Gordon Hayward

Eastern Notes: Rose, Pistons, Hayward, Diakite, Bamba

Knicks point guard Derrick Rose was sidelined for Tuesday’s game due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but it sounds like he shouldn’t miss additional time. According to Steve Popper of Newsday, Rose registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and was held out for precautionary reasons.

Rose has since returned multiple negative results and was cleared to accompany the team on its flight back home. As long as he continues to test negative today and tomorrow, the former MVP will be able to play in the Knicks’ final first-half game against Detroit on Thursday, says Popper.

Despite Rose’s absence on Tuesday, the Knicks have been relatively fortunate so far this season not to be significantly affected by the coronavirus. No Knicks players have tested positive for the virus since the regular season began, and the club’s only postponement came when its opponent – San Antonio – was dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • The Pistons are among the latest teams to announce plans to bring a limited number of fans back into their arena. According to a press release, Detroit will permit up to 750 fans at Little Caesars Arena starting on March 17. That number may increase later in the season.
  • After missing two games due to a right hand contusion, Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has been upgraded to probable for Wednesday’s game, per the team (via Twitter). Charlotte could give Hayward another full week of rest by holding him out tonight, but it sounds like he’s ready to return.
  • The Bucks have recalled rookie two-way forward Mamadi Diakite from the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Milwaukee’s own NBAGL affiliate isn’t active this season, but Diakite had been playing very well for the Lakeland Magic, averaging a double-double (18.5 PPG, 10.4 RPG) with 2.1 BPG and a .580/.500/.750 shooting line in just 27.7 minutes per contest (12 games).
  • Although he didn’t get into the Magic‘s last game on Monday, center Mohamed Bamba has been told to expect a steadier stream of minutes going forward and is eager to take advantage of the opportunity, as Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel details. Bamba has played just 149 total minutes in 16 games so far in 2020/21.

Injury/Illness Updates: Hayward, Martin, Schröder, Tucker, Wright

Hornets star forward Gordon Hayward practiced in full on Friday and is listed as probable to play against Golden State on Saturday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Hayward missed last Saturday’s loss to San Antonio with lower back discomfort. The Hornets haven’t played since due to a couple of COVID-19 related postponements.

We have more updates regarding injuries and illness around the league:

  • Hornets coach James Borrego indicated Caleb Martin will likely take longer than his brother, Cody Martin, to be cleared from the league’s health and safety protocols, Bonnell adds in another tweet. The Martin twins have missed Charlotte’s last two games.
  • Lakers starting point guard Dennis Schröder will miss his second consecutive game on Saturday after being placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin tweets.
  • Rockets forward P.J. Tucker returned to practice on Friday, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Tucker has missed the last two games with a bruised thigh.
  • Pistons point guard Delon Wright departed during the fourth quarter of his team’s game against Memphis on Friday with a right groin strain, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Hayward, Wall, Beal, Vucevic

Originally scheduled to play Chicago on Wednesday and Denver on Friday, the Hornets will instead be off until at least Saturday as a result of coronavirus contact tracing. In addition to having two games postponed, the team faces a number of additional restrictions until the contact tracing process – and further testing – is completed.

As was the case earlier in the pandemic, the Hornets are currently limited to having one player on court in their practice facility, and players didn’t have access to the locker room areas. The club will continue to be restricted to individual player workouts through at least Thursday (Twitter links).

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The Hornets raised eyebrows in November by signing Gordon Hayward to a four-year, $120MM deal that paid him like an All-Star, but the veteran forward has made good on that contract so far by playing like an All-Star, says Jared Dubin of FiveThirtyEight.
  • After returning to D.C. to face the Wizards this week, Rockets point guard John Wall said he’s done discussing the trade that sent him to Houston, but hopes he’s remembered in Washington for his community work off the court and not just his play on the court. Royce Young of ESPN has the story and the quotes from Wall, who added that he was disappointed not to be able to play in front of Wizards fans in his return.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a closer look at how the Wizards made a clear choice to make Bradley Beal the face of their franchise when they traded Wall last fall.
  • As part of the 10-18 Magic, he’s not receiving much national attention, but veteran center Nikola Vucevic is enjoying perhaps the best season of his career, as Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes. The 30-year-old remains under contract with Orlando through 2022/23.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Heat, Hayward, Brown Jr., Hawks

Wizards guard Bradley Beal is committed to sticking with the team this season, but that didn’t stop the 27-year-old from giving high praise to Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo earlier this week, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Beal led Washington to a 103-100 win over Miami on Wednesday, with the teams set to play again on Friday night. Both he and the Heat have been linked to each other in the past, as Miami has long been rumored to be eyeing the veteran in case he becomes available before the March 25 deadline.

“Jimmy is an unbelievable player,” Beal said. “He’s a star in our league, a true leader. It’s always competitive when we play. He always just wants to win, whatever it looks like.”

Beal also complimented Adebayo, singling out the 23-year-old’s unique ability to guard positions one-through-five. Winderman notes that Miami’s reported interest even caused some Heat fans to cheer for Beal, who finished with a game-high 32 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday’s game.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Despite having a respectable season to date, Hornets forward Gordon Hayward may miss the cut of becoming an All-Star this season, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. Hayward, who signed a four-year, $120MM deal to join the team in free agency, is holding per-game averages of 22.9 points (a career-high), 5.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 21 contests.
  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores whether Wizards forward Troy Brown Jr. did enough in Wednesday’s game against Miami to earn more playing time. Brown, 21, finished with nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench, shooting 3-of-9 from the floor.
  • The Hawks still haven’t solved their back-up point guard issue, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Atlanta has struggled without Trae Young on the floor this season, owning just a 10-12 record in their first 22 games. Offseason signings Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn have both missed time due to injuries, with Rondo only playing in 13 of those games and Dunn not appearing in a single contest to date.

And-Ones: Competitive Fairness, Surprises, Olympics, Kuminga

The NBA is facing competitive fairness issues stemming from pandemic-related disruptions to the schedule, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The league has postponed 22 games through the first five weeks of the season, and the effects of health and safety protocols are showing up in the standings.

The Wizards are the most obvious example, holding the league’s worst record at 3-11 after roughly half the roster was forced to quarantine. Washington had just one practice before returning to action Sunday after two weeks off. The result was three straight losses by a combined 57 points. The Heat, defending Eastern Conference champions, are off to a 6-12 start while playing with a depleted roster. The teams at the top of the standings — the Lakers, Clippers and Jazz — have been relatively unaffected by the virus.

The Wizards and Grizzlies both had six games postponed and face a difficult road ahead to reach 72 games. Washington is looking at 39 games in 67 days when the NBA releases its second-half schedule, although the league is trying to alleviate that by moving some games to the first half.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The PistonsJerami Grant and the HornetsGordon Hayward are the biggest surprises of the early season, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic. Both signed huge free agent deals during the offseason that were questioned around the league, but they have emerged as their teams’ best players. Hayward has gone back to the leader he was in Utah, Hollinger notes, while Grant has taken his game to another level.
  • FIBA will hold the draw ceremony for this year’s Olympic basketball tournament on February 2, the organization announced on its website. Eight men’s teams have already qualified, including Team USA, and the final four slots will be filled by the winners of tournaments to be played this summer in Canada, Croatia, Lithuania and Serbia.
  • At least 12 NBA teams have started research on Jonathan Kuminga, a projected high lottery pick in this year’s draft, writes Adam Zagoria for NJ.com. Kuminga, part of Team Ignite, will make his G League debut in the Orlando bubble next month. Ignite coach Brian Shaw compares him to Jaylen Brown and Paul George.
  • Former Net Josh Boone is the latest player to commit to Team USA for the AmeriCup qualifying tournament, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Boone, 36, plays for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL and was last in the NBA in the 2009/10 season.

Gordon Hayward Talks Foot Surgery, Free Agency, More

Between the end of the 2019/20 season and the start of his free agency, veteran forward Gordon Hayward underwent a minor surgical procedure on his left foot, he revealed to Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Known as “Morton’s neuroma” surgery, the procedure addressed the left foot discomfort that Hayward played through last season and required about four weeks for the incision to heal, according to Amick, who notes that the Hornets were well aware of when they made their four-year, $120MM offer to Hayward and were comfortable with his medical status.

In an extensive conversation with Amick, Hayward also spoke more about his free agency process, his time as a Celtic, and a handful of other topics. Here are a few highlights from the conversation, which is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber:

On the teams that were in the mix to sign him in free agency:

“Atlanta was a team that I was really interested in. … New York was in the mix — the Knicks. Indiana was another team that was really interested, and we had mutual interest for a while. Boston was — like, let’s not forget about Boston. I really wanted to go back to Boston too. There were just a lot of options, and a lot of potential teams that I could go to, but I’d say those were the main ones. Atlanta, New York, Boston, Indiana, and then Charlotte obviously.”

On why he ultimately chose the Hornets:

“I talked to a lot of people about Charlotte, and have talked to a lot of former players, teammates, about Charlotte. And nobody has ever said a bad thing about Charlotte as a city. Everyone loves it in Charlotte.

“… I think the opportunity to go somewhere, get a fresh start, be in a position to try to maximize my potential as a basketball player, I think, going somewhere where I’d have the ability to try and help a franchise get to that next level, it grew on me more and more after talking to the coaching staff, talking to the front office, obviously talking with my agent and my wife and family. That challenge kind of resonated with me. Talking with (Hornets) coach (James) Borrego, and more and more it was like, ‘Man, this is something I think I really want to do,’ so we just went with it.”

On how he’ll look back on his three years with the Celtics:

“Obviously it was disappointing with how everything played out there. A lot of it is just not under my control. I would have never imagined myself getting injured my very first year there and missing the whole year, having a serious injury. That’s obviously very disappointing. Last year, I feel like I played really well, and I feel like our team was in a really good position and I get injured again — like, a fluke injury — the first game of the playoffs. I honestly shouldn’t have come back and played, but tried to play through it and wasn’t able to be myself, so I don’t think we had our full team there at the end.

“… I have no regrets about anything that happened in Boston, and I really appreciate all the fan support — for supporting me through a wild ride of ups and downs.”

Knicks Notes: Gibson, Toppin, Ntilikina, Hayward

The Knicks signed Taj Gibson to a rest-of-season contract last Thursday, according to NBA.com’s official transactions log. However, the veteran big man hasn’t been able to play for the team yet due to COVID-19 protocols, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. It’s possible that Gibson will be able to join the club for Wednesday’s game against Brooklyn, Berman says.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Obi Toppin (calf) and Frank Ntilikina (knee) aren’t yet close to returning, according to Berman. Toppin hasn’t been cleared for contact, while Ntilikina may not be back at practice until next week.
  • Knicks head coach Tom Thibodeau pushed to sign Gordon Hayward in free agency in November, but the team ultimately felt the price was too high, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. With the Knicks in Charlotte on Monday, Thibodeau acknowledged that Hayward was “rated pretty high on our (free agent) board,” while the Hornets forward said there was “a lot of interest on both sides.”
  • The Knicks aren’t as good as their 5-3 start suggested, but they seem refreshingly free of dysfunction this season, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com, who says the franchise finally seems to be building the right way with the right people.

Southeast Notes: Monk, Hornets, Magic, Iguodala

Malik Monk is waiting for the Hornets to give him a chance after his bout with COVID-19 earlier this month, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Monk hasn’t gotten into a game yet this season and is fighting for playing time on a roster that’s much deeper at the wing than it was last year.

Monk will be a free agent when the offseason arrives, and the Hornets can make him restricted with a $7.3MM qualifying offer. He views this season as an audition for his NBA future.

“This is the big one. A big step to show what I can do,” Monk said. “With other teams, not only the Charlotte Hornets. To show other teams what I can do and how productive I can be. I can’t do that if I’m not on the court, but I don’t control that.”

Monk was hoping for better after a breakthrough performance in February when he averaged 17.0 PPG on 46% shooting in 13 games. However, before the month ended, he was suspended indefinitely for a violation of the NBA’s drug policy. Monk said he hasn’t received much feedback from coaches about what he needs to do to earn minutes.

“Super, super, super freaking frustrating (with) the waiting,” he said. “The month of February, I finally became an NBA player, finally got the minutes I thought I deserved a couple of years ago. I was proving myself. And that’s all I really could ask for at that point.”

 There’s more from the Southeast Division:
  • Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward have formed an instant chemistry as Hornets teammates, observes Sam Perley of NBA.com. They spent two years together with the Celtics, but Hayward was injured for much of that time. “Based on what I see, I think they play off each other well,” coach James Borrego said. “I’m sure they understand each other’s game at a higher level than if they just came in blindly to this situation. There’s history there, there’s chemistry, there’s connection. I think that helps us right now.”
  • The Magic are enjoying the benefits of their Serge Ibaka trade in 2017, notes Josh Cohen of NBA.com. With Ibaka headed toward free agency, Orlando shipped him to the Raptors at the deadline in exchange for Terrence Ross and a first-round pick. Ross is still a productive player for the Magic, and the pick eventually helped acquire Markelle Fultz from the Sixers.
  • The Heat used Andre Iguodala as a starter tonight, allowing him to extend a streak that began in 2004, tweets Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. Iguodala has started at least one game in every calendar year since entering the league, but tonight marked his first start since the 2019 NBA Finals.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Hayward, Robinson, Dragic

The Wizards have opened the 2020/21 season with three straight losses — the most recent coming on Sunday against the Magic — despite leading by as many as 17 points in the fourth quarter.

Washington played without Russell Westbrook (rest) on the second night of its back-to-back, losing 120-113.

“You don’t go from 17 points, damn near 20 points, to losing the damn game,” Bradley Beal said, as relayed by Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “That’s unacceptable on all fronts.”

Beal played well in the team’s first game against Orlando on Saturday, scoring 39 points on 14-of-24 shooting, though he shot just 10-of-29 on Sunday. As a whole, the team allowed 250 points during the two contests (an average of 125 per game).

“If it’s a three-game season, we didn’t have a very good year,” coach Scott Brooks acknowledged, working to remain positive. “But we’ve still got 69 games left. We’ve gotta keep fighting.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Hornets veteran Gordon Hayward demonstrated that he can help the team in a variety of ways on Sunday, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. Hayward, who joined the Hornets on a four-year, $120MM deal in free agency, carried the load offensively against Brooklyn. The 30-year-old recorded 28 points, six rebounds and seven assists, helping secure a 106-104 victory.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel explores the impending restricted free agency of Heat guard Duncan Robinson, noting that several teams have prioritized re-signing their sharpshooters in recent years (ex. Joe Harris with Brooklyn, or Davis Bertans with Washington). Robinson has established himself as one of the league’s top shooters, sinking seven threes in Miami’s game against New Orleans on Christmas Day, and Winderman believes the Heat are very likely to lock him up in 2021.
  • Goran Dragic has thrived off the bench for the Heat, proving his worth as a quality back-up ball-handler for the club, Winderman writes in a separate story for the Sun Sentinel. Dragic appears to be comfortable with starting or coming off the bench, a positive sign for a team that hasn’t finalized its starting lineup yet. “He’s a decorated veteran,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of Dragic. “He keeps himself in great shape, at a high fitness level. So it’s really about getting your basketball rhythm. That’s a great lesson to any young player. As long as you’re not woefully out of shape during the offseason, you can get it back with experience pretty quickly.”

Injury Updates: Hayward, Kemba, Thompson, Ennis, Morris

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who broke the bone at the base of his right pinky finger last week, will be available for Charlotte’s regular season opener in Cleveland on Wednesday, he said today (Twitter link via team).

When Hayward’s injury was announced last Wednesday, a report indicated that the Hornets didn’t believe he’d require surgery and that he’d likely be able to return to action when he felt he could comfortably manage the pain and perform effectively. Apparently, it didn’t take long for the veteran forward to feel comfortable playing through the injury.

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

  • Celtics point guard Kemba Walker is still “a long way away,” head coach Brad Stevens said today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Walker, who is rehabbing a left knee injury, is still limited to 1-on-1 work with a coach, and the team won’t update his status until the first week of January. Stevens is hopeful that big man Tristan Thompson (hamstring) will be able to play in Boston’s opener on Wednesday, Bontemps adds (via Twitter).
  • Magic swingman James Ennis will miss the first game of the season due to hamstring and calf injuries and his status beyond that game is questionable, head coach Steve Clifford said today (Twitter link via Roy Parry of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • The Clippers have listed Marcus Morris as out for their regular season opener on Tuesday night due to right knee soreness (link via ESPN). Morris didn’t play in any of the club’s three preseason games.