Domantas Sabonis

Central Notes: Giannis, Bucks, Holiday, Sabonis, Drummond

Asked during an interview on the Greek channel COSMOTE TV about the perception that he wants to win a title without teaming up with any other superstars, Giannis Antetokounmpo clarified that he’d be happy to be part of a roster stacked with star players — if those star players want to come to the Bucks.

“If LeBron (James) and Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis came to Milwaukee, I would have been good with that,” Antetokounmpo said, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops.net. “I am not (concerned about whether) I am the top, second or third name, OK? Because I want to win.

“… For sure when I was 18 or 19 years old, maybe I didn’t understand what you need to do to win. But right now, I am 25 and I want to win because when I retire, that’s what people will remember. And if I got LeBron, KD, Davis, if all those came, I wouldn’t mind at all. I don’t care if I am the top (player) on the team.”

While Giannis’ comments may fuel speculation about the possibility of him joining the Lakers or another club, it’s worth reiterating that he spoke only about star players coming to Milwaukee to join him. Bucks fans should take some solace in that as Antetokounmpo continues to weigh whether or not to sign a five-year, super-max extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • In an episode of The Athletic NBA Show, Sam Amick of The Athletic suggested that the Bucks‘ trade for Jrue Holiday had an impact on the team’s pursuit of Bogdan Bogdanovic, since it reduced the swingman’s projected role and may have affected how much the team could comfortably offer Bogdanovic in free agency. Dan Feldman of NBC Sports has the details.
  • Speaking on Wednesday to reporters, including Brendan Rourke of Pacers.com, newly re-signed Pacers guard Justin Holiday explained why he “hates” free agency. “I feel like I’m one of the guys, for whatever reason, I’m not ever really respected as far as how much you get paid,” Holiday said. However, he added that he likes the Pacers organization and the city of Indianapolis and he’s happy to have signed a multiyear deal to remain in Indiana for the foreseeable future.
  • Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis believes that the left foot injury that sidelined him during the NBA’s restart is behind him, as J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star details.
  • In his first media session of the season this week, Cavaliers center Andre Drummond said his plan “was always to come back to Cleveland,” writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. There was never any real doubt that Drummond would turn down his $28.75MM option for 2020/21, but he said he’s also looking forward to providing guidance to a young roster. “Being here in Cleveland, the opportunities are endless here and I can do great things,” Drummond said.

And-Ones: Sabonis, Valanciunas, N. Robinson, Offseason

Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis and Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas are expected to join the Lithuanian National Team for the FIBA EuroBasket 2022 qualifiers next month, according to Donatas Urbonas (Twitter link). Lithuania is scheduled to play qualifying games in Vilnius against Denmark on November 26 and Belgium on November 29, and the country’s basketball federation has confirmed that Sabonis and Valanciunas are part of the team’s preliminary squad.

Unfortunately for Lithuania, it’s not clear yet whether Sabonis and Valanciunas will be available next summer for the all-important Olympic qualifying tournament that begins on June 29. Lithuania will be vying for one of four final spots in the Tokyo Olympics, and typically NBA players would be free to join their national teams by that point. In 2021, however, it’s possible the NBA’s regular season won’t yet have finished by the end of June.

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

  • Veteran guard Nate Robinson hasn’t played in the NBA since the 2015/16 season and his odds of making a comeback at this point are incredibly long. However, he hasn’t given up on the idea, as Eric Woodyard of ESPN relays (via Twitter). Even at 36, I could still play and still ball out, still be a good spark off the bench,” Robinson said. “But times have changed, the NBA has changed so much. Naw, I will never say I’m retired. They retired me. I didn’t retire.”
  • Several ESPN reporters and analysts discussed a series of NBA offseason issues, including the most intriguing player on the free agent market, the trade candidate most worth watching, and the team worth keeping an eye on. Fred VanVleet, Jrue Holiday, and the Warriors, respectively, received the most votes in those three categories.
  • In the second part of their survey of NBA agents, Ben Standig and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic solicited opinions on the league’s best player, how many games the NBA will be able to play in 2020/21, and when the season will start, among other topics. We recapped the first part of the agent survey on Wednesday.
  • Several beat writers from The Athletic conducted a new mock draft for the top 10 picks this week. The exercise saw LaMelo Ball go No. 1 to the Timberwolves and included a trade involving the Knicks‘ No. 8 pick and the Suns‘ No. 10 selection, with Phoenix trading up for Tyrese Haliburton.

Pacers Notes: Bjorkgren, Sabonis, Turner, Oladipo

Speaking to reporters during his introductory press conference on Wednesday, new Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren said he thinks Indiana will be a “fun team to watch” next season, promising a more dynamic offense and a willingness to be adaptable, as Michael Marot of The Associated Press writes.

“You’re going to see a lot of movement on both sides of the ball, different guys handling the ball, pushing it up the floor,” Bjorkgren said. “We want to utilize the three-point line. My approach to defense is you change and change quite frequently, between quarters, after timeouts, during an 8-0 run, I think that’s the disruptive part.”

Bjorkgren has never been a head coach at the NBA level, but he did serve as the head coach for three separate G League clubs between 2011-15. On Wednesday, he said that he feels as if that experience helped prepare him to be flexible and make adjustments as an NBA coach.

“You have to adapt very early and quite often,” Bjorkgren said, per Marot. “You could be at a shootaround and two guys get called up and another is going overseas so you have to coach on the fly. You have to know the next guy will be there and that’s the part of the coaching, keeping everybody ready at all times.”

Here’s more on the Pacers and their new head coach:

  • President of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard and the Pacers conducted formal interviews via Zoom with approximately a dozen candidates and then brought in six finalists for in-person interviews, writes Wheat Hotchkiss of Pacers.com. By the end of the lengthy process, Pritchard was certain that Bjorkgren was the man for the job. “We felt like this was a no-brainer,” Pritchard said. “When we came to a decision, there were high-fives in our office and we knew that this was the right guy.”
  • Bjorkgren said on Wednesday that he’s “very confident” that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner can continue to coexist in the Pacers’ lineup, likening the duo to Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka on his old team in Toronto. “When you talk about those two bigs, they’re not just any two bigs,” Bjorkgren said of Indiana’s duo, per Hotchkiss. “They are very dynamic and they complement each other very well.”
  • Asked during Wednesday’s presser about Victor Oladipo, neither Pritchard nor Bjorkgren gave any indication that they expect the All-Star guard to be traded this offseason. “He feels good about the team. He’s talked to me about how he thinks this team can be very good,” Pritchard said, according to Marot. “We hear a lot of things, but until it comes to me, I don’t really worry about that.”
  • Bjorkgren added that Oladipo texted him “immediately” after news of his hiring broke. “We had a great talk,” Bjorkgren said. “We talked about what I thought he could do, what I thought he could bring to this team, how he could make this team better, and how he could make himself better… I like his energy. I feel like our energy fed off each other a little bit there during the phone call.”

Domantas Sabonis Returning To Disney World Campus, Not Expected To Play

All-star forward Domantas Sabonis is scheduled to arrive in Orlando today, tweets Pacers reporter Scott Agness. Coach Nate McMillan confirmed the news this afternoon on the Fox Sports Indiana pre-game show, adding that Sabonis will quarantine “for a few days.”

Sabonis probably hasn’t been involved in any basketball activity over the last six weeks, and sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski he’s not expected to return to the active roster (Twitter link).

Sabonis traveled to the Disney World complex with the team in July, but left shortly after scrimmages began to get treatment for plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The injury was termed “significant” when it was first reported.

The 24-year-old center/power forward is putting up career-best numbers in his fourth NBA season, averaging 18.5 points and 12.4 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 62 games.

Eastern Notes: Mahinmi, Sabonis, Nunn, Knicks

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said on Wednesday that center Ian Mahinmi will not play in tomorrow’s regular-season finale against the Celtics, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Since the Wizards landed in Orlando for the seeding games, Mahinmi has not played a single minute. This season, the 33-year-old center only played in 38 games, averaging 7.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG.

The Wizards were expecting Mahinmi to be their veteran rim protector when they signed him to a four-year, $64MM contract in the summer of 2016. However, that never came to fruition due to injuries. Over the last two seasons, Mahinmi has only played in 72 games. The veteran center is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Here’s more from across the Eastern Conference:

Eastern Notes: Wizards, Nunn, Warren, Micic

Wizards point guard John Wall expects to have a different role in the team’s offense once he rejoins Washington, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Wall has missed the entire 2019/20 season due to a ruptured Achilles tendon.

“My game is going to be totally different than what it was before because now with the way [Bradley Beal] can handle the ball,” Wall said of his Wizards teammate. “I can be off the ball a little bit and score from the wing and score in transition by running the wing.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference:

Domantas Sabonis Leaves Campus To Seek Treatment For Foot Injury

6:17pm: Sabonis is seeking treatment for plantar fasciitis in his left foot, Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated tweets. The team did not indicate if and when he would return to Orlando, Mannix adds.

4:47pm: Sabonis hopes to eventually rejoin the Pacers in Orlando, but could miss the rest of the season, Wojnarowski writes in his full report at ESPN.com.


4:06pm: Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis is dealing with a significant foot injury and is leaving the NBA’s Walt Disney World campus in order to seek treatment from a specialist, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Sabonis, who missed Indiana’s first inter-squad scrimmage on Thursday, has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and hasn’t practiced for about a week. Although Sabonis could eventually return to the Disney campus and rejoin the Pacers, Woj’s classification of the injury as “significant” suggests the 24-year-old is unlikely to suit up anytime soon.

If Sabonis is unable to play for the Pacers during the restart, it will be a major blow to the team’s chances of advancing beyond the first round in the postseason. The 24-year-old had a breakout season in 2019/20, averaging a career-best 18.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG in 62 games (34.8 MPG), en route to his first All-Star nod. He also established more chemistry in the frontcourt with Myles Turner as the season progressed.

Speaking of Turner, he missed a couple practices and has been limited recently due to a calf ailment, per Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports and J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links). Malcolm Brogdon is also coming off a case of COVID-19, while Victor Oladipo has yet to decide whether or not he’ll play this summer.

Oladipo did participate in Indiana’s first scrimmage on Thursday, but said after the game that he remains unsure whether he’ll play in the seeding games and the postseason. If Sabonis is ruled out, it will be interesting to see if that influences Oladipo’s decision.

Given Sabonis’ situation, it’s worth noting that the NBA recently tweaked its re-entry rules for players who are approved to leave the league’s campus for medical treatment. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link), those players won’t necessarily have to quarantine for four or more days if and when they return. In fact, they may not have to quarantine at all if certain conditions are met, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

Eastern Notes: Drummond, Sabonis, Knicks, Nets

In his latest mailbag for The Athletic on Tuesday, Chris Kirschner answered questions relating to the Hawks‘ future, Kevin Huerter, Clint Capela, and a handful of other topics.

Within the mailbag, Kirschner noted that veteran center Andre Drummond wanted to be traded to Atlanta before the Hawks acquired Capela from the Rockets. According to the Hawks beat writer, Drummond – who is friends with Trae Young – was telling people he wanted to be in Atlanta. However, the 26-year-old center was ultimately traded to the Cavaliers for John Henson, Brandon Knight, and a 2023 second-round pick in February.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pacers announced on Wednesday that forward Domantas Sabonis is day-to-day with plantar fasciitis, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter links). Sabonis, who said he hasn’t touched a ball in six days, added that there’s no set timetable for his return. This season, the 6’11” big man is averaging 18.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG in 34.8 MPG.
  • According to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, the Knicks are expected to hire one of their several head-coaching candidates to be an assistant coach under the team’s new head coach. Begley adds that there is internal support for either Mike Miller, who was New York’s interim head coach, or Mike Woodson to join the staff as an assistant. Both Miller and Woodson interviewed for the head coaching vacancy.
  • Scott Soshnick of Sportico reported on Wednesday that the Nets are hiring Madison Square Garden Co. executive John Abbamondi to be their new team president.

McMillan Expects Oladipo To Play In Pacers’ Scrimmages

The Pacers will participate in their first inter-squad scrimmage this Thursday, and head coach Nate McMillan told reporters today that he expects star guard Victor Oladipo to play in that game — and in the rest of Indiana’s scrimmages.

“I do,” McMillan said. “He’s going through the practices and he’s looking good. Our first scrimmage is Thursday and we’ll see how our guys feel and get them minutes accordingly.”

Oladipo has wavered in recent weeks on whether or not he’ll participate in the NBA’s restart this summer. After initially ruling himself out for the summer in early July, Oladipo changed course, telling reporters last week that there’s a “strong possibility” he’ll play if his body continues to respond well to workouts.

McMillan’s comments today don’t mean that anything is set in stone regarding Oladipo’s availability for the team’s upcoming scrimmages, seeding games, or playoff contests. However, for now, it still seems as if we’re trending in the direction of seeing the two-time All-Star play this summer.

In other Pacers news, McMillan said today that Domantas Sabonis, Goga Bitadze, and JaKarr Sampson are dealing with what he referred to as soft-tissue injuries, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Sabonis has had a plantar fasciitis flare-up and is unlikely to play in Thursday’s scrimmage, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

Pacers Notes: Sumner, Sabonis, Turner, Practice

Pacers guard Edmond Sumner has dealt with knee soreness since his final year in college, so the extended layoff has improved his health, Michael McCleary of the Indianapolis Star reports. “This is probably the best I’ve felt, especially (with my) knee,” said Sumner, who missed some early-season action with a broken hand. “The training staff say this is the best they’ve been treating my knee.” Sumner could see his role increase in Orlando if Victor Oladipo stands by his original decision to opt out of the league restart.

We have more from the Pacers:

  • The chemistry between big men Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner had improved just before the stoppage in play. Coach Nate McMillan is hopeful that they’ll quickly recapture that form in Orlando, Mark Monteith of the team’s website writes. “Those guys had adapted to what teams were doing,” McMillan said. “I started to get a feel for how to use the two bigs and the rotations to split them.”
  • Guard T.J. McConnell liked what he saw from the team during its first practice in Orlando on Sunday, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files“The pace was so good and guys were playing off each other,” McConnell said. “So it was like we never left. Now we just need to build off it.”
  • Oladipo is having second thoughts about sitting out in Orlando after participating fully in practices. Get the details here.