Josh Okogie

Injury Updates: Exum, Hayes, Bogdanovic, Okogie, Towns

Cavaliers guard Dante Exum departed Monday’s game against Orlando in the opening minute with a right calf strain, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He went down with a non-contact injury and eventually hobbled to the bench, unable to put weight on his leg. Cleveland players spoke with optimism regarding the injury after the game, Fedor tweets.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Pistons lottery pick Killian Hayes left Monday’s game against Milwaukee during the third quarter with a right hip injury, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Hayes has started regularly during his rookie season. He’ll have an MRI on Tuesday, coach Dwane Casey said after the game.
  • Jazz swingman Bojan Bogdanovic has continually experienced soreness in his surgically repaired right wrist, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes. Bogdanovic put on a brace during Sunday’s game against San Antonio and it helped dramatically, as he scored 28 points. “I really hate to play with anything on my body, any tape, any brace, anything,” he said. “But I really needed it because my wrist is kind od sore whenever I follow through when I’m shooting.”
  • Josh Okogie is closer to returning than Karl-Anthony Towns for the Timberwolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Okogie has missed the last four games with a left hamstring strain. Towns has only played two games due to a dislocated left wrist. Meanwhile, Jaylen Nowell is ramping up in practice and is close to making his season debut. He’s been sidelined with a left ankle injury.

Timberwolves Pick Up Options On Okogie, Culver

The Timberwolves are picking up their 2021/22 options on Josh Okogie and Jarrett Culver, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets.

Okogie’s fourth-year option is worth approximately $4.09MM. The 20th pick of the 2018 draft has been a rotation player since his rookie campaign.

He has started all three games for Minnesota this season, averaging 8.0 PPG, 3.3 RPG and 1.7 APG in 25.0 MPG. The shooting guard is making $2.65MM this season.

Culver’s third-year option is worth approximately $6.4MM. The 6th overall pick of the 2019 draft averaged 9.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG and 1.7 APG in 23.9 MPG as a rookie while appearing in 63 games.

He’s coming off the bench this season, averaging 10.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 0.7 APG in 23.3 MPG. The swingman out of Texas Tech is pulling in $6.1MM this season.

Northwest Notes: Okogie, Hill, Harrison, Bol

Due to a lack of established options at the power forward position, the Timberwolves may explore having 6’5″ wing Josh Okogie spend some time at the four, according to Jon Krawczynski of the Athletic.

The recently re-signed Juan Hernangómez figures to have the inside track on the starter job for the Timberwolves. Naz Reid, Jarred Vanderbilt and Okogie will also be in the mix for minutes at the four. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and/or Tyler Cook would also be candidates for playing time if one or both make the team.

Okogie is confident that, if called to play power forward, he will be able to hold his own for the Timberwolves. “I do know, if I was in that position, I don’t think I’d have a lot of trouble,” Okogie said. “Even last year, rarely do I guard somebody that’s smaller than me, unless I’m guarding like a point guard or something. Usually I’m guarding the Kawhi Leonards and Paul Georges, usually people that are taller than me, so I don’t think it’d be much different.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New Thunder point guard George Hill is looking forward to serving as a veteran presence for his young teammates on a rebuilding squad in Oklahoma City, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman reports. “To be that leader out here is much needed with the young locker room that we have,” Hill said.
  • The latest offseason addition to the Jazz roster, defensive-minded guard Shaquille Harrison, can help guard multiple positions off the bench, according to Tony Jones of the Athletic. Jones adds that, due to Harrison’s lack of shooting touch, he will need to be employed in shooting-heavy lineups.
  • After logging most of his first NBA season in the G League, Nuggets big man Bol Bol flashed intriguing potential in seven of eight regular-season NBA restart seeding game contests. After Denver converted his two-way contract into a two-year, $4.1MM contract this offseason, questions remain about the slight, 7’2″ Bol’s ultimate positional fit on the court, as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details.

Western Notes: Powell, Bazemore, Holiday, Brown, Timberwolves

Mavericks big man Dwight Powell, who is signed through the 2022/23 season, is showing good progress as he rehabs from a torn right Achilles, Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News reports. Powell, who underwent surgery in January, has no movement limitations. However, the closure of the Mavericks practice facility has created an obstacle to get on-court time. It typically takes an NBA player a year or more to return to action from an Achilles tear but the delayed start of next season should work in his favor.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors could consider adding one of their former players,  the Kings’ Kent Bazemore or the Pacers’ Justin Holiday, in free agency, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. Poole breaks down the pros and cons of both players and concludes Holiday would be a better fit, since he has proven more durable in recent years. However, it’s also likely he’d cost more than Bazemore, Poole adds.
  • It’s unclear if former Sixers coach Brett Brown is a candidate for the Thunder’s opening but there is a strong connection to the front office, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman notes. Brown worked with GM Sam Presti in the Spurs organization from 2002-07.
  • The Timberwolves mini-camp facilitated Jarrett Culver‘s development and Josh Okogie‘s playmaking skills, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. It also reinforced the value of forward Jake Layman, though he suffered a broken nose during the workouts.

Doncic, Young, Zion Headline Rising Stars Rosters

The NBA has officially announced the 20 rookies and sophomores who have been named to the league’s Rising Stars game for All-Star weekend. Those 20 players, selected by assistant coaches from around the league, will be divided into a U.S. Team and a World Team, as follows:

U.S. Team:

World Team:

Williamson’s inclusion is notable since he has appeared in just four games due to injuries. It’s not surprising that the NBA found a way to get him into the game, since he’s one of the most exciting prospects to enter the league in years, but it’s a tough break for youngsters who have been on the court since the fall for contenders, such as Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle. or Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr.

Snubbed players like Thybulle, Porter, and others could eventually make their way into the Rising Stars game if players have to pull out due to injuries, or if All-Stars like Doncic and Young opt not to play in both events.

The Rising Stars game will take place in Chicago on Friday, February 14.

Timberwolves Exercise Josh Okogie’s 2020/21 Option

The Timberwolves have officially picked up their 2020/21 rookie scale team option on Josh Okogie, tweets Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. Although Minnesota waited until deadline day to officially make the move, there was never a doubt that the club would exercise the third-year option, worth $2,651,040.

Okogoie, 21, emerged as a reliable rotation player for the Timberwolves in his rookie season after being selected 20th overall in the 2018 draft. While he struggled with his shot (.386 FG%, .279 3PT%), the former Georgia Tech standout provided strong perimeter defense and flashed some offensive potential.

With Okogie now locked up through at least 2020/21, the next decision the Wolves face will be whether to pick up his $4,087,904 fourth-year option for 2021/22. That decision will be due one year from today.

NBA teams have until the end of the day to exercise their rookie scale options for the ’20/21 season, and only a handful of them are still outstanding. We’re tracking all those decisions right here.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Okogie, Green, Thunder

In a piece chronicling the first NBA game for Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explains how Porter’s debut ended up being a long time coming after the 21-year-old had to rehab through two back surgeries and miss his entire first season as a professional.

In the team hotel the night before Porter’s debut, Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, encouraged Porter to let each frame of his debut experience sink in, notwithstanding the fact that it was just a preseason game.

“I told him, ‘You should really pat yourself on the back,'” Connelly said. “It’s not easy to do what he’s done. He’s been a guy that, forever, the assumption was that he was going to play in the NBA because he was so talented, but the road has been a little more convoluted and challenging, so I said, ‘Appreciate the moment. You’re officially in the NBA. It wasn’t how you thought it would be three or four years ago, but it’s still special.'”

Teammate Jarred Vanderbilt, who is close with Porter and helped him throughout the rehab process and beforehand, had some good advice for his friend.

“I know how tough it was for him to sit out, like it was for me, but he sat out the whole year,” Vanderbilt said. “It was a lot tougher for him, so it’s just great to see him playing again. I told him, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just be happy to be out there.’ That’s how I was. I was just happy to be out there. I know how it feels to be not able to play. To come back and feel all antsy like you have to make the right play and everything, I felt like I was doing that and thinking too much, so I just told him to let the game come. Everything will fall into place.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who is entering his second season in the NBA, was able to improve his game this summer by playing in the FIBA World Cup as a member of Team Nigeria, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Specifically, Okogie believes he has gotten better mentally. “My experience was great playing overseas. One reason being, it forced me to think the game.”
  • As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, we may see some new tricks from Jazz newcomer, veteran forward Jeff Green, as his ever-expanding skill set could prove crucial for the team this coming season.
  • The Thunder rolled out a starting lineup that included Chris PaulShai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder in their latest preseason game, perhaps signaling the team’s plan to use multiple point guard rotations throughout this season. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the story.

World Cup Updates: Lithuania, Joseph, Nigeria, France

The Lithuanian national team has announced its roster for the 2019 World Cup, according to Donatas Urbonas, who tweets that the 12-man squad will include Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas and Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis in the frontcourt. Former Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas is also on the roster.

Lithuania is viewed as a contender to make a deep run in this year’s tournament, but it won’t have an easy path to even make it out of the first round. The Lithuanian national team is part of a group that also includes Australia, Canada, and Senegal — only two of those clubs will advance to the round of 16.

Here’s more on the 2019 World Cup, which will tip off in just four days in China:

Timberwolves Waive James Nunnally

In the latest move in a busy day for the Timberwolves, the club is waiving guard James Nunnally, league sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The transaction will happen in advance of Nunnally’s contract guarantee deadline this week.

After playing in Europe for the past two seasons, Nunnally signed with the Timberwolves during free agency, as Minnesota was looking to add players that could space the floor and provide solid defense. However, Nunnally was not a regular part of the rotation and rarely saw the court during his time with the Wolves.

The 28-year-old wing only played 64 minutes this season, averaging 2.1 points per game while knocking down 38.5 percent of his 3-pointers. The emergence of Josh Okogie and the additions of Robert Covington and Dario Saric pushed Nunnally further out of the rotation.

If Nunnally doesn’t catch on with another NBA team right away, a return to the EuroLeague is a viable possibility, given his past success overseas.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Bird, Okogie, Reed

Thunder star Russell Westbrook is nearing his return after missing the team’s first week of action, targeting Sunday’s home game against the Kings, according to ESPN’s Royce Young.

The team currently lists him as out for the game, but cautioned that his status is always subject to change. Should Westbrook miss the game against Sacramento, it’s possible that he makes his return on Thursday against the Celtics.

“A lot of it is him and the medical staff talking to each other and him giving feedback,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “In my conversations with him, it’s always how he’s feeling the next day. And I think for him, he needs to be right because you don’t want to have something lingering. And he knows his body better than anybody else.”

Westbrook underwent a preemptive arthroscopy surgery on his right knee last month, the fifth knee operation of his 10-year NBA career. He held per-game averages of 25.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists last season, and has played in at least 80 games throughout the past three seasons.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • WNBA star Sue Bird is meeting with the Nuggets executive staff this week, which could turn into a job with the team, Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com reports (Twitter link). Bird is still an active WNBA player, meaning she cannot work full-time with the organization.
  • Timberwolves rookie Josh Okogie played a solid role in the team’s game against Dallas on Saturday, filling in for Jimmy Butler at small forward and showing flashes of potential on both ends of the floor. “I knew where to pick my spots and what my role is when I’m on the court with them,” Okogie said, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I came in the game ready to make an impact. I knew I just had to come to the game, rebound, do the dirty stuff, let the others shine.”
  • The Salt Lake City Stars drafted former NBA center Willie Reed with the No. 1 pick in this year’s G League draft, banking on his experience and close ties to the organization, as written by Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. The Stars are the G League affiliate of the Jazz, a team that features the likes of Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh at center.