Jordan Nwora

Central Notes: Cavs, Connaughton, Nwora, Turner

It has been an unusual season so far for the Cavaliers, who won eight straight games after dropping their opener, but have since lost five in a row. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff spoke at length to his team in the locker room after Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee and told reporters that his message was about avoiding complacency and adjusting mentally to being a playoff-caliber team.

“We’ve got kind of a fat cat mentality,” Bickerstaff said. “We went out and won eight games in a row. Everyone was giving us love and praising us. We got really comfortable. We are the team that won those eight games though. We are a really good basketball team. This is about maturation and growth from a team as a whole.

“Not one guy is going to do it. Not two guys are going to do it. Just understanding the difference between being the guy who is chasing and the guy who is being chased and how hard it is to win in the NBA. You have to show up every single night. We’re still learning that unfortunately. It’s all the same mentality, the mentality of the fat cat who is comfortable and complacent. You cannot succeed in this league playing this way.”

The Cavaliers will have a good opportunity to snap their losing streak on Friday when they host the banged-up Hornets.

Here are a few more notes from around the Central:

  • After being upgraded from questionable to probable for Wednesday’s game vs. Cleveland, Bucks wing Pat Connaughton was ultimately ruled out, as Eric Nehm of The Athletic tweets. However, head coach Mike Budenholzer insisted that Connaughton didn’t suffer a setback, telling reporters that the team was just playing it safe, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Connaughton has yet to play this season due to a calf strain, but appears to be on the verge of returning.
  • Bucks swingman Jordan Nwora scored a season-high 21 points in Wednesday’s win, making 5-of-9 three-pointers. Bobby Portis was among those thrilled by the success of his teammate, who re-signed with Milwaukee as a restricted free agent in September. “We’re always hard on him about just being a complete basketball player and not just being a scorer, sharing the basketball and things like that and I finally think just the light bulb is turning on for him a little bit,” Portis said, according to Nehm.
  • Myles Turner is averaging a career-high 17.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG through his first seven games this season, exhibiting more consistency than he has in the past. As Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star writes, Turner’s improved play raises questions about how he fits into the Pacers‘ plans going forward. The veteran center is in a contract year and has long been considered a trade candidate, but might also be an ideal candidate for a renegotiation-and-extension if he wants to stay in Indiana, as we outlined on Wednesday.

Central Notes: White, P. Williams, Mobley, Bucks, More

Bulls guard Coby White, the seventh overall pick in the 2019 draft, was eligible for a rookie scale extension up until Monday’s deadline, but he never really thought he’d sign a new deal this year, according to Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“No, no. I didn’t,” White said on Tuesday. “I wasn’t really focused on that. Just play this year out. I put in a lot of work this summer, so let my work show, and take it from there.”

White also dismissed the idea that entering a contract year and playing for his next contract will provide any extra motivation this season: “Nah, I love playing basketball. That’s all the motivation I need. I love playing, I love hooping. I’ve had motivation my whole life. I ain’t gonna change nothing now.”

In other Bulls news, the team’s 2020 lottery pick, Patrick Williams, will open the season as the starting power forward, head coach Billy Donovan confirmed today (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). Williams came off the bench in multiple preseason games as Javonte Green shone, but Green will be part of the second unit to open the season.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Cavaliers feel as if Evan Mobley has Hall of Fame potential and believe his development is the key to whether the team can become a legitimate championship contender, Chris Fedor writes in an excellent article for Cleveland.com. “Evan needs to be in a position where people look at us and say, ‘Evan is their best player,'” assistant coach Greg Buckner said. “It can’t be, ‘Donovan (Mitchell) is their best player, Darius (Garland) is their best player or J.A. (Jarrett Allen) is their best player.’ It has to be Evan.” That view is shared by head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, according to assistant coach Luke Walton. “J.B. talks about it all the time with us: We need Evan to be one of the best players in this league, if not the best player in this league, if we’re gonna win championships,” Walton said. “That’s our mission coming from J.B. — help him get to that level.”
  • Hoops Rumors has confirmed that Didi Louzada is eligible to become an affiliate player for the Cleveland Charge after signing a two-way contract (rather than an Exhibit 10 deal) with the Cavaliers on Monday and being waived shortly thereafter. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype first reported the Cavs’ plan to secure Louzada’s G League rights.
  • With Khris Middleton and Joe Ingles already ruled out for the start of the season, the Bucks will also be without Pat Connaughton for a few weeks, prompting Eric Nehm of The Athletic to explore how the team will deal with all its injury absences. As Nehm details, George Hill, Jevon Carter, and Wesley Matthews all figure to play increased roles, with young wings Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp potentially seeing action too.
  • Pacers forward James Johnson was happy to earn the team’s final roster spot, beating out Langston Galloway and Deividas Sirvydis. However, as Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files relays, Johnson knows that he can’t get comfortable yet, since his contract still isn’t fully guaranteed for the season. “It’s an honor for this spot, but at the end of the day I’m still vulnerable,” he said.

Central Notes: Middleton, Lopez, Stewart, Bagley, Bey

Khris Middleton won’t be ready to play by opening night as he recovers from wrist surgery. Joe Ingles is still rehabbing from a major knee injury.

So who will step up in their place? Eric Nehm of The Athletic examines potential lineup combinations the Bucks may use in their absence. Pat Connaughton will likely start until Middleton returns, though Jordan Nwora and MarJon Beauchamp will have opportunities to establish themselves as rotation pieces. Wesley Matthews and Grayson Allen will fight for minutes at shooting guard.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Middleton has a $40.4MM option on his contract for the 2023/24 season, while center Brook Lopez will be an unrestricted free agent unless he signs an extension. However, there hasn’t been any buzz about it at Bucks camp, Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. In fact, Lopez claims that “I wasn’t exactly aware this was a contract year” until the subject was brought up.
  • Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley may be more suited to playing center but they’ll both see action at times at power forward this season, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com writes. That will allow Nerlens Noel and rookie Jalen Duren to get some minutes off the bench. “It’s tough,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said. “What’s going to have to manifest itself is – it’s not natural right now – for Isaiah to kind of slide to the four just to open some spots for everybody.”
  • While most of the attention regarding the Pistons is focused on their young backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, third-year forward Saddiq Bey has served notice that he could be an offensive force this season, according to James Edwards III of The Athletic. “He’s putting the ball on the floor a lot better, finding guys a lot better,” reserve guard Cory Joseph said. “We know how he can score and the attention he’s going to get. He’s making the game better for himself and everyone around him right now. He’s playing really well.”

Central Notes: Ball, LaVine, Nwora, Pistons

Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is scheduled to undergo another procedure on his troublesome left knee on Wednesday after spending the entire offseason trying to recover from the injury without surgery. Speaking on Tuesday to reporters, Ball discussed the decision to go back under the knife, explaining that the knee continues to bother him even when he’s doing day-to-day activities like walking up the stairs.

“Literally, I really can’t run. I can’t run or jump. There’s a range from, like, 30 to 60 degrees when my knee is bent that I have no force and I can’t catch myself. Until I can do those things I can’t play,” Ball said, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I did rehab, it was getting better, but it was not to a point where I could get out there and run full speed or jump. So surgery is the next step.”

The injury has bothered Ball for far longer than he or the Bulls expected, with the point guard suggesting on Tuesday that his condition and his symptoms have left his doctors “a little surprised.” Ball is hopeful that Wednesday’s procedure will shed more light on the issue.

“From my understanding they’re going in there to see what it is because it’s not necessarily showing up on the MRI,” Ball said. “But it’s clear that there’s something there that’s not right. So they’re going to go in, look at it, and whatever needs to be done is going to be done.”

As Schaefer writes in a separate NBC Sports Chicago story, Bulls president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas said on Monday that a recovery timeline for Ball remains unknown, and that the four-to-six week timeline the team announced last week is just for a reevaluation — the 24-year-old is not expected to be ready to return at that point.

Ominously, when asked on Tuesday if he needs to view Ball’s absence as a potential season-long issue, head coach Billy Donovan replied, “I think you have to” (Twitter link via Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic). That could just be a matter of Donovan preparing for a worse-case scenario, but it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • While Ball’s knee injury continues to be a problem, fellow Bulls guard Zach LaVine said that his own knee – which he underwent arthroscopic surgery on in the spring – feels “really good.” Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times has the story and the quotes from LaVine.
  • Playing strong defense will be crucial for Jordan Nwora as he looks to earn a regular spot in the Bucks‘ rotation this season, head coach Mike Budenholzer said on Monday (link via Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “He’s maturing and he understands it’s a big priority for us for him to get on the court, for him to help us,” Budenholzer said. “Everybody’s gotta be able to defend at a high level. He’s gotta prove it now, every day in camp, and he’s off to a good start.”
  • Nwora, who just re-signed with the Bucks on a two-year deal, will have guaranteed base salaries of $2.8MM and $3MM on his new deal, with additional bonuses of $200K per year if the team gets to the second round of the playoffs, reports ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter links). As Nehm relays, Nwora referred to restricted free agency as “kind of a blessing and curse” and praised the job his agent and the front office did to make a deal.
  • The Pistons made a series of intriguing roster additions this summer, drafting Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren and trading for Bojan Bogdanovic. But in their comments to the media on Monday, general manager Troy Weaver and head coach Dwane Casey both stressed the importance of “internal growth,” writes Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “We’re hoping that our players in-house can continue to grow and develop at a pace that allows us to push and grow and compete, and then contend the way we want to,” Weaver said.

Bucks Re-Sign Jordan Nwora To Two-Year Deal

SEPTEMBER 26: Nwora has officially re-signed with the Bucks, the team announced today in a press release.


SEPTEMBER 25: The Bucks are bringing back restricted free agent small forward Jordan Nwora on a two-year, $6.2MM contract, agents Mark Bartelstein and George Roussakis tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Nwora, 24, averaged 7.9 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 1.0 APG, over 19.1 MPG, across 62 contests for the Bucks in 2021/22, including 13 starts. He posted shooting splits of .403/.348/.837 last year.

Nwora was selected with the No. 45 pick in 2020 out of Louisville. Though he played a relatively limited role with the club as a rookie, Nwora was a part of the team’s 2020/21 championship-winning roster.

During Bucks Media Day remarks to the press earlier today, team president Jon Horst alluded to the fact that Nwora was slated to join the team for the start of training camp Monday, tweets Jim Owzcarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The 6’8″ swingman will be the 15th player to receive a guaranteed 2022/23 salary from the Bucks, so the team’s regular season roster looks pretty much set.

There had been some uncertainty about whether Milwaukee would be willing to carry a 15th man into the regular season, since doing so will push the team’s salary further over the tax line. Unless a trade is coming before opening night, it appears the club is comfortable taking on that extra cost.

Central Notes: Sexton, Nwora, Turner, Hield, Sykes

Collin Sexton‘s foray into restricted free agency could drag on into training camp or even the regular season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Talks between the Cavaliers and Sexton’s representatives have reportedly reached a standstill after the Cavs offered close to $40MM over three seasons.

Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, Sexton’s agent, has shown no interest in settling for anything less than a “starting guard salary” in negotiations, Charania adds. Sexton, who missed last season after knee surgery, could sign his $7.2MM qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks GM Jon Horst hopes that Jordan Nwora‘s restricted free agency works out for both parties, Eric Nehm of The Athletic writes. Nwora must first figure out if he has a market around the league. Then, he can either sign an offer sheet that would force the Bucks to match or inform the Bucks of that interest and see if a trade is feasible.
  • The Pacers will inevitably trade both Myles Turner and Buddy Hield, as they’ve embraced a full rebuild, according to Bob Kravitz of The Athletic. Team president Kevin Pritchard isn’t in a rush to deal either player, but the Pacers are serious about opening up cap space and accumulating assets.
  • The Pacers’ G League affiliate, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, traded Keifer Sykes‘ rights to the Pistons’ affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, in exchange for the rights to Derrick Walton and Deividas Sirvydis, along with a 2023 second-round pick, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Sirvydis was a second-round pick by Detroit in 2019. The inclusion of the Cruise’s 2023 second-rounder signals that the Pistons and their affiliate expect Sykes to play in the G League in 2022/23. The 28-year-old appeared in 32 games with Indiana last season, averaging 5.6 PPG and 1.9 APG in 17.7 MPG.

Central Notes: Ingles, Nwora, Terry, Travers

Free agent addition Joe Ingles hopes to be back on the court by mid-December and is optimistic that he’ll be able to start playing for the Bucks soon afterward. Ingles, who underwent surgery for a torn ACL in February, made the comments in an interview in his native Australia (Twitter link).

Speaking with Eric Nehm of The Athletic, Milwaukee general manager Jon Horst said that’s roughly the timeline the organization expects for Ingles, but cautioned that the rehab process for an ACL tear can be unpredictable.

“The other factor is just going to be, ‘What do we need? And when?’ Joe can really help us in the regular season and deep into the playoffs and can fit with us and maybe have a future with us going forward beyond this year,” Horst added. “So we’re not going to just rush him on the floor just to get a couple extra regular season games out of him. It’s a bigger-picture play with Joe, so that’ll factor in also. I think we’ll take a pretty patient approach.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Horst also discussed second-year small forward Jordan Nwora, who is a restricted free agent after the Bucks extended a qualifying offer of roughly $2MM. Horst believes restricted free agency “is really just starting to open now” and said the team is working with Nwora’s agent to find the best solution. “I think restricted free agency is tricky, so there’s no other way to do it. Except to be honest with him and just work through it with each other,” Horst said. “We have a roster spot. We’ll have an option to have him if we want and we’ll figure it out together.
  • First-round pick Dalen Terry had to leave the Bulls‘ Summer League game today after suffering a right hamstring injury when he slipped on a wet spot on the court, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. There’s no word on the severity of the injury.
  • Cavaliers swingman Luke Travers left a strong impression in his final Summer League game before returning to Australia, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. The 56th overall pick, who’s expected to play overseas next season, had 14 points and hit a pair of three-pointers. “I think the future is very bright for Luke,” Summer League coach Mike Gerrity said. “He can impact the game in so many ways. I’m happy we got him.”

QO Decisions: Nwora, T. Brown, Rockets, Moon, More

The Bucks have tendered a qualifying offer to Jordan Nwora, making the 23-year-old a restricted free agent, a league source tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link). Nwora’s QO for 2022/23 is worth a projected $2,036,090.

The 45th pick of the 2020 draft, Nwora saw his role expand in his second season with Milwaukee, appearing in 63 games (19.1 MPG) with averages of 7.9 PPG and 3.6 RPG on .403/.348/.837 shooting. He’s No. 43 on our list of top 50 free agents.

Let’s round-up some more qualifying offer decisions…

  • The Bulls won’t extend a QO to Troy Brown ($7,228,448), making him an unrestricted free agent, reports Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (via Twitter). Brown, who turns 23 on July 28, was the 15th pick of the 2018 draft but didn’t leave much of an impression with Chicago, averaging 4.3 PPG and 3.1 RPG on .419/.353/.769 shooting in 66 games (16 MPG) in ’21/22.
  • The Rockets aren’t giving qualifying offers to either Bruno Fernando ($2,228,276) or Anthony Lamb (two-way), according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Fernando, the 34th pick of the 2019 draft, has seen scant NBA minutes, appearing in 119 contests with an average of 9.2 MPG over his three seasons with Atlanta, Houston and Boston. His QO was worth more than the minimum and the Rockets have lots of players already under contract next season after sending Christian Wood to Dallas for the No. 26 pick and four veterans.
  • Xavier Moon (two-way) won’t receive a qualifying offer from the Clippers, as Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times relays (via Twitter). Moon will be an unrestricted free agent after reaching the NBA as a 27-year-old rookie last season. He has plenty of international experience, having made stops in France, England, Israel and Canada before earning three 10-day hardship deals and later a two-way contract with L.A. in ’21/22.
  • A couple of two-way players received QOs from their respective clubs, sources tell Keith Smith of Spotrac (Twitter links). Nathan Knight received his offer from the Timberwolves, while the Magic extended a QO to Admiral Schofield. Both players will be restricted free agents.

Central Notes: G. Hill, Lopez, Pacers, Cunningham

Bucks guard George Hill will remain sidelined for Game 2 of the team’s first-round series vs. Chicago on Wednesday due to an abdominal strain, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The injury, which Hill suffered on April 8, also kept him on the sidelines for Game 1 on Sunday.

As Owczarski relays, Bobby Portis (right calf bruise) and Jordan Nwora (back soreness) also showed up on the Bucks’ injury report for Game 2, but both are listed as probable and look like good bets to be active.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Bucks center Brook Lopez was limited to just 13 appearances during the regular season due to a back injury, but he’s healthy at the right time and looks like he has fresh legs, writes Steve Megargee of The Associated Press. The resurgence of Lopez, who scored 18 points in a season-high 32 minutes in Game 1 on Sunday, makes the Bucks more dangerous on both ends of the court and gives them a size advantage vs. Chicago, according to Megargee.
  • In his preview of the Pacers‘ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) observes that the team must decide if it wants to continue rebuilding in 2022/23 or pivot back to competing for the playoffs. That decision will affect whether Indiana decides to retain or shop veterans like Malcolm Brogdon and Buddy Hield, Marks writes.
  • The three players selected immediately after Cade Cunningham in the 2021 draft look like future stars, but Cunningham’s second-half performance on the court and the leadership qualities he displayed off of the court show that the Pistons made the right call with the No. 1 pick, says Rod Beard of The Detroit News (subscriber link).

COVID-19 Updates: Hachimura, Roby, Grizzlies, Bucks, Robsinon, Suns, Nance, Hawks

Wizards power forward Rui Hachimura has exited the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, though an exact timeline for his return to the court has yet to be determined, per Josh Robbins of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Hachimura, 23, has missed the entirety of the Wizards’ 37-game 2021/22 NBA season thus far, due to a combination of an extended personal absence and subsequently his stint in the protocols. The 6’8″ big man is averaging 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across his two seasons with Washington thus far.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the league:

  • Young Thunder reserve center Isaiah Roby has entered the NBA’s coronavirus health and safety protocols, per Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (Twitter link).
  • Grizzlies wing Dillon Brooks and guard De’Anthony Melton have cleared the NBA’s coronavirus protocols but remain questionable ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Pistons as they continue to re-condition, while forward Kyle Anderson has also cleared protocols but will most likely not play due to back soreness, according to Memphis’s PR team (Twitter link).
  • Bucks forwards Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, and Semi Ojeleye have exited the league’s COVID-19 protocols and are available for a short-handed Milwaukee team tonight against the Raptors, per Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). We first mentioned earlier today that that triumvirate of Bucks players was nearing a return. Through the game’s first half, Nwora is the only one of the three that has played.
  • $90MM Heat shooting guard Duncan Robinson has exited the NBA’s coronavirus protocols and will reunite with the team in Portland ahead of its game against the Trail Blazers tonight, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The team has announced that Robinson will play (Twitter link).
  • Suns centers Deandre Ayton and JaVale McGee, along with starting power forward Jae Crowder, have all cleared COVID-19 health and safety protocols but will remain sidelined for Thursday’s home contest against the Clippers as they work their way back into game shape, reports Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic.
  • Trail Blazers forward Larry Nance Jr. has cleared the league’s coronavirus protocols and will be available to play tonight against the Kings, per Aaron J. Fentress of the Oregonian (Twitter link). We had first noted earlier today that Nance had registered an inconclusive COVID-19 test and that a quick return was a possibility.
  • Hawks guard Bogdan Bogdanovic and small forward Jalen Johnson have exited health and safety protocols, writes Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Spencer says the two players are expected to consult with Atlanta’s medical staff in Los Angeles ahead of the team’s games against the Lakers and Clippers on Friday and Sunday. Spencer adds that Johnson struggled a bit with the coronavirus and could need additional conditioning time.