Gordon Hayward

Hornets Notes: Ball, Monk, Hayward, Cody Martin

LaMelo Ball exceeded expectations in his first season with the Hornets, but coach James Borrego still sees room for improvement, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Ball is a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honors and Borrego has called him the “engine” of Charlotte’s offense, but his first season was also marked by excessive turnovers and missed assignments on defense.

Bonnell notes that Ball didn’t have a full summer or a traditional training camp to adjust to the NBA. He still averaged 15.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 6.1 assists in 51 games and may have been a runaway choice for the league’s top rookie if not for a broken wrist he suffered in March.

“This is all new and fresh for him,” Borrego said. “I thought he was making some significant steps before the injury. I thought he showed tremendous growth. Obviously, that was disrupted with the injury. The goal now — one of my top priorities this summer — is to really work with this kid … work on offense and defense. We’ve got to take some major steps, and it starts with his body, and then working through offense and defense.”

There’s more from Charlotte:

  • Malik Monk‘s future with the team is uncertain as he heads toward free agency this summer, Bonnell states in the same story. The fourth-year guard is coming off his best scoring season, averaging 11.7 points per game, but he might not have a set role in a crowded Hornets backcourt. “If they want me here, I’d love to be here,” Monk said Wednesday in a session with the media, “but I want to feel wanted.” 
  • A sprained right foot sidelined Gordon Hayward for the final 25 games, but he doesn’t expect to need offseason surgery, Bonnell adds. Hayward told reporters that when the injury occurred in early April, he was given a recovery timeline of six to eight weeks. This Friday represents the seven-week mark.
  • Cody Martin missed Tuesday’s play-in game with a sprained ankle and said he probably won’t be able to do any on-court work until next week, Bonnell tweets. That mean’s it’s unlikely that Martin would have been available for a first-round playoff series if the Hornets had advanced.

Southeast Notes: Hayward, Magic, Homesley, Heat Crowds

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward will remain out for the play-in tournament game on Tuesday against Indiana, the team’s PR department tweets. Hayward hasn’t played since April 2 due to a right foot sprain. Cody Martin (left ankle sprain) will also miss the game.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic couldn’t take anything out of this disastrous season, except for improving their chances of getting a top-four pick, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel opines. Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz lost valuable development time due to season-ending injuries and it’s tough to evaluate the other young players on the roster because the team was in tank mode during the second half of the season.
  • Caleb Homesley‘s contract with the Wizards is worth $5.3MM over four years, including this season, Fred Katz of The Athletic tweets. The next two seasons are non-guaranteed and the final year includes a team option. Homesley was signed as a developmental player after seeing action in 15 G League games with the Erie BayHawks. He won’t be with the team for the play-in tournament.
  • The Heat will increase their crowd capacity for the postseason, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. A crowd of 8,600 fans (43%) will be allowed in for the first round of the playoffs. The arena capacity was previously at 5,700 (29%).

Injury Updates: Lakers, Nets, Hornets, Pelicans, Mavs, C’s

The NBA’s injury report is of particular interest this week in the regular season’s final days, as we wait to see which players may or may not be available for teams fighting for playoff positioning.

A pair of big-market superstars, LeBron James and James Harden, are said to be targeting Wednesday returns for the Lakers and Nets, respectively. James has been listed as questionable by the Lakers, while Harden is probable for Brooklyn.

Each of those teams also has another star player whose status for Wednesday’s games is up in the air. Lakers big man Anthony Davis is questionable due to left adductor tightness, while Kyrie Irving is questionable due to the facial contusion he suffered on Tuesday.

The Nets hold the No. 2 seed in the East and the Lakers are hosting a Houston team that is 5-43 since February 4, so neither club should feel a ton of urgency to push its stars back into action if they’re not quite ready.

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

  • Hornets forward Miles Bridges, out since May 2 due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has a chance to return this weekend, head coach James Borrego said today. However, Borrego’s responses to questions about Gordon Hayward‘s foot injury made it sound as if Hayward may not be ready for the play-in tournament, says Rod Boone of SI.com (Twitter links). Hayward hasn’t played since April 2.
  • The Pelicans need a win tonight in Dallas to remain in the hunt for a play-in spot, but they’ll be missing a number of key players, as Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Steven Adams all remain out, and Lonzo Ball (right thumb) will join them on the sidelines.
  • Mavericks guard J.J. Redick, who left Tuesday’s game with right heel soreness, will also miss Wednesday’s game vs. New Orleans, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News.
  • The Celtics, who appear likely to finish the regular season at No. 7 in the East, will be without Kemba Walker (left knee) and Marcus Smart (right calf) on Wednesday in Cleveland, notes Tom Withers of The Associated Press. Jaylen Brown has already been ruled out for the season, and Robert Williams remains on the shelf as well.

Kupchak Was Surprised To Get Hayward

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak didn’t think the team had much of a chance at landing Gordon Hayward in free agency last offseason, Chris Sheridan of Basketball News reports.

While the team had the means to create enough cap room for Hayward, the Hornets were surprised that he opted out of his contract with Boston, let alone wanted to go to Charlotte. Hayward signed a four-year, $120MM contract and officially came to Charlotte via a sign-and-trade.

“I didn’t think he would opt out of that and want to leave Boston,” Kupchak said. “That doesn’t happen very often so when that was happening, even at the very end, even though we tried and we did everything we could do — and it was a good feeling that he was going to come to Charlotte — there was a big part of me that said, ‘This just doesn’t happen very often, that a player of this caliber will go to a small market.’ So I wasn’t really sure until we got his signature that he was going to come… That just kind of happened.”

A similar scenario unfolded a year earlier when the Hornets agreed with Terry Rozier on a three-year, $58MM contract and worked out a sign-and-trade with the Celtics after Kemba Walker chose Boston in free agency.

Kupchak has taken heat for overpaying for Hayward and Rozier, but he shrugs it off.

“It’s kind of hard to shake me up, you know? There might have been some criticism; I didn’t follow it that closely at the time,” Kupchak said. “But you’ve got to weigh everything: the draft, free-agent signings, trades. You really have to wait four or five years to look back on it and that’s when you know really whether you made a mistake or you didn’t make a mistake.”

Hayward was enjoying an All-Star level season (19.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 4.1 APG) before suffering a foot injury in early April. Rozier is averaging 20.3 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 4.1 APG this season.

Injury Notes: Porzingis, Hart, Adams, Hayward, Walker, Hartenstein, Hunter, Beverley

The Mavericks will hold center Kristaps Porzingis out of both games this weekend as he deals with pain in his right knee, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “He’s going to rehab and work out,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “He’s doing better than he was two nights ago in Detroit. Things are moving in a good direction.”

Porzingis was also dealing with a sprained left ankle last week, so Thursday’s game against the Pistons marked the only time he has played since April 22. Carlisle said he had no other specifics to offer and no timetable beyond this weekend. He added that Porzingis is “very diligent” about rehab work.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Pelicans aren’t sure if guard Josh Hart will be able to return before the end of the regular season, according to Jim Eichenhofer (Twitter link). Hart had surgery April 6 to fix a torn UCL in his right thumb. “We knew going in that his timetable to get back (in uniform) would be the last week to 10 days (of the regular season), coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We’ll have to wait and see as we get later into next week.”
  • Pelicans center Steven Adams suffered a sprained toe this week, but Van Gundy said it’s a day-to-day issue and Adams should be available for the rest of the season (Twitter link from Andrew Lopez of ESPN).
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward no longer needs a walking boot for his sprained right foot, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
  • Celtics guard Kemba Walker is listed as doubtful for Sunday with a strain in his left side, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN (Twitter link). It would be the fourth straight missed game for Walker.
  • Cavaliers center Isaiah Hartenstein was able to work out at the arena tonight for the first time since entering concussion protocol, according to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Hartenstein has missed the past four games.
  • Hawks forward De’Andre Hunter, who has been out since March 23 with a knee injury, hasn’t been able to work out for several days, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Coach Nate McMillan said he has no idea if Hunter will be able to play again this season.
  • Clippers guard Patrick Beverley may be able to return in the “next couple games” if his left hand continues to improve, coach Tyronn Lue told Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: Hornets, Huerter, Warren, DSJ, Bagley

The Hornets will see if LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk are ready for game action during their off days Thursday and Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Ball had surgery March 23 on his fractured right wrist, while Monk has been sidelined since April 1 with a sprained ankle. Both players will take part in 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 scrimmages over the next two days.

The news isn’t as encouraging for Gordon Hayward, Bonnell adds. He’s still wearing a protective boot on his injured right foot and there’s no timetable for him to start working out. “Gordon is not there yet,” coach James Borrego said.

Here are some more injury-related notes and updates:

  • The Hawks are getting a second opinion on Kevin Huerter‘s sprained left shoulder, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Huerter underwent an MRI this week, but the results haven’t been announced.
  • Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, began jogging today on a treadmill, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). Coach Nate Bjorkgren called it “a big step” for the 27-year-old forward.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t been able to practice lately and the Pistons don’t have a timeline for him to return from left knee soreness, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “That’s why it’s so important that Killian (Hayes) came back,” said coach Dwane Casey. “… It’s unfortunate that he’s been hurt, but injury is something you have to deal with.”
  • Marvin Bagley III could return soon from his hand injury, Kings coach Luke Walton tells James Ham of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Bagley has participated in some 3-on-3 games and may be ready to start playing in the next few days.

Injury Notes: Lillard, Durant, Fox, Hornets

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, who has missed the team’s last three games due to right hamstring tendiopathy, intends to return on Wednesday night vs. Denver, tweets Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

The Trail Blazers will welcome Lillard’s return — after squeaking out a one-point win in San Antonio, the club lost its next two games without him. Portland remains in the No. 6 seed in the West, but now has just a 1.5-game cushion over the seventh-place Mavs.

Here are a few more injury-related notes and updates:

  • A pair of sources confirmed to Brian Lewis of The New York Post that Kevin Durant‘s thigh injury is considered minor. Durant remains with the Nets on their current road trip rather than having returned to Brooklyn, and head coach Steve Nash said the star forward is “day-to-day.” The latest update from the team on James Harden wasn’t quite so positive, as we relayed last night.
  • Kings head coach Luke Walton said after Tuesday’s game that point guard De’Aaron Fox tweaked his ankle on Sunday, per Sean Cunningham of ABC10 Sacramento (Twitter link). It doesn’t appear the injury will sideline Fox for now, but it explains why he was limited to 28 minutes in the club’s loss last night — those 28 minutes were the fewest he has played in a game since January 15.
  • There’s still no set timetable for LaMelo Ball, Malik Monk, or Gordon Hayward to return to the Hornets, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Although Monk’s return isn’t imminent, he’s believed to be closer than Hayward, says Bonnell. As for Ball, while a Monday report suggested he could be back as soon as early next week, head coach James Borrego wouldn’t confirm that, but he did say it seems that Ball wouldn’t be at risk of worsening his wrist injury if he returns this season, which is good news for Charlotte.

Injury Notes: Holmes, Bagley, Butler, Augustin, Hayward, SGA

Kings center Richaun Holmes will miss at least three games with a strained right hamstring, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. After suffering the injury in Monday’s game, Holmes underwent an MRI that revealed the extent of the damage.

He will be held out of tonight’s game against the Wizards and won’t accompany the team on a two-game road trip to face the Suns and Mavericks. Holmes is averaging 14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season.

“We’ll see how he’s doing as we get back into town,” coach Luke Walton said. “Clearly, we’ll miss him. He’s had an incredible year for us so far and he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.”

There are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Kings got good news about Marvin Bagley III, who will rejoin the team Thursday in Phoenix, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bagley has been away from his teammates while rehabbing a fracture in his left hand, and there were plans for him to return to the club when he was close to being able to play again.
  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler had an injury scare involving his ankle in Tuesday’s game, but he will be in the starting lineup tonight in Denver, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “There’s no doubt about it, that Jimmy will always want to go,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we evaluated him today and he passed all the tests with the trainers and that allowed him to where we all feel comfortable, him going tonight.”
  • Rockets guard D.J. Augustin had an MRI today on his sprained left ankle, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Coach Stephen Silas said Augustin is using crutches and a walking boot and has been ruled out at least through Monday. Danuel House, who hasn’t played since April 4 due to a sprained ankle, and Eric Gordon, who has been sidelined since March 11 with a groin strain, are also both expected to miss another week or so.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward still has a protective boot on his strained right foot, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). He is expected to be re-evaluated early next month.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was projected to be out through at least mid-April with plantar fasciitis, but his condition hasn’t been re-evaluated yet, coach Mark Daigneault told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

Gordon Hayward Out At Least Four Weeks

Hornets star forward Gordon Hayward has suffered a right foot sprain and will miss at least four weeks of action, according to a team press release. Hayward will be reevaluated after that four-week period.

The injury was suffered during the second quarter of Friday’s win over the Pacers. The initial diagnosis was confirmed via a physician’s exam and studies in Indianapolis on Saturday.

Hayward is averaging 19.6 PPG, 5.9 RPG and 4.1 APG in 34.0 MPG over 44 appearances.

Charlotte has been decimated by injuries in recent weeks. Rookie of the Year candidate LaMelo Ball could miss the rest of the season after undergoing wrist surgery, while top reserve Malik Monk will miss at least two weeks with a right ankle sprain.

Charlotte will have to lean heavily on Cody Martin and Miles Bridges in Hayward’s absence. The Hayward acquisition was one of the biggest moves last offseason, as he agreed to a four-year, $120MM contract and officially joined the team in a sign-and-trade with the Celtics.

USA Basketball Expands Finalist List for Olympic Roster

Fifteen players have been added to the list of finalists for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team, USA Basketball announced today in a press release. The group will eventually be pared down to 12 players who will participate in the Olympic Games, which are set for July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will serve as coach for the U.S. team, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr, Villanova coach Jay Wright and former Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce as his assistants.

No tryouts will be held this year. Instead, USA Basketball will choose the final roster by early summer. Training camp is scheduled to being in early July before the conclusion of the NBA playoffs.

“With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics from 2020 to 2021, it’s important that we continue to remain flexible and consider all players who can contribute to our efforts to field the best USA team possible,” USA Basketball men’s national team managing director Jerry Colangelo said. “These additions we are announcing today will help ensure that we are doing that. Having a larger player pool than what we normally have is critical because of all of the uncertainties we face about availability. But for USA Basketball to receive the commitment of so many outstanding players remains an indicator of the great honor of representing your country means to these men.”

The new names under consideration are:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  2. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  3. Jerami Grant (Pistons)
  4. Blake Griffin (Nets)
  5. Jrue Holiday (Bucks)
  6. DeAndre Jordan (Nets)
  7. Zach LaVine (Bulls)
  8. Julius Randle (Knicks)
  9. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Fred VanVleet (Raptors)
  12. John Wall (Rockets)
  13. Zion Williamson (Pelicans)
  14. Christian Wood (Rockets)
  15. Trae Young (Hawks)

Forty-two players remain from the original list, which was announced in February 2020:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Nets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Lakers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Hornets)
  22. Dwight Howard (Sixers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Cavaliers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Rockets)
  36. Chris Paul (Suns)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Pistons)
  38. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  39. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  40. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  41. Russell Westbrook (Wizards)
  42. Derrick White (Spurs)

Two players removed from that list are Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who is out for the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and Celtics guard Marcus Smart. Sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic that Smart turned down an invitation because of injury concerns due to having a short offseason and playing late into consecutive seasons (Twitter link).