Emmanuel Mudiay

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Jokic, Oladipo

It wasn’t long ago when Emmanuel Mudiay was being touted as a key component of the Nuggets franchise. One year later, his future with the organization is uncertain, says Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post.

Over the course of the 2016/17 campaign, the second-year guard has seen his role in Denver shrink. In the eight games since the All-Star break, Mudiay has seen action just three times. It’s a precipitous drop for a 21-year-old once taken with the No. 7 pick in the NBA draft but an understandable one considering the stable of young talent on the Nuggets roster.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division.

  • The Timberwolves are running out of times to sneak into the Western Conference playoff picture, Jerry Zgoda of the StarTribune writes. With just 17 games left in the season, the Wolves will have to leapfrog three teams and make up 3.5 games in the standings.
  • After missing a pair of games with a flu, Nikola Jokic returned to action for the Nuggets. “I can still feel it in my chest, and my throat is a little sore when I start coughing,” Jokic told Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post. “It feels really good to be back.”
  • Though he missed six games resting his back, the time off helped Victor Oladipo in more ways than one, Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman writes. “It was amazing for my wrist, actually,” Oladipo said. “I’m not one to complain. It wasn’t 100 percent, but that rest kind of helped it out a little bit. It’s a lot better now.”

Northwest Notes: Mudiay, Thibodeau, Stephenson

The performance of Nuggets rookie guard Jamal Murray has made Emmanuel Mudiay expendable, writes Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Veteran Jameer Nelson has become the starting point guard as Denver pushes for a playoff spot, and Kiszla sees Murray as a better backup to both Nelson and Gary Harris than Mudiay is. That leaves little playing time for last year’s first-round pick, who may now be more valuable to the Nuggets as a trade chip. Kiszla would like to see the Nuggets pursue Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, but admits that Denver doesn’t have the pieces to make that happen. He also mentions Atlanta’s Thabo Sefolosha as a target, but not in a one-for-one deal for Mudiay.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tom Thibodeau’s new dual role as Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations leaves no time for a vacation during the All-Star break, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. Zgoda lists seven possible targets for Minnesota before Thursday’s trade deadline: Chicago’s Taj Gibson, Orlando’s Bismack Biyombo, Denver’s Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler, Cleveland’s Iman Shumpert, Phoenix’s P.J. Tucker and Philadelphia’s Nerlens Noel.
  • Lance Stephenson is looking at a two-week recovery from his Grade 2 ankle sprain, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis. Stephenson’s 10-day contract expired this weekend, and it’s uncertain whether the Timberwolves will be interested in signing him again once he has recovered.
  • The Jazz may add short-term salary to help them get above the cap floor, but they will be reluctant to take on long-term salary in any deal, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. Utah’s top priority this summer will be to re-sign Gordon Hayward, who will want a max contract with an annual salary in the $25MM to $30MM range. The Jazz also want to keep free agent point guard George Hill, who will demand about $20MM per season, and Rudy Gobert‘s extension will kick in next season, starting at more than $21.2MM next year. That ties up three players making more than $70MM, which limits Utah’s roster flexibility.

Pistons Rumors: Drummond, Jackson, Johnson

The Pistons have “quietly explored” the trade market for Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, two of their roster’s centerpieces, Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reports in his latest piece, which is a deep dive into the situation in Detroit. According to Lowe, the Pistons came away disappointed with what teams might be willing to offer for Drummond or Jackson, reducing the likelihood of either player being moved in the next eight days.

Still, while a Drummond trade remains an “extreme long shot,” a deal involving Jackson isn’t entirely off the table. Lowe suggests the Timberwolves, Magic, and Pelicans are among the potential suitors for the veteran point guard, if Detroit is willing to settle for a modest return. Per Lowe, Jackson’s value has “cratered,” and a player like Ricky Rubio is one of the few solid starters the Pistons could get in any trade package. Lottery teams seeking a long-term solution at point guard are unwilling to move their first-round picks for Jackson, and Detroit isn’t ready to simply dump him for a collection of expiring contracts.

In his attempt to find a potential trade partner for a Jackson deal, Lowe identifies the Magic and Nuggets, pointing to players like Elfrid Payton and Emmanuel Mudiay as possible trade pieces. However, while Mudiay is believed to be available, Denver doesn’t appear to have interest in Jackson. Lowe notes that Orlando is an “intriguing” possibility, since GM Rob Hennigan was in Oklahoma City’s front office when the team drafted Jackson.

Here’s more from Lowe on Jackson, along with a few other intriguing Pistons-related tidbits:

  • The Pelicans have kicked the tires on Jackson, but never engaged in serious talks, league sources tell Lowe.
  • According to Lowe, several Pistons players criticized Jackson during a December players-only meeting for his apparent lack of effort on defense. Drummond tells Lowe that the criticism “wasn’t cool,” since Jackson was coming off an injury and wasn’t yet 100%. However, both Drummond and Stan Van Gundy acknowledge that the team has struggled to adjust to Jackson’s presence on the court this year after finding a groove early in the season with Ish Smith handling the point.
  • According to Lowe, a fear that top free agents won’t come to Detroit has pushed the Pistons to acquire solid players on good contracts when they become available. Those players aren’t always a fit with Drummond and Van Gundy, which has contributed to some of the team’s roster issues.
  • Multiple teams, including the Spurs, made an effort to nab Stanley Johnson in a trade after Van Gundy publicly called out the second-year forward earlier in the season. Although the Pistons rebuffed those efforts, the team has been frustrated by Devin Booker‘s development in comparison to Johnson’s, since the draft room was “almost deadlocked” between those two players in 2015, says Lowe.
  • The Pistons are unlikely to make a major move until closer to the draft, since they want to make the playoffs and are reluctant to do anything that will adversely impact their odds of earning a postseason spot, says Lowe. The ESPN analyst notes that Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s pending restricted free agency will be an interesting case to follow this offseason, since the Pistons may have to shed a salary – perhaps Tobias Harris‘ or Boban Marjanovic‘s – if they need to match a max offer sheet for Caldwell-Pope.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Plumlee, Jazz

The deal that landed Mason Plumlee may not be the last one the Nuggets make this month, suggests Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. The reporter relays that his sources believe Denver could still move names like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari and even second-year point guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

After years of stock piling assets, the Nuggets have emerged as a playoff contender in 2016/17. Leading the charge for the franchise has been sophomore center Nikola Jokic. With Jokic at the helm and the club finally focused on building around him, the the team is in a position to deal some valuable building blocks in an effort to fortify their new core.

Kyler suggests that the emergence of Juan Hernangomez, too, could expedite a formal regime change in Denver. The Nuggets currently sit eighth in the Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Newly acquired Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic spoke with the media about his new home. “I think it’s the perfect place for me,” he told the media. “They need me, and I need them.” The 22-year-old also mentioned that he didn’t mind whether head coach Terry Stotts slotted him into the starting lineup or brought him off the bench.
  • The Nuggets don’t anticipate having any issues working Mason Plumlee into their rotation, writes Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects to seamlessly integrate the new big man, adding that Plumlee’s playmaking abilities should help the team’s offense continue to flow well when Nikola Jokic is on the bench.
  • The Trail Blazers will send $2.85MM to the Nuggets as part of the Nurkic/Plumlee swap, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders. That, Pincus says, explains why Denver included a first-round pick in their outgoing package. For more details of the trade, consider Mark Deeks of Give Me Sport‘s break down of the deal.
  • A Utah-based analytics firm will sponsor Jazz jerseys in 2017/18, but rather than plug the company’s own logo, they’ll promote that of a charitable organization generating funds for cancer research. The 5 For The Fight patch will be on Jazz jerseys for at least the first year of the organization’s three-year commitment with the team, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.

Community Shootaround: Denver’s Trade Chips

Despite a 22-28 record, the Nuggets find themselves within striking distance of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Staked to a half-game lead in the eighth seed, Denver has outperformed expectations behind a breakout season from Nikola Jokic.

As Mark Kiszla pointed out in a Denver Post column, the Nuggets have a decision to make: pursue a No. 7 or 8 seed, or sell off their assets by the trade deadline? Wilson Chandler has been critical of his role (or occasional lack thereof) under coach Michael Malone, making him a logical trade candidate.

Malone firmly denied Emmanuel Mudiay‘s availability via trade, but several Nuggets remain viable trade chips; particularly Danilo Gallinari and Jusuf Nurkic. As of late January, Nurkic was rumored to be available in a package deal with veteran forward Kenneth Faried.

We know Nuggets GM Tim Connelly has a history of trade deadline activity; here’s what we want to know as February 23rd approaches…

Who would you like to see the Nuggets shop at the deadline? Would it be worthwhile for Connelly to keep his team intact while pursuing a playoff spot? Which team would be the most logical destination for Chandler?

Let us know in the comments section!

Lowe’s Latest: Bledsoe, Knight, Nuggets, Mudiay

Eric Bledsoe is enjoying the best season of his NBA career so far in 2016/17, putting up career-best marks in PPG (21.6), APG (6.2), and several other categories. As Zach Lowe of ESPN.com writes, Bledsoe’s impressive season raises the question of whether the Suns should sell high on the veteran point guard or commit to him a part of the team’s long-term future.

Phoenix projects to have a top pick in a 2017 draft that will be loaded with point guards, and Bledsoe has undergone three knee surgeries already, so there’s a case to be made that the Suns would be wise to sell high on him. However, don’t count head coach Earl Watson among those who feels that way. “I can almost guarantee Devin [Booker] and Eric will be on the same team next year,” Watson said, per Lowe.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • As a parenthetical aside in his discussion of Bledsoe, Lowe writes that “nobody wants” Suns guard Brandon Knight. Knight has been mentioned more frequently than Bledsoe as a trade candidate, but if Phoenix hopes to secure a substantial return, it doesn’t sound like moving Knight will accomplish that.
  • The Nuggets are “quietly exploring” what sort of return they could get for a package of Emmanuel Mudiay and multiple picks, sources tell Lowe. The ESPN analyst isn’t sure the Suns would be a logical trade partner for Denver though, since Phoenix will have the opportunity to draft a point guard in the summer. Lowe adds that Denver is in no rush to move Mudiay.
  • The Suns would have to consider moving Bledsoe if the right team were to offer a “good wing or center, plus a high first-round pick,” according to Lowe. However, he adds that most teams are reluctant to move probable lottery picks at this time of year, when it’s still not clear where they’ll land in the draft.
  • Although there’s no indication that the two teams are discussing such a deal, and he acknowledges that there would be roadblocks, Lowe offers his favorite hypothetical Bledsoe deal, involving the Magic: Lowe’s proposal would see Nikola Vucevic, Mario Hezonja, and Orlando’s 2017 pick go to the Suns in exchange for Bledsoe and Alex Len. Per Lowe, the Magic front office remains “divided” on whether or not Elfrid Payton is the club’s long-term solution at point guard.

Nuggets Notes: Mudiay, O’Bryant, Williams, Nurkic

Nuggets coach Michael Malone isn’t concerned about point guard Emmanuel Mudiay’s sore back, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post reports. Mudiay has missed three consecutive games but Malone doesn’t believe Mudiay will be sidelined much longer. “The treatment he’s been getting has been helping him, and all of the results from the testing coming back don’t show that there’s anything serious,” he told Dempsey. “So, that allows you to take a deep breath and say it’s not a long-term thing.”

In other developments regarding the Nuggets:

  • Forward Johnny O’Bryant received a 10-day contract on Thursday because the club needs frontcourt depth in the short term, Dempsey adds in the same story. Darrell Arthur, who has a knee issue, is among the big men who are nursing injuries, Dempsey adds. “I was talking to [Nuggets GM] Tim Connelly that it would be great to have another big here, ready, insurance,” Malone said to Dempsey. “If we have to play him and suit him up, he’s played in an NBA game, he has a skill – he can step out and shoot the ball.”
  • Guard Mo Williams has cleared waivers, Marc Stein of ESPN.com tweets. The Nuggets claimed him for the second time on Monday because of salary floor implications. Denver will save over $1MM through its latest Williams transaction (Twitter links).
  • The Nuggets are trying to move center Jusuf Nurkic and could package him with Kenneth Faried to upgrade their backcourt, Sean Deveney of the Sporting News reports. Nurkic has drawn interest, in part because of his rookie contract, Deveney continues. But the Nuggets would either have to make it a multi-player swap, find a team below the cap, or involve a third team to make a trade work, Deveney adds.

Northwest Rumors: Mudiay, Thunder, Dieng, Jazz

Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay admits he plays better when he’s paired with Gary Harris, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays. In six games they’ve started together, Mudiay is averaging 19.0 points on 50% shooting overall. Without Harris, he averages 11.4 points on 32.5% shooting. “Me and him have a great feel for each other,” Mudiay told Dempsey. “That’s the person I’ve been playing with since Day 1. … That’s one of my best friends in the NBA. So, it is a comfort level there.”
In other news around the Northwest Division:
  • Thunder swingman Alex Abrines has made a strong impression on franchise player Russell Westbrook, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman reports. The Euro import scored 18 points, including five 3-pointers, against the Pelicans on Wednesday. Westbrook has taken note of Abrines’ shooting ability and work ethic, Dawson relays. “He works out every day, works on his game, and that’s the best part about him,” Westbrook told Dawson. “And it’s his first year, man. He’s gonna learn the ups and downs. There’s gonna be ups and downs throughout the whole season.”
  • Gorgui Dieng has become the defensive stopper for the Timberwolves, according to Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Coach Tom Thibodeau assigns Dieng to the opponent’s top frontcourt scoring threat. “I think he’s getting better with his team and individual defense. And he has the right mentality for it. He’s a defense-first guy,” Thibodeau told Youngblood. “And, a lot of times, he’s giving up size. He’s small for a center, and he ends up banging with those guys quite a bit. But he’s good fronting the post. He’s a multiple-effort guy. Very good at pick-and-rolls. So he sort of anchors our defense right now.”
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert‘s four-year, $102MM extension kicks in next season and he’s playing like an All-Star, as Jody Genessy of the Deseret News notes. Although head coach Quin Snyder has been reserved in his praise for Gobert, the fourth-year center has recorded nine straight double-doubles.

Western Notes: Parsons, Sterling, Gibson

Chandler Parsons returns to Dallas tonight, which will be his first visit since departing the Mavericks as a free agent this summer, and while the forward expects to be booed, he believes fan anger is misplaced, Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com relays. “Houston, I get it. I said some stupid stuff on the way out of Houston [after three seasons],” Parsons told MacMahon. “Dallas, I don’t understand. It’s like getting mad at somebody for getting in a car wreck and breaking their arm. Like, how in the world can you be mad at somebody for getting hurt? It makes no sense. That’s just so wrong to get mad at somebody for getting hurt, like they want to go through the rehab, want to go through the pain, want to go through the misery of not playing. I can never understand that aspect of it. So when it comes to Dallas, you’re going to get mad at me because Dirk Nowitzki decided to take less money to bring in a really good player and then unfortunately he gets hurt? That’s why you’re mad? Sure, boo.

While he maintains that his first choice was to remain in Dallas, Parsons is happy with his new team in Memphis, MacMahon adds. “I think it’s a perfect situation for me,” said Parsons. “I see so much potential that I can add to this team. It just kind of solidifies that I made the right decision.” Here’s more from out West:

  • Former Clippers owner Donald Sterling has reached a settlement with the NBA in his lawsuit over the $2 billion sale of the team to Steve Ballmer, Nathan Fenno of The Los Angeles Times reports. The suit was filed back in 2014 and alleged that the NBA, commissioner Adam Silver and others engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to remove him as owner of the team, Fenno adds. The details and value of the settlement were not released to the media.
  • Jonathan Gibson, who signed with the Mavericks earlier today, turned down offers to play in China while he awaited an NBA opportunity to materialize, Earl K. Sneed of Mavs.com tweets.
  • The Nuggets can’t afford to be patient with the disappointing play of Emmanuel Mudiay for much longer if the team hopes to show improvement in the win column this season, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post writes. “Let’s be honest, if there’s a situation where [Mudiay] is not playing well, or anybody else is not playing well, we have the depth to make changes,” coach Michael Malone said. “We want to win games. A big part of last year was culture and development. This year … if we’re healthy, we feel it needs to be about winning, as well, to get our fans back and to feel good about the direction we’re heading in.

Nuggets Exercise Options On Mudiay, Nurkic

The Nuggets, who exercised their rookie-scale option for shooting guard Gary Harris earlier today, have elected to do the same for Emmanuel Mudiay and Jusuf Nurkic, the team announced via press release. By picking up the third-year option for Mudiay, the team is now on the hook for his salary of $3,381,480 for next season and another $2,947,305 as a result of picking up the fourth-year option on Nurkic. Neither move is a surprise given the importance of the duo in Denver’s future plans.

Nurkic was drafted with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by Chicago and was acquired by Denver in the same draft-night trade along with Harris. The big has appeared in 94 games in his career, averaging 7.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.2 blocks in 17.6 minutes per game. The 22-year-old’s career shooting numbers are .435/.000/.628.

Mudiay was selected with the seventh overall pick of the 2015 NBA Draft. He played in 68 games, including 66 starts, as a rookie last season, notching averages of 12.8 points, 5.5 assists and 1.0 steals in 30.4 minutes per game. His slash line on the campaign was .364/.319/.670.

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