Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

Western Notes: Gordon, Green, Porter Jr., Davis

The Rockets are more inclined to deal Eric Gordon than at any point over the past two seasons, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports.

The Rockets, who have had preliminary talks regarding Gordon with numerous teams, have more interest in acquiring a young player or a future first-round pick for Gordon than a late first in next year’s draft, according to Iko, since they already two first-rounders in the next draft — their own and Milwaukee’s pick.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Josh Green won’t return until next month from his elbow injury, he told Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “Doing as much treatment and working on it as much as I can, but we’re going to revisit it in another couple weeks with the training staff,” the Mavericks guard said. The 2020 first-rounder hasn’t played since Dec. 9. The Mavericks would be very hesitant to trade Green, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, with a front office source telling him that he’s considered the team’s third-most important player after Luka Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who has missed a dozen games due to a heel injury, has been upgraded to doubtful for Tuesday’s game against Memphis, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jeff Green are all listed as questionable.
  • Anthony Davis‘ foot injury is a grim development for the Lakers, who are already floundering under the .500 mark. First-year coach Darvin Ham is trying to take a positive approach, hoping Davis’ absence will benefit the team in the long run, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of the period of discovery,” Ham said. “When you’re missing a huge piece like A.D., it allows you to mix and match and I think people are getting caught up in him not being there but I’m looking at another opportunity to see what we have and what combinations we can throw out there so upon his return, we can have several, several different bullets in the chamber that we can use.”

And-Ones: Henderson, Top Offseason Adds, 2022 Re-Draft

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, has been diagnosed with a nose fracture after entering the concussion protocols and missing the team’s last four games, writes Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire.

Although Henderson has already been sidelined since November 18, the injury isn’t considered a long-term one and he’s being listed as day-to-day for the time being. According to Taylor, there’s a chance Henderson will be cleared to return on Sunday when the Ignite host the South Bay Lakers.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Northwest Notes: Hart, Wolves, KCP, Markkanen, Conley

The Trail Blazers faced some criticism last winter for not receiving more in return when they traded CJ McCollum and Larry Nance Jr. to New Orleans, but they certainly haven’t been disappointed by what they’ve gotten from Josh Hart, one of the key pieces in that deal.

A full-time starter this season for the 7-3 Blazers, Hart is attempting just 6.8 shots per 36 minutes in the early part of this season, by far a career low. But he’s filling up the box score by averaging 8.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game, all of which are career bests, and is earning praise from his teammates, as Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian details.

“His last name is the perfect last name for him,” Damian Lillard said. “He rebounds like he is seven feet, he’s always in the passing lanes, he’s physical, playing hard, passionate, cares about winning. He doesn’t care about shots.”

While Hart admits that he wouldn’t mind a greater role on offense, he said he’s OK with taking a back seat to Lillard, Jerami Grant, and other teammates if that’s what’s best for the club.

“When you want to win, you’ve got to sacrifice,” Hart said, per Fentress. “I would love to be out there shooting 10, 12, 13 shots per game, and doing stuff like that. But at the end of the day, if you want to win, guys are going to have to sacrifice. Guys have to play different roles to help the team.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • It’s officially time to start worrying about the Timberwolves, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. The Wolves, who lost on Wednesday to a Suns squad missing Chris Paul and Cameron Johnson, have shown “no energy, no drive, and no heart” this season, Krawczynski writes, pointing out that the team has trailed by at least 18 points in six of its seven losses. “It’s just the sign of a team that’s lacking a little bit of confidence and purpose right now,” head coach Chris Finch said.
  • Acquired in an offseason trade, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been an ideal fit as a three-and-D piece for the Nuggets, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports, who says head coach Michael Malone has given Caldwell-Pope the freedom to deviate from the team’s defensive game plan when he sees fit.
  • Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, who is thriving in his new home in Utah, sat down with Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link) to discuss his trade from Cleveland, his goal of making an All-Star team, and why things didn’t work out with the Bulls, among other topics.
  • The presence of veteran point guard Mike Conley has been one important reason why so many of the Jazz‘s newly acquired players are fitting in seamlessly this season, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I’ve played with some good point guards, but nothing like Mike,” Markkanen said on Wednesday. “He’s a really smart player and knows not just when to pass ball, but he delivers on target.”

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, McDaniels, Azubuike, Sharpe

After replacing his old boss Tim Connelly this offseason, new Nuggets head of basketball operations Calvin Booth had a busy summer, trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith, signing Bruce Brown and DeAndre Jordan in free agency, and using first-round picks on Christian Braun and Peyton Watson.

Speaking to Mark Medina of NBA.com, Booth said the Nuggets’ offseason goals were to upgrade their defense, get more athletic, and add more two-way talents. He feels the team accomplished those goals.

“With KCP, we have one of the best 3-and-D guys in the league, someone with championship experience and a proven vet,” Booth said. “Bruce was one of the most underrated guys in the league last season. We’re finding that out every day in the game with how sophisticated of a game he has.

“Christian and Peyton will eventually address those needs. We valued DeAndre’s vet leadership and the way he communicates. He’s one of the best rebounders of his generation, and he can still do that. Ish Smith has been a great addition as well and brings different levels of speed and pace to the game.”

In his Q&A with Medina, Booth also discussed several other Nuggets-related topics, including Nikola Jokic‘s chances of winning a third consecutive MVP award, Jamal Murray‘s return from an ACL tear, and Booth’s own contract extension with the franchise.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Even though John Hollinger of The Athletic believes the Nuggets have a chance to come out of the West this season, he thinks there are still too many question marks related to the team’s depth and returning stars to actually forecast such a scenario. In his preview of Denver’s season, Hollinger projects a 50-32 record and a fourth-place finish in the West.
  • Jaden McDaniels will be the Timberwolves‘ starting small forward to open the 2022/23 season, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. McDaniels, whom the team worked hard to keep out of the Rudy Gobert trade, will fill out a star-studded lineup that features Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns up front, with Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell in the backcourt.
  • Jazz center Udoka Azubuike, who underwent surgery on his right foot and ankle in March, was cleared to practice in full on Thursday for the first time in seven months, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I was excited about it,” Azubuike said. “We did some exercises in the morning before practice, and that felt good. Then, me going out there, getting a rep and you know, I’m just excited. It really felt good.” It remains to be seen if the former first-round pick will earn a spot on Utah’s regular season roster, since the team has 18 players on standard contracts and will need to make cuts by Monday.
  • Trail Blazers rookie Shaedon Sharpe has signed with agent Mike George of One Legacy Sports for representation, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Northwest Notes: A-Rod, Garnett, Nuggets, Mitchell

The sale of the Timberwolves shouldn’t be considered in jeopardy because of Alex Rodriguez’s reported financial situation, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski talked to multiple sources who still expect the transaction to be completed as originally drawn up, even though a New York Post story this week questioned whether Rodriguez will have the money for his share of the next payment.

Rodriguez and Marc Lore have a unique arrangement with current owner Glen Taylor in which they are taking over full ownership on an installment plan. The next payment is due at the end of this year and the final one must be made by December 31, 2023. Krawczynski says there has been skepticism in some parts of the league about Lore and Rodriguez since the deal was announced, but there’s no immediate reason to believe they’ll miss either payment.

Krawczynski also notes that the duo has earned Taylor’s trust, as he empowered them to recruit president of basketball operations Tim Connelly away from Denver and gave them a voice on the Rudy Gobert trade.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves, including Lore and Rodriguez, want to fix their relationship with Kevin Garnett and eventually retire his jersey, Krawczynski adds. The former All-Star may get the chance to buy a small piece of the team, although Krawczynski hasn’t heard of any “substantive discussions” toward that end. Garnett has also discussed being part of an ownership group for an expansion team in Seattle.
  • The Nuggets traded for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and signed Bruce Brown this offseason because of their projected fit alongside Nikola Jokic, assistant general manager Tommy Balcetis said in an interview with Fastbreak on Fan Nation. “Getting Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown are both moves that really stand out for us because they are two players who understand their roles and are tailor-made to play with someone like Nikola,” Balcetis said. “… With Kentavious, his abilities to shoot and defend at a high level are what separate him from others who play his position. Bruce is a versatile guy on both ends of the floor that will fit into any role we need him in as well.”
  • The Jazz offered a farewell message to Donovan Mitchell after his trade to the Cavaliers became official today (Twitter link). We got to watch you light up the league as a rookie and cheer you on as you became a perennial All-Star,” it read. “We witnessed you embrace and serve our community while standing for what’s right and uniting Jazz fans everywhere. Thank you for all the good you did here @spidadmitchell.”

Nuggets’ Booth Talks Offseason Moves, Murray, MPJ, Jokic

Following Tim Connelly‘s departure for Minnesota, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth was thrust into the lead role of Denver’s front office just weeks before the 2022 draft and wasn’t shy about immediately shaking up the roster this offseason.

Of the 17 players who currently have standard guaranteed contracts or two-way deals with the Nuggets for 2022/23, eight have joined the team since the ’21/22 season ended. That group includes wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown and rookies Christian Braun and Peyton Watson, among others.

Speaking to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, Booth said that last year’s team was “a little bit smaller” than the front office had envisioned, so it was a priority this summer to add some size, especially on the perimeter. Upgrading the defense was also a goal, according to Booth, who discussed a few specific roster moves in his conversation with Vorkunov.

Here are a few of the most noteworthy comments from the Nuggets’ new head of basketball operations:

On the motivation for the trade that sent JaMychal Green to Oklahoma City:

“It helped us open up another roster spot to get a more regarded or better defender on the perimeter. JaMychal brought a lot of toughness and explosion around the rim and he’s a great shooter, but (defending) in space wasn’t his strength. So, it allowed us to open up a roster spot where we can get somebody that could be more versatile and switch and do something like that.”

On whether Booth thinks the defense will be better in 2022/23, particularly on the perimeter:

“Yeah, definitely do. I think, again, with the injuries, and Jamal (Murray), I think, is an underrated defender. Obviously, it’s gonna take a while to get back into tip-top form for him coming back off the injury, but I fully expect him to be a two-way guy once he’s back feeling like himself.

“But Aaron Gordon had to cover a lot of holes last year; he had to go into the backcourt a lot more probably than Coach (Michael) Malone or himself would have liked to. So, hopefully with the addition of KCP and Bruce Brown and Christian Braun and some of the guys of this nature — Davon Reed, he’s back, he does some good things for us — Aaron won’t have to go into the backcourt quite as much.”

On the plan for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. as they return from injuries this fall:

“I definitely think they’ll both be healthy (to start the season). Especially with the nature of Mike’s injury, and even Jamal, we’ll probably have to be wary about back-to-backs and things of that nature. As we get close to the season Coach Malone and I will sit down with performance staff and map out a plan for what that looks like during the regular season.”

On attempting to maximize Nikola Jokic‘s prime years:

“That’s just a priority. That’s the No. 1 focus. Maximize the timeline. Put personnel around him that allows him to play his best and get the most out of his teammates. So, that’s the No. 1 priority in our organization right now.”

Northwest Notes: Watford, Walker, K. Johnson, KCP, Bolmaro

Strong showings by Trendon Watford and Jabari Walker in the Las Vegas Summer League may have eased any concerns the Trail Blazers have about front court depth, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

Watford, who signed a two-way contract with Portland last summer and was converted to a standard deal in February, was outstanding late in the season when injuries to teammates pushed him into a more prominent role. He remained productive in Las Vegas, averaging 13.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.4 steals and 1.0 blocks per game as the Blazers captured the Summer League title.

Walker didn’t have flashy statistics in Vegas, but he showed he can be a valuable role player, Fentress states. Walker rebounded, played defense, set screens and did other things that will be necessary for him to earn consistent minutes in the NBA.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Trail Blazers shooting guard Keon Johnson also stood out during Summer League, Fentress adds. Johnson, who was acquired from the Clippers in February, looked like a former first-round pick, leading Portland’s squad in scoring at 14.2 PPG. Fentress doesn’t expect Johnson to be part of the rotation this season, barring injuries, but said he could see spot duty.
  • Although Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has found a new home with the Nuggets, who gave him a two-year extension last week, he didn’t expect to be traded by the Wizards, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. It marked the second straight offseason that Caldwell-Pope has been part of a significant trade. “My initial reaction was surprise because what me and my team and the Washington Wizards was talking about and communicating was different,” he said. “It was a surprise.”
  • Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune examines what the Jazz can expect from Leandro Bolmaro, who was part of the return in the Rudy Gobert trade. Bolmero, a 21-year-old swingman, is a 2020 first-round pick who made his NBA debut last season with the Timberwolves. Larsen notes that Bolmaro is an outstanding defender and a capable rebounder and playmaker, but there are questions about his ability to score.

Northwest Notes: Juzang, Vanderbilt, Thunder, KCP

Two-way player Johnny Juzang could be another developmental success story for the Jazz, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes.

Juzang, one of UCLA’s stars during the Final Four run in 2021, should get more of an opportunity than most undrafted rookies with Utah apparently shifting to rebuild mode. There are questions about Juzang’s defensive ability, but he proved to be a steady offensive threat in college. He struggled in Summer League action, shooting 26.1% from the field.

“I feel like I see the floor pretty well right now but I want to continue to become even more of a playmaker,” Juzang said. “I’m also focused on playing on and off the ball. It will all come with time.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Forward Jarred Vanderbilt, one of the players acquired from the Timberwolves in the Rudy Gobert deal, should be a defensive asset for the Jazz. He recognizes that he can be even more of a force if he develops his offensive game, according to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. Vanderbilt started 67 regular season games for Minnesota last season but only averaged 6.9 PPG in 25.4 MPG. “Finishing around the rim, touch; working on my shooting, trying to expand my range; working on ball-handling and counter-moves,” Vanderbilt said of what he needs to work on the most. “I’m still young in my career, where I have a lot of opportunity to still grow and expand my game as well. I’m sticking to the foundation that got me here, but building off that.”
  • What did the Thunder learn about No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren and the rest of their squad at the Vegas Summer League? Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman breaks down their performances.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s two-year extension with the Nuggets is worth $14.7MM in 2023/24, with a $15.44MM player option for ’24/25, Hoops Rumors has learned. The deal comes in at approximately $30.15MM in total.
  • In case you missed it, Kenrich Williams agreed to a four-year extension with the Thunder. Get all the details here.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope Signs Two-Year Extension With Nuggets

JULY 16: Caldwell-Pope’s extension is now official, per NBA.com’s transactions log.


JULY 13: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is signing a two-year, $30MM extension with the Nuggets, with the second year being a player option, his agent Rich Paul tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets, Caldwell-Pope was eligible for an extension despite recently being traded to Denver as long as the total length of the new contract did not exceed two years and the salary increase did not exceed 5%. He was on an expiring deal worth $14MM in 2022/23, so the extension will keep him under contract for at least one more season.

Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith were sent to the Nuggets from the Wizards in exchange for Monte Morris and Will Barton. Mike Singer of The Denver Post reported at the time of the deal that Denver had been targeting Caldwell-Pope for some time and had interest in retaining him beyond next season, which is now coming to fruition.

Singer notes (via Twitter) that the Nuggets had no intention of trading away two starters from last season unless the team was confident it could sign Caldwell-Pope to an extension.

Caldwell-Pope, known colloquially as KCP, had a solid first season with Washington in ’21/22, averaging 13.2 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.1 SPG on .435/.390/.890 shooting. The Nuggets reportedly value his championship experience and solid defense.

The 29-year-old shooting guard was the Lakers’ third-best player when they won the title in 2020 and has become a much more reliable outside shooter in recent years. At 6’5″, he’s capable of defending both guard positions and is also an active off-ball cutter, which should pair well with the incredible vision and passing of Nikola Jokic.

KCP’s skill set is always in-demand in the NBA because he doesn’t need the ball to be effective on offense and is a pretty good defender. The Nuggets, in particular, are always looking for role players in that mold to complement their stars, but he’d be a decent fit on most teams.

The Nuggets now project to have their entire starting lineup under contract through at least ’23/24. With the impending returns of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, plus the back-to-back MVP in Jokic, Denver has championship aspirations for the upcoming season.

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Porter, Caldwell-Pope, Braun

The Nuggets‘ Summer League practice on Tuesday was enlivened by the presence of Jamal Murray, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). Murray participated in several drills and took part in some scrimmages. Summer League coach Ryan Bowen said practicing was Murray’s decision and although he wanted to keep playing while the media was present, that idea was vetoed.

Murray, who missed the entire season due to a torn ACL, was involved in some non-contact drills on Monday that sparked his competitive instincts, Bowen explained. The reviews on Murray were positive, and coach Michael Malone called it “probably the most serious 5-on-5” that Murray has played since the injury, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports.

“He looked mobile, agile and hostile,” Malone said, citing a quote from “Remember the Titans.” “He looked confident. That’s the most important thing to me. I wasn’t charting his makes and misses. I was trying to see the confidence level. How was he moving, defensively … he looked good.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from Denver:

  • Jontay Porter, who’s on the Nuggets’ Summer League roster, offered a positive update on his brother, Michael Porter Jr., whose season was cut short by back surgery, Singer states in the same story. Jontay said Michael “looks great” and they’ve been playing 1-on-1 and 3-on-3 games to get themselves back into shape. Jontay played for the Grizzlies last year, but was limited to 11 games because of a knee injury.
  • In a press conference today welcoming veteranswingman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Malone said he was the main player the Nuggets focused on acquiring, Singer adds in a separate story. Malone likes having a 6’5″ guard who can play defense, and the team hasn’t forgotten the way that Caldwell-Pope shut down Murray in the 2020 Western Conference Finals. “He’s seen what it takes to win a championship,” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets also introduced first-round pick Christian Braun, and Malone suggested that he might have a regular role as a rookie, Wind tweets“I love his maturity. I love his IQ,” Malone said. “The things I really love about him the most are his toughness and physicality. Some guys shy away from physicality, Christian embraces physicality.”