Nuggets Rumors

Injury Notes: Beal, J. Murray, Jazz, Magic

Suns guard Bradley Beal has been limited to just three games for his new team so far this season and hasn’t played since November 12 due to back problems. However, the hope is that he won’t be sidelined for too much longer, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link).

“I’m told Beal has started his ramp-up process and he’s continuing to progress in that ramp-up,” Charania said. “The goal is to track toward a return soon, potentially over the next 10 days, as long as the progress continues. But we know it’s been a fluid process with this back (issue). The back can be something that you have to be cautious with.”

As Charania notes, the Suns are willing to be patient with Beal since their priority is to be healthy when the postseason begins in the spring — they’d rather hold him out for a few extra games now if it means having him available in April.

Phoenix has also been playing relatively well without its third star, lessening the need to get Beal back on the court as soon as possible. Since Devin Booker returned on Nov. 15, the Suns are 8-3 — and Booker sat out one of those three losses.

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

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who injured his right ankle in his first game back from a hamstring injury last Wednesday, is considered questionable to return to action tonight vs. the Clippers, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. “Hamstring’s fine. I’ve worked enough to get it back to strength,” Murray said. “Now it’s just another thing.” As Durando points out, Murray would become eligible for a super-max extension if he earns All-NBA honors this season, but he’ll fall short of the 65-game minimum required for All-NBA consideration if he misses five more contests.
  • Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson will miss a third straight game on Wednesday in Dallas due to a right thigh contusion, the team announced (via Twitter). Kelly Olynyk (right shoulder strain) has been ruled out for a second consecutive game, while Lauri Markkanen (left hamstring strain) will remain unavailable for a sixth game in a row. The expectation is that Markkanen will be reevaluated at some point this week, at which time we may get a better sense of his recovery timeline.
  • Magic guard Markelle Fultz (left knee tendinitis), who has been ruled out for a 13th straight game, is “progressing slowly” and still isn’t doing full contact work in practices, head coach Jamahl Mosley said on Tuesday, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required). Jonathan Isaac, who has logged just seven minutes in Orlando’s past four games due to ankle issues, is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game in Cleveland, Beede adds.

Nikola Jokic, Jayson Tatum Named Players Of The Month

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Celtics forward Jayson Tatum have been named the NBA’s players of the month, the league announced on Monday (Twitter link). Jokic won for the Western conference, while Tatum won for the East.

A two-time MVP and the reigning Finals MVP, Jokic put up staggering averages of 29.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 9.2 assists and 1.2 steals on .571/.316/.800 shooting in 18 games played in October and November (33.7 minutes). Denver went 12-6 in games he played and 13-6 overall the past two months.

Jokic, 28, currently leads the league in total points, rebounds and assists. On a per-game basis, he’s eighth in points, first in rebounds and third in assists.

Tatum, meanwhile, averaged 27.7 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals on .494/.361/.807 shooting in 18 games played in October and November (37.0 minutes). Boston went 14-4 in those games, which tied Minnesota for the best record in the league over that span (both clubs are now 15-4).

According to the NBA (Twitter links), the other nominees in the West were Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Anthony Edwards, De’Aaron Fox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Alperen Sengun, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Jalen Brunson, Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Tyrese Haliburton and Donovan Mitchell were nominated in the East.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Jokic, Williams, Hendricks

Heavy is the head who wears the crown? According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, that’s what the Nuggets are experiencing. Jamal Murray was out an extended period, they had to play five games in seven days, and they are taking everybody’s best punch.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was proud of the way his weary team hung around in a loss to Sacramento on Saturday. They don’t play again until Wednesday. “We can certainly use the break,” Malone said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic has been fined $2K for flopping, the NBA announced (via Twitter). Upon league office review, Jokic was assessed the flopping penalty after he fell backward while taking a shot in the fourth quarter against the Kings following minimal contact from Domantas Sabonis.
  • Jalen Williams has been an integral part of the Thunder’s early success this season, Rylan Stiles of notes. Williams is tied with Chet Holmgren as the club’s second-leading scorer and has often carried the offensive load when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander rests at the start of the second and fourth quarters, yet the contributions of the second-year lottery pick are often overlooked.
  • Jazz rookie lottery pick Taylor Hendricks hasn’t played much, but he flashed intriguing potential with Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk sidelined by injuries against Portland on Saturday, according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden. While Hendricks posted modest stats in his 18-minute stint, he made notable defensive contributions, including a couple of blocks. “He was able to switch 1 to 4, and he was able to cause havoc, and that’s what we needed,” guard Collin Sexton said.

Injury Notes: Haliburton, Bam, K. Murray, Nuggets, Suns, Hornets

Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton is expected to be out for Saturday’s game against Miami, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Indiana’s best player is officially listed as questionable.

As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star tweets, Haliburton missed the team’s shootaround this morning due to a right knee bone bruise and an upper respiratory infection. The Pacers went just 6-20 without Haliburton last season, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (via Twitter).

Haliburton, who signed a five-year, maximum-salary rookie scale extension in the offseason, is off to an All-NBA-caliber start to 2023/24, averaging career highs of 27.0 points and a league-leading 11.8 assists per game while posting an elite .519/.447/.880 shooting line. The Pacers host the Celtics on Monday for the quarterfinal of the league’s inaugural in-season tournament, so hopefully he’ll be back in time for that contest.

Heat center Bam Adebayo has also been ruled out of Saturday’s contest due to a left hip contusion, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber link) wouldn’t be surprised to see Orlando Robinson get the starting nod in his place, with Kevin Love continuing to come off the bench due to the synergy he’s developing with the second unit.

Here are a few more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Kings forward Keegan Murray, the No. 4 overall pick of last year’s draft, will return on Saturday against Denver after missing four games due to lower back soreness, sources tell Sean Cunningham of Fox 40 KTXL (Twitter link). As for the Nuggets, Jamal Murray (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (heel) are questionable after missing Friday’s game against Phoenix, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).
  • Suns star Devin Booker is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. Memphis, notes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Booker, who is dealing with an ankle sprain, missed Friday’s game against Denver. Eric Gordon is also questionable due to a right knee contusion.
  • Hornets backup center Nick Richards will return to action on Saturday after missing the previous six games while in the league’s concussion protocol, the team announced (via Twitter). No. 2 overall pick Brandon Miller will also be available after missing Charlotte’s last game with a left ankle injury.

Western Notes: MPJ, Alexander-Walker, Wemby, Morant, A. Holiday

With Aaron Gordon unavailable for the Nuggets‘ past three games due to a right heel injury, Michael Porter Jr. has seen more action at power forward and said the transition has been a smooth one, per Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette (Twitter links).

“It’s easier for me, I think, at the four. It’s more of a matchup for me,” Porter explained. “Those bigger guys guarding me, they don’t want to chase around screens. They don’t want to close out all the way. I can get by them easier. So, it’s fun playing the four. It’s fine playing the three, too, but it hasn’t been too much of an adjustment, because our offense is very fluid.”

Porter scored a season-high 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting in Denver’s victory over Houston on Wednesday. It remains to be seen which position he’ll spend the most time at on Friday, as Gordon is listed as questionable for the Nuggets’ contest in Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker didn’t have much of a role for the rebuilding Jazz last season, but after a trade to Minnesota, he’s playing key minutes for a contending Timberwolves team, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Alexander-Walker had his best game of the season in a win over his former team on Thursday, racking up 20 points, seven assists, five rebounds, and five steals in 36 minutes.
  • Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama has been on a tear lately, averaging 21.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 3.3 blocks, and 2.5 steals per night in his past four games. However, all four of those games were losses. The Spurs know they need more production out of other players on the roster to help the young phenom, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (subscription required).
  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant has been subpoenaed to testify next month in an ongoing civil case related to an incident that occurred during a pickup game at his house during the summer of 2022. Lucas Finton of The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the details.
  • Speaking to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Rockets guard Aaron Holiday discussed a handful of topics, including his new role as a locker room leader, his early impressions of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks as teammates, Alperen Sengun‘s development, and whether he and brothers Jrue Holiday and Justin Holiday have talked about playing on the same team. “Yeah, but everything has to work out perfectly for that to happen,” Aaron said of his teaming up with his brothers. “It would be tough for that to happen, but obviously we’re all for it.”

Northwest Notes: George, Yurtseven, Kessler, Brown, Green

The early part of the season has been a struggle for the Jazz as they battle through stints of inconsistency, according to The Athletic’s Tony Jones. Still, there have been some bright spots, the biggest of which is finding their starting point guard of the future in rookie Keyonte George, Jones writes.

George is running the floor with confidence and his efforts helped the Jazz earn back-to-back wins over the Pelicans on Saturday and Monday, as he put up a combined 34 points and eight assists over that stretch. George is averaging 11.8 points and 6.3 assists to 2.4 turnovers in the 10 games since becoming Utah’s full-time starter.

Other highlights from that two-game stretch for the Jazz include players like Simone Fontecchio, Omer Yurtseven and Talen Horton-Tucker stepping up.

The best thing for me watching us is that we felt like a team,” head coach Will Hardy said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Yurtseven and Walker Kessler, the latter of whom moved to the bench with the former starting, were key factors in the Jazz‘s back-to-back wins, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Players and coaches on the team agreed that Yurtseven’s strength allows the Jazz to be more physical with traditional centers, per Walden. “Those two guys are giving us a big presence on both sides of the ball,” Hardy said. “… Having a couple of traditional bigs has definitely helped us the last two games.
  • Timberwolves guard Troy Brown was mostly out of the rotation to begin the year, but began earning minutes after Jaden McDaniels went down with an ankle injury. Now, Brown is playing late into games and impressing with his performance, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Brown scored 17 points in a win over the Thunder on Tuesday and is averaging 11.0 points per game and hitting 46.2% of his threes since receiving an uptick in play time. “At this point, that’s the NBA. You can literally go from being sixth man to not in the rotation,” Brown said. “It’s just based off what the team needs at the time. To me, I’ve had my ups and downs in the career. Just being in different positions and learning how to deal with all that mentally has helped me a lot. Now I just try to be as happy as I can and bring energy to my teammates and stay ready.
  • As the Nuggets sort through their bench rotation, it’s clear they miss forward Jeff Green, writes The Denver Post’s Bennett Durando. “I wish Jeff was still wearing a Nuggets uniform,” head coach Michael Malone said. Green broke down his decision to join the Rockets this offseason, leaving the Nuggets he spent two seasons and one championship run with. “It’s very hard [to leave], especially when you do what we did last year,” Green said. “You create a bond, and that’s something that’s forever. And the relationships that were built last year off the journey that we had, it’s tough to kind of deter away from that. But at the end of the day, it’s a business.

Injury Notes: Oubre, Sixers, Edwards, Murray, Booker, Wiggins

Sixers wing Kelly Oubre was a full practice participant on Thursday and also did some extra work after practice, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oubre hasn’t played since November 10 after being struck by a vehicle. There was initially some optimism that he could be upgraded from out to questionable for Friday’s matchup with Boston, but sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that the veteran swingman is targeting a return next week, possibly Wednesday against Washington or Friday against Atlanta (Twitter link).

According to Pompey, X-rays on Nicolas Batum‘s injured finger were negative and he plans to play against the Celtics. Star center Joel Embiid is questionable with an illness, but head coach Nick Nurse thinks he’ll be ready to go, Pompey adds.

Here are a few more injury notes:

  • Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards sustained a bruised right hip on Tuesday against Oklahoma City after taking a hard fall, causing him to exit the game, according to an Associated Press report relayed by Edwards is officially listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game against Utah, but forward Kyle Anderson indicated the fourth-year guard won’t play, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Free agent addition Troy Brown is likely to start in Edwards’ place, Krawczynski adds (via Twitter).
  • Making his return from a hamstring injury on Wednesday, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray contributed 16 points (on 4-of-14 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in 22 minutes. However, he appeared to roll his right ankle and might miss Friday’s contest in Phoenix, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Murray said he was “frustrated” by the ankle injury, which he iced throughout the game when he wasn’t playing.
  • The Suns got good and bad news on Wednesday. Kevin Durant returned from a two-game absence in the loss to Toronto, but Devin Booker suffered a right ankle injury after landing on Dennis Schröder‘s foot, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It’s unclear if Booker will miss time with the injury, but he had his worst game of the season trying to play through it yesterday.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Clippers, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The former No. 1 overall pick is dealing with right finger soreness. Golden State will be shorthanded, as Chris Paul (leg contusion) and Gary Payton II (calf) are also out.

Nuggets’ Jamal Murray Cleared To Return

NOVEMBER 29: Murray will return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Rockets, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

NOVEMBER 27: Nuggets guard Jamal Murray will miss tonight’s game against the Clippers, but he could be back in action later this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). Charania called Murray’s return “imminent” and said he might be available Wednesday against Houston or Friday at Phoenix.

It will be a “day-by-day process” for Murray after tonight, Charania adds, with the medical staff monitoring how he feels each day.

Denver is just 5-5 without Murray, who suffered a right hamstring strain on November 4. The defending champions have fallen out of the top spot in the West and are currently bunched with several teams at 11-6.

Murray is the Nuggets’ second-best player and he has an on-court chemistry with Nikola Jokic that makes the team extremely hard to defend. Murray was averaging 16.3 PPG in seven games before the injury along with a career-high 7.4 assists per night while shooting a career-best 43.8% from three-point range.

Prior to the hamstring issue, Murray hadn’t experienced any significant injuries since returning from the ACL tear that forced him to miss the entire 2021/22 season.

Charania described Murray as “one of the game’s great competitors” and notes that he was shooting jumpers in street clothes during halftime of a recent game.

Magic Notes: Carter, Fultz, Okeke, Defense

Speaking to the media on Tuesday for the first time since breaking a bone in his left hand nearly four weeks ago, Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. admitted that he was frustrated at the time of the injury, knowing he would likely be facing an extended absence. However, he’s in better spirits now after having his cast removed, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

“Today was probably one of the best days of my life,” Carter said on Tuesday. “When [the doctor] was saying I didn’t have to wear the cast anymore, it was like, ‘OK, it’s another step in the right direction.’ I’m just super excited just to finally get back out there at some point and help this team continue to win.”

According to Beede, Carter expects it will be about two weeks before he gets the green light from team doctors to resume practicing in full. The former seventh overall pick has been replaced by Goga Bitadze, who has started the past 12 games in the middle for the Magic. As Beede writes, Orlando hasn’t missed a beat during that time, improving its record to 12-5, and Carter has enjoyed watching the team’s success from the sidelines.

“We’re one of those teams that can hold their own against any team in this league,” he said. “Being able to sit on the sidelines and watch the joy that everyone’s playing with, [it] just gives me extra confidence, extra motivation so when I come back I’ll be able to play with that same joy and confidence as they are.”

Here are a few more notes on the Magic:

  • Magic point guard Markelle Fultz will miss a 10th consecutive game on Wednesday due to left knee tendinitis. Fultz hasn’t played since November 9 and has only appeared in one game this month, but head coach Jamahl Mosley indicated on Tuesday that he’s “coming along,” per Beede (Twitter link). “We’re going to constantly see how he reacts to just what is happening each day,” Mosley said. “And he’s progressing. We’re just going to continue to evaluate as we go day-to-day with him.”
  • Chuma Okeke is a name to monitor as a possible trade candidate this season, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who notes that teams like the Cavaliers, Suns, Bucks, and Nuggets have expressed exploratory interest in Okeke in the past. The fourth-year forward, who will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, is considered a good locker room presence and a hard worker, Scotto adds.
  • Speaking to Marc J. Spears of Andscape, Mosley said the camaraderie and selflessness among the Magic players is one reason why he was confident about the team’s outlook coming into this season. “It’s one of the best groups I’ve been around because it is a genuine care for the next guy,” Mosley said. “… And there was a joy for whoever was successful on any given night. There was never a thing like, ‘Oh, that guy’s got it going, now I need to get mine.’ It was like, ‘Oh man, I’m so proud of you. Keep doing your thing.’ No matter who it was. And that speaks volumes for a younger group.”
  • Both Spears and Josh Robbins of The Athletic took a closer look at the Magic’s hot start this season. Winners of seven straight games, Orlando ranks second in the NBA with a 107.0 defensive rating. “Coach Mos, I give him credit, he came in from training camp saying he wanted to be a No. 1-caliber defensive team in the league,” Paolo Banchero said. “That is what we have been so far. Give huge credit to the coaches for instilling that in us and the players for executing it.”

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.