Georges Niang

Atlantic Notes: Siakam, Milton, Niang, Toppin, Harris

Raptors star big man Pascal Siakam, who has been sidelined with a right adductor strain since November 4, was cleared for contact and fully participated in a team practice on Friday, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (via Twitter).

Lewenberg tweets that Siakam feels that he is improving daily, and remains deferential to Toronto’s medical staff when it comes to managing his ailment.

Toronto has upgraded Siakam’s status to questionable ahead of the team’s game against the Cavaliers on Monday night, reports Marc Stein (Twitter link). If Siakam is determined to be not quite ready for Monday’s game, he could return to the floor against the Pelicans on Wednesday, Lewenberg adds.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Sixers reserves Shake Milton and Georges Niang, both of whom will be unrestricted free agents in 2023, have been playing well in the absence of injured Philadelphia stars James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Joel Embiid, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. Neubeck notes that Milton, who hadn’t received much playing time of late, has exhibited an enticing display of scoring, ball-handling, and off-ball defense as a fill-in starter that could earn him more minutes long-term. Neubeck adds that Niang’s reliable three-point shot has opened up the team’s offense when he plays.
  • Knicks backup power forward Obi Toppin is hoping to return to his early-season long-range shooting form, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “I feel like I’m still taking the right shots, it’s just not falling,” Toppin told Botte following a practice on Saturday. “I’m just in a little lull right now, and I’m gonna break out of that real soon. Have to start hitting shots again, and continue making the right plays. But I know I don’t have to shoot good to play good.” Toppin has shot just 16.7% from deep in his last five games. The 6’9″ big man had made 42.4% of his triples during New York’s first 14 contests.
  • Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris has seen his minutes reduced as his three-point shooting takes a dip, according to Mark W. Sanchez of The New York Post. Harris has shot just 2-of-16 from the floor across his last three Brooklyn games. “We really shortened the rotation,” head coach Jacque Vaughn said. Only eight Nets players logged for 10 minutes or more in a 128-117 Friday loss to the Pacers. At 12:02, Harris played the fewest minutes among that top eight.

Atlantic Notes: Brogdon, Nets, Raptors, Niang

Speaking to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com, new Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon said the franchise’s history is one important reason why he was excited to be traded from Indiana to Boston this offseason.

“I mean, they’re the most winning organization in the league, and I think they’re more hungry to win than anybody,” Brogdon said. “You can see that with the move they made for me and (Danilo) Gallinari. They want to improve. They want to win a championship. It’s all about Banner 18 for ’em. Now that’s all it’s about for me as well, and I’m excited to be a part of that.”

Brogdon also talked to Davies about Gallinari’s injury, the role he thinks he can play in Boston, and his involvement with the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. The conversation is worth checking out in full for Celtics fans.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

Atlantic Rumors: Tucker, Sixers, Knicks, Robinson, Nets

With free agency still two days away, rumors about P.J. Tucker landing in Philadelphia continue to percolate. After Marc Stein reported earlier in the week that multiple executives believe the Sixers will sign Tucker to a three-year, $30MM contract, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer conveys a similar sentiment today.

According to Pompey, three sources believe Tucker to the 76ers is a “done deal,” while a fourth source said he’d be shocked if the veteran forward doesn’t end up in Philadelphia. Sources tell Pompey that Tucker’s three-year deal with the Sixers, assuming it materializes, could be worth $27MM with incentives that increase the value to $30MM.

The Sixers still need to do some cap work in order to realistically make that kind of offer to Tucker. If James Harden turns down his $47MM+ player option and agrees to a lesser first-year salary on a new contract, the team could create the cap flexibility necessary to use its full mid-level exception on Tucker. But Harden is expected to opt in and then sign an extension, which means Philadelphia would have to shed some salary. Furkan Korkmaz ($5MM), Matisse Thybulle ($4.4MM), and Georges Niang ($3.5MM) are among the club’s potential trade candidates.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • The Knicks are considering converting Jericho Sims‘ two-way contract into a standard NBA deal, sources tell Ian Begley of SNY.tv. If that occurs, second-round pick Trevor Keels would likely receive a two-way pact. Both moves were considered likely as of Tuesday afternoon, Begley writes.
  • Within the same story, Begley says he expects the Knicks to give strong consideration to re-signing Taj Gibson if they waive him this week as part of their cap-clearing efforts.
  • The four-year, $48MM contract Robert Williams signed with Boston last fall is viewed by rival executives as a fair comparable for Mitchell Robinson, according to Steve Popper of Newsday, who suggests the Knicks likely wouldn’t want to go much higher than that to retain Robinson this summer.
  • The Nets are expected to give David Duke a prominent role in summer league games next month and will give him an opportunity to compete for a roster spot in 2022/23, sources tell Chris Milholen of NetsDaily. Duke received a two-way qualifying offer from Brooklyn, as we relayed earlier today.

Heat/Sixers Notes: Tucker, Lowry, Robinson, Embiid, Niang

Heat forward P.J. Tucker has been tasked with guarding top players throughout his long career, and this year’s playoffs are no different. After hounding Trae Young in the first round, Tucker is now guarding former teammate James Harden, who has been contained by Miami through the first two games of their second-round matchup with the Sixers.

Despite the grueling physical toll that comes with covering great offensive players, Tucker says he feels like he’s still in the midst of his prime, as Marc J. Spears of Andscape relays in a lengthy interview with the veteran.

I told [my agent] that I feel better now than I felt when I was 31 and 32. And he was like, ‘Yo, what?’ I feel like during those two or three years I hit my prime. I’m still in the middle of my prime,” Tucker said. “From my body to my mind, and the way I play the game and understanding how to win, to be a real winner, I feel like I’m hitting my prime, and it’s crazy, man, to be 36, about to be 37 [Tucker turns 37 on May 5] and still feel like that. It’s crazy.

I’ve spent a ton of money on my body, therapists. I take care of my body and I have my whole career. So, that’s a blessing to still be able to be out there and play whatever amount of minutes and do what I do and [put] my body on the line nightly.”

Here’s more on the Heat/Sixers series:

  • Kyle Lowry, who missed Game 2 after suffering a strained hamstring in Game 3 vs. Atlanta, is eager to return to action, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, but the Heat are being cautious with their starting point guard, leery of the possibility of him aggravating the injury. “We’re not basing any of these decisions on whether we’re winning or losing,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said on Tuesday after practice. “This is what we think is best right now.”
  • After an inconsistent regular season and having his minutes gradually reduced in the first round, Heat guard Duncan Robinson has been out of Miami’s rotation completely in round two, notes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (subscriber link). “It literally can change next game. It’s a playoff rotation,” Spoelstra said of not playing Robinson on Monday. “He’s stable enough, he’s ready enough and it might just be some moments where he really can change a quarter or a game and just be ignitable. It’s just the way we went tonight.”
  • Joel Embiid‘s status remains up in the air for Game 3, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. When asked if Embiid could play on Friday, Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he was uncertain. “He’s got so many steps to go through. I don’t think he’s cleared any of them,” Rivers said after Game 2’s loss on Wednesday. Embiid is expected to be reevaluated on Thursday.
  • Sixers forward Georges Niang fouled out in just ten minutes of action in Game 2’s 119-103 loss and he’s apparently been limited by a knee injury. “(Niang) hasn’t been 100 percent for awhile,” Rivers said (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Niang has been playing through the injury, but it’s a situation worth monitoring because he’s a key bench contributor and was the team’s second-best three-point shooter during the regular season at 40.3%.

Sixers Notes: Reed, Heat Series, Harden, Small-Ball Lineups

Young Sixers big man Paul Reed seems enthused for his larger role with the club after serving as the team’s primary backup center behind Joel Embiid during its first round matchup against the Raptors, per Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The 6’9″ 22-year-old was selected with the No. 58 out of DePaul in 2020.

“I’ve just got to take full advantage of it and make sure that I help the team win any way I can,” Reed said during Philadelphia’s eventual 4-2 defeat of Toronto. “That’s the most important thing for me.”

Reed averaged 4.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in the Toronto series. In Game 1 against the Heat, an eventual 106-92 loss, Reed played for 13 minutes, scoring four points on 2-of-6 shooting, while pulling down nine rebounds and dishing out four assists. He also recorded a steal and a block.

He’s learning so fast and he’s a hell of a player,” fellow Sixers reserve center DeAndre Jordan, who started for Game 1 ahead of Reed, said. “So we’re going to need that from him, mistakes and all.” 

There’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Reed expressed confidence that the Sixers can defeat the Heat, regardless of their Game 1 loss in Miami, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Honestly, I think we can definitely beat this team,” Reed said. “We go out there and be more physical than them and play more aggressive. Keep them on their heels. They’re going to fold. We saw that happen in the second quarter and a little bit in the first. I think that’s one thing we realized facing this team.” Reed considers defense the club’s most imperative task in beating the Heat. “The only thing we have to worry about is locking them down every possession and getting out in transition,” he said. “Once we do that, they can’t stop us.” 
  • Considering that MVP finalist Joel Embiid will be sidelined until at least Game 3 with an orbital fracture and concussion, the Sixers clearly need 2018 MVP point guard James Harden to help carry the club’s burden on offense. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN wonders if the veteran All-Star is up to the task at this stage in his career. Shelburne notes that Harden has not scored 25 points or more across 11 straight playoff games, including Game 1. Harden struggled to create space as the focal point of Miami’s defensive attention with his All-Star center counterpart out. “They did a really good job of just boxes and elbows, showing their bodies and crowding the ball when the ball screens came,” Harden said. “But I think the shot-making is what opens up the floor for our entire team.”
  • With Embiid sidelined, the Sixers explored some smaller lineups against the Heat in Game 1, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Head coach Doc Rivers conceded that some small-ball rotations proved more effective than others. “We love Paul [Millsap], but… I don’t love the matchup with Paul and Bam Adebayo,” Rivers said. “We wanted more speed on the floor [than Jordan or Millsap], so we could do more switching. When we go zone and switch, we like Paul Reed on the floor.” Rivers went on to suggest that he likes lineups with Georges Niang or Reed at center surrounded by shooters elsewhere, but that the team struggled to secure rebounds against Miami with those players at center in the second half.

Injury Updates: Doncic, Allen, Kennard, Collins, Niang

The Mavericks put out a press release on Tuesday formally confirming that Luka Doncic is dealing with a strained left calf and announcing there’s no timetable for his return.

Dallas won’t have to officially list Doncic on the injury report until Friday, so the club will likely continue to be cagey about his availability for Game 1 vs. Utah. Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd declined to offer any specifics on Tuesday, offering coy responses about Doncic’s ability to practice and the possibility that he’ll play on Saturday, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

For what it’s worth, Kidd said multiple times that Doncic is “in great spirits,” while Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie offered a positive assessment of his teammate’s status (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News): He seemed solid to me. I mean, he don’t seem like a guy that’s going to miss too much time, if any.”

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

  • The Cavaliers have officially listed Jarrett Allen (finger) as out for Tuesday’s play-in game vs. Brooklyn. An earlier report suggested there’s some hope that Allen would be able to play on Friday if Cleveland loses tonight.
  • Clippers sharpshooter Luke Kennard (hamstring) had been officially listed as questionable for Tuesday’s play-in game, but he didn’t make the trip to Minnesota, according to head coach Tyronn Lue (Twitter link via Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times).
  • Hawks big man John Collins, out since March 11 due to finger and foot injuries, played some 4-on-4 over the weekend, but head coach Nate McMillan isn’t sure whether he’ll be available for Wednesday’s play-in game vs. Charlotte, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He’s been moving a lot more, and today was pretty much shooting. … We’ll see tomorrow,” McMillan said on Tuesday. “We’ll see how he feels after the weekend of play and what he went through today.”
  • After missing the last two games of the regular season with a knee issue, Sixers forward Georges Niang was able to practice on Tuesday and should be ready for Game 1 on Saturday, head coach Doc Rivers told reporters, including Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Sixers, Knicks, Durant, Simmons

Five-time Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid admitted that he considered quitting basketball entirely during his rookie year, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Embiid was drafted by the Sixers in 2014 with the third pick out of Kansas, but didn’t suit up for Philadelphia until the 2016/17 season. Surgeries for a navicular bone in his right foot delayed Embiid’s NBA debut for two years while he grieved the death of a family member off the court.

“You look back at my first year after the surgery,” Embiid said. “Obviously, I lost my brother at that time, too. Going back to Cameroon, I really wanted to stop playing basketball and really retire because at that point you just had surgery, and everybody is talking about ‘You’re not going to make it’ or ‘You’re never going to play in the league,’ and, obviously, the loss of my brother was big. I wanted to give up. I almost did. It was hard.”

The 28-year-old has since become one of the most dominant centers in the NBA, and is currently building a convincing MVP case with a terrific and mostly healthy season thus far. He is averaging 29.6 PPG, 11.2 RPG and 4.5 APG through 46 games this season. Embiid boasts shooting splits of .495/.369/.813.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • While the identities of four Sixers starters are fairly clear heading into the home stretch of the 2021/22 NBA season, the team has several options for the fifth starting role, per Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice. With James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris and Embiid entrenched in the club’s starting lineup. Neubeck considers whether they’d be best complemented by the defensive attributes of Matisse Thybulle, the corner three-point shooting of Danny Green or Furkan Korkmaz, or the size advantage of Georges Niang.
  • With a 25-34 record, the Knicks face an uphill battle to even make the play-in tournament this season. Fred Katz of The Athletic wonders at what point second-year New York head coach Tom Thibodeau, whose job may be in jeopardy this summer, may opt to prioritize developing the team’s youth over less-than-meaningful victories. Katz also theorizes about the potential markets awaiting 2022 unrestricted free agent center Mitchell Robinson, and forward Cam Reddish, whom the Knicks could either opt to extend this summer or allow to reach restricted free agency next year.
  • Nets team president Sean Marks expects stars Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons to join the team on the hardwood fairly soon, writes Brian Lewis of the New York Post“Depending when they go, we’ve got to see how they respond to days like [Tuesday], and we’ll go forward with this,” Marks said. “It’s probably going to be tough, to be honest, to be playing in the next three or four days. But we’ll see how it all plays out.”

COVID Updates: Green, Brooks, Bazley, Augustin, Scrubb, Niang, Neto

The league continues to be ravaged by COVID positives with an increasing number of players entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Here are the latest updates:

  • Warriors star forward Draymond Green has entered the protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Green joined four other Warriors in the protocols heading into a pair of games against Denver.
  • The Grizzlies’ Dillon Brooks, De’Anthony Melton and Yves Pons all entered the protocols prior to their game against Sacramento on Sunday, the team’s PR department tweets. Memphis now has five players under those restrictions.
  • Darius Bazley became the first Thunder player in protocols, Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic tweets.
  • Veteran Rockets guard D.J. Augustin has entered the health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • Clippers two-way player Jay Scrubb has been placed in the protocols, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
  • Wizards guard Raul Neto has joined two other Washington players in the protocols, Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets.
  • Two Hornets regulars, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington, are now in the protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.
  • On the positive side, Sixers forward Georges Niang has cleared the protocols, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

COVID-19 Updates: Niang, I. Smith, J. Richardson

Sixers forward Georges Niang has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Niang has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game and if he registered a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, he figures to miss several more. He’d have to sit out at least 10 days or return two consecutive negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared to exit the protocols.

Several teams have been affected this month by positive COVID-19 tests. Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and the Lakers are among the clubs that have had three or more players in the protocols at the same time. The Sixers aren’t at that point yet, but they’ll likely test the rest of the team to make sure they’re not at risk of an outbreak.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the league:

  • The Hornets announced today (via Twitter) that Ish Smith has cleared the health and safety protocols and is joining LaMelo Ball in the G League on Wednesday to practice with the Greensboro Swarm for reconditioning purposes. Smith and Ball will have to pass cardiac tests before they get the OK to return to action for Charlotte.
  • Celtics wing Josh Richardson, who entered the protocols last Friday, has been cleared and returned to practice today, per head coach Ime Udoka (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). Richardson, who is rumored to be unvaccinated, may have been a close contact of someone who tested positive rather than registering a positive test himself.
  • Pat Graham of The Associated Press takes a look at how the NBA schedule has been impacted by COVID-19 for the first time this season and notes that the league’s new booster-related guidelines will go into effect this Friday.

Jazz Notes: Player Development, Conley, Niang, Wade

The Jazz‘s player development track record is getting hard to ignore, according to Ben Dowsett of FiveThirtyEight.com, who points not to stars like Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert, but to veterans like Joe Ingles, Jordan Clarkson, and – most recently – Royce O’Neale.

Dowsett contends that the mid-career leaps those players have made in Utah are in large part due to head coach Quin Snyder‘s developmental program. For his part, Snyder is reluctant to take credit, suggesting that the players themselves are the ones responsible for their positive strides.

“It’s a credit to the players,” Snyder said. “Sometimes you can be content, especially if you’re successful in this league and have established yourself, to do what you do, so to speak.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • After Mike Conley missed several key games in last season’s playoffs due to a hamstring injury, the Jazz are doing all they can in 2021/22 to make sure he’s fully healthy for the postseason, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. That includes limiting Conley’s minutes and sitting him in certain back-to-back sets, which the veteran guard is still getting used to. “I think the plan is going to pay dividends at the end,” Conley said. “I don’t like sitting games at all. I definitely prefer to play. But if it’s going to give me a better chance at health in the long run, I’m all for it. Especially if it’s going to help the team.”
  • In a separate story for The Athletic, Jones explores how Georges Niang, who returned to Utah on Tuesday as a member of the Sixers, developed into a reliable NBA player with the Jazz, noting that Niang still holds the franchise in high regard. “Being in Utah, it took me from a young man to an adult,” he said. “I can’t be thankful enough to the Jazz organization, and I had four great years in Utah.”
  • McKay Coppins of The Deseret News takes an in-depth look at the impact new team owner Ryan Smith has had on the Jazz and the greater aspirations he has for the state of Utah.
  • In a Q&A with Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, Dwyane Wade spoke about being a part-owner of the Jazz and said that his role with the franchise will be “forever evolving” as he learns more about the business side of basketball.