Jalen Smith

Pacific Notes: Haliburton, Parker, Bowman, Smith

Kings rookie Tyrese Haliburton has gotten off to a fast off the bench during his rookie season, averaging 13.2 PPG and 5.4 APG. However, the young guard isn’t concerned about not being in the starting lineup (he’s started just two games this season), according to The Sacramento Bee’s Jason Anderson.

Instead of worrying about his place in the lineup, he switched the subject of discussion to the new fad NBA Top Shot.

“Naw, I’ve been on NBA Top Shot all day,” Haliburton said, via Anderson. “… I’ve been trying to explain to my teammates why they should get into it. There are two things that a lot of us love and that’s money and basketball, so put them together and good things can happen.”

Here’s more around the Pacific Division:

  • Kings forward Jabari Parker was placed in the health and safety protocols prior to Thursday’s game against the Knicks, relays Jason Anderson of The Bee (Twitter link). It’s unclear when 2014’s second overall pick – who has only appeared in two games this season – may be cleared. He joins teammate Hassan Whiteside in the protocols.
  • The ClippersG League affiliate (the Agua Caliente Clippers) has waived guard Ky Bowman after he suffered a season-ending injury (Twitter link via JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors). Last season, Bowman averaged 7.2 PPG in 45 games for the Warriors.
  • The Suns have recalled rookie forward Jalen Smith from the G League (Twitter link via Gina Mizell of Suns.com). Smith was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft but has appeared in just eight NBA games. Since the Northern Arizona Suns aren’t in action this season, the rookie had been playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in six games (16.3 MPG).

Western Notes: J. Smith, Pelicans, Thomas, Azubuike

With no minutes available for rookie big man Jalen Smith in the Suns‘ rotation, the team has opted to send him to the G League. The Northern Arizona Suns aren’t in action this season, so Smith will join the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Los Angeles’ affiliate, via the flexible-assignment rule, as the Clippers announced today.

Smith, who dealt with COVID-19 earlier in the season, has appeared in just eight games for the Suns so far, logging 50 total minutes. While the Clippers’ affiliate won’t necessarily showcase him like Phoenix’s own affiliate would, 2020’s No. 10 overall pick should still see regular playing time during his NBAGL assignment.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Following a four-game winning streak, the Pelicans have now dropped three consecutive contests, all to sub-.500 teams. The slump has head coach Stan Van Gundy considering changes to the team’s rotation, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “I think now we have to take a look at who we’re playing and how many minutes and what rotations and figure out if there is a way that we can play better defense,” Van Gundy said. “But, I’m being honest with you, I don’t know how many of our guys really have a defensive mentality.”
  • After being waived by the Rockets on Friday, Brodric Thomas has joined Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Twitter link). The Rockets promoted Ray Spalding from the Vipers’ roster to fill Thomas’ two-way contract slot, so the two players essentially swapped places.
  • Jazz rookie Udoka Azubuike suffered a severe right ankle sprain during the first game of the Salt Lake City Stars’ season in the G League bubble last week and will be sidelined indefinitely, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes.

Pacific Notes: Green, Durant, J. Smith, LeBron

Draymond Green and Kevin Durant will face off tonight for the first time since their confrontation two years ago that some believe led to Durant leaving the Warriors, writes Monte Poole of NBC Sports. The dispute resulted from a situation late in a tie game when Green grabbed a defensive rebound, dribbled the ball upcourt and committed a turnover rather than giving it to Durant. Green, who received a one-game suspension from the team for the incident, reportedly challenged Durant about his impending free agency during the spat.

Poole doesn’t expect the two players to be matched up directly very often tonight, as Green typically guards the interior with three centers sidelined, while Durant is usually on the perimeter. However, Green, who missed the December 22 game with the Nets, may look at the matchup as a chance to make a statement.

“The one thing we all know about Draymond is there’s not a better competitor, not a player who looks forward to competition more, than Draymond,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. “So, I know he’s looking forward to (Saturday).”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • ESPN’s Nick Friedell believes Durant may consider a return to the Warriors before his career is over, relays Grant Liffman of NBC Sports. Appearing on the DubsTalk podcast, Friedell suggested that Durant’s time away from the team has healed some old wounds and that “he’s going to do what he feels most comfortable with in that moment” when it comes time for his next career decision. Durant is under contract through the end of next season and has a $43,928,850 player option for 2022/23.
  • Jalen Smith hasn’t seen much playing time in his first NBA season, but the Suns are content to bring him along slowly, according to Kevin Zimmerman of Arizona Sports 98.7. Smith, who was sidelined by COVID-19 in parts of December and January, has appeared in just seven games, averaging. 6.9 minutes per night. “He’s a diligent worker,” coach Monty Williams said. “I don’t think any young player understands how hard you have to work to be a good player in this league. He embraced that part, which we’re really pleased with. He doesn’t miss days to get work in.”
  • The LakersLeBron James and Kyle Kuzma both received warnings for flopping in Friday’s game against the Grizzlies, the NBA announced on its website.

Pacific Notes: J. Smith, Booker, Wiseman, Dudley

Suns rookie Jalen Smith confirmed that his recent absence was a result of testing positive for COVID-19, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Phoenix had three games postponed this month because of a shortage of eligible players due to health and safety protocols.

“I had COVID for like 10 days,” Smith said. “For like those first, I’d say eight, I didn’t experience any symptoms, but then like basically the last night before getting off, my smell was faint and my taste was faint, but I got my taste back and my smell is starting to come back a little bit now.”

The virus isn’t the only obstacle that Smith, the 10th pick in last year’s draft, has encountered during his first NBA experience. He suffered an ankle injury during a workout last month and has only gotten into two games. He was cleared to return January 6, but tested positive the next day.

“Mentally, I’m fine,” he said. “It’s a process. I still got to learn a lot of new stuff that was put in while I was out, but it’s a part of basketball. I feel fine. it’s just a matter of me getting my wind back. Just continuing to get back into the motion with the team.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns star Devin Booker suffered a left hamstring strain Friday that will force him to miss tonight’s game and possibly longer, tweets Gerald Bourguet of The Step Back. “We’re really not sure,” coach Monty Williams said. “What I’ve been told is it could be day-to-day. Depending on how he feels, it could be another week.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr is coordinating the minutes for rookie center James Wiseman to get him on the court as much as possible with the team’s veteran leaders, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. So far, the No. 2 pick has played 267 minutes with Stephen Curry and 182 minutes with Draymond Green“If we’re going to be a championship contender the next few years, those guys have to learn to play together,” Kerr explained.
  • Lakers forward Jared Dudley is close to returning from a calf injury that has kept him out of action since January 8, according to Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register (Twitter link). Coach Frank Vogel said Dudley is probably “a game or two out” from being available. The 35-year-old has played in just six games this season.

Pacific Notes: Caruso, Smith, Morris, Kaminsky

Lakers guard Alex Caruso said he never tested positive for COVID-19, but someone he had seen around Christmas-time tested positive and he was placed under the league’s healthy and safety protocols because of contact tracing, Kyle Goon of the Orange County Register tweets.

Caruso understands why the NBA set up those protocols but it was still a frustrating situation for him, Goon adds. The guard missed five games but returned to action for the Lakers on Thursday, playing 20 minutes and scoring eight points against San Antonio.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns rookie Jalen Smith didn’t make the team’s three-game road trip that began Friday in Detroit due to health and safety protocols, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Smith, the 10th overall pick, hadn’t played since Phoenix’s second game against Sacramento because of an ankle injury.
  • Marcus Morris has no issue with Clippers coach Tyronn Lue concerning his second-unit role, Goon writes. Morris, who re-signed with the franchise for four years and $64MM this offseason, made his season debut on Wednesday. Morris had been sidelined by knee soreness. “In hindsight, I was fine with either, but I have seen how well those guys are jelling with the first unit and I thought I could help the second unit with scoring, with leadership, things like that,” Morris said. “I just told him, ‘Hey, if that is what you want to do, I’ll go along with you.’”
  • Forward Frank Kaminsky made his feelings apparent about the Suns before he re-joined them, Gina Mizell of the team’s website writes. Phoenix declined a $5MM option on his contract but claimed him after the Kings waived him late in training camp. “For some reason, people tell you, ‘Don’t let it be known where you want to go or where you want to play,’” Kaminsky said. “But I don’t care. I wanted to play here. I wanted to be with this team and with this group of people.”

Suns Sign Lottery Pick Jalen Smith

The Suns have signed lottery pick Jalen Smith, according to a team press release.

Assuming Smith received the usual 120% above the rookie scale, he’ll make $4,245,720 in his first season and a total of $19,328,334 over the next four seasons.

He’ll look to get some minutes at the power forward and center spots on a team with playoff aspirations. He played two seasons at Maryland.

The 6’10” Smith averaged 15.5 PPG on 53.8% shooting from the field and 36.8% from 3-point range, plus 10.5 RPG and 2.4 BPG as a sophomore. He finished third in the nation with 21 double-doubles last season.

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Okoro, Poirier, VanVleet, Nets

The Celtics have reportedly explored the possibility of packaging their three first-round picks (Nos. 14, 26, and 30) to move into the middle of the draft lottery. On Thursday, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer suggested that Boston’s intent with that plan may be to flip the newly-acquired mid-lottery pick to New Orleans in a deal for Jrue Holiday.

However, Sean Deveney of Heavy.com hears that the Celtics also have their eye on a potential target in the top 10. Sources tell Deveney that Boston has been “enamored with” Auburn forward Isaac Okoro all year and that he would be the target if the team trades up. The C’s would also be happy to see who falls to them at their current spot, Deveney adds.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Clarifying some comments he made recently to a French outlet, Celtics center Vincent Poirier tells Tom Westerholm of MassLive that he wasn’t upset about his limited role in 2019/20 and knows that if he wants more minutes, he has to earn them. “I just told (head coach Brad Stevens) I accepted the role I had this year, because obviously that’s what I deserved, because I didn’t show anything,” Poirier said. “But I think I worked, I think I understand the game, so I used this season to grow and to progress. I’m just saying that was cool, but as a competitor, as a man, as a basketball player, I want more. I’m not here just to be with the guys.” Poirier has a guaranteed $2.6MM salary for 2020/21.
  • Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun isn’t reading too much into Fred VanVleet‘s comments about “trying to get paid” in free agency. It’s hardly breaking news that money is an important consideration for top free agents, according to Wolstat, who says he’d still bet on the Raptors re-signing their veteran point guard.
  • Maryland’s Jalen Smith declined to say which teams he has worked out for, but the Nets were one of the first teams to interview him and have genuine interest in drafting him, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Smith told reporters in a conference call that if he gets an opportunity to play with Kevin Durant, it would be a “dream come true.”

Heat Notes: Leonard, Carey, Achiuwa, Scrubb

Reiterating a point he made in a previous interview, Heat center Meyers Leonard told Jeremy Werner of 247Sports.com that when he considers his options in free agency, he’ll be looking for a spot where he can contend, rather than one where he can try to put up big numbers.

“I don’t give a damn about numbers. I care about winning,” Leonard said. “I think that they knew that in Miami. I know that (coach Erik Spoelstra) and my teammates sure as hell did. I would tell Bam (Adebayo) often, ‘I don’t give a damn about rebound numbers. You go grab 15, and I’ll block out their best rebounder and you come grab them.'”

Leonard also said that he thinks a reunion is a possibility, but that he’s prepared to consider other landing spots if the Heat decide to move on.

“The NBA is a business. I think there’s mutual interest between Miami and I, but we’ll see,” he said. “There’s other teams that are very interested. I’m in a good spot.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat conducted a private, in-person workout last week with Duke big man Vernon Carey Jr., according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). Carey is only the No. 43 prospect on ESPN’s big board but has received some first-round buzz and could be an option for Miami at No. 20.
  • Carey is far from the only draft-eligible frontcourt player receiving interest from the Heat. The team also recently worked out Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa and has interest in Maryland’s Jalen Smith, Jackson writes for The Herald. ESPN ranks both players in its top 20.
  • The Heat have conducted two interviews with 6’6″ shooting guard Jay Scrubb, a source tells Jackson. The No. 76 prospect on ESPN’s board, Scrubb is considered one of 2020’s best junior college prospects. Within the same Herald article, Jackson notes that Miami has also interviewed Stanford guard Tyrell Terry.

Kings Notes: Bogdanovic, Lewis, Trade Proposals, Achiuwa

Deciding whether to keep Bogdan Bogdanovic will be one of the most important offseason decisions for new Kings general manager Monte McNair, writes James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area. The shooting guard is a restricted free agent, meaning Sacramento can match any offer he receives on the open market. ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimates that Bogdanovic’s new contract will start at $14-16MM, which translates to a total investment of $63-72MM on a four-year deal.

Bogdanovic is coming off his most productive season, averaging 15.1 points per game and shooting 37.2% from three-point range. The Kings don’t want to lose an important part of their offense, but they have to be careful about overpaying with so many other young players whose contracts will be up soon. De’Aaron Fox is likely to receive an extension this fall that will take effect during the 2021/22 season.

Ham suggests offering Bogdanovic a front-loaded contract that declines in value each year, as the team did with Harrison Barnes and Buddy Hield. That would help control costs in the future and make Bogdanovic easier to move if the Kings ever decide to trade him.

There’s more from Sacramento:

  • With the Kings reportedly interested in drafting Kira Lewis Jr., Ham examines the potential fit for the Alabama point guard. His speed blends well with the up-tempo style that Sacramento prefers, and Lewis could allow the team to play fast when Fox is on the bench. Ham states that Lewis projects as an instant-offense player off the bench.
  • Richard Ivanowski of The Sacramento Bee offers six hypothetical trades for the Kings to pursue if McNair wants to shake up the roster before the draft. Ivanowski suggests Sacramento should chase a star such as Washington’s Bradley Beal with a package of Hield, Marvin Bagley and the No. 12 pick, or possibly try to get the No. 1 selection and James Johnson from the Timberwolves in exchange for Hield and No. 12. Ivanowski also has trade proposals involving the Hawks, Bucks, Celtics and Sixers.
  • Jason Jones of The Athletic believes the Kings might use their first-round pick to add frontcourt depth and identifies Precious Achiuwa of Memphis as a potential selection. Jalen Smith of Maryland may also be under consideration.

Heat Notes: J. Grant, J. Smith, Offseason

The Heat are expected to be among the teams with interest in free agent forward Jerami Grant this offseason, says Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. If Miami operates as an over-the-cap team, landing Grant would be tricky, since he’s expected to receive offers worth more than the mid-level exception.

Grant could be a more viable option for the Heat if the team loses some of its top free agents and has the opportunity to open up cap space. Even if Miami remains over the cap, we saw a year ago with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler that the front office is willing to get creative with sign-and-trades when cap room is unavailable.

However, Grant will almost certainly require a long-term investment, so presumably he’d only become a realistic target for the Heat if the club decides it no longer needs to preserve max-salary space for 2021.

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The Heat requested a Zoom interview with former Maryland forward Jalen Smith, Jackson reports in the same Miami Herald story.  Smith is currently the No. 20 prospect on ESPN’s big board, while the Heat hold the No. 20 overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • Several aspects of the Heat offseason will be out of the team’s control, according to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, who writes that the team will have to adjust to the new salary cap projection, wait to see if free agents like Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder get aggressive multiyear offers from rival suitors, and potentially modify their plans for both 2020 and 2021 if Giannis Antetokounmpo signs an extension with Milwaukee.
  • Miami assistants Dan Craig and Chris Quinn reportedly had strong interviews with Indiana, but the Pacers went in another direction, hiring Nate Bjorkgren as their new head coach. That’s good news for the Heat, who should retain Craig and Quinn for 2020/21.