Jerami Grant

Nuggets Notes: Quarantine, Porter, Grant

The Nuggets have completed their 14-day quarantine, Mark Medina of USA Today tweets. The team released a statement on March 19 that an undisclosed member of the organization tested positive for COVID-19. That person is now considered “symptom-free,” Medina adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. said the suspension of play has allowed his right ankle to fully heal, Mike Singer of the Denver writes. Porter suffered a sprain on January 31 and the injury continued to linger after the All-Star break. Porter has access to a private gym and he’s been working on his game during the suspension of play, Singer adds.
  • Jerami Grant will probably command $15-16MM annually on the open market, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic speculates. Grant is likely to decline his $9.35MM option in order to become an unrestricted free agent. A four-year, $64MM deal sounds reasonable for a player entering the prime of his career, Kosmider adds.
  • Porter is one of 16 NBA players who will compete in the 2K Players Tournament, which begins Friday on ESPN and ESPN2, Joe Nguyen of the Denver Post notes. The Suns’ Devin Booker will be Porter’s first-round opponent.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nader, Russell, Grant

The Thunder and their surprising success have been among the NBA’s best stories this season. From the play of veterans Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari to the development of youngsters Luguentz Dort and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, there’s a lot to like about this team.

Speaking of development, head coach Billy Donovan wishes that Dort could practice more with the team and not have his NBA service days affected, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman.

“I think one of the things that would be great,” he said, “is if some of those guys could practice and it not count against them. But I understand that’s not the rule.”

A player such as Dort, who is on a two-way contract, can only spend 45 days with his NBA parent club. When those players are not in the NBA, they are predominately spending time with their NBA G League affiliate.

This season, Dort has played in 29 games (started in 21) with the Thunder. He is averaging 6.2 points and 1.9 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. When his NBA service days run out, the Thunder will have the opportunity to sign the former Arizona State guard to a standard NBA contract. If Oklahoma City does this, he will be a part of the team’s 15-man roster and able to participate in the postseason.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In other Thunder news, it seems as they found themselves a defensive playmaker in Abdel NaderJoe Mussatto of The Oklahoman wrote about how the 26-year-old forward, who has a team option for 2020/21, made an impact on both ends of the floor in the Thunder’s 105-104 win on Sunday over the Celtics.
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune wrote about D’Angelo Russell‘s shooting slump from this past weekend. The recently-acquired Timberwolves point guard shot 8-of-32 from the field against the Magic and Pelicans. Nevertheless, Russell is not worried and understands that it’s a part of the game. “Just got to kind of let it go,” he said. “Don’t dwell too much on it. Never too high. Never too low. It’s a part of the game. Just let it go and I’ll be all right.” On Tuesday night against the Rockets, Russell scored 28 points on 8-of-15 shooting from the field and 5-of-12 from three-point range in a 117-111 loss.
  • The Nuggets will have some tough decisions to make when it comes to their frontcourt this offseason, explains Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Possible tax concerns may push Denver to decide between bringing back either Jerami Grant or Paul Millsap, who helped them defeat the Bucks on Monday. Grant had 19 points and six rebounds off the bench and is playing well over Denver’s last eight games. The former second-round pick has a $9.3MM player option for next season, while Millsap is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Grant, Reid, Daniels

Jazz guard Mike Conley has finally regained his health and is reminding everyone just how talented he is, Aaron Falk of NBA.com writes.

Conley recorded 25 points, five assists and three steals in a road victory over the Celtics on Friday, demonstrating his value at the point guard position.

“It’s just funny how people work,” teammate Donovan Mitchell said of Conley, as relayed by Falk. “Y’all can continue to hate and say what y’all want. I see it. I know he does, too. But that’s Mike Conley. He’s a Hall-of-Famer, one of the best to play at his position.”

Utah acquired Conley from Memphis last July in exchange for Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, Grayson Allen, the draft rights to Darius Bazley and a protected first-round pick, solidifying its backcourt by pairing him and Mitchell together.

Conley had a slow start to the 2019/20 season, but the 32-year-old has increased his production in recent weeks as the team gears up for a playoff push. In total, he has averaged 13.9 points, 4.3 assists and 0.8 steals in 28.4 minutes per contest.

“There’s way less thinking,” Conley said of his team’s recent surge. “I’m just playing the game. After playing together for a while now, I’m feeling in charge, knowing how you can put guys in position to be successful and make plays, knowing what times in the game that I can be aggressive.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division today:

  • Nuggets forward Jerami Grant is fitting in seamlessly with the team, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “We’ll see how it goes in the offseason,” said Grant, who holds a $9.3MM player option for next season. “It’s definitely all situational, but I’m definitely comfortable here. I love my teammates, love the coaches, everything.”
  • The Timberwolves are rallying around rookie big man Naz Reid as he continues his impressive play, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. “Naz is great,” teammate James Johnson said. “Right now he’s not focused on one aspect of the game, he’s doing so many things that stats won’t ever show or that fans won’t ever see. The locker room feels it. Real basketball fans feel it. I’m sure you guys feel it. He keeps doing that, his job’s going to get more and more and his responsibilities are going to be more and more and he’s going to be ready for it.”
  • Eric Spyropoulos of NBA.com examines what Troy Daniels could bring to the Nuggets, with Denver signing the 28-year-old to a contract this past week. Daniels, known as a valuable three-point threat during his NBA career, is expected to provide depth off the bench as the Nuggets gear up for a postseason run.

Northwest Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Layman, Dort

Malik Beasley and Juan Hernangomez played their old team for the first time on Sunday, suiting up for the Timberwolves against the Nuggets, less than three weeks after being traded to Minnesota. Before the game, Hernangomez was the more nostalgic of the two former Nuggets, praising the organization and the fans in Denver, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post details.

“I’m the man who I am because (of) Denver, because (of the) organization, all the teammates, all the coaches,” Hernangomez. “I just want to (say) thanks to everybody for making my dream come true, make the chance to a kid who was dreaming about the NBA, make believe it and make it true.”

Beasley was more pragmatic about seeing his old team, per Singer: “It’s a business, put it like that. It’s not about personal life or anything like that. It’s just a strict business. That’s how you gotta take it.”

According to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, the Nuggets offered Beasley a multiyear extension worth “north of $10MM annually” last fall. When Beasley turned down that offer, it increased the odds that he wouldn’t remain in Denver long-term.

As Kosmider explains, the Nuggets have “strongly hinted” that they’d like to re-sign Jerami Grant, and they’ll also have to negotiate new deals with Paul Millsap and Torrey Craig this summer if they intend to keep them, which reduced the team’s spending power for RFAs-to-be like Beasley and Hernangomez.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Addressing the Timberwolves‘ recent acquisition of D’Angelo Russell, president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said the NBA is “all about taking chances,” according to Ben Golliver of The Washington Post. “You have to pay a premium for good players,” Rosas said. “Not only did we need a point guard in our system, we needed a guy who fit our timeline and a guy who has already established himself as a player in this league. In those pursuits, you have to be comfortable hearing ‘no,’ and you have to be comfortable being patient.”
  • Timberwolves forward Jake Layman, who has been sidelined since November 18 due to a toe injury, appears to be on the verge of returning to action. Layman was cleared to practice last week, per a press release, and is listed as probable for Monday’s game vs. Dallas (Twitter link).
  • On the heels of one of the best games of his season, rookie Thunder swingman Luguentz Dort is making a case for a promotion to Oklahoma City’s 15-man roster, writes ESPN’s Royce Young. Dort, who scored 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting in a Sunday win over San Antonio, won’t be eligible for the postseason if he remains on his two-way contract.

Northwest Notes: Grant, Millsap, Anthony, Conley, Napier

What the Nuggets decide to do with Jerami Grant and Paul Millsap provides an intriguing subplot to the offseason, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Millsap will be an unrestricted free agent and Grant can join him on the market by declining his $9.35MM option.  Grant is undersized at the power forward spot but brings more agility and shot blocking to the four spot. The Nuggets will probably try to re-sign Grant but could also bring back Millsap if he’s willing to meet their price, Singer adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony is still too distraught over Kobe Bryant’s passing to take the court, especially at the Staples Center. Anthony will sit out the Portland-Los Angeles Lakers game on Friday, Stadium’s Shams Charania tweets, as he continues to grieve over the loss of his close friend.
  • The Jazz are close to returning point guard Mike Conley to the starting lineup, according to Charania. Conley has come off the bench in six games since he recovered from an aggravated hamstring strain. Utah wants Conley to reestablish chemistry with the other starters, most notably backcourt partner Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert, Charania adds.
  • The lack of a good plan regarding their point guard rotation has been the Timberwolves’ biggest issue, Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. Jeff Teague wasn’t a good fit prior to being traded to Atlanta because Minnesota needed a floor leader adept at pushing the tempo. Shabazz Napier has been a good pickup but he’s probably best suited for a 15-20 minute backup role while Jordan McLaughlin is more of an emergency backup than a second-unit player, Rand adds.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Nuggets, Grant, Wolves

Team USA fell short of a medal at last year’s World Cup, but a handful of players who represented USA Basketball in China at that event have expressed interest in doing so again at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The latest to convey that interest is Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, as Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com writes.

“I loved playing for (Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich). I loved representing my country,” Mitchell said on Wednesday when the Jazz played in San Antonio. “… Hopefully this summer we can go at it again.”

After a disappointing seventh-place finish in the World Cup, Mitchell would like another shot at a gold medal. He also believes that the international experience played a role in expanding his game. Although he was one of Team USA’s top scorers and is averaging a career-high 25.0 PPG for the Jazz, Mitchell said his time in China helped him improve on the defensive end of the floor.

“He’s gotten more consistent with his focus,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said of Mitchell’s defense. “… Sometimes when you ask someone to carry the load he has assumed offensively, it’s easy to rest on the other end. That’s why two-way players are so unique.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets are one of two NBA teams without their own G League affiliate, but Jarred Vanderbilt, Vlatko Cancar, Bol Bol, and PJ Dozier have all spent ample time in the NBAGL this season. Kendra Andrews of The Athletic explores how the team navigates not having its own affiliate and the challenge of reintegrating players when they’re recalled to the NBA team. According to Andrews, Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas said Denver could get its own G League affiliate as soon as next season, but the club isn’t feeling any urgency to do so.
  • After being acquired by the Nuggets in the offseason, Jerami Grant had an up-and-down start to the season. However, as Nick Kosmider of The Athletic and Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com detail, Grant has been showing lately why the club was willing to surrender a first-round pick for him. The veteran forward will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Already frustrated by their long losing streak, the Timberwolves were further demoralized by a historic collapse on Monday, writes Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune. “As low as you can get,” Shabazz Napier said. “This is it.” Once 10-8, the Wolves have lost 24 of their last 29 games, including 10 in a row, giving president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas plenty to think about as the trade deadline nears.

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Hernangomez, Grant

After a breakout year in 2018/19, it has been an up-and-down season for Malik Beasley in 2019/20. The Nuggets‘ swingman has been in and out of the team’s rotation — for instance, he got a DNP-CD in last Monday’s win before playing 26 minutes in a win on Wednesday. While Beasley would like to have a more regular role, he’s trying to make the most of the opportunities he gets, as Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post details.

“I wish it (playing time) was consistent, that’s just me as a player,” Beasley said after last Wednesday’s game. “But I’m happy to contribute to the team and get a win, that’s the most important thing that comes out of every day.”

After acquiring Jerami Grant and getting a healthy Michael Porter Jr. back for this season, the Nuggets have made an already-deep rotation even deeper, resulting in a decline in minutes for some players. Head coach Michael Malone said he understands Beasley’s frustration and admitted that the fourth-year swingman isn’t wrong to believe he should have a bigger role.

“Malik Beasley is sitting there saying, ‘I should be playing more,'” Malone said. “You know what? He’s right. I can’t argue that.”

Beasley, who will be a restricted free agent at season’s end, has been the subject of some trade speculation this season, since he still has long-term value and could be included in a package if Denver makes a play for another impact player. For now, he’ll make the most of the minutes he gets with the Nuggets.

Here’s more out of Denver:

Northwest Notes: Donovan, Wiggins, Jazz, Nuggets

The NBA implemented a new coach’s challenge for the 2019/20 season, giving head coaches an opportunity to challenge one questionable call per game that requires officials to pause the contest and review a designated play.

The challenge has mostly received poor feedback from the league’s head coaches, who cite that it bogs down what’s already become a slower last few minutes of the game. Among the coaches who believe the challenge should be changed, despite several contesting it should be removed altogether, is Thunder coach Billy Donovan.

“The thing with the challenge, which to me would be a little bit better, would be if you challenge and you’re successful, you keep your challenge,” Donovan said, as relayed by Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. “Because what ends up happening is you don’t know when to use it. There’s no time to use it because you can look back the next day and go through every play and say, ‘Okay that should have been a time that I used the challenge. But I used it over here.’ You can’t tell.”

Roughly half of the coach’s challenges have come in the fourth quarter to date, showing teams’ tendencies to hold onto the challenge for when they need it most. Donovan’s idea likely won’t sit well with the portion of NBA viewers who wish the game was sped up in the final minutes.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Timberwolves guard Andrew Wiggins remains committed to staying aggressive and attacking the basket this season, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes. Wiggins has averaged a career-best 24.9 points on 45% shooting through 17 games. He’s seen his numbers slightly regress in the past couple of weeks, but that won’t deter the 24-year-old from continuing to do what he does best. “I feel like that’s how it goes,” Wiggins said. “I just haven’t been hitting. It’s not just shots. It’s layups. It’s stuff around the rim. I’m right there to drop it in, and they’re just going in and out. I’m just going to keep doing the same thing and I know it’s going to drop.”
  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune examines the easier December schedule for the Jazz, pondering whether the franchise will be able to take advantage of their upcoming games. Utah is just 13-10 through 23 games, good for the sixth-best record in the Western Conference.
  • The Nuggets’ success in recent seasons has hinged on players’ ability to sacrifice, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post writes. Denver has a roster loaded with offensive talent, making it imperative that everyone shares the ball and remains patient when it comes to scoring. “It’s definitely unique,” said Jerami Grant, who’s in his first season with the team. “We’ve definitely got a deep team. We’ve got a lot of players that would play a lot more minutes with other teams. But I think everybody who’s come here is willing to sacrifice to be one of the best teams in the league.”

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Malone, Rotation, Porter, Craig, Murray

The Nuggets have recalled rookie center Bol Bol from the G League but they’re not burning any of the 45 days he’s allotted to spend in the NBA on his two-way contract, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Bol is expected to remain with the Nuggets for a couple of weeks but won’t practice or play before being sent back down to the Windy City Bulls. He’ll be listed as out due to “injury management” for his surgically repaired left foot, Singer adds. Bol has averaged 11.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 2.3 BPG in less than 17 MPG with Windy City.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The league has instituted coach’s challenges this season but like many of the men who patrol the sidelines, Michael Malone likes to save his challenge for crunch time, Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website notes. “As you see it kind of play out, most coaches like to keep it (the challenge) in their pocket for late game situations. The only time I can see using it early is if you’re trying to protect a great player (from foul trouble),” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets have plenty of depth, which has created a pleasant dilemma for Malone on a game-by-game basis, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic points out. Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris and Jerami Grant have defined reserve roles but Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Michael Porter Jr. and Malik Beasley have seen major fluctuations in playing time. “It’s not easy from a player or coach’s standpoint,” Plumlee said. “But I’ll say guys have handled it as well as any team I’ve been on.”
  • Porter has appeared in 10 games, averaging 3.8 PPG in 9.0 MPG, and Malone hopes to expand his role, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic“I have to find ways to play him this year,” Malone said. “This cannot be a wasted year for him.”
  • Craig has lost playing time but he’s not creating any problems in the locker room, Singer relays in a separate story“We all get along, we’re all happy for each other when each other have success,” he said. “I’m not one to sit here and pout when my teammates are doing good. If they’re doing good and we’re winning, I’m happy.”
  • Jamal Murray will play for Team Canada next summer, Michael Grange of Sportsnet Canada reports. Canada will host an Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, B.C. in late June, and then head to Tokyo if the team snags one of the six remaining spots in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

Northwest Notes: Bazley, Graham, Gupta, Nuggets

As Thunder forward Darius Bazley continues to acclimate to the NBA, he may be little nervous, as is normal for a rookie. But as Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman writes, Bazley looks more than ready to make an impact this season.

Through two preseason games, Bazley is averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Thunder. Bazley, 19, chose to forgo college and work out with personal trainers until he could enter the NBA draft, but his high school coach says Bazley is ready for the NBA.

“I knew he was going to have success in the league,” said Steve Wright, who coached Bazley at Princeton High School in Cincinnati before he became a member of the Thunder. “He’s super talented — I always knew that… I always talked to him about, when he gets to the next level, he’s going to have a lot of space. In the NBA you’ve got illegal defense, so you can’t just guard the paint. With his size, with his ability to put the ball on the floor, being able to pass, being able to shoot, the NBA fits him well.

That said, Bazley will still certainly have ups and downs as a rookie, as head coach Billy Donovan warns. Thunder fans saw the same last year with Hamidou Diallo, who eventually fell out of the rotation toward the end of the season.

“My biggest thing for him is, as he learns and grows and gets better and has some success, he needs to stay really, really humble,” says the Thunder head man. “And he’s got to stay eager to work and eager to learn. He’s got all the challenges, the difficulties, the adversities that come with being a young player. He’s going to have to have the resiliency to work through those things. If he keeps that kind of attitude, he’s going to really improve.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division this afternoon: