Luka Samanic

Texas Notes: Murray, Gordon, House, Samanic

Defensive-oriented young Spurs guard Dejounte Murray overcame a tough upbringing to make the NBA and become a key part of San Antonio’s future, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated in an extremely detailed profile.

Pina notes that Murray’s offensive game is a bit of a throwback, as he, like his Spurs teammate DeMar DeRozan, favors jump-shooting from the midrange over the three-point shooting that has overtaken shot profiles league-wide.

“This is my first year in the NBA being free to just, you know, play,” Murray said. “(Spurs) Coach (Gregg Popovich), he let me off the leash a little bit.

“As far as carrying the legacy on, the winning culture, yeah, I think I’m responsible for that,” Murray added. “I’m part of it. It’s a team game, but I’m a natural-born leader.” At 33-36, the Spurs currently occupy the tenth seed in the Western Conference, and are in position to appear in the play-in tournament.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Rockets guard Eric Gordon, absent with a groin injury since March 11, will not rejoin the team for its final two games of the 2020/21 season, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle“Eric was doing everything he could to come back, working out with [assistant coach John Lucas] and working out with the performance team,” head coach Stephen Silas said. “Although I would have loved to see Eric play, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.” 
  • Rockets small forward Danuel House has been able to showcase his versatile game beyond just being a reliable long-range sniper during an otherwise frustrating Houston season, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
  • The official Spurs injury report ahead of tonight’s Knicks game indicates that second-year power forward Luka Šamanić has fractured the fourth metacarpal in his left hand, tweets Paul Garcia of Project Spurs.

Spurs Notes: Dieng, Walker, Aldridge, Samanic

While other bought-out veterans have joined the Lakers and Nets in pursuit of a championship, Gorgui Dieng opted to sign with the Spurs, the No. 7 seed in the West. Explaining his decision to join San Antonio, Dieng said he was won over by the team’s pitch to him.

“It was like college recruiting all over again,” Dieng said, per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter links). “Everybody is going to talk to you and tell you why they want you to be on their team, and I felt comfortable with what I heard here.

“I like the team, I like the way they play. … They have a good system. The ball doesn’t stop. It moves around. They play together and they have a Hall-of-Fame coach that knows how to run his team. I am pretty excited to see what they are all about.”

It remains to see how much playing time Dieng will see with the Spurs, but he thinks he’ll be a good fit, given his ability to shoot threes and play defense. Dieng told reporters today that he’s willing to play whatever role coach Gregg Popovich envisions for him (Twitter link via Orsborn).

Here’s more on the Spurs:

  • Popovich said on Saturday that Lonnie Walker, who is currently sidelined with a sore right wrist, could miss “another week or so,” Orsborn writes for The San Antonio Express-News. Walker hasn’t played since last Monday.
  • Popovich wished veteran big man LaMarcus Aldridge well following his agreement with the Nets, Orsborn notes in the same story. “He was a wonderful teammate, and he will do a very good job in Brooklyn,” Popovich said.
  • Since being drafted 19th overall in 2019, Luka Samanic has seen more action in the G League (39 games) than in the NBA (19 games), but the second-year power forward could be in line for an increased role down the stretch, says Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “He’s beginning to prove himself deserving of time,” Popovich said of Samanic, who averaged a double-double (21.8 PPG, 11.3 RPG) in six NBAGL games for the Austin Spurs last month.
  • In case you missed it earlier today, we relayed details on how much cash the Spurs received in the Marquese Chriss trade, the amount of Aldridge’s buyout, and Dieng’s rest-of-season salary.

Southwest Notes: Cousins, McDermott, Spurs, Pelicans

Although the Rockets and DeMarcus Cousins intend to amicably part ways, it’s possible the veteran center hasn’t played his last game for the team yet. Addressing the Cousins situation on Sunday, head coach Stephen Silas said the 30-year-old was still at practice and that the plan was to have him continue to start at center as long as he remains on Houston’s roster, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

Cousins’ representatives and the Rockets are working on a potential trade or release that would get the big man to a team of his choosing. Other players in similar situations, like Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, are being held out of action while their teams look to finalize a resolution, but Silas’ comments indicated the Rockets aren’t necessarily committed to that same approach.

Still, Cousins’ availability in the coming days will hinge in large part on his health. He has been ruled out for Monday’s game due to a sore right heel and it’s safe to assume the Rockets will be very cautious with the big man as they explore the trade market in search of a potential deal.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • With the Grizzlies‘ roster getting a little healthier, the team has sent two-way player Sean McDermott to the G League bubble, transferring him to the Memphis Hustle (Twitter link). McDermott has been a depth option on the wing for the Grizzlies this season, appearing in just eight games, so he’ll see more frequent playing time for the Hustle.
  • The Spurs also made a pair of G League transactions, announcing (via Twitter) that they’ve recalled guard Tre Jones and forward Luka Samanic from the Austin Spurs. Jones had been leading the G League with 9.7 assists per game, while Samanic ranked in the top six in the NBAGL in both PPG (21.8) and RPG (11.3).
  • The Pelicans continue to gradually increase the number of fans allowed at the Smoothie King Center, issuing a press release today confirming that capacity will increase to 2,700 as of Wednesday. New Orleans, whose previous capacity was 1,900 fans, hope to bump that number up to 4,000+ by season’s end.

Southwest Notes: Brooks, Šamanić, Tate, Morant

Grizzlies swingman Dillon Brooks has had trouble finding his shooting touch thus far this season, prompting Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal to wonder if the fourth-year player out of Oregon has already peaked in his development.

Brooks is in the first season of a three-year, $35MM extension he signed with the Grizzlies during the 2019/20 campaign. Though his scoring output has not decreased significantly (he is averaging 14.9 PPG compared to his career-high 16.2 PPG last year), Brooks is connecting on career-low percentages from the floor (37.5%) and the three-point line (28.4%).

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Spurs power forward Luka Šamanić, the No. 19 pick in the 2019 draft who continues to try to carve out a place in the NBA, is returning to an Orlando “bubble” campus. After playing for San Antonio during last year’s summer restart at Disney World, he’ll join the team’s G League affiliate, the Austin Spurs, in the NBAGL bubble campus set to tip off on Wednesday, as Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News details.
  • Undrafted Rockets rookie small forward Jae’Sean Tate, now a crucial rotation piece for a retooling Houston squad, had an interesting conversation with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, touching on his experiences in his first 22 NBA games and why he almost stopped playing basketball. The 6’4″ wing is averaging 8.5 PPG (on 52.1% shooting from the floor), 4.9 RPG, 1.6 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.7 BPG across 25.9 MPG in Houston. “He has a lot of responsibility and he has to do things right on both sides of the floor,” head coach Stephen Silas said of Tate. “He’s getting better every game and you can see it.”
  • Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has struggled over his past three contests. Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian examines the potential root causes behind the trouble for Morant, who has shot just 13-of-39 from the floor in his last three games for Memphis, all losses.

Southwest Notes: Bledsoe, Kleber, White, Samanic

After a report Tuesday that the Pelicans are getting trade calls about guards Lonzo Ball and J.J. Redick, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst adds another name to the list. Appearing on “The Jump” today (video link), Windhorst said Eric Bledsoe is also available and that New Orleans is initiating trade talks with other teams.

With a 5-10 record, the Pelicans have been the most disappointing team in the West. Bledsoe has played a role in that as his numbers across the board are down from last season in Milwaukee. Acquired from the Bucks in the Jrue Holiday deal, Bledsoe is averaging 12.8 points per game, his lowest scoring average in eight years.

According to Windhorst, New Orleans wants to clear away its veteran guards to create more playing time for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and rookie Kira Lewis, who was the 13th pick in last year’s draft. Coach Stan Van Gundy talked to Ball and Redick today about the situation, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic, and said the players realize that trade rumors are part of life in the NBA.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Maxi Kleber, one of five Mavericks players who were quarantined, has been cleared and has started individual workouts, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Coach Rick Carlisle said Kleber won’t be available for Friday’s game against the Jazz, but may return this weekend. “His clock is ticking at a different rate because his episode was longer,” Carlisle said. “He certainly won’t play in either of these two games (at Utah). Saturday I suppose could be a possibility, but I don’t know.” (Twitter link)
  • Spurs guard Derrick White is close to returning from a fractured toe and could be back in the lineup this weekend, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). White, who has played just one game this season, had surgery on the toe in August and reinjured it on New Year’s Day.
  • The Spurs have sent second-year forward Luka Samanic to the G League bubble in Orlando, tweets Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Samanic has seen limited playing time in four games this season.

Spurs Exercise Options On Walker, Johnson, Samanic

The Spurs have exercised their fourth-year team option on guard Lonnie Walker IV, as well as the third-year options on forwards Keldon Johnson and Luka Samanic, for the 2021/22 season, according to a team press release.

Walker will receive $4,447,896 during the 2021/22 campaign. Johnson will make $2.145MM and Samanic will get $2.96MM.

Walker, the 18th pick of the 2018 draft, appeared in 61 games last season and averaged 6.4 PPG and 1.1 APG in 16.2 MPG.

Johnson appeared in 17 games last season and averaged 9.1 PPG and 3.4 RPG in 17.7 MPG. He averaged 14.1 PPG in eight games during the Orlando restart. Johnson, a late first-round pick last year, also played 31 games for the G League Austin Spurs and averaged 20.3 PPG and 5.8 RPG.

Samanic, the 19th pick of the 2019 draft, appeared in three NBA games as a rookie. He also appeared in 33 games with the Austin Spurs, averaging 15.2 PPG and 7.8 RPG.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 3/11/20

Here are today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Texas Notes: Westbrook, Green, Mavericks, Samanic

Russell Westbrook capped off his best month since joining the Rockets with a 41-point performance Saturday in Boston, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Westbrook averaged 33.7 PPG in February, marking the second-best scoring month of his career. He’s also displaying efficiency that wasn’t part of his game earlier in the season. Westbrook, who took just two of his 27 shots last night from beyond the arc, posted a 54.9% shooting percentage during the month.

“Right now, I think I’m moving in the right direction,” he said. “I’ve just got to stay locked in with what I’m doing, with my craft and what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in the league.”

The improvement in Westbrook’s game has accompanied Houston’s decision to fully commit to a small-ball approach. The decision to trade starting center Clint Capela has spaced the floor and made it easier for Westbrook to get to the basket.

“One thing he can do and one thing he’s great at is driving to the rim,” teammate Jeff Green said. “When you’re spacing the floor and you’re taking (defenders) out the middle, you’re allowing him to access the lane whenever you want. You’re playing right into his hands.”

There’s more NBA news from Texas:

  • Now that Green has signed with the Rockets for the rest of the season, he would like to make Houston his long-term home, relays Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. After playing for nine teams in his 13-year career, Green likes his new surroundings. “It’s a great city, great culture,” he said. “My wife loves it. That’s the biggest say-so now in the household. As long as my wife loves it, I love playing basketball. Houston being a great city, I’d love to stay there.”
  • The Mavericks may not replay the final eight seconds of last Saturday’s loss in Atlanta even if they win their protest, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Owner Mark Cuban doesn’t believe it would be worth finishing the game unless it affects the team’s seeding for the playoffs. Townsend adds that the Mavs likely won’t file their evidence report in the case until shortly before the deadline of midnight tomorrow (Twitter link).
  • Luka Samanic understands that spending time in the G League is the Spurs‘ way of developing players, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express News. The 19th pick in the 2019 draft, Samanic is putting up big numbers in Austin, but hasn’t seen any playing time in the NBA. “You have to be patient and just trust what they say, and look at what everybody did before,” Samanic said.Lonnie (Walker), Dejounte (Murray) and Derrick (White). So why not me?”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/19/20

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • The Knicks have assigned Ignas Brazdeikis to their G League affiliate in Westchester, according to the team’s public relations department (Twitter link). Brazdeikis finished with 20 points and six rebounds in the team’s victory over the Capital City Go-Go on Sunday.
  • The Clippers assigned Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, the team’s PR department announced. Mann, 23, was drafted by the team No. 48 overall in 2019.
  • The Spurs sent rookie Luka Samanic to their affiliate in Austin today, according to the G League’s official log of assignments.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/17/20

Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Pacers assigned Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team’s PR department tweets. Sumner did not play in the last two Indiana games, while Johnson has appeared in just one NBA game this month.
  • The Spurs recalled forwards Chimezie Metu, Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson from the Austin Spurs, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. With Rudy Gay sidelined on Friday, the NBA team was looking for added depth. Metu,  second-round pick in 2018, has appeared in 11 NBA games this season.
  • The Nuggets recalled forward Jarred Vanderbilt from the Windy City Bulls, the team’s PR department tweets. Vanderbilt, a 2018 second-rounder, has appeared in four NBA contests this season.
  • The Clippers assigned Derrick Walton Jr. and Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers, according to the team’s PR department. Both guards received garbage-time minutes against Orlando on Thursday and did not score.
  • The Warriors assigned rookie forward Alen Smailagic to their Santa Cruz affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. The second round pick has appeared in nine Warriors games.