Donovan Mitchell

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Bridges, Wizards, Mitchell, Magic

Amid a series of injuries to key players and off-court issues, the Hornets have started the 2022/23 season with a 4-12 record, which has led to speculation that they’ll be among the teams looking to trade veterans and retool the roster in order to land a top pick in next year’s draft. However, a rival GM is skeptical Charlotte will hold any sort of fire sale this season.

The hurdle is getting the owner to go along with it,” the GM told Sean Deveney of Heavy Sports. “It is Michael Jordan. He has never OK’d something like that and it is not clear he would, even if it gets bad this year, even if it puts them in a good spot in the draft for Victor (Wembanyama). He has been pretty strong against tanking. Hard to see another way forward for them now, though.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Miles Bridges‘ status for this season is in limbo after he pleaded no contest in his felony domestic violence case. The NBA is investigating the incident, and Bridges is still a restricted free agent with the Hornets, but Shams Charania of The Athletic hears the Lakers and Pistons are among the teams monitoring his situation, he said on The Rally (Twitter video link).
  • The Wizards are still waiting for Will Barton to find his form this season, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The veteran wing was acquired in a trade with the Nuggets over the summer and his averages have dropped across the board in ’22/23. “I’m just really trying to figure out what my role is and figure out how I’m going to play in my minutes. But I can’t worry about that. I’ve just gotta go out there and try to be as effective as possible whenever I’m on the court. I think I’m figuring that out,” he said. Barton will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
  • Wizards two-way guard Jordan Goodwin underwent testing after injuring his left knee on Wednesday, and while there was some initial concern that it might be severe, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Goodwin is “day-to-day” going forward (Twitter links via Josh Robbins of The Athletic). He was ruled out for Friday’s victory over the injury-depleted Heat.
  • Within his latest 10 things column for ESPN (subscriber link), Zach Lowe wonders if the Magic will eventually go all-in for a lead guard. Lowe says he liked the Magic as a “stealth” Donovan Mitchell suitor this summer, but hears from sources that Orlando didn’t appear to have “dived deeply” into pursuing the former Jazz star.

Central Notes: Beauchamp, Nwora, Dosunmu, Mitchell, Bagley

Rookie MarJon Beauchamp has looked ready for his opportunity as he moved into the Bucks‘ starting lineup this week, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Beauchamp played just 12 total minutes in his first six games, but injuries to other players have expanded his role. In Wednesday’s double overtime win at Oklahoma City, he was on the court for nearly 30 minutes, scoring 19 points, and he followed that up with 34 minutes Friday night.

“It’s not a perfect process,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It’s hard. He’s probably confused at times and hears probably multiple (things) – hopefully not from me. I would say right now we’re more in the mindset of encouraging him to be aggressive and find ways to impact the game and not just be in the corners (offensively). Because it is going to naturally happen. You’ll get to that and it’s important that you’re good and your footwork in the corners is good and your ability to read closeouts in the corners is good, but he’s also, we feel like can help us and give us more.”

The absence of Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton has also opened up more minutes for Jordan Nwora, who re-signed with the Bucks shortly before training camp began in September.

“Honestly it’s more just the hustle and effort all around, just playing a lot harder than I have in the years past,” Nwora said. “Not just on the offensive end but on the other side of the ball, running in transition. Not just chucking up shots, trying to find people on offense when I’m playing with those guys (the starters).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Last season’s frustrating playoff performance inspired Bulls guard Ayo Dosunmu to improve his game during the offseason, writes K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. The Bucks swarmed DeMar DeRozan during their first-round series and dared Chicago’s other players to beat them from the outside. No one could deliver, as the Bulls shot just 28.3% from three-point range for the series and Dosunmu was 3-of-13. “I always want to get better,” said Dosunmu, who’s connecting at 38.3% on three-pointers this season. “So far I’ve prepared myself being shot-ready at all times. I try to take all the open shots. I try to get downhill, play to my strengths, playmake. But when the three is open, I’ve really been focusing on that.
  • Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell is questionable for Sunday’s game against the Timberwolves due to a right ankle strain, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Jarrett Allen and Dean Wade are also questionable, and there are concerns that Wade might have bursitis in his right knee (Twitter link).
  • Marvin Bagley III, who suffered a sprained MCL and bone bruise in his right knee during the preseason, could return for the Pistons tonight, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link). After playing Friday night for the first time this season, Alec Burks is listed as questionable.

Donovan Mitchell On Fit With Cavs, Offseason, Gobert

Even after dropping back-to-back games, the Cavaliers have been one of the best teams in the league in the early portion of the 2022/23 season, holding an 8-3 record and the NBA’s second-best net rating. Three-time All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell is the primary reason for Cleveland’s success, averaging career highs of 31.9 points and 5.8 assists on a career-best shooting line of .514/.448/.862 in 10 games (39.2 minutes per contest).

Mitchell spoke to Sam Amick of The Athletic after Wednesday’s loss to the Kings, addressing a number of different topics, including the surprising trade that sent him to Cleveland from Utah. It’s worth checking out in full for any subscribers to The Athletic. Here are a few highlights:

On why he has fit so well with the Cavs:

“I look at who I’ve been in my career — a guy who could score the ball. (But) I’m asserting myself on a different level defensively. Having another dominant guard (in Darius Garland) who can get you 30 (points on any given night) and also having ‘Vert (Caris LeVert), who can do the same, it relieves that pressure a little bit and allows you to be more engaged defensively, to be there and have the energy. And then on top of that, my coaches (head coach J.B. Bickerstaff and his staff) and my teammates allow me to just go, to be myself — whatever that means.

It’s been scoring for the past few games, but it’s passing, it’s leading. I’m being myself, and honestly I have (former Jazz teammates) Ricky Rubio and Mike Conley to thank for that. Joe Ingles. They’ve taught me different things. So being able to come here in a group where we all have the same intentions (has been good). Last year, I didn’t play my best basketball. I had the worst playoff series of my career. So that stings — being out early. Then you look here, and they were done a week and a half before I was, so they have that same feeling.

On if he was looking for a change of scenery in the offseason:

“I felt it was coming, you know? So I embraced it and I started to accept it. I mean, yeah. After Rudy (Gobert) got traded, it was like, ‘Okay, this is the direction we’re going, like, why not?'”

On his relationship with Gobert and their tenure with the Jazz:

“You know, we gave Utah a lot of special moments. But you know, we didn’t get the job done. Him and I have a great relationship, despite what people may feel. On the court, it didn’t work. I don’t hate Rudy. He doesn’t hate me. It was just one of those things where it just didn’t work out, and I feel like we live in a world where everybody’s gotta hate each other and there’s gotta be some negative thing and that’s just not the case. When I see him on Sunday, I’m gonna give him a hug and smile and laugh. And when we’re on the court, it’s time to go at it. That’s really what it is.”

Cavaliers Notes: Windler, Bickerstaff, Mitchell, Allen

Cavaliers swingman Dylan Windler will receive a platelet-rich plasma injection in his injured right ankle, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Windler made the decision after getting a second opinion from a doctor that his agent recommended, Fedor adds. Windler is expected to be in a walking boot for about three weeks after the PRP shot, and the team hopes a new treatment plan will help him avoid surgery.

Windler has been out of action since trying to contest a teammate’s shot during the final practice before Cleveland’s first preseason game. The injury wasn’t believed to be serious, and there was an expectation that he would be ready for the regular season opener October 19.

After three weeks of rehab, Windler was able to dress for the Cavs’ November 2 game in Boston, though he didn’t see any playing time. But the ankle started hurting again the next morning and he didn’t travel with the team on its current five-game road trip.

Fedor notes that injuries have been a recurring issue for Windler since he was selected with the 26th pick in the 2019 draft. He missed his entire first season due to a stress fracture in his leg and has played in just 81 out of 229 games.

There’s more on the Cavaliers:

  • Even though Cleveland has one of the league’s best records, the team is still learning how to be a contender, Fedor states in a separate story. Some of the Cavs’ shortcomings were on display Monday as they let a double-digit lead slip away in the final minutes against the Clippers. “Through all the hype, we’re a team that is still building,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “As a coach, you don’t expect to win them all. You expect to have some adversity and ups and downs. But it’s all about what happens next.”
  • The Cavaliers should consider making Donovan Mitchell their primary closer late in close games, Fedor adds. He has been sharing that role with backcourt partner Darius Garland, but Mitchell has more experience from his time in Utah.
  • Jarrett Allen‘s career took off after he was traded to the Cavaliers in January 2021, but he wasn’t excited about the deal at first, per Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Allen, who made his first All-Star team and signed a contract extension in Cleveland, said he needed time to adjust to the city. “It did take some growing,” Allen said. “It’s not a good perception of Cleveland around the league, that’s just the honest truth. Nobody sees Cleveland as like, ‘Oh, I want to go there.’ But once I got here, it was like, I do want to be here. I thought that I just fit in well.”

Central Notes: Burks, Holiday, Bucks’ Start, Mitchell

Alec Burks, who has yet to make his Pistons debut, is listed as questionable to play against Boston on Wednesday, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets. The veteran shooting guard was acquired from the Knicks in a draft-night deal. He has been sidelined while recovering from a fractured left navicular bone.

Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III, who has been out since the third preseason game due to a right knee sprain, has been upgraded to doubtful.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Guard Jrue Holiday has been instrumental in the Bucks’ 9-1 start but they’ll likely have to play Oklahoma City on Wednesday without him. The team has listed Holiday as doubtful due to a right ankle sprain, Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets.
  • Milwaukee’s early season success has been fueled by Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s dominant start, a soft schedule, and the team’s top-ranked defense, Jamal Collier of ESPN writes. When Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton returns from injuries, the Bucks will have reinforcements to deal with a tougher slate.
  • Donovan Mitchell quickly became aware of the team-first culture in the Cavaliers’ organization after being traded by Utah and he took steps to make sure he fit right in, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Cleveland players, coaches and front-office members noticed Mitchell showed no ego from preseason workouts through the start of the season.

Knicks Notes: Roster, Robinson, Hartenstein, Toppin, Grimes

The Knicks‘ reluctance to gamble on a big move this summer has left them with an imperfect roster and no star power to lean on, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. New York is off to a 4-5 start, but the wins came against three rebuilding teams and the shorthanded Sixers, while the losses were to probable playoff teams built around All-Stars.

The offseason was defined by an unwillingness to meet Utah’s price for Donovan Mitchell, who was subsequently traded to Cleveland. Coach Tom Thibodeau was a strong advocate for making the Mitchell trade, according to Popper, who hears from an NBA source that the Knicks had bad intel and believed the Cavs weren’t willing to give the Jazz everything they wanted. Knicks executive Brock Aller argued against giving up three unprotected first-round picks for Mitchell, Popper adds.

The Knicks were also in position to outbid Atlanta for Dejounte Murray, Popper contends. He cites recent mistakes such as signing Evan Fournier in 2021 when Thibodeau preferred to keep Reggie Bullock and taking Obi Toppin ahead of Tyrese Haliburton in the 2020 draft.

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Thibodeau described the right knee sprain that center Mitchell Robinson suffered on Friday night as “mild,” per Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Robinson will be reevaluated in seven-to-10 days to determine when he can resume playing. The injury increases the value of offseason addition Isaiah Hartenstein, who is expected to be the starting center while Robinson is out. “He’s done everything that we were hopeful of, and we obviously studied him quite a bit,” Thibodeau said of Hartenstein. “The rim protection obviously has been very, very good. Pick-and-roll defense, very good. And then offensively, just to pull people away from the basket, play-make, very good passer. Good in the paint. And so I think as he gets more comfortable, you’ll see more and more from him.”
  • The Knicks are downplaying an argument during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game between Toppin and assistant coach Rick Brunson, Bondy states in the same story. They reportedly resolved their differences, and they have a solid relationship as Brunson trained Toppin while he was preparing for the draft. “Just normal NBA stuff,” Thibodeau said. “Heat of the battle.”
  • Quentin Grimes was held out of tonight’s game because of soreness in his left foot, the same issue that caused him to miss the season’s first six games, Bondy adds.

Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland Out Friday For Cavs

The Cavaliers will be without their star backcourt for Friday’s game at Detroit, as Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell were both injured during Wednesday’s victory over Boston, sources tell Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. Neither injury is considered serious, but obviously they’re hobbled enough to be out tonight.

As Fedor writes in another story for Cleveland.com, both players had previously been listed as questionable. Garland sprained his left knee trying to track down a loose ball against the Celtics, while Mitchell suffered a sprained left ankle. Garland and Mitchell were partial participants during Friday’s shootaround, with Fedor noting that Garland was icing his knee afterward.

According to Fedor, the Cavs will shuffle their starting lineup around to account for the absence of the two All-Star guards, with Caris LeVert moving to point guard, Isaac Okoro at shooting guard, and Dean Wade at small forward. Fedor also reports that reserve point guard Raul Neto, a free agent addition over the summer, will be available Friday after dealing with a sprained ankle of his own that caused him to miss Wednesday’s game.

The Cavaliers confirmed the news that Garland and Mitchell will be out (Twitter link).

It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Garland, who had missed five straight games after suffering a lacerated eyelid in the season opener in Toronto. Kelsey Russo of The Athletic has the story on Garland’s eye injury and recovery process, writing that the 22-year-old had impaired vision when trying dribble with his right hand, so he mostly worked on his left during the two weeks he was out.

Yeah, I was super scared,” Garland admitted. “When it first happened, I rolled over, I felt blood coming out of my eye. So that’s when I got really nervous. And I was ready for surgery in Toronto. I was expecting that. I was expecting stitches and being out a couple of months. But by the grace of God, I’m here with two eyes now and I’m back and I’m healthy.”

Garland and Mitchell looked like a natural fit playing alongside one another during their first full regular season game, according to Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. The two guards combined for 55 points, 11 rebounds, 18 assists, four steals, two blocks and only one turnover during the 114-113 overtime win.

Mitchell says there will be a learning curve as they grow accustomed to one another, but it was certainly a promising start.

There’s going to be times where it doesn’t look smooth and clean,” Mitchell said. “But as far as us feeling in the flow … both of us are trying to find ways to make each other better. When you start camp off with Coach having to sit both of us down and say, ‘Stop passing the ball to each other — shoot the ball,’ I think that’s a good start.”

Friday’s road game at Detroit will be followed by a four-game west coast road trip against the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Warriors. The Cavs have gotten off to a terrific start, currently sitting with a 6-1 record.

Cavaliers Notes: Mitchell, Knicks, LeVert, Garland

The Cavaliers knew they were getting a star when they traded for Donovan Mitchell, but so far he’s been better than anyone anticipated, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. Mitchell had 38 points and a career-high 12 assists Sunday night as Cleveland won its fifth straight game, topping a Knicks team that spent much of the summer trying to acquire Mitchell from the Jazz. Even though he’s a three-time All-Star, Mitchell is exceeding expectations.

“We already had such a great group, but I think he just elevates us to another place,” Kevin Love said. “A guy that has experience, a guy that is a star in this league is playing some really great basketball right now. … We don’t see any signs of him slowing down.”

Through six games with the Cavs, Mitchell ranks fourth in the league in scoring at 32.2 PPG and is in the top 10 in assists at 7.3 per night. Both numbers would be career highs by a wide margin if he can sustain them for an entire season. Mitchell doesn’t feel like he’s a different player since the trade, but says he was often overlooked in Utah.

“We were in Mountain time. No one really watched us, so you kinda fall under the radar,” he said. “I feel like I’ve just been doing this nonstop, and I just continue to get better and more efficient. … I think this has been my best stretch in my career, but I gotta keep going.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Mitchell, who at one point during the offseason was convinced he was going to wind up in New York, told Steve Popper of Newsday that he wasn’t trying to deliver any kind of message to the Knicks in Sunday’s game. “It’s easy to point to the summer and say that [it was payback], but I’m pretty much friends with everybody on that team, so it’s always good to play against your guys and I have nothing but love for them,” Mitchell said.
  • Caris LeVert impressed Mitchell with his 41-point outburst in Friday’s win at Boston, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. LeVert won the competition for the starting small forward slot, but is currently being used at shooting guard while Darius Garland is sidelined with an eye injury. “I played against Caris in Brooklyn and nothing against him last year, he had the injuries, but I think this is the Caris we all know,” Mitchell said. “He looks healthy and looks different. He was due. He’s been an animal. He led us by example.”
  • Coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the swelling in Garland’s eye has gone down and the team is waiting for him to become more comfortable with his vision, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.

Atlantic Notes: Mitchell, Barrett, VanVleet, Brogdon

The Knicks are about to get their first look at Donovan Mitchell since spending much of the summer trying to trade for him, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Buoyed by Mitchell’s addition, the Cavaliers are tied for second in the East at 4-1 and they’ll try to improve that record when they host New York on Sunday.

The Jazz and Knicks held protracted trade talks through the offseason, but they weren’t able to finalize a deal, allowing Cleveland to swoop in with an offer for the three-time All-Star. Mitchell has been everything the Cavs thought he would be, averaging career highs in points (31.0), rebounds (4.8) and assists (6.4) through the first five games of the season.

“The one thing he does extremely well is he stops on a dime. When he drives hard to the basket and he stops, with the speed and agility he has, he always creates separation,” said Evan Fournier, who was rumored to be in several versions of the Mitchell trade. “He’s really hard to guard. He’s very streaky. He can be not efficient at times. But when he gets it going, it feels like he can’t miss.” 

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The KnicksRJ Barrett has struggled with his shot this season, but he’s making up for it with defense, according to Steve Popper of Newsday. Barrett, who was also rumored to be part of proposed packages for Mitchell, will likely get the first chance at slowing him down on Sunday. “Ever since (coach Tom Thibodeau) got here, the whole defensive intensity kind of picked up, and just me being that guy on certain players every night,” Barrett said. “It’s been a fun challenge. Watching the film, trying to get better every day. Really, that’s it. … Just a commitment. Coming in locked in and focused every day. I think it’s more mental than physical.”
  • The Raptors risk burning out Fred VanVleet if they can’t find some backcourt help, warns Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star. VanVleet is averaging a team-high 38 minutes per game, and Toronto doesn’t have a reliable point guard replacement off the bench.
  • Malcolm Brogdon is playing fewer minutes with the Celtics than he did with the Pacers, but his new teammates appreciate everything he does when he’s on the court, per Jay King of The Athletic. “To be able to come in and accept a role that he’s not used to — and I know from experience that’s not easy to do,” Marcus Smart said. “But he’s done it, he’s been professional. And then to come in and be able to not miss a step when he does come in, it’s like he’s been with us ever since day one.”

Eastern Notes: Crowder, Bucks, Claxton, Williams, Mitchell

What kind of trade package could the Bucks put together for the Suns’ Jae Crowder, considering they’re one of the teams reportedly interested in the veteran forward? Eric Nehm of The Athletic explores that topic, speculating that Milwaukee could deal some combination of Grayson Allen, George Hill and second-round picks.

However, dealing Allen would remove one of the Bucks’ top shooters and it’s questionable whether Crowder would be part of the team’s crunch time unit.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Nets big man Nic Claxton posted back-to-back double-doubles in the team’s first two games. His teammates and coaches want to see him do that consistently, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post. “I’m happy he played well, we want him to keep it up, but now as a young player in the league he has to show consistency,” Kyrie Irving said. “And we have to be right there with him.” Claxton re-signed with Brooklyn this summer on a two-year, $20MM contract.
  • Bulls forward Patrick Williams has gotten off to a rough start this season, but he’s not discouraged, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago relays. “They (coaches and teammates) know, obviously, I want to play well, and I want them to play well, and they want to play well for themselves as well. But just can’t get too down when you don’t play well,” he said. “Just reminding, that was what, game three? Of at least 82. Obviously we want to play past 82. But that was game three of 82.” Williams averaged 5.7 points and 2.0 rebounds in the first three games.
  • The Cavaliers have already embraced Donovan Mitchell as a leader, according to Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. “He’s just a good dude,” center Jarrett Allen said. “That’s what it boils down to. He is easy to talk to; he doesn’t boast about his accomplishments, he is one of the hardest workers every single game in the gym. It’s easy to root for a guy like that and easy to follow somebody’s lead like that.”