Goga Bitadze

COVID-19 Updates: Beal, Gill, Pacers, Pritchard, Young, Sixers

Wizards guard Bradley Beal re-entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, as Josh Robbins of The Athletic tweets. It’s Beal’s second protocol-related absence within the last month — he missed three games between December 23-28 due to contact tracing, Robbins notes.

Unlike last season, when any player determined to be a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 was placed in the protocols, those guidelines only apply to unvaccinated players this season. Beal began the season unvaccinated, but confirmed when he returned in late December that he had recently received the vaccine. That could mean his absence this time around isn’t related to contact tracing, and that he returned a positive or inconclusive test.

The Wizards did get one piece of good news on Tuesday afternoon, as forward Anthony Gill exited the protocols, per Robbins (Twitter link). That means Beal is currently the only Washington player affected.

Here are more protocol-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers announced on Tuesday that Caris LeVert and Goga Bitadze have exited the health and safety protocols, as James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star writes. Both players have a chance to be available on Wednesday vs. Boston. They’re listed as questionable for now.
  • The Celtics no longer have any players in the COVID-19 protocols, as guard Payton Pritchard has been cleared, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link).
  • Spurs forward Thaddeus Young is no longer in the health and safety protocols, tweets Paul Garcia of Project Spurs. However, San Antonio still has five players in the protocols, tied with Utah for the highest current total in the league.
  • Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey and forward Paul Reed aren’t listed on the team’s latest injury report, indicating that they’ve both cleared the protocols (Twitter links via Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia).
  • Of approximately 2,400 “tier 1” staffers working for NBA teams, there have been more than 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 this season, creating major challenges for franchises, writes Baxter Holmes of ESPN. “You’re basically taking an assembly of people who help the athletes and taking a few people off the line every few days for a week or more,” one athletic training official told ESPN. “It has interfered significantly with the regular protocols and people being given responsibilities/duties they don’t normally have or are even qualified to do in order to get the job done. It’s been the Wild Wild West.”

COVID-19 Updates: Magic, Trail Blazers, Rockets, Pacers

Here are the latest updates on players and coaches entering and exiting the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols:

  • Four Magic players have cleared the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will suit up for Orlando against the Celtics. The team has announced (Twitter link) that center Mohamed Bamba, shooting guard Mychal Mulder, swingman Terrence Ross and point guard Hassani Gravett are all now available.
  • Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups, who has been unavailable since December 27, has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Portland lead assistant Scott Brooks, who had been serving in Billups’s stead as acting head coach, has entered COVID-19 protocols, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Hardship signee Cameron McGriff has entered the protocols, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (via Twitter). Combo guard Anfernee Simons has left protocols after just three days, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The 13-22 Trail Blazers could certainly use all the help they can get, and the return of the 6’3″ guard will help shore up a team still missing seven players to health and safety protocols, with McGriff now replacing Simons in coronavirus protocols.
  • Rockets wing Garrison Mathews has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Houston rewarded Mathews for a solid performance early in the 2021/22 season by converting his two-way contract into a fresh four-year, $8MM deal last month.
  • Pacers small forwards Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, plus center Goga Bitadze, have entered the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Warren has been dealing with a major foot injury since the start of 2020/21, and has only played in four games over the past two seasons. Today’s news brings Indiana’s total count for players in protocols to eight.
  • After exiting the protocols on Friday, Pistons guard Cory Joseph has re-entered them, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.

Pacers Rumors: Simmons, Turner, Sabonis, Duarte, Jackson

The Pacers are considered the NBA team most likely to make a significant move on the trade market, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. However, Fischer says there’s a leaguewide skepticism that Indiana will embark on a full-fledged rebuild after hiring head coach Rick Carlisle to a four-year contract just months ago.

“Carlisle is not going to allow that to happen,” one assistant general manager told Bleacher Report. “They’re going to ‘middle build.’ They’re going to go with a sense of competing.”

As Fischer observes, a deal for 25-year-old star Ben Simmons would be the sort of big move the Pacers could make if they want to look toward the future while remaining competitive in the present. But none of Indiana’s top trade chips is the kind of star the Sixers would covet as the centerpiece as a Simmons deal. If the Pacers make a serious push for Simmons, they may have to loop in a third team, Fischer writes.

Here’s more on the Pacers from Fischer:

  • As Shams Charania reported on Monday, the expectation among rival executives is that the Pacers will move one of their standout big men – Myles Turner or Domantas Sabonis – but not both. Fischer says Indiana may ultimately make its decision based on which player commands a higher return, which suggests the team doesn’t strongly prefer one over the other.
  • Although Turner has been involved in trade rumors for years, the Pacers have always highly valued him, according to Fischer, who hears from sources that the club turned down a Pelicans offer that included the No. 4 pick in the 2019 draft. That pick was eventually sent to the Hawks, who drafted De’Andre Hunter.
  • Sabonis’ value around the NBA is mixed, but Fischer names the Trail Blazers as one team that may be interested. Fischer also mentions the Kings, pointing out that Carlisle thinks highly of Harrison Barnes, but a Monday report indicated Sacramento hasn’t pursued Sabonis or Turner at all this season.
  • Malcolm Brogdon can’t be traded this season after recently signing an extension. But besides Brogdon, rookies Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson are viewed by rival executives as the only Pacers players who are probably off-limits in trade talks. “Sabonis, Turner, (T.J.) Warren, (and Caris) LeVert all can be had at the right price,” another assistant GM told Fischer.
  • In other Pacers news, the team has assigned center Goga Bitadze to the G League for the first time this season, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. As Agness points out, Bitadze has been out of Indiana’s rotation for weeks and could use some reps with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

Pacers Exercise 2022/23 Option On Goga Bitadze

6:20pm: The Pacers have officially exercised Bitadze’s option, the team announced in a press release.


2:22pm: The Pacers are exercising the 2022/23 rookie scale team option in the contract of center Goga Bitadze, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). The move guarantees Bitadze’s $4.76MM salary for next season.

The deadline for teams to exercise third or fourth-year rookie-scale options is this Monday, November 1. Bitadze is Indiana’s only player with one of these options, as detailed in our tracker.

Bitadze, the No. 18 pick in 2019, is in his third season with the franchise. He appeared in 45 games last season, averaging 5.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 12.5 minutes per contest.

The Pacers have opened the 2021/22 season with a 1-5 record, playing without Caris LeVert (back) and T.J. Warren (foot).

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.