Goga Bitadze

Eastern Rumors: Dinwiddie, Wizards, Avdija, Oladipo, Knicks, Bitadze

The Wizards continue to work through their complicated sign-and-trade acquisition of Spencer Dinwiddie, according to multiple reports.

Quinton Mayo (Twitter link) has heard the Bulls and Thunder mentioned as teams that could end up getting involved in a multi-team trade involving Dinwiddie. Mayo also reports that the Nets asked the Wizards for Deni Avdija during those negotiations, which Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News (twitter link) corroborates.

If and when the Wizards, Nets, and other potential trade partners figure out a deal, Dinwiddie is expected to get a three-year, $62MM deal from Washington, reports Winfield (Twitter link).

Here are a few more updates from around the East:

  • Although Victor Oladipo‘s camp is optimistic that he’ll be able to return to action sometime between late December and early February, some Heat people believe March is a more realistic target, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Oladipo, who underwent quad tendon surgery in May, agreed to a minimum-salary contract with Miami.
  • Following up on an Ian Begley report that stated the final year in the Knicks‘ deals with Nerlens Noel, Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Evan Fournier aren’t guaranteed, ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link) clarifies that all four deals are expected to have standard team options in their last years. Noel, Burks, and Rose will have those options in year three, while Fournier’s will be in year four.
  • Pacers big man Goga Bitadze wanted to play for the team in Summer League this month, but he missed Indiana’s first two SL practices due to back soreness and is now away from the club due to a personal matter, writes Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Central Notes: Temple, Bryant, Pacers, Hayes

As his first year with the Bulls nears its end, veteran swingman Garrett Temple praised the job that president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas and general manager Marc Eversley have done for the franchise so far, suggesting that the front office is one reason why Chicago will be an appealing destination for free agents.

“I think people that understand and are free agents and things of that nature, are probably looking at the Bulls front office as a place, a group of people that know what they’re doing for sure,” Temple said, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

Temple, whose one-year contract with the Bulls will expire at season’s end, added that he believes the club is capable of taking “great steps in the next year or two” and expressed interest in remaining in Chicago beyond 2020/21.

“Yeah, no question. I love what we’re doing here. I love the coaching staff. I’m enjoying the front office. I’m really enjoying being around the guys,” Temple said. “For example in Detroit (Saturday) night we were hanging out together in the lobby area, talking and playing cards. Those type of things. Not every team is like that. I enjoy being here. And I would love to see what we could do to progress this type of team.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Maccabi Tel Aviv issued a press release confirming that they’ve officially parted with Elijah Bryant, allowing him to pursue an NBA opportunity. Having left his team in Israel, Bryant is on track to sign with the Bucks.
  • After their very public altercation on the sidelines last week, Pacers center Goga Bitadze and assistant coach Greg Foster appear to have smoothed things over. Video from before Saturday’s game showed them embracing, laughing, and working together, as Nat Newell of The Indianapolis Star relays.
  • Pistons rookie Killian Hayes racked up a career-high 21 points against Chicago on Sunday and said after the game that he appreciated being able to play off the ball alongside fellow guard Saben Lee. This is the second time I played with Saben, I loved it,” Hayes said, per Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). “… When you always have the ball in your hands, the defense can read what you’re going to do.” As Sankofa observes (via Twitter), Hayes’ comfort level in that role could be important if the Pistons find themselves in position to select an on-ball guard such as Cade Cunningham near the top of this year’s draft.

Pacers Suspend Greg Foster One Game, Fine Goga Bitadze

12:55pm: The Pacers have issued a press release officially confirming Foster’s suspension and the fine for Bitadze.

11:32am: The Pacers are suspending assistant coach Greg Foster for one game and fining center Goga Bitadze for a heated altercation during Wednesday’s home loss to Sacramento, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Foster, who had to be held back by Myles Turner, was believed to be upset by Bitadze’s lack of resistance on a Maurice Harkless dunk, as Matthew VanTryon of The Indianapolis Star details. Following that Harkless dunk, Bitadze responded by hitting a three-pointer and appeared to tell Foster to “sit the f— down,” which led to the altercation on the sidelines (video link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star).

The incident was the latest indication that the struggling Pacers are frustrated and feeling a little frayed at the edges. In the wake of multiple reports suggesting his job could be in jeopardy, Pacers head coach Nate Bjorkgren spoke before last night’s game about the importance of communicating with his players and sticking together during a rough stretch, per VanTryon. After the game, Bjorkgren – who said he had talked to both Foster and Bitadze – downplayed the incident but hinted he wasn’t quite ready to close the book on it.

“I’m going to find out exactly what was said and in what way,” Bjorkgren told reporters on Wednesday night. “They’re both trying so hard. They’re both competitive. They both want what’s best for the team, and it didn’t happen that way. It boiled over a little bit.”

According to Wojnarowski, Foster and Bitadze have had a “strong working relationship” this season, and the Pacers expect that to continue going forward.

Central Notes: White, LaVine, Stewart, Bitadze 

New Bulls coach Billy Donovan won’t accept excuses for a subpar performance, like the 30-point loss Friday night in Milwaukee, writes Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. Donovan was particularly unhappy with his starting backcourt of Coby White and Zach LaVine, who combined for nine turnovers.

“They’re the ones who have to be the driving force behind the identity which we need to play and we did not play to that identity,’’ Donovan said. “It’s five guys on the court doing it together, but also I think a big part of that is the guys who have the ball in their hands as they start to make decisions and get the ball up the floor quickly and get us into things, we’ve got to be able to do that and sustain that for a period of time. I thought collectively we were unable to do that.”

Cowley notes that Donovan has talked since training camp about the important roles White and LaVine will play, but both have been inconsistent during the team’s 2-4 start. White is in his second NBA season and his first as a starter, while LaVine has one year left on his current contract. Cowley suggests that the way both players perform now will determine their future in Chicago.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bulls rookie Patrick Williams welcomed the challenge of guarding two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, according to Rob Schaeffer of NBC Sports. Williams said he’s ready to face “the best players, night in night out,” and Donovan thought it would be a good learning experience for the 19-year-old.
  • Pistons rookie Isaiah Stewart is drawing comparisons to Dennis Rodman and Ben Wallace for his tenaciousness as a rebounder, according to Keith Langlois of NBA.com. Through his first three NBA games, Stewart is tied for the league lead in offensive rebounding with 4.0 per night. “To me, it’s just wanting it more than the next guy and just not being denied,” he said. “It’s just a part of me. It’s who I am. If you put me out on the floor, it’s what you’re going to get out of me.”
  • The Pacers expect second-year center Goga Bitadze to make his season debut soon after being sidelined by a Grade 2 right ankle sprain, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. “He’s moving a little bit more every day,” coach Nate Bjorkgren said. “I’m not sure on the time frame when he’ll be back yet. I wouldn’t think too much longer.”

Pacers Exercise 2021/22 Options On Holiday, Bitadze

The Pacers have picked up a pair of rookie scale contract options for the 2021/22 season, announcing today in a press release that they’ve exercised Aaron Holiday‘s fourth-year option and Goga Bitadze‘s third-year option.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2021/22 Rookie Scale Team Options]

Holiday, 24, saw an increased role in Indiana’s backcourt last season, averaging 9.5 PPG and 3.4 APG to go along with a .414/.394/.851 shooting line in 66 games (24.5 MPG).

After earning $2.35MM this season, Holiday will make $3.98MM in 2021/22 as a result of his newly-exercised option. He’ll be eligible for a rookie scale extension in 2021. If he doesn’t sign a new deal at that point, he’d be on track for restricted free agency in ’22.

Bitadze, the 18th overall pick in the 2019 draft, appeared in 54 games as a rookie for the Pacers, averaging 3.2 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 8.7 minutes per contest. After dealing with visa issues and knee problems during his first year as a Pacer, the big man is currently battling an ankle sprain and will miss the start of the season.

Bitadze’s 2021/22 option – which is now fully guaranteed – is worth $3.1MM. The Pacers will have to decide next year whether to pick up his $5.79MM option for ’22/23.

Pacers’ Goga Bitadze Out Indefinitely With Ankle Sprain

Pacers big man Goga Bitadze has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 right ankle sprain, the team announced today in a press release.

There’s no set timetable for how much time Bitadze will miss, according to the Pacers, who said in today’s announcement that he’ll be out indefinitely. The plan is to reevaluate him in two weeks to assess his progress.

As Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files notes (via Twitter), Bitadze’s ankle sprain is the latest example of the bad luck he has endured since being selected 18th overall in the 2019 draft. Visa issues delayed his initial arrival stateside, forcing him to miss Summer League as a rookie, and he has also dealt with knee issues since beginning his NBA career.

Bitadze, 21, appeared in 54 games as a rookie for the Pacers, averaging 3.2 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 8.7 minutes per contest. When healthy, he’ll provide depth at the five behind Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

Pacers Notes: McMillan, Warren, Bitadze

During a conversation about the Pacers on an episode of The Lowe Post podcast, ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy and Zach Lowe said they’ve both heard chatter about the possibility that Nate McMillan could be on the hot seat in Indiana (hat tip to Alex Golden of PacersTalk.net).

“I had two people come up to me since I’ve been here (in Orlando) and say, ‘Nate McMillan’s in trouble,'” Van Gundy said.

“It’s been the hottest rumor all season,” Lowe replied. “… What you’ve heard in Orlando’s been going around all season.”

Indiana hasn’t won a playoff series under McMillan, and there has been some chatter about a need to modernize the team’s offense, which ranks last this season in three-point attempts per game (27.7). Still, the two ESPN analysts pointed out that the Pacers have exceeded expectations in recent years, especially given the injuries they’ve had to deal with. And Lowe cautioned that there has been no confirmation the Pacers are seriously considering a change.

“Let me be clear: It’s just a rumor,” Lowe said. “I don’t know if it’s true. When you talk to people around the Pacers, they say, ‘It’s not true’ or ‘Where you’d hear that from?’ … I think Nate’s earned the benefit of the doubt.”

Let’s round up a few more Pacers-related items…

  • In addition to helping the Pacers pick up wins during this summer’s restart, T.J. Warren‘s huge games in Orlando are showing that he’s a crucial part of the team’s future, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who notes that the 26-year-old’s prime years line up well with the rest of Indiana’s core.
  • Pacers rookie Goga Bitadze, who returned to action this week, acknowledged today that his left knee has been an issue almost all season (Twitter link via J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star). “(After the hiatus), it hurt me a lot more,” Bitadze said. “I basically couldn’t run… It’s hard for me to get back ready to play.” However, after undergoing an MRI, the big man was told by team doctors that the soreness isn’t a serious issue, so it sounds like he probably won’t need offseason surgery, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.
  • In case you missed it on Thursday, we passed along word that ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan walked back her claim that Larry Bird left his job as president of basketball operations in Indiana because he was frustrated by the team’s reluctance to spend.

Central Notes: Oladipo, Bitadze, Kornet, Sabonis

Pacers head coach Nate McMillan states that star shooting guard Victor Oladipo, whose status for the NBA’s season restart has remained uncertain, will be a game-day decision for Indiana’s first seeding game in Orlando on Saturday, according to Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

“He went through practice today, he’ll go through practice tomorrow and like any other one of our players, we’ll see who’s available for Saturday,” McMillan said. Oladipo did play in all three of the Pacers’ scrimmages in Orlando.

Here are more notes from around the Central Division:

  • McMillan also said this week that Pacers rookie center Goga Bitadze, the No. 18 pick in the 2019 draft, remains “a couple of weeks away” from being able to suit up for Indiana, according to J. Michael of the Indy Star (Twitter link). McMillan indicated last week that Bitadze is struggling with a soft-tissue injury.
  • Bulls bench center Luke Kornet had a disappointing first season in Chicago, as Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago details. Kornet, who inked a two-year, $4.5 MM contract with the club last summer, was roundly outplayed by second-round rookie Daniel Gafford, and averaged just 6.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, and 0.7 BPG.
  • With the team’s lone 2019/20 All-Star Domantas Sabonis away from the NBA’s restart campus dealing with plantar fasciitis, the Pacers are now looking to take a small-ball approach to their seeding games and subsequent playoff run, according to Mark Montieth of Pacers.com.

McMillan Expects Oladipo To Play In Pacers’ Scrimmages

The Pacers will participate in their first inter-squad scrimmage this Thursday, and head coach Nate McMillan told reporters today that he expects star guard Victor Oladipo to play in that game — and in the rest of Indiana’s scrimmages.

“I do,” McMillan said. “He’s going through the practices and he’s looking good. Our first scrimmage is Thursday and we’ll see how our guys feel and get them minutes accordingly.”

Oladipo has wavered in recent weeks on whether or not he’ll participate in the NBA’s restart this summer. After initially ruling himself out for the summer in early July, Oladipo changed course, telling reporters last week that there’s a “strong possibility” he’ll play if his body continues to respond well to workouts.

McMillan’s comments today don’t mean that anything is set in stone regarding Oladipo’s availability for the team’s upcoming scrimmages, seeding games, or playoff contests. However, for now, it still seems as if we’re trending in the direction of seeing the two-time All-Star play this summer.

In other Pacers news, McMillan said today that Domantas Sabonis, Goga Bitadze, and JaKarr Sampson are dealing with what he referred to as soft-tissue injuries, tweets Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. Sabonis has had a plantar fasciitis flare-up and is unlikely to play in Thursday’s scrimmage, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/2/20

Here are Monday’s assignments and recalls from across the NBA G League:

  • The Warriors assigned guard Stephen Curry to its affiliate in Santa Cruz and then recalled the former MVP, according to a team press release and Twitter post. Curry got in a practice with the G League club as he prepares to return from a broken left hand. The team also assigned forward Alen Smailagic to Santa Cruz. Smailagic has appeared in 19 games with Santa Cruz this season, posting averages of 15.2 PPG and 6.1 RPG in 25.9 MPG.
  • The Pacers recalled center Goga Bitadze and forward Alize Johnson from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team’s PR department tweets. Bitadze, the team’s first-round selection, has averaged 3.0 PPG in 8.5 MPG while making 46 appearances for the Pacers. Johnson, a 2018 second-rounder, has seen action in 12 NBA games this season.
  • The Magic recalled guard Melvin Frazier from Lakeland, the team’s PR department tweets. A 2018 second-round pick, Frazier has appeared in 14 games with Orlando this season.
  • The Bulls assigned and then recalled power forward Lauri Markkanen from the Windy City Bulls, the team tweets. Markkanen participated in a practice as part of his rehab process. He has been sidelined since January 22 with a stress reaction of his right pelvis.
  • The Clippers assigned big man Mfiondu Kabengele and guard Terance Mann to their Agua Caliente affiliate, according to the team’s PR department. A late first-rounder last June, Kabengele has appeared in 12 Clippers games. Mann, a rookie drafted in the second round, has seen action in 35 NBA games.
  • The Jazz assigned forward Juwan Morgan and guard Rayjon Tucker to the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the G League transactions log. A pair of undrafted rookies, Morgan has appeared in 16 Jazz games this season while Tucker has made 14 NBA appearances.