Isaiah Thomas

Wizards Notes: Hachimura, Thomas, Draft, Wall

Rui Hachimura will be re-evaluated in about two weeks as he recovers from “a minor procedure” following a groin injury in a December 16 game, the Wizards announced in a press release. This is the first time the organization has acknowledged that Hachimura underwent a medical procedure, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic.

The rookie forward met with reporters prior to tonight’s game to provide an update on his condition. The injury resulted from an accidental kick by Isaac Bonga, and Hachimura said he forgave his teammate right away (Twitter link).

“He’s a good kid. It was an accident, you know,” he said. “I saw the video a couple times too. It was like, kind of — I don’t know. I don’t know how to explain but I think he felt bad too. He texted me right after.”

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Isaiah Thomas was fined $25K for making contact with an official in last night’s game, the league announced on Twitter. Thomas, who was ejected, insisted today that it was an accident, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. He explained that he lost his balance after being pushed in the back. “It was unintentional contact,” Thomas said. “Most importantly I would like to move on from it but I definitely didn’t mean to put my hand on a ref.” (Twitter link)
  • With the Wizards likely headed for the lottery again, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington takes an early look at the draft. He considers former Memphis center James Wiseman the best fit and wonders how the team would handle a guard-heavy draft after making major investments in John Wall and Bradley Beal. Hughes adds that Washington has moved some of its scouting resources to watch LaMelo Ball in Australia and R.J. Hampton in New Zealand.
  • In a separate story, coach Scott Brooks tells Hughes that Wall is filling a valuable role as an unofficial assistant coach as he recovers from injury, but is eager to start playing again. “It hurts John not to be out on the court playing. That guy’s a competitor,” Brooks said. “(When you’re out with an injury), you appreciate it more. I hate to say it, especially with the year we’ve had, injuries can happen with the next play. You don’t really know what’s going to happen, so you play your best on every play. When it’s taken away from you, it bothers you.”

Atlantic Notes: Thomas, Irving, Temple, Bullock, Burke

Wizards guard and former Celtic Isaiah Thomas believes that Kyrie Irving may not have been cut out to be the Celtics’ leader, Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News reports.

“That’s just like Boston and New York. You have to have a different type of skin to be able to succeed there,” Thomas said when asked about Irving. “They won 17 championships. They have 30 jerseys retired. So it’s expectations like you can do great but we need better and it’s always been like that. The media attention of putting on a Celtics jersey, a Knicks jersey, a Lakers jersey, those legendary teams and franchises, it’s just a little different.”

We have more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Garrett Temple got off to a hot start with the Nets but he’s cooled off considerably while playing big minutes due to injuries, Brian Lewis of the New York Post notes. In his past five games heading into Monday’s action, Temple was shooting 26.6% overall and 24.3% from deep. “Yeah, I’ve got to figure out a way to get out of this slump,” Temple said. “I’ve got to make shots for us to keep the defense honest, but also just to offensively help us have more balance.” The Nets hold a $5MM option on Temple’s contract for next season.
  • Knicks guard Reggie Bullock‘s neck injury did not occur while playing, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic reports. Bullock, who is close to returning for the Knicks after offseason surgery for cervical disk herniation, said the injury came as a surprise to him. “I didn’t get hurt in an actual game or anything,” Bullock said. “It was just something that I woke up with.” The injury cost him millions. Bullock originally agreed to a two-year, $21MM deal in free agency, then settled for a two-year, $8.2MM contract with the second year non-guaranteed.
  • Sixers point guard Trey Burke believes he can play effectively with floor leader Ben Simmons, as he told the team’s website. “I think [Ben and I] play off each other pretty well,” he said. “I think I could play the two out there, and give (Josh Richardson) a break, and still be in the game with Ben.” Burke is on a one-year, $2MM contract that doesn’t fully guaranteed unless he remains on the roster through January 10.

Southeast Notes: Beal, Bryant, Washington, Martin

The Wizards may play it safe with regards to Bradley Beal‘s injury, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports writes. Beal left Thursday’s contest against the Pistons with lower right leg soreness and while it doesn’t sound like it will be a debilitating injury, it makes sense for the 9-21 Wizards to be as cautious as possible with their franchise star.

Beal is questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. the Knicks. Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Thomas Bryant said he doesn’t have an exact return date, but he is “very, very close” to returning, The Athletic’s Fred Katz tweets. Bryant practiced with the Wizards today and will practice with the Capital City Go-Go on Saturday.
  • Isaiah Thomas said he apologized to a lot of people in the Wizards organization for the incident with fans in Philadelphia, including owner Ted Leonsis, Hughes tweets. Thomas served a two-game suspension for the incident.
  • It sounds like PJ Washington will make his way back into the lineup for the Hornets, as Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. The rookie has missed the past few weeks with a broken finger.
  • In a separate piece, Bonnell details how Cody Martin has been exceeding expectations for the Hornets. Charlotte selected the small forward with the No. 36 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
  • Coach Steve Clifford said Al-Farouq Aminu had a “setback” this week in his recovery from a knee injury, John Denton of NBA.com tweets. The Magic signed Aminu to a three-year deal this offseason.

Atlantic Notes: Sixers, Thomas, Burke, Smart

Sixers center Joel Embiid called on his team to play a tougher brand of basketball after a recent tough stretch, one that saw the team lose two straight home games in three days. Before these losses, Philadelphia led the NBA with a 14-0 record at home.

“I feel like, especially tonight, we were playing scared,” Embiid said of the team’s loss against Dallas on Friday, as relayed by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “Basketball is easy. You just shoot it, pass it, move it. If you don’t got a shot just pass it.

“But tonight, like I said, we didn’t make shots, and defensively we were pretty bad.”

Philadelphia also lost to Miami at home before Friday’s game against Dallas, with both opponents challenging the club by playing a rare brand of zone defense.

Embiid finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds against Miami, following it up with a 33-point, 17-rebound performance against Dallas. The Sixers did manage to defend home court against the Wizards on Saturday, however, winning that game 125-108.

“I think that the influence that our inability lately, to, like, be put on our back heels against the zone has crept into our defense, our psyche, our spirit,” coach Brett Brown said. “And I can’t stand it.

“This is not who we are. It’s not who we are. … I love coaching these guys, because I respect them. And I feel like our competitive spirit has taken a dent because of our inability to score, and I think that any time you get into a mood swing that affects your defense because your offense is doing something, it needs to be addressed.”

The Sixers have a 21-10 record and are six games out of first place in the East, trailing the Bucks, Celtics, Heat and Raptors as of Sunday night. They have upcoming games scheduled against the Pistons on Monday and Bucks on Christmas Day.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic Division:

  • The two Sixers fans who played a role in the confrontation with Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas on Saturday night have received a one-year ban from Wells Fargo Center, according to ESPN. A 76ers spokesperson said the fans admitted to using explicit language and gestures toward Thomas, who walked into the spectator stands and approached the duo before being ejected. “I said: ‘Don’t be disrespectful. I’m a man before anything. Be a fan.’ His response was, ‘I’m sorry, I just wanted a Frosty,'” Thomas said. The Sixers held a promotion where fans would be awarded a free Frosty in the event that an opposing player missed two straight free throws.
  • Celtics coach Brad Stevens said that Marcus Smart (eye infection) is improving, but the 25-year-old is still unlikely to play on Christmas Day against Toronto, Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston tweets. “Marcus Smart is doing better. He was … going to the facility tonight to get on the floor and shoot a little bit.” Smart hasn’t done much work since the month started, with the team planning on ramping up his activities in the coming days.
  • Sixers guard Trey Burke is continuing to thrive in limited opportunities, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Burke finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of work against Washington, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor.

Isaiah Thomas Suspended Two Games

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas has received a two-game suspension for entering the spectator stands in Philadelphia on Saturday, the NBA announced.

Thomas entered the stands and approached two unruly fans, both of whom used explicit language and gestures toward him during the Wizards-Sixers game. Thomas was ejected upon entering the stands, finishing with 20 points and three assists in 25 minutes of work.

When asked by reporters what he told the fans, Thomas responded with a clear explanation: “I said: ‘Don’t be disrespectful. I’m a man before anything. Be a fan.’ His response was, ‘I’m sorry, I just wanted a Frosty,'” Thomas said, as relayed by ESPN. The Sixers held a promotion where fans would be awarded a free Frosty if an opposing player missed two straight free throws.

While Thomas approached the duo in a rather calm manner, NBA rules state that any player who deliberately enters the spectator stands be subject to a fine and/or suspension. On the flip side, both fans involved in the altercation have received a one-year ban from Wells Fargo Center, a Sixers official said on Sunday.

Thomas’ two-game suspension will cost him roughly $32K, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). He’ll miss Washington’s upcoming road games against New York on Monday and Detroit on Thursday.

Thomas, a two-time NBA All-Star, signed a deal to join the Wizards this past summer in free agency. Through 21 games this season (18 starts), he’s averaged 13.6 points, 4.8 assists and 25.3 minutes per contest on 45% shooting from the floor and 43% shooting from deep.

Isaiah Thomas Faces Suspension After Confronting Fans

Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas could be fined and suspended after going into the stands during Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. However, Thomas believes his actions were justified and said the league should support him.

The incident happened during a timeout with 2:53 left to play, shortly after Thomas made a free throw after missing the first one. Had he missed two in a row, all fans would have received a free Wendy’s Frosty. Thomas said one of the fans responded with an obscene gesture and repeated a profane phrase.

“In no way, shape or form that should be allowed,” he said after the game. “I’ve been in the league for a while. The fans (are) gonna say whatever they want. Don’t ever call me out of my name, because I would never do that to anybody else. I think that crossed the line. I got kids. I got a family. That’s not OK at all, so I just went to go tell him that (in) no disrespectful way, as calm as I am right now.”

One fan reportedly apologized when Thomas confronted him and said, “I just wanted a Frosty.” He and another fan were ordered to leave the arena, and Thomas was ejected from the game. He said both fans seemed “clearly drunk,” and a security guard added that they had been targeting Thomas all night.

There has been no word from the NBA on what Thomas’ punishment might be, but Katz points out that the league has been very sensitive about players going into the stands for any reason since “Malice in the Palace” in Detroit in 2004. Thomas said he remained controlled as he approached the fans, and several of his teammates supported his version of events.

Katz notes that the NBA has experienced a recent string of uncomfortable fan interactions. A Warriors fan and a former minority owner pushed Kyle Lowry during the NBA Finals, and Russell Westbrook confronted a fan in Utah last season who allegedly made a racially charged comment.

“The league knows I did nothing wrong. I didn’t disrespect anybody,” Thomas said. “As a man, I went and looked him in the eye and told him that was not OK. I didn’t scare nobody. I didn’t even use a curse word. So when the league investigates, I’m going to tell them the exact same thing, and hopefully, they should understand it.”

Charania’s Latest: Beasley, Rockets, Hawks, OKC, IT

Multiple teams have had “due diligence” conversations with the Nuggets about guard Malik Beasley, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic. Beasley, who will be a restricted free agent in 2020, had extension talks with Denver earlier this year, but the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement.

As Charania explains, the Nuggets often receive trade inquiries on their wings, given their depth at that spot, but haven’t gained any traction on potential deals. Beasley had a breakout season in 2018/19, but has been in and out of Denver’s rotation so far this season. If the team isn’t confident about its chances of locking him up next summer, he could become a trade candidate as the season progresses.

Here’s more from Charania:

  • The Rockets, who are likely to target wings on the trade market, are open to surrendering future assets for immediate help, according to Charania.
  • There has been frustration within the Hawks‘ organization about the team’s struggles this season, with Trae Young having reportedly expressed those frustrations in an “emotional” locker room scene recently, per Charania. Multiple sources tell The Athletic that a high-ranking Hawks official was recently seen telling Young that the club would be getting him some help on the roster soon.
  • Rival teams have been surprised by the Thunder‘s apparent willingness to absorb salary and longer-term contracts in potential trades, says Charania. Oklahoma City is slightly above the luxury tax line, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the club looks to reduce its team salary a little, but it seems OKC is willing to accommodate salary dumps too. That could mean, for instance, taking back a bad multiyear deal or two in exchange for an expiring contract like Danilo Gallinari‘s.
  • Wizards point guard Isaiah Thomas is expected to miss at least another week due to his calf injury, sources tell Charania.
  • While many players will become trade-eligible next Sunday (December 15), the trade market is expected to take some time to develop, according to Charania. “There are still too many teams that think they have a playoff chance,” one team executive told The Athletic, “before the true buyers and sellers emerge.”

Wizards Notes: Chemistry, Wagner, Thomas

The atmosphere in Washington is much more upbeat than it was last season, as Troy Haliburton and I recently discussed on the Wizards’ Locked On podcast. Team chemistry is something that’s hard to measure (I’m no body language doctor as Bill Simmons would say), though this year’s edition of the Wizards are noticeably having fun playing basketball and they are outperforming their low expectations that many gave them entering the season.

The Wizards are second in the league on offense entering the night and while the team only has five wins on the season (5-9), many of the losses have been close with three of those by four points or less and a total of six losses by eight points or less.

As the team begins its four-game road trip, let’s take a look at more notes from Washington:

  • Former University of Florida star Chris Chiozza is with the Wizards on the first leg of their road trip, the team announces. Chiozza is on a two-way deal with Washington.
  • Moritz Wagner, who is helping the Wizards own one of the better bench units in the NBA, recently admitted to Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance that he has a ways to go on the defensive end. “I’m still learning too. It’s my second year and my first opportunity to actually play,” said Wagner, who came to the Wizards in the Anthony Davis three-way trade this offseason.
  • Coach Scott Brooks left Isaiah Thomas and Ish Smith on the floor together in the Wizards’ recent contest against the Kings and Thomas feels the two point guards (both of whom came to the franchise this past offseason) can play together in the future. “I’ve played off the ball in my career a lot, it’s not that different,” Thomas told Hoops Rumors and other media in attendance after Sunday’s game. “It’s a different dynamic. I like playing off the ball, switching it up…Ish is a hell of a guard who changes the pace of the game and definitely finds everybody that is open. Hopefully, we can make that lineup happen a little more because I think it’s dynamic if we get used to playing together.”
  • Thomas offered advice for 2018 No. 15 overall pick Troy Brown Jr., who has struggled with his shot recently. “Continue to work, it’s 82 games. You’re going to have good ones, bad ones, going to have a lot of them,” the veteran said. “You’ve got to continue, no matter how good your games are. I always say the best players have the shortest memories, whether good or bad.”

Wizards Notes: Brown, Offense, Thomas, Brooks

Troy Brown Jr. is still trying to discover what he can do well at the NBA level, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 15th pick in last year’s draft spent much of his rookie season in the G League and only played 52 NBA games. His progress this year was delayed by a calf injury that forced him to miss all of training camp and the preseason. He has been part of the starting lineup since returning, but is averaging just 6.5 PPG on one of the league’s highest-scoring teams.

The Wizards picked up Brown’s third-year option in September and have shown a willingness to be patient with the 20-year-old. He has been taking on the toughest defensive challenges and has displayed good rebounding instincts for such a young player.

“It’s still early for him,” Bradley Beal said. “He’s all right. He’s just gotta find his rhythm. We threw him into the starting lineup right when he came back. We’ve just gotta keep making him comfortable and keep him continuing to be aggressive to instill that confidence.”

There’s more from Washington, D.C.:

  • Rob Mahoney of The Ringer examines how the Wizards have been able to assemble the NBA’s second-best offense without adding another star to play alongside Beal. Davis BertansRui Hachimura, Ish Smith and Moritz Wagner are all thriving as Washington freely moves the ball without the presence of a dominant guard like John Wall. Hughes notes that the Wizards lead the league with 28.8 assists per game, and that no team has averaged 28 assists for an entire season since 1992/93 except the Warriors of the past three years (Twitter link).
  • Terry Rozier tells Hughes in a separate story that he’s thrilled to see former teammate Isaiah Thomas revive his career in Washington after two injury-plagued seasons. “I’m just happy for him, just to get that joy back of playing ball,” Rozier said. “Whether he ever gets back to where he was at or not, I’m sure he’s just happy to be out there and playing. It’s just a guy that I look to as a big brother that taught me a lot in my first two years.”
  • Coach Scott Brooks has made it clear to the team’s younger players that minutes have to be earned, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. Players can find themselves on the bench quickly if they don’t follow instructions and give a consistent effort while they’re in the game. “You can only play nine or 10 guys, and you can only play five guys at time, and I understand that. It’s hard,” Brooks said. “You got to be strong and have convictions and reasons and the things that are important to you. We have some areas we know we have to develop and get better. My job is to teach.”

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Magic, Thomas, McRae

The NBA implemented a new coach’s challenge for the 2019/20 season, an addition that’s received mixed reviews among the league’s players, coaches and fans just one month into the campaign.

The feature is simple: To initiate the one-time, challenge, a head coach must call timeout and pursue review of a foul, out-of-bounds, goaltending or offensive interference call. While reviewing the play, the referees must see clear and conclusive visual evidence in order to overturn the ruling.

However, not all of the league’s 30 head coaches enjoy the new addition to the game.

“I don’t like it,” longtime Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of the challenge, according to Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “I’m an NBA basketball coach. I’m not an official, and I’m not trying to be an official.

“There are too many things to focus on. It doesn’t work like the NFL one. And I’m not bashing it to say I won’t be a part of it. We’ve challenged and won one. I’ll use it, but it’s distracting.”

Despite giving teams the option to challenge a potentially incorrect call, the addition of the coach’s challenge presents one clear problem: Slowing down a game that’s already been slowed enough by officiating in recent seasons, particularly toward the end of contests.

“I don’t know how that helps the flow,” Spoelstra said. “To me, it hurts the flow. It’s just another thing to focus on that’s distracting that has nothing to do with the game.

“For example, we had a game in Miami the other night and there was a bang-bang play, and it could have been called or not. I didn’t have a timeout to burn in that instance; I didn’t want to, like, gamble. And I see two fans going like this [motioning with a twirling finger]. That’s where we’re going? It’s like, I don’t know.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Josh Robbins of The Athletic provides injury updates on Magic players Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Michael Carter-Williams. Gordon has a combination of a right ankle contusion and right ankle sprain, Robbins notes, though his injury is improving and he’s receiving around-the-clock treatment. Vucevic is also rehabbing from an ankle injury, though the 29-year-old is no longer in a walking boot. Carter-Williams did some stationary bike work on Saturday to continue rehab on a left hip injury.
  • Wizards guard Isaiah Thomas is confident that he’ll return to his old All-Star form, as relayed by Kevin Brown of NBC Sports Washington. “A lot of people have counted me out, especially the last couple of years,” Thomas said. “But I know what I’ve been through, I know what my body’s been through. I know how good I feel I know I’m ready and I know given the opportunity, I can play at an All-Star level again. And that’s what I’m gonna showcase…I promise you I’m gonna be an All-Star, I’m gonna be an All-NBA basketball player again.”
  • Jordan McRae is finally having his special moment with the Wizards, Fred Katz of The Athletic details. McRae missed the entire 2017/18 season due to a shoulder injury and is coming off an up-and-down campaign with Washington, but he’s starting to solidify his role on the team this year. “There’s not a better feeling in the world — unless you sign a max contract. That might be a little bit better,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “It’s a great opportunity for Jordan. … But he still can’t relax. They always say the easiest thing is to make it. The hardest thing is to keep it. And he’s doing everything we ask. It’s good to have him back.”