting back, I’m progressing every day and just trying to get back in the swing of things.”

According to Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News, Rose said that his kids, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s mother all contracted the coronavirus as well, though it didn’t hit his kids as hard.

Here are a few more health and injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Nets will be without Kyrie Irving and Landry Shamet as they begin their three-game road trip on Tuesday in Portland, writes Malika Andrews of ESPN. Irving isn’t traveling with the team as he attends to a family matter. Shamet sprained his right ankle on Sunday, though an MRI didn’t shown significant damage, per Adrian Wojnarowski.
  • While the Hawks‘ latest injury report lists De’Andre Hunter (right knee) as questionable for Monday’s game vs. the Clippers, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports says Hunter is expected return to action tonight after missing nearly two months. Hunter says he’ll be a game-time decision, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Within that same Yahoo Sports story, Haynes notes that Sixers center Joel Embiid is expected to have his left knee bone bruise reevaluated at the end of the week. Philadelphia will be extremely cautious with Embiid’s return, as the ultimate goal is to have him at 100% for the start of the playoffs in May, Haynes adds.
  • A left knee sprain will sideline Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo for Monday’s game vs. Indiana, per the NBA’s afternoon injury report.

Hawks Rumors: Smart, Bogdanovic, Collins, Hunter, Ball

The Hawks have expressed interest in Celtics guard Marcus Smart, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Smart, who is one of the NBA’s stronger perimeter defenders, would be a nice fit in Atlanta’s backcourt alongside Trae Young, but Boston’s appetite for trading Smart is unclear.

At 21-21, the Celtics have had a disappointing season, but they’re still a playoff team and Smart plays a key role for the club. Boston likely won’t simply trade him for picks or prospects, so any deal that sends him to Atlanta would likely have to include a player like John Collins or Bogdan Bogdanovic, as Jared Weiss and Sam Amick of The Athletic write.

Speaking of Bogdanovic, in addition to drawing interest from the Celtics, he’s being eyed by a few other teams as well. Charania adds the Warriors to the list of players with interest in Bogdanovic, while Weiss and Amick say the Clippers are also on that list.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • League sources with knowledge of the Hawks’ Collins trade discussions tell Weiss and Amick that there’s a “significant gulf” in how much Atlanta values the big man and how much teams are willing to give up for him. The fact that the Hawks only offered in the range of $90MM in extension talks last offseason has created the impression they wouldn’t go any higher than that this summer when Collins reaches restricted free agency, which isn’t the case.
  • According to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, the Hawks’ initial response to the Celtics‘ inquiries on Collins was to try to build a deal around Jaylen Brown, which was a non-starter for Boston.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe estimates that the odds of a Collins trade this week are only about 30%, given how highly the Hawks value him and how badly they want to make the postseason. It would be difficult for the club to find a fair deal without taking a step back in the short term.
  • Hawks wing De’Andre Hunter may return to action as soon as Monday night, sources tell Charania. Hunter has been sidelined since January 29 after undergoing meniscus surgery.
  • Charania confirms that the Hawks are among the teams expected to pursue Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, which was first reported by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer on Sunday.

Southeast Notes: Stan Heath, Aldridge, Hunter, Magic

Just days after the Lakeland Magic, the NBAGL affiliate of the Magic, won the 2020/21 G League title in a 97-78 route of the Delaware Blue Coats, Lakeland head coach Stan Heath has been named the NBA G League Dennis Johnson Coach of the Year by his fellow coaches, per a G League press release.

Heath’s defensive approach worked wonders for the Magic, who finished their regular season with a 9-6 record that nabbed them the No. 6 seed heading into the G League playoffs. Lakeland’s stifling defense ranked atop the G League with a 101.0 defensive rating and 101.5 PPG allowed.

Heath won top honors during a uniquely unorthodox year for the G League, one that was reduced to a 15-game regular season within an Orlando “bubble” campus. Heath is the only head coach Lakeland has ever known, since its 2017 inception. He holds a 94-63 record across his four seasons at the helm for the club.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat may not be done adding 35-year-old NBA veterans to their roster this season, following the news of Miami’s trade for Trevor Ariza today. Sources tell Marc Stein of the New York Times (via Twitter) that the Heat will remain in pursuit of former All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, who is currently away from the Spurs as they try to coordinate a trade. Stein notes that Miami would likely look to add Aldridge in the event of a buyout, not a trade.
  • Hawks interim head coach Nate McMillan apparently does not share the previously-expressed optimism of Atlanta GM Travis Schlenk that injured small forward De’Andre Hunter will return to the court Thursday. Hunter has been rehabilitating from a January surgery on his right meniscus. During an interview on the Midday Show with Andy & Randy for 92.7 FM The Game. McMillan pushed back against Schlenk’s claims. “He has been working out, he’s getting closer, but playing tomorrow? That’s something we haven’t really talked much about,” McMillan said. “I think the conversation before going on the road trip was hopefully he’ll be able to join us on this eight game road trip we have coming up.” Hunter, the No. 4 pick out of Virginia in 2019, had been enjoying a breakout season with the Hawks before his injury. Across his 18 healthy games (all starts), Hunter averaged 17.2 PPG on an efficient slash line of .514/.366/.877, to go along with 5.4 RPG and 2.2 APG.
  • The 13-26 Magic may be best served exploring their trade options in the days leading up to the March 25 deadline. John Hollinger, Danny Leroux and Josh Robbins of The Athletic preview potential deals for the franchise, suggesting that veterans Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross, Nikola Vucevic, and even 2021 free agent swingman Evan Fournier could all net some intriguing young talent.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Hunter, Dunn, Gordon, Bradley

Cam Reddish is showing progress, but the Hawks swingman will be sidelined at least two more weeks. Reddish, who has missed the last nine games due to Achilles soreness, has been cleared to remove his walking boot and will now start low-level rehab activities, Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. The 2019 lottery pick, who is averaging 11.2 PGG and 4.0 RPG this season, hasn’t played since February 21.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Another key Hawks player, forward De’Andre Hunter, could return to action as soon as Thursday, GM Travis Schlenk told Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game (Twitter link). Hunter, who is averaging 17.2 PPG and 5.4 APG, has not played since January 29 and underwent meniscus surgery on his right knee in early February. Free agent acquisition Kris Dunn, who hasn’t played this season due to an ankle injury, could make his Atlanta debut during the team’s upcoming eight-game road swing.
  • Aaron Gordon‘s name has popped up frequently in trade rumors, prompting The Athletic’s Josh Robbins, Jason Quick, and Jon Krawczynski to break down the prospects of a Gordon trade to the Trail Blazers or Timberwolves. The discussion concludes that it’s unlikely the Magic would be offered a sufficient package from either team for the starting forward, whose contract expires after next season.
  • Heat guard Avery Bradley was listed as questionable for Tuesday night’s game against the Cavaliers but he did not dress, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Bradley has missed 19 consecutive games due to a right calf strain.