Facundo Campazzo

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Jokic, Campazzo, Barton

It has been six days since word broke that the Nuggets intended to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract. Denver has yet to officially move forward with that deal, but according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link), the club still has “significant interest” in adding the veteran center. Head coach Michael Malone discussed the possibility during a radio appearance today without making a commitment one way or the other.

“If (Cousins) becomes a member of this Nugget team at some point, obviously you’d be adding a terrific player,” Malone said (Twitter link via Harrison Wind of DVNR Sports). “I think his short stint in Milwaukee is proof of that. He went to the defending world champions and played lights out.”

For the moment, the Nuggets may not have a clear path to adding Cousins. They don’t have any players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, so they’re ineligible to sign a player to a 10-day contract using a COVID-related hardship exception. They also don’t have an opening on their 15-man roster.

Denver does qualify for an injury-related hardship exception, since Jamal Murray, Michael Porter, PJ Dozier, and Vlatko Cancar are all sidelined with long-term injuries. But James Ennis is already under contract on a 10-day hardship deal, so the Nuggets likely aren’t eligible to add another player until Ennis’ pact expires next Wednesday night.

As we keep an eye on the Nuggets’ roster situation and monitor their plans for Cousins, here are a few more notes out of Denver:

  • Michael Malone believes Nikola Jokic doesn’t get the credit deserves for his ongoing MVP-caliber play, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. “I think he is one of the more disrespected reigning MVPs that I can think of in terms of the attention,” Malone said this week, adding that Jokic’s lack of highlight-reel plays may undersell his impact. “… I mean, Nikola Jokic is not sexy. He’s just not. There is nothing about Nikola … his wife might disagree. But if you are a true student of the game, a coach, someone that loves the game being played the right way, then you appreciate him at the level that he should be appreciated at.”
  • Addressing what he called “nonsensical rumors,” Octagon Basketball Europe CEO David Carro Funes, who represents Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, said (via Twitter) that his client fully intends to remain in the NBA going forward. Campazzo, who played in Argentina from 2008-14 and Spain from 2014-20, will be a free agent at season’s end. He spoke last month about his commitment to continue playing in the NBA beyond his current contract.
  • Will Barton sustained a scary-looking injury on Thursday when he lost his footing on a drive and banged his head against Jusuf Nurkic‘s knee. Barton remained on the floor for several minutes, but eventually walked to the locker room under his own power and later returned to the bench. He should be OK going forward, writes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post.

Northwest Notes: Campazzo, Hyland, Bol, Dozier, Dort, Gobert

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo, who played professionally in Argentina and Spain from 2008-20 before arriving in the NBA, will be a free agent at the end of the 2021/22 season. However, Campazzo said this week that he has no intention of returning to Europe or to his home country to continue his career next year — his goal is to remain in the NBA beyond his current deal, despite playing a lesser role than he did internationally.

“My mind is 100 percent set on this, in the NBA,” Campazzo said, per David Fernandez Novo of AS.com (hat tip to RealGM). “This league demands the most out of you both physically and mentally.”

Campazzo, 30, has averaged 21.1 minutes per contest in 88 games for Denver since the start of the 2020/21 campaign and has moved up on the depth chart since Jamal Murray tore his ACL in the spring. So far this season, he’s averaging 5.7 PPG and 2.6 APG on .409/.362/.810 shooting in 23 games (19.0 MPG).

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets had Bones Hyland and Bol Bol available on Wednesday after the two players cleared their quarantine and exited the health and safety protocols, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets.
  • Nuggets swingman PJ Dozier underwent surgery to repair his torn left ACL this week, the team confirmed (via Twitter). Dozier, who has been ruled out indefinitely, is expected to miss the rest of the season.
  • Thunder wing Luguentz Dort met the starter criteria when he made his 23rd start of the season on Wednesday night, based on the NBA’s adjusted rules for 2021/22. Dort has a $1,930,681 team option for ’22/23, but if Oklahoma City picks up that option, he’d be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Turning down the option would allow the team to re-sign Dort as a restricted free agent in 2022. In that scenario, his qualifying offer would be worth about $4.87MM.
  • Despite losing to the Jazz by 32 points on Wednesday, Timberwolves guards Patrick Beverley and Anthony Edwards didn’t exactly heap praise on their opponents after the game. As Sarah Todd of The Deseret News relays, Beverley suggested that three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert isn’t guarding the best players on the court, while Edwards said that Kristaps Porzingis is a better rim protector than Gobert. “I don’t get why we couldn’t finish on Rudy Gobert,” Edwards said. “He don’t put no fear in my heart.” The Wolves and Jazz will face each other three more times this season, including twice more in December, Todd notes.

And-Ones: Buyouts, Hearn, Beauchamp, Morrison

In a piece for BasketNews.com, Donatas Urbonas explores how Real Madrid is able to secure such lucrative buyout deals for its players, such as Facundo Campazzo, Gabriel Deck, and Usman Garuba, among others.

The Spanish powerhouse made over 10 million Euros in buyouts in the last nine months alone, more than the total budget of Euroleague teams such as Zalgiris, according to Urbonas, who explains that because of its pedigree as a championship team, Real Madrid is able to attract top talent, but also institute their own conditions. There’s also the appeal of living in Madrid and the top-flight amenities the club is able to offer.

Finally, Urbonas writes that the team invests tens of millions in its youth development program, which is renowned for getting the attention of NBA teams, making the exorbitant buyouts a tradeoff of that exposure and unrivaled development system.

We have more from around the world of hoops:

  • Former Piston Reggie Hearn has signed with German team Fraport Skyline, reports Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (via Twitter). Hearn spent last season with the G League Ignite, averaging 3.9 PPG in just 13 MPG.
  • MarJon Beauchamp, a top-5o recruit in the class of 2020, has signed with the G League Ignite, reports ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. After COVID-19 disrupted his ability to train in San Francisco, Beauchamp enrolled in Yakima Valley junior college, where he averaged 30.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 4.8 APG per game while shooting 40% from three. Beauchamp joins a loaded Ignite team that may get even better, with top 2023 recruit Emoni Bates set to make his recruitment decision tomorrow.
  • Former Celtics assistant Scott Morrison has signed on to be the head coach of the NBL’s Perth Wildcats, per an NBL announcement. The deal will span three years. Morrison, who had spent the previous three seasons with the Celtics, reportedly interviewed for Washington’s head coaching job this offseason.

Ball, Edwards, Haliburton Head All-Rookie Team

LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton, Jae’Sean Tate and Saddiq Bey comprised this year’s All-Rookie First Team, the NBA announced on Thursday in a press release.

Ball, who was named Rookie of the Year on Thursday, led first-year NBA players in assists (6.1 APG) and steals (1.59 SPG) and ranked second in scoring (15.7 PPG) and rebounding (5.9 RPG) for the Hornets. Edwards, the No. 1 pick in the draft by the Timberwolves, averaged a rookie-high 19.3 PPG.

The Kings’ Haliburton ranked third among rookies in scoring (13.0 PPG) and second in assists (5.3 APG). Bey, the 19th overall pick, made a rookie-high 175 three-pointers for the Pistons. Tate, who went undrafted in 2018 and played in Australia last season, averaged 11.3 PPG and 5.3 PPG for the Rockets.

Ball and Edwards were the only unanimous First Team selections, receiving 99 of 99 potential First Team votes. Haliburton got 98, while Bey had 63 and Tate received 57.

Knicks guard Immanuel Quickley narrowly missed out on the top five, having earned 51 votes for the First Team.

Here are both All-Rookie teams in full, with their voting point totals notes in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

2020/21 All-Rookie First Team:

2020/21 All-Rookie Second Team:

Nuggets guard Facundo Campazzo (42), Magic guard Cole Anthony (40), and Warriors center James Wiseman (24) were among the players who just missed the cut. Nine other players received votes — you can view the full voting results right here.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Millsap, Campazzo, Porter Jr., Crowds

A trio of Nuggets players earned financial rewards when the team advanced to the conference semifinals. Likely Most Valuable Player award winner Nikola Jokic pocketed $500K, while Paul Millsap and Facundo Campazzo added $100K apiece to their bank accounts, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. The bonuses do not impact the team’s cap situation since they were considered likely before the season started, Marks adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Michael Porter Jr.‘s Game 6 performance confirms that he’s star material, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post opines. Porter scored 22 points in the opening quarter, which kept the Nuggets within striking distance. Though he only scored four more points the rest of the way, it was another step in his maturation process, Keeler adds. Porter is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason.
  • The Nuggets will be allowed bring in crowds at near full capacity for the second round of the playoffs, according to a team press release. Some seating areas will be unavailable due to NBA safety restrictions but the team can fill the arena to 90.7% capacity. All fans age 3 and older will be required to wear a face mask and complete a health assessment prior to entry.
  • Though the Nuggets surprised many people around the league by defeating the Trail Blazers without their starting backcourt, coach Michael Malone said the team has loftier aspirations, Mike Singer of the Denver Post relays. “Our goal coming into the season was not to get out of the first round,” he said. “We have much bigger goals.”

Northwest Notes: Brown, D-Lo, Campazzo, Edwards

With the Thunder now officially eliminated from play-in tournament contention, the rebuilding team appears open to developing some of its less-heralded young prospects. According to head coach Mark Daigneault, 6’6″ second-year shooting guard Charlie Brown Jr. will start and receive significant run while on a 10-day deal with the club, tweets Cameron Jourdan of the Oklahoman.

Brown inked a two-way deal with the Hawks after going undrafted out of St. Joseph’s for the 2019/20 season. So far with the Thunder, he’s averaging 16.0 MPG across three games.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The minutes restriction has been lifted for Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell, who will continue to come off the bench for Minnesota, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The Timberwolves are 8-7 since Russell returned to the lineup following a February left knee surgery.
  • 30-year-old rookie Nuggets point guard Facundo Campazzo recently explained to Mike Singer of the Denver Post why he was ready to try his hand at the NBA after spending several years as a star overseas. “I just wanted the opportunity,” Campazzo said. “I don’t know if my level can work here or my game can fit here, but I just needed the opportunity to try at least. I don’t want to finish my career and think, ‘OK, I didn’t try at least, you know?’” In 58 games with Denver (including 12 starts), the 5’10” guard is averaging 20.8 MPG, 5.7 PPG, 3.3 APG, 1.8 RPG, and 1.1 SPG.
  • The next step in the long-term evolution of the Timberwolves is for 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards to become a star, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “We know what [Karl-Anthony Towns] can bring to the table,” guard Ricky Rubio said. “We know what [D’Angelo Russell] can bring to the table. But Ant, he has to bring it every night. That’s the toughest part of the NBA if you want to be one of the best.”

Jamal Murray Undergoes Reconstructive ACL Surgery

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray underwent surgical reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the team announced in a press release.

The Nuggets did not release a timetable for his recovery, though the nature of the surgery suggests he’ll miss time next season as well.

Murray suffered the non-contact injury during the fourth quarter of Denver’s loss to Golden State on April 12. His knee buckled as he attempted to take off for a layup and he immediately fell to the floor in obvious pain, pounding the court with his hand. He eventually refused the wheelchair that had been brought onto the floor and hopped to the locker room without putting any weight on the leg.

The injury is a devastating blow to Denver’s championship aspirations. A year ago, Murray was Denver’s leading scorer in the playoffs, with 26.5 PPG on a scorching .505/.453/.897 shooting line in 19 games (39.6 MPG). He was averaging 21.2 PPG, 4.8 APG and 4.0 RPG this season.

The Nuggets will rely on Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris in Murray’s absence. They’ve won their first three games since Murray’s season-ending injury.

NBA Announces 2020/21 Rising Stars Rosters

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the pared-down nature of the NBA’s 2021 All-Star weekend, a Rising Stars Game showcasing the league’s top rookies and sophomores won’t be played this year.

However, the league has still announced the rosters for the event, via NBA Top Shot, naming the 20 players who would have been selected to participate if the game was taking place. Here are those rosters:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

The 20-man group includes eight rookies and 11 sophomores. The 20th player, Porter, made the cut as a sophomore since he missed his entire rookie season in 2018/19 due to an injury — this is technically his third year of NBA service.

Northwest Notes: Hill, Campazzo, Covington, Porter Jr.

Thunder guard George Hill‘s right thumb will remain in a hard cast for another week or two, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. Hill underwent surgery on February 2nd. He hasn’t played since January 24. In 14 games this season, all starts, he has posted averages of 11.8 points and 3.1 assists. Hill is a trade candidate with the Sixers among the teams reportedly interested in the veteran.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets backup guard Facundo Campazzo and rookie Markus Howard have been added to the team’s injury report due to contact tracing, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Both players are likely out through the All-Star break, though the Nuggets could appeal. Campazzo is doubtful to play against Chicago on Monday. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.3 APG in 16.3 MPG in his first NBA season.
  • Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, the NBA’s lone player from a Historically Black College and University, is expected to take part in the Skills Challenge prior to All-Star Game, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Covington attended Tennessee State is the only active player from a Historically Black College and University. The league is highlighting HBCUs on All-Star Weekend.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is establishing himself as part of a Big Three with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Singer writes in a separate story. The young forward is averaging 16.0 PPG and 7.8 RPG over the last six games and is focusing on trying to become a more complete player.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Campazzo, Hartenstein, McCollum

Following a 2-0 start, the Timberwolves have lost four straight games and are struggling to stay competitive without star center Karl-Anthony Towns available. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune details, head coach Ryan Saunders attempted to jump-start the club on Sunday by shaking up his starting lineup, inserting Juan Hernangomez and Ed Davis in place of Ricky Rubio and Naz Reid.

According to Hine, the plan was to help Russell establish some pick-and-roll chemistry with Davis, his former teammate in Brooklyn, and to reduce Reid’s minutes against Nikola Jokic in the hopes of avoiding foul trouble.

Jarrett Culver, playing the three instead of the four in the new-look lineup, had his best game of the young season, and Davis led the team in rebounding, but the Timberwolves still lost by 15 points and Hernangomez’s early struggles continued. Still, Saunders said after the game that he saw some positive signs from the fifth-year power forward.

“I did think he had some good defensive possessions. I thought that helped us,” Saunders said of Hernangomez. “His size and length helped us a little bit even though we got beat on the glass, I thought he was able to get his hands on a few. He had some good looks, missed a couple that he’ll usually make around the basket. So for that reason, I see progress with Juancho as well.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Former Real Madrid star Facundo Campazzo had looked relatively invisible in his first five NBA games, but he showed on Sunday why the Nuggets brought him over from Spain this offseason, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I thought this was the best version of Facundo Campazzo that you could imagine,” head coach Michael Malone said of the 29-year-old point guard, who had 15 points and three steals in Denver’s win over Minnesota.
  • Before he signed with the Nuggets as a free agent in November, Isaiah Hartenstein drew interest from the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pelicans, and Wizards, league sources tell Singer in a separate Denver Post story.
  • Typically a slow starter, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum has been excellent so far in 2020/21, having averaged 28.0 PPG with a .431 3PT% in six games. Jason Quick of The Athletic takes a look at what has fueled the hot start for McCollum, who said he’s motivated by wanting to secure a postseason berth without having to take part in the play-in tournament again.