Isaiah Briscoe

Wolves Notes: Towns, Edwards, G League Bubble

After suiting up and taking the court for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday, Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns admitted he endured a “rough journey” during his absence as he battled COVID-19.

“I am a high-risk case,” Towns said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “COVID did not treat me well whatsoever. A lot of scary nights. One of the things that I told my sister when I got COVID was that, ‘Hey, I got it, and I don’t got a good version of it. I got a lot of COVID in me, but I am going to fight and beat it.'”

While Towns acknowledged that many players around the NBA have experienced few symptoms – or none at all – after testing positive for the coronavirus, he noted that everyone’s experience is “totally different.” Several of Towns’ family members have died of complications from COVID-19, including his mother, to whom Towns said he is most “genetically connected.”

“You hear those stories where people get COVID,” Towns said, according to Youngmisuk. “And they’re like, ‘Oh, for four days, five days, I didn’t feel well, and then I turned the corner magically one day and I was feeling great.’ That did not happen with me.”

Towns was solid in his return to action, putting up 18 points to go along with 10 rebounds, but he admitted to reporters that he didn’t feel mentally ready for the game. It may take a little more time before the 25-year-old back to his usual dominant self.

Here’s more on the Wolves:

  • As Youngmisuk relays, Towns also became the latest star player to question the logic of holding an All-Star Game in 2021. “I personally don’t believe there should be an All-Star Game, but what the hell do I know?” Towns said, sarcastically adding: “S–t, I obviously haven’t dealt with COVID, probably a guy who has some insight into that. What should I know about COVID, right?”
  • Anthony Edwards got off to a slow start during his rookie year, shooting just 34.4% from the floor and 27.4% from beyond the arc through his first 16 games. However, he has come on lately, averaging 16.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, and 3.1 APG on .435/.400/.800 shooting in his last nine, and entering Minnesota’s starting lineup during that time. The No. 1 overall pick is just getting started, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, who says the Wolves drafted Edwards knowing he was raw and not expecting him to dominate right out of the gate.
  • The Iowa Wolves – Minnesota’s G League affiliate – have been penalized for violating the health and safety protocols at the NBAGL bubble at Walt Disney World. As Adam Zagoria of Forbes tweets, the club was fined $10K, while Charlie Brown, Ashton Hagans, Jaylen Johnson, Ade Murkey, and Dakarai Tucker were all suspended without pay for two games. Iowa added Isaiah Briscoe and Jaylen Morris from the bubble’s available player pool to temporarily fill the holes on its roster, tweets Adam Johnson.

And-Ones: Milutinov, Macon, G League, Dunk Contest

Serbian center and former Spurs first-round pick Nikola Milutinov has suffered a major shoulder injury playing for CSKA Moscow and will undergo surgery, Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando relays. Milutinov, who suffered the injury last week against Bayern Munich, signed a three-year contract with the EuroLeague powerhouse last June. Milutinov was selected by the Spurs with the 26th overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft. However, he has yet to sign an NBA contract. He played five seasons with Olympiacos in Greece.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The G League will have 14 additional players on the Orlando campus as fill-ins in case of injuries, callups or other issues, Jonathan Givony of ESPN tweets. Rawle Alkins, Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Pope are among the players on the list.
  • Former NBA guard Daryl Macon has parted ways with Galatasaray Istanbul, the team tweets. He’s joining AEK Athens, Lithuanian journalist Donatas Urbonas tweets. Macon began the 2019/20 season on a two-way deal with Miami and was waived last January. He also played for Dallas.
  • Reports surfaced last week that the All-Star Game, which originally was scheduled to be held in Indianapolis this season, could be held after all in Atlanta. Now, the NBA and the players’ union are discussing the addition of both a dunk and three-point contest there on the weekend of March 6-7, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets.

Lance Stephenson Among NBA Vets Eligible For G League Draft

As previously reported, the NBA G League’s 2020/21 draft will take place on Monday, January 11. And according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter links), there will be some interesting names on the list of players eligible to be selected in that draft.

Veteran swingman Lance Stephenson, former No. 2 overall pick Emeka Okafor, and other recent NBA players like Justin Patton, Jacob Evans, Dzanan Musa, and Admiral Schofield will be part of the draft pool, per Givony. Former first-round picks Terrence Jones and Shabazz Muhammad will be draft-eligible as well.

According to Givony, the following players who have been on NBA rosters in the past are also among the G League’s other draft-eligible veterans: Kenny Wooten, Antonio Blakeney, Tyler Ulis, Quincy Pondexter, Diamond Stone, Hollis Thompson, Cat Barber, Isaiah Briscoe, Phil Booth, Dusty Hannahs, Jemerrio Jones, Cory Jefferson, and Freddie Gillespie.

These, presumably, are players who have signed G League contracts but whose rights aren’t currently held by any teams. A player whose returning rights are controlled by a club participating in the G League’s bubble season wouldn’t be eligible to be drafted.

For instance, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that LiAngelo Ball has signed a contract to play in the bubble. Since the Oklahoma City Blue hold his returning rights and are playing in the bubble, Ball shouldn’t be in the general draft pool.

The Blue are one of 18 teams set to participate in the shortened bubble season, which is expected to take place at Walt Disney World. That list of teams can be found right here.

Givony previously reported that the G League is adjusting its roster rules for this season to make it easier for NBA teams to recruit and sign veterans with five or more years of NBA experience. Each NBAGL team will be able to designate an “NBA Vet Selection” who fits that bill and can sign that player directly without navigating the league’s complicated waiver process. My understanding is that those designated won’t be in the draft pool.

And-Ones: Fans In Arenas, W. Chandler, 2021 Draft, More

For the time being, only five teams – the Jazz, Pelicans, Magic, Rockets, and Grizzlies – are continuing with their plans to have some fans in arenas when the regular season begins, sources tell David Aldridge of The Athletic.

The Mavericks and Heat each confirmed today that they won’t have fans for their preseason games, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami also won’t host fans for its Christmas Day game, as Chiang notes.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA intends to administer a daily point-of-care, rapid coronavirus testing system for the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania and Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter links). Those tests would return results within 30 minutes in teams’ home markets and within 90 minutes on the road. In the event of invalid results, the player would undergo another rapid test at least 30 minutes after the first one and could participate in team activities while awaiting the result, sources tell The Athletic.
  • Veteran forward Wilson Chandler is expected to leave Zhejiang Guangsha, his team in China, a source tells Sportando. Chandler, who finished the 2019/20 season with Brooklyn, signed to play in the Chinese Basketball Association in the fall. It’s unclear whether or not his reported exit is related to an NBA opportunity.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have published their first list of the top 100 prospects for the 2021 NBA draft. Oklahoma State point guard Cade Cunningham leads the way, followed by USC’s Evan Mobley and Jalen Green of the G League Ignite.
  • Speaking of Green and the Ignite, they’re scheduled to scrimmage on December 15 and 17 against a group of veteran G Leaguers, according to Givony (all Twitter links). It’s unclear whether or not those games will be streamed, but NBA teams will get access to the film, according to Givony, who says Isaiah Briscoe, Tariq Owens, and Bryce Alford will be among the vets scrimmaging against the Ignite.

Free Agent Rumors: Batum, Thomas, Mudiay, Ferrell, Briscoe

The Hornets plan to waive Nicolas Batum and use the stretch provision on his $27.1MM contract for the upcoming season in order to sign Gordon Hayward, unless they can figure out a sign-and-trade deal that would save them from stretching Batum.

Assuming he’s released, Batum shouldn’t have trouble finding a new home. His agent, Jeremy Medjana, told Basket Session that the Warriors, Jazz, Clippers, Bucks and Raptors are interested in signing him once he clears waivers (hat tip to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype). Batum, who has played for Charlotte the past five seasons, only appeared in 22 games last season.

Here are more free agency notes and rumors:

  • Former MVP candidate Isaiah Thomas said his latest hip procedure was a success and he’s eager to prove it, the Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach reports. Thomas says he feels like his former self in workouts. “I was blowing by people,” he said. “I haven’t blown by anybody since I had a Celtics uniform on.” Thomas was waived after the Wizards traded him to the Clippers in February and remains unsigned.
  • Reserve point guards Emmanuel Mudiay and Yogi Ferrell are generating some interest on the free agent market, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports tweets. Both players could likely be had for the veteran’s minimum.
  • Point guard Isaiah Briscoe hopes to return to the NBA, according to Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw (Twitter link). Briscoe went undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, but made it onto the Magic’s roster for the 2018/19 season. He spent the 2019/20 season in Poland playing for King Szczecin. In 39 games with Orlando, Briscoe averaged 3.5 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.9 RPG, across 14.3 MPG.

Alex Kirschenbaum contributed to this post.

Ex-Magic Guard Isaiah Briscoe To Play In Poland

Former Magic point guard Isaiah Briscoe signed a new deal with King Wilki Morskie Szczecin, a team in Poland’s top basketball league, the club announced on Instagram.

After going undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017, the 6’3″ point guard inked a deal with Estonian team BC Kalev/Cramo. Briscoe went on to be named MVP of the 2018 Estonia/Latvia All Star Game.

Briscoe then latched on with an NBA team at last, appearing in 39 games for the Magic during the 2018/19 season. He posted a slash line of 3.5 PPG/2.2 APG/1.9 RPG, while shooting 39.9% from the field, 32.4% from three-point range (on 0.9 attempts), and 57.7% from long range.

Last year, Briscoe played for the Ratiopharm Ulm of the Basketball Bundesliga league in Germany.

Isaiah Briscoe To Play In Germany

Former Magic point guard Isaiah Briscoe has signed a contract with German team Ratiopharm Ulm, a source tells Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

Briscoe, 23, went undrafted out of Kentucky in 2017 and spent his first professional season playing overseas before joining the Magic for the 2018/19 campaign. He appeared in 39 games for the club, averaging 3.5 PPG and 2.2 APG in 14.3 minutes per contest and taking over backup point guard duties from Jerian Grant for part of the season.

However, a torn meniscus ended Briscoe’s season in March, with Orlando forced to waive him with about a week left in the regular season in April in order to make room on the playoff roster for Michael Carter-Williams.

Briscoe, who is presumably now fully healthy, has been on the free market since then, but will now look to help turn things around for a Ratiopharm Ulm squad that has started the season 0-4 in EuroCup play.

Southeast Notes: Connelly, Walker, Lamb, Briscoe

Asked about the possibility that he might leave to run the Wizards‘ front office, Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly passed on the chance to issue a denial, relays Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post. Washington has reportedly targeted Connelly as its top candidate after firing Ernie Grunfeld this week.

“To be honest with you, I was hoping not to have to answer that question on a night when we win the Northwest Division,” Connelly responded Friday as the team celebrated its title.

Connelly grew up in Baltimore and had his first NBA job as an intern with the Wizards. He signed an extension with the Nuggets in February, but Kiszla notes that the organization doesn’t have a history of paying executives especially well, which led to the departure of Masai Ujiri in 2013. Kiszla suggests that Josh Kroenke, vice chairman of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment, should refuse any request from the Wizards to interview Connelly.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • With the Hornets as a long shot to reach the playoffs, Shane Rhodes of Basketball Insiders examines some situations that might be better for free agent guard Kemba Walker. Rhodes states that the Suns are intriguing with Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton already in place and a high lottery pick about to join them. Rhodes names the Bulls, Knicks, Lakers and Mavericks as other possibilities.
  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer examines whether the Hornets can afford to bring back Jeremy Lamb if they re-sign Walker. Lamb has established himself as a legitimate scorer and another crunch-time option, but the team would be well into luxury tax territory if it brings back both free agents. Bonnell speculates that it will probably take a max offer to keep Walker ($190MM over five seasons or up to $221MM if he makes an All-NBA team and qualifies for a super-max contract), plus something in the range of $10-$13MM annually for Lamb.
  • The Magic are interested in working out a new deal with Isaiah Briscoe this summer, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. Briscoe, who is sidelined by a torn meniscus, was waived this week to open a roster spot for Michael Carter-Williams. He cleared waivers yesterday and is an unrestricted free agent.

Magic Waive Isaiah Briscoe

The Magic have officially released injured point guard Isaiah Briscoe, the team announced today in a press release. The move opens a spot on Michael Carter-Williams, who has been re-signed for the rest of the season and will now be playoff-eligible if Orlando makes the postseason.

It’s a tough break for Briscoe, who had assumed backup point guard duties for the Magic and had been holding his own before undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus last month. For the season, the 22-year-old out of Kentucky averaged 3.5 PPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.9 RPG in 39 games (14.3 MPG).

Carter-Williams had spent 20 days (two 10-day contracts) on the Magic’s roster as a 16th man — the injury-plagued club was allowed to add an extra player because it qualified for a hardship provision. However, MCW wouldn’t have been able to participate in the playoffs if he were re-signed with the hardship provision and Orlando didn’t waive another player.

The Magic’s decision was believed to come down to Briscoe vs. Jerian Grant. While Briscoe had supplanted Grant as the team’s backup point guard prior to his injury, the fact that Grant is healthy now probably gave him the upper hand. Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports tweets that the Magic would like to re-sign Briscoe this summer if possible.

Briscoe’s contract with Orlando includes non-guaranteed salaries for 2019/20 and 2020/21, so he could be an attractive target for teams interested in placing a waiver claim. Because he signed a three-year contract instead of a two-year deal though, he’s ineligible to be claimed using the minimum salary exception. A team would need to use a trade exception or cap room to put in a claim. If he clears waivers, he’ll become a free agent on Saturday.

Isaiah Briscoe Undergoing Surgery To Repair Torn Meniscus

Magic backup point guard Isaiah Briscoe will undergo arthroscopic surgery this Wednesday to repair the torn meniscus in his right knee, the team announced today (via Twitter). According to the club, there’s no set timeline for Briscoe’s recovery — his return to basketball activities will hinge on how he responds to rehab after the surgery.

While it’s good news that the Magic aren’t ruling out Briscoe for the rest of the season, his chances of playing again in 2018/19 may not be great, especially if Orlando doesn’t clinch a playoff spot. The regular season ends in less than a month, and players who have undergone similar procedures in recent years typically miss more time than that.

This past fall, for example, Russell Westbrook had arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus on September 12 and returned to game action on October 21. Last season, Jimmy Butler underwent a similar procedure on his torn meniscus on February 25 and played his next game on April 6, returning just in time to help Minnesota clinch a playoff spot.

Every player’s injuries and recoveries are a little different, but it seems safe to assume that the Magic will be preparing for life without Briscoe for at least the next few weeks. In his absence, Jerian Grant will be first in line to assume backup point guard duties behind D.J. Augustin.

Grant, who held that primary backup role earlier in the season before Briscoe surpassed him on the depth chart, has averaged 4.2 PPG and 2.8 APG in 53 games (16.6 MPG) in 2018/19, with a shooting line of .414/.357/.684. The Magic have a -8.1 net rating with Grant on the court this season, compared to a +1.5 rating when he sits.

The Magic currently rank ninth in the Eastern Conference, a game behind Miami for the No. 8 seed.