Gordon Hayward

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Anthony, Jokic

Donovan Mitchell‘s emergence as a potential superstar allowed the Jazz to quickly move on from the loss of Gordon Hayward in free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN examines in a post on Hayward’s return to Utah on Friday. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and coach Quin Snyder felt they could retool the roster and become a playoff contender again but had no idea Mitchell would emerge as a franchise player in his rookie year, Wojnarowski continues. Mitchell provides the Jazz with a selling point to recruit another star in free agency and he’s well on his way to a max contract extension in 2020, Wojnarowski adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Carmelo Anthony‘s season with the Thunder was a humbling experience, a high-ranking Rockets official told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Anthony bristled at the thought of coming off the bench with OKC but is now at least tolerating a second-unit role with Houston. “Last year, I didn’t know what to expect coming into the situation,” Anthony told MacMahon. “It’s different when you’re clear on what is needed to be done or what you have to do or what’s needed of you. It’s a big difference.”
  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was fined $25K for using “derogatory and offensive language” when discussing Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter, Sean Highkin of Dime Magazine tweets. Jokic made the comment after Denver’s 108-107 overtime victory on Wednesday.
  • Floor spacing, 3-point shooting and defensive intensity have been areas of concern for the Jazz. The Thunder continue to deal with outside shooting woes. David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at issues involving each Northwest club.

Atlantic Notes: Russell, Hayward, Sixers

As the Nets continue developing their young players, Brian Lewis of The New York Post has identified a key development of the season so far in D’Angelo Russell‘s lack of crunch-time minutes.

As Lewis points out, Russell sat out the last 5:42 of regulation and the entire overtime in the Nets’ win over the Pistons, logged just 1:31 in the fourth quarter on Oct. 24 against the Cavaliers, and never got off the bench in the fourth quarter of the season opener. That is all in addition to Russell not seeing a single minute in the fourth quarter of the Nets’ loss to the Rockets on Friday.

It’s no secret that Russell struggles on defense, but it’s more of a result of the depth on the roster and coach Kenny Atkinson’s focus on riding the hot hands and playing lineups based on match-ups. In fact, every Nets starter other than Caris LeVert has sat an entire or essentially all of a fourth quarter this season.

The key might be for Atkinson to figure out a way to get Russell on the floor alongside Spencer Dinwiddie and LeVert, a trio that has not had success up until this point.

There are still plenty of opportunities left for Russell to make plays when it matters most, but this trend is one to keep an eye on as Russell approaches restricted free agency and the Nets look to make a marquee signing this summer.

There’s more from the Atlantic division:

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Celtics, Embiid, Redick

Celtics forward Gordon Hayward has admitted that he’s still feeling the ill effects of the horrific ankle injury he suffered on opening night that season, writes Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. As a result, he recently sat out the second night of a back-to-back.

“There’s soreness in my ankle every time I play right now. I think there will be soreness for a little while,” said Hayward. “That’s why I’m on a minutes restriction… they don’t want any overloading issues, so there is some load management stuff basically.”

That being said, Hayward still hopes that he won’t be forced to miss any future back-to-backs. “That was just the plan for that game. I want to play in every single game and every single minute but my game is not there yet. I trust our staff.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division this evening:

  • In another piece for NBC Sports Boston, Forsberg writes how head coach Brad Stevens gave a blunt assessment of the Celtics after the team’s recent loss to the Magic. “I’ve said it, that we’re not as good as everybody thinks we are. (This is) just another reminder how much we have to work.”
  • Sixers All-Star big man Joel Embiid has been issued a warning from the league office for flopping against Andre Drummond and the Pistons last night, reports Ian Begley of ESPN. There is no fine involved, but there will be if violates the NBA’s anti-flopping rules again.
  • Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that J.J. Redick is an even more integral piece of this year’s Sixers team than last year’s because of the lack of quality shooting around him with the losses of Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli in free agency.

Injury Updates: Knox, Hayward, Barton, Valentine

Knicks rookie Kevin Knox could miss up to a month of action after spraining his left ankle Saturday night, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The injury took place late in the first quarter in a collision with Celtics guard Terry Rozier. Knox had to be helped to the locker room for x-rays, and the initial timetable for recovery has been set at two to four weeks.

It’s a tough way to start a career for the 19-year-old, who was originally pegged to be a starter before an uneven performance in the preseason. The Knicks are still counting on Knox to be an important contributor and want to give him as much court time as possible to help him adjust to the NBA.

“I had a real bad feeling in my gut when he went down,” coach David Fizdale told Marc Berman of The New York Post. “From my angle, I could basically see the [ankle] hit the floor, roll to the floor. I knew right away when he stayed down it was a good one. I feel for the kid. He’s had his fair share of adversity already. That’s what I joked to him about. ‘Welcome to the NBA. You play like crap. You play great [in Brooklyn], then you get hurt.’ It’s the roller coaster of our league. This is good for him. He’s going to learn from this.”

The new season is still in its first week, but there’s more injury news to pass along:

  • Gordon Hayward sat out Saturday’s game with “general soreness” in the area of his surgically repaired left ankle, notes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. The Celtics forward, who is playing limited minutes, felt pain in the ankle after Friday’s game in Toronto. “We didn’t plan on that,” coach Brad Stevens said about playing without Hayward. “This is something we’ll take game by game, night by night. Obviously with the minutes restriction we’re monitoring it very closely. It’s general soreness, so not overly concerned about it.”
  • An MRI is scheduled today for Nuggets guard Will Barton, who had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair after hurting his hip Saturday, according to an ESPN report. Barton fell to the floor after making a layup in the third quarter and said he heard a pop when he started to jump. Barton signed a four-year, $54MM deal over the summer and entered this season as a full-time starter for the first time in his career.
  • Bulls swingman Denzel Valentine is trying to stay positive despite the latest setback in his recovery from a sprained left ankle, relays Sam Smith of NBA.com. Coach Fred Hoiberg said Valentine’s condition will be re-evaluated in another 10 days to two weeks. “I’m not going to quit; just deal with the hand deal,” Valentine said. “I can’t sit here and be negative. I’ve just got to fight, stay mentally strong and this will be bittersweet when I come back and have a great year.”

Celtics, Raptors To Rest Hayward, Leonard

As we noted this morning, the Lakers plan to be cautious with LeBron James‘ minutes this season. Evidently following suit, the Celtics have announced that Gordon Hayward (link) will sit out tonight’s games against the Knicks. Additionally, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reports that the Raptors will rest Kawhi Leonard against the Wizards.

Per the Celtics, Hayward is out due to “left ankle recovery.” Of course, Hayward infamously broke his left ankle/leg in last season’s season opener in Cleveland. He missed the entire 2017/18 season and has experienced some obstacles and difficulties in returning from that devastating injury. Moreover, head coach Brad Stevens already indicated a minutes restriction may occur early on this season and tonight’s game is a back-to back.

As for Leonard, the Raptors are also playing a back-to-back tonight, having defeated Hayward’s Celtics last night, 113-101. His absence is being attributed to rest, but he also experienced a quadriceps injury last season, limiting him to nine games during the 2017/18 season, so it will be interesting to see how Toronto handles his minutes moving forward. Neither player is expected to miss extended time.

Atlantic Notes: Hayward, Dinwiddie, Graham, Sixers

Just one year following his gruesome ankle injury that sidelined him the entire 2017/18 season, Gordon Hayward made his return to the court this preseason with the Celtics. He appeared in three contests, working to regain his footing and talent that helped him become a top small forward in the league before the injury.

The Celtics refuse to rush the process of his return, allowing Hayward to control his pace and progression as Tuesday’s season opener against Philadelphia nears.

“I think Gordon will probably be a little limited early from a minutes standpoint,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “Not in any big way, but we’ll probably have to manage that just because he’s been out for so long.”

Despite the possible limitation, Hayward is expected to play in back-to-backs this season, Stevens added. The same goes for teammate Kyrie Irving, who underwent knee surgery in April. With a healthy Hayward and Irving, the Celtics are expected to be at the forefront of contention in the East.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

Atlantic Notes: Durant, Mudiay, Hayward, Kurucs

After Kyrie Irving‘s verbal long-term commitment to the Celtics, it appears the free agent class of 2019 became a little less lucrative. Irving was reportedly one of the Knicks’ prime targets next summer and now, New York’s free agency hopes may be Kevin Durant or bust, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News opines.

Beyond Durant and Irving, the remaining top free agents do not appear to be realistic hopes for the Knicks. Kawhi Leonard reportedly prefers to play in his native Los Angeles, Jimmy Butler wants to sign a long-term extension and Kevin Love has already signed an extension with Cleveland. That leaves Durant as the biggest target and a realistic one, as we relayed earlier this week.

“The New York Knicks have a very good shot at luring KD away from the Bay Area,” Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports said during an appearance on FS1’s Undisputed (video link). “His business partner, Rich Kleiman is based in New York, huge New York Knicks fan. Their business is located and based in New York. KD’s dad is a big New York Knicks fan. The same allure that LeBron [James] had toward the Los Angeles Lakers – just the building, the culture – is the same thing, the same way, I know, that KD feels about the Knicks.”

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  • The Knicks acquired Emmanuel Mudiay from the Nuggets last season as a former top pick who fell out of favor in Denver. Through the first two preseason games, Mudiay has not performed well for the Knicks, but head coach David Fizdale remains committed to seeing improvement from the point guard, Steve Popper of Newsday writes.
  • One of the lone bright spots for the Nets during a preseason loss to the Knicks was the performance of Latvian Rodions Kurucs, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Kurucs posted 13 points, four rebounds and four steals, all of which came in the fourth quarter of a 107-102 loss. “I was very pleased with Rodi,” head coach Kenny Atkinson said. “I love his energy. He’s a talented guy.”
  • In a well-written, in-depth piece, Zach Lowe of ESPN chronicles the obstacles and difficulties Gordon Hayward has overcome as he completes his return from a broken ankle he suffered five minutes into his Celtics career last season.

Atlantic Notes: Butler, Hayward, Fultz, VanVleet

While Jimmy Butler‘s three-team wish list of preferred trade destinations includes the Knicks, his interest in New York has been overstated, per USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt (Twitter link).

Zillgitt notes that Butler’s main goal is to compete sooner than later, and joining a Knicks team in rebuild mode does not accomplish that. Butler’s list also includes the Nets and Clippers, but more teams have since been reported as possible destinations. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Pistons, Rockets, Heat, Sixers and Trail Blazers also have interest. Also, the Cavaliers have entered the sweepstakes.

Knicks brass has been adamant that the organization will not deviate from its plan to not trade young players and draft picks. Acquiring Butler, a 29-year-old All-Star, would require both.

Check out more Atlantic Division notes:

  •  Celtics star Gordon Hayward is expected to sign a multi-year sneaker deal, according to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Hayward, who missed nearly all of last season after a freak ankle injury, Hayward has reportedly been pursued by several major companies, including Nike, New Balance and the Chinese company Anta.
  • Sixers guard Markelle Fultz has worked hard on improving his jump shot and is ready to make an impact this season, writes Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (subscription required). “This summer was really just me working to get my mechanics back, my confidence back, my swagger back,” Fultz said.
  • The Raptors signed Fred VanVleet quickly after free agency opened this summer, keeping a vital part of Toronto’s bench. Blake Murphy of The Athletic (subscription required) examines the process and VanVleet’s new contract.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Hayward, Brand, Fultz

Kyrie Irving is calming any concerns the Celtics may have about his condition heading into training camp, writes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Irving sat out the postseason after an operation to relieve an infection in his left knee, but has looked fully healthy in pickup games with teammates this month.

“He’s worked really hard,” coach Brad Stevens said after watching Irving. “I think he’s excited … it’s good to see that.”

Boston has two All-Stars returning from injury, with Gordon Hayward trying to complete his comeback from ankle surgery. Stevens, who plans a light workload for both players in terms of preseason minutes, said Hayward’s progress has been encouraging to watch.

“He’s been really diligent all the way through his rehab and progressing to each step,” Stevens said. “I watched him go all the way through the steps of working out to 1-on-1, 2-on-2, 3-on-3 and now he can play some of the open gyms some of the guys are having.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Twenty-nine-year-old Celtics rookie Brad Wanamaker is trying to earn a spot on one of the deepest teams in the league, Blakely writes in a player profile. Wanamaker comes to Boston with a history of success, capturing all-league honors in the EuroLeague and Turkey and playing on championship teams in Germany, Turkey and the G League.
  • Elton Brand’s meteoric rise through the Sixers‘ front office may convince more franchises to take chances on former players in management roles, suggests Michael Walton of NBC Sports Chicago. After Brand’s 17-year playing career ended in 2016, he joined Philadelphia’s front office later that year as a player development consultant. He was named GM of the organization’s G League affiliate in Delaware in August of 2017, then was promoted to Sixers’ GM this week. Philadelphia will also continue its unique front office structure, with Brand and coach Brett Brown serving as partners on personnel decisions, which is an approach Walton believes may be adopted by other teams if it is successful.
  • Sixers guard Markelle Fultz talks about the mechanics of his jump shot and a frustrating rookie season in a Players Tribune video that was posted this morning. Fultz, who demonstrates his new shooting form, is joined on the video by Nuggets guard Isaiah Thomas, who is also coming off a difficult season.

Atlantic Notes: Irving, Williams, Ojeleye, Celtics

Kyrie Irving tops the Knicks’ wish list in free agency next summer because he’s their most realistic target, A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston opines. Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard would elevate the franchise even more than Irving but both of those potential free agents would be much harder to land, Blakely continues. Securing Irving’s services won’t be easy, either, but the Knicks have a better chance with the Celtics point guard, who grew up in New Jersey. It’s not only his ability but potential availability that makes him attractive to the Knicks’ front office, Blakely adds. Blakely declared that Irving topped the Knicks’ wish list during a podcast this week.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • Bringing in Alan Williams is a low-risk flier for the Nets, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. The team has been stockpiling big men and rebounders and the 6’8” Williams fits both those categories, Lewis continues. It’s rare to land a fourth-year pro on a two-way contract who has averaged 15 rebounds per 36 minutes over his career, Lewis points out. Williams reached an agreement with Brooklyn on Friday.
  • Semi Ojeleye was probably the biggest beneficiary of Gordon Hayward’s injury last season but he hasn’t established a steady spot in the Celtics rotation, Blakely examines in a player profile. While Ojeleye has shown the ability to defend multiple frontcourt positions and switch out on guards, he’ll simply have to be ready to contribute any way he can with the return of Hayward, Blakely adds. Ojeleye appeared in 73 regular -season games last season.
  • With the return of Hayward and Irving from injuries, it’s tough to find any reason why the Celtics won’t roll to the Eastern Conference title, Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports opines. The team’s closest competitors – Toronto, Milwaukee and Philadelphia – can’t match the Celtics’ depth and overall talent, Mannix continues. Even the team’s projected second unit of Terry RozierMarcus SmartJaylen BrownMarcus Morris and Daniel Theis could compete for a playoff spot, Mannix notes.