Kenrich Williams

Thunder’s Derrick Favors Done For Season

Speaking on Thursday to reporters, including Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link), Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said that veteran center Derrick Favors will miss the remainder of the season with lower back soreness. Favors hasn’t played since February 24.

Favors, 30, holds a player option for 2022/23 worth $10,183,800, which he’s almost certain to pick up after having the worst season of his 12-year career. Favors averaged career-lows of 5.3 points and 4.7 rebounds this season in 39 games with the Thunder (16.7 minutes per night).

While Favors’ per-minute averages are still decent, he’s been trending downward the past few seasons.

Daigneault also said that Kenrich Williams is doubtful to return to action this year as he continues to deal with a sprained knee. He has been sidelined even longer than Favors, since February 14.

Williams, 27, has emerged as a valuable three-and-D role player over the past couple seasons with OKC, averaging a combined 7.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists on .501/.391/.559 shooting in 115 games (21.7 minutes). His $2MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

The tanking Thunder currently hold a 22-54 record, which is the fourth-worst mark in the league according to our reverse standings.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Set To Return For Thunder

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will return to action on Thursday after missing the team’s last 10 games due to a right ankle sprain, head coach Mark Daigneault said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Gilgeous-Alexander suffered the injury on January 28.

The 18-40 Thunder are 6.5 games back of the No. 10 seed and aren’t expected to prioritize making the playoffs this season, so it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be bringing back Gilgeous-Alexander if he weren’t feeling 100% healthy.

The star point guard had been averaging 22.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.7 RPG shooting in 43 games (34.6 MPG) before going down with his ankle injury. He has struggled to score efficiently this season, however, posting career-low shooting percentages of 42.4% from the floor and 27.8% on threes.

Rookie guard Josh Giddey has been thriving with Gilgeous-Alexander out of the lineup, having recorded three consecutive triple-doubles in the games leading up to the All-Star break. He likely won’t have the ball in his hands as much with SGA on the court, so Daigneault may have to get creative with his lineups and his rotation to ensure Giddey doesn’t lose that momentum.

According to Daigneault, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (foot), Mike Muscala (ankle), Ty Jerome (hip), Luguentz Dort (shoulder), and Kenrich Williams (knee) are still sidelined. Daigneault didn’t offer any guarantees when asked if Muscala, who is considering offseason ankle surgery, will be back this season (Twitter links via Mussatto).

Western Trade Rumors: Kings, Pelicans, D. White, Mavs, More

The Kings are still expected to make some sort of major move ahead of this year’s trade deadline in an effort to strengthen their roster for a postseason push, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Sacramento has expressed interest in both Pacers centers, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis, but Fischer hears that Indiana’s asking price has been much higher than what teams are willing to give up for either player.

According to Fischer, who says the Pelicans also have interest in Sabonis, Turner is still the more likely trade candidate of the two Indiana centers, but only if the Pacers are willing to drop their asking price a little, since teams are concerned about Turner’s injury recovery timeline and his ability to help a team this season. If the price remains high, Turner may stay in Indiana until the offseason.

One team to watch on the Turner front is the Trail Blazers, who gained some momentum in discussions with the Pacers prior to the big man’s injury, according to Fischer. If Portland is focused more on next season than this season, acquiring Turner would make some sense, but the Blazers still hold a play-in spot in the West, so they probably aren’t prepared to just throw in the towel.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the West:

  • Kings center Tristan Thompson is considered to be available in exchange for a second-round pick, says Fischer. I’m a little skeptical that Sacramento will be able to get positive value for Thompson by himself.
  • The Spurs received a call from the Hawks about guard Derrick White, Fischer reports. It doesn’t sound like those discussions gained any traction, but Fischer points out that San Antonio has been viewed since 2020 as a potential suitor for Atlanta big man John Collins.
  • As previously relayed, rival executives think the Mavericks may trade one of Jalen Brunson or Dorian Finney-Smith by February 10. Both players will be unrestricted free agents this summer, so there will be nothing stopping them from signing elsewhere, and if the Mavs do re-sign both, they’ll likely be taxpayers. However, Dallas has expressed confidence in its ability to re-sign both players, according to Fischer, who adds that there’s a belief Finney-Smith will seek $15MM annually on his next deal.
  • The Thunder‘s asking price in any trade for forward Kenrich Williams is believed to be a first-round pick, per Fischer.

Injury Notes: Sabonis, Ingram, Doncic, Williams

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said on Thursday that the team doesn’t have a “definitive” timeline for Domantas Sabonis‘ return from a left ankle sprain, but told reporters the All-Star big man will likely miss “at least a few games” (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).

As we observed on Thursday, it’s bad luck for the Pacers that two of their top trade candidates – centers Sabonis and Myles Turner – are battling injuries with the February 10 deadline around the corner. However, Sabonis’ injury in particular seems unlikely to be a long-term concern. There’s still a good chance Indiana hangs onto Sabonis, but any trade offers the team gets shouldn’t be negatively impacted by what appears to be a minor ailment.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Pelicans held Brandon Ingram out of the fourth quarter of their Thursday win over New York due to a sprained right ankle, says Andrew Lopez of ESPN. There are currently no plans to have the forward an undergo an MRI, but the team will evaluate the injury further before determining how much time – if any – he’ll have to miss. New Orleans doesn’t play again until Monday, so Ingram’s ankle will have a few days to heal.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic landed on his back after a drive to the basket during Thursday’s game against Phoenix and admitted after the game that his neck was “pretty sore” following the hard fall, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. However, Doncic expressed optimism that he’d be “OK in a couple days” and won’t miss any time.
  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams is no longer on the team’s injury report, an indication that he has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols. A regular rotation player for Oklahoma City, Williams could draw trade interest from playoff teams in the next few weeks as a lower-cost three-and-D option.

Scotto’s Latest: Bulls, Hawks, Finney-Smith, Thunder, Rockets

The Bulls figure to explore potential roster upgrades at the trade deadline, but they’re resistant to the idea of moving Patrick Williams, Michael Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast.

If the Bulls want to make a major move at the deadline, it may have to involve Williams, 2020’s No. 4 overall pick, since the club has already traded away multiple future first-rounders. Williams’ ability to help the team this year may also be limited, since a wrist injury is expected to sideline him for most or all of the regular season.

Still, based on Scotto’s reporting, it sounds as if Chicago will likely hang onto Williams. One Bulls player who is available in the right deal is 2019 lottery pick Coby White, rival executives tell Scotto.

Here’s more from the HoopsHype Podcast:

  • Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari could be had for a first-round pick or as part of a larger package, rival executives tell Scotto. I’m very skeptical any team will be willing to give up a first-rounder for Gallinari unless they can dump an unwanted long-term contract on Atlanta. Scotto adds that execs believe Hawks forward Cam Reddish is more likely than not to be on the move at the deadline.
  • Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Thunder forward Kenrich Williams are among the role players on modest contracts who are drawing trade interest from playoff teams, says Scotto. Oklahoma City is obviously more likely than Dallas to be a seller, but rival executives believe there may be an opportunity to poach Finney-Smith since he and Jalen Brunson are free agents in 2022 and re-signing both would likely make the Mavs a taxpayer.
  • Playoff-caliber teams are also monitoring Rockets veterans Eric Gordon and Daniel Theis, according to Scotto. They’ve been mentioned multiple times this season as potential trade candidates, since they probably don’t fit the timeline of a rebuilding Houston squad.
  • League sources tell Scotto that Thunder rookie Aaron Wiggins is a good candidate to have his two-way contract turned into a standard deal at some point this season.

COVID-19 Updates: McMillan, Casey, Dieng, Suns, Holmes, More

Two NBA head coaches have exited the health and safety protocols today. Hawks coach Nate McMillan was back at practice with the team on Tuesday, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). McMillan should be ready to return to Atlanta’s bench on Wednesday night when the team hosts Miami.

Additionally, Pistons head coach Dwane Casey is no longer in the protocols after having entered them on Monday. In a press release confirming Casey’s status, the club stated that Casey registered two consecutive negative COVID-19 tests following what was believed to be a false positive. Casey will coach Detroit on Tuesday night against Chicago.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Hawks big man Gorgui Dieng has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta had one of the league’s worst COVID-19 outbreaks this season, with a staggering 13 players in the protocols at one point in late December. However, the team doesn’t have any players left in the protocols now.
  • The Suns got guard Landry Shamet out of the COVID-19 protocols on Monday, but saw two-way forward Ish Wainright enter them, as Kellan Olson of 98.7 Arizona Sports tweets. Wainright is currently the only Sun affected.
  • Richaun Holmes has cleared the protocols and is headed to the Kings‘ G League affiliate in Stockton for some reconditioning work, says James Ham of ESPN 1320 (Twitter links).
  • The Thunder placed forward Kenrich Williams in the protocols on Monday and ruled him out for Tuesday’s game vs. Washington, tweets Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic.
  • The Grizzlies are once again listing Yves Pons as being in the health and safety protocols (Twitter link). Pons initially entered the protocols on Saturday and exited them on Sunday. It’s unclear whether that status update on Sunday was a mistake or if his test results have been inconsistent in recent days, but Pons is once again listed in our health and safety protocols tracker.

Northwest Notes: Jones, Nuggets, Blazers, Williams, Howard

Nuggets assistant Popeye Jones won his first game as acting head coach on Saturday against the Rockets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Jones was coaching in place of head coach Michael Malone and lead assistant David Adelman, both of whom entered health and safety protocols.

“I’m blessed to be a part of this organization,” Jones said after the game. “You come in as the only new guy, and guys are trying to get a feel for you. … To come into this culture, and all these guys are such good guys, man. They don’t complain, they work hard every day. Like I told them, ‘You established this culture. I’m blessed just to be a part of it.’”

Denver won the contest 124-111 behind Facundo Campazzo‘s 22 points, 12 assists and five steals. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic also added 24 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Nuggets secure their third-straight victory.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Trail Blazers have hired Rodney Billups as an assistant coach, the team announced in a press release. Billups is the younger brother of head coach Chauncey Billups, who joined the franchise last June. Portland owns the third-worst record in the West at 13-22 and has lost four straight games.
  • Every championship contender will take a look at Thunder forward Kenrich Williams leading up to the trade deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe opines. Williams has averaged 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 20.8 minutes for Oklahoma City this season, shooting 46% from the floor and 41% from three-point range. He also shot 44% from deep last season.
  • Nuggets two-way guard Markus Howard has hired new representation, choosing to sign with Octagon, the agency announced on social media (Twitter link). Howard will be represented by agents Josh Beauregard-Bell and Alex Saratsis. He’s averaged 4.3 points and 7.3 minutes in 16 games this season and is currently sidelined due to a knee injury.

Western Notes: Looney, Kerr, Lue, Williams, Cousins

Kevon Looney will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and thus far, he’s enhanced his résumé. Head coach Steve Kerr said the Warriors’ big man is underappreciated and that his contributions go far beyond stats, Mark Medina of NBA.com tweets. “Looney is playing fantastic basketball,” Kerr said. “He’s totally underrated. He’ll never get the credit he deserves.” Looney, an afterthought in the offensive scheme, is averaging 5.5 PPG and 6.6 RPG.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Kerr and Clippers coach Tyronn Lue have a mutual admiration, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register tweets. Lue says he hears from Kerr often. “He’s always checking up on me … very positive, motivating guy,” Lue said. “I don’t cheer for too many guys, but I do cheer for Steve… a genuine good person. He is one of my friends in coaching, which is pretty rare, for me.”
  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams is dealing with an ankle injury suffered in Friday’s loss to Washington, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. Williams, who is averaging 6.8 PPG, has been ruled out of Monday’s game against Houston.
  • The Nuggets, who have been decimated by injuries, worked out DeMarcus Cousins last week, Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated tweets. Cousins opted to sign a non-guaranteed deal with Bucks. Nikola Jokic has been dealing with a wrist injury and JaMychal Green is his primary backup.

Early NBA Salary Guarantee Dates For 2021/22

There are currently 30 players on standard NBA contracts whose 2021/22 salaries aren’t yet fully guaranteed. In most cases, those players will receive their full guarantees if they remain under contract through January 7. Because the league-wide salary guarantee date is January 10, a player must clear waivers before that date if a team wants to avoid being on the hook for his full salary.

A handful of players have earlier trigger dates, however. Those players will receive either full guarantees or an increased partial guarantee on certain dates before January 7.

These dates are fairly malleable — if a player and team reach an agreement, they can be pushed back. The Raptors took that route with Isaac Bonga and Sam Dekker, for example. Both players were originally on track to have their full minimum-salary contracts for 2021/22 become guaranteed if they made the team’s opening-night roster. However, they agreed to push their guarantee dates back a few weeks, to November 6.

Those agreements between a player and team aren’t always reported right away, so our list of early salary guarantee dates is a tentative one, based on information from Basketball Insiders, Spotrac, and HoopsHype, as well as our own data.

Here are the salary guarantee dates to watch prior to January 7:

November 6:

  • Isaac Bonga (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($250,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,729,217).
  • Sam Dekker (Raptors): Partial guarantee ($350,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,789,256).

December 1:

  • Chimezie Metu (Kings): Partial guarantee ($881,398) increases to full guarantee ($1,762,796).

December 11:

  • PJ Dozier (Nuggets): Partial guarantee ($400,000) increases to full guarantee ($1,910,860).

December 15:

  • DeAndre’ Bembry (Nets): Partial guarantee ($750,000) increases to larger partial guarantee ($1,250,000).
  • Kenrich Williams (Thunder): Partial guarantee increases to full guarantee ($2,000,000).
    • Note: Williams’ partial guarantee is based on a salary of about $11,494 per day. For instance, 30 days into the regular season, he’ll have earned $344,828.

Lowe’s Latest: K. Williams, Payne, Monk, Burks, Hartenstein

For the 10th year in a row, ESPN’s Zach Lowe has named his end-of-season “Luke Walton All-Stars,” honoring overlooked rotation players and NBA journeymen who have impressed him most over the course of the year.

Nets guard Bruce Brown, Warriors forward Juan Toscano-Anderson, and Raptors teammates Yuta Watanabe and DeAndre’ Bembry are among the players who made Lowe’s list, which also includes a handful of interesting tidbits on some of his choices. Here are a few highlights:

  • Thunder forward Kenrich Williams, who resisted signing a two-way contract multiple times earlier in his career, has enjoyed a breakout year in Oklahoma City. Sources tell Lowe that several playoff teams expressed trade interest in Williams prior to March’s deadline, but he wanted to remain in OKC, where he’s under contract for two more years (both non-guaranteed).
  • Suns guard Cameron Payne told Lowe that he thought his NBA career might be over in 2020, when the Mavericks opted to sign Trey Burke over him for the summer restart after he had played well for Dallas’ G League affiliate. However, he got an opportunity shortly thereafter with Phoenix, in large part because head coach Monty Williams had gotten to know him during their time with the Thunder.
  • Another former first-round pick, Hornets guard Malik Monk, was concerned about his NBA career last year as well, following his suspension for violating the NBA’s drug policy, his brother Marcus Monk told Lowe. The former Kentucky standout has enjoyed a career year while trying to let go of tension about his role, Lowe writes. “Guys who have success in college think the NBA is going to go a certain way,” Marcus said. “You think you’re invincible. Malik fell victim to that. I’m proud of how he matured.”
  • Before he signed a one-year, $6MM contract with the Knicks last fall, Alec Burks discussed a deal with the Bulls, according to Lowe. Burks’ familiarity with Knicks assistant Johnnie Bryant from their time in Utah was a factor in his decision to choose New York.
  • After an underwhelming stint in Denver, Isaiah Hartenstein has played well for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.3 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 16 games (17.9 MPG). Lowe says he wouldn’t be surprised if Hartenstein turns down his minimum-salary player option for 2021/22 to seek a new deal.