Luka Doncic

Hiatus Notes: Dudley, Blazers, Ballmer, Booker, Mavs

Veteran forward Jared Dudley is pessimistic that the NBA will resume its season after this indefinite hiatus, he explained on FOX Sports Radio this week.

Dudley joins a growing list of NBA players and officials who are skeptical about whether the league can resume its regular season. The overall concern, he explains, is focused around limiting injuries.

“Once I heard the news of no more practice facilities, if that goes for a month or month-and-a-half to two months, I find it almost impossible to then have a season because now you’re telling a professional athlete, ‘For 60-to-80 days you’ve done no training,'” Dudley said.

League officials know that resuming the regular season after several weeks of limited training would be risky unless each team is awarded ample time of preparation, much like what’s already being offered in the fall with training camps. Dudley estimates that 70% of athletes don’t have a personal gym inside their home to utilize during this break.

“I’m not optimistic right now at all for a season to be honest with you,” Dudley said. “Unless something happens here in the next 30 days where they open back up the facilities. But how do they do that? Once everyone starts getting tested you’re going to hear more and more cases because it’s a very common thing to get.”

The NBA is discussing a plethora of different avenues to take as this unprecedented hiatus continues, with commissioner Adam Silver open to receiving suggestions from the league’s players, coaches, agents, executives and fans for the time being.

Here are some other notes related to the NBA’s hiatus:

  • The Trail Blazers and owner Jody Allen have committed more than $4MM towards COVID-19 relief efforts, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). The money will assist game night employees impacted by the league’s postponement.
  • The Ballmer Group, founded by Clippers owner Steve Ballmer and his wife, Connie, have donated $1MM to community groups in Los Angeles to help during the coronavirus epidemic, Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times writes.
  • Suns guard Devin Booker is pledging $100L through Twitch livestreaming to support non-profits that best serve the needs of the most vulnerable in the community, the team announced in a press release. Phoenix Suns Charities will match Booker’s initial donation, the release adds.
  • Mark Cuban, Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell have teamed up with the Mavericks Foundation to donate $500,000 to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Hospital, the team announced (Twitter link). The funds will support childcare for healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response.

Western Notes: Warriors, Beasley, Covington, Doncic

An abbreviated regular season if the season is restarted wouldn’t do teams like the Warriors much good, Anthony Slater of The Athletic argues. It would be easier for the teams currently owning a playoff berth to play some tuneup games while ending the season for the 14 lottery-bound teams. That would allow their front offices to focus on their roster remakes and players to work on their games, Slater adds.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • The Timberwolves will undoubtedly want to re-sign restricted free agent Malik Beasley, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Beasley averaged 20.7 PPG and 5.1 RPG while shooting 42.6% from long range in 14 starts since being acquired from the Nuggets. Beasley’s price tag has risen, with Krawczynski speculating that his original projection of four years and $48MM is probably not high enough. There aren’t many teams with significant cap room but the Knicks could make a run at him, he adds.
  • While the Timberwolves’ defense has suffered by trading Robert Covington to the Rockets, they got a much-needed infusion of offensive talent with the additions of D’Angelo Russell, Beasley and Juan Hernangomez in the four-team deal, Krawczynski writes in a separate story. They now have a point guard in Russell that can score and pass as well as any they’ve ever had, a shooting guard in Beasley who can score in bunches and a solid rotation player in Hernangomez.
  • Several members of the Mavericks’ front office and scouting staff believed Luka Doncic would have been viewed as the undisputed top prospect in the 2018 draft if he had played in the United States or attended the pre-draft workouts, according to an in-depth piece from Tim Cato and Sam Amick of The Athletic. GM Donnie Nelson was completely sold on Doncic and owner Mark Cuban wasn’t going to pass him up, since he ignored Nelson’s advice on Giannis Antetokounmpo five years earlier. The Mavs’ front office was confident Doncic wouldn’t be drafted earlier than third overall, allowing them to arrange a trade with the Hawks to move up and nab the eventual Rookie of the Year.

Injury Notes: Doncic, Isaac, Holmes, Bowman

While Mavericks guard Luka Doncic seems to be over the ankle issues that bothered him earlier in the season, he’s missing Sunday’s game vs. Minnesota with a new injury — a left thumb sprain. Doncic played through the injury on Friday, but struggled to work around it, per an ESPN report.

“I didn’t know how important the thumb was to hold the ball,” Doncic said on Friday. “It was tough. … I wasn’t myself today. Just have to learn from that and move on.”

Head coach Rick Carlisle said that he’s not sure about Doncic’s status for Monday’s game against Chicago.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Although Jonathan Isaac has started doing some rehab work with the Magic, there’s only an outside chance of him playing this spring, according to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, who says that Isaac’s knee injury is still expected to keep him on the sidelines for the rest of the season.
  • Kings center Richaun Holmes, who hasn’t played since January 6 due to a shoulder injury, is getting closer to being able to take full contact, and hopes to resume practicing with the team this week, the team announced today in a press release.
  • Warriors guard Ky Bowman, who is currently on the shelf with a sprained right ankle, will be monitored for the next few days before the team provides another update, per a press release.
  • It’s not an injury, but Mavericks center Willie Cauley-Stein is missing his fourth consecutive game for personal reasons today. According to Dwain Price of Mavs.com (Twitter link), Rick Carlisle expects the big man to return to Dallas’ active roster on Monday. We’ll try to get him prepared to play some minutes if needed tomorrow,” the Mavs’ head coach said of Cauley-Stein.

Texas Notes: J. Green, Carroll, Cousins, Doncic

Jeff Green looked right at home in his debut with the Rockets, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. In his first game since being waived by the Jazz on December 24, Green scored 17 points in 24 minutes as Houston won big Thursday night at Golden State.

“I just came ready to play,” he said. “I mean, I’m in shape, so I just tried to do whatever I needed to do to help the team win. I have a beautiful wife who allowed me to do what I needed to do and that’s all I need to say about that. I have great trainers at home and when I was home for this time, my wife allowed to me to really focus on what I needed to do.”

The Rockets are Green’s ninth NBA team since entering the league in 2007, making him one of seven active players to be with that many organizations, Feigen adds. Ish Smith is the active leader with 11 teams.

There’s more NBA news from the Lone Star State:

  • DeMarre Carroll, another new Rocket, had a disappointing stay with the Spurs, but his presence on the team will be missed, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News (Twitter link). “I’ve known DeMarre since college, we came in together, played with him in Toronto,” DeMar DeRozan said. “Just a great guy. It’s part of the league. Everyone comes and goes, but friendships and memories last forever.”  Carroll appeared in just 15 games after signing with the Spurs last summer.
  • The Mavericks might have been willing to gamble on DeMarcus Cousins, but they don’t want to part with anyone on their current roster, owner Mark Cuban tells Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). The veteran center has missed the entire season with a torn ACL in his left knee, but recently offered hope that he might be ready for the playoffs. The Lakers plan to waive Cousins and add Markieff Morris once he clears waivers tomorrow. “We don’t have any roster spots,” Cuban said. “If we had a roster spot, we would probably do something, but we don’t. And there’s nobody we want to release.”
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic sat out tonight’s game with a sore ankle, but coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t expect it to be a long-term issue, Townsend tweets.

And-Ones: Doncic, Crawford, Cook, Edwards

Luka Doncic, who played in both the Rising Stars and All-Star games this weekend, has another non-Mavericks event circled on his calendar for later this year. Asked about his potential participation for Slovenia in this June’s Olympics qualifying tournament, Doncic responded, “I’m gonna play for sure” (Twitter link via Donatas Urbonas).

The Mavericks star didn’t get the chance to suit up for his home country during the 2019 FIBA World Cup, since Slovenia wasn’t able to qualify for the event. This June’s tournament will represent the last chance the squad has to earn a spot in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Doncic and the Slovenians won’t have it easy — they’ll have to beat Lithuania and Poland, among others, in that qualifying tournament to secure one of four Olympic berths up for grabs this summer.

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

  • Former NBA guard Jordan Crawford is working out for German team Brose Bamberg, according to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando. If the audition – which will take place within the next 10 days – goes well, Crawford will sign a rest-of-season deal with the German club, Borghesan adds.
  • In a conversation with Ian Begley of SNY.tv, veteran NBA agent Todd Ramasar provided an interesting, behind-the-scenes look at his typical approach to the NBA trade deadline.
  • The Canton Charge and Oklahoma City Blue completed a trade sending Tyler Cook to the Thunder‘s G League affiliate and Vince Edwards to Cleveland’s NBAGL team (Twitter link). Both players have some NBA experience, with Cook having spent time with the Cavaliers this season on a two-way deal, a standard contract, and a pair of 10-day pacts.
  • ESPN’s Jonathan Givony examines a few of the notable prospects who took part in the Basketball Without Borders Global Camp during All-Star weekend in Chicago.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Bryant, Kidd-Gilchrist, Sonju

Luka Doncic is a little bit starstruck as prepares for his first experience in the All-Star Game, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Doncic will start for Team LeBron in tonight’s game, but first came a weekend that included the Rising Stars Challenge, practice sessions with a more experienced group of All-Stars and a chance to interact with legends of the game, including a Jordan Brand party Friday night where he met Michael Jordan for the first time.

“It was something amazing,” Doncic said. “I was too nervous. I forgot to ask him for a picture.”

A few days shy of his 21st birthday, Doncic will become the youngest European to ever play in the All-Star Game, Townsend notes. He’s the sixth-youngest starter in the game’s history and the youngest since LeBron James was a starter 15 years ago. His coaches will include former Mavericks guard and current Lakers assistant Jason Kidd, who will help run Team LeBron as part of Frank Vogel’s staff.

“I told [Doncic] we’re going to play him 40 of the 48 minutes,” Kidd joked. “When you’re young, you can play all the minutes in the world. So there won’t be any load management.”

There’s more Mavericks news to pass along:

  • One of the most memorable moments of Doncic’s second NBA season was the night in Staples Center when Kobe Bryant trash talked him in Slovenian. The encounter took on added significance with Bryant’s death a few weeks later. Marc Stein of The New York Times says Bryant picked up the off-color phrases from former teammate Sasha Vujacic. “It’s going to be one moment that I remember for the rest of my life,” Doncic said. “Obviously I was hoping there would be more times with him, maybe even practice with him some day, but a terrible thing happened.”
  • Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is grateful for the opportunity to restart his career in Dallas after reaching a buyout with the Hornets, relays Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News, and the Mavs believe he can be a valuable contributor as the games become more important. “The guy has a reputation for being a gamer and a hell of a competitor,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
  • Mavericks co-founder Norm Sonju received the Jerry Colangelo Award at Saturday’s All-Star breakfast, according to Dwain Price of Mavs.com. The award recognizes someone in management who lives an exemplary life on and off the court and while expressing high character, leadership and faith. Sonju served as team president and general manager before retiring in 1996.

Porzingis, Doncic Starting To ‘Click’ As Teammates

Although injuries have limited their time together on the floor this season, Mavericks All-Stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have started showing signs of becoming an elite duo.

In Dallas’ final game before the All-Star break, Doncic (33 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists) and Porzingis (27 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks) led the team to a blowout win over the Kings. While Doncic has played at an MVP-caliber level when healthy, Porzingis is playing his first season since tearing his ACL as a secondary option.

Despite both players missing some time with injuries, Porzingis says he and his new teammate are starting to mesh together, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon writes.

“Luka’s done a great job communicating to me [about] where I wanna get the ball,” Porzingis said. “He’s also getting used to playing with me and he’s really starting to find me in those spots where I’m comfortable, that midrange area. And slowly these things are starting to click. I think as we keep working, playing together, it’s going to get better and better and better.”

At 33-22, the Mavericks are the current seventh seed in the Western Conference. A lot of that success has hinged – and will continue to hinge – on the health of Doncic and Porzingis. As MacMahon noted, after an inconsistent 10-game stretch to start the season, the Mavericks have been a scoring force when both of their young stars have shared the court. Moving forward, Doncic feels things will only improve.

“It’s great that we both had those nights,” Doncic said. “We’ve got to keep working, and we’re going to get better and better.”

Luka Doncic Set To Return Wednesday

FEBRUARY 11: After practicing today, Doncic told reporters that he’s ready to return on Wednesday, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Barring any setbacks, the star guard will participate in this weekend’s All-Star Game. He also plans to play in Friday’s Rising Stars game, per Sefko (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 10: Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that the team hopes All-Star guard Luka Doncic will be able to return to the court on Wednesday for a tilt against the Kings, per Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com.

“He’s progressing, he’s continuing to ramp up his activity over the last week,” Carlisle said. “He scrimmaged yesterday (Sunday) for a significant amount of time. He scrimmaged today (Monday) for a significant amount of time.”

The news that Doncic practiced with the Mavericks for consecutive days is encouraging.

Doncic was diagnosed with a moderate ankle sprain in late January, and has been sidelined for the past seven games, including tonight’s contest. The second-year Mavericks player was voted to start in his first All-Star game appearance by fans, players and media. A Wednesday return would put him on track to participate in that game.

The 20-year-old Doncic has led the upstart Mavs to a solid 32-21 record, good for the current No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. The Kings are 21-32, 5.5 games out of the No. 8 seed and a playoff berth.

Southwest Notes: Holiday, Covington, Doncic, Lyles

Pelicans shooting guard Jrue Holiday was excited to remain in New Orleans through the trade deadline this season, as he explained to The Athletic’s William Guillory. The 29-year-old Holiday, considered one of the best defensive guards in the league, is on the third year of a fairly reasonable five-year, $126MM contract.

Holiday held appeal for several contending teams looking to shore up their backcourt ahead of a playoff push, including the Heat and Nuggets. The Pelicans themselves are just 4.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. With 2019 No. 1 draft pick  Zion Williamson finally debuting on January 22, New Orleans valued Holiday too much to make a deal just yet.

“I feel like what we’re doing here is something promising,” Holiday told Guillory of his season with the new-look Pelicans. “Obviously with the new management and the new guys coming in, we’re fairly young but we’re all very, very hungry. What we have here, we can build together.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • New Rockets forward Robert Covington and his very reasonable four-year, $47MM contract took him from overlooked role player to highly coveted glue guy very quickly ahead of this season’s trade deadline, as Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle details.
  • Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is optimistic that All-Star guard Luka Doncic will return to the court ahead of the All-Star break, according to Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). “That’s not definite, but that’s the hope,” Carlisle said.
  • The future of Spurs bench big man Trey Lyles in San Antonio is appraised by the San Antonio Express-News’ Jeff McDonald. Lyles is averaging a robust 5.3 points and 5.7 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game for the club. He has suited up 51 games, including 41 starts. The 6’9″ Kentucky alum signed a two-year, $11MM contract with San Antonio this summer. Only $1MM of his $5.5MM salary next year is guaranteed.

Luka Doncic Diagnosed With Moderate Ankle Sprain

4:21pm: Coach Rick Carlisle said in an ESPN 103.3-FM interview that Doncic will miss at least six games, frequent ESPN contributor Tim Cowlishaw tweets.

12:17pm: Following an MRI today, Mavericks star Luka Doncic has been diagnosed with a moderate right ankle sprain, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter). Charania and Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link) each cite a source who describes the injury as “manageable.”

As we relayed on Thursday, Doncic turned the ankle in a practice, and there was a belief that it was similar to the injury he suffered earlier in the season, which sidelined him for four games. A source confirms to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link) that today’s MRI confirmed this is in fact a similar sprain.

According to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter links), the Mavs are relieved the injury isn’t any more serious, viewing the diagnosis as a best-case scenario. One source estimates to Townsend that Doncic could miss about two weeks, “give or take.”

With Doncic expected to miss some time, Dallas will lean more heavily on the likes of Jalen Brunson, J.J. Barea, and Delon Wright for ball-handling and play-making purposes. The Mavs have a firm hold on a playoff position but will want to get Doncic back soon to help them jockey for seeding.

The injury may also jeopardize Doncic’s availability for All-Star weekend. He was voted an All-Star starter and named to the Rising Stars game, but with the festivities in Chicago set to get underway two weeks from tonight, the second-year star may end up playing it safe and pulling out. That’s yet to be determined.