Hamidou Diallo

Northwest Notes: Diallo, Ingles, Vanderbilt, Towns

Hamidou Diallo is best known as the winner of the 2019 Slam Dunk Contest, but he has become the Thunder‘s most productive bench player in his third NBA season, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Diallo is the leading scorer among Oklahoma City’s reserves at 10.5 PPG, including a 23-point outburst in Friday’s win at New York.

“He’s had a lot of ups and downs, he’s had injuries, he’s had a lot of nights where he’s probably staring at the ceiling, and it’s just a reminder that development’s not linear,” Thunder coach Mark Daigneault said. “He’s somebody that’s weathered storms. To his credit he’s been professional and he’s just stayed consistent. He has a night like tonight because of the cumulative effect of all those experiences and the way that he’s handled them.”

Going to Madison Square Garden is a homecoming for Diallo, who hails from Queens, but he said it’s a different experience with no fans in the stands and no ability to see the city because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“Now we’re quarantined,” he said, “and we just pretty much stay in the hotel and stay out the way.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz forward Joe Ingles missed Friday’s game in Milwaukee because of right Achilles soreness, ending a streak that began in December of 2015, according to a story on the team’s website. Ingles had played in 384 straight regular season games and 418 total, counting the playoffs. “It makes you pause for a second and reflect on what a streak of consecutive games like that means and what it says about Joe, his toughness, his commitment and the type of teammate he is,” coach Quin Snyder said.
  • Foul trouble allowed Timberwolves power forward Jarred Vanderbilt to play extended minutes Tuesday, and he responded with with 11 points, five rebounds, two blocks and three steals, notes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Vanderbilt has been waiting for a chance since Minnesota acquired him at last year’s trade deadline. “I feel like you’re always going to get an opportunity. No matter how it comes … so my mindset was to just stay ready, stay locked in and continue to stay positive,” he said. “Especially in this league, once you go down that path of being negative, it’s hard to turn it around and get back on the right track.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns returned to the Timberwolves‘ lineup tonight for the first time since dislocating his left wrist two weeks ago, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Towns tested the wrist in warm-ups before a final decision was made (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Nuggets, Diallo, Clarkson

While there are still a handful of interesting names on the list of available free agents, only one of those players is a restricted free agent. Jordan McLaughlin, who finished the 2019/20 season on a two-way deal with the Timberwolves, is the lone player left on the market of the 31 who initially received qualifying offers in November.

It seems likely that McLaughlin will still end up with the Timberwolves, since most teams are prepared to start training camp and aren’t looking to sign an RFA to an offer sheet. However, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets that the team and McLaughlin still seem to be “a bit apart” on a new deal. As a result, the 24-year-old guard has yet to report to the team’s facility for camp.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • When Jerami Grant left Denver for Detroit last month, reports indicated that the Nuggets had expected to re-sign the forward and were caught off guard when he chose the Pistons. The Nuggets’ president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly, confirmed as much this week, telling reporters that “it was a bit surprising and disappointing” that the team couldn’t get a deal done with Grant (Twitter link via Kendra Andrews of The Athletic).
  • Newly-signed Nuggets big man Isaiah Hartenstein said he chose to join Denver because he’ll get an opportunity to have an immediate role on a contending team, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
  • After a whirlwind offseason of roster moves in Oklahoma City, 2018 second-round pick Hamidou Diallo suddenly finds himself as the Thunder‘s longest-tenured player, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.
  • Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson spent less than a full season in Utah before committing to a four-year contract with the team this fall. As Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com writes, Clarkson’s brief stay in Utah convinced him a long-term deal was the right move. “It’s crazy how fast I connected with these guys and this group,” Clarkson said. “… The guys have been great. The relationship with Coach (Quin Snyder). Overall, just the fit. The city has been great to me as well. I’m just feeling comfortable, peace of mind.”

Thunder To Exercise Option For Hamidou Diallo

The Thunder will exercise their $1.66MM team option for next season on Hamidou Diallo, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. 

Diallo, 22, has been a solid bench player for Oklahoma City during his first two years in the NBA. He averaged 6.9 points and 3.6 rebounds in 46 games last season.

With Mike Muscala opting in earlier today, all the Thunder’s option decisions for next season have been resolved.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Okoro, Thunder Crowds

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards wants the Timberwolves to draft him with top pick, he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). He’s unconcerned about dealing with Minnesota’s winters. “I’m not going to play basketball in the snow. So, I’m not worried about it,” he said. Edwards has long been considered a possible No. 1 selection, though a recent report indicated he could slip a bit due to an unspectacular Pro Day and questions regarding his background.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves, who own the top pick, attended Isaac Okoro‘s workout last week, according to Alder Almo of Empire Sports Media. The freshman Auburn wing is currently ranked No. 7 by ESPN but he could be a Minnesota target if the team trades down. Okoro’s strengths include his defense and rebounding.
  • There’s speculation that the Thunder might have some interest in trading for the No. 1 pick in order to land LaMelo Ball. That would require Oklahoma City to give up quite a few assets, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. Mussatto believes a package for the top pick might include Chris Paul, Hamidou Diallo, the pick OKC owns at No. 25, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2024 first-rounder. The Timberwolves would throw in James Johnson to make the salaries work. However, the Suns appear to be even bigger players for Paul.
  • The Thunder have announced reduced seating capacity for home games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mussatto tweets. The amount of fans allowed into the building is still to be determined but measures include the wearing of masks and a seating distance of six feet between groups of guests. There will also be strict hygiene and disinfecting procedures throughout the building.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Trent, Diallo, Norel

With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton sidelined again, Michael Porter Jr. delivered a career-high 37 points in a Nuggets win on Monday, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. Porter had told head coach Michael Malone he was determined to step up after an underwhelming showing on Saturday vs. Miami.

“Especially with Jamal, Gary and Will out, I got to be a guy that steps up and kind of takes on more of a role,” Porter added. “I told (Malone) that I understand that and that it wouldn’t happen again.”

While the Nuggets will need healthy and productive versions of Murray, Harris, and Barton to maximize their potential postseason upside, the opportunity to increase Porter’s role and confidence is a silver lining of the team’s current situation. The young forward could be one of Denver’s X-factors in the playoffs.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers have a pair of stars – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – in their backcourt and their frontcourt has been fortified by the return of Jusuf Nurkic and fellow big man Zach Collins. However, the wing has been an area of concern for the team all season, especially with Rodney Hood sidelined due to a torn Achilles. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian takes a look at how emerging youngster Gary Trent Jr. – a restricted free agent in 2021 – is filling that void this summer.
  • In and out of the Thunder‘s rotation over the course of the 2019/20 season, Hamidou Diallo has reclaimed a key role off the bench, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Diallo – who has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21 – had nine points in Oklahoma City’s Saturday win over Utah, then was a +19 on Monday in a game the Thunder lost by eight points.
  • Dutch big man Henk Norel announced his retirement this week due to ongoing knee issues, as relayed by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Norel never played in the NBA, but was selected 47th overall in the 2009 draft by the Timberwolves, who still hold his NBA rights.

Northwest Notes: Bazley, Nuggets, Porter, Wolves

Thunder rookie Darius Bazley, who was ruled out for four-to-six weeks on February 10 due to a bone bruise in his knee, is likely healthy now, though the team hasn’t confirmed that, writes Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman.

As Tramel notes, however, it’s not clear whether Bazley would see much action for the Thunder this summer if the season resumes, whether or not he’s healthy. The 19-year-old forward was a regular rotation player for Oklahoma City before his injury, averaging 17.2 MPG in 53 contests, but Abdel Nader and – to a lesser extent – Hamidou Diallo played well in Bazley’s absence. With OKC likely shifting into postseason mode if and when play resumes, Tramel wonders if there will be room in the rotation for Bazley.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Colorado Governor Jared Polis told Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic in an interview this week that he intends to give the green light to sports leagues to play games (without fans) in the state once they’re ready to do so. Polis’ comments primarily focus on MLB’s Rockies and NFL’s Broncos, since the Nuggets are extremely unlikely to play games at their home arena before 2020/21. Still, it’s a promising sign for next season for Colorado’s lone NBA franchise.
  • After missing the entire 2018/19 season, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. flashed some tantalizing potential during his de facto rookie year. With the help of former NBA team executive Seth Partnow, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic digs into Porter’s performance and explores what advanced data says about his play.
  • In his latest mailbag, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune examines the job Gersson Rosas has done as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations and discusses the team’s draft plans, among other topics.

Thunder’s Hamidou Diallo Out At Least One Month

Thunder swingman Hamidou Diallo will be reevaluated in four-to-six weeks after suffering a hyperextension sprain in his right elbow, Royce Young of ESPN tweets.

Diallo was injured during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James drove to the basket and made contact with Diallo. As he was falling, Diallo then collided with teammate Mike Muscala. He quickly retreating to the locker room.

Diallo had just returned after missing three games due to left knee soreness. He underwent a surgical procedure on the same elbow during last year’s playoffs.

The 2018 second-rounder was a regular part of the club’s rotation early last season, but played sparingly after the All-Star break. In 12 games this year, Diallo has averaged 8.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 21.3 MPG. Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton could see an upswing in minutes during his absence.

The shooting guard out of Kentucky has a team-friendly rookie contract – $1.42MM this season with a $1.66MM team option next summer.

Thunder Notes: Roster, Paul, Diallo, Abrines

A challenging early-season schedule may determine whether the Thunder decide to push for the playoffs or sell off their assets and start rebuilding, observes Brett Dawson of The Athletic. Oklahoma City will begin the season with 10 of its first 16 games against teams ranked in the top 10 by FiveThirtyEight.com. That will take the club into late November, close to the unofficial start of trade season when most free agents who signed this summer become eligible to be dealt on December 15.

OKC’s obvious trade candidates are Danilo Gallinari, who has an expiring deal worth $22.6MM, and Chris Paul, whom the organization tried to move shortly after acquiring him from the Rockets. Dawson also points toward Dennis Schroder, who has two seasons left at $15.5MM each, along with Nerlens Noel and Mike Muscala as other rotation players who could be on the move.

“Obviously the most important season is (this) season, and we want to maximize that season the best that we can,” GM Sam Presti said. “But not at the expense of continually and aggressively making sure that we’re repositioning and replenishing the team so that we have a platform and a runway for the next great Thunder team to take shape. I don’t think those things are mutually exclusive.”

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • Regardless of how long Paul stays, the Thunder can count on his competitive nature to drive the team, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. Not only does Paul want to extend his streak of 50-win seasons, but the better he plays, the more he will drive up his trade value. “Obviously Russell (Westbrook) was an unbelievable competitor — I think Chris is an incredible competitor, too,” coach Billy Donovan said. “The biggest thing I’ve always tried to do with all these guys is to try to always be open and be honest and try to communicate. And I think that’s the way Chris is.”
  • Hamidou Diallo showed in Summer League that he is fully recovered after having arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow in mid-April, notes Nick Gallo of NBA.com. Diallo was an important part of the rotation early in the season, but got into just six games after the All-Star break. He looked good in July, averaging 14.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals in four Summer League games. “In this league you’ve got to be ready for anything at any given time, and sometimes you face adversity, but you still have to learn how to fight through and learn how to push through,” Diallo said.
  • In an interview with Basket en Movistar+ (Twitter link), Alex Abrines speaks out about the mental health issues that drove him out of the NBA and credits Westbrook for trying to be a calming influence.

Hamidou Diallo Undergoes Procedure On Elbow

Thunder swingman Hamidou Diallo underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his troublesome right elbow today, the team announced in a press release. Diallo had been ruled out of Tuesday’s Game 2 vs. Portland due to right elbow soreness.

According to the club, Diallo is expected to resume basketball-related activities in approximately four weeks. Given that the Thunder have fallen behind 2-0 to the Trail Blazers in their first-round series, there’s certainly no guarantee OKC will still be alive at that point.

Of course, even if the Thunder rebound and make a deep playoff run, it’s possible Diallo has played his last game of the season. The 2018 second-rounder was a regular part of the club’s rotation earlier in the season, but hasn’t played more than five minutes in a game since the All-Star break.

Assuming he gets and healthy and continues to make positive strides, the 20-year-old will likely take on a more prominent role in Oklahoma City’s rotation over the next couple years. Diallo’s team-friendly rookie contract – $1.42MM in 2019/20 with a $1.66MM team option for 2020/21 – should make him a valuable asset for a club that was this season’s top taxpayer and may remain in luxury tax territory going forward.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls 3/20/19

Here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Pistons assigned Khyri Thomas and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk to the Detroit Drive as the G League team tries to wrap up a playoff spot, tweets Keith Langlois of Pistons.com.
  • The Spurs recalled  Chimezie Metu and Lonnie Walker from their Austin affiliate, the team announced on its website. Metu is averaging 14.2/7.5/2.2 in 24 G League games, while Walker is posting a 16.4/3.0/1.8 line in 27 games.
  • The Grizzlies recalled Jevon Carter and Tyler Dorsey from the Memphis Hustle, according to a tweet from the team. Both players played key roles in helping the team clinch a playoff berth last night.
  • The Jazz recalled Grayson Allen from the Salt Lake City Stars (Twitter link). The first-round pick is averaging 17.5/2.8/2.4 in 11 games with the Stars.
  • Hamidou Diallo has been recalled from Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder announced in an email. He scored 26 points last night in a win over Sioux Falls.