Isaac Okoro

Central Notes: Turner, Pacers, Hayes, Bogdanovic, Cavs

Pacers center Myles Turner addressed the trade rumors surrounding him, saying he’s “numb” to the chatter, Wilson Moore of the Indianapolis Star writes.

“This is the only time I will be addressing it this year; I want to make sure everyone knows that,” Turner said. “Yeah, elephant in the room. For me, this is my eighth season. I’ve been in trade rumors the past four or five years. It’s something that I know that I’m numb to. It’s something that it’s just whatever comes with this business. There are no hard feelings in this business. You have to take the emotions out of everything, and I’ve learned that at a young age, and I still hold true to that. My job is to come in here and help these young guys now, man.”

Turner’s expiring contract carries a cap hit of $18MM.

We have more info regarding the Central Division:

  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle plans to use his bench extensively this season, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. He’s pondering a rotation of 10 or more players. “We’re going to use our depth as an advantage, we’re going to use it as something to drive our development internally every day,” he said.
  • Pacers president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard said next offseason will be pivotal during the franchise’s rebuild, he told Evan Sidery of Basketball News. “Look, we have three first-round picks it looks like next year,” he said. “We have close to $30 million in cap space. And we’ll be active to use that cap space to acquire more assets. That’s just natural, but I think it gives us the ability to pivot in a lot of different ways.”
  • Killian Hayes needs to improve his shooting to be in the Pistons’ long-term plans. He spent the offseason altering his shooting motion, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “I’m confident in my shot,” Hayes said. “I worked with different shooting coaches. We tweaked some things. I’m excited.” The former lottery pick has shot 37.4% from the field and 26.8% from long range during his first two NBA seasons.
  • Bojan Bogdanovic is officially a member of the Pistons and the veteran forward is thrilled with the direction of his new team, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News writes. “I kind of knew that I was going to be traded. I was just waiting to see where I’m going to end up,” Bogdanovic said. “Super excited to be here with this young group of guys and a coach that is really experienced. Everything is great so far.”
  • Cedi Osman, Dean Wade, Isaac Okoro, Caris LeVert, Lamar Stevens and Dylan Windler are all vying for the small forward starting job with the Cavaliers, Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. “We’ve gone back and forth on that, I’ll be honest with you guys,” coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “But we’re gonna give it an opportunity and see exactly what works best and what is the most troublesome for defenses.”

Trade Rumors: Bulls, Collins, Gobert, Lakers, Hield, More

The Bulls are among the teams that have shown interest in Hawks big man John Collins, sources tell Matt Moore of Action Network. Moore also confirms that Boston and Sacramento are two of the other clubs that have registered some level of interest in Collins, as Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report said earlier today.

Chicago has been linked to a handful of frontcourt players so far this offseason, most notably Rudy Gobert. Moore writes that the Bulls remain in the mix for Gobert, but cautions that the Jazz‘s asking price will be “steep” and says any trade discussions involving the three-time Defensive Player of the Year could drag out, given Danny Ainge‘s reputation as a tough negotiator.

According to Moore, if Gobert is traded, the Bulls are probably the most likely landing spot, with the Timberwolves looming as a dark horse, but there’s no guarantee a deal will be made.

Here are a few more trade notes and rumors from Moore:

  • Moore reports that the Lakers have “circled back” to Pacers sharpshooter Buddy Hield after not trading for him a year ago. The Lakers have a clearer path to making an offer for Hield that doesn’t include Russell Westbrook‘s unwanted contract this summer than they did at the trade deadline, given that his salary declines from $23MM in 2021/22 to $21.2MM in ’22/23.
  • The Sixers are probably unlikely to find a taker for Tobias Harris, given the size of his contract, but Moore suggests the Kings are one team to watch on that front.
  • The Cavaliers aren’t looking to trade former lottery pick Isaac Okoro after drafting Ochai Agbaji, says Moore.
  • Moore suggests that the Raptors‘ asking price for OG Anunoby when the Trail Blazers pursued him around the time of the draft was believed to be the No. 7 pick, Josh Hart or Nassir Little, and a future first-round pick. Now that the draft has passed, Moore is skeptical that Anunoby will be on the move this summer.

Eastern Notes: Nets, Simmons, Okoro, Cunningham

The Nets are facing elimination after going down 3-0 to the Celtics in their first-round series. With their backs against the wall, the team will need a miracle to overcome such a deficit, Scott Cacciola of the New York Times writes.

No team has ever come back from trailing 3-0 in NBA history. It’s happened in other sports such as baseball — the Red Sox defeated the Yankees prior to the 2004 World Series — and the NHL has seen it happen four times. As other coaches like Toronto’s Nick Nurse have noted (the Raptors were down 3-0 entering Game 4), several NBA teams have come back from a 3-1 deficit, making Game 4 an important one.

Brooklyn will have to win on Monday to have any glimmer of hope. The following game would be played in Boston. If the team can somehow manage to steal that contest, Game 6 in Brooklyn could provide enough momentum for a Game 7. Then again, there’s a reason so few professional sports teams have been able to achieve this feat.

Here are some other notes from the Eastern Conference:

Central Notes: DeRozan, Okoro, Thompson, LaVine

Bulls star DeMar DeRozan endorsed the team’s signing of veteran center Tristan Thompson, as relayed by K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). Thompson agreed to a buyout with the Pacers on Thursday and is expected to sign with Chicago in the near future.

“[I’ve] known Tristan for years,” DeRozan said. “Great dude. Championship experience. Good friend of mine. Got the utmost respect for him off the court. Obviously, we all know what he brings on the court. Think it will be great addition for us. Veteran leadership.”

Thompson carries 11 years of NBA experience, which includes an NBA title with the Cavaliers in 2016. He’s expected to provide depth behind star center Nikola Vucevic for the rest of the campaign. In 34 games this season with Sacramento and Indiana, he’s averaged 6.3 points and 5.3 rebounds, playing 15.3 minutes per contest.

There’s more from the Central Division tonight:

  • Cavaliers swingman Isaac Okoro believes he’s one of the best rising players in the league, Chris Fedor of writes. Okoro has averaged 9.0 points per game on 46% shooting during his second season with the team. “I’m grateful to be one of the top rising young players right now,” Okoro said. “I felt that last year. Throughout the whole season, felt like I was one of the Rising Stars in this league. I feel like I’ve put in a lot of work for our team and it’s showing. Just taking in the experience. I’m blessed to be here and I’m just soaking everything in.”
  • Tristan Thompson gave up $774,289 in his buyout with the Pacers, which is roughly what he’ll receive in his new deal with Chicago, per Keith Smith of Spotrac (via Twitter). Thompson only appeared in four games with Indiana before the buyout.
  • Bulls star Zach LaVine feels “great” after visiting a knee specialist, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. As Schaefer notes in his Twitter thread, LaVine had his knee drained and received PRP and cortisone injections. “It’ll get me through the end of the season, and then in the offseason I’ll be able to take care of it and get myself to 100 percent,” he said.

Cavs Notes: LeVert, Trade Talks, Okoro, Draft Pick

The Cavaliers and Pacers began to engage in exploratory discussions about Caris LeVert shortly after Ricky Rubio tore his ACL, according to Chris Fedor of, who notes that the Cavs’ deadline priorities likely would’ve looked different if Rubio’s injury hadn’t occurred.

Before officially acquiring LeVert, the Cavaliers looked into a series of other options, per Fedor, inquiring on Bucks guard Donte DiVincenzo, Rockets guard Eric Gordon, Spurs guard Derrick White, Kings sharpshooter Buddy Hield, and Magic wings Terrence Ross and Gary Harris.

Cleveland didn’t move forward on any of those players for a variety of reasons. For instance, the Bucks didn’t want to help a team they might have to face in the playoffs, while the Cavs didn’t want to part with a first-round pick for Gordon or with a combination of picks and young players for White, says Fedor.

Ultimately, the Cavs decided LeVert was the right fit at the right price, satisfying their goal of improving in the short term without losing sight of their long-term goals. LeVert is only under contract through 2022/23 for now, but if things go well in Cleveland, he could become the next piece of the team’s core, Fedor writes.

Here’s more on the Cavs:

  • Sources tell Fedor that the Cavaliers will continue to seek upgrades around the margins in advance of Thursday’s trade deadline. Cleveland controls San Antonio’s 2022 second-rounder and would prefer to keep it, but that pick has drawn plenty of interest, says Fedor.
  • The Pacers expressed interest in Isaac Okoro during their negotiations with the Cavaliers, but Cleveland didn’t want to part with the former lottery pick, sources tell Fedor. The Cavs’ willingness to include Houston’s 2022 second-rounder in their package helped bring the deal across the finish line, since that pick was viewed as something close to a first-rounder.
  • Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff praised head of basketball operations Koby Altman for the moves he has made to help turn the Cavs around, as Fedor relays. “When you look at the deals that he’s made, he has made us much better basketball team through his aggressiveness and seeking value where others may not see, but having the idea of how this one impacts the next,” Bickerstaff said. “The proof is there. You look at guys like Jarrett (Allen) and what he’s been able to do for this team and that’s a credit to Koby for making sure we got involved in what Brooklyn was trying to do. It wasn’t just Koby being singularly focused on something. He put himself in position with other teams as well and that speaks to the communication, his reputation, and being able to have those conversations with other teams.”
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic and John Hollinger of The Athletic view the LeVert trade as a win-win for the Cavaliers and Pacers, since Cleveland looks like an ideal fit for the swingman and Indiana got a good return for him.
  • The first-round pick the Cavaliers traded to Indiana in the deal is top-14 protected in 2022 and again in 2023, per RealGM. In the unlikely event that the pick lands in the lottery both years, the Pacers would instead receive Cleveland’s 2025 second-round pick and the Lakers’ 2026 second-rounder.

2021/22 Rising Stars Team Rosters

As we previously relayed, the NBA announced a new format for its Rising Stars event at All-Star weekend, which will take place on Friday, February 18. The event will feature four seven-player teams competing in a three-game tournament (two semifinals and a final).

The player pool is comprised of 12 NBA rookies, 12 sophomores, and four players from the G League Ignite, while the games will be played to a target score: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

The rosters were announced on February 1, but now the four honorary coaches (75th anniversary team members Rick Barry, Isiah Thomas, Gary Payton and James Worthy) have selected their seven-man teams, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Here are the rosters:

Team Barry:

Team Isiah:

Team Payton:

Team Worthy:

James Ham of ESPN 1320 and The Kings Beat provides (via Twitter) the full draft results.

The top 10, in order, were: Edwards, Mobley, Ball, Anthony, Giddey, Barnes, Cunningham, Bey, Bane, and Wagner. It’s worth noting that Worthy and Anthony both went to the University of North Carolina, so Anthony’s selection at No. 4 is less surprising given that context.

What do you think of the teams? Who do you think will come out on top? Head to the comments section and let us know your thoughts!

NBA Announces 2021/22 Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has revealed the 28 players (12 rookies, 12 sophomores, and four G League Ignite players) who will suit up for the 2022 Clorox Rising Stars Game in Cleveland this year, per its official PR account (Twitter links). There are a few intriguing surprises among the first-year NBA players.

Here are the players who made the cut:



Additionally, four players from the G League Ignite will participate in the Rising Stars Game based on voting from NBA G League head coaches. The NBAGL has announced (Twitter link) that MarJon Beauchamp, Dyson Daniels, Jaden Hardy and Scoot Henderson will partake in the action. Players will be separated into four teams, and each G League player will be drafted to join one of the teams later this week.

Among the rookie NBA players, the additions who would be most surprising ahead of the 2021/22 season would be Dosunmu and Jones, both of whom were second-round draft selections. 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga, Ziaire Williams, James Bouknight, Joshua Primo and Moses Moody were all omitted from inclusion this year.

Among the second-year players, Ball could be appearing on multiple nights during All-Star Weekend this season, as he appears to be a very possible first-time All-Star this year thanks to his outstanding work with the upstart Hornets.

The lottery-bound Magic, Pistons, and Rockets can boast having the most inclusions here, with three players apiece.

As we detailed last week, this year’s Rising Stars event will look a little different, with the four teams taking part in a mini-tournament and playing to a target score in each game: 50 points in the semifinals and 25 points in the final, in honor of the league’s 75th anniversary season.

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).