George Hill

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.

Sixers Seeking Point Guard Depth

The Sixers are in the market for a point guard, with the Pistons’ Delon Wright and Thunder‘s George Hill among the players the team has inquired about, Jason Dumas of Bleacher Report tweets.

The current options behind Ben Simmons include combo guards Shake Milton (currently dealing with an ankle sprain) and rookie Tyrese Maxey. Another point guard option would allow the team to have multiple ball-handlers on the floor for extended stretches.

Wright has played well for the rebuilding Pistons, who acquired him in a trade with Dallas during the offseason. He began the season as their starting shooting guard, then slid over to the point when rookie Killian Hayes injured his hip. Wright is averaging 10.4 PPG, 4.9 APG, 4.7 RPG and 1.4 SPG in 29.1 MPG. He’s making $9MM this season and $8.5MM next season in the final year of his contract.

Philadelphia’s interest in Hill is a little more surprising, considering that he’s expected to miss at least the remainder of this month after undergoing a surgical procedure on his right thumb. He’s started 14 games this season for the Thunder, averaging 11.8 PPG and 3.1 APG. What would make Hill more attractive from a trading standpoint is that his $10MM salary for next season is only guaranteed for approximately $1.28MM.

Hawks Notes: Hunter, Reddish, Point Guard, Bogdanovic

Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who underwent a lateral meniscus arthroscopic debridement procedure earlier this week, won’t be back on the court for the team anytime soon. Addressing Hunter’s situation today on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta, general manager Travis Schlenk suggested that the 23-year-old will be sidelined until at least late March, and likely sometime in April.

“The doctors say, typically, on average, these things are seven to 10 weeks,” Schlenk said, per Mike Conti of 92.9 The Game. “And most of the guys are ready to go by eight weeks. So, we’re hopeful.”

The Hawks’ initial announcement on Hunter indicated that his status would be updated when he’s re-evaluated in two weeks. According to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link), the club hopes to have a clearer idea at that point about which end of the seven-to-10 week timeline is more likely to apply to Hunter.

Here’s more out of Atlanta:

  • Chris Kirschner of The Athletic explores what Hunter’s absence will mean for the Hawks in the short term and the long term, noting that the pressure on new starting small forward Cam Reddish will increase. Kirschner also expects Atlanta to play it safe with Hunter’s return timeline to help avoid any recurring knee issues.
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Kirschner and John Hollinger discussed a few Hawks-related topics, including the hole at backup point guard that Rajon Rondo hasn’t adequately filled. Hollinger, who questioned Atlanta’s decision not to claim Elfrid Payton when New York waived him in November, suggested that Payton, George Hill, Delon Wright, and T.J. McConnell could be potential targets if Atlanta tries to shore up the position via trade.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was only able to play nine games for his new team before being sidelined by a right knee fracture, spoke to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the injury and his goal to return before the end of the first half. “Anything before All-Star would be really good for me, but I don’t want to put the pressure on it,” Bogdanovic said. “But I would like to play before the All-Star (break), if it was me, and if my body heals up.”

And-Ones: Vaccines, Ball, Trade Candidates, Defenders, All-Star Voting

In an effort to alleviate players’ – and some coaches’ – fears and skepticism about receiving COVID-19 vaccines, the NBA is arranging mandatory meetings over the next two weeks between its top medical expert and all 30 teams, Sam Amick, Joe Vardon and David Aldridge of The Athletic report. Teams felt there was a need to provide information and insight on this issue to its players.

The NBA wants everyone associated with the game — players, coaches, referees and chief front office personnel — to get the shots, not only for safety reasons but also as part of a national volunteering-public relations campaign.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • LaMelo Ball ranks as the leading candidate for the Rookie of the Year award, according to Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report. The Hornets guard ranks first in assists and steals, second in rebounding and third in scoring among all rookies despite coming off the bench in all but two games. Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton sits in second place for Wasserman, who ranks the rookies from 10-1.
  • With Wizards guard Bradley Beal apparently off the market, there won’t be another blockbuster trade this season to rival the James Harden deal, Tim Bontemps of ESPN opines. Some of the players who could be moved by March’s trade deadline are Lonzo BallJ.J. Redick, P.J. Tucker, George Hill, Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon, though Hill and Gordon are currently injured.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s contract with the Jazz is a rare case in which a defensive stalwart is compensated like a elite scorer, Aldridge notes in a separate Athletic story. Aldridge takes a closer look at why top defenders are generally not as valued as scorers.
  • Kevin Durant has received the most All-Star votes in the early returns, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Beal is the top vote-getter among Eastern Conference guards. LeBron James has the most votes among Western Conference forwards and Stephen Curry leads all Western Conference guards by a wide margin.

George Hill To Miss At Least Four Weeks With Thumb Injury

George Hill will be sidelined after having a minor surgical procedure on his right thumb today, the Thunder announced in an email. The veteran guard will be re-evaluated in four weeks.

Oklahoma City coach Mark Daigneault told reporters last week that Hill suffered a sprain to his thumb, but X-rays were negative. He hasn’t played since January 24, with Theo Maledon taking his place in the starting lineup.

Hill, who was acquired in a four-team trade in November, has appeared in 14 games this season, all starts, and is averaging 11.8 points and 3.1 assists per night.

COVID-19 Notes: Hill, Conference Calls, Vaccine, More

We can count Thunder guard George Hill among those who aren’t fans of the new, more restrictive coronavirus protocols that were agreed upon by the NBA and the NBPA this week. Addressing reporters on Tuesday night, Hill questioned the logic behind some of the rule changes, including the limits placed on postgame interactions between players, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes.

“I just don’t understand some of the rules as far as we can sweat 48 minutes with the guy next to us and the team next to us, but we can’t talk to him after the game,” Hill said. “It makes no sense.”

Hill also openly wondered if it makes sense to continue playing the season if such restrictive measures are necessary — and if even those measures can’t guarantee that there won’t be an outbreak of the virus.

“I’m a grown man, so I’m gonna do what I wanna do,” Hill said. “If I wanna go see my family, I’m gonna go see my family. They can’t tell me I have to stay in the room 24/7. If it’s that serious, then maybe we shouldn’t be playing. It’s life. No one’s gonna be able to just cancel their whole life for this game.”

Here’s more on the COVID-19 situation:

  • During the NBA’s meetings with general managers and team owners this week, there was no discussion of suspending the season due to the recent increasing number of positive coronavirus tests, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. As Marc Stein of The New York Times explains, one reason the NBA wants to avoid a pause is that officials think even more players would contract the virus without the league’s health and safety protocols in place.
  • While the NBA has insisted it won’t cut the line for vaccines for its players and staffers, a new idea emerged on Tuesday’s call with team presidents. According to Amick, it was suggested that players could volunteer at public distribution centers and receive the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the public to follow suit. Amick expects the idea to be explored further.
  • The NBA has tweaked its hardship provision to allow teams to apply to replace players who are hit hard by COVID-19 absences in addition to injuries, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic. However, there are logistical challenges to bringing in new players, since they require a quarantine period before they’re cleared, so it remains to be seen how many teams will be able to actually take advantage of the rule tweak.

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.

More On Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Extension, Bucks

Following the Bucks‘ second-round postseason loss to Miami, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo made a conscious decision to play a more vocal role in upgrading the team’s roster, according to a report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and Kevin Arnovitz.

During a fall lunch with Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, GM Jon Horst, and Giannis’ agent Alex Saratsis, Antetokounmpo named a number of players whom he thought would be good offseason targets for Milwaukee, including Bradley Beal, Victor Oladipo, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, per Windhorst and Arnovitz.

Beal wasn’t available, the Bucks never got close to a deal for Oladipo, and their efforts to sign-and-trade for Bogdanovic fell through. However, Milwaukee zeroed in on another player on Giannis’ list, Jrue Holiday, believing he’d be a natural fit in the team’s lineup.

According to ESPN’s duo, the Nuggets and Celtics were aggressive in attempting to acquire a top-10 pick in last month’s draft to flip for Holiday. The Hawks were also interested in moving the No. 6 pick in a deal for the Pelicans guard, but ultimately abandoned that plan due to uncertainty over whether he’d want to remain in Atlanta beyond 2021.

The Bucks didn’t have a top-10 pick in 2020 to offer for Holiday, but were willing to put plenty of future first-rounders on the table. According to Windhorst and Arnovitz, Milwaukee initially offered Eric Bledsoe, two first-round picks, and a pick swap (plus salary filler), then “reluctantly” added George Hill to the offer. The Pelicans countered by asking for one more first-rounder and one more pick swap.

Sources tell ESPN that the Bucks’ decision-makers knew that giving up two rotation players, three first-round picks, and two pick swaps was an overpay, especially since an extension for Holiday may cost in the neighborhood of $30MM per year.

However, the club badly wanted to upgrade its roster and to send a message to Antetokounmpo and decided to pull the trigger. If that deal ultimately helped convince Giannis to sign his super-max extension, the front office presumably feels the cost was worth it.

Here’s more on the Bucks and the Antetokounmpo extension:

  • The report from ESPN’s Windhorst and Arnovitz is worth checking out in full, as it’s packed with interesting nuggets about the process of extending Antetokounmpo. According to the ESPN duo, when the Lakers acquired Dennis Schroder from Oklahoma City, Giannis wanted reassurance that Milwaukee had made a “valiant effort” to land Schroder.
  • As a trio of writers from The Athletic reported on Tuesday, Windhorst and Arnovitz confirm that the Bucks first formally made their extension pitch to Antetokounmpo on December 5. During that meeting, team ownership and management focused on the team’s commitment to building a champion, pointing to its aggressive pursuit of Holiday and its willingness to pay future luxury tax bills, per ESPN.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the Antetokounmpo extension is good for the NBA, since it’s hard for fans in non-glamor markets to fully invest in their teams if they believe star players always have one foot out the door.
  • Joe Vardon of The Athletic throws some cold water on the news of Antetokounmpo’s extension, writing that the new deal offers the Bucks a temporary reprieve, but doesn’t guarantee the superstar forward will be with the franchise for the next five years. Jobs will be “on the line” in Milwaukee if the team doesn’t make the NBA Finals and win a title within the next couple years, says Vardon.

Southwest Notes: Vassell, DeRozan, Tucker, Pelicans, Redick, Bledsoe

Spurs swingman DeMar DeRozan is helping to teach rookie Devin Vassell the nuances of the NBA game, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express News writes. Vassell was selected with the 11th overall pick in the draft and also plays on the wing. “A lot of times, even in practice, he comes to me and asks questions,” DeRozan said. “That’s big for a young guy to to be able to come to our vets and just ask questions, ask what he is doing wrong, what he can do better.” Vassell had 12 points, six rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes during his preseason debut.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Seeking an extension, Rockets forward P.J. Tucker says he wants to go “where I am wanted,” Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Tucker promises to “do my job” even if the club doesn’t offer him an extension. Tucker, who will make approximately $7.97MM this season, will enter unrestricted free agency next summer.
  • The Pelicans’ acquisition of center Steven Adams from the Thunder and subsequent decision to give him an extension was a head-scratcher, John Hollinger of The Athletic opines. They could have instead acquired a better shooter in Al Horford or re-signed Derrick Favors. They also would have been better off holding onto George Hill, rather than dealing him in the same multi-team trade involving Denver and Oklahoma City, Hollinger contends. Hill is a better shooter than Eric Bledsoe and New Orleans also has enough depth at the point, Hollinger adds.
  • Bledsoe will have to pass a series of tests before he can rejoin the Pelicans, coach Stan Van Gundy told The Athletic’s Will Guillory and other media members (Twitter link). Bledsoe left the market due to a personal matter and missed a COVID-19 test. J.J. Redick was held out of the team’s preseason game on Monday due to contact tracing.

Lakers Keeping Eye On Trevor Ariza

The Lakers are monitoring Trevor Ariza‘s situation and would have interest in signing him if he becomes a free agent, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

For now, Ariza – who is on an expiring contract – remains under contract with the Thunder, though he’s reportedly away from the team for family reasons. According to Charania, Ariza and veteran point guard George Hill, who is also drawing some interest around the league, are expected to open the regular season as members of the Thunder.

Oklahoma City entered full rebuilding mode this offseason and Ariza and Hill landed with the team in bigger trades that were more about other assets (draft picks). However, it makes sense for the Thunder to retain Ariza and Hill – along with fellow veteran Al Horford – rather than simply cutting them, since the club may be able to move them for an asset or two later in 2020/21.

While Horford’s contract has negative value, Ariza and Hill are earning mid-level type money and neither has a fully guaranteed salary beyond this season, so they could make good trade candidates.

Adding another veteran three-and-D wing would help fortify the Lakers’ depth chart, but they aren’t in position to trade for Ariza’s $12.8MM expiring salary. The defending champions will only be in position to add Ariza if the Thunder can’t find a taker for the 35-year-old forward and decide to release him, perhaps with a buyout agreement.

The Lakers are right up against a hard cap and figure to start the season with just 14 players, but Quinn Cook‘s contract isn’t fully guaranteed and the team should be able to add a 15th man later in the season on a prorated veteran’s minimum contract.