Ish Smith

Northwest Notes: Prince, Nuggets Injuries, Watson, Grant

Timberwolves forward Taurean Prince said he’s relieved that a grand jury in Texas did not charge him with possession of a controlled substance stemming from a May 19 arrest, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“To me, I wasn’t in the wrong in the first place,” Prince said. “The situation that happened was very unfortunate. Things happen, for whatever reasons they happen. I’m past it now, though.”

Police in Arlington, Texas said after the arrest that they found guns and a vape pen with THC oil in Prince’s car when they stopped him for an expired registration. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Texas, and it also violates state law “to carry a gun while engaging in a criminal offense.”

Prosecutors also dropped the gun charges after the grand jury’s decision, according to a TMZ report.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will likely be without several key players again when they host Detroit on Tuesday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jeff Green is out with a right knee contusion, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are doubtful due to health and safety protocols, while Aaron Gordon (non-COVID illness) and Ish Smith (right calf strain) are listed as questionable.
  • Rookie Peyton Watson has appeared in just five Nuggets games and is currently playing for their G League affiliate in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Watson, a late-first round pick, is trying to be patient while developing his skills, Singer writes in a separate story. “They know I want it right now and that I’m super, super motivated to take it,” Watson said. “You’ve got to wait your turn. We’re the No. 2 team in the West.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Jerami Grant learned during his first season with the Pistons what it was like being the top scorer for his team. He told current teammate Damian Lillard that he gained a greater appreciation for players with that status, Grant revealed on an interview with The Athletic’s Shams Charania (video link). “I told him I got a lot more respect for people who are the No. 1 option because it’s a lot more difficult than just putting up the numbers,” Grant said.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, McDaniels, Azubuike, Sharpe

After replacing his old boss Tim Connelly this offseason, new Nuggets head of basketball operations Calvin Booth had a busy summer, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, signing Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, and using first-round picks on Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Booth said the Nuggets’ offseason goals were to upgrade their defense, get more athletic, and add more two-way talents. He feels the team accomplished those goals.

“With KCP, we have one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league, someone with championship experience and a proven vet,” Booth said. “Bruce was one of the most underrated guys in the league last season. We’re finding that out every day in the game with how sophisticated of a game he has.

“Christian and Peyton will eventually address those needs. We valued DeAndre’s vet leadership and the way he communicates. He’s one of the best rebounders of his generation, and he can still do that. Ish Smith has been a great addition as well and brings different levels of speed and pace to the game.”

In his Q&A with Medina, Booth also discussed several other Nuggets-related topics, including Nikola Jokic‘s chances of winning a third consecutive MVP award, Jamal Murray‘s return from an ACL tear, and Booth’s own contract extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Nuggets have a chance to come out of the West this season, he thinks there are still too many question marks related to the team’s depth and returning stars to actually forecast such a scenario. In his preview of Denver’s season, Hollinger projects a 50-32 record and a fourth-place finish in the West.
  • Jaden McDaniels will be the Timberwolves‘ starting small forward to open the 2022/23 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. McDaniels, whom the team worked hard to keep out of the Rudy Gobert trade, will fill out a star-studded lineup that features Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns up front, with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, who underwent surgery on his right foot and ankle in March, was cleared to practice in full on Thursday for the first time in seven months, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I was excited about it,” Azubuike said. “We did some exercises in the morning before practice, and that felt good. Then, me going out there, getting a rep and you know, I’m just excited. It really felt good.” It remains to be seen if the former first-round pick will earn a spot on Utah’s regular season roster, since the team has 18 players on standard contracts and will need to make cuts by Monday.
  • Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe has signed with agent Mike George of One Legacy Sports for representation, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Lillard, Edwards, Holmgren

Veterans Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan, Ish Smith and Bruce Brown are providing the Nuggets with energy and a level of comfort during training camp, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is laid back, which allows the more boisterous personalities of Green and Jordan to stand out, Singer notes.

Brown said he feels more at home in Denver than he did during last season’s drama-filled campaign with a big market club in Brooklyn.

I’m more laid back, chill,” Brown said. “I like to be in the house with my dog and my people. Obviously, New York gets a lot of attention, a lot of media attention. That wasn’t for me, but I love my time with those guys.”

According to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter links), Brown has been playing point guard with the second unit, while Zeke Nnaji has been the backup center. That’s a bit of a change for both players — Brown is a swiss army knife type who has played multiple positions, but mostly on the wing, while Nnaji primarily played power forward in the past. Nnaji has performed well in camp thus far, Wind adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Damian Lillard is just 531 points shy of surpassing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler to become the Trail Blazers‘ all-time leading scorer. Lillard says it’s an accomplishment he doesn’t take lightly. “This feat would mean a lot to me,” Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “Just the respect I have for the organization and for Clyde and how great of a player he was. I think it shows just how productive I’ve been throughout my career. It would truly be an honor.”
  • Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards is hoping to make big strides on the defensive end in 2022/23, saying that because he’ll be guarding top players more often, he’ll be “salty” to not make an All-Defensive team, as Wolves reporter Dane Moore relays (via Twitter). The former No. 1 overall pick will play a huge part in Minnesota’s standing in the West this season.
  • This year’s No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, will miss the entire season for the Thunder with a foot injury, but he’s still learning about the NBA while recovering, according to Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press. “What I’m trying to do right now is just kind of soak up all the knowledge of how things are done around here, how they’re going to be done going forward,” Holmgren said. “So when I’m ready to get get back in there, I can just kind of seamlessly plug myself in.”

Nuggets Trade Morris, Barton To Wizards For KCP, Smith

JULY 6: The trade is now official, according to a press release from the Wizards.

“We’re very excited to add Monte and Will as proven players at the point guard and shooting guard positions, two areas that were top priorities for us to address during this offseason,” president of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard said in a statement. “Monte has steadily improved his all-around game and is coming off a career year while Will has been a consistent scorer and three-point threat during his time in Denver, and both are obviously familiar with Coach Unseld’s system and style.”


JUNE 29: The Wizards and Nuggets have reached an agreement on a trade that will send point guard Monte Morris and wing Will Barton to Washington in exchange for swingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and point guard Ish Smith, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that the two teams were nearing an agreement.

The Wizards, who had previously been linked to Morris, will get a much-needed point guard upgrade in the trade, adding a player who was considered one of the NBA’s best backups before being thrust into a starting role last season as Jamal Murray recovered from ACL surgery.

In his first year as a full-time starter, Morris averaged 12.6 PPG, 4.4 APG, and 3.0 RPG on .484/.395/.869 shooting in 75 games (29.9 MPG). The Nuggets received calls from more than 20 teams about the 27-year-old, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Washington will also acquire Barton, a solid shooter and scorer who has averaged 14.0 PPG, 5.0 RPG, and 3.3 APG with a .362 3PT% in 479 regular season games for the Nuggets since arriving in Denver in 2015.

Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. is very familiar with both players, having previously served as a Nuggets assistant.

The move reduces the likelihood of the Wizards seriously pursuing a point guard like Tyus Jones in free agency or Malcolm Brogdon via trade.

Meanwhile, the Nuggets will add a player they had been targeting since the trade deadline in Caldwell-Pope, according to Singer. Denver views Caldwell-Pope as a two-way upgrade on the wing, values his championship experience with the Lakers, and would be interested in retaining him beyond next season, Singer adds.

Caldwell-Pope, 29, averaged 13.2 PPG and made 39.0% of his three-pointers for the Wizards in 2021/22, while playing his usual strong defense.

As for Smith, he’ll provide depth at point guard for a Nuggets team that should have Murray back this fall and saw Bones Hyland enjoy a breakout season as a rookie. Assuming Smith plays in at least one game for Denver, it’ll be his 13th NBA team, breaking a league record, tweets Matt Williams of ESPN.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), if no more players are added to the four-player deal, the two teams will have to wait until after the July moratorium to make it official, since the Wizards are taking on several million more dollars than they’re sending out, while the Nuggets save a little money on next season’s payroll.

Caldwell-Pope ($14MM) and Smith ($4.73MM) entered the offseason without fully guaranteed salaries for 2022/23, but Caldwell-Pope locked in his guarantee on Tuesday and Smith is on track to receive as well in order to adhere to salary-matching rules and make the deal legal. Non-guaranteed salary doesn’t count in trades for outgoing purposes.

Caldwell-Pope, Smith, and Barton ($14.38MM) will all be on expiring contracts next season and are eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2023. Morris will earn $9.13MM in ’22/23 and $9.8MM in ’23/24 before becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Nuggets will likely absorb Smith’s incoming contract using part of the $8.2MM trade exception they created in last week’s JaMychal Green trade. That would allow them to create a new larger trade exception, worth at least Morris’ outgoing salary ($9.13MM), per Marks.

Hornets Acquire Montrezl Harrell From Wizards

7:08pm: The trade is official, according to a Wizards press release. The pick Washington is receiving is a conditional seconder (2023 or 2024 from Boston via Charlotte).

The Hornets’ announcement states that the Wizards will receive the Celtics’ 2023 second-rounder if it’s not in the top 45. Presumably, if that pick lands in its protected range, Washington would instead get Boston’s 2024 second-rounder.


1:26pm: The Wizards are finalizing a deal to send veteran center Montrezl Harrell to the Hornets, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Washington will get Vernon Carey and Ish Smith in return, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The Wizards will also receive a second-round pick, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link).

Harrell, 28, will provide a rugged interior presence for a Charlotte team that has been searching for help in the middle. He was acquired from the Lakers in the five-team offseason trade that sent Russell Westbrook to L.A., and averaged 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in 46 games with the Wizards.

Moving Harrell relieves the logjam in the middle that Washington has been dealing with ever since Thomas Bryant returned from an ACL injury last month. However, the timing of the move is interesting because Harrell talked publicly over the weekend about the negative mood in the team’s locker room.

Harrell has a $9.7MM expiring contract, and the Hornets will have early Bird rights on him this summer, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Harrell is a North Carolina native, which may make him more likely to remain in Charlotte.

Smith, who played two seasons in Washington before going to Charlotte, has a $4.7MM non-guaranteed contract for next season. Carey will make $1.8MM next year and has a $1.9MM team option for 2023/24.

COVID-19 Updates: Niang, I. Smith, J. Richardson

Sixers forward Georges Niang has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced today (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). Niang has already been ruled out for Wednesday’s game and if he registered a confirmed positive COVID-19 test, he figures to miss several more. He’d have to sit out at least 10 days or return two consecutive negative coronavirus tests at least 24 hours apart before being cleared to exit the protocols.

Several teams have been affected this month by positive COVID-19 tests. Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, and the Lakers are among the clubs that have had three or more players in the protocols at the same time. The Sixers aren’t at that point yet, but they’ll likely test the rest of the team to make sure they’re not at risk of an outbreak.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the league:

  • The Hornets announced today (via Twitter) that Ish Smith has cleared the health and safety protocols and is joining LaMelo Ball in the G League on Wednesday to practice with the Greensboro Swarm for reconditioning purposes. Smith and Ball will have to pass cardiac tests before they get the OK to return to action for Charlotte.
  • Celtics wing Josh Richardson, who entered the protocols last Friday, has been cleared and returned to practice today, per head coach Ime Udoka (Twitter link via Jared Weiss of The Athletic). Richardson, who is rumored to be unvaccinated, may have been a close contact of someone who tested positive rather than registering a positive test himself.
  • Pat Graham of The Associated Press takes a look at how the NBA schedule has been impacted by COVID-19 for the first time this season and notes that the league’s new booster-related guidelines will go into effect this Friday.

Southeast Notes: Reddish, Bogdanovic, Okongwu, Hornets, Sabonis, Martin

Hawks forward Cam Reddish, who is recovering from a wrist injury, went through a full practice on Thursday, according to coach Nate McMillan. Reddish did some shooting and participated in drills at 75% speed. He’s listed as probable to play on Friday.

Bogdan Bogdanovic still needs more time to return from his ankle injury, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports in a series of tweets. “Bogi’s not doing anything other than shooting. He looks better,” McMillan said. “He’s up on his feet and he’s moving around.”

Second-year big man Onyeka Okongwu is continuing his rehab assignment from shoulder surgery. He’s with the G League College Park Skyhawks and is expected to play on Thursday.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s been no change regarding the Hornets‘ COVID-19 issues. LaMelo Ball, Jalen McDaniels, Mason Plumlee, Terry Rozier and Ish Smith are all listed as out for Friday’s game against Sacramento due to the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Charlotte’s depleted roster has managed to beat Atlanta and lose two close games to Philadelphia since those players were sidelined over the weekend.
  • With a recent report claiming that the Pacers may shake up their roster, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether Domantas Sabonis should be a trade target for the Wizards. Hughes notes that Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant are expected to return soon and the front office would like to see how they fit with their revamped roster. Hughes adds that the club already has the look of a playoff team and the addition of Sabonis may not move the needle all that much.
  • Caleb Martin may eventually have his two-way contract converted to a standard deal by the Heat but there are luxury tax concerns, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. Martin has been active for 24 of the Heat’s 26 games and can only be active for 50 games under two-way rules. If he remained on the active roster for every game, he’d be able to play until nearly the end of January. But the Heat would have to wait a couple of weeks after that to convert his contract in order to avoid surpassing the tax threshold.

Ish Smith Becomes Latest Hornets Player In Protocols

Hornets veteran point guard Ish Smith has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

The team was already severely depleted by positive tests or close contact rules. LaMelo Ball, Terry Roziers, Mason Plumlee and Jalen McDaniels were placed under protocols on Saturday morning.

The shorthanded Hornets surprised Atlanta on Sunday. They’re playing the second game of a back-to-back tonight against Philadelphia.

Smith recorded season highs of 18 points and seven assists in Charlotte’s 130-127 victory on Sunday. Hornets coach James Borrego will have to improvise without his top three ball-handlers. Rookie James Bouknight will likely see extensive playing time.

Bouknight and four other players were recalled from the franchise’s G League affiliate in Greensboro prior to Sunday’s game to fortify the roster.

Four Hornets Players, Including LaMelo Ball, Placed Under Protocols

Hornets starting guards LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier have entered the league’s health and safety protocols and are expected to miss several games, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Frontcourt players Jalen McDaniels and Mason Plumlee have also been placed under protocols, the team’s PR department tweets.

Those players will be sidelined for at least 10 days unless they record two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart. Charlotte is scheduled to play five games over the next 10 days — Sunday at Atlanta; two home games vs. Philadelphia Monday and Wednesday; another home game vs. Sacramento on Friday; and a road test against Dallas next Monday.

The team sent players and staff members home from the practice facility as a precautionary measure, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. If all have tested positive, the Hornets could sign another player under the hardship exception, ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Charlotte is in the midst of a three-game losing streak but still has a winning record at 13-11. Ball had 36 points and nine assists against Milwaukee on Wednesday and is averaging 20.0 PPG, 8.3 APG and 7.7 RPG in his second NBA campaign. Rozier is the team’s third-leading scorer at 17.7 PPG, 3.6 APG and 3.5 RPG.

Until the duo returns, the Hornets will have to improvise in the backcourt with Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre likely to move into the starting lineup and Cody Martin and James Bouknight backing them up.

Plumlee has been sidelined with a calf injury since November 24 but was expected to return on Sunday. He’s averaging 6.8 PPG and 7.3 RPG as a starter. McDaniels is averaging 5.5 PPG and 3.3 RPG off the bench.

Southeast Notes: Suggs, Bridges, I. Smith, Hawks

Jalen Suggs has looked more like a rookie than some of the other lottery picks in this year’s draft, but the Magic are willing to be patient with him, writes Austin David of The Orlando Sentinel. The No. 5 overall pick is struggling in his first month in the NBA, shooting just 31.2% from the field and 20.3% from three-point range while averaging 3.5 turnovers per game to go with his 3.5 assists.

But Suggs has held onto his starting job, and a rebuilding Orlando team is planning to give him the time he needs to learn how to be an NBA point guard. Head coach Jamahl Mosley is a strong believer in Suggs and says he’s constantly working to get better.

“The thing that I continue to tell everyone is that the way he’s seeing it and communicating it through film sessions, with our coaches, with myself on the sideline, he’s seeing it very well,” Mosley said. “Now it’s just a matter of putting the physical side of it to it, and understanding when to slow down, when to speed up, the right reads, when it takes shots. He’s getting better at it slowly but surely. So as he can continue to communicate it, the better he’ll be as he sees it on the physical side of it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Miles Bridges is in his fourth season with the Hornets, but he still gets butterflies when playing in front of team owner Michael Jordan, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Jordan attended Friday’s game and Bridges was aware of his presence. “The greatest basketball player of all time on the bench supporting you, it definitely gives you nerves,” Bridges said. “I came out and missed a few layups, missed three few free throws. But as soon as we started settling in and started playing our game, I feel like that’s when it took a turn. That’s when we started going on our runs. But it’s great to have him out there.”
  • Ish Smith, who signed with the Hornets in the offseason, played a little more than a minute Friday after sitting out the last two games of the club’s road trip, Boone adds. Coach James Borrego said the decisions have been based more on matchups than Smith’s performance, as he wanted to give Terry Rozier more time at point guard.
  • Hawks coach Nate McMillan may start using John Collins more frequently as a center with his second unit, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McMillan said Collins and Danilo Gallinari are an effective pairing against smaller lineups.