Dejounte Murray

Southwest Notes: Mbah A Moute, Rivers, Porzingis, Spurs

Speaking today to reporters for the first time since reporting to the NBA’s campus and clearing quarantine, Rockets forward Luc Mbah a Moute confirmed that his arrival was delayed because he had contracted the coronavirus, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Mbah a Moute signed with the Rockets on July 7 as a substitute player replacing Thabo Sefolosha, but didn’t arrive in Orlando until last Wednesday. According to Feigen, Mbah a Moute said today that he dealt with “chills (and) body ache” while battling COVID-19, adding that the recovery was “tough.”

Meanwhile, Mbah a Moute’s teammate Austin Rivers hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus, but remains quarantined in his hotel room after briefly leaving the Orlando campus last week. Rivers, who returned on Saturday, is scheduled to complete his four-day quarantine period on Tuesday and should be ready to go for the Rockets’ first seeding game this Friday vs. Dallas, Feigen writes for The Chronicle.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was held out of Sunday’s scrimmage because he missed a mandatory coronavirus test on Saturday, though head coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t overly upset by the mistake, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. “This situation was one where he just took his eye off the ball a little bit in terms of the day-to-day protocols and procedures,” Carlisle said. “It can be challenging on off days to keep track of the schedule. I almost missed testing on our first off day. … It’s an innocent mistake, but it’s significant.”
  • Trey Burke just signed with the Mavericks on July 1 and was late arriving to the NBA’s campus in Orlando, but he believes his experience playing for Carlisle in 2018/19 will help him quickly adjust, Sefko writes at Mavs.com. “I feel comfortable, rather than other places coming into a new place and it’s a brand new system and a brand new coaching staff,” Burke said. “I pretty much know the pace that coach likes to play with, I know how hard he can be on guys and I’m ready for that.”
  • With LaMarcus Aldridge and Trey Lyles sidelined for the summer, the Spurs are experimenting with some guard-heavy lineups, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. One unit, which features recent first-rounders Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker playing alongside each other, could be a preview of the club’s future backcourt, McDonald notes.

Southwest Notes: Murray, J. Jackson, Iguodala, Ball

After missing the entire 2018/19 season due to an ACL tear, Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray began the 2019/20 campaign on a minutes restriction and then was removed from the starting lineup. However, head coach Gregg Popovich didn’t necessarily view that move as a demotion — the team believed that removing the responsibilities of running the first-team offense might allow Murray to play a “freer, more instinctual game,” writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News.

While Murray’s play for the second unit has been up and down, he had one of his best games of the season last Friday in a Spurs win over Sacramento, with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three steals in 32 minutes. That last number may be the most important of the bunch, as it suggests Murray’s minutes restriction is no longer in effect. With no more nightly cap on his playing time, Murray is eager to show what he can do.

“I know it takes time,” the Spurs’ guard said. “There was the minute restriction, a lot of stuff going on. It is what it is. I’m going to bust my tail, continue to work, continue to learn. I’m just ready to be unleashed.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • After being held out of Monday’s game, Josh Jackson once again won’t play for the Memphis Hustle on Wednesday, the Grizzlies announced today (via Twitter). Jackson, who reportedly missed a team meeting, has essentially received a two-game suspension for violating team rules.
  • What sort of trade options might the Grizzlies have for Andre Iguodala? Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian takes a deep dive and explores several hypothetical scenarios, labeling the Mavericks as Memphis’ most logical trade partner and the Nuggets and Raptors as possible wild cards.
  • Lonzo Ball was one of the key pieces acquired by the Pelicans in their blockbuster trade with the Lakers over the summer, and New Orleans is doing all it can to get the most out of the former No. 2 overall pick. Andrew Lopez of ESPN.com takes a closer look at how the Pelicans have worked on rebuilding Ball’s jump shot.

Western Notes: Murray, Iguodala, Roberson

Dejounte Murray has come off the bench for the Spurs recently and the point guard says that he’s not stressing over his role.

“I am just here to play basketball, man,” Murray said when asked how he’s handling coming off the bench (via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News). “Try to be a great teammate. And on the basketball end, play as great as I can on both ends of the floor and just compete.”

Murray was set to enter the 2018/19 season as the starting point guard before suffering a knee injury that cost him the season. Derrick White stepped up as the starter last year and coach Gregg Popovich believes that inserting White into the starting lineup this season will help the team improve its game.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

Southwest Notes: Jackson, Murray, Walker, Ingram

After being traded to the Grizzlies in a salary-dump deal over the summer, former No. 4 overall pick Josh Jackson had his 2020/21 rookie scale option turned down by his new team. However, Memphis isn’t giving up entirely on the 22-year-old, having sent him to the G League for an assignment with the Memphis Hustle to start the season. As David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal relays, Jackson is hoping the change of scenery will benefit him.

“I think this year we have a lot more structure (with the Grizzlies) as opposed to what we did in Phoenix,” Jackson said. “The team was just a little bit too young. And with that comes a lot of things that you don’t know, that you have to learn. Here I feel like we’ve got great guys in place as far as a coaching staff and training staff to kind of coach us a little bit more as to how to be a pro.”

The G League regular season will get underway a week from today, on November 8. Presumably, the Grizzlies plan on having Jackson stay with the Hustle through that date to ensure he’ll play regular minutes in live games. However, the team hasn’t publicly offered many specifics about its plan for the former Sun. And, as Cobb details, Jackson is somewhat in the dark as well.

“As of now, no specific benchmarks,” the Grizzlies forward said. “No timeline, either, of when or if I’ll be called up. Right now, it’s just all about putting in the work, getting better. That’s all I’m focusing on.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Coming off his torn ACL, newly-extended Spurs guard Dejounte Murray has been on a minutes restriction, playing between 22-24 minutes in each of the team’s four games so far. He’s looking forward to having that restriction lifted at some point, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link).I love to hoop. I love to compete, so it is frustrating,” Murray said. “But like I said, it has nothing to do with me trusting them and trusting their plan or whatever they got for me. But, yeah, I am frustrated. I think about it a lot. I’m not going to lie.”
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was critical of second-year guard Lonnie Walker after Thursday’s loss, Orsborn tweets. I expect better effort, better awareness and a better attempt to take advantage of the minutes that he gets,” Popovich said of the 2018 first-rounder. “I thought he was non-competitive.”
  • In a conversation with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram spoke about his contract situation, being the subject of trade rumors last season, his reaction to being dealt, and his first impressions of New Orleans, among other topics.

Hollinger’s Latest: Aldridge, Murray, Prince

Former Grizzlies executive John Hollinger is now working for The Athletic, where he’ll have the opportunity to pass along under-the-radar cap- and contract-related notes from around the league. He did just that in a “Cap Geekery” column today, so let’s round up a few of the highlights…

  • Marc Stein of The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the Spurs have guaranteed LaMarcus Aldridge‘s full $24MM salary for the 2020/21 season, but Hollinger says the team has actually just moved up his guarantee date to January 1, 2020. Assuming Hollinger’s info is accurate, that means Aldridge’s ’20/21 salary won’t officially become guaranteed for a couple more months, which should effectively have the same result — it’s not as if San Antonio will release him before then.
  • According to Hollinger, Dejounte Murray‘s new extension with the Spurs includes three separate annual incentives worth a total of $1.5MM. Murray can earn those three bonuses if he posts a true shooting percentage of 58 or higher ($500K), makes at least 125 three-pointers in a season ($500K), and makes an All-Defense team ($500K). Those first two incentives would require him to become a significantly more effective shooter, but the All-Defense bonus may be more realistic — he has already made the team once.
  • Taurean Prince can earn a $334,375 annual bonus on his new contract with the Nets if the team posts a defensive rating of 105 or better in his minutes, per Hollinger. Prince can also receive another $334,375 annually if he attempts at least 7.6 three-pointers per 36 minutes and makes at least 41.5% of those tries, Hollinger adds. Prince’s extension reportedly maxes out at $29MM over two years.

Spurs Sign Dejounte Murray To Four-Year Extension

9:00pm: Murray’s new contract includes $6MM in incentives and could max out at $70MM, tweets Charania.

4:08pm: The Spurs have officially signed Murray to an extension, the team confirmed in a press release.

3:38pm: Despite not appearing in a regular season game since the 2017/18 season, Dejounte Murray has agreed to a new long-term extension with the Spurs. Agent Rich Paul tells Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that Murray is signing a four-year contract worth a fully guaranteed $64MM. It’ll go into effect for the 2020/21 season.

Murray, the 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft, averaged 8.1 PPG, 5.7 RPG, and 2.9 APG in 81 games (21.5 MPG) during the ’17/18 season, his second with the Spurs. He appeared to be primed for a breakout season last fall, but a torn ACL sidelined him for the entire ’18/19 campaign.

Once again healthy, Murray is looking to pick up where he left off before that injury. Although there are some questions about his jump shot – he converted just 18-of-57 three-pointers in his first two seasons – he’s a force on the defensive end, having become the youngest player ever to be named to the NBA’s All-Defense team in 2018. The Spurs view him as one of their cornerstone pieces for the years ahead.

Prior to Murray’s extension, the Spurs had approximately $54MM in salary on their books for the 2020/21 season. While we don’t yet know the structure of Murray’s deal, it’s safe to say it will push the team’s commitments up near $70MM.

It’s possible San Antonio will still have some cap flexibility next summer, but that team salary estimate doesn’t include DeMar DeRozan‘s player option ($27.7MM) or $17MM of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s partially guaranteed salary, so if the Spurs intend to bring one or both of those players back, they likely won’t be a real player in free agency.

Murray is the eighth player to reach a deal on a rookie scale extension this year and the 15th player in total to get an extension since July, as our tracker shows.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Spurs’ Murray, Poeltl Hoping To Sign Extensions

Spurs guard Dejounte Murray and big man Jakob Poeltl are seeking rookie scale extensions but neither is dwelling on next week’s deadline, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News reports.

Murray, the team’s projected starting point guard, is playing this season at the bargain rate of $2.32MM since he was drafted No. 29 overall in 2016. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, provided the team extends a qualify offer after this season, if he can’t agree to an extension before next Monday’s deadline.

“My mind is not on that at all,” Murray told Orsborn. “Obviously, I want to be here for as long as I can, but those are things I can’t control.”

It might be in the franchise’s best interest to see how Murray looks this season, rather than extending him. He missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in a preseason contest. He earned NBA All-Defense Second Team honors in 2017/18 and coach Gregg Popovich says Murray “looks confident” this preseason. However, Murray admits he’s rusty after sitting out a full year.

Poeltl, acquired from the Raptors prior to last season, is making $3.75MM this season after getting drafted No. 9 overall in 2016. He’s part of the Spurs’ frontcourt rotation.

“I’m not really thinking about it a whole lot,” Poeltl said of an extension. “If we come to an agreement, I’m happy, obviously. But it has to be a good contract for both parties, obviously.”

If an extension is reached, it will probably be a team-friendly deal since Poeltl isn’t a stretch four or five, Orsborn notes.

Thus far, rookie scale extensions have come at a trickle, with Ben Simmons, Caris LeVert and Jamal Murray the only eligible players who have signed such an agreement.

Texas Notes: Porzingis, Barea, Clemons, Murray

Kristaps Porzingis “felt natural” as he returned to the court tonight for the first time since suffering an ACL injury in February of 2018, tweets Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. Porzingis’ shot was rusty as he hit just 7-of-18 from the field and 2-of-7 from 3-point range. Still, he manged 18 points in 19 minutes, along with seven rebounds and two assists.

“All good,” he said afterward. “The main thing for me is to be calm. Be focused and be calm on the court.”

The game marked Porzingis’ debut in a Mavericks uniform and his first time playing alongside Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic, who led the team with 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

“It’s easy to play with him, super-easy,” Porzingis said. “The looks he got us and how much attention he draws away from me and everybody else, it makes it so much easier. I’m excited going forward.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks guard J.J. Barea is back to normal nine months after surgery on a ruptured right Achilles tendon, Sefko writes in a full story. Barea didn’t accompany the team on its current road trip, but expects to play Friday night. “I’m feeling better than I thought I was going to,” he said. “I still got a way to go. But the more I play, the more I move, it gets better.”
  • Chris Clemons is hoping his scoring prowess is enough to earn a roster spot with the Rockets, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The 5’9″ guard won’t get regular playing time in a backcourt that includes James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Eric Gordon, but he may catch on as an extra point guard or possibly on a two-way contract. “I’m just enjoying the opportunity I’ve been given and working every day to try to make this roster,” Clemons said. “Hopefully, I’ll make the roster and be a full-time NBA player. But that’s stuff I can’t control. I’m just playing my game.”
  • The Spurs are limiting Dejounte Murray‘s playing time to 20 minutes per game as he works his way back from an ACL injury that cost him all of last season, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Coach Gregg Popovich said Murray has more gained trust in his knee after playing in two preseason games. “We worry, as you would with someone who hasn’t played in that long of a time, but he went full bore with every minute we gave him,” Popovich said. “He got knocked down a couple times and twisted all around, and I think he gained a lot of confidence.”

Southwest Notes: J. Jackson, Blossomgame, Curry

The Grizzliesdecision to have Josh Jackson skip training camp and start the season in the G League could be viewed as an ominous sign for his future in Memphis. However, executive VP of basketball operations Zach Kleiman praised the former No. 4 overall pick for his willingness to embrace the unconventional plan, as David Cobb of The Memphis Commercial Appeal notes.

“I would give him a lot of credit,” Kleiman said. “I think Josh recognized that this could be a great opportunity for him. When I sat down with him, he was open and candid and he said, ‘whatever you want me to do, I’m going to do.”

Meanwhile, new Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins conveyed a similar sentiment when discussing Jackson, who has underachieved on the court and has run into trouble off of it since being drafted in 2017.

“He’s willing to come into this situation and really grow, both on the court and off the court,” Jenkins said. “With the support we’re going to provide him, I know he’s excited about it. I’ve got high hopes for him to just take it one day at a time and focus on being the best version of Josh Jackson that he can be. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

As we wait to see whether Jackson can get his career on track in Memphis, let’s round up a few more notes from out of the Southwest…

  • Former second-round pick Jaron Blossomgame has impressed the Rockets so far in training camp, according to Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic, who says that multiple coaches have raved about the young forward. Blossomgame looks like a strong candidate for one of Houston’s open two-way contract slots, per Bijani.
  • Seth Curry, who played for the Mavericks in 2016/17 and spent the 2017/18 season with the team while he rehabbed a broken leg, cited familiarity with the organization as a key reason why he signed in Dallas this summer, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.
  • The Spurs‘ offseason free agent and trade acquisitions – DeMarre Carroll and Trey Lyles – were modest, but the most significant addition of the team’s summer might be a healthy Dejounte Murray, says Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. Murray appeared to be a breakout candidate a year ago before he torn his ACL.

Wolves Notes: Saunders, Teague, Free Agents, Towns

While the Timberwolves would like to return to the playoffs this season, the focus will be on building long-term success, head coach Ryan Saunders tells Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Last year’s 36-46 disappointment began with a chaotic training camp that opened amid a trade demand from Jimmy Butler and a public war with ownership and coach Tom Thibodeau. Saunders, who took over the team at midseason, says the road toward rebuilding will start with a much calmer camp.

“I think you need to look at it in different scopes and see where you are at certain points of the season,” he said. “We’re not looking to just get into the playoffs for one year. That’s not our goal. And we understand that. So with that, you want to make sure you’re building for sustainable success. You want to make sure you’re doing the right things each day.”

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • This will be a pivotal season for Jeff Teague after he opted in for another year at $19MM, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Teague was a favorite of Thibodeau, who saw the point guard as a stabilizing presence on a team of veterans. However, he’s coming off the worst season of his 10-year career and doesn’t seem to be in the plans for the new management team, which tried to sign D’Angelo Russell in free agency and wanted to land Darius Garland in the draft. Teague hopes to be healthier after missing 40 games last season with a variety of injuries and undergoing ankle surgery in April.
  • The Wolves will have limited options to find a point guard on the free agent market next summer, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Kyle Lowry will be the top name on the list, but he’ll be 34 and won’t fit in with the team’s youth movement. Dejounte Murray could be a restricted free agent if he doesn’t reach an extension with the Spurs, but San Antonio is likely to match any offer sheet. Fred VanVleet could be available, but the Wolves would face a competitive market for him. Krawczynski adds that Minnesota may take another shot at Russell, trying to swing a deal with the Warriors in February if Klay Thompson is close to returning to action.
  • In a separate story, Krawczynski examines the questions surrounding every player on the Wolves’ roster heading into camp, including the importance of Karl-Anthony Towns becoming the team leader, whether Andrew Wiggins can fix his game and what newcomers Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell will bring.