James Harden

Trevor Ariza, Gerald Green Suspended Two Games Each

The NBA is suspending Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green for “aggressively entering” the Clippers’ locker room earlier this week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link).

Chris Paul and James Harden will face no discipline. Wojnarowski (Twitter links) adds that interviews with 20 people from the locker room incident were conducted. It was determined that Paul and Harden tried to be “peacemakers,” attempting to defuse the situation. The scribe also adds that Blake Griffin will not be suspended.

The pair of Rockets wings will miss the team’s games against the Wolves and Warriors this week. Golden State is the only team ahead of the Rockets in the Western Conference standings, while the Wolves own the fourth spot in the conference, sitting just three games behind Houston.

Ariza will lose approximately $103K as a result of the two-game suspension, while Green will lose roughly $19.K. The Rockets will receive a credit of slightly under $61K against the luxury tax, Bobby Marks of ESPN.com explains (Twitter link). The team now sits roughly $2.56MM below the luxury tax threshold.

James Harden, Derrick Rose On Track To Return Thursday

A former MVP and a former MVP runner-up are on track to return to their respective teams’ lineups on Thursday, according to reports.

The Rockets are planning to have James Harden, who has yet to appear in a game since the calendar turned to 2018, back on the court on Thursday, league sources tell Tim MacMahon of ESPN. While Harden is still listed as questionable for that contest against Minnesota, he’s expected to play as long as he doesn’t have any hamstring-related setbacks in practice before then, MacMahon says.

Of course, in order to play for the Rockets on Thursday night, Harden will also have to avoid a suspension stemming from a postgame incident in Los Angeles on Monday night. The NBA will likely announce disciplinary measures today or tomorrow for multiple players involved in that situation. The league’s investigation is said to be focusing on Trevor Ariza as an instigator, but Harden and other Rockets could also be penalized.

Meanwhile, point guard Derrick Rose is expected to return for the Cavaliers on Thursday night against the Magic, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. Rose participated in practice and a scrimmage today, and said he believes he’ll be “a go” vs. the Magic.

A left ankle injury has sidelined Rose for most of his first season in Cleveland, keeping him out of action for longer than initially anticipated — he hasn’t played since November 7. The latest injury in a long line of health problems for Rose had the former MVP evaluating his NBA future away from the Cavs in the fall. However, he ultimately decided to report back to the team and continue his career.

With Isaiah Thomas back for Cleveland, it’s not clear yet how Rose will fit into the team’s rotation.

NBA’s Clippers/Rockets Probe Focusing On Ariza

The NBA’s investigation into the postgame incident between the Rockets and Clippers in Los Angeles on Monday night is focused on Trevor Ariza, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, Ariza has been “isolated as the person most responsible” for the Rockets’ attempt to get into the Clippers’ locker room.

Ariza, who got into it with Blake Griffin during the game, resulting in ejections for both players, was waiting on Griffin after the game, a Rockets source told Lee Jenkins of SI.com. A source also told Jenkins that teammates James Harden, Chris Paul, and Gerald Green were holding Ariza back when he attempted to get into the Clippers’ locker room to confront Griffin and Austin Rivers.

Wojnarowski hears similar rumblings, writing that Paul and Harden are “increasingly described” as having attempted to cool down Ariza. However, Woj does note that some sources on the Clippers’ side insist that Paul “eagerly entered” the home locker room through the back entrance, as we detailed on Tuesday.

The NBA interviewed several executives, coaches, players, and security personnel during the 24 hours following the incident, and those discussions are expected to continue today, league sources tell Wojnarowski. It remains to be seen whether fines and/or suspensions will be announced before the Clippers host Denver on Wednesday night. The Rockets’ next game takes place on Thursday night in Houston.

NBA Investigating Rockets/Clippers Incident

10:09am: There will be “no shortage of punished individuals” as a result of the NBA’s investigation into last night’s incident in Los Angeles, tweets Wojnarowski. That investigation began late last night and continues into today.

8:26am: Chris Paul‘s return to Los Angeles took an unexpected turn on Monday night after the Clippers beat the Rockets in a testy contest that featured multiple ejections. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports, tensions boiled over after game, with a handful of Rockets players looking to confront Austin Rivers and Blake Griffin in the Clippers’ locker room.

According to Wojnarowski, Paul, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, and Gerald Green walked through a back hallway to reach the Clippers’ locker room, where several L.A. players “dared the Rockets to come farther into the room.” However, security and team officials quickly stepped in and pushed the Rockets back toward their locker room, per Wojnarowski.

Sources tell Wojnarowski that the Rockets were upset with Rivers, who was described as “especially belligerent” during the late stages of the Clippers’ win, despite standing on the sideline in street clothes (he’s still recovering from an ankle injury). Griffin was also involved in confrontations with Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni and Ariza during the game, leading to his ejection.

While the details of Wojnarowski’s report are bizarre and fascinating, it appears the locker-room incident didn’t escalate beyond some shouting. “It was classic NBA,” one Clipper witness told Woj. “None of these guys were going to fight.”

Nonetheless, the NBA intends to investigate the matter and will begin to gather information on Tuesday, Wojnarowski writes. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the league announces fines and/or suspensions at some point this week, with the Rockets seemingly likely to be hit with harsher penalties.

Injury Notes: Turner, Harden, Leuer, Ball

Pacers center Myles Turner has missed his club’s last three games and has already been ruled out of the remaining four contests on Indiana’s current road trip, the team announced today in a press release. Turner won’t require surgery, but he has been diagnosed with a ligament sprain and muscle strain in that troublesome elbow, and isn’t close to returning. Following the Pacers’ current road trip, Turner will be considered week to week, according to the team.

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

  • Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni hopes that James Harden will be able to return from his hamstring injury before the end of this week, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN details. “It could be Thursday or Saturday, I don’t know,” D’Antoni said on Sunday. “He’s got to get better. We’ll see. Whenever he’s ready.” Harden would presumably like to be back on the court for those showdowns later this week against Minnesota (Thursday) and Golden State (Saturday).
  • Jon Leuer continues to battle ankle issues, having recently received a second injection in his ankle, according to Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy (Twitter link via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). Season-ending surgery looks like an increasingly likely possibility for the veteran big man.
  • After undergoing an MRI, Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball was diagnosed with minor left knee sprain, the Lakers announced last night (via Twitter). It’s not viewed as a significant injury.

Injury Updates: Harden, Millsap, Allen, Turner

James Harden is showing signs of improvement as he recovers from a strained hamstring, but the Rockets‘ star guard won’t get the chance to lobby for a quicker return to the court, Mike D’Antoni said on Wednesday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“I walk into there to the trainers,” the Rockets head coach said. “‘Can he play?’ ‘No.’ Then he can’t play. There is no challenge. He’s going to try to push the envelope because he wants to play. That’s on trainers and doctors. I don’t figure into it. He’d beat me up.”

The Rockets announced on January 1 that Harden would be re-evaluated in two weeks, so he’s likely still at least a few days away from returning to action.

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

  • Paul Millsap has been out of the Nuggets‘ lineup since undergoing wrist surgery in late November, but he recently had his cast removed and is progressing toward a return, writes Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. According to Mizell, Millsap is on track to get back on the court around the time of the All-Star break next month.
  • Pelicans guard Tony Allen suffered a setback in his recovery from a fibula fracture, per Jennifer Hale of FOX Sports New Orleans (Twitter link). Allen, originally expected to be back around this time, will likely miss another two to four weeks, says Hale.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner, who sat out last night’s game against Miami with a right elbow injury, will also miss Friday’s contest vs. Cleveland, the club announced in a press release.

Injury Notes: Sixers, Harden, Kings, Okafor

Joel Embiid is considered doubtful for Wednesday’s game, and Markelle Fultz isn’t quite ready to get back on the court yet, but the Sixers got some positive news on both players this week. As Jessica Camerato of NBC Sports Philadelphia details, there was some concern on Sunday night that Embiid had suffered a broken right hand, but x-rays were negative and he believes he’s dealing instead with a sprain.

Meanwhile, Fultz hasn’t played since October, but he appears to be inching toward a return. The club announced today that 2017’s first overall pick has been cleared to “begin the final stage of his return-to-play program.” The press release was light on specifics, but barring setbacks, it sounds like it shouldn’t be much longer before we see Fultz back in the Sixers’ lineup.

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

  • We know James Harden will be out for at least two weeks with a hamstring strain, but his exact recovery timetable remains unclear. Speaking today to reporters, including Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle (Twitter link), Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni suggested that Harden could miss up to four weeks. In an Insider-only piece for ESPN, Kevin Pelton examines how Harden’s absence will affect the Rockets, the NBA, and the star guard’s MVP chances.
  • As one Kings guard gets healthy, another one goes on the shelf. According to a press release from the club, De’Aaron Fox will return on Tuesday after a two-week absence, but Frank Mason will miss at least the next week with a heel contusion.
  • Third-year center Jahlil Okafor is expected to make his home debut for the Nets on Wednesday, as head coach Kenny Atkinson confirmed to reporters on Monday (link via Alex Labidou of NBA.com). Okafor, acquired by Brooklyn nearly a month ago, wasn’t initially ready for regular minutes after having barely played for Philadelphia this season. However, the Nets are ready to get him back on the court and to start increasing his workload, says Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • After missing seven games due to a groin injury, Pistons guard Avery Bradley is set to return to action on Wednesday, writes Ansar Khan of MLive.com. “It was lingering over a few weeks, but now I feel better, I feel like I can go out there and give my all,” Bradley said.

James Harden Out At Least Two Weeks

Rockets star guard James Harden will be sidelined at least two weeks with a Grade 2 hamstring strain, the club announced in a press release.

Harden suffered the injury on Sunday in a 148-142 double-overtime victory against the Lakers in which Harden posted 40 points and 11 assists. The release said Harden will be re-evaluated after the two-week period, which suggests he could require another week or more to get back in action.

Harden is enjoying another stellar season, averaging 32.3 PPG, 5.0 RPG and 9.1 APG. The Rockets snapped a five-game losing streak on Sunday and they are now two games behind the Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference. Harden’s injury naturally decreases their chances of regaining the top spot.

In his absence, Eric Gordon and Chris Paul will have to take a bigger share of the scoring load. It also means an increased role for recently-signed Gerald Green.

Texas Notes: Harden, CP3, Noel, Mejri, Nowitzki

Friday marked the five-year anniversary of the Rockets‘ franchise-altering deal to acquire point guard James Harden from the Thunder. Since joining Houston, Harden has evolved into one of the NBA’s top players. In five seasons with Houston entering 2016/17, he has been a runner-up for the Most Valuable Player award twice and made the NBA All-Star team five times.

As Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes, Harden, 28, looks back at the trade bringing him to the Rockets fondly.

“Five years go by fast, man,” Harden said. “It’s been a good five years, a great five years, the best five years of my life. This organization has shown me so much love and given me the opportunity to show who I am as a person and as a player. I appreciate it.”

Harden spent his first three seasons in Oklahoma City as one of the NBA’s most potent sixth men, winning the Sixth Man of the Year award for the 2011/12 season. Now, Harden is signed long-term by the Rockets as the face of the franchise. That status was unattainable in OKC with former MVP Kevin Durant and then-budding superstar Russell Westbrook in the fold.

Check out other news from teams in Texas:

  • Feigen writes in a separate article that Chris Paul, who has missed five of the Rockets’ first six games due to a bruised left knee, had no idea he would miss this much time. Paul banged knees with Mario Chalmers almost a week before the Rockets’ season-opener against Golden State and has not played since the team upset the Warriors to open the year.
  • Nerlens Noel was displaced in Philadelphia and traded to the Mavericks last season. While his statistics are not eye-popping, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes that his energy and impact while on the floor is the reason why he could be in lime for a major free agency payday.
  • While Noel has been effective, foul trouble has been a concern. Other centers on the Mavericks roster have not been consistent either but Salah Mejri has vocalized his frustration due to a lack of playing time, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.
  • Dirk Nowitzki is in his 20th season with the Mavericks and he is considered one of the greatest players in team history. However, the 39-year-old may also be taking away playing time from Noel as head coach Rick Carlisle is hesitant to play both seven-footers simultaneously, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News Writes.

 

Southwest Notes: Parsons, Matthews, Nelson, Rockets, Spurs

Chandler Parsons stint with the Grizzlies has not gone according to plan. The former Rockets and Mavericks standout has been hampered by knee injuries, including three knee surgeries the last three years. Now, after playing just 15 minutes in Memphis’ first few regular season games this year, Parsons is frustrated with his limited playing time, Ronald Tillery of the Commercial Appeal writes. 

“It sucks right now playing 15 minutes a night to be honest with you,” Parsons said. “But they have a plan in place that, hopefully, I’ll be playing big minutes when it matters.”

Parsons appeared in just 34 games last season, averaging 6.2 PPG and 2.5 RPG in a career-low 19.9 minutes per game. After signing a four-year, $94MM deal with the Grizzlies in July 2016, Parsons has not come close to his past performance. If he continues to show he’s over his prior knee injuries, the Grizzlies will look salvage the remainder of their pact with the 28-year-old.

Check out more news coming out of the Southwest Division:

  • Wesley Matthews‘ early season struggles may seem to be the perfect chance to bench him but if the Mavericks ever intend on trading him, they must do it while his value is high, Eddie Sefko of Dallas Sports Day writes.
  • Veteran Jameer Nelson endured a 10-hour journey from Philadelphia to Los Angeles to join his Pelicans teammates for a Sunday evening contest against the Lakers. As William Guillory of NOLA.com writes, Nelson, 35, posted five points and five assists in 24 minutes — including a clutch three-pointer — to help New Orleans avoid a loss in a game they once led by 22 points.
  • New Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that James Harden is “truly the best player in the NBA” as Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle writes.
  • Olivier Hanlan, a former second-round pick by the Jazz from 2015, has joined the Spurs’ G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, according to Chris Reichert of 2Ways10Days (Twitter link). San Antonio currently holds Hanlan’s NBA rights, having acquired him in last year’s Boris Diaw swap.
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