James Johnson

And-Ones: Johnson, Martin, COVID-19 Protocols, Bender

Mavericks forward James Johnson and Hornets forwards Cody Martin and Caleb Martin have been fined for their roles in an on-court altercation on Wednesday, according to an NBA press release.

Johnson, who was ejected, was fined $40K for deliberately pushing Cody Martin out of bounds, aggressively confronting him, and initiating the incident. Cody, who was also ejected, was fined $25K for pushing Johnson in retaliation and making contact with a game official. Caleb Martin was fined $20K for entering the altercation and making contact with a game official.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • The NBA is planning to require players and many team staffers to wear sensor devices during all team-organized activities outside of games starting January 7, according to ESPN’s Baxter Holmes. The plan is aimed on improving its contact tracing program. Players and specific staff members, such as coaches, will be required to wear Kinexon SafeZone contact sensor devices on the team plane, the team bus, during practices and while traveling to and from the arena or their home practice facility.
  • The league is placing more responsibility on team officials to monitor and mete out discipline for COVID-19 protocol violations among players and staff, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. The NBA told teams that they’re required to notify the league office of any discipline imposed. The league office still holds the power to override team decisions on player punishments.
  • Maccabi Tel Aviv has extended the contract of former NBA big man Dragan Bender for the remainder of the season, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando writes. Bender signed with the Israeli team in September. Bender played seven games with the Bucks last season before being waived in February. He joined the Warriors on a pair of 10-day deals and averaged 9.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in nine games before the hiatus began.

Southwest Notes: Harden, Cauley-Stein, Richardson, Popovich

NBA commissioner Adam Silver explained during an ESPN appearance that Rockets star James Harden didn’t face a suspension for violating COVID-19 protocols because the NBA didn’t want to set that harsh a precedent to start the season, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Harden was fined $50K after an NBA investigation found that Harden violated protocols when he attended an indoor party of 15 or more people.

“The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up,” Silver said. “It’s Christmas. It was a first offense.”

Silver said, adding “in a way he got lucky.” If the Rockets’ first game had not been postponed, Harden would have been docked one game’s pay, Feigen adds. Harden is expected to make his season debut on Saturday.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

Southwest Notes: Harden, Lyles, Mavs, Ingram

Around the time that Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey departed the Rockets this fall, James Harden approached team management and ownership with a mandate to either build a championship team around him or trade him somewhere where he could win a ring, writes Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

As Iko observes, this isn’t the first time that Harden has approached the Rockets with that sort of mandate. Sources tell The Athletic that the former MVP told the front office the same thing last year, which ultimately led to the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook trade. That aligns with a 2019 report which suggested that Harden issued a “him or me” ultimatum to the club regarding Paul.

While it remains to be seen how the Harden situation will play out this time around, the fact that the Rockets were able to navigate a similar quagmire in 2019 helps explain why the team has confidence that it can once again sell the superstar guard on the outlook in Houston.

For more on the Harden situation, check out our roundup from earlier this morning. Here are a few more items from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Trey Lyles is entering a contract year and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2021, but he can envision himself in San Antonio beyond this season, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). I am very comfortable here,” Lyles said. “It is the perfect situation for me, perfect situation for the player I am, the player I see myself being and becoming. I would love to be able to stay here long term.”
  • The Texas Legends – the Mavericks‘ G League affiliate – are among the teams expected to opt out of the proposed G League bubble in Atlanta, sources tell JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link).
  • The Mavericks targeted James Johnson this offseason in large part because of his toughness, but he feels as if he can bring more than that to the team, as Dwain Price of Mavs.com writes. “I know what I can bring, I understand why they brought me here,” Johnson said. “I feel it was more than just the toughness and the black belt, but I’m able to play whatever role that’s thrown my way.”
  • The trade kicker on Brandon Ingram‘s new five-year contract with the Pelicans is the maximum allowable 15%, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, DeRozan, Johnson, McLemore

Rockets center DeMarcus Cousins is excited to be reunited with John Wall this season, a decade after the longtime friends were college teammates at Kentucky, as relayed by Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

“Man, that’s incredible,” Cousins said. “That’s something we planned and dreamed about for a long time. I’m pretty sure he’s just as grateful for this moment as I am. I’m super excited. There’s obviously a chemistry between me and him from our college days. Not only were we teammates in college, we’ve known each other since we were 14 years old. He was actually one of the groomsmen in my wedding. That’s my brother for life.

“I believe his game speaks for itself. He’s an incredible talent. That’s a given. The combination of him and James (Harden), that’s tough for any team to match up with.”

Houston acquired Wall, along with a 2023 protected first-round pick, in exchange for Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Wizards last week. The team has reloaded with hopes of contending this season, surrounding Harden with Wall, Cousins, Christian Wood, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and others.

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan is prepared to buy into the team’s current situation, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. DeRozan, 31, is set to enter his third season with San Antonio, a team that has a mixture of young players and veterans, after picking up a $27.7MM player option to return to the club last month. “That was one of my main reasons for coming back,” DeRozan said, “The faith and the confidence I had in those young guys and wanting to be a part of what we started in the bubble.”
  • Mavericks forward James Johnson has yet to practice due to a strained MCL, coach Rick Carlisle said, as relayed by Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Johnson is on track to be involved in some activity by Tuesday or Wednesday, Caplan adds.
  • Rockets guard Ben McLemore hopes to improve on his best NBA season to date with the team, returning with hopes of establishing himself as a better player in his second campaign, Jonathan Feigen writes in a separate article for the Houston Chronicle. McLemore, 27, averaged 10.1 points in 22.8 minutes per game last season, shooting 44% from the floor and 40% from behind the arc.

Wright To Pistons, Ariza To Thunder, Johnson To Mavs In Three-Team Trade

NOVEMBER 27: The Thunder, Mavericks, and Pistons have officially finalized their three-team trade, according to press releases from the teams. As detailed below, Ariza and Jackson are headed to Oklahoma City, Johnson is going to Dallas, and Wright moves to Detroit.

The Thunder also acquired a 2023 second-round pick (the more favorable of Dallas’ and Miami’s picks) and the Mavs’ 2026 second-rounder in the deal.


NOVEMBER 21: The Thunder, Mavericks, and Pistons have agreed to a three-team trade, according to reports from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links) and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter links).

The move will send James Johnson from Oklahoma City to Dallas and Delon Wright from Dallas to Detroit. The Thunder will receive Trevor Ariza (from the Pistons), Justin Jackson (from the Mavericks), and – unsurprisingly – some form of draft compensation.

From the Mavericks’ perspective, the deal will allow them to open up a roster spot and add some veteran toughness, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who tweets that Dallas intends to keep Johnson on its roster. Moving Wright, who had two years left on his contract, and taking back Johnson’s expiring $16MM deal also allows the Mavs to create some added cap flexibility for the summer of 2021.

The Pistons will reduce team salary for 2020/21 and will reunite Wright with his former coach in Toronto, Dwane Casey. Having signed a three-year deal in Dallas in 2019, Wright had a decent year off the bench, averaging 6.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, and 3.3 APG in 73 games (21.5 MPG). But he became expendable when the club acquired Josh Richardson earlier this week.

As for the Thunder, I’d be surprised if they have big plans for Ariza or Jackson — they simply saw another opportunity to pick up an extra draft pick to add to Sam Presti‘s constantly-growing collection.

Ariza, who is still technically a member of the Blazers, has now been part of trade agreements that will send him to Houston, Detroit, and Oklahoma City within the last few days. Those deals will all be completed after the transaction moratorium lifts on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Trade For Ricky Rubio

NOVEMBER 20: The trade is now official, according to the Timberwolves, who announced it in a press release. As expected, Johnson was sent to the Thunder along with the rights to Pokusevski in exchange for Rubio, the No. 25 pick, and the No. 28 pick. Oklahoma City also received the Timberwolves’ 2024 second-round pick in the deal.

Minnesota subsequently flipped the No. 25 pick (Immanuel Quickley) to New York in a deal for Leandro Bolmaro (No. 23). The Wolves have also confirmed that trade.


NOVEMBER 19: Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link) confirms that Johnson will be a part of this deal for salary-matching purposes. The veteran forward will still need to pick up his option before he can officially be traded.


NOVEMBER 18: The Timberwolves will acquire point guard Ricky Rubio from the Thunder, along with the 25th and 28th picks in this year’s draft, in exchange for the 17th selection, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Oklahoma City will receive Serbian 7-footer Aleksej Pokusevski, whom Minnesota selected at No. 17. The Thunder had expressed interest in Pokusevski throughout the past two weeks.

Although it hasn’t been reported yet, James Johnson will likely have to be included in the deal to match salaries. Rubio will earn $17MM during the upcoming season, while Johnson has a $16MM player option that he is virtually certain to pick up.

The deal represents a homecoming for Rubio, who spent six seasons with the Wolves at the start of his career. He began looking for a trade after being sent to OKC in the Chris Paul deal and was receptive to the idea of returning to Minnesota. Rubio wants to help the Wolves get back to the playoffs, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Rubio will share ball-handling duties in the Minnesota backcourt with D’Angelo Russell, who was acquired at the trade deadline, and will reunite with former teammate Karl-Anthony Towns.

In addition to the 25th and 28th picks, the Wolves also own the 33rd pick in tonight’s second round. The Thunder, who have been stockpiling picks, will select again at 34 and 53.

James Johnson Exercises Option, Clearing Path For Trade To Thunder

Timberwolves forward James Johnson has exercised the player option on his contract for the 2020/21 season, per Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move will guarantee Johnson a $16MM salary for the coming year, but it doesn’t mean he’ll remain in Minnesota. Charania confirms (via Twitter) that the veteran will be sent to Oklahoma City as part of the Ricky Rubio trade between the Wolves and Thunder. Johnson’s expiring contract was required for salary-matching purposes.

Johnson, 33, played well with the Wolves after being sent to Minnesota in a three-team trade at last season’s deadline, averaging 13.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.8 APG on .500/.370/.676 shooting in 14 games (24.1 MPG). Despite that strong finish, he was never going to match his $16MM option salary on the free agent market, so his opt-in comes as no surprise.

It’s not clear yet whether Johnson will remain in Oklahoma City after being acquired by the Thunder, or if his new clubs plans to trade or release him.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Okoro, Thunder Crowds

Georgia guard Anthony Edwards wants the Timberwolves to draft him with top pick, he told Marc Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). He’s unconcerned about dealing with Minnesota’s winters. “I’m not going to play basketball in the snow. So, I’m not worried about it,” he said. Edwards has long been considered a possible No. 1 selection, though a recent report indicated he could slip a bit due to an unspectacular Pro Day and questions regarding his background.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves, who own the top pick, attended Isaac Okoro‘s workout last week, according to Alder Almo of Empire Sports Media. The freshman Auburn wing is currently ranked No. 7 by ESPN but he could be a Minnesota target if the team trades down. Okoro’s strengths include his defense and rebounding.
  • There’s speculation that the Thunder might have some interest in trading for the No. 1 pick in order to land LaMelo Ball. That would require Oklahoma City to give up quite a few assets, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. Mussatto believes a package for the top pick might include Chris Paul, Hamidou Diallo, the pick OKC owns at No. 25, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2024 first-rounder. The Timberwolves would throw in James Johnson to make the salaries work. However, the Suns appear to be even bigger players for Paul.
  • The Thunder have announced reduced seating capacity for home games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Mussatto tweets. The amount of fans allowed into the building is still to be determined but measures include the wearing of masks and a seating distance of six feet between groups of guests. There will also be strict hygiene and disinfecting procedures throughout the building.

Lowe’s Latest: Beal, Celtics, Culver, Heat, Gordon, More

Teams with interest in Bradley Beal haven’t given up hope that the Wizards will consider trading him this fall, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN, who notes that multiple “strong playoff teams” have looked into what it would take to acquire a top-10 pick and may be seeking extra assets to swing a big trade for someone like Beal.

However, the Wizards have shown zero interest in trading Beal, even for the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, sources tell ESPN. The Timberwolves (No. 1) and Warriors (No. 2) are both known to be hoping to trade their selections for an All-NBA caliber player like Beal (or Ben Simmons or Devin Booker), but it seems unlikely that such a deal will materialize, says Lowe.

For the Wizards to really consider the idea of moving Beal, he may have to tell the team he would prefer to play elsewhere, per Lowe. Perhaps that will happen down the road if Washington doesn’t bounce back from a second consecutive lottery finish, but it hasn’t to this point.

Here’s much more from Lowe:

  • Lowe confirms the Celtics have explored using their three first-round picks to trade up in the draft, but says Boston is considering a number of options with those picks, including trying to trade for a “solid veteran.” Since so many teams are in win-now mode, there aren’t many of those players available, according to Lowe, who says that Larry Nance Jr. and Dennis Schröder are among the players who could be under-the-radar targets for teams looking to upgrade their rotations.
  • Jarrett Culver‘s name has popped up in trade rumors, but Lowe thinks the Timberwolves would only move him in a package for a star, or for a draft pick that would help acquire a star. Lowe adds that he thinks Minnesota will dangle the No. 17 pick and James Johnson‘s expiring contract in search of a veteran contributor.
  • While Lowe thinks the Heat should be able to re-sign Goran Dragic on a big one-year deal, he expects it to be tougher for Miami to take the same approach with Jae Crowder, who will likely receive multiyear offers in the mid-level range.
  • Rival executives have pitched the idea of the Mavericks acquiring Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, but Lowe is skeptical there will be a match there and believes Dallas will have a tough time acquiring a third star via trade this offseason.
  • It’s unclear what sort of leaguewide interest there is in Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Lowe points to the Trail Blazers as a potential match, but says the two teams have never seriously discussed a swap involving Gordon and CJ McCollum and isn’t sure whether lesser assets like Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons would appeal to Orlando.
  • Lowe’s offseason preview is jam-packed with many more notes and is worth checking out in full. We relayed a number of Lowe’s other most intriguing tidbits in our stories earlier today, including items on the Bucks, Pistons, and Knicks.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Jazz, Morris, J. Johnson

Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who recorded the NBA’s first positive test for COVID-19, still hasn’t fully recovered from the virus. Gobert, whose test results sparked the league-wide shutdown, describes his symptoms in an interview with L’Equip (translation provided by BasketUSA).

The taste has returned, but the smell is still not 100%,” Gobert said. “I can smell the smells, but not from afar. I spoke to specialists, who told me that it could take up to a year.”

Gobert is eager to start playing again, saying he hasn’t been part of a five-on-five game since the hiatus began. He has been boxing, swimming and running in the mountains, but had a physical reaction last month that he said felt like “ants in my toes.” Gobert also talked about shouldering the blame for the shutdown.

The NBA was waiting for a first case to stop the championship, it fell on me!” he said. “I became the image of the coronavirus for the Americans, the domino that triggered the end of the season, but it was not I who brought the virus to the United States. ”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz will bring a fully healthy team to Orlando, except for Bojan Bogdanovic, who had surgery on his right wrist last month, coach Quin Snyder tells Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Snyder also expressed support for his players who are advocating for social justice, such as Donovan Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson.
  • Nuggets guard Monte Morris has used the frustration of sliding in the 2017 draft as incentive to prove he belongs in the NBA, writes Steve Kosmider of the Athletic. Morris was projected as a first-rounder in some circles, but went to Denver with the 51st pick and had to work his way up from a two-way contract. “I was really mad about it,” Morris recalled. “Guys I dominated in college on multiple occasions were getting picked ahead of me. I got hurt during the draft process. I pulled my quad at the Laker workout, which was like my third workout. I still had about 15 workouts to go. I feel like if I had did them I would have moved up. I only worked out for three teams so that may have hurt me, but I still think my resume, doing what I did at Iowa State, should have had me going higher.”
  • James Johnson is certain to exercise his $16MM option and remain with the Timberwolves next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Johnson provides a veteran presence on a young team and is a vocal leader in the locker room.