Gary Harris

Injury Updates: Hayward, Irving, Smith Jr., Harris

Celtics‘ president of basketball operations Danny Ainge believes he gave the wrong impression this week when he said Gordon Hayward suffered a setback in his rehab, relays Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Looking back, Ainge believes “setback” was too strong a term and created inaccurate headlines about Hayward’s progress.

“What happened is he went on the AlterG [anti-gravity treadmill] the first day and he felt some soreness,” the Celtics’ top decision-maker explained. “It was the first day he tried the AlterG, a long time ago. He just wasn’t ready for it at that point. That’s all it was. So I think ‘setback’ is the wrong way to put it. I mis-phrased that. I’m not sure what the right word is, but he wasn’t ready for that. So we waited a couple of weeks before we started that again, and since we started that again it’s been great and he’s progressed along on the AlterG. That’s all. It wasn’t like he had an accident or anything like that.”

Despite Ainge’s clarification, the Celtics haven’t changed their opinion that Hayward won’t return to the court this season, which has their stance since he broke his ankle on opening night. Ainge said Hayward hasn’t done any “running or even jogging or real jumping” on the practice court and there’s not enough of the season left to make a comeback realistic.

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

  • The Celtics continue to be cautious with Kyrie Irving, who has been limited by a sore left knee, Bulpett adds in the same story. Irving was held out of tonight’s game, and coach Brad Stevens said the star guard won’t play again until he feels 100 percent. Teammate Jaylen Brown remains in concussion protocol, but the Celtics plan to bring him on upcoming West Coast trip.
  • Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is wearing a walking boot after turning his left ankle in Saturday’s game, but he’s confident about playing again this season, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said the team “dodged a bullet” because Smith’s injury wasn’t more serious, but he has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game.
  • An MRI conducted Friday on Nuggets‘ leading scorer Gary Harris showed he suffered a “sprain/strain” after landing awkwardly on his right leg, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Coach Michael Malone said Saturday that Harris could miss three or four games, but the team hopes to have him back before the end of its seven-game road trip.

Revisiting The Paul George Trade

Paul George is back in Indiana tonight for the first time since the blockbuster trade that sent him to Oklahoma City. The deal was supposed to signal the start of a rebuilding process for the Pacers and the creation of a title contender in Oklahoma City, but things haven’t worked out that way. Indiana enters tonight’s game 16-11 and in fifth place in the East, while the Thunder are a disappointing 12-14 and stuck in ninth place in the West.

George was shipped to OKC in early July in exchange for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, who are both putting up career-best numbers in Indiana. Oladipo is scoring 24.5 points per game, while Sabonis is averaging 12.1 points and 8.5 rebounds, both more than double his totals from last season.

Meeting with reporters today, George expressed joy in seeing the Pacers playing so well and said the reason he had his agent tell the team he was unlikely to re-sign after this season is so it could start preparing right away, according to Matthew VanTryon and Jim Ayello of The Indianapolis Star.

“When we reached out to the front office, to tell them our plans, our future plans, it was to help them along the way,” George said. “And it was bad at first, so to speak, that maybe this trade wasn’t going to pan out. But it obviously did. They got two great, young pieces.” 

We rounded up a few more reactions as writers revisited the July deal:

  • The Pacers should receive an apology for the initial negative reaction to the trade, writes Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. The general feeling was that Indiana didn’t get enough in return for George, with Cavaliers owner Dan Snyder saying, “I will say [the Pacers] could’ve done better,” and the Oklahoma City police department tweeting about the theft of George. Deveney adds that the deal turned out to be better than some other offers the Pacers received, including Gary Harris and draft choices from the Nuggets, and Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and some non-lottery picks from the Celtics.
  • The Thunder had to take the gamble when a star like George became available, contends Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. Even if Oladipo turns out to be an All-Star, he wasn’t a good fit with Westbrook during his lone season with the Thunder, Tramel writes, with some observers contending he was out of shape and others saying he couldn’t adjust to Westbrook’s ball dominance. George can be a dominant player on both ends, and his acquisition may have been what inspired Westbrook to agree to a five-year extension in September.
  • The Pacers should be elated with the results of the deal, according to a consensus of writers on an Blogtable. Indiana could be headed for a playoff spot, while George may be joining the Lakers next summer — if not earlier.

Northwest Notes: Hood, Wolves, Connaughton

Prior to Monday’s extension deadline, Rodney Hood‘s camp “worked hard” on getting something done, but couldn’t find common ground with the Jazz, says Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). Kyler adds that Utah figures to match any offer for Hood next summer, if he stays healthy in 2017/18.

Although Hood struggled in his first game this season, putting up just six points and two rebounds in 18 minutes as he battled a stomach bug, he’s expected to play a significant role for the Jazz this season in the wake of Gordon Hayward‘s departure. A breakout season for Hood could make him an interesting restricted free agent next July.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • In an extensive and in-depth piece for, Tom Haberstroh takes a closer look at the job Tom Thibodeau is doing in Minnesota as the Timberwolves‘ head coach and president of basketball operations, exploring whether the club is ready to take a leap forward and whether there’s any risk of Thibodeau overworking his key players.
  • Appearing on Altitude AM950 in Denver, Nuggets guard Gary Harris discussed his contract extension, his role for the coming season, and the team’s offseason addition of Paul Millsap.
  • The Trail Blazers had a chance to avoid guaranteeing Pat Connaughton‘s salary for the coming season if they’d waived him over the summer, but Portland decided to keep him around, and that decision looked good on opening night, writes Casey Holdahl of

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Harris, Dudley

The Thunder have three players who’ve grown used to getting the final shot over the course of long, impressive careers. Now, Royce Young of ESPN writes, they’ll have to figure out who gets the ball when the game is on the line.

While Russell Westbrook was the painfully obvious choice last season, he’s joined on the Thunder by Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Both Anthony and George have traditionally been the focal point of their teams’ offenses and were often the go-to options down the stretch, the latter even going so far as to lambaste former teammate C.J. Miles for taking a last-second shot in the playoffs last spring.

Carmelo’s been a closeout guy the places he’s been, the same thing with Paul. But any time you have a team you have to do it by finding the open man,” Thunder head coach Billy Donovan said. “Clearly for us last year, somebody creating and generating a shot for himself or someone else, it was Russell. But obviously now with Carmelo and Paul being here, I think it’s about making the right play and right decision.

One knock on the Thunder in the past has been their reliance on isolation basketball when the game is on the long. Considering the roster balance last season, that style of play was more or less expected. With a number of legitimate offensive threats in 2017/18, however, the expectations for ball movement – and making sound decisions – should rise.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Details on Gary Harris‘ contract have emerged, Bobby Marks of ESPN writes. The cap hit for the Nuggets guard in 2018/19 will be $16.5MM and that mark will rise annually until the deal terminates at $20.5MM in 2021/22. There are also $2.5MM of additional, unlikely, bonuses each year.
  • There’s no clear frontrunner to fill the primary backup power forward role for the Nuggets this offseason. Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports writes about how the changing NBA could impact Denver’s frontcourt depth chart in 2017/18.
  • A prediction that the Timberwolves could send Cole Aldrich and a second-round pick to the Suns for Jared Dudley has legs, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets. Minnesota has been particularly interested in Dudley’s recovery from offseason toe surgery.

Gary Harris Signs Four-Year Extension

Oct. 12: The Nuggets have officially signed Harris to the reported four-year contract extension, the team announced on its website.

Oct. 7: Nuggets guard Gary Harris will sign a four-year, $84MM extension with the team, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Wojnarowski reports that the deal will feature $74MM in guaranteed money, with an additional $10MM available in incentives and bonuses.Gary Harris vertical

Harris had an October 16 deadline to reach an agreement on the extension or he would have been a restricted free agent next summer. The 23-year-old shooting guard will make a little more than $2.5MM this year, so he is looking at a nice raise when the extension kicks in for 2018/19. He will rank among the 10 highest-paid shooting guards in the league, posts Bobby Marks on ESPN Now.

The extension could give Denver as much as $113MM in guaranteed salary for next season, Marks tweets, raising potential tax concerns if Wilson Chandler ($12.8MM) and Darrell Arthur ($7.46MM) both opt in.

The 19th player taken in the 2014 draft, Harris won a starting job in his second season and has developed into a valuable member of a young Denver team. He averaged a career-best 14.9 points per game last year and shot 42% from 3-point range, although early-season injuries limited him to 57 games.

The Nuggets are also hoping to reach an extension with reserve guard Will Barton, but his deadline isn’t until next summer because he isn’t on a rookie contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets GM Talks Harris, Faried, Expectations

A September report indicated that Gary Harris and the Nuggets have a good chance of reaching an agreement on a contract extension for the fourth-year shooting guard before the October 16 deadline. With 10 days left for the two sides to work something out, Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas confirmed that a potential deal with Harris is “in the works,” telling Gina Mizell of The Denver Post that he’s optimistic about getting something done.

“He’s been such a huge part of what we’re trying to do here, a representation of what we’re building here,” Karnisovas said of Harris. “Him going through trade rumors and still staying with us and being consistent and being a good leader for our guys and (knowing) how to do it, he was the ultimate professional. We’re trying to find ways to keep him here as long as we can.”

During his visit to The Denver Post’s newsroom, Karnisovas – who received a promotion to general manager during the offseason – also addressed a few other noteworthy topics, so let’s round up a few of the highlights from the Nuggets executive:

On Kenneth Faried‘s strongly-worded comments about wanting to be a starter:

“We welcome that. It’s a competitive spirit, and we want our training camp to be competitive. We didn’t want to just give guys playing time. We want them to earn it. That’s a good approach. Whoever earns minutes in the preseason is going to play.”

On the most challenging aspect of building a roster and dealing with constant player movement:

“Overall, it’s continuity and do not exaggerate your wins and don’t over-exaggerate your losses. Just kind of stay calm through all this process. I think we also have to figure out the healthy balance between young talent and meshing it with veteran players. Players like Paul [Millsap]. We chased [Dwyane] Wade before. We kind of need players in the locker room that have done it.

“Paul has been an All-Star four times and he’s been part of 60-win teams. It was important for us to find a formula that we can kind of use a vet. Last year, we were (one of the) top three youngest teams in the league. When we added Paul, we were very excited. Ultimate professional. Good teammate. Our young players gravitate toward that kind of good example, and they learn from it.”

On his goal for the Nuggets’ progress in 2017/18:

“Progress is a good word. We never like to put a number on wins. Playoffs is our target. Where, in terms of [seeding], we don’t know. But I think from previous years, we need to start well. The first 20 games are a huge emphasis for us, to be competitive and hopefully to stay .500 and over .500. Just be better than last year. We were close last year to making the playoffs, so this year should be a good year. I think we have a group of young players that got better, and we added Paul Millsap. Hopefully, we can stay healthy. That’s always a huge factor

Nuggets, Gary Harris Expected To Reach Agreement On Extension

The Nuggets and Gary Harris are closing in on an extension, according to Matt Moore of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The deadline for the two sides to come to an agreement is October 16.

Harris has one season remaining on his rookie deal and if the two sides do not reach an agreement by mid-October, he’ll become one of the more coveted restricted free agents in the 2018 class. The Nuggets would have the ability to match any offer sheet the shooting guard signs and I’d speculate that the price tag on Harris will only go up if he has another year to showcase himself in Denver’s high-scoring offense before putting pen to paper.

Harris sported a career-high 16.5 player efficiency rating while knocking down 42.0% of his shots behind the arc in 2016/17. Various injuries prevented him from suiting up in 25 games last season, which is something that could hurt him in future negotiations. However, he’s steadily improved since being drafted with the No. 19 overall pick in 2014 and the potential for more improvement is easy to see.

GM Tim Connelly expressed his desire to keep Harris on the team when he addressed the media at the end of the 2016/17 campaign.“Gary’s going to be here for a long, long time,”  Connelly said. “He’s a guy that kind of embodies everything that we’re trying to be, both as a player and as a person,” 

Denver is also working on an extension with Will Barton, though Barton’s deadline for a deal isn’t until next summer since he isn’t on a rookie contract. Both Barton and Harris are expected to be major contributors for a team hoping to reach the postseason for the first time since the spring of 2013.

Nuggets Re-Sign Mason Plumlee

SEPTEMBER 20: The Nuggets have officially re-signed Plumlee, issuing a press release today to announce the deal.

SEPTEMBER 18: The Nuggets have reached a three-year deal with restricted free agent Mason Plumlee valued at $41MM, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Agent Mark Bartelstein tells Wojnarowski that the two sides struck an agreement late Sunday night.Mason Plumlee vertical

Plumlee came to Denver in a trade with Portland at last year’s deadline, with the Nuggets giving up Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick for Plumlee and a second-rounder. The 27-year-old center was used mainly in a reserve role behind Nikola Jokic and averaged 9.1 points and 6.4 rebounds over 27 games.

Plumlee confirmed the signing in a “Letter to Nuggets Fans” posted on his website, saying he is looking forward to the upcoming season. “I meant what I said when I was traded here last year,” he wrote. “This is an exciting, talented young team with a bunch of high character guys and I’ve always admired the loyalty and dedication of Nuggets fans. With some of the big additions this summer and another year of experience for the young guns, I believe this team can compete with anyone in the league.”

Plumlee, who made a little more than $2.3MM last season, got a deal similar to the four-year, $56MM extension the Hornets gave Cody Zeller last fall, notes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). The signing pushes Denver’s salary total to $103.2MM, which ranks 20th in the league (Twitter link).

At this point in the offseason, given the lack of cap room available around the NBA, it’s a strong deal for Plumlee, and reflects the value the Nuggets place on him, even with Jokic and Paul Millsap penciled in as the starters up front.

With Plumlee under contract, the only restricted free agents left on the market are Nikola Mirotic of Chicago, Alex Len of Phoenix and JaMychal Green of Memphis.

The Nuggets’ next priority, Wojnarowski adds, will be reaching an extension with Gary Harris before the October 16 deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Harris, Wiggins

While the addition of Paul Millsap gives the Nuggets a tantalizing frontcourt combination, the team’s duo of Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris was one of the league’s  most gifted offensive pairings last season, Frank Urbina of HoopsHype writes.

While Jokic’s status as one of the league’s most prolific low-post weapons is undisputed, Urbina’s recount demonstrates exactly how the Nuggets center established himself as one of the game’s most efficienct big men.

Harris, who posted a modest but intriguing 14.9 points and 2.9 assists per game last season, has a skill set that compliments Jokic’s particularly well, as evidenced by the fact that the Nuggets boasted the league’s highest offensive rating when the relatively small sample size was prorated over the course of the full season.

For that reason, while the Nuggets will be happy to add a blue chip forward like Millsap, much of the team’s future success will likely come from the talent that they’ve built through the draft.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The fact that Andrew Wiggins recently changed agents won’t impact his extension deal, Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press tweets. CBA rules dictate that Wiggins must wait two weeks to sign the new deal after changing his representation. Some within the Timberwolves organization, Krawczynski adds in a second tweet are ‘puzzled by the timing of the move’.
  • The Trail Blazers have named Jesse Elis their new director of player health and performance, Mike Richman of the Oregonian writes. Elis will replace Chris Stackpole who had held the position for the past four years.
  • The Jazz have appointed Jonathan Rinehart the new team president of their G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, the team announced in a press release. Rinehart has been with the big league club for the past 12 seasons.

Latest On Kyrie Irving

Kyrie Irving doesn’t want to be in Cleveland as long as LeBron James is around, though that doesn’t mean he’s willing to commit long-term to another franchise should the Cavs trade him. According to Terry Pluto of, Irving, who has two years before he can become a free agent, wants to keep his options open for the summer of 2019. Pluto adds that the former No. 1 overall pick isn’t ready to commit to any team at this point.

While an extension with a new team was never a likely outcome for Irving, the latest news could potentially suppress his trade value. Any team giving up a haul to acquire the point guard would want him around long-term and without that assurance, teams may think twice about mortgaging their futures to bring in the Duke product.

Here’s more from Pluto’s piece on Irving:

  • The Suns would be willing to deal Eric Bledsoe to the Cavaliers for Irving even if Irving makes no commitment to stay in Phoenix past his current deal. However, they would not want to include Josh Jackson in that scenario.
  • The Cavs would love to take back Devin Booker in an Irving-to-the-Suns deal, but Phoenix is unlikely to trade Booker since it already told the shooting guard that he wasn’t going anywhere. Phoenix would like to send a package of Bledsoe, T.J. Warren, and Brandon Knight to the Cavs for Irving and additional salary (Iman Shumpert or Channing Frye). That proposal is underwhelming to Cleveland’s front office.
  • The Nuggets remain a threat to trade for Irving, but Pluto hears that Denver will not give up both Jamal Murray and Gary Harris in a deal. Pluto adds that there are players on Denver’s roster who are attractive to Cleveland and because of that, the Nuggets could be involved in an Irving trade as a third team even if they don’t land the point guard themselves.
  • If Andrew Wiggins signs an extension with the Wolves, it’s unlikely that he gets dealt to Cleveland, a source tells Pluto.