Dwight Howard

Pacific Notes: Green, Kuminga, Curry, James, Howard

The Warriors announced on Sunday that defensive stalwart Draymond Green would miss at least two weeks of action due to lingering calf and back injuries. Coach Steve Kerr said they’re playing it safe with Green’s injury issues at this stage of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

“The main thing is to be safe and cautious,” Kerr said. “It’s a long season. That’s my sense. That we’re being cautious.”

With Green out, lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga will get expanded playing time. Kuminga irritated the staff with a disinterested performance in a G League game last week but the Warriors won’t hold that against him, according to Slater.

“He didn’t run the floor hard. It was disappointing,” Kerr said. “We talked to him about it. He understood and responded well. This is all part of the process for JK. There’s a lot to absorb and learn.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Stephen Curry left the Warriors’ road trip early but it shouldn’t be an area of concern, according to Slater (Twitter link). Curry has a hand injury that the club believes is minor. He could play against Detroit on Tuesday.
  • The Lakers have dropped below the .500 mark by losing their last three games, including a 37-point thumping by Denver. LeBron James went on social media and pledged to fans the team will get untracked soon. “Lakers Nation I apologize and promise we’ll be better,” James proclaimed on his Twitter feed.
  • The decision to start Dwight Howard against the Nuggets shows the Lakers can only go so far with small ball lineups, Kyle Goon of the Orange Country Register writes. Coach Frank Vogel doesn’t want James banging against top-level centers such as Nikola Jokic. Howard will still have a role off the bench when Anthony Davis returns, Goon adds.

Trade Rumors: Finney-Smith, Pacers, Mavs, Grant, Howard, Lillard, Harris

Following up on Michael Scotto’s report that stated teams around the NBA are eyeing Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says Rick Carlisle was considered Finney-Smith’s “biggest advocate” in Dallas, adding that the Pacers are considered a possible suitor for that reason.

According to veteran reporter Marc Stein, the Mavericks have been trying to get in the mix for Pacers center Myles Turner or Hawks forward John Collins. Dallas may need to part with at least one of Jalen Brunson and Finney-Smith in such a deal — Stein suggests those two 2022 free-agents-to-be have “no shortage of suitors” around the NBA.

However, Stein also points out that in order to make a major move, Dallas may need to find a taker for Tim Hardaway Jr. While Hardaway’s $21MM salary makes him the Mavericks’ most logical salary-matching piece if they make a play for someone like Turner ($18MM) or Collins ($23MM), his production has dipped to 14.5 PPG on .395/.328/.747 shooting through 35 games (30.6 MPG) this season.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the league:

  • Although Jerami Grant has frequently been cited as a trade candidate in recent weeks, Marc Stein says the Pistons forward isn’t a lock to be on the move. General manager Troy Weaver remains a “staunch backer” of Grant, and there’s a sense he may prefer to hang onto the 27-year-old. However, vice chairman Arn Tellem also has a significant voice in personnel moves, so the decision isn’t just up to Weaver.
  • Jake Fischer adds Dwight Howard to the list of minimum-salary Lakers veterans who are thought to be on the trade block. DeAndre Jordan and Kent Bazemore are also part of that group.
  • The Trail Blazers had zero intention of trading Damian Lillard prior to his abdominal surgery and still has no desire to trade him going forward, sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
  • Noting that Gary Harris has had a nice bounce-back season for the Magic, Lowe says contending teams have inquired about the veteran wing as a trade candidate or possible buyout signing. A previous report stated Orlando is seeking a first-round pick in exchange for Harris, but I’m not sure that’s realistic, given his $20MM+ expiring contract, unless the Magic take on some unwanted long-term money.

Caldwell-Pope, Gallinari, Capela, Others Enter Protocols

Wizards wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Washington had been one of 10 teams that didn’t currently have any players in the protocols, but that’s no longer the case.

According to Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr., Caldwell-Pope returned a positive COVID-19 test on Monday evening (Twitter link via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington). He’ll be sidelined for 10 days or until he can return consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari and center Clint Capela been placed in the health and safety protocols, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). An earlier report stated that two Atlanta players were entering the protocols today — now we know that Gallinari and Capela are those two players.
  • Lakers center Dwight Howard and guard Talen Horton-Tucker have exited the health and safety protocols, the team announced today (Twitter link via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). That doesn’t necessarily mean that both players have been cleared to return to action, but they’re able to rejoin the team for practices and should be available soon.
  • Bulls two-way guard Devon Dotson is now in the health and safety protocols, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic (Twitter link). Chicago has had some players return since the team’s initial COVID-19 outbreak, but still has five other players in the protocols in addition to Dotson.
  • Kings two-way center Neemias Queta is the latest Sacramento player to enter the COVID-19 protocols, tweets Wojnarowski. The club now has seven players in the protocols.
  • The NBA has told the 10 teams scheduled to play on December 25 that some of their games could be shifted to new times if any Christmas Day contests have to be postponed, tweets Wojnarowski. As Woj explains, the league is prioritizing the 2:30pm ET, 5:00pm, and 8:00pm windows, so if one of those games is postponed, either the early or late game would likely be moved.

Dwight Howard, Malik Monk In Coronavirus Protocols

Lakers role players Dwight Howard and Malik Monk have joined starting wing Talen Horton-Tucker in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, per Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). Goon adds that none of the triumvirate will be available to play with Los Angeles tomorrow against the Mavericks.

Monk flew with the club to Dallas before recording his positive result, but Howard remained in Los Angeles, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). McMenamin adds that L.A. is currently determining a plan to fly Monk back home safely. The fact that Monk traveled with his teammates in close proximity on a private plane makes this situation certainly worth monitoring.

Howard and Horton-Tucker started in the Lakers’ most recent game, a 106-94 victory over the visiting Magic. Monk has proven to be a helpful offensive contributor off the bench during his first season with the franchise. Should Lakers All-Star big man Anthony Davis miss tomorrow’s game, the Lakers will be at a significant frontcourt disadvantage against the Mavericks. Davis remains day-to-day with a sore left knee that has sidelined him for the team’s last two contests.

The 23-year-old Monk, signed to a veteran’s minimum contract this summer, is averaging 9.7 PPG on .447/.361/.800 shooting splits, along with 2.8 RPG and 2.2 APG across 28 games with the 15-13 Lakers. The 36-year-old Howard, in his third stint with the team, is averaging a more modest 5.0 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 0.8 SPG and 0.7 BPG, while shooting .625/.750/.609. Howard’s anomalous three-point shooting conversion rate is the result of an extremely low volume of output, just 0.3 a night.

L.A. Notes: Westbrook, Howard, THT, Mann, Batum

Before squaring off against Paul George in Friday’s Lakers-Clippers matchup, Russell Westbrook spoke to the media about the way their partnership with the Thunder ended, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. They developed a friendship in Oklahoma City that still exists, and Westbrook was one of the reasons that George decided to re-sign with the Thunder in 2018.

According to ESPN and The Athletic, Westbrook approached free agent Kawhi Leonard the following summer about possibly teaming up in L.A., with Leonard signing and Westbrook being traded. Leonard reportedly took that idea and presented to George, which resulted in them both joining the Clippers.

When asked about the situation Thursday, Westbrook challenged the media to reveal the source of the report, then cast doubt on its veracity.

“That’s a lesson for all y’all,” he said. “Just always remember, just because somebody writes something … you don’t know where they got it from. That’s the truth. That’s the problem. That’s how rumors and things get started.”

There’s more from Los Angeles:

  • The Lakers used their 12th starting lineup in 24 games Friday, with Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker replacing DeAndre Jordan and Avery Bradley, notes Jovan Buha of The Athletic. It’s a clear upgrade based on performance, Buha adds, but the group was minus-7 in its 11 minutes on the court. “Dwight changed the game for us in Sacramento,” Anthony Davis said. “He was really good for us, and Coach wanted to go back to that. And I think he played well tonight as well. Protecting the paint, rebounding, setting screens, doing everything he’s supposed to do.”
  • Clippers swingman Terance Mann tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that the two-year, $22MM extension he received in training camp was meaningful because of how hard it was to get NBA scouts to notice him. Mann took part in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and the G League Elite Camp, then received a last-minute invitation to the draft combine.
  • Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is optimistic about Nicolas Batum, who has missed the past seven games while in health and safety protocols, tweets Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register. “I don’t know (when he’ll return),” Lue said. “… but it was good seeing him back in the building, I can tell you that. It’s getting close and we definitely need him.”

Pacific Notes: Ariza, Bradley, Howard, Jordan, Lee, Iguodala, Kerr

Lakers forward Trevor Ariza participated in his first non-contact practice since preseason ankle surgery on Thursday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Coach Frank Vogel says Ariza will need a “build-up” period before he’ll play. Ariza was projected as a starter after signing a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lakers guard Avery Bradley will not need surgery on his sprained right thumb, Bill Oram of The Athletic tweets. Bradley will be available to play on Friday but he’ll require a splint to protect the injury. Vogel is unsure whether he’ll play Bradley or to give him more time to recover.
  • It’ll be one veteran center or the other in the foreseeable future for the Lakers, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets. Vogel plans to use either Dwight Howard or DeAndre Jordan on a game-by-game basis. Howard will get the start against the Clippers on Friday, so Jordan probably won’t play.
  • Damion Lee will return to action on Friday for the Warriors, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Lee, who last appeared in an NBA game on November 24, left the team for the birth of his first child. Andre Iguodala will miss his eighth consecutive game due to right knee soreness.
  • Despite winning multiple championship, Warriors coach Steve Kerr hasn’t lost his competitive spirit, as he told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “Part of what allowed me to stay in the NBA for 15 years as a player is that losing humiliates me, you know? My competitive desire drives me,” he said. “But like a lot of players at this level, the fear of losing is an even bigger motivator. So even though I don’t stop and think about legacy or anything like that, I just want to (bleeping) win, you know? It burns in me.”

Los Angeles Notes: Vogel, Davis, LeBron, Ibaka

Amidst speculation about his job security, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lit a fire under his team on Tuesday, writes Bill Oram of The Athletic.

The Lakers trailed by nine at half, but dominated the second half 67-33 after Vogel gave a fiery halftime speech, leading to the team’s largest margin of victory of the season, a 117-92 win over the Kings. Vogel said the speech came out of necessity.

Every now and then the coach has to light a fire under his team,” Vogel said. “And today was one of those games.”

Dwight Howard said his coach told the team that its effort wasn’t good enough.

His whole point was, ‘Stop talking about wanting to win a championship and not giving the correct effort,'” Howard said, per Oram.

Here’s more from L.A.:

  • Anthony Davis is finding his voice as a leader with LeBron James sidelined with COVID-19, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “It’s like I’m being tested with my leadership,” Davis told Yahoo Sports following Tuesday’s game. “‘Bron has been out with injuries and now also with the COVID situation, so it’s a good test for me. It’s a good experience for me to lead these guys and the good thing about it, I have other vets on my side who’ve been in the game for a while to help me through the obstacles. It’s a good test, not just for our team, but for me to lead these guys.”
  • Speaking of James, Davis said he’s doing well and is asymptomatic so far, tweets Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group.
  • Veteran big man Serge Ibaka, recently returned from back surgery, gave the Clippers‘ offense a boost as they battle through a slump, writes Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group. Ibaka had 13 points and six rebounds Monday against the Pelicans, shooting 5-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from deep. The Clips could really use more of that type of output, as they currently rank 25th in the league in offensive rating. The Clippers are 2-5 in their last seven games and 11-10 on the season.

Western Notes: Howard, Davis, Mitchell, Doncic, Dragic, Beverley

Dwight Howard tried to downplay his altercation with Anthony Davis during the Lakers’ loss to Phoenix on Friday night, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN. The two big man had a verbal exchange on the bench during the second quarter.

“We squashed it right then and there,” Howard said. “We just had a disagreement about something that was on the floor. We’re both very passionate about winning.”

Davis said of the spat, “it’s over with.” Howard is one of many Lakers bench players signed to a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Kings surprised a lot of people when they drafted a guard, Davion Mitchell, in the lottery for the second straight year, but Mitchell is already making an impression with his ball-hawking defense, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee tweets. Swingman Buddy Hield has high praise for the rookie. “I think he’s the best on-ball defender in the league,” he said. “The way he hawks the ball is different. His lateral movement. The way he closes out is different. It’s just a special gift he has.”
  • The Mavericks will play Toronto on Saturday in a matchup of Luka Doncic and Goran Dragic at the point. The Slovenian national team members could soon join forces in the NBA, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News notes. There were rumors swirling during the offseason after Dragic was traded to the Raptors that he could eventually wind up in Dallas. That could happen closer to the trade deadline or perhaps next summer, when Dragic becomes a free agent.
  • Patrick Beverley will make his Timberwolves debut on Saturday after serving a one-game league suspension. He’s says his impact on the young Minnesota roster will go beyond the stat sheet, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “Born leader, came natural for me since I was a kid, very outspoken,” Beverley said. “Even some of my ex-Clippers guards, teammates [Thursday] night after their loss to Golden State, they called me and we chopped it up a little bit. I always have a good positive spirit, positive energy. That just kind of rubs off on people every night.”

Lakers Notes: Centers, Monk, Two-Ways, Brown, Queen

With Anthony Davis expected to see more action at the center spot this season, it remains to be seen how much playing time former All-NBA big men Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan will get at the five for the Lakers. However, as Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times writes, Jordan isn’t overly concerned about how many minutes he’ll play.

“That’s the blessing of it, having a lot of different lineups that you can use. And I think each game is gonna have a say on what we do,” Jordan said on Saturday. “We can be rolling with a huge lineup. And, you know, we’ll win with that. And some games may need us to go small. And I think that at this point of my career, of all of our careers, you know, at the end of the day, ultimately, we just want to be able to win and be able to achieve something as a collective.”

Howard, who played a career-low 17.3 minutes per contest last season in Philadelphia, shares Jordan’s philosophy.

“Leave the ego at the door, leave it at home when you wake up,” Howard said of his role. “There’s no need to have it. We all represent this emblem that’s behind me, this Laker logo. We understand that, and it’s whatever the team needs to win.”

Here’s more on the Lakers:

  • Malik Monk‘s impressive preseason debut on Sunday further complicates an already-crowded battle for playing time at shooting guard, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who observes that the Lakers will have to find time at the two for Monk, Wayne Ellington, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kent Bazemore, and Kendrick Nunn. Nunn has generally played point guard, but may not see much action there if Russell Westbrook plays big minutes and Rajon Rondo has a regular role, Buha notes.
  • Cameron Oliver, Mac McClung, Chaundee Brown, and Trevelin Queen are the camp invitees currently in the mix for the Lakers’ second two-way contract slot, but the team could end up going outside of the organization to fill that spot, as Buta writes in the same story. “We’re gonna see how the preseason plays out,” head coach Frank Vogel said. “See who all is available, both the guys that are here, or who are around the league, guys that might get cut, and we’ll make a decision closer to opening night.”
  • If the Lakers do convert one of their current camp invitees to a two-way contract, Brown and Queen may be the frontrunners, says Buha. Both of those players are wings, which might be the Lakers’ biggest need.

Atlantic Notes: Green, Young, Marks, Noel

Danny Green, who re-signed with the Sixers on a two-year deal, said most of his other suitors in free agency offered less money or would have needed to work out a sign-and-trade with Philadelphia, according to Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Ex-teammates Dwight Howard (Lakers) and George Hill (Bucks) tried to recruit Green to the teams they signed with this summer, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. However, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid were also in frequent contact with the veteran guard, urging him to stick with the Sixers, Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice tweets.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Former Celtics assistant Jamie Young is joining Doc Rivers’ staff with the Sixers, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweetsYoung spent 21 years with Boston.
  • While Nets general manager Sean Marks says he’s mostly done tweaking the team’s roster this offseason, he reserved the right to make more moves, Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “We’ve got to continue to tinker with the roster, and just see what happens,” he said. “We’ve seen in the past where other teams make cuts, and so forth, and we’re able to adjust because of that. So I don’t want to say that the roster’s complete: Maybe it’s 90 percent complete, 99 percent complete.”
  • Nerlens Noel‘s three-year contract with the Knicks includes $4MM in total incentives. Among those potential incentives is a $750K bonus each time he makes First or Second Team All-Defense, Ian Begley of SNY.TV reports.