Dwight Powell

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.

NBA Players Committee Begins Parsing Comeback Plans

The National Basketball Players Association has sent a memo to agents stating that there’s a sense that both the players and the league want to finish the 2019/20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

NBPA president Chris Paul is joined by Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, and Dwight Powell on a committee that is working with the league on potential plans.

Paul reportedly held a call with many of the NBA’s superstars on Monday — including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kawhi Leonard — discussing the coronavirus ramifications and the potential to resume the season. Those star players were unified in their desire to play out the 2019/20 campaign.

The NBPA polled players via text, asking them how they felt about completing the season. One player told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times that he believes that the percentage is “70-30” of players who want to finish out the campaign.

“But 30% is a big number,” the player said. “And what do you say to somebody who says, ‘You know what, I just don’t feel safe?’ It’s hard to argue that. But there are reasons to argue that because I know the NBA would be one of the safest places to be at. That thing would be tight, clean, protocol, all that.”

Las Vegas and Orlando continue to be tossed around as options to hold clusters of games in order to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading through travel. However, the league hasn’t made any firm decisions yet.

“We have been approached by multiple properties regarding potential options for hosting NBA games, including MGM,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have not engaged in any substantive discussions.”

Hiatus Notes: NBPA, Playoffs, Warriors, Fans

The National Basketball Players Association has begun to poll its members on whether or not they want to resume the 2019/20 season, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. As Woj explains, the NBPA’s regional representatives are among the union officials asking players a “yes or no” question about their desire to return to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. The union has assured players that their individual responses will be kept confidential.

While it may seem like a given that players on contending teams will want to resume the season, there’s certainly no guarantee that players on all 30 clubs feel the same way. Even among players who have a chance to win a title in ’19/20, there could be differences of opinion based on potential safety and health concerns.

With Major League Baseball working on its own plan for a potential return to play, pitcher Sean Doolittle published a Twitter thread on Monday outlining concerns that he and other players would have as they consider suiting up for the season. Doolittle’s thread goes more in-depth and lays out more specific concerns than those we’ve heard publicly from basketball players, but I’d imagine there are many around the NBA who share some of his reservations.

For what it’s worth, the NBPA said in a statement to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) that the union “is not engaging in and has not authorized any formal poll of its players.” As such, it sounds like the outreach being described by Wojnarowski is informal.

Here’s more on the coronavirus situation and its impact on the NBA:

  • A source tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that one scenario the NBA has discussed as it explores the resumption of the 2019/20 season would see the eighth seed in each conference up for grabs, with the current eighth through 12th seeds participating in a play-in tournament. As Berman explains, it would provide an incentive for a handful of teams who are currently out of the postseason picture, while not requiring the clubs at the very bottom of the standings to return and participate. Of course, it’s just one of many ideas the league has explored.
  • The Warriors still don’t expect they’ll be one of the teams playing games if and when the NBA resumes its season, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t want to be involved, writes Anthony Slater of The Athletic. According to Slater, one Warriors coach suggested that playing a handful of regular season games in the summer could essentially function as a “replacement summer league” for Golden State.
  • The NBA and NBPA are forming a “working group” and will have a call on Tuesday to discuss potential return-to-play scenarios, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania tweets that Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum, Kyle Lowry, and Dwight Powell will be among the players on the call.
  • In an interesting piece for The Athletic, Bill Shea explores how the pandemic will impact the way fans attend sporting events, once they’re allowed to reenter arenas and stadiums.

Western Notes: Spurs, Kerr, Suns, Powell

Spurs sports and entertainment chairman Peter Holt said the team’s ownership group remains “100 percent committed” to staying in San Antonio, Jeff Garcia of FoxSanAntonio.com relays. Holt’s statement was issued after a report that the Spurs were selling a minority stake in the franchise. The Holt family is the majority owner. “As an ownership group we remain 100 percent committed to the city of San Antonio. … San Antonio is home and will remain home,” Holt said.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr admits his franchise is already in offseason mode, ESPN’s Nick Friedell writes. In a Zoom conference call among Kerr, GM Bob Myers and the players last week, the conversation felt more like the team’s annual exit meeting, Kerr said. “It was just a chance to check in, but it was also a chance for Bob to update the players on his contact with the league and the latest news, but it also kind of felt like our annual team exit meeting,” Kerr said. “Our coaching staff and I have been undergoing staff evaluations, offseason plans, so we are absolutely in offseason mode right now.”
  • In an in-depth discussion between The Athletic’s Gina Mizell and John Hollinger regarding the Suns future, Hollinger indicates the biggest question regarding GM James Jones is whether owner Robert Sarver is still calling the shots on basketball decisions. In recent years, Sarver has been heavily involved in the team’s moves, including most of the ones that set back the franchise, Hollinger continued. The team may have to move forward Kelly Oubre Jr. in the coming months due to the two-year, $30MM contract he received last year, Hollinger adds.
  • Mavericks big man Dwight Powell was well prepared to stay in shape during the suspension of play, according to Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. After rupturing his right Achilles tendon in January, Powell was unable to drive to the Mavericks practice facility, so he invested in fitness equipment. One of those machines, a Concept 2 Skier, mimics the upper body motion of cross-country skiing while standing still. “Ten seconds on that at full bore will get you up to max heart rate,” Powell said. “I’m a push-up master and mixing in that cardio, so I’m actually in great shape, considering I’m not able to run right now.”

Dwight Powell Talks Recovery, Mavs’ Organization

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell, who continues to recover from the torn right Achilles he suffered back in January, tells Callie Caplin of the Dallas Morning News that “everything is on schedule” with regard to his recovery, adding that the coronavirus precautions are not impacting his rehab.

“Luckily it’s nothing I can’t do from home for now,” Powell explained. “I have a couple more months of really not too much, so I have everything I need here. The Mavs set me up with all the equipment, which there isn’t much of, to keep on track, and they’re checking in with me daily, so things are going good.”

Powell added that he remains in contact with the team’s medical staff via FaceTime, checking in every day. He said communication between him and his teammates has been solid.

“I think we’re doing a good job of reaching out on a daily and every-other-day basis with everybody, and we’ve got a group chat that’s pretty active and is light, humorous,” the big man said.

While the Mavericks remain away from their facility, the franchise is doing its best to help the community that is impacted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Powell credited Dallas’ leadership for how responsive the organization has been.

“That’s something I was taught and shown from Day 1 getting here from Mark [Cuban] and from Coach [Rick] Carlisle and from Dirk [Nowitzki], especially, at that time when he was here,” Powell said of the organization setting a high standard for giving back to the community. “They set the stage for that, so it doesn’t surprise any of us at all to see the leadership role that Mark has taken in this situation, the example that he’s set and the guidance he’s given all of us in how we can help as well.

“…We can’t be out there on the front lines, so those heroes that are doing the real work and the ones that are trying to get us back to normalcy, those are the ones who really need support, and I think that was one area that was being a little bit overlooked.”

Hiatus Notes: Dudley, Blazers, Ballmer, Booker, Mavs

Veteran forward Jared Dudley is pessimistic that the NBA will resume its season after this indefinite hiatus, he explained on FOX Sports Radio this week.

Dudley joins a growing list of NBA players and officials who are skeptical about whether the league can resume its regular season. The overall concern, he explains, is focused around limiting injuries.

“Once I heard the news of no more practice facilities, if that goes for a month or month-and-a-half to two months, I find it almost impossible to then have a season because now you’re telling a professional athlete, ‘For 60-to-80 days you’ve done no training,'” Dudley said.

League officials know that resuming the regular season after several weeks of limited training would be risky unless each team is awarded ample time of preparation, much like what’s already being offered in the fall with training camps. Dudley estimates that 70% of athletes don’t have a personal gym inside their home to utilize during this break.

“I’m not optimistic right now at all for a season to be honest with you,” Dudley said. “Unless something happens here in the next 30 days where they open back up the facilities. But how do they do that? Once everyone starts getting tested you’re going to hear more and more cases because it’s a very common thing to get.”

The NBA is discussing a plethora of different avenues to take as this unprecedented hiatus continues, with commissioner Adam Silver open to receiving suggestions from the league’s players, coaches, agents, executives and fans for the time being.

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • The Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have committed more than $4MM towards COVID-19 relief efforts, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). The money will assist game night employees impacted by the league’s postponement.
  • The Ballmer Group, founded by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have donated $1MM to community groups in Los Angeles to help during the coronavirus epidemic, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker is pledging $100L through Twitch livestreaming to support non-profits that best serve the needs of the most vulnerable in the community, the team announced in a press release. Phoenix Suns Charities will match Booker’s initial donation, the release adds.
  • Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell have teamed up with the Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital, the team announced (Twitter link). The funds will support childcare for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

Dwight Powell Undergoes Achilles Tendon Surgery

Mavericks center Dwight Powell underwent surgery to repair the rupture of his right Achilles tendon on Monday, according to a team press release.

Powell suffered the season-ending injury against the Clippers on January 21. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bob Anderson in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the release adds.

There is no timetable for his return. It’s uncertain whether he’ll be ready for the start of the 2020/21 season, since recovery from an Achilles tear can take upwards of a full calendar year.

The former second-round pick appeared in 40 games, including 37 starts, this season. He averaged 9.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG in 26.5 MPG.

The Mavericks fortified their frontcourt by acquiring Willie Cauley-Stein from the Warriors over the weekend.

And-Ones: 2020 Draft, Powell, Trade Market, Reed

A trio of guards — Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony — top The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s latest draft board. Another guard, 18-year-old Killian Hayes, made the biggest move among the top 20 prospects. Hayes, who is playing in Europe, jumped from No. 16 to No. 7.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, the Spurs’ Lonnie Walker and the Celtics’ Robert Williams are among five buy-low trade targets for teams seeking to fortify their benches, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury was not only a major setback for the Mavericks but also Team Canada, Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada notes. Powell was expected to be a foundation piece for Canada’s Olympic push and his size, smarts, and athleticism will be hard to replace, according to Grange.
  • Veteran center Willie Reed has signed with the G League and returned to the Salt Lake City Stars, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Reed, 29, was playing in Greece but parted ways with Olympiacos earlier this month.

Western Notes: Vanderbilt, Burks, Drummond, Howard

Nuggets reserve forwards Jarred Vanderbilt and Vlatko Cancar could be the beneficiaries of Mason Plumlee‘s misfortune, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Plumlee will be out 2-4 weeks with a foot injury. Vanderbilt, a 2018 second-round pick, had played in 13 G League games and four with the NBA club this season. Cancar had appeared in seven Nuggets games entering Wednesday’s action.

“Just find ways, that’s our biggest challenge right now,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of Plumlee’s injury. “Don’t waste an ounce of energy on the guys that can’t play, let’s figure out who can play and go out there, fight and give ourselves a chance.”

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Alec Burks is the Warriors’ most valuable trade chip and the team is likely to make at least one deal before February’s deadline, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. The versatile wing, who scored 33 points on Monday, is making just $2.32MM this season. Several teams in recent weeks have expressed interest in Burks, according to Poole.
  • Detroit’s Andre Drummond, Sacramento’s Nemanja Bjelica, Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love and San Antonio’s Jakob Poeltl are potential trade targets for the Mavericks, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News writes. The Mavs are seeking help in the wake of Dwight Powell‘s season-ending injury.
  • In an unusual decision for a player of his age, Dwight Howard has decided to participate in the Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star weekend, according to a league press release. Howard, who has turned into a valuable member of the Lakers’ bench, participated in three previous dunk contests early in his career but hasn’t been in one since 2009.

Mavs Confirm Ruptured Achilles For Dwight Powell

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell has suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon, the team announced in a press release. When Powell left Tuesday’s game with an Achilles injury, there was a fear that it would be a season-ending tear, and tests today confirmed as much.

According to the Mavs, Powell is currently weighing surgical options and updates will be provided as appropriate. It’s safe to say the 28-year-old will miss the rest of this season, and there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready to go for the start of the 2020/21 campaign, since recovery from an Achilles tear can take upwards of a full calendar year.

It’s a tough blow for the Mavericks, who were leaning heavily on Powell as their starting center alongside power forward Kristaps Porzingis. The former second-round pick has averaged 9.4 PPG and 5.7 RPG with a .638 FG% and solid interior defense in 40 games (37 starts) for Dallas this season. His 26.5 minutes per contest represented a career high.

The Mavs have some assets that could be used in a trade to acquire another center if they want to find a short-term fix. Those assets include a pair of 2020 second-round picks – including the Warriors’ second-rounder – as well as Courtney Lee‘s expiring contract and a trade exception worth nearly $12MM.

Dallas won’t be able to apply for a disabled player exception for extra cap flexibility. The deadline to request a DPE was January 15.

For now, the Mavs will likely rely on Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic to take on increased roles in their frontcourt, with forwards like Dorian Finney-Smith and Justin Jackson perhaps spending more time at the four.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.