Luka Garza

NBA G League Announces 2021/22 All-NBAGL Teams

Rockets two-way player Trevelin Queen, who was named the NBA G League MVP and the G League Finals MVP this season, has added two more honors to his impressive 2021/22 résumé.

Queen headlined this year’s All-NBA G League First Team and also earned a spot on the NBAGL’s All-Defensive team, as the league announced today in a press release.

The complete list of the 2021/22 All-NBA G League teams, along with the All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, is below. Players who finished the season on NBA contracts are noted with an asterisk (*), while those on two-way contracts are noted with a caret (^).

All-NBAGL First Team

All-NBAGL Second Team

All-NBAGL Third Team

NBAGL All-Rookie Team

  • Charles Bassey (Delaware Blue Coats) *
  • Luka Garza (Motor City Cruise) *
  • Carlik Jones (Texas Legends)
  • Mac McClung (South Bay Lakers) ^
  • Micah Potter (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

NBAGL All-Defensive Team

  • Charles Bassey (Delaware Blue Coats) *
  • Braxton Key (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Tacko Fall (Cleveland Charge)
  • Shaquille Harrison (Delaware Blue Coats)
  • Trevelin Queen (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) ^

All 19 players who earned a spot on one of the G League’s All-NBAGL, All-Rookie, or All-Defensive teams this year were on some form of standard, two-way, or 10-day NBA contract during the 2021/22 season.

Of those 19, Tillman is the only player who has yet to make his NBA debut, as he didn’t appear in any games after signing a 10-day deal with Atlanta in December.

Injury Notes: Anunoby, DeRozan, Bucks, Iguodala, Pistons

Raptors forward OG Anunoby returned to action on Thursday after missing 15 games due to a fractured finger. He immediately reentered Toronto’s starting lineup and scored 14 points in an important win over Cleveland.

While a current Raptor returned from an injury on Thursday, a former Raptor headed to the sidelines with an ailment of his own. Bulls star DeMar DeRozan missed the team’s game against New Orleans due to a left groin strain, one that head coach Billy Donovan referred to as “mild,” per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I think he was experiencing some tightness (there) for a little bit, but nothing more than tightness,” Donovan said. “And then I think — I don’t know if it was a specific play — but (he) definitely started to feel it a little bit more than just being tight after (Tuesday’s game).

“DeMar knows his body better than anybody else. I think he felt like, ‘OK this could get into something else a little bit more significant if I don’t take care of this.’ That’s why they wanted to do the imaging and they found out it’s a mild strain really all it is right now… We just don’t want it to turn into something bigger.”

As we wait to see if DeRozan will miss any more time, here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bucks forward Khris Middleton has missed a couple games due to a wrist injury, but head coach Mike Budenholzer expressed optimism that Middleton will be available in Memphis on Saturday, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • Budenholzer is less certain about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s status for Saturday’s game after the Bucks star sat out on Thursday with right knee soreness, but said Antetokounmpo’s injury shouldn’t be “anything long-term or significant” (Twitter link via Nehm).
  • Andre Iguodala, who has missed the Warriors‘ last 19 games due to a back issue, has been upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game in Atlanta, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Even if Iguodala isn’t able to play tonight, it sounds like he’s very close to returning.
  • Pistons rookie wing Chris Smith, who has spent the season on a two-way contract recovering from an ACL tear, is undergoing another surgery and won’t make his NBA debut this season, head coach Dwane Casey said on Wednesday (Twitter link via James Edwards III of The Athletic). Smith’s two-way deal runs through 2022/23, but that doesn’t guarantee Detroit will hang onto him for next season.
  • Pistons rookie forward Isaiah Livers entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and missed Wednesday’s game after bumping heads with Luka Garza in practice, per Casey (Twitter link via Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press). While Livers was diagnosed with a concussion and has been ruled out for Friday’s game too, Garza was OK and didn’t have to enter the protocol.

Central Notes: Caruso, LaVine, Lopez, Hill, Garza

Alex Caruso will be back on the court tonight, the Bulls announced (via Twitter), and his return should help solve the team’s defensive issues, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Caruso has been sidelined for seven weeks with a fractured wrist, and he and Lonzo Ball have played a combined eight games since Christmas Day. Over that span, Chicago has dropped from ninth to 21st in team defense.

The difference is especially noticeable in regard to creating turnovers, as Caruso and Ball would both rank among the top 10 in the league in steals per game if they had played enough minutes. Schafer notes that the Bulls are last in the NBA in creating turnovers and 29th in steals in their 37 games since Christmas.

“There was certain things with those guys (Caruso and Ball) we did a little bit of, whether it be trapping pick-and-rolls, switching, or those guys’ ability to read something and fight through a screen or shoot the gap or anticipate something,” coach Billy Donovan said. “We gave those guys the freedom, I don’t want to say just to freelance, but like, be aggressive. Use your instincts. Get out in passing lanes. Use your activity.”

Caruso will be restricted to about 24-30 minutes per game, Schaefer tweets, but Donovan said that’s related more to his lengthy absence than concerns about the wrist.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Zach LaVine is being held out of tonight’s game, even though the Bulls haven’t played since Wednesday, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). The team has been taking precautions with LaVine’s sore left knee, but it’s unusual for him to be rested after a two-day break. “It’s not necessarily regressing,” Donovan said. “It’s just something he has to manage and deal with.”
  • Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer offered encouraging news on Brook Lopez, who had back surgery and has played just one game this season, tweets Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Lopez feels good after a week of 5-on-5 practices and is expected to be ready soon. Teammate George Hill, who is suffering from neck soreness, is also making progress (Twitter link from Eric Nehm of The Athletic). “He’s close. He had a good day yesterday,” Budenholzer said. “I think he’s come through it well. So, I would say they’re both doing really well and they’re both close.”
  • If the Pistons select a center in the draft, they may consider not bringing back rookie Luka Garza for another year, Rod Beard of The Detroit News states in a mailbag column. Detroit holds a team option on Garza for next season.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Cunningham, Garza, Stephenson

The Cavaliers‘ improved play this season has put them in position to be unhappy after a win, writes Chris Fedor of Victories have been rare in Cleveland over the past three seasons, but with the Cavs in fifth place in the East at 28-19, coach J.B. Bickerstaff is stressing the importance of a strong performance every night.

That’s why he was upset Saturday after watching his team struggle to put away the Thunder. Bickerstaff was displeased over a lack of effort and an offense that produced 23 turnovers and only 22 assists.

“It’s an understanding of the bigger picture of what we’re trying to get done and the seriousness of every game for us and what it means,” he said. “That’s part of our growth and maturation. There’s games like this where if you lose these games, you’re looking back in April and they matter.”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Head coach Dwane Casey wants to take some of the ball-handling duties away from Cade Cunningham, who is running the offense and handling much of the scoring for the short-handed Pistons, per Keith Langlois of Injuries to Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk and Killian Hayes have resulted in Cunningham taking on a larger-than-expected share of the offense. “I’ve got to do a better job of getting him off the ball,” Casey said. “Find another ballhandler. When we get Kelly (Olynyk) back, get his time up as a point five, allowing Cade to play off the ball a little more and that’ll take the pressure off Cade, because to bring the ball down the floor, create his own shot, that’s too much.”
  • Pistons rookie center Luka Garza has cleared the health and safety protocols and is focused on reconditioning so he can start playing again, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News.
  • The Pacers have to make a decision on Lance Stephenson, whose 10-day contract expires tonight, tweets Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Stephenson joined the team under the hardship provision at the start of January, but because all of Indiana’s players cleared protocols by the time that deal expired, he had to sign a standard 10-day contract. The Pacers have the options of giving him another 10-day deal or signing him for the rest of the season. He has averaged 9.5 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 11 games.

COVID-19 Updates: Grizzlies, Doumbouya, Oubre, Pistons, More

The Grizzlies now have a league-high four players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. When they updated their injury report on Tuesday for Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, the Grizzlies removed Yves Pons from the protocols, but added key contributors Kyle Anderson and Desmond Bane (Twitter link). Big man Killian Tillie also remains in the protocols for Memphis, and point guard Tyus Jones was added today (Twitter link).

While the Grizzlies shouldn’t have to wait too long to get some of their players back from the protocols, they’ll likely be shorthanded on the wing for their next few games, with Anderson and Bane both unavailable and Dillon Brooks (ankle) still on the shelf too.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Lakers two-way forward Sekou Doumbouya entered the COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, according to the team (Twitter link via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group). Doumbouya had been in the G League with South Bay, so his absence won’t have a major impact on the NBA club.
  • Hornets forward Kelly Oubre and Pistons guard Frank Jackson are among the players to have exited the protocols this week, according to their respective teams (Twitter links). Jackson missed Tuesday’s game vs. Golden State due to reconditioning, while Oubre is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest in Boston.
  • Pistons rookie Luka Garza, who was on a G League assignment, had his status changed to “health and safety protocols” on Tuesday night’s injury report. Meanwhile, this morning’s injury reports no longer list Jazz guard Jared Butler or Kings wing Robert Woodard, an indication that both players have cleared the protocols.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant Nate Tibbetts both entered the protocols on Monday, resulting in assistant Jesse Mermuys taking over on a temporary basis as Orlando’s acting head coach, per the team (Twitter link).

Pistons Notes: Rotation Changes, Cunningham, Grant, Garza

Fill-in Pistons coach Rex Kalamian had to get creative when Killian Hayes was a late scratch for Tuesday’s game, writes Omar Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. Replacing head coach Dwane Casey, who was away from the team on a personal matter, Kalamian inserted veteran guard Cory Joseph into the starting lineup and tinkered with the rotation throughout the game. He found an effective combination in the third quarter with Saben Lee and Trey Lyles, who helped cut a deficit from 22 points to nine.

“Sometimes through injury or through foul trouble, we have to find new rotations and new combinations that’ll work,” Kalamian said. “For us tonight, it seemed like the Trey Lyles-Saben Lee combination really worked for a little while. And even the other three guys, they were feeding into it. They had great spacing, and they were helping out a lot. It’s just one of those things that you gotta keep searching sometimes, keep rotating guys in and out. That’s what I tried to do in the fourth quarter, get combinations to work.”

The Pistons’ plans have been upended by injuries to Kelly Olynyk, who has only played 10 games, and Jerami Grant, who was leading the team in scoring before undergoing thumb surgery last week. Sankofa notes that Friday will mark six weeks since Olynyk suffered a sprained left knee, so he may be close to returning soon.

There’s more from Detroit:

  • With Cade Cunningham entering health and safety protocols, James L. Edwards III of The Athletic looks at how the team will adjust until the rookie can return. Edwards expects Frank Jackson to move into the starting lineup, while Lee should see more minutes off the bench and Josh Jackson may find his way back into the rotation.
  • Trade rumors surrounding Grant stem at least in part from his upcoming eligibility for an extension worth up to $112MM over four years, Edwards writes in a mailbag column. Edwards believes the Pistons want to eventually build around Cunningham, so they’re likely to see what they can get in return for Grant, rather than spend that much to keep him. Edwards also states that general manager Troy Weaver would likely consult with Grant while working out a trade because they have a long relationship that pre-dates Detroit.
  • Second-round pick Luka Garza may see more minutes as the season wears on, Edwards adds in the same piece. Garza’s lack of quickness limits what he can do on defense, but he has already displayed his offensive talents in limited playing time.

Central Notes: Turner, Bulls, Simonovic, Garza, Allen

Myles Turner led the NBA in blocks per game last season (3.4) and the Pacers‘ defensive rating was about five points better when the big man was on the floor. However, because he appeared in just 47 games and Indiana missed the postseason, he didn’t make an All-Defensive team and didn’t receive any votes for Defensive Player of the Year.

Speaking to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Turner expressed a desire to make up for that in 2021/22. Asked about his individual goals for the season, he said he wants to become an All-Star and would like to be recognized for his play on defense.

“I feel like I’m snubbed and haven’t gotten the credit I deserve in that department. I’ve led the league in blocks, and that looks good and all, but no All-Defensive Teams, not a lot of consideration for Defensive Player of the Year,” Turner said. “… I think I’m one of the better defenders in this league as far as my position. I’m versatile on defense. I’m not just a perimeter defender. I’m not just a shot blocker. There are different facets of my game that I think set me apart a little bit.”

The Pacers are off to a 5-8 start and remain outside of the playoff picture for the time being. However, Turner is proving once again that he can be force on the defensive end. His 3.2 blocks per game lead the NBA, and Indiana has a 100.5 defensive rating during his minutes, compared to 115.7 when he sits.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bulls entered the offseason looking to upgrade at the point guard position, and all the early returns suggest they succeeded in a major way. Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic explores what Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso have brought to a resurgent Chicago team.
  • The Bulls recalled rookie center Marko Simonovic from the G League on Thursday, the team announced (via Twitter). Simonovic has yet to make his regular season NBA debut, but could see a little action during the team’s West Coast road trip with Nikola Vucevic sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Pistons rookie Luka Garza has been recalled to the NBA from the G League following Kelly Olynyk‘s knee injury, the club announced today (via Twitter). Unlike Simonovic, Garza has seen some NBA action already, logging 39 minutes across five games. Olynyk’s absence should open the door for him to play a slightly larger role.
  • The Bucks are off to a bit of a slow start this season, but newly-acquired wing Grayson Allen has been a bright spot, averaging 15.4 PPG and 3.9 RPG on .445/.419/.950 shooting in 12 starts (29.3 MPG). Eric Nehm of The Athletic takes a closer look at the impact Allen is having and the chemistry he’s developing with Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Eastern Notes: Cunningham, Livers, Gafford, Strus

Top pick Cade Cunningham made his belated NBA debut on Saturday against Orlando, then sat out Sunday’s loss to Brooklyn. The Pistons’ prized rookie won’t play in back-to-backs in the short term, coach Dwane Casey told The Detroit News’ Rod Beard and other media members (Twitter link). Cunningham missed the first four regular season games due to an ankle sprain. Cunningham is expected to suit up against Milwaukee on Tuesday.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Another Pistons rookie, forward Isaiah Livers, has been assigned to the team’s G League team, the Motor City Cruise, the team’s PR department tweets. Livers has been rehabbing from foot surgery, so that’s an indication he’s been medically cleared to at least practice. He was one of three second-round picks made by Detroit. Fellow rookie, center Luka Garza, and second-year guard Saben Lee have also been assigned to the Cruise.
  • Wizards big man Daniel Gafford returned to action on Monday, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. He suffered a right quad contusion against the Celtics on Wednesday. He underwent an MRI to ensure the injury was not more serious. He’s averaging 8.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.0 BPG.
  • Heat wing Max Strus has been diagnosed with a sprained left knee, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald reports. An MRI on the knee returned negative results. Strus is expected to miss at least two weeks, but is relieved it wasn’t more serious after tearing his ACL in the same knee in December 2019. “There was a lot of anxiety. It was tough to sleep the night before,” he said. “But the training staff did a great job of getting me in as soon as they could to get the MRI. As soon as I heard those results, it was just a breath of fresh air.”

Central Notes: LaVine, Vaccines, Warren, Garza, Smith, Livers, Pacers

While the Bulls have yet to sign Zach LaVine to an extension, executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas promises that the organization is committed to their high-scoring wing, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The one thing we know is that we’re committed to Zach,’’ Karnisovas said. “We want him to be in Chicago for a very long time. I think the trade deadline and free agency moves kind of proved that.’’

That message is resonating with LaVine.

“It means a lot hearing that from them,’’ he said. “I think you guys know I’m a team-first guy, I’m excited with all the moves that were made, and really looking forward to getting into camp and getting to know these guys and getting the season started because we all have a lot to prove.”

LaVine was also asked for his input on offseason moves, Cowley tweets.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Karnisovas said the Bulls are not 100% vaccinated but “pretty close,” K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago tweets.
  • Pacers coach Rick Carlisle hopes T.J. Warren can make a swift recovery from the stress fracture in the navicular bone in his left foot, Akeem Glaspie of the Indianapolis Star reports. “Hopefully, it’ll be weeks and not months, that’s the hope,” Carlisle said. “It’s important for him to keep a very upbeat view of things. The healing process with people is always better and more aggressive when you have a great attitude about it and he has.” Warren has not suffered any setbacks but the location of the injury makes for a tricky rehab, Glaspie adds.
  • The Pistons converted rookie center Luka Garza‘s two-way contract into a two-year standard deal this week. It’s a minimum-salary contract, Keith Smith of Spotrac tweets, The first year is guaranteed and Detroit has a team option for 2022/23. If it’s picked up, the second year will also be fully guaranteed.
  • Chris Smith, who suffered a torn ACL in January playing for UCLA, is looking at a couple more months before he’s back, Omari Sankofa II of the Detroit Free Press tweets. The Pistons signed the forward to a two-way contract in August. Another Pistons rookie forward, second-round pick Isaiah Livers, is aiming for clearance to return from his foot injury at the beginning of November, Rod Beard of the Detroit News tweets.
  • The Pacers’ arena has officially been renamed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, according to a team press release. It’s a multi-year partnership, replacing the former name Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Gainbridge, a Group 1001 company, is a self-managed digital platform providing clients with direct access to financial products to grow their savings.

Pistons Sign Luka Garza To Two-Year Contract

12:16pm: The move is official, the Pistons announced (via Twitter).

11:03am: Rookie Pistons center Luka Garza will have his two-way deal converted to a standard NBA contract that will cover two years, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. The news was confirmed by Garza’s agents, Mike Kneisley and Odell Witherspoon.

Garza, who was named Player of the Year as a senior at Iowa, was taken with the 52nd pick in this year’s draft and signed the two-way contract in August. He had a strong Summer League showing, averaging 15 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

The move gives Detroit 15 guaranteed contracts heading into camp and opens up one of the team’s two-way slots. The Pistons currently have 18 players under contract, along with reported deals for Derrick Walton Jr. and Cassius Stanley.