Gary Harris

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Harris, Barton, Playoff Bonuses

Not only does Nuggets forward Paul Millsap want to reach the NBA Finals, he’d like to know what it feels like to defeat LeBron James in a playoff game, writes Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. When he was with the Hawks, Millsap faced James twice in the postseason and got swept both times. James is in Millsap’s way again as L.A. and Denver get ready to open the Western Conference Finals tonight.

“I told him, ‘Man, I tried to get away from you in the East,’” Millsap said about James’ move to the Lakers last season. “‘Then you came to the West.’ But finally, we’re at this juncture in the Western Conference Finals fighting to get to the championship game. He’s got several championships and I’m trying to get my first and I feel like this is my time to do that.”

Along with their shared playoff history, something else Millsap and James share is the ability to remain productive at age 35. James was an MVP finalist this year, while Denver coach Michael Malone said Millsap was the team’s “best player” during the regular season.

“You always have to have people like that, who set good examples, that you look up to,” Millsap said. “(LeBron) understands it. He wants to be the best. He wants to go out there and try to be the best every time he goes out there. So why not look at a guy like that who’s the same age and who’s doing really well in his career and in his life and take some of that with you?”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Gary Harris, who will be among the players responsible for slowing James down, gets his defensive skills from his mother, notes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Joy Holmes Harris was a star player at Purdue three decades ago and her influence can be seen in her son, who has been a difference maker since returning from an injured hip late in the first round. “We had all missed ‘G’ out there a lot, and so when he came back it was no surprise the boost he gave us on both ends of the court,” Michael Porter Jr. said. “We’re just glad he’s feeling good and is with us right now.”
  • The Nuggets aren’t optimistic that injured wing Will Barton will be able to join them for their playoff run, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barton left the Disney World campus August 19 to get a second opinion on a lingering knee issue, and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said there’s still “no timetable” for his return. “We’re not here without Will,” Connelly said. “He’s such a huge part of our team. He’s working his tail off to try to get right. We thought the resources that were available outside the bubble would be better suited to get him there. There’s no timetable, but even though he’s not here physically, he’s certainly here in spirit.”
  • Millsap and Harris picked up bonuses for reaching the conference finals, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Millsap received $200K and Harris got $100K.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Timberwolves, Nuggets

Damian Lillard‘s season came to an early end after he was diagnosed with a right knee sprain, which sidelined him for the end of the Trail Blazers‘ first-round series against the Lakers and forced him to leave the NBA’s campus for further evaluation.

Having undergone that re-evaluation, Lillard had the initial diagnosis of a “mild” sprain confirmed, according to Shams Charania of Stadium (video link), who reports that the Trail Blazers have no long-term concerns about their star point guard’s knee. He’ll be good to go for the start of next season.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Within a deep dive into the Timberwolves‘ draft decisions and offseason plans, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic says sources around the NBA expect president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas to “work the phones” to gauge the value of the No. 1 pick on the trade market. As Vecenie explains, that doesn’t mean the Wolves will move the pick, but the expectation is that Rosas doesn’t have a set timeline in mind for the club’s rebuild and will look to get as much value as possible out of the selection, whether that means trading it or selecting a player.
  • A handful of Nuggets players will get richer with a Game 7 win over Utah on Tuesday night, as Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. As Marks details, Nikola Jokic ($466K), Gary Harris ($350K), and Paul Millsap ($200K) will each receive bonuses if Denver advances to round two of the playoffs.
  • In case you missed it on Monday, we solicited your opinions and predictions on tonight’s Game 7 showdown between the Jazz and Nuggets. Our poll remains open, so be sure to make your picks for Game 7 before it tips off.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Harris, Trail Blazers, McCollum

Luguentz Dort has been celebrated for his defense on James Harden, but his shooting woes in Saturday’s Game 5 helped put the Thunder on the brink of elimination, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Dort shot 3-of-16 from the field as the Rockets gave him plenty of room and basically used five defenders on the other four OKC players. Coach Billy Donovan remains supportive of Dort and said some adjustments are needed.

“I think part of his growth is understanding when to shoot some, when to drive some, when to pass some, and he probably had a mix of a lot of those in the game,” Donovan said.

Dort has been a pleasant surprise in Oklahoma City, earning a starting job at midseason after signing a two-way contract last summer. He quickly emerged as an elite defender, but his offense was a concern all year as he shot just 39.4% from the field and 29.7% from 3-point range.

“I’ve got to try to find ways to kind of incorporate him and help him as much as I can,” Donovan added. “But a lot of it’s going to be found in the course of the game through movement, through ball movement and spacing.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will have shooting guard Gary Harris available for today’s Game 6 against the Jazz, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. It will be the first game in more than five months for Harris, who suffered a hip strain shortly after arriving in Orlando. He has made “significant progress” in workouts this week, Woj adds.
  • The presence of Damian Lillard prevents the Trail Blazers from thinking about rebuilding, observes Royce Young of ESPN. Still in his prime at age 30, the star guard always gives the organization a chance to be competitive, as he showed in Orlando before being injured. Young notes that as long as Lillard remains in Portland, the team will remain committed to building around him and CJ McCollum in the backcourt. He adds that management values continuity, and with Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside the only rotation players not under contract for next season, the front office views the team more as the Western Conference finalists from last season rather than the one that struggled to make the playoffs this year.
  • McCollum doesn’t expect to need surgery on the back fracture he played with in Orlando, tweets Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. He plans to rest for a couple of months and then resume normal basketball activity.

Injury Updates: Butler, Westbrook, Lowry, Beverley

The Heat have a week-long break after sweeping the Pacers in the first round, and the time off has given two players a chance to overcome injuries, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Jimmy Butler, who played Game 4 against Indiana with a strained left shoulder, and Jae Crowder, who has been dealing with a sprained left ankle, were both able to practice today.

“We had a couple of really good days of work and nobody was in a mood to work on Wednesday night or Thursday,” said coach Erik Spoelstra, who now has a fully healthy roster. “And that was the reason for this pause. We’ve been able to get a couple good days of work (Friday and Saturday). We’ll watch the (Bucks-Magic) game this afternoon and see what happens. Either way, our guys will be ready.”

There’s more injury news around the league:

  • Russell Westbrook will make his playoff debut for the Rockets today, but his minutes will be restricted, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Coach Mike D’Antoni said Westbrook, who has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with a strained right quadriceps, will be limited to 25-28 minutes in Game 5.
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry has been upgraded from questionable to probable for Sunday’s opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals, according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Lowry sprained his left ankle in the final game of the Nets series when he stepped on Chris Chiozza‘s foot. He was able to practice today, and Toronto coach Nick Nurse said he “looked OK.”
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley has been moved from doubtful to questionable for Sunday’s Game 6 against Dallas, tweets Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Beverley hasn’t played since the series opener because of a strained left calf.
  • Nuggets guard Gary Harris is listed as questionable for Sunday’s Game 6 against Utah, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). Harris is dealing with a strained right hip and hasn’t been able to play since the season restarted.

Injury Notes: AD, Rondo, Lillard, Westbrook, Lowry, More

Although he left Game 4 on Monday due to back spasms, Lakers star Anthony Davis is expected to be good to go on Wednesday and is being listed as probable on the injury report. However, point guard Rajon Rondo is still “banged up” and likely won’t play, per head coach Frank Vogel (Twitter links via Dave McMenamin of ESPN). Rondo is being listed as doubtful for Game 5.

Meanwhile, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who has already been ruled out for Game 5 due to a right knee sprain, is unlikely to return this series even if Portland can extend it by a game or two, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. According to Haynes, Lillard is currently unable to extend his right leg.

Here are more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said today that he still thinks Russell Westbrook could return in the first round, but it won’t happen on Wednesday, as the team has listed Westbrook as out for Game 5 vs. Oklahoma City (Twitter links via Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Raptors guard Kyle Lowry didn’t participate in practice on Tuesday and is considered day-to-day for the time being, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe, who tweets that Lowry’s status for Game 1 vs. Boston on Thursday remains uncertain.
  • Nuggets guard Gary Harris (hip), who was previously listed as questionable for Game 5 against Utah tonight, has been downgraded to out, the team announced (via Twitter). With Denver trailing 3-1 in the series, it’s possible Harris won’t return this season.
  • Heat wing Jimmy Butler has been battling a left shoulder strain but doesn’t expect the issue to limit him going forward, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN.com. Head coach Erik Spoelstra, who referred to it as a “soft-tissue” injury, said no MRI is scheduled for now.
  • Magic forward Aaron Gordon (hamstring) appears unlikely to be ready for Game 5 on Wednesday, according to head coach Steve Clifford, who says that Gordon is still unable to sprint up and down the court and the team doesn’t want to risk him suffering a more serious injury (Twitter links via Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel).

Injury Updates: Doncic, Beverley, Westbrook, Harris, Green

The Mavericks are listing star guard Luka Doncic as questionable for Game 4 against the Clippers, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. In today’s session with reporters, coach Rick Carlisle said Doncic, who left Friday night’s contest with a sprained left ankle, might be a “game-time decision” for Sunday.

“I wish I knew right now, but I don’t,” Carlisle said. “We have good depth to play without him, but he’s one of the best players in the world, so if we have to play without him, it’s a big loss.”

Doncic was scheduled to have an MRI on the ankle today, but the test was delayed because of an issue with the machine. He briefly returned to Game 3 after suffering the injury in the third quarter, but was removed again after about three minutes.

“I could run,” he told reporters, “but I couldn’t push off my left leg.”

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley is listed as doubtful for Sunday, according to a tweet from the team. If he can’t play, it would mark the eighth game in the past nine that Beverley has missed with a strained left calf.
  • Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni continues to cite improvement from Russell Westbrook as he recovers from a strained quadriceps muscle, but hasn’t speculated on when he might return, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Westbrook’s running has been limited to an alter-G device that restricts how much of a player’s weight is placed on the treadmill. D’Antoni said Westbrook is “doing better, as expected. Every day he does a little bit more.”
  • Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris has been upgraded to doubtful for Game 4, raising hopes that he might soon be ready to play for the first time in five months, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. A right hip strain has kept Harris out of action since the team arrived in Orlando.
  • The Celtics announced that small forward Javonte Green will miss his second straight game Sunday with a sprained right knee (Twitter link). Green’s court time in the playoffs has been limited to a brief appearance in Game 2.

Injury Updates: Dort, Harris, Beverley, Magic, Rondo, Hayward

After initially being ruled out for Game 2 vs. Houston, Thunder wing Luguentz Dort was updated to questionable and is now being considered available, head coach Billy Donovan confirmed today (Twitter link via Royce Young of ESPN). One of Oklahoma City’s top defenders, Dort will look to help slow James Harden.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Nuggets guard Gary Harris will remain sidelined for Game 3 against Utah, but head coach Michael Malone believes Harris is moving in the right direction, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. While he acknowledged that it’d be great to have Harris back during Denver’s first-round series if possible, Malone added that the team doesn’t want to put pressure on him by setting a specific timetable.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said he doesn’t have a sense of the severity of Patrick Beverley‘s calf injury, which caused him to miss Game 2 vs. Dallas on Wednesday. “Obviously it is something that has lingered,” Rivers said, per Youngmisuk. “But I have no sense whether he plays next game or if this is one of those things that takes a week or so. I just don’t know.” Beverley will likely be a game-time decision on Friday, according to Rivers (Twitter link via Youngmisuk).
  • Aaron Gordon (hamstring) and Michael Carter-Williams (foot) will be on the shelf again for the Magic in Game 2 vs. Milwaukee today, according to the team (Twitter link). Neither player has been active since early August.
  • Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, who hasn’t played this summer due to a fractured thumb, is listed as questionable for Game 2 vs. Portland on Thursday night, tweets Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times.
  • The Celtics are “aggressively treating” Gordon Hayward‘s ankle sprain, head coach Brad Stevens said on Wednesday (Twitter link). The club should have a better idea within the next few days of what the next steps for Hayward’s rehab will be. The veteran forward is expected to miss about four weeks.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Harris, Barton, Bryant, Little

The first round of the playoffs is an educational experience for young Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details. Porter had 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes in the team’s postseason opener against Utah on Monday but was also targeted on defense and saw extra attention offensively.

“Just being out there, learning, going through it, you can’t put a dollar sign on that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the best teacher that Michael is going to have. We can tell him, we can prepare him, but he has to go out there and feel it for himself and learn from it, which I know he will.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will once again be down two starters in Game 2 of their first-round series on Wednesday, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic tweets. Wings Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee), both of whom missed the opener, will sit out. Porter and Torrey Craig started in their place, though Jerami Grant and Monte Morris played heavy minutes off the bench.
  • Johnnie Bryant will remain on the Jazz’s coaching staff through the playoffs, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Bryant has reportedly reached an agreement with the Knicks to become the club’s associate head coach.
  • Trail Blazers rookie forward Nassir Little experienced a syncopal episode (fainting) on August 12 while attending an optional practice in Orlando, the team tweets. He was diagnosed with dehydration and further tests have been negative. He will remain with the team and undergo precautionary health monitoring for two weeks. Little has appeared in 48 games, but none during the restart.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nuggets, Lillard, Jazz

Thunder wing Luguentz Dort, who suffered a right knee sprain this week, will miss Friday’s regular season finale against the Clippers, according to Royce Young of ESPN (Twitter link). Dort will be listed as day-to-day going forward, so his availability for the start of the postseason next week remains unknown. Oklahoma City’s first-round series vs. Houston gets underway on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, as Young adds, Thunder guard Chris Paul will also miss Friday’s seeding game due to a left hand sprain. That injury isn’t believed to be an issue that will compromise Paul’s postseason availability at all — he’s simply getting a rest before the playoffs get underway.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip) will remain sidelined for the Nuggets‘ final seeding game on Friday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. There had previously been some optimism that Barton and Harris – who haven’t played yet this summer – might be available for today’s contest. Their playoff availability remains up in the air.
  • In an appearance on TNT, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) reported that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and Clippers forward Paul George touched base to clarify that there were no hard feelings on other side in the wake of their recent war of words.
  • Following the departure of G League Coach of the Year Martin Schiller, the Salt Lake City Stars – the Jazz’s G League affiliate – have promoted assistant Nathan Peavy to become their new head coach. Andy Larsen and Julie Jag of The Salt Lake Tribune have the story and the details on Peavy’s ascension.
  • As a result of the seeding games in Orlando, the 2020 first-round pick that the Timberwolves will receive from the Nets will land at No. 17 overall. Minnesota was assured of receiving that lottery-protected pick once Brooklyn clinched its playoff spot.

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Jazz, Warren, Clippers, More

The results of the four seeding games today involving the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Suns will determine which teams participate in the play-in tournament for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot this weekend. And no absence from those games looms larger than Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s — as we relayed on Wednesday, the Bucks star has been suspended for the team’s showdown against Memphis on Thursday, which should improve the Grizzlies’ chance of earning a win and a play-in spot.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the only notable player who will be sitting out one of those four games though. According to the NBA’s official injury report, the Mavericks are listing Kristaps Porzingis (left heel contusion) as doubtful for the team’s afternoon contests against the Suns. Meanwhile, the Jazz will be without Mike Conley (right knee soreness) and Rudy Gobert (lower back soreness) against the Spurs this evening.

None of those ailments are expected to compromise those players’ availability for the postseason, but they could help influence which team ends up qualifying for that final playoff spot in the West.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Pacers forward T.J. Warren sat out Wednesday with what head coach Nate McMillan referred to after the game as plantar fasciitis, the same injury that has sidelined teammate Domantas Sabonis. However, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link), McMillan clarified that Warren has been able to play through the issue throughout the season, and a source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link) that it isn’t expected to prevent Warren from being ready for the postseason, so it sounds as if it’s not as severe as Sabonis’ injury.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday that he’s hopeful Patrick Beverley (calf) and Landry Shamet (foot) will be in position to return for the start of the playoffs (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic). Beverley has been out for the club’s last four games, while Shamet sat on Wednesday.
  • Despite a report indicating that the Nuggets are hoping Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) can play on Friday, head coach Michael Malone hasn’t projected much optimism about either player’s availability, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
  • Suns center Aron Baynes, who hasn’t played yet during the restart, will be available on Thursday, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. However, Baynes likely won’t play much – if at all – based on how hot the team has been without him, Gambadoro notes.