Kevin Huerter

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Evans, Reddish, Huerter, Heat Arena

Russell Westbrook said he’s been embraced by the Wizards organization and the fans in the Washington, D.C. area, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “It’s been great,” he said. “The city, the team, the coaches; everybody has kind of welcomed me and my family with open arms. That’s all you can ask for.” Westbrook has two more seasons left on his contract. He’ll make $44.2MM next season and holds a $47MM option for the 2022/23 season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Dr. Katherine Evans has been named VP of research & information systems for the Wizards as well as the G League’s Go-Go and WNBA’s Mystics, according to a team press release. Evans is the first woman to head the research or analytics department of an NBA franchise. Prior to joining the Wizards, Dr. Evans served as the director of strategic research for the Raptors.
  • The Hawks could be adding another player to their rotation in the second round. Cam Reddish, who has been sidelined by right Achilles soreness, has progressed to full participation in practices the last two days, including live action, according to a team press release. Following upcoming five-on-five full-court scrimmages, he will be reviewed once again. Reddish has not played since February 21.
  • The Hawks ought to lock up Kevin Huerter with a rookie scale extension this offseason, even if he remains on the second unit, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Huerter’s perimeter shooting and ability to guard multiple positions gives the Hawks plenty of lineup flexibility, Kirschner notes. A contract extension similar to the one Luke Kennard received from the Clippers (worth up to $64MM over four years) would make sense, considering Huerter is a better all-around player, Kirschner adds.
  • The Heat will be playing in the same building but it has a new name. After a long run as AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat’s home will be called FTX Arena, the team tweets.

Hawks Notes: Capela, McMillan, Huerter, Arena Capacity

Clint Capela is in a new position as he prepares for his first playoff series with the Hawks, writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Capela was always one of the younger guys with the Rockets, who reached the playoffs every season he was in Houston. Now at age 27, he is serving as a mentor to Atlanta’s younger players, many of whom are about to have their first playoff experience.

“I really feel like (I’m in) a new role here, that vet role,” said Capela, who was traded to the Hawks at the 2020 deadline, but didn’t get to suit up before the pandemic hit. “So I get to share my experience, and I really feel (listened to) about everything I say. It’s really fun to be part of it.”

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • Coach Nate McMillan insists comments he made this week that drew a $25K fine from the league were “taken out of context,” according to Andrew Lopez of ESPN. McMillan seemed to indicate he was concerned the Hawks wouldn’t get a fair shake from the officials in the first-round series against the Knicks because the NBA benefits from having New York in the playoffs. “My intentions were never to suggest any type of bias as it relates to the league and our upcoming playoff series,” McMillan explained. “This type of narrative does not in any way represent me and what I stand for as coach of the Atlanta Hawks.”
  • There is “strong momentum” toward McMillan receiving a long-term contract, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (video link). No negotiations have taken place yet, Charania adds, but they’re expected to happen after Atlanta’s playoff run ends. McMillan was 27-11 after taking over for Lloyd Price at the start of March, and the Hawks climbed from 10th to fifth place in the East.
  • The Knicks won all three regular season matchups with Atlanta, but Hawks forward Kevin Huerter welcomes the opportunity to face them in the first round, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. “We feel really good about ourselves,” Huerter said. “They beat us three times this year, but all three games we could have won. We like the matchup and are ready for the challenge.’’
  • The Hawks will increase seating at State Farm Arena to nearly full capacity for the playoffs, Spencer adds in a separate story. There will be sections for vaccinated and unvaccinated fans.

Hawks Notes: McMillan, Offseason, Reddish, Collins, Young

Praising the job that interim head coach Nate McMillan has done since replacing Lloyd Pierce on the Hawks‘ sidelines, general manager Travis Schlenk said that McMillan has been especially adept at tweaking the team’s plays to fit specific players’ skills and has been “unbelievably consistent with his messaging,” writes Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

While it seems like a given that McMillan will be offered Atlanta’s head coaching job on a permanent basis, Schlenk said he has yet to have that conversation with the veteran coach, as Spencer relays.

“Obviously he’s done a great job, I’ve said that publicly. I’ve told Nate that, but our stance is still the same,” Schlenk said. “We’re going to let the season play out and then once the season plays out, we’ll sit down and have conversations. But to this point, short of me telling him he’s doing a great job, we haven’t had any more in-depth conversations.

“That’s quite frankly the way Nate likes it and wants to do it as well. We’re obviously extremely pleased with the job he has done; I have no problem saying that… But we haven’t had any conversations.”

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • Asked about the possibility of bringing back largely the same roster for next season, Schlenk said he wouldn’t be opposed to that, though he acknowledged that a few changes could be coming, according to Spencer. “Every free agency, draft, we’ll add players through the draft, we have two picks this year. And then free agency and the trade season,” Schlenk said. “But listen, if this same group came back, it wouldn’t bother me at all. But we’ll have to see how the draft and free agency play out.”
  • Cam Reddish (right Achilles soreness) is able to conduct unrestricted individual workouts and is participating in team practices on a limited basis, according to the Hawks, who said the swingman will be reassessed in 10-14 days. Reddish isn’t expected to have a real role even if he’s able to return before the Hawks’ playoff run ends, but Schlenk said the plan is to have him play for Atlanta’s Summer League squad in August, as Spencer details.
  • Asked about the Hawks’ top offseason priorities, Schlenk identified John Collins‘ restricted free agency and the team’s two draft picks as the most important matters to sort out, according to Spencer. The Hawks’ GM also mentioned Lou Williams‘ unrestricted free agency and Kris Dunn‘s player option decision as issues to address.
  • Trae Young will likely receive a new deal from the Hawks this summer, but Schlenk was noncommittal when asked about the players who are eligible for rookie scale extensions. “To be honest, I haven’t even really talked with any of (Young’s) people yet about any of that stuff,” Schlenk said, per Spencer. Kevin (Huerter) and Trae are eligible. We’ll certainly look to talk to their groups at the appropriate time.”

Injury Notes: Hornets, Huerter, Warren, DSJ, Bagley

The Hornets will see if LaMelo Ball and Malik Monk are ready for game action during their off days Thursday and Friday, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Ball had surgery March 23 on his fractured right wrist, while Monk has been sidelined since April 1 with a sprained ankle. Both players will take part in 2-on-2 and 3-on-3 scrimmages over the next two days.

The news isn’t as encouraging for Gordon Hayward, Bonnell adds. He’s still wearing a protective boot on his injured right foot and there’s no timetable for him to start working out. “Gordon is not there yet,” coach James Borrego said.

Here are some more injury-related notes and updates:

  • The Hawks are getting a second opinion on Kevin Huerter‘s sprained left shoulder, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Huerter underwent an MRI this week, but the results haven’t been announced.
  • Pacers forward T.J. Warren, who will miss the rest of the season with a stress fracture in his left foot, began jogging today on a treadmill, according to Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files (Twitter link). Coach Nate Bjorkgren called it “a big step” for the 27-year-old forward.
  • Dennis Smith Jr. hasn’t been able to practice lately and the Pistons don’t have a timeline for him to return from left knee soreness, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. “That’s why it’s so important that Killian (Hayes) came back,” said coach Dwane Casey. “… It’s unfortunate that he’s been hurt, but injury is something you have to deal with.”
  • Marvin Bagley III could return soon from his hand injury, Kings coach Luke Walton tells James Ham of NBC Sports (Twitter link). Bagley has participated in some 3-on-3 games and may be ready to start playing in the next few days.

Hawks Notes: Dunn, Huerter, Goodwin, Bogdanovic

After being sidelined by injuries for the past 15 months, Kris Dunn returned to the court Monday in his debut with the Hawks, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Dunn, one of the league’s best perimeter defenders, sprained his MCL in January of 2020, the first of a series of injuries that have kept him out of action. An MRI in November showed cartilage disruption in his knee, and then pain in his right ankle and lower back began in December. He has spent the last four months rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery.

“I just felt like different things just kept happening,” Dunn said. “My initial injury was my knee. I felt like I was on the verge of getting better there, then the ankle situation happened. I felt like I was on the verge of getting better there (with my ankle), then the knee kept (having issues), it was just back and forth trying to get back the alignment right. It was a long process. Every emotion you can think of, I went through during that 15 months. But I have a great support system in the organization, my teammates, the coaching staff, everybody kept belief in me, and deep down inside, I’m going to just keep working. I did, and I’m happy I did it.”

Dunn played 13 minutes Monday night and will remain on a minutes restriction for a while. He signed a two-year deal with the Hawks during the offseason that includes a $5MM player option for next season.

There’s more from Atlanta:

  • Kevin Huerter will undergo an MRI today on his sprained left shoulder, tweets Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Huerter suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss in Detroit.
  • Also injured last night was guard Brandon Goodwin, who left the game with an ankle impingement, Spencer adds (via Twitter). An X-ray taken after the game was negative, and the team said his status will be updated “as appropriate.” Goodwin offered his own update, tweeting, “Ankle good.”
  • The return of Bogdan Bogdanovic has helped Nate McMillan turn around the Hawks since taking over for Lloyd Price, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN (Insider link). In McMillan’s first game as interim coach, Bogdanovic returned from an avulsion fracture in his right knee — since then, he has been on the court for most of the minutes without Trae Young.

Southeast Notes: Avdija, Young, Huerter, Dedmon

The Wizards never really found out what rookie Deni Avdija could add as a secondary playmaker in his rookie season, Fred Katz of The Athletic writes. Avdija’s rookie campaign was cut short by a right fibular hairline fracture.

Avdija didn’t have many ball-handling opportunities starting alongside Wizards stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. Avdija ascended in last year’s draft as a top-10 selection due to his passing skills, but Washington didn’t get a full picture of what the Israeli forward could produce long-term in that area as the team heads into a crucial offseason, Katz adds.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Grade 2 ankle sprain that Trae Young is dealing with typically takes about two-to-four weeks to heal, says Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The high-scoring Hawks point guard suffered the injury against the Knicks on Wednesday. Spencer consulted Dr. Kenneth Jung, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon, to come up with a projected recovery period for Young.
  • Even though the Hawks spent a lot of money to bring in sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter felt he could slide into a variety of roles. Huerter spoke to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic about how his season has gone. “I’ve been in the starting lineup. I’ve been out of the starting lineup,” he said. “My minutes have been up and down. You go into the day and treat it the same. You’re always ready and available. You have to have that approach.” Huerter is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to the start of next season.
  • Dewayne Dedmon has given a nice boost to the Heat‘s frontcourt since he signed with them earlier this month, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. The 31-year-old center is averaging 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG in 13.8 MPG while appearing in four contests.

Hawks Notes: Pierce, McMillan, Collins, Huerter

Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce expects to miss the team’s next two games to attend the birth of his second child, he told Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Barring unexpected postponements, the next two games on Atlanta’s schedule are Wednesday and Friday in Boston against the Celtics.

As Spears writes, associate head coach Nate McMillan will assume interim head coaching duties in Pierce’s absence. McMillan has no shortage of past experience, with lengthy head coaching stints for the Pacers, Trail Blazers, and SuperSonics — he ranks 22nd on the NBA’s all-time list with 661 wins as a head coach.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

  • In an in-depth look at John Collins‘ situation in Atlanta, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report cites one front office executive who says the Hawks are “not in love with him” and writes that the two sides never got close to agreeing to a rookie scale extension before the season. Still, there’s an expectation around the league that Atlanta won’t actively try to trade Collins before this season’s deadline, Fischer notes.
  • Assuming the Hawks do keep Collins through the end of the season, rival executives don’t expect the team to let him walk for nothing, like the Kings did with Bogdan Bogdanovic this past offseason. Matching an offer or working out a sign-and-trade appears more likely. “They’re gonna make sure they get something for him,” one executive told Fischer.
  • Within the same story, Fischer says that although Kevin Huerter was available via trade last fall, rival teams now have “little sense” that the third-year wing is on the block.
  • The Hawks’ recent slump shows how badly the team misses De’Andre Hunter, especially on defense, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Without Hunter on the court, the team’s defensive rating is just 115.2, compared to 105.9 when he plays.

Southeast Notes: Martin Brothers, McDaniels, Bamba, Huerter, Wizards

Hornets brothers Cody Martin and Caleb Martin will miss Friday’s game against the Timberwolves due to the league’s health and safety protocols, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer. P.J. Washington has also been sidelined by the protocols, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets.

Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels has been recalled from the G League’s Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. McDaniels, who won’t be available until at least Sunday due to quarantine rules, has averaged 20 points and 11.5 rebounds in two games at Orlando’s bubble.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Mohamed Bamba has fallen out of the Magic‘s rotation and that shouldn’t be the case, Josh Robbins of The Athletic opines. The sixth pick of the 2018 draft needs playing time to establish how much improvement he’s made since his rookie campaign and coach Steve Clifford should give the young big ample opportunities to show what he can do, Robbins adds. Robbins also takes a look at the current rotation and Clifford’s usage of reserves Gary Clark and Khem Birch.
  • Hawks wing Kevin Huerter has averaged 13.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 3.8 APG since reclaiming a spot in the lineup, K.L. Chouinard of the team’s website notes. Huerter, who will be eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season, is on pace to set career-best marks in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage, Chouinard adds. “It’s finding my spots and finding ways to stay aggressive and keep myself within the offense,” Huerter said.
  • The Wizards are 3-8 since returning from their coronavirus pause, prompting Scott Cacciola of the New York Times to take a closer look at the team’s struggles.

Fischer’s Latest: Beal, Wizards, Pelicans, Hawks, Ujiri

Reiterating a point made by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday and Wizards head coach Scott Brooks on Saturday, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms that Bradley Beal is not available via trade, citing one longtime executive who notes that the team’s stance on the matter appears sincere and isn’t a bluff to drive up the guard’s price.

Despite there being no change in Beal’s potential availability, it continues to be a popular subject of speculation around the NBA. As Fischer explains, opposing front offices anticipate an “inevitable inflection point,” since there’s an expectation that the Wizards won’t be able to transform into a contender before Beal becomes eligible for free agency in 2022.

That inflection point isn’t here yet though, and the expectation is that it won’t arrive prior to this season’s trade deadline. According to Fischer, there’s a sentiment around the league that, regardless of Washington’s record, team ownership is unlikely to approve a Beal trade until the 2021 offseason at the very earliest.

“Teams say it all the time, but you feel like it’s real,” one assistant GM told Fischer, referring to the Wizards’ unwillingness to engage.

Here are a few more items of note from Fischer’s latest report:

  • New Orleans’ interest in Beal is one of the “biggest open secrets” around the league, according to Fischer, who suggests that the Pelicans and Hawks could be among the potential suitors for the Wizards guard if he eventually hits the trade block. Washington had been eyeing Onyeka Okongwu with the No. 9 pick in the 2020 draft before Atlanta scooped him up at No. 6, Fischer notes.
  • The Hawks “widely signaled” prior to draft night in the fall that Kevin Huerter was available via trade, per Fischer. It’s unclear whether the team’s stance has changed at all since then or if Huerter will be a trade candidate at next month’s deadline.
  • Word in NBA circles is that the Wizards may try to make another run at Masai Ujiri this summer, according to Fischer, who says the franchise has some deep-pocketed minority stakeholders interested in pursuing the Raptors‘ president of basketball operations. Although the Wizards denied it at the time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in June 2019 that the club was ready to make an aggressive offer to Ujiri, whose contract with Toronto expires later this year.

Southeast Notes: Lopez, Pasecniks, Crowder, Hawks Crowds, Bogdanovic

Veteran Robin Lopez has moved into the Wizards’ starting lineup due to the season-ending loss of center Thomas Bryant but the rotation will be flexible, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. Moritz Wagner will get some opportunities and power forward Rui Hachimura could man the middle in small-ball sets. The Wizards also have Anzejs Pasecniks on the roster.

“It’s going to definitely be by committee,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • There’s a good reason why the Wizards should take a closer look at Pasecniks, Hughes writes in a separate story. His $1,517,981 contract becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on the roster past January 31. A 2017 first-round pick, the 7’2” Pasecniks could help a defense that has been lacking in the early portion of the season, Hughes adds.
  • It has become more perplexing that the Heat didn’t make a strong push to re-sign Jae Crowder, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. They made Crowder a large, one-year offer in order to protect their cap space this summer but the forward chose more long-term security by inking a three-year, $29.2MM contract with the Suns. The Heat have cycled through Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Andre Iguodala and Kelly Olynyk in the power forward rotation and could have enjoyed more stability with Crowder, Winderman adds.
  • The Hawks have pushed back the targeted return of ticketed fans at State Farm Arena to January 26 due to COVID-19 concerns, according to a team press release. The Hawks will open at 10% capacity (approximately 1,700 tickets) before gradually increasing throughout the season, pending adequate conditions.
  • A medical expert interviewed by The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner estimates that Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss 4-6 weeks due to the avulsion fracture in his right knee, assuming surgery isn’t required. In Bogdanovic’s absence, Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish will assume bigger roles, Kirscher adds.