Jason Kidd

COVID Updates: Porzingis, Chriss, Kidd, Jones

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and is listed as a probable starter on Saturday. However, it’s not certain he will play, since Dallas has always been cautious regarding Porzingis’ health and he hasn’t practiced for a couple of weeks, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News notes (Twitter links). Porzingis, who is averaging 20.6 PPG and 8.0 RPG, hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve.

We have more COVID-19 related news:

  • Marquese Chriss will remain with the Mavericks but will be inactive with Porzingis off the protocols list, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. The Mavs will look at their options to create roster spot for Chriss after his latest 10-day contract under the hardship exception expires on January 20. Chriss is averaging 6.8 PPG and 3.9 RPG in 12 games with the Mavs.
  • Dallas coach Jason Kidd is also out of protocols and will return to the bench when the team faces Orlando, Townsend tweets.
  • Kings big man Damian Jones has cleared the protocols, James Ham of The Kings Beat tweets. He made his last appearance on January 7 and is now reconditioning.

COVID-19 Updates: Pacers, Kidd, Fultz, Tre Jones, Daigneault, A. Brooks

Justin Anderson and Torrey Craig have become the latest Pacers players to enter the league’s health and safety protocols, per James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). The Pacers now have six players in protocols. Craig signed a two-year, $10MM deal with Indiana last summer, while Anderson just signed a 10-day hardship contract with the team last week.

On the bright side, Pacers assistant coach Lloyd Pierce has cleared the protocols and has returned to the team, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files.

Here are some more COVID-related updates:

  • Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd has entered the protocols, with assistant coach Sean Sweeney set to take over his duties Friday night in Houston, sources tell Marc Stein of Substack (Twitter link). Kidd is the 13th head coach to enter the protocols.
  • Markelle Fultz isn’t ready to return from his torn ACL yet, but he has exited the protocols for the Magic, according to Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (via Twitter).
  • The Spurs‘ outbreak continues, with Tre Jones being the sixth player currently in the protocols, tweets Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News.
  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault has cleared the protocols and will resume his duties Friday vs. Minnesota, the team tweets.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has exited the protocols and is listed as available for Friday’s game against the Mavs, as Mark Berman of Fox 26 (KRIV) relays (Twitter link).

Mavs Notes: Doncic, Carlisle, DSJ, Porzingis, Barea

Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks‘ lottery pick a year before the team selected Luka Doncic, quickly bonded with his new teammate upon Doncic’s arrival in 2018, forming an off-the-court friendship. However, Dallas’ front office and then-coach Rick Carlisle didn’t believe the two guards were an on-court fit and were already planning to “blow it up,” according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN, who says Carlisle had wanted to draft Donovan Mitchell in 2017 and had quickly soured on Smith.

In the months before Smith was sent to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, Carlisle was hard on the former N.C. State standout — he accused DSJ of being jealous of Doncic and seemed determined to make him miserable, multiple former players and staffers told ESPN. The treatment was “appalling” to Doncic, who resented Carlisle’s apparent desire to pit him against his teammate and friend, writes MacMahon.

As MacMahon outlines, the Smith situation represented the beginning of years-long tension between Carlisle and Doncic.

“It wasn’t really about how Rick treated Luka,” a Mavs player on the 2018/19 team told ESPN. “Luka hated how Rick treated other people.”

For what it’s worth, Smith replied to MacMahon’s article on Twitter and said the details about his time in Dallas were “spot on,” adding, “Y’all don’t even know the half.”

Here are a few more of the most interesting details from the ESPN report, which is worth checking out in full:

  • Shortly before he resigned as the Mavericks’ head coach, Carlisle – who had two years left on his contract – approached team owner Mark Cuban about the possibility of an extension, but was shot down, says MacMahon. Carlisle, recognizing that he’d likely enter the 2021/22 season on the hot seat if he remained in Dallas, decided to leave once he was confident he’d be able to quickly secure another head coaching job. Doncic never called for Carlisle’s dismissal, sources tell ESPN.
  • According to MacMahon, the Mavericks came to regret releasing J.J. Barea prior to the 2020/21 season, since the veteran guard had served as “connective tissue” between Doncic and Carlisle and between Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, helping manage those relationships. When Doncic and Porzingis had communication issues last season, Carlisle wasn’t in position to smooth them over since he didn’t have a great relationship with either player, MacMahon adds.
  • Porzingis was so disillusioned entering the 2021 offseason that he would’ve welcomed a trade, MacMahon reports. However, the big man has felt rejuvenated since Carlisle’s departure under new head coach Jason Kidd, who was the only candidate the Mavs seriously considered during their coaching search, per MacMahon.

Blazers Rumors: Lillard, Front Office, McCollum, Nurkic, Covington, More

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will become eligible for a two-year, $106MM extension during the 2022 offseason. That extension – which Lillard wants to lock in, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski – would begin in 2025/26 and would cover his age-35 and age-36 seasons.

Lillard and his agent need Portland’s next permanent general manager to sell team ownership on offering that super-max extension, according to Wojnarowski, who hears that the guard’s camp had concerns about Neil Olshey‘s willingness to recommend such an offer to Jody Allen. Chris Mannix of SI.com also hears that Olshey wasn’t sold on tacking two more years (at $51MM and $55MM) onto Lillard’s deal.

Although Lillard and his camp will be motivated to help the Blazers find a GM who is receptive to offering that extension, most of the top-level candidates who figure to draw interest from Portland aren’t enthusiastic about making that offer, says Wojnarowski. In fact, some of those potential candidates told Woj that they’d be more interested in the Blazers’ job if they could trade Lillard and rebuild, rather than extending the six-time All-Star.

According to Wojnarowski, Lillard’s camp is “privately selling the idea” of the Blazers trading some of their current players and continuing to build around Dame (on a new extension). However, candidates for the permanent general manager job in Portland believe they’ll need to sell themselves to team ownership, not to Lillard and his camp.

While it remains possible Lillard’s group will have some input in the GM choice, Wojnarowski suggests they’ve been “thwarted on several leverage plays” this year, including their preference for Jason Kidd as Terry Stotts‘ replacement and their desire to trade for Ben Simmons.

Here are several more rumors out of Portland:

  • The Blazers haven’t begun reaching out to potential candidates for the permanent GM job, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who hears that there’s no concrete list of contenders yet beyond interim GM Joe Cronin. The organization is still deciding whether to hire a firm to research and recommend candidates, per Wojnarowski.
  • The Pelicans offered Jrue Holiday to Portland in 2020 in exchange for CJ McCollum and three first-round picks, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic. A deal involving McCollum remains possible, but the Blazers are considered more likely to move Jusuf Nurkic and/or Robert Covington, says Fischer, adding that the team is “presently known to be down on both players.”
  • Lillard has expressed interest since the 2020 offseason in a handful of defensively-minded wings, per Fischer. Besides Simmons, Lillard has also shown interest in playing with Jaylen Brown and Aaron Gordon, sources tell Bleacher Report.
  • According to Fischer, Lillard’s lower abdominal tendinopathy is an injury that has bothered him off and on for years. The All-NBA guard even considered surgery this past offseason to address the issue, Fischer adds.
  • There are several teams with interest in trading for Lillard, but three teams in that group told Wojnarowski they’d want to wait for the 31-year-old to request a trade before calling Portland, since the Blazers’ leverage would be reduced in that scenario. The Sixers have made an offer, but the Knicks haven’t, Wojnarowski adds. For his part, Lillard would have limited leverage to push for a specific landing spot if he asks out, since he still has three more years left on his current contract after 2021/22.
  • Multiple league sources with knowledge of the situation tell Fischer that some Blazers players this season have been frustrated with Chauncey Billups‘ “coaching demeanor,” as well as his offensive system. In the latest Hoop Collective podcast, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Ohm Youngmisuk, and Ramona Shelburne discussed the fact that Billups’ tendency to call out players publicly may rub the current generation the wrong way.
  • There have been whispers that Blazers owner Jody Allen might decide to sell her stake in the Blazers following the NBA’s next television agreement, says Fischer. If that’s the plan, there will be even more pressure on the team to make sure its next front office hire and big roster moves are the right ones.

Damian Lillard Losing Patience In Portland, Wants Blazers To Trade For Ben Simmons

Damian Lillard is becoming frustrated with the Trail Blazers’ performance, and tensions appear to be increasing between the players and new coach Chauncey Billups, sources tell Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.

Portland’s front office didn’t make the significant roster changes that Lillard requested during the offseason, and the team has fallen to 11-13 after a pair of lopsided losses. Charania and Amick say that Lillard would like to see the Blazers acquire Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons to help improve a defense that ranks last in the league.

Sources tell the authors that the front office, under recently fired general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, set a framework of a deal that would have sent CJ McCollum, a first-round pick, and either Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons. The Sixers reportedly countered by asking for McCollum along with multiple draft picks and future draft swaps, which Portland turned down.

It’s not clear if that offer is still on the table or if any major deal will be made before Olshey’s permanent replacement is hired, according to Charania and Amick.

Olshey never lost confidence in the roster that he built, which is why he didn’t overhaul it after Lillard’s offseason request. He also ignored Lillard’s desire to consider Jason Kidd as head coach after firing Terry Stotts, making a controversial move with Billups instead. Lillard wanted an experienced coach instead of a first-timer like Billups and was willing to accept Mike D’Antoni as well, according to the authors.

Although Billups has vowed to improve the team’s defense from the time he was hired, Portland’s performance on that end of the court hasn’t changed. Billups has also alienated players by publicly criticizing their effort after losses, with the latest instance coming Saturday.

“Competitive fire and pride, that’s something you either have or don’t have,” Billups said after his team gave up 145 points to the Celtics. “That’s something you can’t turn off and turn on. … I’ve never seen a team that needs its bench to inspire our starters. (That’s) crazy to me. It’s supposed to be the other way around.”

Lillard’s decline in production is also contributing to his frustration. He’s dealing with an abdominal injury that will keep him out of action at least through the end of the week. His scoring average has fallen from 28.8 PPG last season to 21.5 PPG so far this year. He’s getting fewer shots in Billups’ offense and is connecting at a career-worst 39.7% from the field and 30.2% on three-pointers. He’s also being used in pick-and-rolls less frequently than under Stotts and is seeing fewer free throw attempts.

Lillard still hasn’t asked for a trade and plans to give the organization time to find a new leader before deciding on his next move, Charania and Amick add. However, his desire for a roster upgrade hasn’t changed.

There are two important dates to watch in determining Lillard’s future with Portland, the authors note. The trade deadline is February 10, roughly two months away, so if Lillard wants to leave the Blazers this season, he will have to request a deal by then. The other is July 6, when Lillard will become eligible for a super-max extension that would be worth $106.6MM over two seasons and would push his contract through the 2026/27 season. Lillard’s ultimate decisions will likely be determined by what the team does with its roster by then.

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Doncic, Valanciunas, Bane, Murray

Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd believes Luka Doncic would benefit from focusing less on the officiating, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. Doncic frequently holds discussions with the referees, taking his attention away from other on-court matters.

“I would lean toward playing 5-on-5 a bit more,” Kidd explained. “You’re not going to get any calls. Officials, they tend to not stop the game to change calls. You have to understand there’s a point in time in games — dead balls — to be able to talk to officials.

“While the game is going on, transition defense is one of the things we’ve talked about that we have to get better. If we’re lobbying for calls during live play, it puts us in harm’s way. … Just some things have got to be a little bit more important. I think we’re going to get better at understanding as a team when to talk to officials. Not just Luka.”

As MacMahon notes, Doncic agreed with his coach’s advice. The Mavericks are just 11-11 and have lost seven of their last nine games.

There’s more from the Southwest Division tonight:

  • Christian Clark of NOLA.com examines why Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas has worked to expand his range. Valanciunas has made 30 of his 65 three-point attempts (46%) this season, good for one of the league’s best clips. The most threes he has ever made in a season is 32 (in 2019/20). “The big guy is evolving by being able to stretch the floor and shoot the 3,” Valanciunas said. “Being able to handle the ball. Those things, I wanted to add to my game as well. I don’t want to disappear. I want to be successful in this league. Whatever it takes to be successful.”
  • Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane recorded 29 points and nine rebounds to help defeat the Mavericks on Saturday. After the contest, Bane reflected on the Mavericks passing over him in the 2020 draft, as relayed by Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, Josh Green was drafted in front of me,” Bane said. “I don’t know if he played tonight, but that’s on them. That’s not on me.”
  • Spurs guard Dejounte Murray is taking a leap with the franchise this season, Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Murray is averaging a career-high 19.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game, shooting 45% from the floor.

Porzingis: My Body Feels As Good As It Has “In A Long Time”

Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis missed five games earlier this season due to lower back stiffness, raising concerns that 2021/22 might be another injury-plagued year for the former Knick. However, in nine games since returning to the lineup, Porzingis has averaged 23.9 PPG and 8.9 RPG on .510/.377/.932 shooting.

Before putting up 30 points in a Tuesday win over the Clippers, Porzingis told Mark Medina of NBA.com that he’s not currently dealing with any health issues.

“I feel great,” Porzingis said. “My body is feeling the best that it’s felt in a long time.”

Prior to last season’s trade deadline, reports surfaced indicating that the Mavs had been gauging the potential market for Porzingis. Team owner Mark Cuban denied those rumors at the time and, speaking to Medina, continued to dispute that Dallas ever shopped the former lottery pick.

“That’s not true. Why would I do that at all?” Cuban said. “Trades like that, you always end up further behind. When you trade a superstar, you never get the best end of it.”

The Mavs’ owner added that Porzingis is playing at an All-Star level and is “doing more and more unicorn things” this season.

“I’ve always believed that KP hasn’t played his best basketball yet. Now you’re seeing why we didn’t trade him,” Cuban said. “He’s a great player. He’s a good dude. All of my experiences with him have been positive. So why would we do that? But that’s NBA Twitter and that’s Mavs Twitter. That’s what they do. They’re probably trying to trade Luka (Doncic) right now.”

Here are a few more items of interest from Medina’s feature on Porzingis:

  • Porzingis didn’t share details on what sort of offseason workouts he completed, but said he spent the summer devoted to “a lot of physical work” and believes it’s paying off this season, per Medina. “I feel like my body has matured,” he said. “I feel strong on the court. It’s translating into my game.”
  • Porzingis acknowledged that he didn’t always feel comfortable with his role under former Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle and said he has noticed a difference since Jason Kidd‘s arrival: “My teammates have been trusting me. The coaching staff is trusting me and putting me in my most comfortable situations.”
  • There have been whispers in recent years that Porzingis and Doncic haven’t exactly built the strongest relationship, but KP says the Mavs’ two stars are “communicating more” this year and that he believes they can become one of the NBA’s best duos. “It’s all in the communication,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. Problems arise when you don’t communicate about things, and you don’t talk about it. So, we’re learning those things.”

Southwest Notes: Kidd, McDermott, House, Williams

New Mavericks coach Jason Kidd used his entire active roster during the first three quarters of Tuesday’s game, writes Tim Cato of the Athletic. All 15 players saw time on the court, which is a rarity in a league where rotations typically involve nine or 10 players unless the game has already been decided.

Kidd said the idea of playing everybody was developed by the team’s leadership council, which is made up of Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. They offered the suggestion Tuesday during their first official meeting with their coach in that capacity.

“It’s a cool thing, because we always talk about (players who are) 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 (on the roster) as part of the team and they tend to not get to play,” Kidd said. “The matrix was in a twist, but we figured it out.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • An MRI on Doug McDermott‘s right knee was negative, but the Spurs expect him to miss their upcoming three-game road trip, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. The knee swelled up after he hurt it in Tuesday’s game. He’s projected to return to the court November 3.
  • Rockets forward Danuel House suffered a sprained right foot Tuesday night, tweets Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. House landed awkwardly after saving a loose ball from going out of bounds and was visibly limping after the play. X-rays were negative, but he wore a walking boot when he returned to the bench later in the game.
  • LeBron James said it was a “weird dynamic” to play against Grizzlies rookie Ziaire Williams, who was his son’s high school teammate two years ago, per Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. It was a big deal for Williams as well to be on the same court with “Uncle LeBron,” who was in the crowd for a lot of those high school games. “It was fun to see a different side of him,” Williams said. “He’s always fun and joking around with us at Sierra Canyon watching games so it was cool to see him in his element when things are serious.”

Southwest Notes: Kidd, Gillespie, Valanciunas, Pelicans Vaccinations

The Mavericks’ Jason Kidd calls himself a “different coach” than the one who flamed out in Brooklyn and Milwaukee, Joe Vardon of The Athletic writes. Kidd says he’s more relaxed and a better communicator than he was in his previous stops. He also knows a big part of his current job is to get the best out of franchise player Luka Doncic.

“I think there’s trust and respect from Day 1, because I played that position,” Kidd said. “I am not as good as he is, but I can help him. My job is to help him. He’s 22 years old, he has been a pro for a long time, but again I am trying to make the game as easy as possible for him.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Former Raptors big man Freddie Gillespie is rejoining the Grizzlies’ G League team, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. The Raptors waived Gillespie 10 days ago. Gillespie, who went undrafted out of Baylor in 2020, averaged a double-double (10.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG) with 2.3 BPG in 15 games (27.8 MPG) for the Memphis Hustle in the G League’s Orlando bubble.
  • Jonas Valanciunas got the maximum amount possible in his extension with the Pelicans and it also includes a trade kicker, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets. He’ll receive $14.7MM next season and $15.435MM in 2023/24 with no options or incentives. The trade bonus is the lesser of $1MM or 15%.
  • A couple of the Pelicans are not fully vaccinated but that will change soon, Andrew Lopez of ESPN tweets. Coach Willie Green says every player has received at least one shot and they will be fully vaccinated in a week or two when two players receive their second dose.

Porzingis Reportedly Wanted Trade Prior To Coaching Change

At the end of a disappointing 2020/21 season, Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis would have liked to be traded, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, according to MacMahon, Porzingis is “coming back optimistic” following a healthy summer and Dallas’ hiring of Jason Kidd as head coach.

“At the end of last year, Porzingis wanted to be traded. My understanding is he feels like he has a fresh start with the coaching change,” MacMahon said, per Feldman. “He’s had the healthy offseason. He has been able to work, not just on his game, but on his body some more. He’s kind of coming back with a refreshed feel.”

Even if the Mavs hadn’t made a coaching change in the spring, MacMahon doesn’t think Porzingis would have come out and asked the team to trade him, recognizing the poor optics of such a move following his up-and-down season. However, it’s not hard to understand why he was frustrated by his role following a first-round playoff loss in which he averaged just 13.1 PPG and 5.4 RPG in seven games (33.3 MPG) and often found himself standing in the corner on offense.

According to MacMahon, Porzingis felt more like an afterthought than a co-star for Luka Doncic under former head coach Rick Carlisle. Kidd visited Porzingis in Latvia over the summer – which the 26-year-old said on Monday was “huge for me” (Twitter link via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News) – and envisions a more expansive role for the former Knick.

“The simple way to put it is, I want KP to be a basketball player,” Kidd said, adding that he expects Porzingis to start at power forward. “There’s no limitations on just shooting threes. Being able to roll, to be able to shoot the mid-range, to be able to put the ball on the floor — I want him to be who he is, and that’s a basketball player and not just be limited to shooting threes or crashing from the corner. I want him to feel comfortable on the floor in any spot. I think he’s a weapon. He shoots the ball too well not to be able to shoot mid-range shots.”

The Mavs are optimistic that a healthy offseason for Porzingis – who has a history of knee and leg injuries and missed 29 games last season – will position him for a nice bounce-back year in 2021/22, writes MacMahon.

“I think he’s in way better shape this year, especially mentally,” Doncic said of his teammate on Monday. “You can see him having a good time when we’re playing pickup, and I think he’s going to have a great season this year.”