Isaac Okoro

Pincus’ Latest: Pacers, Mavs, Cavs, Blazers, Hawks, Avdija

As they weigh their options on the trade market in the next few weeks, the Pacers will be seeking shooting and players who fit head coach Rick Carlisle‘s system, sources tell Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

As Pincus observes, this could make the Mavericks an intriguing trade partner for the Pacers. Reports have indicated that Dallas has interest in Myles Turner, and Carlisle may value some of his former players more than other teams would. According to Pincus, several rival executives had considered the Mavs the favorites to land Turner using a package that includes Dwight Powell as a salary-matching piece, plus either Jalen Brunson and/or Dorian Finney-Smith.

Turner’s health complicates matters, however. The Pacers’ big man is expected to be sidelined through the February 10 trade deadline due to a foot injury, which will likely temper enthusiasm among his potential suitors. Additionally, league sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link) that the Mavericks have recently backed off their pursuit of Turner as their defense has moved into the NBA’s top five.

While Turner may no longer be a top target, it’s still possible the Mavericks will consider moving Brunson or Finney-Smith for a roster upgrade, especially if they’re concerned about their ability to sign either player this summer, when they’ll reach unrestricted free agency. According to Pincus, there’s a sense around the league that Finney-Smith probably won’t get more than the full mid-level exception, whereas Brunson is “believed by many” to be seeking a four-year, $80MM deal.

Here’s more from Pincus:

  • Rival teams don’t get the sense that the Cavaliers are making Isaac Okoro or Kevin Love readily available, Pincus says. That doesn’t mean that either player – especially Love – is untouchable, but it sounds like they’re not being actively shopped.
  • There’s an expectation that the Trail Blazers will pursue deals that help them shed a few million dollars in salary to get under the luxury tax line, according to Pincus, who suggests Robert Covington, Jusuf Nurkic, and even Larry Nance Jr. are among Portland’s potential trade candidates. The Blazers gave up a first-round pick for Nance last summer.
  • Some executives around the NBA believe the Hawks acquired a first-round pick from New York in the Cam Reddish trade in an effort to improve a potential offer for Sixers star Ben Simmons, writes Pincus. Philadelphia wasn’t interested in Reddish, Pincus adds.
  • Multiple teams have interest in Wizards forward Deni Avdija, per Pincus. If Washington looks to upgrade its roster, it’s safe to assume Avdija is someone potential trade partners will ask about.

Isaac Okoro Out 2-3 Weeks Due To Elbow Injury

Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro has been diagnosed with a left elbow sprain after undergoing an MRI to assess the severity of the injury, the team announced today in a press release.

Okoro, who sustained the injury during the second quarter of Sunday’s game vs. Indiana and didn’t return, will undergo treatment and rehab on his elbow and is expected to miss about two or three weeks, according to the Cavs.

Bad health luck has put a damper on an impressive breakout season for a young Cavaliers team that currently has a 21-16 record, good for fifth in the Eastern Conference. The team has already lost Ricky Rubio (ACL) and Collin Sexton (meniscus) to season-ending injuries.

Okoro’s ailment isn’t nearly that serious, but it will still leave Cleveland with a hole in its rotation in the short term. The former fifth overall pick has started 23 of 27 games he has played this season, averaging 9.0 PPG and 3.6 RPG on .454/.321/.719 shooting in 28.4 minutes per contest. He’s also a major asset on the defensive end.

Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler are among the candidates for increased roles as long as Okoro remains on the shelf. Cedi Osman can be added to that group too once he exits the health and safety protocols.

COVID-19 Updates: Suns, Blazers, Rockets, Wolves, More

Here are the latest health and safety protocols updates from around the NBA:

Entering the protocols:

  • Jae Crowder and Elfrid Payton have become the first two Suns players to enter the COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).
  • The Trail Blazers‘ outbreak continues to grow, with Jusuf Nurkic and Cody Zeller among the players now in the protocols, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Seven Portland players have been placed in the protocols since Friday.
  • Rockets guard Garrison Mathews became the second Houston guard to enter the protocols today, joining teammate D.J. Augustin, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Timberwolves big man Naz Reid is now in the health and safety protocols, bringing Minnesota’s list of affected players up to eight, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.
  • The Thunder announced today that they’ve placed rookie guard Tre Mann in the protocols. Oklahoma City now has two players affected — Mann and Darius Bazley.

Exiting the protocols:

  • Point guard De’Aaron Fox returned to action on Sunday when the Kings hosted Memphis. Fox had been in the health and safety protocols since December 16.
  • A pair of TimberwolvesPatrick Beverley and Josh Okogie – are no longer in the health and safety protocols, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. They’re both listed as questionable for Monday’s game vs. Boston.
  • Clippers forward Marcus Morris has cleared the health and safety protocols, though he remained inactive on Sunday as he goes through a reconditioning period, tweets Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.
  • Cavaliers wing RJ Nembhard was no longer listed on the team’s injury report on Sunday and played vs. Toronto, so he’s out of the protocols. Isaac Okoro has exited the protocols too, though he’s still working his way back, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff (Twitter link via Kelsey Russo of The Athletic).

Five More Cavaliers Players Enter Protocols

12:28 PM: The five players who have entered the protocols are Allen, Lamar Stevens, Dylan Windler, Denzel Valentine and RJ Nembhard, the Cavaliers announced (via Twitter). Their game with the Hawks Sunday has been postponed due to the outbreak.

11:24 AM: Tonight’s game between the Cavaliers and Hawks is expected to be postponed, league sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). It would be the third game of the season to be called off, following the Bulls’ games this week against the Pistons and Raptors.

11:21 AM: Center Jarrett Allen is among the five players being placed in the protocols, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Allen has been among the reasons for Cleveland’s turnaround, averaging 16.8 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 28 games.

10:30 AM: Five Cavaliers tested positive for COVID-19 today and there are concerns that the team may not have eight available players for tonight’s game in Atlanta, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Cleveland is already without Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro, who both entered the protocols this week.

Most players who would be eligible to join the team under the hardship provision are currently in Las Vegas for the G League Showcase, explains Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link). Travel issues would make it difficult for any of them to be in Atlanta by game time.

The Cleveland players haven’t been identified yet, but because they tested positive, they will have to spend 10 days in the protocols unless they can submit two consecutive negative tests for the virus at least 24 hours apart. The Cavaliers, one of the season’s early surprises with a 19-12 record, are scheduled to play four times in the next 10 days, including tonight’s game.

Follow all the latest COVID-19 updates in our daily tracker.

Lakers’ Westbrook, Cavs’ Okoro Enter COVID-19 Protocols

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). Lakers guard Avery Bradley has also been placed in the protocols, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Westbrook and Bradley are the fourth and fifth Lakers to enter the protocols within the last three days, joining teammates Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk.

It’s unclear if the two Lakers guards have registered confirmed positive tests for COVID-19, but if they have, they’ll be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The news of Westbrook and Bradley entering the protocols coincides with reports that the Lakers have agreed to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract using a hardship exception. Westbrook’s and Bradley’s absences should open the door for Thomas to get some run at the point guard spot.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro has entered the health and safety protocols, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). No other Cavs players are currently in the protocols, so we’ll have to wait to see if Okoro is a one-off or if any of his teammates join him in the coming days. If Okoro tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll be in the protocols for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, that Coby White and Javonte Green are the only two players on the team who have cleared the health and safety protocols and have been conducting individual workouts. That leaves eight players in the protocols, and many of them – including Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, and Troy Brown Jr. – may not be back until after Christmas, according to Donovan.
  • Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen also provides a few injury updates on Raptors players — Dalano Banton (illness) is good to go, while OG Anunoby (hip) and Khem Birch (knee) will be listed as questionable for the club’s game vs. Golden State on Saturday.

Central Notes: Okoro, Turner, Bjorkgren, Caruso, McGruder

Collin Sexton‘s season-ending surgery has thrust Isaac Okoro into the spotlight for the Cavaliers, according to Chris Fedor of

The 20-year-old Okoro has had a terrible start to the season shooting the ball, with a slash line of .369/.176/.720 through 11 games. The team doesn’t expect Okoro to replicate Sexton’s offensive output; it’s not why they drafted him, and it’s not what he hangs his hat on, writes Fedor. The second-year wing is an athletic, defense-oriented hustle player who’s a good finisher in transition.

Coach J.B Bickerstaff says the Cavs aren’t concerned with Okoro’s poor shooting yet, but they need him to stay aggressive and make the right plays on offense to keep opposing defenses honest.

Not yet is there a level of concern,” Bickerstaff said. “We have to figure out how to help him. How do we put him in positions to be successful and what does he need to do to help this team? That’s the most important thing. We all need to make open shots. I think we have had open shots out there that we can knock down. But each guy has a different role. He has to make himself more difficult to guard. That’s something that we have been talking to him about. He is a really good mover, he’s a really good runner, he can catch and finish at the rim, he’s a good offensive rebounder. We have to get him to do more of those things. He just needs to impact the game the way he impacts the game. We don’t need him to score 20 points a night. We need to help this team win.”

The Cavs have lost four straight games and sit at 9-9. They’ve dealt with several injuries and illnesses to key players, including Okoro, who was sidelined for seven games with a strained hamstring.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Pacers center Myles Turner recently spoke about what went wrong under former coach Nate Bjorkgren last season, writes Matthew VanTryon of the Indianapolis Star. “Being a first-year head coach, there’s a lot of ego that comes with that. You have a lot of this, ‘I know what I’m doing. I got this.’ But in a sense, you don’t always know exactly what you’re doing. You have to accept that,” Turner said on the Noble and Roosh Show. “He kind of tried to accept that later in the year, but throughout the year, he wouldn’t let go of that ego in a sense. That’s one of the things that hurt him in his tenure in Indiana.” Bjorkgren was fired after his lone season in Indiana.
  • Bulls guard Alex Caruso gave an interview with Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype that covers a number of topics, including his journey to the NBA, joining Chicago, his chemistry with Lonzo Ball, and more.
  • Pistons veteran Rodney McGruder is still popular in Miami, even as an opponent, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra isn’t surprised that Pistons coach Dwane Casey relies on McGruder for veteran leadership. “I don’t find it surprising at all, that Coach Casey has turned to him, because of that experience, because of his grit, toughness,” Spoelstra said. “He screams reliability and that plays well in this league.”

Cavaliers Notes: Sexton, Windler, Okoro, Allen

Coach J.B. Bickerstaff will explore his options as the Cavaliers try to survive without starting guard Collin Sexton, writes Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. Sexton was diagnosed Monday with a torn meniscus in his left knee, and the Cavs are still determining the best way to deal with the injury and how much time he might miss. Cleveland is one of the NBA’s surprise teams with a 7-4 start, and Sexton has been the top scorer at 16.0 points per game.

Bickerstaff doesn’t have a similar scoring threat at shooting guard, where Sexton has started all 11 games, so playing time might depend on nightly matchups. He said everyone will need to “tick up a couple of notches” until Sexton returns.

“So those guys that are stepping in and their minutes are going to increase, they’ve got to find ways to help,” Bickerstaff said. “Whether they create shots for other people, whether it’s the shots for them, on the defensive end of the floor, they take those challenges. So it’s going to be everybody that’s got to contribute a little bit more. The guys that are taking those minutes and then the guys who are playing as well. They’re going to have to find a way to help us more as well.”

There’s more from Cleveland:

  • Sexton’s absence could result in more minutes for Dylan Windler, who is fully healthy after injuries limited him to 31 games in his first two seasons, Russo adds. Windler is playing just 9.9 minutes per night, but he’s shooting 50% from three-point range. “I think he’s finding his way,” Bickerstaff said. “And the only way that happens in the league is by playing. You have to believe and have the confidence, but you’ve got to get the experience of being on the floor and playing against other NBA players and playing with your teammates so that they know where you’re going to be and what spots you like and all those things. So, the more and more he plays, the more comfortable he’ll get.”
  • The Cavs are welcoming back swingman Isaac Okoro, who is returning tonight after missing seven games with a strained left hamstring, according to Chris Fedor of Okoro will be on an undetermined minutes restriction, Fedor adds.
  • Center Jarrett Allen, the Eastern Conference Player of the Week, is quickly building chemistry with new frontcourt partners Lauri Markkanen and Evan Mobley, writes Katie Heindl of Uproxx.

Central Notes: Okoro, Dosunmo, White, Warren

Second-year Cavaliers wing Isaac Okoro continues to recover from the strained left hamstring that has caused him to sit for seven straight games. A source tells Chris Fedor of that, provided he continues trending in the right direction, Okoro could be in line for a return as soon as Wednesday against the Wizards.

Fedor adds that Okoro could merit consideration as Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff‘s choice to replace injured guard Collin Sexton in the club’s starting lineup. Sexton will be sidelined for a while with a meniscus tear. The Cavaliers have not yet determined a timeline for Sexton’s recuperation, as that hinges on whether or not the tear will need to be surgically repaired.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Rookie Bulls shooting guard Ayo Dosunmu, the No. 38 pick in the 2021 draft out of Illinois, has carved out serious rotation minutes for a depleted roster so far. Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders just how long Dosunmu will be able to stick in Chicago’s lineup. Cowley notes that Dosunmu has displaced swingman Troy Brown Jr., the No. 15 pick in the 2019 draft out of Oregon, in the club’s rotation. Dosunmu has averaged 17.8 MPG across the team’s last five contests. ‘‘He’s got the ‘it’ factor,” head coach Billy Donovan raved. ‘‘And he’s got a great drive. He’s incredibly motivated.”
  • The Bulls have announced (via Twitter) that they have assigned third-year combo guard Coby White to their NBA G League club, the Windy City Bulls. White suffered a left shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery over the summer, and has yet to play in a game this season for a revamped Chicago roster.
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle is taking the long view when it comes to determining a recovery timeline for small forward T.J. Warren, according to James Boyd of Yahoo Sports. Warren has missed all but four games of the last two seasons due to a left foot injury. “I know that there’s some stuff out there that’s talking about a timeline for him to return possibly late December or January,” Carlisle said. “This has turned into more of a long-term thing. I just think it’s unfair to an athlete, you know, to be put up against a timeline like this. He’s doing phenomenally well compared to where he was nine or 10 weeks ago.”

Central Notes: Connaughton, Cunningham, Okoro, Bradley

Pat Connaughton can become a free agent next summer but he’s very comfortable playing for the Bucks, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Connaughton feels his versatility is valued by the defending champions.

“I mean, that’s kind of what I’ve hung my hat on my whole career,” he said. “Obviously, high school and college is a different level of basketball than the NBA, but while stats in high school and college piled up for me, it was really about finding ways to win games and I would play any position that was needed. And I think the NBA is the NBA, it’s harder to crack that role. But I found a home here, I found a place where it’s valued and I’ve tried to find ways to impact winning throughout each and every single game.”

Connaughton holds a $5.73MM player option on his contract for next season.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • All minutes restrictions regarding Pistons rookie guard Cade Cunningham have been lifted, the Detroit Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II tweets. The top pick in the draft missed the first four games due to an ankle injury and sat out the second game of a back-to-back this weekend. He’s now cleared to play on back-to-back nights. The Pistons face Brooklyn on Friday after playing Philadelphia on Thursday.
  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro worked out on the court before the team left for Toronto and joined it on the trip over the border, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweets. There’s still no official word on his availability for Friday’s game against the Raptors, since he needs to be cleared by the medical staff. Okoro appeared in four games before suffering a left hamstring strain.
  • Sixers coach Doc Rivers offered high praise for Bulls center Tony Bradley, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun Times relays. “He was one of our favorites last year,’’ Rivers said of the former Sixer. “I think it takes a lot of players, and sometimes they never figure it out, what they can do in their role. If they can buy into that and do it great they can have a long career.” Bradley signed a two-year, veteran’s minimum contract with Chicago this summer.

Cavaliers Exercise 2022/23 Options For Garland, Windler, Okoro

The Cavaliers have exercised the fourth-year contract options for Darius Garland and Dylan Windler, along with the third-year option for Isaac Okoro, the team announced in a press release. All the option decisions cover the 2022/23 season.

The moves lock in the salaries of $8,920,795 for Garland and $4,037,278 for Windler, who will both be eligible for rookie scale extensions next summer. Okoro will receive $7,040,880 in 2022/23 and will be extension-eligible during the 2023 offseason, assuming Cleveland picks up his fourth-year option as well.

Garland, the fifth pick in the 2019 draft, showed considerable improvement during his second NBA season and is considered to be a cornerstone for the team’s future. He averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists last year while shooting 39.5% from three-point range and earned three votes in the Most Improved Player balloting.

Windler has been hampered by injuries at the start of his NBA career as he missed his entire first season and played just 31 games last year. He will need a strong performance this season to show that he’s worthy of a long-term investment.

Okoro, the No. 5 pick in 2020, was a member of the All-Rookie Second Team last season. He led all rookies in minutes per game and ranked in the top 10 in steals, points and assists.