Jamal Murray

Northwest Notes: SGA, Murray, Beasley, Jazz

Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking forward to getting the chance to play Chris Paul and the Suns for the first time this season on Wednesday, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Paul served as a mentor for Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City last season, and the two guards have remained close even after CP3 was dealt to Phoenix.

“Obviously me and him built a bond over the past year, to where he’s almost like a brother to me,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We talk about everything. How life’s going, how the teams are doing, how we’re doing.”

Gilgeous-Alexander added that it was a “blessing” to play with a veteran star like Paul last season, and that the bond the two former teammates built has had “even more of an impact than the on-the-court stuff,” per Mussatto.

Here’s more from around the Thunder:

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was fined $25K on Wednesday for an incident that occurred during Monday’s win over Dallas, according to an NBA press release. During the third quarter of that game, Murray struck Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. in the groin area. Murray was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and was ejected.
  • After signing a lucrative new long-term deal with the Timberwolves in the offseason, Malik Beasley wants to win the Most Improved Player award and help lead the team to the playoffs this season, as he tells Ben Stinar of Forbes.
  • The Jazz‘s G League affiliate (the Salt Lake City Stars) officially announced its roster for the upcoming season, while the Thunder‘s affiliate (the Oklahoma City Blue) named Bradford Burgess an assistant coach. The Stars’ roster includes Yogi Ferrell, who will be an affiliate player for the Jazz after a brief stint with the Cavaliers earlier this month.

Nuggets Won’t Trade Murray In Potential Harden Deal

The Nuggets have reportedly spoken to the Rockets about the possibility of a James Harden trade, but Denver would be unwilling to include Jamal Murray in any offer for the former MVP, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

As Singer explains, Murray’s impressive postseason run during the Orlando restart over the summer underscored why the Nuggets gave him a maximum-salary extension a year ago. It also demonstrated why Denver views the 23-year-old as a long-term franchise cornerstone alongside Nikola Jokic, who – of course – also wouldn’t be available in any Harden discussions.

With Jokic and Murray off the table, the most obvious centerpiece in a potential Nuggets offer would be Michael Porter Jr. The 22-year-old forward averaged 9.3 PPG and 4.7 RPG in 55 games (16.4 MPG) during his de facto rookie season in 2019/20.

While those numbers don’t jump off the page, Porter’s upside is considerable and he’s viewed as a potential offensive star. Still, it’s not clear how enthusiastic the Rockets would be about a deal built around him — or how many other assets the Nuggets would be willing to include in such an offer. Houston has reportedly been seeking a return that features an All-Star-caliber young player, along with several other assets (young players or draft picks).

[RELATED: Tension Between Harden, Rockets Teammates?]

Denver hasn’t been mentioned as one of Harden’s preferred landing spots, but a report last week indicated that the Rockets had expanded trade talks beyond those teams on his wish list. Presumably, the Nuggets were one of those teams, though it’s unclear if the two sides remain in touch or have engaged in anything beyond exploratory discussions.

Nuggets Notes: Malone, Free Agents, Morris, Murray

Even though the Nuggets‘ magical postseason run came to an end Saturday, the team appears to have a bright future ahead, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. After overcoming 3-1 deficits in the first two rounds of the playoffs, Denver couldn’t do it again against the Lakers, but coach Michael Malone believes the experience in Orlando should benefit his players.

“I think we have something special brewing,” Malone said. “And I think most importantly, I think people around this country, around the world, who were watching the playoffs, this group of guys, you would be hard pressed to find a better story coming out of this bubble. A bunch of young kids faced elimination, looked it in the face and just kept on surviving and advancing.”

The Nuggets’ hopes for improvement will center around the development of rookie forward Michael Porter Jr., who averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in the postseason. Porter should be a full-time rotation player next season, and fellow rookie Bol Bol may also have a larger role. In addition, Will Barton will return after missing the entire playoffs with a knee injury.

“I think all great teams and champions have to go through the pains of losing,” Malone said. “And nothing is handed to you in this business. And we’re making steps. We’re moving in the right direction with a great group of guys.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Denver’s challenge for the offseason will be deciding how to handle free agents Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Torrey Craig and Paul Millsap without exceeding the luxury tax threshold, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Nuggets hold Bird rights or Early Bird rights on all four players and can go over the salary cap to keep them. However, the team already has $95MM in guaranteed money committed to five players. Marks states that Denver can spend $29MM without paying the tax — that figure drops to $20MM if Grant opts into a $9.3MM salary for next season.
  • Reaching an extension with reserve point guard Monte Morris should be another priority, Marks adds in the same story. Morris has a $1.7MM non-guaranteed contract for 2020/21 that will become guaranteed whenever free agency begins. Marks believes a realistic extension offer would be in the neighborhood of $27MM over three years.
  • Jamal Murray played Saturday’s game with a bone bruise on his right knee and another bruise on his right foot, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The pain contributed to Murray’s off night with 19 points on 7-of-17 shooting. “I don’t like to tell everybody what I got. I just like to play through it,” he said. “I was in pain, but it’s cool. I was out there. I was struggling a little bit today.”

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Malone, Jokic, Grant

The ultra-resilient Nuggets may have changed the course of the Western Conference Finals with a Game 3 victory as Jamal Murray continued to add to his playoff reputation, writes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Denver’s point guard had 28 points, eight rebounds and 12 assists and hit a pair of late 3-pointers to seal the win, and coach Michael Malone said Murray has reached a new level this season.

“Now I know every night what I’m getting from Jamal,” Malone said. “Last year, we knew what we were getting from Nikola (Jokic), but what kind of game would Jamal have. That’s no longer the case. We have two superstars in Nikola and Jamal.”

Murray is thriving in the Disney World environment, averaging 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game since the postseason began. He told Sam Amick of The Athletic that he has a desire to “change the narrative” surrounding him and his team.

“The most important part (is) the energy I bring,” Murray said. “When I’m talking to my teammates, being the vocal leader, going up and down, pushing everyone, they tend to follow. It was fun to see them have a lot of fun today like they did.  We came up with the win. Hopefully we can keep that play up.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Dejan Milojevic, Jokic’s former coach in Serbia, always believed the big man would succeed in the NBA, according to Jackie MacMullan of ESPN. “There are many great players in the NBA league — superstars — but not many are making their teammates better,” Milojevic said. “That’s all that Nikola ever wanted. He enjoys passing more than scoring. That’s what separates him — the creativity.”
  • Jerami Grant, an unrestricted free agent this fall, has been making a difference for the Nuggets in the playoffs, observes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. At 6’8″ with a 7’3″ wingspan, Grant has the versatility to guard several different types of opponents. He is affecting LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the conference finals, just like he bothered Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the previous series. “Jerami, he’s been great for us, and we ask a lot from him,” teammate Monte Morris said. “He starts guarding LeBron. We know how (tough) LeBron is. He’s exerting so much energy on defense, you know, it was good to see him get going on offense. It gave us a great boost and it was much needed.”
  • Can the Nuggets stop the Lakers from winning the NBA title? Cast your vote in our poll.

Northwest Notes: Murray, MPJ, Wolves, Thunder

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has demonstrated his leadership abilities during the team’s playoff run this year, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes.

Denver is currently trailing 0-1 against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and has bounced back from a 3-1 series deficit twice this postseason, something no other NBA franchise has ever done.

“Jamal has grown up, he has become more of a leader, more vocal,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “What he did in that Utah series was incredible with his play but also the emotional leadership that he showed for our team and that was contagious.

“He took his whole team with him, which you don’t see very often for such a young player.”

Murray has stepped up on both ends of the floor, averaging 26.7 points, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in 15 playoff contests. He was a key cog in the team’s victories over the Jazz and Clippers in previous rounds, proving his worth at just 23 years old.

“This is something that you have to understand, take responsibility for,” Malone said. “You’ve got to be better. On the court, your preparation, your professionalism, your work ethic and your leadership. He’s taken all those things into account and tried to be better in every one of those areas, which is all you want.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post explores how Michael Porter Jr. has earned the respects of his coach, with the 22-year-old providing quality depth off the bench during the Nuggets’ postseason run. “In those games, the games that you talk about when he’s on the floor when so much is hanging in the balance, that’s invaluable for a young player,” Malone said as part of a larger quote. “I think what’s earned him those minutes is that he’s really bought in, grown and committed to the defensive end of the floor.”
  • The Timberwolves are hiring 247 Sports analyst Josh Gershon in a draft preparation and player personnel consultant role, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Minnesota owns the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, set to commence on November 18.
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman proposes three trade scenarios for the Thunder involving star point guard Chris Paul, who led the franchise to a 44-28 record this season and received All-NBA Second Team honors. Multiple teams are said to have interest in Paul, 35, though his contract ($41.35MM next season and $44.21MM player option in 2021-22) would make any potential deal challenging. It’s also unclear how motivated Oklahoma City is to move him.

Pacific Notes: Rivers, George, Harrell, Catanella, Suns

Doc Rivers will likely coach the Clippers next season, but his future with the organization beyond that is sketchy, Jovan Buha of The Athletic opines. The way the 2020/21 season plays out will determine Rivers’ future with the franchise, Buha continues. There will be even more pressure for the Clippers to finally reach the Finals for the first time, Buha adds, and if it doesn’t happen then there could be a mutual parting of ways.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns hope their $45MM practice facility will be finished in October, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. The courts are still being installed and painted, team officials told Rankin. Team owner Robert Sarver originally targeted August for the completion of the privately-financed facility.
  • New Kings GM Monte McNair is expected to retain assistant GM and salary cap expert Ken Catanella, James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Catanella has been in the Sacramento front office since 2016 following a five-year stint with the Pistons.
  • Clippers teammates Montrezl Harrell and Paul George got into a heated verbal exchange during a timeout of Game 2 against Denver, according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. George committed a turnover on an attempted half-court pass to Harrell, which was intercepted by Jamal Murray. George told Harrell the pass could have been caught if he made the right play and that made Harrell angry.

Northwest Notes: Clarkson, Murray, Timberwolves, Donovan, Paul

Jordan Clarkson enjoyed his stint with the Jazz this season, but it’s uncertain whether he’ll remain in Utah, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News notes. Clarkson will be an unrestricted free agent and multiple suitors will be after his services, Todd points out. Clarkson was a sparkplug off the bench for a playoff team, averaging 15.6 PPG, and the Jazz will be first in line to make him an offer, Todd adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray can truly cement himself as a superstar if the Nuggets can overcome Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post opines. Following his huge performances in the opening round against Utah, Murray was held to 12 points in Game 1 of the Nuggets’ second-round series against the Clippers on Thursday.
  • The Timberwolves will stay open-minded as they mull what to do with the No. 1 overall pick, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. President of basketball operations Gersson Rosas says all options are on the table, since there’s no surefire star in this year’s draft class. “We’re going to do incredible due diligence, whether it’s a point guard, whether it’s a big,” he said. “I’m 100 percent in the camp of ‘find the best player with the best upside.’ That’s the path we’re going to take.”
  • The futures of head coach Billy Donovan and point guard Chris Paul are the biggest questions looming over the Thunder, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Paul is under contract for two more seasons but OKC isn’t likely to attach draft picks to a potential deal, considering Paul’s strong season and playoff performances.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, Lillard, Paul, Dort, Murray, Schroder

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard received some high praise from veteran teammate Carmelo Anthony over the weekend, with Portland taking a hard-fought 126-122 victory over the Grizzlies on Saturday to cement the team’s status as the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

Anthony, who has made stops with the Nuggets, Knicks, Thunder, Rockets and Blazers across his 17-year NBA career, has naturally played with some all-time great players and leaders. At the top of Anthony’s list of great teammates, however, is none other than Lillard himself.

“Dame’s at the top for me,” Anthony told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “I’ve never played with someone who lifted his team on the court with his play and as a leader. He genuinely cares for his teammates. What he’s been able to do is amazing. He’s the top guy I’ve played with.”

Lillard has dominated during the NBA’s restart, being named the Player of the Seeding Games while averaging 37.6 points and 9.6 assists per contest. He also recorded 31 points and 10 assists in the team’s play-in game against Memphis.

For Lillard, his production extends past the hardwood. He’s known as a high-character leader both on the court and off, maximizing his teammates’ games and personalities to achieve success.

“If I’m showing frustration, it might spread to the team,” Lillard said. “My job is to keep everyone motivated and encouraged so that we can play to the best of our abilities. There are a lot of things that you can’t control during a season, but we can control how hard we work.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Thunder are monitoring various injuries to Chris Paul and Luguentz Dort ahead of their first-round series against the Rockets, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. It’s unclear whether Dort will play in Game 1 on Tuesday, with the 21-year-old missing Friday’s contest against the Clippers due to a right knee sprain. As for Paul, he missed Friday’s game due to a left hand sprain, but the injury isn’t believed to be serious. “We don’t think so, but we’re just being cautious with him,” head coach Billy Donovan said on whether Paul’s injury is significant. “He should be fine when we get around to playing Game 1. Lu’s a different situation. I have uncertainty whether or not he’ll even be available for Game 1.” 
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explores how Jamal Murray used his past failures to enter the 2020 postseason as an improved player. The Nuggets lost to the Blazers in last year’s playoffs during a hard-fought seven-game series, one the team hasn’t forgotten about since. “Even though we lost to Portland in a heartbreaking Game 7, I think our players took positives out of it, learning opportunities,” head coach Mike Malone said. “Jamal, for one, has made post defense a huge point of emphasis and focus for himself.”
  • Thunder guard Dennis Schroder returned to the court for the team’s final seeding game after quarantining for four days, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN.com writes. Schroder left the Orlando campus on Aug. 3 for the birth of his second child, returning on Aug. 10 to start a mandatory four-day quarantine. He finished with 17 points and four assists in 25 minutes of work on Friday, getting some in-game action before the team’s first-round playoff series begins. “The NBA did a great job, OKC did a great job bringing me to my wife to support her,” Schroder said postgame. “Came back and had to quarantine for four days. It was pretty rough, staying in a small room was pretty tough. I’m back now. Left my room today and got a little [practice] session in at 11 [a.m.] and was able to come back tonight.”

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Dort, Wolves, Murray

Blazers star Damian Lillard missed two clutch free throws in the team’s disappointing loss against the Clippers on Saturday, drawing some laughter and mockery from Paul George and Patrick Beverley at the end of the contest, as written by Jason Quick of The Athletic.

Beverley, who’s known for taunting players throughout his career, was quick to get on Lillard for missing both free throws, mocking his signature “Dame Time” wrist-tap while audibly laughing. Upon being asked of Beverley’s antics postgame, Lillard didn’t mince words.

“PG did the wave because he was also surprised,” Lillard said of missing his free throws. “Because he experienced getting waved at last year. PG … let me say this: For one, I know what happened. I expect myself to make those free throws, and I didn’t when my team needed it, which is a failure for me. That I can accept.

“But asking me about Patrick Beverley, who I’ve sent home before at the end of the game, Paul George got sent home by me last year in the playoff. So they know the reason they are reacting like that is because of what they expect from me, which his a sign of respect,” Lillard continued. “And it just shows what I’ve done at a high clip more times than not. So I’m not offended by it.

“If anything it should tell you how much it hurt them to go through what I put them through in those situations previously.”

All three players engaged in a war of words on social media after the game, with George writing, “And you getting sent home this year [laughing emoji] respect,” and Beverley writing “Cancun on 3 [three laughing emojis]” in response to Lillard’s comments. The Trail Blazers’ star replied with a simple but forceful statement. “Keep switching teams … running from the grind. You boys is chumps.”

The Blazers (32-39) currently sit one game behind the Grizzlies (33-38) for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, with Saturday’s loss coming against a Clippers team that played without the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Thunder guard Luguentz Dort has shown flashes of improvement in his offensive game, Cameron Jourdan of The Oklahoman writes. Dort, 21, scored 16 points on Friday and nine points on Sunday, demonstrating his potential throughout the contests. He went undrafted last June and has earned the respects of his teammates and coaches this season.
  • The Timberwolves now officially own Brooklyn’s first-round pick in the upcoming draft, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Minnesota acquired the pick in a four-team trade last February, though the pick was lottery protected. The Nets would’ve kept the pick if they had missed the playoffs.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray doubled his minutes restriction and shined in his Orlando debut against the Jazz on Saturday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Murray finished with 23 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in 39 minutes of work during a double-overtime contest, helping the Nuggets seal their 46th win of the season.

Injury Notes: Beverley, Dragic, MCW, Nuggets, More

Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley left Tuesday’s game against Phoenix in the first quarter with a left calf injury and didn’t return, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. The injury isn’t considered serious, but Doc Rivers suggested after the game that the team will play it safe, with the postseason not scheduled to begin until August 17.

“I don’t think it’s bad,” the Clippers’ head coach said. “We’re going to be very cautious, I can tell you that.”

Beverley’s injury occurred just as Lou Williams returned to action for the Clippers following his 10-day quarantine period. If Beverley is able to get back on the court soon and Montrezl Harrell reports to the team within the next week or so, L.A. should be back at full strength before the playoffs get underway.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic suffered a slight ankle sprain near the end of Tuesday’s win over Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that X-rays on the ankle came back negative.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who left Tuesday’s game with a sore left foot, has been diagnosed with a tendon strain after undergoing an MRI, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Carter-Williams is doubtful to play on Wednesday vs. Toronto.
  • The Nuggets will once again be without Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) on Wednesday, but the team has upgraded Jamal Murray (hamstring) to questionable (Twitter link). Denver is in action again on Thursday, so it won’t be a surprise if Murray ends up playing one half of the back-to-back set.
    [UPDATE: Murray was ruled out for Wednesday’s game]
  • Speaking of back-to-backs, the Heat held Jimmy Butler (right ankle soreness) out of the second leg of a back-to-back set on Tuesday, while the Celtics are doing the same with Kemba Walker on Wednesday (Twitter link). Both teams are likely just playing it safe with their All-Stars.