Gary Harris

Northwest Notes: Harris, Towns, Lillard, Green, Hill

Despite the Nuggets opening the season with a 4-5 record, the team is widely recognized as having one of the best offenses in the league — one that significantly improves when Gary Harris finds his rhythm, head coach Mike Malone acknowledged.

“Gary allows us to be a different team when the offense is flowing like it was tonight,” Malone said after Denver’s 115-103 win over Philadelphia on Saturday, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “…Gary deserves it. He’s been working so hard, and for him to see the ball go through the net, I’m just happy for him because I know it’s been on his mind.”

Harris finished with 21 points against the Sixers, shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 5-of-8 from three-point range in 28 minutes. He’s been a key cog in Denver’s offense for several years, averaging double-digit points per game in each of his last six seasons. The team could use his offensive production as it looks to contend in an already-crowded Western Conference this season.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic examines the return of Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and four assists in an overtime loss against the Spurs on Saturday. “People don’t know the toughness that he has, not just physically but mentally, too,” head coach Ryan Saunders said postgame. “I’ll always ride with KAT. Tonight was evident of that. He was clearly limited. I thought he was unbelievably effective.”
  • Damian Lillard and his camp have advocated for the Blazers to acquire Warriors forward Draymond Green over the past couple of years, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic (hat tip Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, there has been no indication that Golden State has any interest in trading Green, who has spent all nine seasons of his career with the Warriors.
  • Marc Spears of The Undefeated examined the Jacob Blake decision and more with Thunder guard George Hill, who offered insight about topics on and off the court. “I can’t speak for everybody. I can only speak for myself. I just think with the way the world is going, I just think we all need to come together,” Hill said as part of a larger quote addressing where players should go with the social justice movement this season. “We’re 450 [players] and when 450 stand strong, we’re more powerful than everyone thinks. We’re way more powerful than they think we are. I learned a lot from LeBron [James] and how he migrated and moved on and off the floor. He is a huge inspiration with how he uses his leverage to open doors and how powerful he is. That is just one guy. Four hundred and fifty can be really strong if we just come together.

Rockets Seek Porter Jr. In Potential Harden Trade With Nuggets

The Rockets have focused on Michael Porter Jr. in trade discussions with the Nuggets as the centerpiece of a potential James Harden trade, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports.

However, the talks didn’t gain any traction, Singer adds. This updates an earlier report that the Nuggets are unwilling to give up Jamal Murray in a package for Harden. Murray was never included in any discussions and Nikola Jokic is also off-limits.

Porter would give the Rockets a potential star in return for the perennial All-Star guard, who wants to be dealt. Any potential deal with Denver would also have to include Gary Harris and/or Will Barton for salary-matching purposes salaries and that would seriously deplete the Nuggets at the wing spots, Singer notes.

Harden would make for an intriguing third star to join forces with Jokic and Murray but he could also wreck the good chemistry the team displayed while making its run to the conference finals last season.

Porter averaged 9.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 55 games (16.4 MPG) during his de facto rookie season in 2019/20 after he was sidelined the previous campaign due to a back injury. His playing time grew during the playoffs, as he averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG while shooting 38.2% from long range.

Houston has reportedly been seeking a return that features an All-Star-caliber young player, along with several other assets (young players or draft picks).

Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Harris, Barton, Lillard

The deadline for restricted free agents to accept a qualifying offer typically falls on October 1, but due to the NBA’s revamped calendar for 2020/21, that deadline has moved to today, says Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). That means that Jordan McLaughlin, the last remaining RFA in the league, will no longer be able to accept his QO after today unless the Timberwolves extend that deadline.

McLaughlin’s qualifying offer is for a two-way deal, but he’s not expected to accept it, according to Wolfson (Twitter links), who says that the second-year guard could sign a standard contract today if he wanted to. The Timberwolves are willing to promote McLaughlin to the 15-man roster, but want to do so on their terms, so the two sides continue to negotiate a new agreement, Wolfson adds (Twitter links).

If the Timberwolves don’t extend the deadline for McLaughlin to accept his qualifying offer, he’ll remain a restricted free agent, but without that QO as a fallback option. The deadline for him to sign an offer sheet with another team would typically be on March 1, but figures to be pushed back to April this season.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his Hoop Collective podcast today that the Nuggets tried to trade Gary Harris to “several different places” during the offseason (hat tip to RealGM). It doesn’t come as a real surprise that Harris was shopped, though it was likely more about his contract than his on-court value — his $19.6MM cap hit made him a logical salary-matching piece in any offer for an impact player, and we know Denver at least pursued Jrue Holiday.
  • After stating earlier this month that he believes he’s a “clear-cut” starter, Nuggets wing Will Barton came off the bench in his preseason debut on Wednesday. After the game though, he reiterated that he’s not ready to embrace a sixth-man role, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. “I am a starter,” Barton said. “I have no plans on being a sixth man. I have no desire to be that.”
  • Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard believes he can be a viable candidate for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2020/21, as Casey Holdahl of writes. “I feel like I’ve had a few MVP-level seasons, I just think with those seasons, you’ve got to be winning,” Lillard said. “I think the two years that we were a three-seed back-to-back years, I thought I had big years, it was just that guys on one and two seed teams had big years as well. That was that. But I feel like if we’re a winning team and we’re in that top two, top three, then I think it’s definitely a real possibility.”

Northwest Notes: Wolves’ No. 1 Pick, M. Morris, Thunder, McDaniels

The Timberwolves haven’t received tempting offers yet for the top pick in next week’s draft, but executive vice president Sachin Gupta said “three phone” time is coming soon, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. That’s what Gupta calls the days immediately before the draft when front office members are balancing several phone calls at once.

“There’s not a whole lot of pleasantries that are happening with those calls,” he said. “There’s no time for it. It’s, ‘What do you want? What do you got for me?’ ”

Minnesota should find a lot of interest in the top selection between now and November 18. The Warriors and Hornets are both believed to be eyeing former Memphis center James Wiseman, while Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball may entice other teams to move up. The Wolves could have the luxury of playing teams against each another to drive up offers.

“We’ve always been active, and with these types of assets at our disposal, it really plays into sort of our mentality of turning over every rock and figuring out what all the possibilities are,” Gupta said.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

Nuggets Notes: Barton, Offseason, Roster, Harris

Nuggets swingman Will Barton missed the entire summer restart due to a nagging – and somewhat mysterious – right knee injury, leaving the Orlando bubble in mid-August to continue his rehab away from the team. However, Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly and GM Calvin Booth denied today that there’s any sort of rift between Barton and the club.

“No, not at all,” Booth said, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I think he left the bubble to get the best care he possibly could for his injury. He wasn’t anywhere close to playing at the time he left the bubble. We all thought it was the right decision.”

Both Connelly and Booth stressed Barton’s importance to the Nuggets, with Connelly referring to the 29-year-old as “part of our core,” while Booth suggested he might’ve been the team’s third-best player during the regular season. Booth said the Nuggets don’t have long-term concerns about Barton’s knee, which they think should be fine by next year.

“It’s a shame that he got banged up during the hiatus,” Connelly added. “I think he’s as motivated as ever. We talk all the time, and we fully expect to see the best version of Will that they’ve seen, thus far, next season.”

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • According to Connelly, the league-wide perception of the Nuggets has changed in recent years. He explained that four or five years ago, agents wouldn’t necessarily want their players traded to Denver, but now it’s become “a team that you want to be around” (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).
  • Both Connelly and Booth told reporters today that they’d like to bring back as many players from this year’s team as possible, tweets Kendra Andrews of ESPN. Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee, and Torrey Craig are among the players expected to reach the free agent market.
  • Asked about the possibility of adding another piece to their roster this offseason, Connelly said today that the Nuggets are always trying to be aggressive (Twitter link via Singer).
  • Gary Harris wasn’t at his best this summer after returning from a hip injury, shooting just 25.9% from the field in the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. However, head coach Michael Malone praised Harris’ postseason defense and said that his confidence in the veteran guard hasn’t wavered, Singer writes for The Denver Post. “We don’t get to the Western Conference Finals without him,” Malone said. “That’s just the truth.”

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 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).