Gordon Hayward

Atlantic Notes: Smart, Kurucs, Hayward, Dinwiddie

Celtics guard Marcus Smart is doing “great” after testing positive for the coronavirus, coach Brad Stevens told ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and other media members. “He’s great. Great spirits. Joking as always,” Stevens said Friday. Smart is one of 10 NBA players known to have tested positive for COVID-19. Smart revealed his diagnosis on March 19.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets’ Rodions Kurucs was due in Brooklyn court on Monday for his misdemeanor assault case but that proceeding was postponed, Brian Lewis of the New York Post reports. The case has been administratively adjourned due to the pandemic and a new date will eventually be set. Kurucs was arrested last summer on a domestic assault charge.
  • There’s a general sense that Celtics forward Gordon Hayward will opt in to his contract next season, according to Sean Deveney of Heavy.com. Hayward holds a $34MM option. “It’s too much money to pass up,” an unnamed NBA GM told Deveney. “He could get a longer deal if that is what he really wants. But I don’t think the Celtics want to give it to him. … He can opt in this year and then take a big contract next year.”
  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie will be in demand on the trade market this offseason, Lewis opines in a separate story. Dinwiddie, who can opt out after next season, has posted career highs in points (20.6 PPG) and assists (6.8 APG).

Southeast Notes: Herro, Butler, Hawks, Jones Jr.

Heat guard Tyler Herro initially feared he might be done for the regular season when he injured his foot, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Herro, who suffered the injury on February 3, might be able to take off the protective boot sometime this week, Chiang adds. The 13th pick in last June’s draft, Herro is averaging 13.1 PPG and shooting 39.3% from deep.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jimmy Butler‘s personality hasn’t changed but he has helped, rather than hurt, the Heat’s team chemistry, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details. Guard Goran Dragic says the franchise’s culture made Butler fit seamlessly into the locker room. “They push you here. Jimmy is the same,” he said. “If you’re not used to it, it can [be] like, ‘I don’t like him.’ But this is the perfect situation for us and Jimmy. He just wants you and the team to get better.”
  • The Hawks will be looking to accelerate their rebuild during this offseason, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic writes in his latest mailbag. They will likely look to add younger veterans instead of acquiring bad contracts as they did last offseason, Kirschner continues. Davis Bertans, Joe Harris, Gordon Hayward, Evan Fournier and Maurice Harkless are potential targets, Kirschner adds.
  • Re-signing Derrick Jones Jr. and Dragic will likely be at the top of the Heat’s priority list this offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. Negotiations will Jones could be tricky, since Miami wants to protect its cap space for the summer of 2021, when the free agent market could be robust. At his young age, Jones will probably be looking for a long-term contract, Winderman adds.

Celtics Notes: Tatum, Buyout Market, Hayward, KG

Prior to Thursday night’s game against the Celtics, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers raved about Jayson Tatum, suggesting that the young forward is already “one of the better players in the league,” adding that it will be “amazing” to see where he ends up after a few more years of development, per Darren Hartewell of NBC Sports Boston.

Although Rivers joked before the game that he didn’t need to see “any more growth” out of Tatum on Thursday, the 21-year-old gave the Clippers fits, turning in arguably the best performance of his career in a double-overtime win. He went off for a game-high 39 points on 14-of-23 shooting and made a handful of plays on both ends of the floor that helped clinch the win.

“He was incredible,” Kemba Walker said of his All-Star teammate, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. “He made every right play. He made every big shot. He was the best player on the court tonight.”

Tatum won’t be among the starters in Sunday’s All-Star game like Walker will, but the former No. 3 overall pick has emerged as the Celtics’ best all-around player this season, Forsberg argues. Tatum’s ascent is well-timed, as he’ll be extension-eligible for the first time during the 2020 offseason. Barring a major slump or injury in the second half, it’s hard to see how his next contract won’t be worth the maximum salary.

Here’s more out of Boston:

  • Appearing this week on radio show Toucher & Rich, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said there’s nothing on the buyout market that interests the team for the time being, per Forsberg (Twitter link). That includes free agent point guard Isaiah Thomas — Ainge praised the former Celtic, but suggested the fit may not be right with Boston’s current roster, as Forsberg relays.
  • Whether or not Gordon Hayward picks up his 2020/21 player option this spring, the Celtics are “very interested” in retaining the veteran forward long-term, a league source confirmed to Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal. Hayward isn’t necessarily a lock to exercise his $34MM option, since he could command a larger overall payday on a longer-term contract.
  • The Celtics announced on Thursday that they intend to retire Kevin Garnett‘s No. 5 jersey at some point next season, as Taylor Snow details at Celtics.com.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  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 (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  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 (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Gasol, Raptors, Nets, C’s

As Sixers general manager Elton Brand weighs possible trade scenarios this week, the final pre-deadline look he got at his roster came on Monday, when Philadelphia was run off the court by Miami in a 137-106 blowout. The Heat’s dominant win extended the 76ers’ losing streak to three games and drew some criticism from All-Star guard Ben Simmons.

“We were soft,” Simmons said of the Sixers, per ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe. “… The physicality side of things, we gotta step that up. That comes with experience, also just comes with personality. Don’t get bullied.”

While Simmons’ comments likely won’t have any direct impact on what Brand does at the deadline, Wolfe points out that the former No. 1 pick also called the Sixers “soft” last January. The club’s deal for Tobias Harris came a few weeks later.

This time around, the Sixers aren’t as well-equipped to make a blockbuster trade, so a move around the edges – possibly for a shooter – is more realistic. For the most part, it’ll be up to the current group to get out of its latest slump, which has dropped Philadelphia’s road record to 9-18 for the season.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • It sounds like Raptors center Marc Gasol, who is dealing with a hamstring injury, will likely be sidelined through the All-Star break, tweets Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca. Gasol’s hamstring isn’t viewed as a serious issue, but the club wants to be cautious.
  • There are several reasons why the Raptors are unlikely to make a major trade at this season’s deadline, including the way their roster is constructed and their intrigue with the pieces they already have, writes Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.
  • The Nets also look like a long shot to make a splash on the trade market this week, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Everything that Lewis is hearing from team and league sources points toward Brooklyn doing something relatively minor if the team makes a move at all. Rodions Kurucs, Dzanan Musa, Theo Pinson, and Wilson Chandler are among the Nets’ trade candidates, in Lewis’ view.
  • The Celtics‘ trade deadline plans could be affected to some extent by what they expect Gordon Hayward to do with his $34MM player option this summer, says Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. Boston has a few different paths this offseason depending on whether Hayward opts in, leaves in free agency, or signs a new long-term deal with the C’s. As Bulpett relays, the veteran forward isn’t ready to make a decision on that option. “I haven’t thought about it at all,” Hayward said.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Tatum, Raptors, Nets

With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown banged up as of late, Gordon Hayward has taken on a slightly larger role for the Celtics and has played some of his best basketball of the season, averaging 20.7 PPG on .517/.458/.885 shooting in his last six games. Hayward’s strong play may attract interest from teams around the NBA, who could check in with Boston about the forward’s value, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“Teams will do their due diligence when it comes to Gordon… watching him lately, he’s looked really good,” a league executive told Blakely. “But I still don’t think at the end of the day, (the Celtics) will move him.”

Even if Hayward remains with the Celtics through the deadline, as expected, teams figure to keep a close eye on how he finishes the season. He’ll have the opportunity to opt out of his contract this summer and become an unrestricted free agent. For now though, he’s just focused on the current season, telling Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal that he’s not thinking about trade or free agency possibilities.

“We haven’t talked about that,” the Celtics forward said. “We just try to talk about, at least with me, what can we do now to try to help us win. I haven’t talked about any of the other stuff.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Speaking to ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, Celtics forward Jayson Tatum admitted that last season “really wasn’t any fun,” pointing to Kemba Walker as a unifying force for this year’s team. “Everyone knows Kemba is great,” Tatum said, “and the rest of us have worked really hard to put last year behind us.”
  • The Raptors‘ lack of a true superstar could limit their upside this spring, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that it will be very difficult for the team to make a trade that really moves the needle for the postseason.
  • Terence Davis‘ ongoing positive progress for the Raptors may make the club more inclined to stand pat at the trade deadline rather than pursuing a marginal rotation upgrade, writes Blake Murphy of The Athletic.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider-only link) examines potential trade options for the Nets, concluding that it’s probably more realistic for the club to pursue another piece during the offseason than at next week’s trade deadline.

Injury Updates: LeBron, AD, Doncic, Hayward, Gordon

A handful of the NBA’s Christmas Day games have lost some of their luster due to injuries, but that shouldn’t be the case for the league’s marquee December 25 matchup. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin, Lakers stars LeBron James (groin) and Anthony Davis (knee) went through an impromptu practice today and are expected to play on Wednesday vs. the Clippers. James and Davis had been listed as questionable.

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

  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was a full participant in practice today, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Doncic’s status for Thursday’s game remains up in the air, but “things are looking better and better,” according to head coach Rick Carlisle.
  • As expected, Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has been listed as probable for the team’s Christmas Day game vs. Toronto. Hayward, who has missed 16 of Boston’s last 19 games, said today that he has been dealing with a nerve issue in his foot, which he believes is related to his ankle injury from two years ago. He has received three cortisone shots and feels “a lot better” after the most recent one, as Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston relays.
  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, out since November 11 with a knee injury, may be targeting Sunday’s game for his return, says Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Feigen also explores the ripple effect that Gordon’s return will have on Houston’s rotation.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams has made good progress in his recovery from a shoulder injury and is hopeful he won’t miss much time, writes John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com.

Fournier Could Be On The Move

Magic swingman Evan Fournier is the player most likely to be moved before the trade deadline, according to an ESPN Insider report from Bobby Marks.

While there’s no indication Fournier is being shopped, a straw poll of NBA executives believe that the Magic will need to start exploring their trade options on the veteran, who is likely to leave $17.2MM on the table and opt out this summer. Orlando is currently battling for the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Fournier is enjoying a career year, averaging 19.6 PPG and shooting 42.3% from long range.

Here are more nuggets from the ESPN report:

Atlantic Notes: Dinwiddie, Hayward, Miller, Sixers

The New York Post’s Brian Lewis ponders the role that stellar Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie will have when injured All-Star Kyrie Irving returns. Lewis notes that former Net Paul Pierce has proposed one possible solution on ESPN: Irving could start at shooting guard while Dinwiddie keeps rolling at the point guard slot. Brooklyn boasts a 11-6 record with Dinwiddie at the helm since Irving went down. The team was 4-7 before the injury.

“Kyrie’s still learning exactly what we want to do,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson allowed in recent comments. “Spencer’s got a little more corporate knowledge. It’s going to take time for Kyrie to completely understand what we’re doing on both sides of the ball.”

Meanwhile, Malika Andrews of ESPN notes that Irving has yet to be cleared for contact practices with the Nets, according to Atkinson (Twitter link). Two weeks ago, Atkinson had said that Irving would be ready for contact by this stage.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Coach Brad Stevens noted via the official Celtics Twitter account (link) that the health status of Gordon Hayward for his team’s next game will be “bumped up to probable after today.” Hayward’s various maladies have relegated him to just 11 games played this season.
  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News takes a look at the differences between ex-Knicks head coach David Fizdale and his interim replacement, Mike Miller. The Knicks are 3-4 since Miller slid over on the bench to take charge. They were 4-18 under Fizdale to start the season.
  • The Sixers offense was once again confounded by a zone defense, this time one enacted by the Mavericks, in a 117-98 loss on Friday. The defeat marked the team’s second consecutive home loss, after initially going 15-0 at the Wells Fargo Center to start the season. According to The Athletic’s Rich Hoffman, coach Brett Brown noted that opponents’ successful zone trapping was so demoralizing it has helped cultivate a lackluster Sixers effort on defense, too. “I think that the influence that our inability lately to… be put on our back heels against the zone, has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.”

Injury Updates: Anthony, Wagner, MCW, Hayward

Carmelo Anthony doesn’t believe a left knee contusion he suffered Friday night will be a long-term concern, writes Jamie Goldberg of The Oregonian. Anthony, who was held out of Saturday’s game, asked to be removed from Friday’s contest against Orlando in the second quarter after banging knees with another player. He remained in the locker room to get treatment on the injury.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of going out there,” the Trail Blazers‘ forward explained afterward. “We had it rolling. The guys had it rolling. We set the tone early in the game.”

Anthony, 35, has been productive since returning to the NBA last month after a year away from the game. He has averaged 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds through 15 games and has given Portland another reliable scorer to go along with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

There’s more injury news from around the league:

  • The Wizards will be without Moritz Wagner for at least a week because of an ankle injury, relays Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Coach Scott Brooks provided an update last night, telling reporters that Wagner can’t do anything basketball-related right now.
  • Michael Carter-Williams has been diagnosed with an AC joint sprain in his left shoulder, the Magic announced on Twitter. He has been ruled out of tomorrow’s game, and his return date will depend on how the injury responds to treatment. The veteran guard had his arm in a sling after being hit with a hard pick Friday night (Twitter link from Josh Robbins of The Athletic).
  • Gordon Hayward will miss his third straight game today with soreness in his left foot, according to a tweet from the Celtics. An MRI taken this week revealed no structural damage. Hayward was sidelined for about a month with a fractured bone in his left hand and has been limited to 11 games this season.
  • The Heat have already ruled Justise Winslow out for tomorrow’s game, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Winslow hasn’t played since December 4 because of a lower back strain.