Dwight Powell

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.”

Mavs Expected To Have Enough Players For Wednesday’s Game

4:43pm: The four Dallas players listed below (Kleber, Richardson, Finney-Smith, and Brunson) and center Dwight Powell, will miss the Hornets game on Wednesday due to the health and safety protocols, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (via Twitter).

Since reports have suggested that four Mavs players have returned positive COVID-19 tests, it seems safe to assume that all but one of those five players tested positive.

On the plus side, Mavericks center Kristaps Porzingis has been listed as probable for tomorrow’s contest in Charlotte, per Stein.

4:00pm: The Mavericks‘ Monday game vs. New Orleans had to be postponed by the NBA because the league was conducting a contact tracing investigation following a positive coronavirus test and wouldn’t be able to clear enough Dallas players in time for tip-off.

However, despite the fact that four Mavericks players have reportedly registered positive COVID-19 tests, it sounds like there’s a good chance Wednesday’s game with the Hornets will be able to take place as scheduled.

Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press reports (via Twitter) that the Mavs’ team plane took off for Charlotte this afternoon, while Marc Stein of The New York Times says (via Twitter) that Dallas is expected to have 12 players available for tomorrow’s game.

The Mavs have a full 17-man roster, so if they anticipate having 12 players available, that would suggest that only one additional player – besides the four who reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus – will remain tied up in the league’s contact tracing protocols.

We should get more clarity on the availability of Mavs players when the team releases its injury report for Wednesday’s game. While we don’t know exactly which four players tested positive for the coronavirus, reports have suggested that Maxi Kleber was among them. Josh RichardsonDorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson were all self-isolating as of Friday, so it’s possible that one or more players from that trio also tested positive.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Pelicans, Powell, White

Headlines about James Harden in recent weeks have been focused on trade possibilities, COVID-19 protocols, and high-profile partying, but the Rockets star insists he’s focused on the new season, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston will be the last team to start its season tonight after Wednesday’s scheduled opener was postponed because the Rockets didn’t have the NBA minimum of eight available players.

“We got a good opportunity,” Harden said. “Starting my 12th year in this league. I’m excited for it. … To get out here playing, never want to take playing basketball for granted. So, I’m excited for tonight’s game.”

The Rockets haven’t played a game since the preseason ended nine days ago and they haven’t practiced since Tuesday because so many players are sidelined for coronavirus-related reasons. Harden acknowledges the challenge of trying to compete with half a roster.

“We’re missing three players in our rotation that play heavy minutes for our team, that are big pieces for our team,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for guys to step up and play big minutes. We’ve been training for it. We’re ready for it.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Pelicans are just two games into their season and depth already looks like an issue, observes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New coach Stan Van Gundy used his top seven players for 227 of the 240 minutes in Friday’s loss to Miami. “I haven’t given anybody a chance,” he admitted after the game. “That’s on me.”
  • Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is excited to have center/power forward Dwight Powell available again after he underwent Achilles tendon surgery in January, tweets Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Powell played a combined 41 minutes in Dallas’ first two games. “I just know that for a 6’10” guy that went through that situation he’s done a remarkable job with rehab and all those kinds of things,” Carlisle said. “He’s an amazing guy.”
  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters tonight that guard Derrick White is making progress with rehab work and “should return soon” after having offseason toe surgery, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). White signed a four-year extension earlier this week.

Mavs Notes: Richardson, Brunson, Powell, Crowder, Barea

We heard prior to the offseason that the Mavericks would be prioritizing adding toughness to their roster this fall, and head coach Rick Carlisle confirmed as much this week, telling reporters that the club sought players with an “edge” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News). The Mavs view Josh Richardson as one player who fits that bill.

I don’t really take well to my brothers being messed with,” the former Sixer said on Tuesday when asked about the toughness he brings to the club (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).

Beyond his willingness to play with an “edge,” Richardson also appealed to the Mavs for a handful of other reasons, as Carlisle explained.

He’s a high-level defensive player, which is something that we needed,” said the Mavs’ head coach (Twitter link via Townsend). “We’ve been looking for a guy who can guard point guards and add scoring off the ball. … He’s a guy from afar who I’ve always thought would be a great fit with Luka Doncic.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • After missing the end of last season due to a shoulder injury, reserve point guard Jalen Brunson said on Wednesday that he’s “100%” and ready to go, tweets Caplan.
  • Dwight Powell (Achilles) said on Wednesday that he’s also a “full go” for the 2020/21 season. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Powell will likely open the year as the Mavericks’ starting center with Kristaps Porzingis sidelined.
  • During an appearance on Burns & Gambo in on Arizona Sports 98.7 (audio link via Nick Angstadt of Locked on Mavs), Jae Crowder said that he turned down more money from the Mavericks to sign with the Suns, since he envisions a bigger role for himself in Phoenix. It’s not clear if Dallas was offering Crowder – who signed a three-year, $29MM deal – more money in 2020/21 or more money overall. The latter seems unlikely, since the Mavs appear to be preserving their 2021 cap room, but they would’ve needed to sign-and-trade for Crowder to top the Suns’ mid-level offer.
  • Carlisle said on Tuesday that the Mavericks wanted to bring back J.J. Barea due to his experience, leadership, and ability to command respect in the locker room (Twitter link via Caplan).
  • In case you missed it, Doncic became the first player to have a rookie scale team option for the 2021/22 season exercised.

Kristaps Porzingis To Miss Start Of 2020/21 Season

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis, who underwent surgery last month to repair the meniscus in his right knee, won’t be ready for the start of the 2020/21 season, president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said today during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas.

“We’re going to make sure that that’s 100 percent before we put him out there, so that’s going to be into the season before we are able to have him join us,” Nelson said, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

Nelson told ESPN that the Mavs are targeting January 1 as the date when Porzingis would be cleared to begin on-court activities. The 25-year-old will need some time to get up to speed after resuming basketball activities, so he may end up missing the first few weeks of the shortened season.

Porzingis suffered his knee injury in Game 1 of this year’s playoffs against the Clippers, though he was able to play two more games after that and the team didn’t announce the diagnosis of a torn meniscus until after Game 5.

Health problems have been an issue for Porzingis throughout his NBA career — he has missed double-digit games in each of his five professional seasons and was sidelined for the entire 2018/19 season due to a torn ACL. When he has been on the court, Porzingis has been a standout contributor for the Knicks and Mavs. In his first full season in Dallas in 2019/20, he averaged 20.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG, and 2.0 BPG in 57 games (31.8 MPG).

Meanwhile, Nelson also addressed the health of Dallas’ other recovering big man during today’s radio appearance, telling 105.3 The Fan that Dwight Powell is expected to be able to participate at least in a limited capacity when training camp begins, as MacMahon relays.

“We’re not going to rush, we’re going to do it the right way, but we’re pretty optimistic that he’ll be able to join us out of the gates,” Nelson said of Powell, who is returning from a torn Achilles.

Western Notes: Powell, Bazemore, Holiday, Brown, Timberwolves

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell, who is signed through the 2022/23 season, is showing good progress as he rehabs from a torn right Achilles, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News reports. Powell, who underwent surgery in January, has no movement limitations. However, the closure of the Mavericks practice facility has created an obstacle to get on-court time. It typically takes an NBA player a year or more to return to action from an Achilles tear but the delayed start of next season should work in his favor.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors could consider adding one of their former players,  the Kings’ Kent Bazemore or the Pacers’ Justin Holiday, in free agency, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole breaks down the pros and cons of both players and concludes Holiday would be a better fit, since he has proven more durable in recent years. However, it’s also likely he’d cost more than Bazemore, Poole adds.
  • It’s unclear if former Sixers coach Brett Brown is a candidate for the Thunder’s opening but there is a strong connection to the front office, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. Brown worked with GM Sam Presti in the Spurs organization from 2002-07.
  • The Timberwolves mini-camp facilitated Jarrett Culver‘s development and Josh Okogie‘s playmaking skills, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. It also reinforced the value of forward Jake Layman, though he suffered a broken nose during the workouts.

And-Ones: Disney, 2020/21, AD Trade, Community Assist Awards

While appearing on NBA TV last week, league commissioner Adam Silver stressed that, though no player on the league’s restart campus in Orlando has tested positive for COVID-19 since July, the coronavirus remains a danger to the NBA’s remaining Disney World inhabitants.

“Nobody’s tested positive who lives on this campus, but we’ve had positive tests in our vicinity,” Silver said, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). “Every night … I am sort of (braced) for that call to say, ‘We have an issue.'”

There’s more from around the NBA:

  • In a conversation with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (video link) prior to last night’s Game 3 of the NBA Finals, Silver remarked that there’s no set deadline that the 2020/21 regular season must start by. “We love our fans and we want to bring them back into the arenas and we want to do it safely,” Silver said. “And so if there are advancements right on the horizon (related to coronavirus testing or treatment), that will be a reason to wait.”
  • ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wonders if the blockbuster summer trade that landed Anthony Davis in Los Angeles may wind up ultimately benefiting both the Lakers and their trade partner, the Pelicans. The move gifted the Pelicans with a treasure trove of draft picks, plus 2020 All-Star Brandon Ingram and intriguing young guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart. Pelton notes that the Lakers will be in good position to retain the role players that have helped bring Davis and All-Star teammate LeBron James within two games of the Lakers’ 17th NBA title.
  • The NBA has announced its 2019/20 Community Assistant award winners. All-Star Thunder point guard Chris Paul is joined by Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Bucks point guard George Hill, and Mavericks big man Dwight Powell. The award honors players who have made significant community impacts in the arenas of social justice and COVID-19 help this season. The NBA and Kaiser Permanente will donate $10K to a charity of choice for each of these five players.

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.