Jalen McDaniels

Southeast Notes: Hayward, McDaniels, Collins, Highsmith, Young

Hornets forward Gordon Hayward, who has been out since February 7 with sprained ligaments in his left ankle, is making steady progress though there’s still no timetable for his return, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer reports.

Hayward has shed his walking boot and coach James Borrego is hopeful by the end of the week that Hayward will make “serious progress.”

“He’s pushing it, he’s headed in the right direction,” Borrego said. “Where that leaves us, I don’t know yet. But what I can say is he’s making positive progress and hopefully we’ll have a better update here soon.”

Jalen McDaniels, who has been out since January 21 due to a sprained left ankle, is listed as questionable for tomorrow’s game against the Nets.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Hawks forward John Collins returned to action over the weekend after missing seven games due to a right foot strain. That doesn’t mean the injury has completed healed, according to Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution“I definitely feel like it’s going to be a process to get back to 100% as it is with anything, but I’m just trying to do my best to maintain and damage control, if you will, to just make sure I’m healthy and ready to go enough to do well for my team,” Collins said.
  • The Heat have opted to retain Haywood Highsmith on a three-year contract. They’d like to see him develop into a P.J. Tucker-type forward, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. The team has Highsmith focusing on “defense and shooting threes” to resemble “a little bit of P.J. Tucker,” Highsmith told Chiang.
  • Though the Hawks are struggling to reach the .500 mark, Trae Young believes they can make another deep and surprising run in the postseason, as he told Chris Kirschner of The Athletic“I feel like we can beat anybody if you put us in a seven-game series and give us a chance to look at you,” Young said. “We have talent and smart-enough guys to make some noise. I feel confident.”

Southeast Notes: LaMelo, McDaniels, Anthony, Wizards, Hawks

Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team announced on Tuesday (Twitter link). Ball was assigned to Charlotte’s NBA G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, to get back into game shape. Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer adds (via Twitter) that the second-year guard was subsequently recalled from Greensboro following the practice with the NBAGL club.

The Hornets also announced (Twitter link) that forward Jalen McDaniels has fully cleared the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and will be available to suit up for Charlotte in the team’s next game, Wednesday against the Spurs.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In a conversation with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, second-year Magic point guard Cole Anthony discussed his candidacy for the 2021/22 Most Improved Player award after a hot start to his sophomore season. Anthony revealed that vying for the award had been a goal ahead of his second year in Orlando. “Coming into this season, that’s an award me and my team talked about winning,” Anthony said. “It’s something that I’d love to win, but at the end of the day, if it happens, it happens. I want to make sure my team is functioning well, everyone is getting better, and that’s a bigger win to me. That being said, I wouldn’t be mad if I won that award. It would be pretty cool to be rewarded for your hard work.” The 6’2″ Anthony was drafted with the No. 15 pick by the Magic out of North Carolina. This season, he is averaging 20.5 PPG on .425/.376/.874 shooting splits, plus 6.1 RPG, 5.6 APG and 0.9 SPG.
  • Though the Wizards opened the 2021/22 season with a red-hot 10-3 start, they have since fallen back to earth, going 5-10 in their 15 most recent contests. Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes that the club could greatly benefit from the returns of forward Rui Hachimura and center Thomas Bryant, neither of whom has played a game for Washington this year. Hughes notes that the 24-year-old Bryant is at least a few weeks away as he continues to recuperate from a February ACL surgery. The 23-year-old Hachimura, who has missed every game this year for undisclosed personal reasons, is currently practicing to acclimate his body to NBA-level play again.
  • The 13-14 Hawks are striving to improve their on-court cohesion after a disappointing start to the 2021/22 season, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic“I feel like it’s approach,” recently-extended power forward John Collins said. “We need to understand each moment. I don’t think talent, playing the game or any basketball factors are what’s wrong. It’s a matter of analyzation and execution. That’s what needs to change.” Kirschner pinpoints the absences of shot creators Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter, the team’s lackluster reserve point guard play, and a lack of defensive intensity as the root causes for Atlanta’s frustrating first few months.

COVID-19 Updates: Rivers, Millsap, Hornets, Holiday, Brooks

The Nuggets are expecting Austin Rivers to exit the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Tuesday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It may take an extra day or two before Rivers is fully cleared to play, but his impeding return means Davon Reed‘s time with the team is likely done for the time being, Singer notes.

Denver signed Reed to a 10-day contract using the hardship exception on December 4. That deal will expire after Monday’s game, and with Rivers due back, the Nuggets will no longer be eligible to carry an extra player via the hardship provision.

Although Reed will likely head back to the Grand Rapids Gold – the Nuggets’ G League affiliate – he made a strong impression on the team during his time in the NBA and could be back later this season, says Singer (via Twitter).

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Nets forward Paul Millsap has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Malika Andrews and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Millsap is averaging a career-low 11.2 minutes per game in Brooklyn this season, so his absence shouldn’t create a huge hole in the team’s rotation.
  • Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels and center Mason Plumlee cleared the league’s health and safety protocols on Monday and were sent to the G League to complete a conditioning/rehab assignment with the Greensboro Swarm, the club announced (via Twitter). Charlotte still has LaMelo Ball and Ish Smith in the protocols, but the team is moving closer to getting all its affected players back after Terry Rozier was cleared on Sunday (Twitter link).
  • Pacers wing Justin Holiday, who has missed the team’s last five games while in the health and safety protocols, returned to practice on Sunday and said he’ll likely remain unvaccinated after having contracted COVID-19, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Assuming his stance doesn’t change, Holiday won’t be eligible to cross the Canadian border to play in Toronto on March 26.
  • Dillon Brooks‘ stint in the health and safety protocols was a short one. The Grizzlies forward received clearance on Saturday after being placed in the protocols on Thursday, as Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. The quick reversal suggests Brooks may have registered a false positive test.

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.

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: Hawks, Hornets, Riley, Butler

The 3-3 Hawks have yet to recapture the momentum that propelled them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. With an intimidating schedule coming up in which Atlanta will play several 2021 playoff teams, Kirschner offers his thoughts on how the club can adjust.

While forwards Cam Reddish and John Collins have exhibited plenty of growth, other key Hawks players have struggled a bit. Point guard Trae Young is struggling to adjust to the league’s new free throw rules, while shooting guard Kevin Huerter is struggling to connect from deep.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have already enjoyed a promising start to the 2021/22 season, writes Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. New additions Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre have fit in well thus far, with Oubre connecting on a solid 35.7% of his three-point looks. 2022 restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges has taken his scoring to borderline All-Star heights, and Boone is pegging his future contract in the $100MM vicinity. When it comes to perimeter depth, Boone observes that Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, and Nick Richards are also improving.
  • The hot start of the Heat has Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wondering if team president Pat Riley has finally nailed the club’s supporting lineup around All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The club has wholly recalibrated its frontcourt depth around Adebayo, and the early results have paid dividends thus far. The addition of former Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry has made a huge defensive impact on Miami, though his offense is struggling so far. Sixth man Tyler Herro also appears to have taken a leap in his third season.
  • Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler has thrived alongside new addition Kyle Lowry. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald wonders if Butler has been newly maximized as a player alongside the former six-time All-Star point guard.

Hornets Notes: McDaniels, Collins, Center Issues, Martin

Second-year Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels, fresh off a recent assignment with the club’s G League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm, may be able to stick with Charlotte’s rotation thanks to his improving defense, writes Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.

The 6’10” McDaniels’ wingspan and positional fluidity will be key in helping the Hornets on defense. “Knowing my rotations, and being in the right spots,” McDaniels said of the solution to finessing his skill set guarding the opposition. “Being the best defender (possible) is going to keep me in the league for a long time.”

There’s more out of Charlotte:

  • In another piece, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer weighs the pros and cons of a possible Hornets trade for Hawks restricted free agent-to-be John Collins. The talented power forward/center, who will probably command a maximum salary – or close to it – in the offseason, could be one of the best players on the freshly-exciting Charlotte. He is averaging 17.6 PPG and 7.5 RPG while posting a stellar slash line of .538/.383/.849 for a middling Atlanta club.
  • While a trade for Collins may not be realistic, it’s clear the Hornets need some level of upgrade at the center position, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Their vulnerabilities protecting the paint were exposed most recently in a 130-121 loss to the Warriors Friday. Even if Charlotte has to sacrifice a young prospect like Devonte’ Graham or Malik Monk, Bonnell posits, it may be worth it for the upgrade at the five.
  • Hobbled by injuries, the Hornets got some welcome availability news today, announcing that guard Caleb Martin is out of the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols and can suit up against the Kings tonight, the team announced on Twitter.

Southeast Notes: Martin Brothers, McDaniels, Bamba, Huerter, Wizards

Hornets brothers Cody Martin and Caleb Martin will miss Friday’s game against the Timberwolves due to the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. P.J. Washington has also been sidelined by the protocols, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels has been recalled from the G League’s Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. McDaniels, who won’t be available until at least Sunday due to quarantine rules, has averaged 20 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games at Orlando’s bubble.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Mohamed Bamba has fallen out of the Magic‘s rotation and that shouldn’t be the case, Josh Robbins of The Athletic opines. The sixth pick of the 2018 draft needs playing time to establish how much improvement he’s made since his rookie campaign and coach Steve Clifford should give the young big ample opportunities to show what he can do, Robbins adds. Robbins also takes a look at the current rotation and Clifford’s usage of reserves Gary Clark and Khem Birch.
  • Hawks wing Kevin Huerter has averaged 13.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.8 APG since reclaiming a spot in the lineup, K.L. Chouinard of the team’s website notes. Huerter, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season, is on pace to set career-best marks in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage, Chouinard adds. “It’s finding my spots and finding ways to stay aggressive and keep myself within the offense,” Huerter said.
  • The Wizards are 3-8 since returning from their coronavirus pause, prompting Scott Cacciola of the New York Times to take a closer look at the team’s struggles.

Hornets Sending McDaniels, Carey, Others To G League Bubble

The Hornets are sending several players from their 16-man roster to the Greensboro Swarm to participate in the NBA G League bubble, the team confirmed today.

According to a press release, second-year forward Jalen McDaniels has been assigned to the Swarm, along with rookies Vernon Carey Jr. and Nick Richards. Additionally, two-way players Grant Riller and Nate Darling have been transferred to the Hornets’ G League affiliate.

McDaniels, Carey, Richards, Riller, and Darling will join a Swarm roster that features Admiral Schofield, the No. 1 pick in this month’s NBAGL draft, and affiliate players Kahlil Whitney, Xavier Sneed, Keandre Cook, and Javin DeLaurier, among others.

Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak told Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer earlier this week that Carey and Richards have looked somewhat “overwhelmed” during their first year in the NBA, and that the team welcomes the opportunity to get them regular playing time at the G League level — especially since the condensed NBA schedule has allowed for fewer practices than normal.

Since McDaniels and the two-way players have also been out of coach James Borrego‘s regular rotation in Charlotte, it makes sense that they’d also be sent to the G League bubble for developmental purposes, as Bonnell writes in a separate story.

While the Hornets will be able to recall any of those five players from the G League to rejoin the NBA roster at any time, those players are expected to spend some or all of the NBAGL season in the bubble, per Bonnell. Given all the protocols in place related to COVID-19, it won’t be as easy logistically for teams to constantly assign and recall players this season, so I imagine we’ll see less back-and-forth movement than usual between the two leagues.

Hornets Notes: Rozier, McDaniels, Martin

Terry Rozier, who joined the Hornets this past offseason, doesn’t have to fill Kemba Walker‘s shoes, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. The offensive doesn’t necessarily revolve around Rozier and the point guard is alright with that role.

“When you come to a new team, there are a lot of expectations when you get signed [to a big contract],” teammate Bismack Biyombo said. “He’s trusted the coaches and adapted to the system, which isn’t easy right away. And he has excelled.”

Here’s more from Charlotte:
  • Jalen McDaniels has been a pleasant surprise for the Hornets this season and lately, he’s been the first player off the bench for the squad, as Bonnell relays in a separate piece“We’ve said, ‘Here’s your role, here’s what we need from you. Go execute it’. And he’s doing that right now,” James Borrego said.
  • The buyouts of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams paved the way for McDaniels to see more playing time. with the Hornets. Bonnell notes in the same piece. MKG went to Dallas after his buyout agreement while Williams landed in Milwaukee.
  • The Hornets are impressed with undrafted free agent Caleb Martin, who has split his time between the NBA club and its G League affiliate. “For him to make it in this league, he’s going to have to make that 3-ball,” Borrego said (via Bonnell in a separate piece).  “He was really good offensively — attacked the rim, played with great pace, moved the ball. And he competes defensively. I’ve got Cody a little bit ahead of him defensively right now — that’s why we drafted him — but Caleb’s got the same length and size and tenacity.”