Jonathan Kuminga

Pacific Notes: Green, Kuminga, Curry, James, Howard

The Warriors announced on Sunday that defensive stalwart Draymond Green would miss at least two weeks of action due to lingering calf and back injuries. Coach Steve Kerr said they’re playing it safe with Green’s injury issues at this stage of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

“The main thing is to be safe and cautious,” Kerr said. “It’s a long season. That’s my sense. That we’re being cautious.”

With Green out, lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga will get expanded playing time. Kuminga irritated the staff with a disinterested performance in a G League game last week but the Warriors won’t hold that against him, according to Slater.

“He didn’t run the floor hard. It was disappointing,” Kerr said. “We talked to him about it. He understood and responded well. This is all part of the process for JK. There’s a lot to absorb and learn.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Stephen Curry left the Warriors’ road trip early but it shouldn’t be an area of concern, according to Slater (Twitter link). Curry has a hand injury that the club believes is minor. He could play against Detroit on Tuesday.
  • The Lakers have dropped below the .500 mark by losing their last three games, including a 37-point thumping by Denver. LeBron James went on social media and pledged to fans the team will get untracked soon. “Lakers Nation I apologize and promise we’ll be better,” James proclaimed on his Twitter feed.
  • The decision to start Dwight Howard against the Nuggets shows the Lakers can only go so far with small ball lineups, Kyle Goon of the Orange Country Register writes. Coach Frank Vogel doesn’t want James banging against top-level centers such as Nikola Jokic. Howard will still have a role off the bench when Anthony Davis returns, Goon adds.

Western Notes: Curry, Green, Porter Jr., Kings, Kuminga

Warriors superstar Stephen Curry downplayed the hand injury suffered during his team’s 138-96 win over Chicago on Saturday, as relayed by ESPN. Curry landed on his right hand after driving to the rim, but the two-time MVP remained in the game.

“Anything that involves the hands, especially the right one, you’re a little concerned,” he said. “But the feeling came back, the strength came back. It hurts, but I’ll be all right.”

Curry feels the injury isn’t significant, but out of caution, he’ll undergo additional examination. Golden State is 31-11 largely because of his play, as the 33-year-old is averaging 26.3 points, 6.0 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game so far this season.

“I have some PTSD from two years ago,” Curry explained, referring to when he broke his hand. “When I landed it felt kind of the same, but we’ll get it looked at and figure it out. Should be all right.”

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Rockets head coach Stephen Silas expressed optimism that Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. will be the team’s backcourt duo for years to come, as relayed by The Athletic’s Kelly Iko in a story about the duo. “They’re better together than they were at the beginning of the season,” Silas explained as part of a larger quote. “Scoot’s (Porter) development as a point guard, where at the beginning of the season, he was really struggling with the turnovers but wasn’t as bad before he got hurt. And then Jalen’s growth as a player, you can see it. I mean, you can see it. So the improvement of those two guys connected to the improvement of the group is the most gratifying thing to me. They’re gonna be together for a long time.”
  • The Kings didn’t get involved in the Knicks-Hawks trade involving Cam Reddish for a variety of reasons, as James Ham of ESPN 1320 explains (via Twitter). One major reason is how Sacramento doesn’t have the draft assets that New York has, as the Knicks traded away a first-round pick in the deal to acquire Reddish.
  • Anthony Slater of The Athletic examines the comparison between Warriors rookie Jonathan Kuminga and former NBA player Shawn Marion. As Slater writes, head coach Steve Kerr recently explained how he wants Kuminga to play, noting that it’s similar to how Marion played during his career. “When I was in Phoenix as a GM, we had Shawn Marion. One of the best athletes in the league,” Kerr said as part of his full quote. “Every night, he’d just run the floor hard. He wasn’t the greatest 3-point shooter, wasn’t the greatest passer, wasn’t the greatest ballhandler. But he was an All-Star because he just played hard. By running the floor, all kinds of good stuff would happen.”

Warriors Notes: Thompson, Kuminga, Moody, Wiseman, Cousins

The long process of rehabbing two serious injuries will finally end Sunday for Klay Thompson, and the Warriors guard is determined to prove that he’s as good as ever, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Thompson bought a boat and focused on helping his younger teammates during his extended break, but nothing took his mind off his desire to start playing again. He’s “hungrier” than ever to help Golden State make an impact in the playoffs after missing the last two postseasons.

“I know myself. I know how good I am,” Thompson said. “I know the things I’ve done. … It’s like — how many times do I have to do something that no one else has ever done before and get respect? Do I have to go score 50 in a quarter now? Like, what the hell? It’s whatever though, man. It’s over with. I’m going to use it as fuel.”

Thompson’s return to the court will be a monumental event for the franchise, coach Steve Kerr said at a press conference today, per Mark Medina of NBA.com. Kerr compared it to Michael Jordan‘s return to basketball in 1995 and expects it to be “one of the most emotional games that any of us would ever be a part of.”

“I have no doubt when Klay walks onto the floor for the first time, I will never forget that game,” Kerr said. “It will stand out as one of the highlights of my entire basketball existence just because of who Klay is and how much he has meant to our franchise and to the Bay area and to me personally and to his teammates. He’s everybody’s favorite guy and we’ve all seen him suffer for two-and-a-half years. It’ll be very emotional.”

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Golden State got a look at its future in Thursday’s game at New Orleans as injuries resulted in extended playing time for rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, notes Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle. “I think they’re right on schedule,” Kerr said. “I think they’re both really working hard every single day, putting the work in, learning what it’s about to be an NBA player. … It’s not easy, especially for 19-year-old kids. They’re learning, and they’re doing a great job.”
  • James Wiseman, who hasn’t played since having knee surgery last season, continues to make progress, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Kerr is hoping that during the next road trip, Wiseman can participate in 3-on-3 games or 1-on-1 drills against another center.
  • Kerr sidestepped a question today about possibly bringing back DeMarcus Cousins, who was waived Thursday by the Bucks, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link). Cousins played for Golden State in 2018/19.

Pacific Notes: Ibaka, Lakers Trades, Christie, Kuminga

Serge Ibaka hasn’t received regular playing time as of late for the Clippers, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein have received the bulk of the minutes in the post since Ibaka returned to action after recovering from back surgery.

“Especially with that second unit, not having guys who can create shots from that second unit, Isaiah pretty much becomes our point guard and so we kind of run our offense through him,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “He makes great passes, and just I think we need him with that second unit – so he’s been great.”

Ibaka has extra incentive to get a boost in playing time — he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Bill Oram are skeptical the Lakers can make a significant move before the trade deadline due to the configuration of their roster, plus luxury tax issues. Even combining the salaries of Talen Horton-Tucker and Kendrick Nunn along with a first-round pick isn’t all that enticing for potential trade partners, Hollinger opines. Nunn hasn’t played this season due to a mysterious injury and Horton-Tucker has an opt-out after the 2022/23 season. The Lakers can’t offer a first-round pick earlier than 2027 due to the picks owed to New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade.
  • Doug Christie has been mentioned as a head coaching candidate for the Kings even though Alvin Gentry was named interim head coach. Christie, an assistant with the club, is non-committal regarding his interest in the job, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. “If you know me, you know I’m more of an in-the-moment person, like this is where I’m at,” Christie said. “I don’t think like that. AG (Alvin Gentry) has done a hell of a job and he’s been so productive with helping me try to be better, and that’s really all I’m going to try to be. If they see more and they want more and that opportunity presents itself, that’s what you have to face when the opportunity comes and you deal with it, but I like to stay in the moment and I don’t say that tongue in cheek. That’s just kind of how I try to live.”
  • Steve Kerr’s tendency to lean on his veterans has made it tougher for Jonathan Kuminga to gain a rotation spot. However, the Warriors could use more of what the lottery pick brings, Tim Kawakami of The Athletic opines. Kuminga can be a force defensively and on the offensive glass. Offensively, he can muscle his way to the basket and has a nice finishing touch.

Western Notes: Bledsoe, Kuminga, Kings Guards, Porter Jr.

Clippers offseason acquisition Eric Bledsoe has heated up over the past three games, averaging 18.7 points and 5.0 assists on 52.4% shooting. The veteran point guard is feeling more at ease with his new teammates, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes.

They just told me to just play my game, go out there and play my game. Don’t worry about the mistakes, that comes with it,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms and so it’s been pretty fun through the struggles, just got to keep it going.”

Bledsoe’s $19.375MM salary for next season is not guaranteed and it’s likely he’ll be a free agent.

We have more on the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors view Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 7 overall pick, as a defensive weapon in the short run and a potential two-way centerpiece in the future, according to Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Kuminga has played a total of 26 minutes off the bench the last two games. “I have no doubt in my mind that he can check just about anybody,” Draymond Green said.
  • Even with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton in their backcourt, the Kings need to find another play-maker, James Ham of The Kings Beat opines. Rookie Davion Mitchell, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes are not suited for that role when both Fox and Haliburton are off the court, in Ham’s viewpoint, so Sacramento must go out and acquire another play-maker.
  • Michael Porter Jr. remains sidelined on Monday due to lower back pain and there’s uncertainty about the Nuggets’ forward’s status in the near future, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets“It’s an ongoing thing, trying to figure out what’s going on…I’d still say that Michael’s out for the foreseeable future,” coach Michael Malone said. “We’re trying to take it one day at a time with him and see what the best way to approach getting him back healthy is.”

Warriors Notes: Kuminga, Thompson, Curry, Green

Jonathan Kuminga was on the court for 16 minutes Friday night and it could be the start of expanded playing time for the Warriors‘ rookie forward, according to Alex Shultz of SFGate. Kuminga made the most of his opportunity, scoring eight points and playing strong defense on the Bulls’ DeMar DeRozan.

It was only the sixth game of the season for the No. 7 overall pick, whose progress was slowed by a strained patella in the preseason and later spent time in the G League. Head coach Steve Kerr indicated that Kuminga made “huge strides” in practice recently and Friday’s extra playing time was a reward for that effort.

“As long as he goes out there and runs the floor, plays defense, takes care of the ball and passes like he did tonight, we’re going to continue to give him opportunities,” Kerr said.

There’s more on the Warriors:

  • Klay Thompson continues to make “steady progress” in his recovery from Achilles surgery and could be ready to play in five to six weeks, tweets basketball writer Jordan Schultz. Sources tell Schultz that Thompson is in “great shape” and is close to being cleared for five-on-five play. That lines up with a report earlier this week that Thompson could return prior to his target date of Christmas Day.
  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant enjoys watching the on-court relationship between Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, writes Alex Didion of NBC Sports Bay Area. As Golden State was pulling away from Chicago Friday night, Morant tweeted “chemistry crazy” after Green set up Curry for an open three-pointer.
  • In a mailbag column, ESPN’s Kevin Pelton addresses whether Kuminga, fellow rookie Moses Moody and second-year center James Wiseman can reach their potential on a title contending team where playing time is likely to be scarce. Pelton theorizes that players can improve enough through individual workouts and regular minutes in the G League that NBA playing time isn’t a vital part of the process.

Pacific Notes: Sarvers, LeBron, Lakers, Caruso, Kuminga

After Baxter Holmes of ESPN published a report accusing Suns owner Robert Sarver of racist and misogynistic conduct, three former team employees received messages from Sarver’s wife, Penny Sarver, Holmes writes in a new ESPN story. She called one former Suns employee “a liar,” said another was “crushing my families’ lives,” and accused a third of being “very bitter,” as Holmes relays.

“Please put your hatred aside and realize the hurt you are causing by spreading lies and fabrications,” she wrote to the third former employee. “Is your time in the spotlight that important? If something happens to one of my children, I will hold you and (former Suns head coach) Earl Watson personally responsible. Think about your own child for a second and imagine the tables turned.”

Reached for comment, Penny Sarver said she wanted to “set the record straight and to share how disappointed and hurt I am by the lies that are circulating about my husband and the Suns organization.” However, one of the former employees contacted by Sarver told Holmes it was hard to interpret the message as anything “other than as a threat.”

Meanwhile, Alex Prewitt and Jon Wertheim of SI.com have obtained video of Robert Sarver telling sexually explicit jokes and anecdotes during a posthumous “roast” of former Suns minority owner Dick Heckmann, who passed away in October 2020. While explicit material is expected at such an event, some of Sarver’s comments may have crossed a line and are consistent with complaints from many of Holmes’ sources about the Suns owner’s penchant for inappropriate workplace humor.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • In an appearance on ESPN (video link), Brian Windhorst said that LeBron James‘ abdominal strain is “not a severe injury” and won’t keep him out for an extended period. The Lakers star has been out since last Tuesday and the team hasn’t provided a timeline for his recovery or return.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report explores whether the Lakers made a mistake not re-signing Alex Caruso and what the cost of doing so would’ve been after accounting for tax penalties. While matching the Bulls’ four-year, $37MM deal for Caruso would’ve helped shore up L.A.’s backcourt defense and given the team a very movable contract, Pincus estimates that the Lakers’ overall 2021/22 payroll (salary and taxes) would’ve increased by about $33MM with that deal on the books.
  • Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said this week that No. 7 overall pick Jonathan Kuminga, who hasn’t seen much NBA action so far, will have to be patient and will benefit from getting G League reps with Santa Cruz. “He had a lot of guys who were drafted right before or right after who are all playing a lot,” Kerr said, per Anthony Slater of The Athletic. “So it’s not easy for him, but he understands he’s on a very good team and he’s got to pay his dues and learn from the guys and there’s a lot to be said for that route in terms of development. I think he understands that and he’s working really hard.”

Warriors Notes: Curry, Payton, Green, Kuminga

The Warriors and tied with the Jazz for the league’s best record at 7-1 and Stephen Curry isn’t the least bit surprised, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “The record’s great,” Curry said. “It’s eight games in, a lot of season left, but the way that we’re succeeding and the way that we’re kind of opening up games, just putting good stretches of basketball together, I’m not surprised at all.” Golden State thumped New Orleans 126-85 on Friday.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Gary Payton II, who has a partially guaranteed contract, has emerged as a rotation player, Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes. “He needs to play more,” coach Steve Kerr said. Valued for his defense, Payton has averaged 15.5 PPG and 5.5 RPG in the last two games. Payton earned a roster spot after a training camp battle with Avery Bradley and Curry says Payton has “found a home” with the Warriors, as Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic writes. Payton has a $350K guarantee on his veteran’s minimum deal.
  • In regard to the NBA’s investigation regarding the conduct of Suns owner Robert Sarver, Draymond Green feels there’s a double standard between executives and owners under scrutiny and players facing discipline, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. “I do wonder if I was getting investigated for something, would I still be able to be around the team? Would I still be able to freely come to the games? Would I still be able to freely come to practice?,” Green said. “I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that question, because I’ve never been in a situation here where someone is getting investigated for something like that. But I do know what I think, and I’m not sure I’d be sitting here after finishing shootaround talking to you if I was being investigated.”
  • Lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga has been assigned to G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors, according to a team press release. Kuminga has made three brief appearances with Golden State, including a seven-minute stint on Friday. He’ll get more game experience with Santa Cruz. He had 16 points in 30 minutes against the G League Ignite earlier this week.
  • Andre Iguodala‘s return to the organization has given Kerr a level of comfort, Mark Medina of NBA.com writes. “It’s like we lost our soul a little bit the last two years,” Kerr said. “Getting him back brings a level of stability, intelligence and basketball IQ.” Iguodala rejoined the team on a one-year deal.

Warriors Rumors: Kuminga, Moody, Curry, Green, Klay, Iguodala

Warriors owner Joe Lacob is high on the team’s young prospects, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic, who told Michael Scotto on the HoopsHype Podcast that Lacob values Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody more than other teams do right now. As a result, the odds of either rookie being included in a trade this season – for Ben Simmons or anyone else – are very low.

Lacob’s desire to develop players like Kuminga, Moody, and James Wiseman into cornerstones for the next era of Warriors basketball would seem to be at odds with Stephen Curry‘s desire to maximize the team’s current window, Slater observes. However, Curry signed a new four-year extension with Golden State this offseason and seems “pretty dead set” on finishing his career with the team, according to Slater.

Slater believes Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green would ideally like to continue playing for the Warriors and pursuing titles together for the rest of their careers. However, Slater views Green as less of a sure thing than Curry to play his entire career in Golden State, noting that Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers would “love” to acquire the former Defensive Player of the Year if the opportunity arises. Green is under contract through 2022/23.

“If another team is willing to give Draymond a contract that the Warriors aren’t in a couple of years, I could see that going differently, even if their dream scenario would be to play forever,” Slater told Scotto.

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • According to Slater on the HoopsHype podcast, Klay Thompson has participated in some two-on-two workouts and some “very controlled” contact work. Mid-December is probably the earliest Thompson would come back from his Achilles tear, per Slater, who says the team would be fine with pushing Klay’s return into the new year if he doesn’t feel quite ready next month.
  • If Andre Iguodala plays beyond the 2021/22 season, it would only be with the Warriors, Slater opines. Slater also expects the team to play it safe with the veteran wing during the season, resting him frequently to make sure he’s fresh for the stretch run and the postseason.
  • The Warriors have assigned Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody to the G League in order to have them play in Santa Cruz’s game against the Ignite on Wednesday, tweets Slater. The two lottery picks have played very limited minutes at the NBA level so far.

Warriors Notes: Kuminga, Moody, Lee, Atkinson, Bjelica

There’s a possibility that Jonathan Kuminga – who has been dealing with a right knee injury – will be active for the first time on Saturday, head coach Steve Kerr said today (Twitter link via Anthony Slater of The Athletic). Kuminga went through a 3-on-3 workout today and the club will likely make a decision tomorrow on his status.

As for the team’s other lottery pick, Moses Moody was assigned today to the Santa Cruz Warriors in the G League. However, after playing in Santa Cruz’s game tonight, he’ll back with Golden State on Saturday, tweets Slater. If Damion Lee, who is questionable with a shoulder contusion, is unable to play tomorrow, Moody could see some action, Kerr said (Twitter link via Slater).

Here’s more on the Warriors:

  • It’s just not Warriors players who are on the mend from injuries — assistant coach Kenny Atkinson injured his leg during a recent workout and will be off the bench indefinitely until the injury heals, according to Slater (Twitter link).
  • Nemanja Bjelica has been known primarily as a shooter since entering the NBA, but he’s proving this season with the Warriors that he has a more well-rounded game, writes Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle. “He’s a great passer, and just a really good basketball player,” Kerr said. “… I think that’s who our team has always been. That’s why guys with good feel have always been a great fit with us. He’s absolutely a great fit. The guys love playing with him. The ball moves when he’s out there, he spaces the floor, and he forces the defense to react. He’s a fun guy to play with.” Bjelica signed a one-year, minimum-salary deal with the club in August.
  • In case you missed it, Golden State exercised its 2022/23 team options on Jordan Poole and James Wiseman, guaranteeing their salaries for next season.