Dorian Finney-Smith

Southwest Notes: Winslow, Spurs, Van Gundy, Finney-Smith

Justise Winslow was thrilled to be back on the court Saturday night, making his debut for the Grizzlies and playing for the first time since January 8, 2020. Although he started slowly, missing his first nine shots from the field, Winslow got more comfortable as the game went on and finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time,” Winslow said (video link from the Memphis Commercial Appeal). “I was excited, a lot of nerves, to be honest, but just being out there competing was a lot of fun. In the first half, I was just trying to get that first bucket, you know, a little excited. But once I settled down, settled into my game, I felt pretty comfortable out there. But a lot of praise to this organization, helped me get back out there, and my teammates. They kept me very confident while I was out there playing.”

Winslow was sidelined with a hip injury when Memphis acquired him at last year’s trade deadline. The pandemic prevented his projected return in March, and he suffered a left hip displacement during the summer that he’s just recovering from.

Looking ahead, Winslow could be a valuable contributor to the Grizzlies’ reserve unit as a shot creator, slasher and perimeter defender, notes Evan Barnes of The Commercial Appeal.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • With the Spurs in the middle of an unexpected break due to COVID-19, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News talks to other coaches who have guided their teams through the same experience. San Antonio hasn’t played in a week after four players tested positive for the virus. The team is set to resume its season Wednesday at Oklahoma City if enough players are available. “It’s as mentally challenging as anything I’ve ever had to deal with,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “… There’s nothing I can take from a past experience or even another coach’s past experience to be able to navigate through it. It’s something nobody has had to do.”
  • Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy doesn’t believe youth should be an excuse for a fourth-quarter meltdown Friday against Phoenix, according to Scott Kushner of NOLA.com. New Orleans was outscored 41-12 as a big lead slipped away. “A lot of teams in this league have quarters like that,” Van Gundy said. “I’ll never throw the young card out there. We’re a basketball team with really talented people, and we didn’t get the job done in the fourth quarter.”
  • Getting back on the court after a week-long break will be a relief for Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. After testing positive for COVID-19 and spending two weeks in a Denver hotel last month, Finney was among the many who lost power this week amid freezing conditions in Texas.

Mavericks Expect Three Players To Return From Protocols

The Mavericks may have three players back from NBA health and safety protocols in time for Wednesday’s game at Utah, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dwight Powell are all listed as questionable for the game after spending nearly three weeks in quarantine. However, Maxi Kleber is still in the protocols and won’t accompany the team to Salt Lake City.

“It’s great having them back on the floor … it’s three of our best defenders.” coach Rick Carlisle told Townsend (Twitter link). “I think we’ll have all three of them available.”

Finney-Smith, Richardson and Jalen Brunson all remained in Denver after a January 7 game due to coronavirus concerns. Finney-Smith and Richardson both tested positive for COVID-19, and all three spent more than a week in Denver. Positive tests were confirmed later for Powell and Kleber.

Brunson never got the virus, but he said it was difficult to be quarantined for so long, which resulted in missing four games.

“I don’t recommend taking 10 days off from playing a game,” he said, “but sometimes you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Quartet Of Mavericks Players Have COVID-19

The Mavericks have four players with confirmed cases of COVID-19, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets. A pair of rotation players tested positive on Monday, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon and Zach Lowe (Twitter link).

None of the players who have tested positive have been named publicly due to privacy issues. Mavericks veterans Josh RichardsonDorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson were self-isolating as of Friday, and Maxi Kleber joined that list over the weekend.

The NBA postponed Monday’s game between the Mavericks and Pelicans due to issues related to COVID-19 and the Mavericks’ game at Charlotte on Wednesday could also be in jeopardy.

Due to contact tracing, the Mavericks and the NBA could not say with certainty that Dallas would have at least eight non-infected/bodily healthy players for Monday’s game, Townsend notes in another tweet.

According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), Dallas can file for a hardship exception on each of the four players that tested positive, even though none of the players have missed three consecutive games. The normal procedure to request the exception is to have four players miss three consecutive games and be out two additional weeks.

Several other teams, including the Heat, Celtics and Sixers, have been dealing with major personnel issues due to the coronavirus. The league’s Board of Governors is meeting on Tuesday to discuss potential changes to the protocols that have been in place this season.

Mavs’ Richardson, Finney-Smith, Brunson Placed Under Quarantine

7:39pm: Josh Richardson, Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson are the players under quarantine, Charania tweets.


5:11pm: A Mavericks player has tested positive for the coronavirus and two other players have been placed under quarantine for seven days due to contract tracing, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

A source within the organization confirmed Charania’s report, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News tweets.

The other two players have thus far tested negative and are expected to remain so, according to Charania, but the trio remained in Denver while the rest of the team flew back to Dallas. The Mavericks wrapped up a three-game trip in Denver on Thursday.

The names of the players haven’t been revealed but there will be more clarity when the team issues an injury report prior to its next game. The Mavericks have a home game against Orlando on Saturday.

In recent days, the Celtics and Sixers have revealed COVID-19 issues. Boston’s Robert Williams had a positive test and two others were deemed close contacts. Philadelphia is expected to be without numerous players due to contact tracing after Seth Curry tested positive.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Injuries, Porzingis, Game 6

The Mavericks don’t expect star guard Luka Doncic to be under any restrictions when their series with the Clippers resumes Sunday, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic had been dealing with the effects of a sprained left ankle he suffered in the second half of Game 3, but an unexpected three-day break in the playoff schedule has allowed it to heal.

Doncic fought through the pain to deliver a remarkable performance in Game 4, posting 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists and nailing a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer. He is officially listed as questionable for Game 6, but coach Rick Carlisle told reporters today that Doncic has made significant progress.

“Ankle’s doing well, all things considered,” Carlisle said. “The extra two or three days is a plus, certainly. In practice today, he looked pretty good, so going into tomorrow, I don’t think he’s going to be limited.”

There’s more Mavericks news to pass along:

  • Injuries will be a concern as Dallas tries to keep its season alive, Caplan adds in the same story. In addition to Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr. (cervical strain), Dorian Finney-Smith (left hip strain) and Trey Burke (left ankle sprain) are all listed as questionable for Game 6.
  • The knee issue that has sidelined Kristaps Porzingis may change the way the Mavericks deal with him moving forward, suggests Tim Cato of The Athletic. The team needs to recognize that Porzingis could eventually develop chronic knee problems, Cato states. He advises the Mavs to expand their frontcourt depth in case Porzingis has to miss numerous games every season and points out that there has never been another 7’3″ player with his mobility who plays so many minutes. Cato believes the organization should consider limiting Porzingis to about 30 minutes per game and reducing his travel schedule.
  • Like all the remaining teams, the Mavericks face the challenge of putting aside the emotions of a difficult week and concentrating on basketball, Caplan writes in a separate story“We’re going to go … whistle to whistle, timeout to timeout,” Carlisle said, “and we’re going to do everything possible to get to a Game 7.”

Injury Updates: Westbrook, Gordon, Lowry, Mavs

After initially being ruled out for Game 5 due to his quad injury, Rockets guard Russell Westbrook was upgraded to questionable today, as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle tweets.

With the Rockets and Thunder set to tip off at 5:30 pm central time tonight, Westbrook is expected to test his strained quad on the court before the game, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that the All-Star point guard will be a game-time decision.

While it remains to be seen whether Westbrook will get the go-ahead to play tonight, it sounds as if he’s getting awfully close, which means the odds we’ll see him in action before the end of the series are increasing.

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

  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon (hamstring) has been ruled out for Game 5 against Milwaukee, the team announced today (via Twitter). We heard on Tuesday that Gordon was still having trouble running up and down the court and that the club didn’t want to risk him suffering a more serious injury. If Orlando loses today, Gordon’s season will be over without him getting a chance to play in the postseason.
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (ankle sprain) didn’t practice again today, as Marc Stein of The New York Times tweets. However, Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca doesn’t necessarily view that as a bad sign, tweeting that there would be no sense running Lowry through a full practice even if he’s feeling good and plans to play on Thursday. Lowry’s status for Game 1 against Boston remains up in the air.
  • Four key Mavericks players – Kristaps Porzingis (knee), Luka Doncic (ankle), Dorian Finney-Smith (hips), and Trey Burke (ankle) – are listed as questionable to play in Game 6 on Thursday, with Dallas’ season on the line, according to Brad Townsend and Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links).

Doncic, Porzingis, SGA Among Players Out For Monday’s Games

Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis won’t play in Monday’s game against Utah, according to the league’s official injury report. Dallas will also be without starting forward Dorian Finney-Smith.

Doncic and Porzingis are both listed out due to “injury recovery” — right ankle for Doncic and left knee for Porzingis. Finney-Smith, meanwhile, is dealing with a left hip strain.

At 42-30, the No. 7 Mavericks are two games behind the sixth-seeded Jazz (43-27), so today’s game has seeding implications. If the Mavs lose, they’ll be locked into the No. 7 seed in the West. Utah, just a half-game behind the No. 5 Thunder, could still move up a spot or two in the standings, though the team may prefer to remain at No. 6 if it means avoiding the Rockets in the first round. Houston has eliminated the Jazz in the postseason in each of the last two years.

Donovan Mitchell has also been downgraded from questionable to out for today’s game due to a left lower leg peroneal strain, according to the Jazz (via Twitter).

Meanwhile, per the league’s injury report, the Thunder will be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right calf contusion), Steven Adams (left lower leg contusion), Danilo Gallinari (left ankle injury maintenance), and Nerlens Noel (right ankle sprain), in addition to missing Dennis Schröder, who remains out for personal reasons after attending the birth of his child.

Those absences bode well for the Suns, who will need to remain undefeated in the bubble in order to keep pace in the race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. As we detailed earlier today, Phoenix won’t technically be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss, but it would make the path to a play-in spot a whole lot more difficult.

Southwest Notes: Popovich, Powell, Finney-Smith, Harden

The Spurs enter the NBA’s restart in 12th place in the Western Conference and coach Gregg Popovich has made it clear he’s more concerned with player development than a playoff run, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express News reports. “For us in our specific situation, development is more important than anything,” Popovich said. “I’m not too concerned with trying to figure out how to match up with the Lakers or Clippers or Celtics or Raptors or Rockets or Nuggets or anybody else.” San Antonio’s postseason chances have already been dimmed by the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge (shoulder) and Trey Lyles (appendicitis).

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Mavericks big man Dwight Powell can’t play in Orlando as he continues to rehab from Achilles tendon surgery but he chose to go to the campus anyway. His reasoning, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Callie Caplan? Powell has steady access to the team’s training staff, workouts and team activities. “I’m still part of this team, whether I can contribute on offense or defense, still proud to be a Dallas Maverick,” Powell said.
  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith is brimming with optimism as seventh-place Dallas heads into the seeding games already assured of a playoff berth, Eddie Sefko of the team’s website reports. “I feel like we can beat anybody, especially if we’re healthy and we come out with an us-against-the-world mentality,” he said.
  • Russell Westbrook is still trying to clear COVID-19 protocols but the other half of the Rockets’ dynamic backcourt has returned to the team. James Harden practiced on Thursday after his arrival in Orlando was delayed due to family issues, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “I pushed myself through it,” Harden said.

Lowe’s Latest: McDermott, Finney-Smith, Wood, MCW

Each year, Zach Lowe of ESPN names his “Luke Walton All-Stars,” a group of players who appeared to be borderline NBA players until finding a role – and a team – that suits them. This year’s installment of Lowe’s Luke Walton All-Stars serves as a handful of mini-profiles on his choices and features a number of fascinating tidbits on those players.

For instance, according to Lowe, Doug McDermott – who has been traded four times since being drafted in 2014 – has gotten into the habit of donating clothes to Goodwill as the annual trade deadline approaches to make packing easier in case he gets moved again.

As Lowe details, McDermott was worried a trade to Dallas in February 2018 might be his “last chance” in the NBA, but the sharpshooter credits Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle for helping him play loose and urging him to not hesitate to launch three-pointers. The Mavs wanted to re-sign McDermott in 2018 but didn’t have the cap flexibility to do so, and Carlisle encouraged him to take the Pacers‘ three-year, $22MM offer, Lowe adds.

Lowe’s story is worth checking out in full, but here are a few of the highlights from the piece:

  • The Mavericks had to beat out the Heat and Pelicans to sign Dorian Finney-Smith as an undrafted free agent in 2016, per Lowe. The three-year deal with a $100K guarantee was “probably more than the Mavs wanted to offer,” since Finney-Smith seemed at the time like a long shot to make the regular season roster, but it turned into a great investment.
  • Despite a history of productivity, Pistons big man Christian Wood bounced around the NBA due to reputational concerns, including a perception that he was an unreliable communicator, according to Lowe, who says there was gossip around the NBA about Wood splurging on a Bentley after banking “very little” NBA money. “There is stuff in my background that affected my reputation,” Wood said. “It was never basketball-related.”
  • Earlier in his career, Marquese Chriss was insistent about his preference to play power forward, but the Warriors‘ big man now admits it’s not his ideal position, per Lowe. “I was naive,” Chriss said. “I realize now the skill set I have is better for (center).”
  • Former Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams has now adjusted to a much more modest role with the Magic, in which he focuses on playing lockdown defense and “hitting singles” (rather than swinging for the fences) on offense, according to Lowe. “It wasn’t easy,” Carter-Williams said. “I still believe I can do more. But this is part of maturing. Maybe one day I’ll get a bigger role and do what I did in Philadelphia. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m happy I’m playing.”

Southwest Notes: Howard, Ledbetter, Finney-Smith, Parker

Waiving Dwight Howard would be the most likely scenario for the Grizzlies, Chris Herrington of the Daily Memphian writes. Howard is reportedly working out for the Lakers this week as Memphis looks to move the veteran center. Best case scenario for the Grizzlies would be a buyout agreement with Howard, who is owed $5.6MM. Using the stretch provision is unlikely since the team could have significant cap space next summer and probably wouldn’t want to add dead money to the bottom line.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Spurs have offered guard Jeff Ledbetter an Exhibit 10 deal, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando (Twitter link). Ledbetter is interested but is also mulling other options in Europe, Lupo adds. Ledbetter averaged 15.8 PPG in five Las Vegas summer league games for San Antonio. Ledbetter, 31, averaged 13.6 PPG and 3.9 APG in 19 games with the G League’s Austin Spurs last season.
  • Dorian Finney-Smith is a candidate to start at small forward for the Mavericks, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News writes. He’ll complete with Justin Jackson and Tim Hardaway Jr. for starting time at that spot. Dallas re-signed Finney-Smith this summer on a three-year, $12MM pact.
  • The Spurs will retire Tony Parker‘s No. 9 jersey in a November 11 ceremony, according to a team press release. Parker finished his career with the Hornets after playing 17 seasons with San Antonio.