Jalen Johnson

Southeast Notes: Magic Pick, Wizards Pick, Ball, Hawks

The Magic probably won’t stray from conventional wisdom when it comes to the top overall pick, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (hat tip to RealGM). They’ll either select Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith Jr. “This is the draft lottery of the power forwards and three very different players,” Wojnarowski said. “We’ll see how this shakes out, but certainly I think Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Jabari Smith of Auburn… I think the consensus right now is those are really the two players competing for No. 1 with the Magic.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are unlikely to trade up in the lottery, due to the high cost of doing so, but they could use it to facilitate a trade for a veteran point guard, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. However, they have a history of holding onto their first-rounders in recent drafts.
  • With top exec Mitch Kupchak signing an extension, the Hornets’ biggest task will be hiring a head coach who can get more out of LaMelo Ball, Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer opines. Ball must get much better on defense and cut down on his habit of committing unnecessary fouls.
  • Rudy Gobert would be the kind of impact player that could lift the Hawks to new heights. What would the cost be? A package of Clint Capela, De’Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson and their first-rounder this June would be the bare minimum, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger. Utah would also likely ask for multiple future first-rounders. Hollinger and Chris Kirschner explore the Hawks’ potential trade, free agent and draft targets.

Hawks Notes: Young, Collins, Playoffs, Johnson

Trae Young can gain super-max status on his extension if he’s named to one of the All-NBA teams this season, but that’s certainly no given, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic notes.

If he’s selected, Young will receive a five-year contract worth approximately $212MM. Otherwise, that figure drops to around $177MM. The Athletic polled 45 current or former voters and only eight said they would vote for Young on one of the three All-NBA teams. The Hawks’ inconsistent season is swaying those decisions more than Young’s statistics, Kirschner observes.

Young signed the extension in August.

We have more on the Hawks:

  • There’s still no decision on whether John Collins will be shut down for the rest of the season, Kirschner tweets. Coach Nate McMillan said prior to Thursday’s game there’s no update on a possible return for Collins, who is rehabbing from foot and finger injuries. He hasn’t played since March 11.
  • The Hawks clinched a spot in the play-in tournament with their 131-107 triumph over Cleveland on Thursday. McMillan hopes they can move up in the standings the rest of the way, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. “We had the opportunity to clinch that spot, being in the top 10, but we also have a chance to move up in these remaining games. Our approach to this game had to be such,” he said.
  • Jalen Johnson entered the league’s concussion protocol, Spencer adds in another tweet. Johnson played 17 minutes against Indiana on Monday.
  • Johnson, the team’s first-round pick, hasn’t received much playing time in his rookie campaign. McMillan believes he’s gotten a good education by spending most of the season in the G League, Kirschner writes. “He’s gotten a lot of minutes in the G League, and I think that’s helped him, so when he’s stepping in a moment like this, it’s not too different as far as what he has to do out there,” McMillan said earlier this week. “He’s guarding the four and five with the Skyhawks. With us, he’s playing the four position, and we’re switching him on guards. You don’t want him to think. Just play and react to situations.”

Southeast Notes: Unseld, Herro, Strus, Vincent, J. Johnson

Wes Unseld Jr. has been thrown into the deep end during his first year as an NBA head coach, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who notes that the Wizards have used a franchise-record 29 players in games this season.

Injuries, trades, and COVID-19 outbreaks have shaken up the Wizards’ roster, and Unseld himself missed multiple games when he contracted COVID. Despite having to deal with a somewhat chaotic first season in D.C., Unseld has tried his best to take it all in stride.

“With this being my first experience in this chair, in a weird way it’s the norm. I can’t compare it to anything,” Unseld told Hughes. “But it’s not lost on me that this has been a bizarre experience, just because of all the things that we’ve had to process and go through.”

Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who is out for the rest of the season while he recovers from wrist surgery, said he had “huge respect” for the way Unseld has responded to a challenging year.

“That’s tough on a coach, a first-year coach,” Beal said. “I’m very impressed with how well he’s handled the adversity.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • With Tyler Herro extension-eligible beginning this July, Keith Smith of Spotrac takes a closer look at what the guard’s next contract might look like and considers how much the Heat should be comfortable paying to lock up a player who is currently a sixth man.
  • Now that the Heat‘s roster is healthier than it has been all season, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent aren’t getting the same sort of consistent minutes they were earlier in the year. However, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes, the two reserves said they were prepared for that possibility, recognizing that the coaching staff needs to experiment with different lineups ahead of the postseason. “They got to play with things. They got to see what works, see what doesn’t work and try to get this chemistry going in a short span,” Vincent said. “I kind of knew it was coming. But you don’t really know how it’s going to go. You could only prepare for something like that so much.”
  • Nate McMillan‘s inclination to trust his veterans over rookies has meant there has been no NBA role this season for first-rounder Jalen Johnson, who has spent much of his rookie year in the G League. According to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic, the Hawks are still very intrigued by the potential of Johnson, who was recalled today from the NBAGL with John Collins out, but it remains unlikely that he’ll see regular minutes this season.

And-Ones: Thomas, Goodwin, Nurkic, Herro, Hawks/Celtics Trade, Rivers, Carlisle

Maccabi Tel Aviv has targeted former NBA guard Khyri Thomas to improve its backcourt depth, Donatas Urbonas of Basketball News reports. Thomas, a 2018 second-round pick, played in Spain last month before suffering an injury. He saw action in five games with Houston last season and came off the bench in 34 games for Detroit during the previous two seasons.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Archie Goodwin has signed with Budivelnyk Kyiv in the Ukraine, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Goodwin had been playing in France. Goodwin played four seasons in the NBA, most recently in 2016/17 for the Pelicans and Nets.
  • The Trail BlazersJusuf Nurkic and Heat‘s Tyler Herro each drew $25K fines for an altercation on Wednesday, NBA Communications tweets. They were both ejected in the final minute of Miami’s victory. Herro shoved Nurkic in the back after the Portland center knocked the guard to the floor on a screen. Nurkic retaliated with a shove to the face.
  • Could a blockbuster deal energize the inconsistent Hawks and Celtics? Sports Illustrated’s Michael Pina proposes a Jaylen Brown trade in which the Hawks would give up De’Andre Hunter, Kevin Huerter, Jalen Johnson and two unprotected first-round picks.
  • Nearly half of the league’s head coaches have entered the health and safety protocols this season. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer talks to Philadelphia’s Doc Rivers and Indiana’s Rick Carlisle on how they interacted with their assistants during their absences.

COVID-19 Updates: Hachimura, Roby, Grizzlies, Bucks, Robsinon, Suns, Nance, Hawks

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though an exact timeline for his return to the court has yet to be determined, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hachimura, 23, has missed the entirety of the Wizards’ 37-game 2021/22 NBA season thus far, due to a combination of an extended personal absence and subsequently his stint in the protocols. The 6’8″ big man is averaging 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across his two seasons with Washington thus far.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the league:

  • Young Thunder reserve center Isaiah Roby has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks and guard De’Anthony Melton have cleared the NBA’s coronavirus protocols but remain questionable ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Pistons as they continue to re-condition, while forward Kyle Anderson has also cleared protocols but will most likely not play due to back soreness, according to Memphis’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Bucks forwards Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Semi Ojeleye have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for a short-handed Milwaukee team tonight against the Raptors, per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). We first mentioned earlier today that that triumvirate of Bucks players was nearing a return. Through the game’s first half, Nwora is the only one of the three that has played.
  • $90MM Heat shooting guard Duncan Robinson has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and will reunite with the team in Portland ahead of its game against the Trail Blazers tonight, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The team has announced that Robinson will play (Twitter link).
  • Suns centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, along with starting power forward Jae Crowder, have all cleared COVID-19 health and safety protocols but will remain sidelined for Thursday’s home contest against the Clippers as they work their way back into game shape, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Trail Blazers forward Larry Nance Jr. has cleared the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be available to play tonight against the Kings, per Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian (Twitter link). We had first noted earlier today that Nance had registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and that a quick return was a possibility.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and small forward Jalen Johnson have exited health and safety protocols, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Spencer says the two players are expected to consult with Atlanta’s medical staff in Los Angeles ahead of the team’s games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday. Spencer adds that Johnson struggled a bit with the coronavirus and could need additional conditioning time.

John Collins, Jalen Johnson Placed In Health And Safety Protocols

Hawks forward John Collins has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Rookie Jalen Johnson is in the protocols as well, bringing the team’s total to 10 players (Twitter link).

Collins is among Atlanta’s best players, averaging 17.6 points and 7.9 rebounds in 32 games. He has been helping the Hawks remain competitive after the loss of Trae Young, who is also in the protocols. Johnson has gotten into 10 games during his first season with averages of 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 5.0 minutes per night.

Atlanta’s other players in the protocols are Sharife CooperDanilo GallinariKevin HuerterWesley IwunduTimothe Luwawu-CabarrotOnyeka Okongwu and Lou Williams

The Hawks have signed Iwundu, Malcolm Hill, Lance Stephenson, Cat Barber and Malik Ellison to 10-day deals under the league’s hardship provision.

Southeast Notes: Collins, Johnson, Carter Jr., Dedmon

John Collins re-signed with the Hawks on a five-year, $125MM contract as a restricted free agent during the offseason. So far, it’s working out well for both sides, according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Collins is averaging 16.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 1.3 BPG.

“He’s had stretches like this all of the time,” Hawks star Trae Young said. “Now he’s being so consistent with it. This is normal for him. He’s playing really well on the offensive end. On the defensive end, he’s just as good if not better. “

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Jalen Johnson‘s only path to playing time with the Hawks this season is more frontcourt injuries, head coach Nate McMillan told Kirschner (Twitter link). The 20th overall pick of this year’s draft, Johnson is playing with the G League’s College Park Skyhawks to develop his game, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. “That’s what it’s for and that’s what we want him to do,” McMillan said.
  • Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. was fined $35K by the league for forcefully throwing his protective glasses at a game official, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. The incident, for which Carter was assessed a technical foul and ejected, occurred in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s loss to Cleveland on Saturday.
  • Heat center Dewayne Dedmon was fined $15K by the league for kicking a seat cushion from his team’s bench into the stands, Shaw adds in another tweet. Dedmon was assessed a technical foul and ejected for his action, which occurred in the fourth quarter of the Heat’s win over Chicago on Saturday.

Southeast Notes: Oubre, Carter, Hachimura, Johnson

The Hornets lost handily to the Warriors in Kelly Oubre‘s first trip back to the Chase Center, 114-92. He says it was strange to be back in the arena on an opposing team, but is happy with how he’s fit in thus far with the Hornets, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

It’s definitely weird being on the opposite side of the arena,” Oubre told Boone. “But at the end of the day, man, we are in the moment. So I’m really happy to be able to go against these guys and just get the jitters out for myself. It’s always weird when you go get comfortable somewhere and then you’re uprooted to another place where you have to become comfortable as well.

Oubre signed a two-year, $24.6MM deal with Charlotte in free agency over the summer. The second year is partially guaranteed at $5MM. Oubre says his energetic play is a good match with the young Hornets.

This is just a young, energetic group and we are just trying to figure this thing out,” Oubre said, per Boone. “We are all trying to become our best selves and we’re all trying to set up a culture with this team. And I’m just more so happy to be a part of the culture forming in this organization rather than being somewhere the culture is already formed, guys are pretty much older so they are relaxed in how they approach the game.

And here it’s just more like, ‘Let’s get it. Let’s go. Let’s go to war, let’s have fun while doing this.’ So I’m just super excited and ecstatic to be on this team.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • The young Magic are 2-7 to start the season. Fourth-year big man Wendell Carter Jr. knows it’s going to take time for the team to improve, writes Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel. “Teams do not become great overnight,” Carter said. “It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of time.”
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura is back with the team, but there’s still uncertainty about when he’ll rejoin the lineup. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said that he tentatively expects Hachimura back “sooner rather than later,” according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. “I don’t have a timetable, but I would agree with [‘sooner rather than later’],” Unseld said on Thursday. “He’s been around more, he’s working out, so it’s good to have him in the building and be present.
  • Hawks rookie forward Jalen Johnson, the 20th overall pick of the 2021 draft, has been assigned to the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner notes that two-way players Sharife Cooper and Skylar Mays were transferred to the Skyhawks as well.

Southeast Notes: J. Johnson, Cooper, Westbrook, K. Jones, Jarreau

Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper were both considered risky picks on draft night, but the Hawks‘ rookies appear to be much less of a gamble after strong showings during Summer League, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. Johnson slipped to No. 20 after playing just 13 games at Duke and leaving school early to prepare for the draft. Cooper fell to No. 48 after a freshman season at Auburn that was delayed 11 games because of eligibility issues.

Both could be steals based on their early performances in Las Vegas, Peek observes. Johnson has been one of the most versatile players in the league and excels in the open court. Cooper has been a reliable playmaker and has eased concerns about his outside shooting.

“This isn’t just Summer League for me,” Cooper said. “Any game where I put on a jersey and represent something way bigger than me in the Hawks, it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard wasn’t planning to trade Russell Westbrook this summer, but he changed course when the opportunity arose to send him to the Lakers, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I had a heart-to-heart with Russell and it was important to him that I knew and the Wizards knew he wants to play here,” Sheppard said. “If there was ever an opportunity with the Lakers, that would be the one place. I look at his Hall-of-Fame career and all he did for us, certainly, for me, I will try to help a guy as long as it helps the Wizards. In this case, we could do a deal and it did help the Wizards.”
  • Hornets rookie Kai Jones is confident enough to become the first Charlotte player to wear No. 23 since Michael Jordan became owner of the franchise, notes Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer. The 6’11” power forward is getting plenty of his attention in Las Vegas for his athleticism and dunking prowess. “I think until you see him out there with (LaMelo Ball) and the entire group, we won’t have a true sense of what he can be for our program,” coach James Borrego said. “He’s working through our Summer League right now and trying to figure it out along the way, but he’s a tremendous athlete.”
  • The Heat weren’t able to trade for a draft pick to select DeJon Jarreau, but they wound up with the Houston guard anyway and like what they have seen during Summer League, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Jarreau, who may be in contention for one of Miami’s two-way contracts, posted 10 assists in a game this week.

Hawks Sign Jalen Johnson To Rookie Contract

First-round pick Jalen Johnson has signed his rookie contract with the Hawks, according to the NBA.com transactions page.

Johnson, 19, played just part of his freshman season at Duke before leaving the team the team in February to prepare for the draft. He played 13 games for the Blue Devils, averaging 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per night, along with 1.2 steals and 1.2 blocks.

The 6’9″ forward had been one of the top recruits in the country coming out of high school, and there was a wide speculation about where he might be drafted, ranging from the late lottery to late in the first round.

Assuming Johnson receives 120% of his rookie scale amount, which most first-rounders do, he will earn $2,659,680 in his first season and could get as much as $12,888,585 over the four-year deal.