Evan Turner

Injury Updates: Smart, Curry, Hill, Turner

Celtics guard Marcus Smart may be getting closer to a return, writes Marc D’Amico of NBA.com. Smart, who had surgery on his right thumb and has been sidelined since March 12, will be re-evaluated next week, coach Brad Stevens told reporters today.

“He’s doing everything in a workout that you can do,” Stevens said. “It’s just a matter of being cleared for live play.” He added that the Celtics intend to use Smart as soon as he is cleared for full contact.

Smart has been going through workouts with coaches, but is not permitted to do anything competitive until he receives medical clearance. Doctors are concerned with limiting the risk that his thumb will be re-injured once he returns to the court.

“I think it’s just a matter of you have to have that post-surgery healed enough to be able to take a hit even with a brace on it,” Stevens added. “That’s the hold up.”

There’s more injury-related news to pass on:

  • The Warriors welcomed Stephen Curry back to practice today, but have no intention to use him in the series with San Antonio, relays Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. “He’s coming along well, but don’t expect him to be Willis Reed tomorrow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. Curry, who has sat out the past four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee, completed several non-contact drills today without any setbacks. Doctors will re-evaluate him next weekend in hopes of a second-round return.
  • Cavaliers guard George Hill is questionable for Game 4 after experiencing back spasms Friday night, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Hill had an MRI today after playing just 30 seconds in the fourth quarter because of back soreness. Coach Tyronn Lue said veteran Jose Calderon will probably start Sunday if Hill can’t play.
  • Evan Turner was able to start today for the Trail Blazers after having a titanium plate placed in his right shoe to protect his big toe, tweets Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner suffered a bruise in Game 2 when he was kicked in the toe while chasing a loose ball.

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Embiid, Turner, Lauvergne

Donovan Mitchell will be a game-time decision for the Jazz tonight, according to Kyle Goon of The Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell, who stubbed a toe during the second half of the series opener with Oklahoma City, plans to go through warm-ups before deciding if he can play.

“If I’m limping or whatever, if I’m out there kinda trying to adjust and not playing right like my normal self, that will dictate it,” he said. “That was really my first time going at it since the game. … I’m waiting to see what I feel right before the game, so we’ll go from there.”

Mitchell, who is listed as questionable for tonight’s contest, was able to return to Sunday’s game after the injury, but has been limited at practice this week. He is Utah’s leading scorer at 20.5 points per game and posted 27 in the series opener.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • The Sixers are listing Joel Embiid as doubtful for Game 3, the team announced on Twitter. Coach Brett Brown said Embiid, who is recovering from March 31 facial surgery, was able to handle contact “quite well” in Tuesday’s practice, relays Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter link). “He did a little bit of contact,” Brown said. “Not much, but a little. Got up and down and scripted some plays. But really not much more than that.” Embiid will be evaluated again at tomorrow’s shootaround (Twitter link).
  • Trail Blazers guard Evan Turner is questionable for Game 3 after suffering a bruised toe last night against the Pelicans, reports Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Turner was kicked in his big toe during a scramble for a loose ball and was limping after the game. Jusuf Nurkic, who left Tuesday’s game with a leg bruise, is expected to be OK.
  • The Spurs are listing Joffrey Lauvergne as out for Game 3 because of “personal business,” with no explanation of what that involves, relays Cody McCrary of The San Antonio Express-News.
  • The Timberwolves will be without rookie center Justin Patton tonight because of a sore left foot, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Northwest Notes: Exum, Nuggets, Wolves, Turner

Point guard Dante Exum has played in just 72 games since his rookie year, having had to deal with injuries in each of the last three seasons. He’s healthy now, and playing regular backup minutes for the Jazz, but he’s on track for restricted free agency this summer, and one general manager tells Sean Deveney of The Sporting News that it may be worth rolling the dice on Exum despite his injury history.

“I think you have to look at him as a physically gifted guy who is only 22 (he turns 23 in July) and has already gone through the huge NBA learning curve,” the GM said. “There are guys in this year’s draft who will be 22 but aren’t going to have the kind of knowledge of the league he has, and don’t have the physical gifts.”

According to Deveney, one front office executive estimated that a two-year deal in the $18-20MM range might be enough to pry Exum away from the Jazz. That would be a steep price for a fourth-year player who has yet to deliver on the promise he showed heading into the 2014 draft, but overpaying a restricted free agent is often necessary to avoid having his old team match.

“He’s a gamble,” that same executive told Deveney. “But $10MM a year is not as big a gamble as it once was. He could show something here.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • With the G League’s regular season over, players on two-way contracts are no longer limited to 45 days of NBA service time. That’s good news for Nuggets two-way player Torrey Craig, who is free to travel with and play for the NBA squad, and hopes to make a strong impression down the stretch, per Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. “Just show them that I can be a consistent, impactful player on both ends of the court and just try to fit in wherever I can and play a role,” Craig said of his goals for the rest of the season.
  • The Nuggets had been hoping to get injured guard Gary Harris back on Friday, but he’s now doubtful for that game, and is aiming for a Sunday return, per head coach Mike Malone (Twitter link via Harrison Wind of BSNDenver.com).
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Jon Krawczynski examines Karl-Anthony Towns‘ future extension, Nemanja Bjelica‘s upcoming free agency, and more Timberwolves-related topics.
  • Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner was fined $10K for making an “inappropriate gesture” during Sunday’s game against Oklahoma City, the NBA announced in a press release.

Northwest Notes: Rose, Brewer, Turner, Faried

Appearing in his first game for the Timberwolves on Sunday, Derrick Rose played just seven minutes. While Rose says he’s not looking to “take someone’s spot” or step on anybody’s toes in Minnesota, he hopes to earn the opportunity to play a larger role down the stretch, as Steve Aschburner of NBA.com writes.

“I want [Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau] to see me and be like, ‘Damn, he’s still got it,'” Rose said. “I want him to count on me. I want to be held accountable. You know what I mean? I don’t just want to be, like, an average guy on the team riding along just to see how far they go. I really want to add.”

The Rose signing drew some criticism from observers who felt that the Timberwolves didn’t need more depth at a point guard spot that already features Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones, and Aaron Brooks. However, Thibodeau and the Wolves’ guards believe that the team’s backcourt depth make sense in today’s NBA, where many teams play more than one point guard at a time, says Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • Speaking to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, Corey Brewer discussed his decision to sign with the Thunder, his expectations for the team, and several other topics. “I looked at my situation and considered if I’d have a chance to play, the pieces that were already in place on the team and whether I’d have a chance to compete in the playoffs,” Brewer said. “I felt like going to the Thunder would be the best situation for me because of those reasons and I get to play with old college coach Billy Donovan, who I have a great relationship with.”
  • In an interesting piece for NBC Sports Northwest, Jason Quick takes an in-depth look at Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner, who continues to grapple with how his $70MM contract has impacted fans’ expectations for – and perception of – him.
  • Despite his lack of playing time this season, Nuggets big man Kenneth Faried appears to be staying positive, per Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Faried, who has been the subject of trade rumors for multiple seasons, will be entering the final year of his contract this offseason, so it will be interesting to see if he’s still on Denver’s roster six months from now.

Northwest Notes: Trail Blazers, Baldwin, Dieng

The Trail Blazers have jumped out to a hot start this season thanks in large part to their formidable second unit. Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest writes that the club’s bench is becoming one of the league’s best.

The catalyst, Quick writes, has been Evan Turner, the 28-year-old second-year Trail Blazer who’s posted 13.3 points, 3.8 boards and 4.3 assists per game. Between Turner’s production, his ability to minimize turnovers and chip in with solid defense, he’s making an early case to be included in the Sixth Man of the Year conversation.

Other player who have looked solid off the bench for the Trail Blazers include Ed Davis and Pat Connaughton. This season, 28-year-old Davis has emerged as a voracious rebounder (18.8 per-36) and Connaughton has chipped in with 10.8 points per game, including two three-pointers made per contest at a 50% clip.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets strike Gina Mizell of the Denver Post as the ideal landing spot for disgruntled Suns guard Eric Bledsoe. While the team has expressed a willingness to let Emmanuel Mudiay and Jamal Murray play through their mistakes, it’s understandable that they may be intrigued to make a play for Bledsoe now that he’s definitely available.
  • Second-year guard Wade Baldwin signed a two-way contract with the Trail Blazers this week but the team’s official website has announced that the guard has undergone surgery and is expected to miss six weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb.
  • The Timberwolves will need to figure out just how Gorgui Dieng fits into their plans now that they’ve revamped their roster, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune writes. After playing 32.4 minutes per game last season, the 27-year-old advanced stat darling has seen just 13.8 through five games so far in 2017/18.

Trail Blazers Notes: Turner, Morrow, McCollum

If preseason is any indication thus far, the Trail Blazers may benefit more from Evan Turner‘s versatility this year, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes.. The point forward brought the ball up the court off the jump in the club’s first exhibition game of the year.

One of the things is to take advantage of his ball handling and make it a little less taxing for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum,” head coach Terry Stotts said. “That’s something we want to do better this year than we did last year.”

Turner was heralded for his versatility and ability to handle the ball coming out of Ohio State but has settled into a role as an NBA swingman. If he can get comfortable initiating the team’s offense as a playmaker, it frees the club’s star backcourt up to work off the ball.

When it comes down to it you got two sharpshooters,” Turner said. “When I have to run the offense I’m passing to two of the better shooters in the world. So, of course, it makes it a tad bit easier and opens things up.

There’s more Trail Blazers news:

Knicks, Nets Have Inquired On Blazers’ Picks

The Trail Blazers are reportedly open to discussing their three first-round picks in trades that would allow them to move salary, and it appears they’ve received interest from a pair of New York clubs. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Knicks and Nets have inquired about Portland’s first-round picks.

As Deveney details, talks between the Blazers and Knicks are “ongoing,” with New York having asked about some combination of the 15th, 20th, and 26th overall selections. While it’s possible the Knicks could move down from No. 8, it’s more likely that they’d want to pick up a second first-rounder to add to that lottery selection. We heard earlier this month that the Knicks had discussed the possibility of acquiring a second first-round pick in a trade.

Meanwhile, the Nets have also inquired about Portland’s picks, and could be an intriguing trade partner. Allen Crabbe, who has a $19.33MM cap hit for 2017/18, is one potential trade candidate for the Blazers as they look to clear salary, and it was Brooklyn that signed Crabbe to that pricey four-year offer sheet last summer. If the Nets still have interest in Crabbe and are willing to take on his substantial contract and trade kicker, there could be a match there. In that scenario, the two teams would have to wait until after the one-year anniversary of Crabbe’s 2016 signing, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post noted when he explored the subject.

The Blazers currently have more than $133MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2017/18, and that number would rise further if they use their draft picks and sign those players, which is why the team is open to moving a pick or two to clear some salary and perhaps get out of tax territory. As I noted on Wednesday, Crabbe, Evan Turner ($17.13MM), and Meyers Leonard ($9.9MM) are among the candidates for a salary dump. Maurice Harkless ($9.66MM) could also be on the block, though he’d have a little more value.

Northwest Notes: Plumlee, Turner, Donovan, Faried

Jusuf Nurkic has been on a tear since his trade to Portland, but Mason Plumlee‘s teammates are happy to have him in Denver. While Plumlee and the Nuggets are still in the “getting-to-know-you phase,” as Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post puts it, Mason has grown more comfortable with each passing game.

“I was telling Mike (Miller) on the bench that this is collectively the best passing team I’ve played on,” Plumlee said. “It’s exciting. There is energy in the ball. I feel like the way guys play on this team is contagious.”

The Nuggets maintain a 2.5 game lead on the eighth seed; between his stints with the Nets and Trail Blazers, Plumlee has a combined 27 games of playoff experience. Plumlee’s style of play has already earned the respect of standout center Nikola Jokic.

“He just wants to win,” Jokic said. “He wants to do the stuff that some other players don’t want to do.”

More from around the Northwest:

  • After missing five weeks with a fracture in his right hand, Evan Turner is expected to make his return to the lineup tomorrow against the Hawks. According to Joe Freeman of The Oregonian, Turner returned to practice Friday after hour-long workouts on Wednesday and Thursday. A seventh-year veteran, Turner’s “brand of playmaking and solid perimeter defense” should provide a boost to the Trail Blazers‘ postseason push. “I’m done talking about the injury and worrying about it, because it’s already over with,” Turner said. “Knock on wood.”
  • Now two years into his NBA coaching career, Billy Donovan‘s name still surfaces when a college coaching job opens up. According to Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman, the Indiana Hoosiers were speculated to have interest in hiring Donovan; a rumor the OKC coach shot down. “I am totally happy here,” Donovan said. “I love it here. I love the guys I work with every day. I love our staff, the organization. As far as I’m concerned, my commitment is totally here and doing the best job I can while I’m here.”
  • Kenneth Faried is eager to return to form after suffering a debilitating back injury, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes. “The Manimal” missed 14 out of 17 games due to the injury, scoring 12 points over 18 minutes in his return to the court last night. “It was some of the worst pain I ever felt,” Faried said. “I’m just happy to be able to walk and jump and do the normal things like sit down normally. I’m glad to be able to do a light sprint or a jog and not have to worry about my back flaring up. I’m happy to be able to do those little things. You never know what can happen, and you take those for granted until something like that happens.”

Northwest Notes: Hill, Jazz, Faried, Turner

George Hill and the Jazz reportedly won’t reach an agreement on a contract extension on Tuesday, which is the last day this season that teams can renegotiate contracts. However, both sides remain interested in getting something done eventually, and agreed to resume discussions in the summer, per Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.

According to Jones, the Jazz are “prepared to do whatever it takes” to retain Hill beyond this season. However, they’ll have plenty of competition for the veteran point guard in the offseason. Sources tell Jones that Hill is expected to have as many as 12 teams looking to sign him in free agency, and Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com tweets that Hill has been advised he can get a better deal this summer than what Utah can offer now. In the offseason, rival teams could offer a four-year contract, while the Jazz could make a five-year offer. Today, Utah only could have offered a three-year extension.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • As the Nuggets traveled to Chicago, power forward Kenneth Faried stayed behind in Denver to receive treatment on his back, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone expects Faried to miss at least a week to 10 days.
  • Trail Blazers wing Evan Turner, who is trying to make his way back from a hand fracture, said today that he’s getting his cast removed on Friday and hopes to return to the court for Portland in a week or so, per Mike Richman of The Oregonian (Twitter link). The original recovery timetable for Turner, which was announced about three weeks ago, called for him to miss five or six weeks.
  • The Timberwolves passed on Buddy Hield to select Kris Dunn with the fifth overall pick last June, but Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau says he’s a “big fan” of the new Kings sharpshooter, as Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details. According to Thibodeau, he and the Wolves considered Hield and Jamal Murray before selecting Dunn —  Thibodeau believes “all three guys will have terrific careers.”

Northwest Notes: Stephenson, Turner, Blazers

Newly acquired Timberwolves guard Lance Stephenson squared off against his former team Friday and Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had nothing but positive things to say about the 26-year-old journeyman, writes Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune.

We had no problem whatsoever with him,” Gentry said regarding New Orleans’ decision to waive the then-15th man on their roster after a groin injury in November. “As a matter of fact, he probably raised our energy level as much as anyone. I think he’ll be fine. He’s playing for a great [Timberwolves] coach who loves energy and toughness and stuff like that.”

The Pelicans faced criticism at the time for parting ways with Stephenson as he recovered from the long-term injury but did so to free up space on their roster for Archie Goodwin (who has since been waived). Now Stephenson is back at full strength and on a 10-day contract looking to stick in Minnesota with a Timberwolves roster led by head coach Tom Thibodeau.

In two games with the Timberwolves so far, Stephenson has posted 3.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 16.0 minutes per game. He’ll make $72K with Minnesota over the duration of his 10-day contract, in addition to the $1.2MM he’s owed by the Pelicans.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The news that Trail Blazers swingman Evan Turner will miss 5-6 weeks comes just as the offseason acquisition was starting to find a rhythm in Portland, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. Turner’s absence could thrust Allen Crabbe and Moe Harkless into a bigger role defensively where Turner had been checking the opposing team’s most potent perimeter threat. In the same column, Richman also discusses the progress that Al-Farouq Aminu has made on the offensive end since being relegated to the bench.
  • With a 23-31 record, the Trail Blazers remain very much in the hunt for the final Western Conference playoff berth (Denver sits in the eight-seed at 24-29) but TNT analyst Kenny Smith is skeptical that they have enough resources. “I don’t think they have a lot of talent, honestly. I think that’s the problem,” Smith said. Molly Blue of The Oregonian relayed both Smith’s and Charles Barkley‘s reservations about the guard-heavy roster.
  • When budding Nuggets star Nikola Jokic dropped 40 points on the Knicks Friday, he became just the second Denver player to do so in Madison Square Garden, writes Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post. The last? David Thompson in 1978,