Jamal Murray

COVID/Injury Notes: Batum, Hawks, J. Murray, Celtics, More

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that forward Nicolas Batum will be available Friday night at Philadelphia. Batum had been placed in the health and safety protocols as a result of an inconclusive test, missing Wednesday’s 130-128 overtime loss at Denver, but obviously has been cleared by testing negative twice since.

Here are more COVID-19 and injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan told reporters, including Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter), that starting center Clint Capela will return to action Friday night against Miami, but will be on a minutes restriction. Capela had missed Atlanta’s last six games with an ankle injury and the team went 2-4 in his absence. Spencer also tweets that the Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (sore Achilles), while Gorgui Dieng will be available (non-COVID illness).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last April, has entered the health and safety protocols, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets.
  • Celtics head coach Ime Udoka told reporters that Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith will miss Friday’s game vs. Portland, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Smart is still ramping up his conditioning after battling COVID-19, while Nesmith is dealing with a sprained ankle.
  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is out Friday vs. Toronto with a sprained neck, per Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated (via Twitter). Kuzma is having a solid first season with Washington, averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 43 games, all starts.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant coach Nate Tibbetts have both cleared the protocols and will be coaching Friday’s game against the Lakers, Orlando’s PR department tweets.
  • Grizzlies forward Killian Tillie has been upgraded from questionable to available for Friday’s game at Denver, so he has cleared the health and safety protocols, Memphis’ PR department tweets.

Injury Notes: DiVincenzo, Bulls, Wiseman, Nuggets

Donte DiVincenzo‘s string of bad luck continued over the weekend, as the Bucks guard rolled his surgically repaired left ankle during warmups on Saturday and is expected to be sidelined for a little while, according to Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).

The Bucks haven’t issued a formal update on DiVincenzo’s status or his potential recovery timeline, but Owczarksi says there’s a belief he’ll be out for “a few weeks.”

It’s a frustrating setback for DiVincenzo, who missed the start of the season while recovering from ankle surgery, then contracted COVID-19 when he was about to return last month. He appeared in just three games for the Bucks before sustaining his latest injury.

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

  • The Bulls are expected to be without guard Javonte Green and forward Tyler Cook for a little while. As Jamal Collier of ESPN writes, head coach Billy Donovan said on Monday that Green will likely miss two-to-four weeks due to a strained groin. Donovan also stated that Cook has a “pretty significant” ankle sprain and will be out for a couple weeks, tweets K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.
  • The Warriors hope that second-year center James Wiseman, who participated in the team’s shootaround on Monday, can begin contact drills next week, says Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area. Wiseman has exited the health and safety protocols, but continues to work his way back from the knee surgery that ended his rookie season.
  • In a recent interview with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said the team will give stars Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back) all the time they need to recover from their respective injuries. Unlike Porter, who is expected to return in 2022/23, Murray has a chance to return to the court this season, though Malone warned that’s not a given. “I’ve told him many times — and I think it’s important for him to hear it from me — (that) there’s absolutely zero pressure for him to come back this year,” Malone said. “At the same time, I tell him, ‘Listen, if it’s in the cards for you to come back and play this year, great. If it’s not in the cards for you to come back and play this year, great.’ He’s gonna come back when he is ready.”

Western Notes: Murray, Ibaka, Warriors, Gordon, Wiseman

Nuggets coach Michael Malone has tempered expectations about Jamal Murray‘s return date, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Malone said on a radio interview with 92.5 FM Altitude Sports that fans shouldn’t expect to see Murray return from his knee injury in January or February. The organization is taking it very cautious with their franchise point guard.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Clippers big man Serge Ibaka admits he’s frustrated with his playing time but he won’t become a distraction, according to Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “I’m going to be honest with you, as a human being it can be frustrating,” Ibaka said. “As a coach, [Tyronn Lue] tries to do his best he can to keep the team together, to keep the team playing the best basketball you can and as a player, like, hard worker, someone who loves basketball like me, I want to play, too. . . . but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop being professional.” With Isaiah Hartenstein out of action, Ibaka scored 17 points in 20 minutes off the bench against Sacramento on Wednesday. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • Arctos Sports Partners is increasing its stake in the Warriors from 5% to 13%, Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico report. The team is valued at about $5.5 billion in the deal, the same valuation as when Arctos bought its initial 5% earlier this year. A majority of this new equity is coming from minority partners, with a small portion from the team’s main owners, Joe Lacob and Peter Guber, the Sportico report adds. The deal must be approved by the NBA’s Board of Governors.
  • The Rockets’ Eric Gordon, who has battled knee problems in recent years, is playing both ends of a back-to-back this week for the first time this season, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “This was the plan long ago,” Gordon said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good all year. This was definitely the plan before the season started. But I will be looking forward to playing back-to-back.”
  • Warriors big man James Wiseman could advance to on-court contact next week, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. Wiseman has been rehabbing from offseason knee surgery.

Injury Notes: Hayes, Bertans, I. Jackson, Murray

Second-year guard Killian Hayes is expected to miss at least the next two games as the Pistons‘ medical staff attempts to alleviate the soreness in his sprained left thumb and increase its mobility, the team announced today.

As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes (via Twitter), the injury has been an ongoing problem for Hayes, who first sat out on November 5 due to the ailment. He had mostly been playing through the injury up until Sunday, but has aggravated it several times, Langlois adds.

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

  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura both practiced with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League today, per Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Bertans, who has been out for three weeks due to a left ankle sprain, will be a game-time decision tonight. Hachimura, who missed the start of the season for personal reasons, continues to ramp up his conditioning.
  • Pacers rookie big man Isaiah Jackson has been recalled from the G League and will be available on Monday vs. Chicago, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Jackson hasn’t played since October 27 due to a hyperextended left knee.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said on Instagram Live over the weekend that he’s feeling “great” as he ramps up his pre-game workouts in his recovery from ACL surgery, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The hope is that Murray will be able to return before the end of the season.

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Murray, Simmons, MPJ, Vaccinations, Gordon

One of the most intriguing players from the 2019 draft class, 7’2″ Nuggets forward Bol Bol has only appeared in 39 games during his first two NBA seasons, but is determined to earn a larger role in 2021/22, as Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post writes. The big man said on Monday that he agrees with teammate Michael Porter Jr.‘s assessment that a “mindset change” is necessary in order for Bol to take a major step forward in his third year.

“He’s totally correct,” Bol said. “To add on to that, it’s more so consistency. It’s not just me doing it one day or two days a week. I’ve got to figure out how to put it together for a whole entire year and not just when things are going my way.”

Bol added that he views power forward as his primary position, but is willing to play anywhere the Nuggets ask him to, “one through five.”

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Although Jamal Murray is itching to get back on the court following his ACL surgery, he recognizes that he shouldn’t rush the process and made it clear that he doesn’t plan to, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post details. “I want to feel good when I come back,” Murray said. “I don’t want to come back when I’m like 85%, whatever, no matter where the team’s at. I want to come back when it feels like I can play with the same amount of force that I normally play with.” For their part, the Nuggets are on board with that plan. “He’ll come back when he’s ready, not when we tell him, not a date on the calendar,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said.
  • The Nuggets haven’t really been linked to Ben Simmons this offseason, but for what it’s worth, a source with knowledge of the situation tells Singer that there’s no chance Denver would move Murray in a deal for the Sixers star.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic takes a look at why the Nuggets felt comfortable making such a significant investment in Michael Porter Jr., arguing that it’s a calculated and necessary risk for the franchise. As Vecenie points out, given the weak 2022 free agent class, Porter might’ve ended up being the best player on the open market next year if he hadn’t received an extension now. Denver would’ve been able to match any offer sheet in that scenario, but a rival team could’ve put a player option and a trade kicker into its offer — the Nuggets instead got a partial guarantee on the final year of Porter’s extension.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone admitted on Monday that his roster isn’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to Fredrickson. Malone said that he’d love the team’s vaccination rate to be at 100%, but can only do so much to push players in that direction. “All we can do is try to help educate the players that have chosen to be unvaccinated to this point,” Malone said. “Maybe at some point, they realize what’s at stake and they make that decision to get vaccinated. Until then, we’ll keep on trying for sure.”
  • In case you missed it, the Nuggets officially completed Aaron Gordon‘s four-year extension on Monday. Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter link) provides the financial breakdown of the deal, which looks about like we expected, albeit with a slightly lower fourth-year player option salary and slightly more unlikely incentives.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Lillard, Simmons, Murray

Trade rumors have been swirling around Damian Lillard since the Trail Blazers were knocked out of the playoffs, but backcourt partner CJ McCollum believes Lillard is “all in” for the new season, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Appearing on a podcast with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, McCollum discussed Lillard, new coach Chauncey Billups and several other topics.

“I don’t want to speak for him, but having a close relationship, he and I talk every day, or every other day, from sharing memes to sending videos to each other to serious talks about our season, what it takes to win, what it’s going to takes to win a championship, I have a pretty good sense of where he’s at,” McCollum said of Lillard. “And I think his goal is to win a championship. I think, at the end of the day, that’s what we all want. We want to put ourselves in the best position to win a championship. But I mean, he’s all in. I think at this stage I can say that he’s all in. He just wants to win at the end of the day.”

Lillard held a press conference last month while preparing for the Olympics to deny a report that he was about to ask Portland’s front office for a trade. Although he hasn’t demanded a deal, Lillard has communicated his desire to upgrade the roster to give the Blazers a better chance to compete for a title.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Michael Rand of The Star Tribune examines the latest rumors about the Timberwolves‘ interest in Ben Simmons, concluding that Minnesota would like to acquire Simmons but doesn’t have the assets to make a deal. Rand suggests an offer of D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels and at least one first-round pick, which he concedes still may not be enough to interest the Sixers. Daryl Morey, Philadelphia’s president of basketball operations, is looking for a star in return, so the Wolves might need to get other teams involved to have a chance at Simmons.
  • March is a “reasonable target date” to expect Nuggets guard Jamal Murray to start playing again, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. That would be 11 months since his surgery for a torn ACL. Denver targeted a scoring guard in the draft to make up for the loss of Murray, Singer adds, and came away with Bones Hyland.
  • Jazz owner Ryan Smith tells Ben Anderson of KSL Sports that fans shouldn’t read anything into his golf outings with former Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. There have been rumors that Ainge might be considered for a position in Utah’s front office, but Smith says they have been playing together for a long time. “I’ve played golf with Danny Ainge for 20 years,” Smith said. “I know the media likes to write about it like there’s this thing going on with Danny, but Danny has been a mentor and a friend for 20 years.”

Nuggets Notes: Barton’s Return, Porter, Murray, Jokic, Malone

Nuggets’ guard Will Barton is expected to play tonight, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Barton had previously been listed as “doubtful,” but over the course of the last 24 hours, had been upgraded to “questionable.” Now it seems that barring a setback, he’ll appear for the Nuggets in an important Game Two.

The 30-year-old has been inactive since April 23 with a hamstring strain, but has been ramping up his workouts in recent days. Adding Barton back into the Nuggets rotation would give them a 6’6, athletic option to try defensively on Devin Booker, who had 21 points on 12 shots against a combination of Austin Rivers, Aaron Gordon, and others in the Suns’ Game One victory.

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Michael Porter tweaked his back in Game One, but head coach Michael Malone expects him back for tonight’s game, reports ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “He got treatment all day today, had a good conversation with him. But, barring anything unforeseen, Michael should be good to go for Game 2,” Malone said. The 22-year-old forward missed his first year in the NBA due to back injuries, but there seems to be little concern Game One’s injury was anything more than a minor tweak.
  • The Nuggets haven’t provided a specific timeline for Jamal Murray‘s return from his torn ACL, but sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that the earliest they expect the guard to return would be in February 2022. Murray has been spotted getting shots up before games while avoiding putting weight on his injured knee.
  • The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and the Denver Post’s Sean Keeler both took a closer look at Nikola Jokic‘s rise from 41st pick to 2021 MVP. Keeler writes about Jokic’s underdog mentality and how he refuses to lobby for his own awards. “I didn’t come here to want to be MVP of the league,” Jokic told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “I always think someone is better than me. I want to compete to beat him. Just by that mentality, I’m going to be underdog, always.” Meanwhile Vecenie writes about the draft process that led Jokic to Denver. “It was just kind of lucky scouting, to be honest with you,” said team president Tim Connelly.
  • Malone called the Nuggets’ mentality in Game One “soft,” reports ESPN’s Nick Friedell. “I think [we] had a soft mentality,” Malone said. “You can’t give up eight and-1s in a playoff game. If you’re going to foul somebody, foul them, and not let them get the and-1.Aaron Gordon agreed with his coach’s assessment. “Scared, that’s another way to play it,” said Gordon. “You could choose between them two words, either soft or scared, that’s what it felt like we were playing like.” Jokic offered a different take, saying he didn’t believe they played soft, but that the team needed to be more decisive when the Suns started getting hot.

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, Murray, N’Dong, Fall

Austin Rivers delivered a 21-point performance for the Nuggets while playing 37 minutes in Game 3 against Portland. Rivers, who was an afterthought with the Knicks and got waived by the Thunder after New York traded him, has been a perfect fit with the Nuggets, head coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

“Austin needed a team and we needed a player,” Malone said. “We were decimated by injuries. Austin was out there, he was available. … The timing, the need of it, was perfect on both ends.”

Rivers signed a rest-of-the-season deal after an audition on a 10-day contract.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Rivers is hopeful the Nuggets will re-sign him when he becomes a free agent again this summer, Singer tweetsThe goal’s to be here long-term,” he said. “It’s just been a natural fit. I can’t speak for them, I know it’s a business … I love this team, that’s all I can say.”
  • Jamal Murray may be out for the season with a torn ACL but he’s still a major presence on the team’s bench, serving as a de facto coach, Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post notes. “His energy, his presence and his positivity are really impactful,” Malone said.Monte (Morris) is still a really young player in terms of NBA experience. But Facu (Campazzo) is a rookie. Markus Howard is a rookie. Shaq Harrison has played in the NBA, but these are his first playoff games. … A guy like Jamal who has 33 games of playoff experience at a high level, he can also be impactful in terms of helping those guys with what they’re facing on the court.”
  • Nuggets player development coach Boniface N’Dong and front office associate Dethie Fall, natives of Senegal, believe the new Basketball Africa League will have a major impact on African players and the NBA, Alex Labidou of the team’s website writes. “Africa has a lot of talent,” said N’Dong, who is also the head coach of the Senegal national team. “Africa is pretty big, there are 52 countries. I think you’re going to see a lot of [Pascal] Siakams, a lot of [Joel] Embiids, and a lot of Gorgui Diengs coming out of nowhere.”

Western Notes: Ayton, Warriors, Suns, Bridges, Murray

Suns star Chris Paul praised third-year center Deandre Ayton for changing his game and adapting to a new role with the team, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic tweets.

Despite a decrease in his overall numbers, Ayton has improved his activity on both ends of the court, serving as a valuable screen-setter and rebounder for the top-ranked team in the league.

Paul, a 16-year veteran, mentioned that every player on Phoenix has grown this season, though none quite like Ayton. The former first overall pick has served as a key cog in the team’s success and has accepted the idea of starring in his complementary role, averaging 14.8 points and 10.7 rebounds per game.

There’s more out of the Western Conference tonight:

  • The Warriors‘ loss to the Timberwolves on Thursday was their most consequential defeat of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes, noting that the result negatively impacted both the Dubs’ playoff position and the Wolves’ lottery position. Golden State lost the contest 126-114 (and was out-rebounded by 23), though the team bounced back on Saturday to defeat Houston 113-87.
  • The Suns could be facing a sizable money crunch soon, Zach Lowe of ESPN notes. Star guard Devin Booker is under a maximum-salary contract, veteran Chris Paul owns a $44.2MM player option for next season and both Ayton and Mikal Bridges will be eligible for extensions this summer. Rival executives believe Bridges’s next contract may approach $20MM per season, Lowe reports.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray reunited with his team and offered an inspiring message on Saturday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Murray suffered a torn ACL last month and re-emphasized that the team still has one major goal: win the championship. “You just felt the energy lift when he walked in,” teammate PJ Dozier said. “We cheered for him. Just good to have our brother back. Good to see him, see him doing well at that. We just wanted to make sure his spirits were high.”

Jamal Murray Undergoes Reconstructive ACL Surgery

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray underwent surgical reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, the team announced in a press release.

The Nuggets did not release a timetable for his recovery, though the nature of the surgery suggests he’ll miss time next season as well.

Murray suffered the non-contact injury during the fourth quarter of Denver’s loss to Golden State on April 12. His knee buckled as he attempted to take off for a layup and he immediately fell to the floor in obvious pain, pounding the court with his hand. He eventually refused the wheelchair that had been brought onto the floor and hopped to the locker room without putting any weight on the leg.

The injury is a devastating blow to Denver’s championship aspirations. A year ago, Murray was Denver’s leading scorer in the playoffs, with 26.5 PPG on a scorching .505/.453/.897 shooting line in 19 games (39.6 MPG). He was averaging 21.2 PPG, 4.8 APG and 4.0 RPG this season.

The Nuggets will rely on Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris in Murray’s absence. They’ve won their first three games since Murray’s season-ending injury.