Gregg Popovich

Injury Updates: Tatum, Herro, Barnes, Langford, More

The Celtics will have star forward Jayson Tatum on the court for tonight’s showdown with the Mavericks, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Tatum was listed as questionable after hurting his left ankle in Monday’s game at Chicago, but coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters that he’ll be able to play without any limitations. Tatum appeared to be moving normally during shootaround, Terada observes.

Tatum is among the early favorites in the MVP race, averaging 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while playing 37.2 minutes per game, the most in his career. He has led Boston to the best start in the league at 13-4.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Tyler Herro will return for the Heat tonight after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, the team announced (via Twitter). Max Strus was downgraded to out due to a shoulder injury, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes will miss tonight’s game with a sprained left knee, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Fred VanVleet is sidelined with an illness, so Toronto is down to 10 available players.
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been cleared to return tonight after missing five games while in the health and safety protocols. Josh Richardson will miss the game after suffering a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s practice (Twitter link), and Zach Collins has been downgraded from probable to out as he recovers from a non-displaced fracture of his fibula (Twitter link). Coach Gregg Popovich sounded optimistic when asked if Collins is close to returning. “Yes, I guess is the answer,” he replied. “He’s just not ready yet. We thought he might be, but he’s not.” Popovich also refused to provide any details about the illness that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, telling reporters, “I’m fine,” Orsborn tweets.
  • Dean Wade, who missed the past six games with knee soreness, will come off the Cavaliers‘ bench tonight and will be on a minutes restriction, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter link).
  • Nets forward Yuta Watanabe will be sidelined through at least Friday with a hamstring issue, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. An MRI taken Tuesday night confirmed the injury (Twitter link), but Watanabe doesn’t seem concerned. “It’s not that serious,” he said. “… It’s day to day. We’ll see how long it takes.” (Twitter link)
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd is optimistic that Maxi Kleber, who’s dealing with a lower back contusion, will be available Saturday or Sunday, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Western Notes: George, Holmes, Fernando, Dinwiddie, Kleber, Popovich

Clippers star forward Paul George missed Monday’s game against Utah due to a right hamstring tendon strain, according to Law Murray of The Athletic.

It’s a different injury than the one the team cited when George sat out the second half of Saturday’s game against San Antonio. The reason given that night was right knee soreness.

George will be reevaluated in the next couple of days.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes has fallen out of the Kings’ rotation and it may be difficult to move his contract, James Ham of The Kings Beat notes. Holmes is owed $11.2MM this season, $12MM next season and has a player option for $12.9MM in 2024/25.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is optimistic Bruno Fernando can return to action later this week, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Fernando has only appeared in two games this season due to left knee soreness.
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd expressed hope that Spencer Dinwiddie and Maxi Kleber will be available during the team’s upcoming road trip, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dinwiddie dislocated his left shoulder against Denver on Sunday, while Kleber hasn’t played since Tuesday due to a lower back contusion.
  • Gregg Popovich didn’t coach the Spurs on Sunday after meeting with the press prior to the game. Brett Brown filled in after Popovich felt ill, but doctors who examined him in the locker room pronounced him OK, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Clippers Notes: George, Leonard, Popovich, Covington

The Clippers aren’t worried about Paul George, who sat out the second half of Saturday’s game because of soreness in his right knee, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. George didn’t speak to the media after the game, but coach Tyronn Lue said the condition isn’t believed to be serious. George spent the second half on the bench and felt good enough to help throw T-shirts to fans during a break in the action.

“He’s doing OK,” Lue said. “I haven’t seen what they (the medical staff) said happened to him, but I just know he had like a little tweak. But he says he is OK.”

Injuries have played a role in the team’s slow start, but George has been reliable so far, missing just one game because of a non-COVID illness. He was limited to 31 games last season due to a torn UCL in his right elbow.

There’s more on the Clippers:

  • Kawhi Leonard embraced Spurs coach Gregg Popovich after Saturday’s game, indicating that any hard feelings are gone from Leonard’s bitter exit from San Antonio, writes Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Leonard has never spoken much about what happened with the Spurs, but he told reporters Saturday that his time with Popovich helped him to improve. “He meant a lot, he’s the reason why I’m the player I am today,” Leonard said. “Built that foundation on showing me winning basketball and yeah, he’s a great coach. Still one of the best coaches I had. We been in too many battles to have a scar on our relationship.”
  • The Clippers were happy to welcome Leonard back to the lineup this week, but that meant many adjustments had to be made, Greif adds in a separate story. With Leonard and George able to carry the offense, other players are adapting to complementary roles. Nicolas Batum said the “rhythm is different, the passing is different, the players are different because two years ago we literally had two guys who could create open shots, when you have PG and Kawhi.”
  • Lue said he told Robert Covington “thank you for sacrificing” as the veteran forward has played single-digit minutes in four of his last five appearances, Greif tweets. Lue added that Covington will eventually see more playing time, but the team is trying to establish a rhythm with its current rotation.

Gregg Popovich Defends Spurs Amid Lawsuit

Longtime Spurs president and head coach Gregg Popovich defended the organization in the wake of the lawsuit filed against Joshua Primo and the team, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News.

The suit was filed by a sports psychologist formerly employed by the team and contends that Primo exposed himself to her on nine separate occasions during their sessions and that the Spurs did nothing about it after she informed team management.

I understand your question and your desire to get as many details as you can, but as you also know this is in the hands of lawyers now, and so I can’t go there, and I am not going to go there,” Popovich said. “It is up to them, they are going to talk about it, they are going to argue about it, they are going to go back and forth. That’s what they do. So, while that is going on, I can’t talk about details.”

But I will say that I stand by the statement that came out yesterday by the Spurs organization with contrast to many of the things that were said at the press conference.”

As Orsborn notes, Popovich is referring to the statement released by Spurs CEO RC Buford, which indicated that the Spurs “disagree with the accuracy of facts, details and timeline presented” in the suit.

“While we would like to share more information, we will allow the legal process to play out,” Buford said. “Our organization remains committed to upholding the highest standards and will continue to live by our values and culture.”

Popovich then “rigorously defended” the way the Spurs have handled the situation, according to Orsborn.

…Anybody that has observed the Spurs over a very long period of time knows that an accusation like this would be taken very seriously without any doubt whatsoever, no equivocation, the Spurs organization would be on top of it,” Popovich said. “And I am absolutely confident that the men and women on the managerial staff that dealt and are dealing with this did so purposefully, efficiently, promptly and did it with the utmost care for everybody concerned — the accuser, the accused, the people in the organization, to make sure that everybody felt comfortable and safe, and I will just leave my comments at that.”

Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the psychologist who filed the lawsuit, said on Thursday that he had been in contact with the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office about the possibility of filing criminal charges against Primo for indecent exposure. The Bexar County Sherriff’s department confirmed on Friday that it is investigating Dr. Hillary Cauthen’s accusations, per Orsborn.

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has made contact with the victim involved in the Joshua Primo incident,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said via email. “Preliminary investigation into the allegations is underway.”

Primo is an unrestricted free agent after being waived by the Spurs and is unlikely to catch on with another team anytime soon while the legal process plays out. He was accused of exposing himself to multiple women, though Cauthen is the only accuser who has gone public.

And-Ones: Korkmaz, Turkey, Popovich, France, Team USA

Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz was attacked in the hallway of the locker room after being ejected in Turkey’s game against Georgia, the Turkish team alleged (link via Semih Tuna of EuroHoops). The Turkish federation vice president, Omer Onan, is now threatening that the team will leave the EuroBasket if proper action isn’t taken.

“While Furkan Korkmaz was walking in the hallway to the locker rooms with our trainer, Georgia’s players who were not in the active roster attacked him together with the ejected player [Duda Sanadze] and the police,” Onan explained in a lengthy statement. “There should not be an attack on the player that goes to the locker room. At the end of the match, 30 policemen each pushed us into a fight. We got into a fight with Georgia’s official police. I am calling out to FIBA and I have also told FIBA’s officials.

“Let no one deceive themselves or think that we are stupid. They will bring us all the camera footage from that corridor minute by minute without anything missing. If those cameras do not come to us, we will leave this tournament. Wherever you look it, there is nothing to hold onto. The non-competing player, (Toko) Shengelia, and three people sitting on the bench went to the locker room. At the end of the match, the police were in front of our locker room. Supposedly they were protecting us but they pushed us all the time. We were going to hit each other with our fists.”

It’s unclear what injuries — if any — Korkmaz sustained. The 25-year-old was drafted by Philadelphia with the No. 26 pick in 2016. He’s spent his entire career with the franchise so far, averaging 7.6 points in 67 games this past season.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Legendary Spurs coach Gregg Popovich believes the NBA and European basketball are becoming more similar, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes. While the quote has been condensed, Popovich did shine light on the matter. “Ten years ago, American basketball was mainly made up of threes and dunks, and with the arrival of basketball on European TV, I think everyone was very excited by this,” he said. “In Europe, on the contrary, basketball was played based on fundamentals, movement, a basketball where players move with the ball and without the ball. I think the two worlds have been apart for a while, but now we are getting closer.”
  • France managed to survive Hungary’s comeback and win on Sunday, as relayed by EuroHoops. The team was led by Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, who finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, plus played his usual stellar defense.
  • Team USA’s game against Venezuela on Sunday was postponed after rain leaked into the gym, according to The Associated Press. America was leading 48-21 at halftime when heavy rain caused multiple leaks and ended the contest early. The game was played in Brazil.

Southwest Notes: Popovich, Spurs, McGee, Williams, Williamson

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is facing a long rebuilding process if he remains with the team, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes. The Spurs recently traded Dejounte Murray to the Hawks in exchange for Danilo Gallinari‘s expiring contract, three first-round picks, and a pick swap, choosing to further shift their focus from the present to the future.

As Finger notes, Popovich has expressed reservations in the past about the idea of coaching a losing team, most notably when his former – and newly re-hired – assistant Brett Brown left San Antonio to coach the “Process” Sixers.

“I couldn’t do it,” Popovich said in 2015 when asked about Brown’s new job in Philadelphia. “I’d last a month.”

However, in recent years, Popovich seems to have embraced the concept of coaching a young team without realistic championship aspirations. He recently helped orchestrate the re-hiring of Brown as an assistant coach and appears motivated to return to the sidelines in San Antonio next season.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News examines the fit between Luka Doncic and JaVale McGee, who agreed to sign with the Mavericks and can serve as a rebounder, rim-protector and lob threat for Doncic. McGee reportedly expects to start for Dallas, but Caplan isn’t sure the coaching staff has made that decision yet.
  • The Grizzlies‘ two-way deal with Vince Williams Jr. covers two years, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Edwards, who was drafted No. 47 overall by Memphis last Thursday, averaged 14.1 points per game at VCU last season, shooting 38.7% from three-point range.
  • While it’s a massive investment, Zion Williamson‘s maximum-salary extension with the Pelicans was something the team simply couldn’t pass up, Scott Kushner of writes. Williamson has only played 85 games in his three NBA seasons, but he has shown in his limited NBA action that he’s a special player, says Kushner. It’s still unclear how much of Williamson’s new five-year deal will be fully guaranteed.

Spurs Notes: Murray, Rebuild, Popovich, Collins, Brown

The Spurs were motivated to trade Dejounte Murray because the agent for the All-Star guard informed the team that he wouldn’t agree to a contract extension, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link, hat tip to Bleacher Report). Murray wasn’t unhappy with his current contract, which runs for two more seasons, Windhorst adds, but recognized he’d have to reach free agency to get a significant raise.

“And that wasn’t really necessarily about the Spurs,” Windhorst said. “His contract is about $16 million on average. When you extend your contract, you’re limited into how much of a raise you can get. And it would’ve been probably below his market value as a 25-year-old All-Star. But he pretty much told them — he’s like, ‘I’m probably not going to extend next summer either.'”

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The three picks and a future draft swap that the Spurs received from Atlanta in return for Murray will pave the way for a full-scale rebuild that the organization was reluctant to do after losing Kawhi Leonard, observes John Hollinger of The Athletic. San Antonio will likely bottom out this season in advance of a strong draft that features French center Victor Wembanyama at the top. Hollinger also notes that the team will have plenty of cap room, both to take on unwanted contracts this season and to potentially offer two max deals next summer.
  • The Murray trade isn’t a sign that head coach Gregg Popovich won’t return next season, according to Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News, who says Popovich approved the deal. With the playoffs seemingly out of reach, Popovich can focus on teaching and player development.
  • The Spurs had internal discussions about taking back John Collins from the Hawks, but they decided the draft equity was more valuable for the future of the franchise, Finger tweets.
  • Former Sixers head coach Brett Brown is expected to rejoin Popovich’s staff as an assistant, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (Twitter link). Brown was an assistant in San Antonio from 2007-13 before becoming the head coach in Philadelphia.

Spurs Notes: Branham, Wesley, Walker, Sochan, Popovich

Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley impressed the Spurs so much with their competitiveness at a pre-draft workout that the team decided to take both players, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The two guards were matched up against each other in a 3-on-3 scrimmage and both took advantage of the opportunity.

“I felt like we was competing for a spot, so I was going extra hard and going after him,” Wesley said of Branham. Wesley also tried to outshine Duke’s Wendell Moore, who took part in the scrimmage as well, explaining, “They had a lot more hype than me, so I wanted to go at them.”

General manager Brian Wright said the Spurs expected Branham to be selected in the mid-teens or possibly late in the lottery and were prepared to trade up for him before he fell to No. 20.

“He’s smart, tough, competitive and coachable, and those are all things we were looking to find in this draft,” Wright said.

There’s more from San Antonio:

  • The addition of two guards casts doubt on the future of Lonnie Walker, who is headed for free agency, Orsborn adds in a separate story. The Spurs can make him restricted by extending a $6.3MM qualifying offer by Wednesday, but there may no longer be a role for him in San Antonio. “He has done a phenomenal job in his development over the years and we saw the consistency he brought, especially in the second half of the season when he really hit his stride,” Wright said. “At the appropriate time, we will sit with (his representatives) and him and try to find out what’s next for him and the franchise.”
  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News looks at the international background of lottery pick Jeremy Sochan, who had to learn basketball from his mother because there weren’t many accomplished coaches in the English town where the family lived when he was young. The organization is impressed by Sochan’s versatility and plans to use him all along the front line.
  • Coach Gregg Popovich called each of the Spurs’ draft picks Thursday night to welcome them to the team, McDonald tweets, adding that it’s a pretty clear indication that Popovich plans to return for another season.

Western Notes: Wiggins, Warriors, Popovich, Jazz

Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised Andrew Wiggins for his improved play this season — which has now carried into the postseason, as Kerith Burke of NBC Sports Bay Area relays (Twitter link).

Wiggins was named an All-Star for the first time this season, averaging 17.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game on 47% shooting from the floor and 39% shooting from deep. His strong two-way play is a major reason why the Warriors have hung around in the NBA Finals, defeating Boston on Friday to tie the series 2-2.

“He’s a very mild-mannered guy, but he’s taken a leap in these playoffs in terms of his impact on the game defensively,” Kerr said, also noting how Wiggins grabbed 16 rebounds in Game 4. “The biggest thing is he’s a two-way player.”

Here are some other notes from the West:

  • Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press explores how the Warriors proved they’re still dominant on the road by winning Game 4. Nicknamed the “Road Warriors,” the Dubs have won a road game in each of their last 27 playoff series. Golden State won 107-97 in Boston on Friday behind Stephen Curry‘s 43 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Until Spurs coach Gregg Popovich says otherwise, it’s best to assume he’ll return next season, Mike Finger of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Popovich has held off on discussing his future and seems focused on the present. Should he return next season, it would be his 29th as San Antonio’s head coach.
  • Sarah Todd of the Deseret News examines the Jazz‘s front-office hierarchy, which can be confusing because of some relatively recent changes in the basketball operations department. Utah hired ex-Celtics general manager Danny Ainge as CEO last year, but still has Justin Zanik as general manager. As Todd notes, the team also didn’t hire a new executive vice president of basketball operations when Dennis Lindsey left the position.

Celtics Notes: Horford, Udoka, Pop, Road Wins

It took a little convincing, but 36-year-old Celtics big man Al Horford eventually realized he would need to add three-point shooting to his arsenal for a lengthier NBA career, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes writes that former Hawks general manager Rick Sund first suggested the move. Atlanta drafted Horford with the third pick out of Florida in 2007.

As Haynes writes, Horford took just 65 three-point attempts through his first eight NBA seasons. During his 2015/16 season with the Hawks, Horford averaged 3.1 looks per night, converting 34.4% of those. He has never taken fewer than 3.0 three-point attempts in a season since then. His highest conversion rate was 42.9% on 3.1 tries during the 2017/18 season with Boston.

“Rick is the one that told me, ‘Man, you have a really good mid-range. You should start shooting corner threes, that’s going to help extend your career,’” Horford said. “I used to be a banger down low and posting up. He was like, ‘Man, you’re not going to last in this league if you keep playing like that.’ … Rick was right. I think I have gained extra years by adding the 3-point shot.”

There’s more out of Boston:

  • Celtics head coach Ime Udoka is employing a championship strategy employed by Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, for whom he was an assistant coach during consecutive NBA Finals trips, writes Tim Keown of ESPN. Keown notes that Udoka’s calm, tough comportment could stem from lessons learned in San Antonio, where he was also a player. “He coached with the greatest ever to do it in Pop,” Marcus Smart said. “He’s a sponge. Every place he went, he soaked it all in, put it into his game and brought it over here to us.” Prior to his current head coaching stint with the Celtics, Udoka also served under Brett Brown with the Sixers and Steve Nash with the Nets.
  • After starting his career with a 10-day contract on a Lakers team led by Hall of Famers Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, Ime Udoka eventually carved out an NBA niche as a role player. Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times opines that Udoka’s time spent as a career role player helped prepare him for the nuances of coaching. After his four-game tenure with the 2003/04 Lakers, Udoka suited up for the Knicks, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Kings during a seven-year NBA career.
  • One reason behind the Celtics’ 2022 postseason success has been their ability to win on the road, writes Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press. Boston won two away games in each of its three Eastern Conference playoff series, and already has earned a victory at the Chase Center in the NBA Finals. A second straight road victory is certainly on the minds of Boston players. “We’ve got to have that right mindset that this is a big game for us, and we’ve got to go out there and compete and not try to hang our hat on Game 1 but to be a little greedy and go get Game 2,” reserve point guard Derrick White said of the team’s mentality.