Evan Mobley

COVID-19 Roundup: Nets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Knicks, Wizards, Thunder

The NBA’s new guidelines regarding its health and safety protocols have resulted in several players being released from protocols this morning. The league and its players union agreed Monday to shorten the minimum required quarantine period for a vaccinated COVID-positive players and coaches from 10 days to six.

Here is the latest news on who has entered and cleared protocols today:

  • Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are out of protocols, as is LaMarcus Aldridge, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN. While Durant and Aldridge may be ready for Thursday’s game, Irving is still working his way back into game condition and remains ineligible to play in home games because he hasn’t met New York City’s vaccine requirement.
  • Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince has cleared protocols and will rejoin the team, but won’t play tonight against the Knicks, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Minnesota also gets back Anthony Edwards and Naz Reid (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers power forward Evan Mobley has cleared protocols and is set to reunite with the club today, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com tweets that the Cavaliers hope to have Mobley play in tonight’s game against the Pelicans, but will put him through his pregame paces first to gauge his conditioning level.
  • Unfortunately, just as one of Cleveland’s best players recovers, another will be absent. Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, enjoying a nearly All-Star-level season with Cleveland, has entered the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic.
  • Knicks rookie point guard guard Miles McBride has cleared protocols, the team has announced (via Twitter). New York adds that he has rejoined the team ahead of its game tonight against the Timberwolves.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem has entered the league’s coronavirus protocols, writes Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Heat point guard Kyle Lowry is also in protocols. Miami assistant coach Chris Quinn will return to the sidelines, Chiang adds.
  • Wizards forwards Rui Hachimura and Montrezl Harrell have entered the league’s COVID-19 protocols, joining six other Washington players, the team has announced (Twitter link). Hachimura has missed the Wizards’ entire season thus far due to personal reasons. Among the others, unvaccinated All-Star guard Bradley Beal is still in protocols and Wallace reports that his status is “questionable” prior to the Wizards’ upcoming contest against the Heat tonight. Center Thomas Bryant, wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and guards Anthony Gill, Aaron Holiday and Raul Neto are still in protocols.
  • Thunder rookie guard Josh Giddey has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Head coach Mark Daigneault has also entered the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, and will be replaced by assistant coach Mike Wilks starting with this evening’s contest against the Kings, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Wilks, a former journeyman NBA guard, suited up for four games with the Thunder during the 2009/10 season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman adds (Twitter link). Players Darius Bazley, Tre Mann, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl remain in the protocols for Oklahoma City.
  • Keep track of all the players currently in COVID-19 protocols through out our daily tracker.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

Five More Cavaliers Players Enter Protocols

12:28 PM: The five players who have entered the protocols are Allen, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Denzel Valentine and RJ Nembhard, the Cavaliers announced (via Twitter). Their game with the Hawks Sunday has been postponed due to the outbreak.

11:24 AM: Tonight’s game between the Cavaliers and Hawks is expected to be postponed, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It would be the third game of the season to be called off, following the Bulls’ games this week against the Pistons and Raptors.

11:21 AM: Center Jarrett Allen is among the five players being placed in the protocols, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Allen has been among the reasons for Cleveland’s turnaround, averaging 16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 28 games.

10:30 AM: Five Cavaliers tested positive for COVID-19 today and there are concerns that the team may not have eight available players for tonight’s game in Atlanta, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Cleveland is already without Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro, who both entered the protocols this week.

Most players who would be eligible to join the team under the hardship provision are currently in Las Vegas for the G League Showcase, explains Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Travel issues would make it difficult for any of them to be in Atlanta by game time.

The Cleveland players haven’t been identified yet, but because they tested positive, they will have to spend 10 days in the protocols unless they can submit two consecutive negative tests for the virus at least 24 hours apart. The Cavaliers, one of the season’s early surprises with a 19-12 record, are scheduled to play four times in the next 10 days, including tonight’s game.

Follow all the latest COVID-19 updates in our daily tracker.

Evan Mobley, Marcus Morris, Miles McBride Enter Protocols

Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley (Twitter link), Clippers forward Marcus Morris and Knicks guard Miles McBride (Twitter link) have all entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, according to their respective teams. All three updates were released on Saturday morning.

Mobley, Morris and McBride join a growing list of players in the league’s protocols. A total of 58 players are currently waiting to return, according to our tracker. Assuming the trio tested positive for COVID-19, they’ll be out for at least 10 days unless they register consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

Mobley, 20, is currently enjoying a stellar rookie season. In 25 games, he’s averaged 13.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 33.6 minutes, starting in every one of his contests.

Morris, an 11-year veteran, is one of many Clippers players on the team’s injury report for Saturday’s game against Oklahoma City, but he’s the only player listed out due to the protocols.

McBride shined in the Knicks’ 116-103 win over Houston on Thursday, recording 15 points, nine rebounds and four steals as a starter. New York now has six players in the protocols.

Injury Notes: Mobley, Bryant, Middleton, Luka, Z. Collins

No. 3 overall pick Evan Mobley missed Wednesday’s contest for the Cavaliers with a sore hip, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In a follow-up tweet, Fedor cites a source who says Mobley sustained the injury in Miami on Dec. 1 after a hard fall. According to Fedor, the team has been managing and treating the injury, but Mobley’s pain has lingered.

Fedor notes Mobley wanted to play against Houston on Wednesday, but the day off will allow him extra rest ahead of the team’s upcoming road trip, which starts Saturday at Milwaukee. The Cavs beat the Rockets 124-89 in Mobley’s absence.

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. says center Thomas Bryant, who’s recovering from a torn ACL, is expected to make his debut sometime in January, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (via Twitter). Hughes notes that the team had previously mentioned December as a possible target for return, but apparently Bryant isn’t ready yet.
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer is hopeful that two-time All-Star Khris Middleton could return as soon as Friday, Eric Nehm of The Athletic relays (Twitter link). Middleton suffered a hyperextended knee on Monday and warmed up prior to Wednesday’s game.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was ruled out for Wednesday’s contest against the Lakers and will miss the team’s game at Minnesota on Sunday as he continues to rehab his sore left ankle, Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News relays. The Mavs lost to the Lakers in overtime, 107-104.
  • There’s no target date set for Zach Collins to return for the Spurs, writes Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. “Just whenever I’m ready, whenever I am feeling good,” Collins said at a charity event to promote youth literacy. “I haven’t played so long, conditioning and getting the rhythm back is where I am at right now.” Collins has had multiple surgeries on his left ankle, the latest being in June. He hasn’t appeared in a game since August of 2020.

Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant Named Players Of The Month

Two of the NBA’s early frontrunners for the 2021/22 MVP award have been named the Players of the Month for October/November. Warriors guard Stephen Curry has won the Western Conference award, while Nets forward Kevin Durant is the Eastern Conference winner, the league announced today (via Twitter).

Curry led Golden State to an 18-3 record in October and November, averaging 27.8 PPG, 6.6 APG, and 5.7 RPG with an impressive .452/.412/.943 shooting line in 20 games (34.3 MPG). According to the NBA (Twitter link), Curry beat out fellow Western nominees Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Paul George, Nikola Jokic, Ja Morant, and Karl-Anthony Towns for the award.

Durant, meanwhile, led the NBA in scoring in October and November, with 28.6 PPG. He also put up 7.5 RPG and 5.6 APG and shot .539/.389/.863 in 20 games (35.8 MPG). His Nets sit atop the Eastern standings with a 15-6 record. The other Eastern nominees for the award were Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LaMelo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, Tyrese Maxey, and Trae Young.

The NBA also announced its Rookies of the Month for October and November today, awarding that honor to Thunder guard Josh Giddey in the West and Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley in the East (Twitter link).

Giddey has immediately slid into the starting lineup for the lottery-bound Thunder and filled up the box score with 10.4 PPG, 7.2 RPG, and 5.8 APG in his first 20 games (29.4 MPG), though he struggled with his shooting efficiency (.391/.257/.654). Mobley, meanwhile, has been the most impressive of the rookie of the 2021 class so far, posting 14.4 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.8 BPG in his 17 games (33.8 MPG) in October and November.

The other nominees for the Rookie of the Month awards were Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, Davion Mitchell, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl in the West, and Scottie Barnes, Cade Cunningham, Chris Duarte, and Franz Wagner in the East (Twitter link).

Evan Mobley Expected To Return For Cavs On Saturday

The Cavaliers and Evan Mobley plan to have the rookie make his return from a right elbow sprain on Saturday vs. Orlando, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link).

Barring setbacks, Mobley will be back in Cleveland’s lineup earlier than anticipated. When he was diagnosed with an elbow sprain earlier this month, the Cavs announced that the big man would be sidelined for two-to-four weeks. That was just 10 days ago.

Mobley, who only has 15 NBA games under his belt, has already emerged as a key part of the Cavs’ game plan on both offense and defense. Even after going 0-for-11 from the floor in the November 15 game in which he sustained his elbow injury, Mobley has impressive averages of 14.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.6 BPG in 33.7 minutes per contest. The Cavs, who have lost all four games he has missed, have a 99.6 defensive rating when the 20-year-old plays, compared to 109.7 when he sits.

Still, it seems safe to assume Cleveland wouldn’t be rushing Mobley back into the lineup if he and the team weren’t both fully confident that he’s ready. While the 9-10 Cavs certainly want to end their five-game losing streak and re-enter the playoff picture, Mobley is a long-term centerpiece for the club, which wouldn’t risk his health to bring him back a little ahead of schedule.

And-Ones: Ferrell, Red Sox Owners, Mobley, Allen

Former NBA guard Yogi Ferrell has left Greece’s Panathinaikos in order to seek a better opportunity, per Stavros Barbarousis of EuroHoops.net. Ferrell was unhappy with his limited role — he was averaging just eight minutes in five EuroLeague games. The 28-year-old point guard was waived by the Clippers in September after spending the last five years in the NBA.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Fenway Sports Group wants to buy an NBA team once its acquisition of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins is completed, Axios’ Dan Primack reports. FSG has been buying marquee franchises in different geographic markets. It not only owns the Boston Red Sox, it also has also acquired a NASCAR team and the Liverpool F.C. soccer club. Additionally, it has an investment in Spring Hill Group, a content production firm co-founded by LeBron James.
  • Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley tops ESPN’s first rookie power rankings this season. Writer Mike Schmitz ranks the Raptors’ Scottie Barnes and the Pistons’ Cade Cunningham second and third, respectively. Mobley is currently out due to an elbow injury.
  • Tony Allen has asked the Grizzlies to postpone his jersey retirement until next season, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Allen is currently dealing with federal charges for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar health insurance fraud scheme. Allen’s jersey retirement was scheduled for January 28.

Central Notes: Carlisle, Allen, Markkanen, Mobley, COVID

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle delivered a wake-up call by benching the team’s starters against Charlotte on Friday, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes. Carlisle pulled his opening group with eight minutes left in the third quarter, clearly unhappy with the way they were playing.

Indiana’s reserves then closed a 25-point deficit and nearly took the lead, but Charlotte managed to hang on for a 121-118 win. Carlisle’s decision led to the Pacers giving a better effort on Saturday in a 111-94 victory.

“Energy and effort, you gotta bring it every night,” star big man Domantas Sabonis said. “It’s a long season, a lot of games, and sometimes it’s hard to bring it. But it has to be a collective group, not (just) one or two guys can bring it because then the defense breaks down or on offense someone’s not committed to what we’re doing. (Saturday) felt like everybody was committed and good results showed.”

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Cavaliers big men Lauri Markkanen and Jarrett Allen are set to return on Monday against the Nets, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Markkanen has missed nine games due to the league’s health and safety protocols, while Allen has missed three due to an illness. Cedi Osman (back) and Lamar Stevens (ankle) are doubtful for the contest, Fedor adds.
  • Speaking of the Cavaliers, the team plans to be cautious with rookie Evan Mobley in his recovery from a sprained elbow, Fedor writes in a story for Cleveland.com. Mobley is making progress, but he was given a two-to-four-week timetable just under a week ago. In 15 starts this season, the 20-year-old has averaged 14.6 points, eight rebounds and 33.7 minutes.
  • Matt Sullivan of RollingStone.com examines the secret COVID outbreak that caused fear within the NBA, Bucks and Suns during last season’s Finals. The series still went on as planned, with Milwaukee winning the championship in six games.

Evan Mobley Out 2-4 Weeks With Elbow Sprain

11:45am: Mobley will miss two to four weeks, the team announced in a press release. According to the Cavs, today’s MRI confirmed the diagnosis of a right elbow sprain and Mobley will undergo treatment and rehabilitation.

8:03am: Cavaliers big man Evan Mobley left Monday’s loss to Boston in the second half due to an injury that has been diagnosed as a sprained right elbow. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, Mobley will undergo an MRI on Tuesday morning to determine the severity of the ailment.

Mobley, 20, has been perhaps the NBA’s most impressive rookie during the first month of the season, averaging 14.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 1.6 BPG in 15 games (33.7 MPG).

Although Jarrett Allen (illness), Kevin Love (health and safety protocols), and Lauri Markkanen (health and safety protocols) all remain day-to-day, the Cavs’ frontcourt is relatively deep overall. Still, losing Mobley for an extended period would be a major blow to a team that’s off to a surprisingly good start at 9-6.

Fedor writes that the organization is “holding its breath” and hoping that today’s MRI won’t reveal any sort of significant injury. For what it’s worth, the No. 3 overall pick was able to remain in the game after suffering the injury late in the third quarter on Monday — he didn’t exit for good until early in the fourth.

Central Notes: Mobley, Garland, Rubio, Holiday, McConnell

Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley and third-year shooting guard Darius Garland have developed strong chemistry in the early part of a surprisingly successful 2021/22 season, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. At 9-5, Cleveland is currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. According to Fedor, the duo’s chemistry extends beyond the hardwood too, as they frequently grab dinner together during road trips.

“They’re dynamic together,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “They put a threat on the floor, where it’s two-sided and it’s in a lot of space. Teams can’t really pick their poison in that. Both are such good playmakers, you’ve got a tough decision to make.”

“I enjoy it a lot,” Mobley said of his on-court fit with his Cavaliers teammate. “We always know where each other [is] on the floor. He knows where I want the ball and then vice versa. I feel like every game, we keep getting better. He does a great job throwing lobs as well. That lob today, that was tough.”

Both players were high lottery picks. The seven-foot Mobley, an early Rookie of the Year favorite, was the third pick out of USC this season, while the 6’1″ Garland was the fifth pick in the 2019 draft out of Vanderbilt.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • New Cavaliers point guard Ricky Rubio, thrust into a starting role due to the absence of incumbent Collin Sexton, has proven to be a game-changing veteran this year, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com“He’s got the heart and grit and level of competition that isn’t matched many places,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “There is something special about him when it comes to impacting winning. He doesn’t have to shoot it great. He doesn’t have to get the stats or numbers. But he somehow impacts winning no matter when he’s on the floor.”
  • Pacers swingman Justin Holiday has found a fit with the team coming off the bench, writes James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle spoke highly of Holiday’s willingness to accept a bench role with Caris LeVert back in the starting lineup. “Justin’s certainly a very good player as a starter in this league, but it’s better for us if we can have him coming off the bench,” Carlisle said. “He’s a real professional at doing that. He knows how to get into the game, he’s got the right mindset and experience for it, he’s just a total team guy.” Boyd notes that, off the bench, Holiday is averaging 12.8 PPG on 49.1% shooting from the field and 44.4% from long range. In his eight contests as a starter, Holiday has averaged 7.0 PPG while connecting on just 32.3% of his looks from the floor and 29.8% of his efforts from deep.
  • Pacers reserve point guard T.J. McConnell is relishing his life as a bit of a bench pest with the Pacers, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. McConnell has planted real roots in town after signing a four-year extension worth up to $35.2MM with the club in the offseason. “He’s like a little irritant,” Sixers head coach Doc Rivers remarked on McConnell. “He’s just solid, high IQ. There’s a bunch of guys that play that role in our league and they all are tough, they’re pesky, but they’re good. They’re more than just a pain, they’re actually good players.”