Mahmoud Abdelfattah

Southwest Notes: Wright, Murphy, Tate, Abdelfattah

Power forward Moses Wright is making an impact while playing for the Mavericks‘ Summer League team, writes Dwain Price of Mavs.com.

The 6’8″ big man averaged a fairly pedestrian 8.5 PPG on 5-of-16 shooting and 5.0 RPG across the Mavericks’ first two Summer League contests, missed the team’s Tuesday matchup against the Suns, and then returned reinvigorated to play the Bucks on Thursday. He poured in 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor and grabbed 11 rebounds as a reserve.

Wright, signed to a two-way contract during the 2021/22 season with Dallas, is currently an unrestricted free agent.

“I think he was the most impactful player in the game,” Mavericks Summer League head coach George Galanopoulos said. “When he’s playing like that – just high energy and active motor, and with an edge and a disposition about him and that mentality — he’s one of the better players in the gym wherever he goes.”

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • Second-year Pelicans small forward Trey Murphy showed signs of improvement during his 2022 Summer League stint, writes William Guillory of The Athletic. Murphy, the No. 17 pick out of Virginia in 2021, averaged 26.5 PPG across the only two Las Vegas games New Orleans opted to play him. The Pelicans are hoping that Murphy, who evolved into a deep-bench option on a playoff-bound 2021/22 club by the end of his rookie season, will continue to develop this season. “At the end of the day, I know the stuff I’ve been working on,” Murphy said. “Just creating off the bounce and things like that… I’m not too worried about the shot. If my shot’s falling and I’m getting to the basket like I was tonight, that’ll be a pretty good recipe.”
  • In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Rockets forward Jae’Sean Tate discussed how his confidence in his own NBA-caliber abilities helped him while playing abroad. “I’ve always thought I was an NBA player,” Tate said. “There was never a question of if I was good enough. I just knew that I was going to have to be able to put myself in a position to get to my dream. I think [agent] EJ Kusnyer did a good job of just putting me in certain situations that allowed me to be successful, allowed me to show my worth, and allowed me to be me while bringing what I do to a team every step of the way.” After going undrafted out of Ohio State in 2018, the 6’4″ small forward first signed on with Belgian club the Antwerp Giants during the 2018/19 season. He then headed to Australia to play for NBL club the Sydney Kings. He was named to the 2020 All-NBL First Team before joining the Rockets in 2020.
  • Rockets assistant coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah credits Houston with updating his thinking about shot selection, writes Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. Abdelfattah worked his way through the ranks with the club’s NBAGL affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, and eventually joined Houston’s NBA club as an assistant under Stephen Silas. “Offensively, I’m a big believer of shot selection, taking efficient shots,” Abdelfattah said. “It goes back to taking mid-range shots or not taking them, goes back to getting to the rim, getting to the free-throw line… I like to let the guys play with a lot of freedom and maybe take a couple of what some would call questionable shots or moves. “

Rockets Adding Hollins, Batiste, Abdelfattah To Coaching Staff

The Rockets are adding Lionel Hollins, Mike Batiste and Mahmoud Abdelfattah to Stephen Silas‘ coaching staff, according to Mark Berman of Fox 26 (Twitter link).

They’ll seemingly replace Jeff Hornacek, Will Weaver and DeSagana Diop, all of whom left the team once the 2021/22 season ended.

Silas recently finished his second season with the organization. He was hired in October of 2020 after Mike D’Antoni left, bringing two decades of experience as an assistant with the Hornets, Cavaliers, Wizards, Warriors and Mavericks. Houston finished last season with the league’s worst record at 20-62 and will continue a full-scale rebuild.

Hollins owns head coaching experience with the Grizzlies from 2009-13 and the Nets from 2014-16, more recently serving as a Lakers assistant from 2019-21. Batiste has worked as an NBA assistant since 2014, while Abdelfattah coached the Rockets’ G League team to a championship this past season.

Hollins, Batiste and Abdelfattah will be tasked with developing Houston’s young nucleus, which includes Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun and No. 3 pick Jabari Smith.

Coach/Exec Notes: Connelly, D’Antoni, Nets, Rockets

In general manager Calvin Booth, the Nuggets have a logical in-house replacement for Tim Connelly should their current president of basketball operations decide he wants to leave Denver to run the Timberwolves‘ front office, Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article. The Wolves are said to be in the market for a big-name basketball executive and are reportedly courting Connelly.

However, for the Nuggets, it’s not just as simple as wishing Connelly well and promoting Booth, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post (all Twitter links), who says there’s a lot of “angst” within the organization over the situation.

Connelly has had a significant impact on the Nuggets’ culture, empowering coaches, staffers, and players while creating a positive work environment, says Singer, adding that no one wants to see him go and there are people under Connelly who have taken less money to stay with the team. Connelly has also earned a significant amount of trust from Denver’s players, including Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, per Singer.

According to Stein, there’s some skepticism around the NBA that Connelly will view the Minnesota opportunity more favorably than his current situation in Denver, where the two-time reigning MVP is on the verge of signing a long-term extension. However, if the Wolves offer significantly more money or an ownership stake, Connelly will have a tough decision to make. It will be interesting to see if the Kroenkes, the Nuggets’ owners, step up to retain him, says Singer.

Here are a few more front office and coaching notes from around the NBA:

  • After previously reporting that Mike D’Antoni appeared to be in a strong position to land the Hornets‘ coaching job, Stein says there has been some “push-back” on that report this week, as some sources in coaching circles believe team owner Michael Jordan may be wary of hiring such an offense-first coach.
  • Nets director of player development Adam Harrington isn’t likely to return to the team for 2022/23, according to Stein. Harrington has worked closely with Kevin Durant over the last three years and his impending departure hadn’t been expected, Stein adds.
  • Kelly Iko of The Athletic identifies Rio Grande Valley Vipers coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah as a strong candidate for one of the open assistant jobs on Stephen SilasRockets staff. A report this week said that Rockets assistants Jeff Hornacek and Will Weaver won’t be back for next season.

Rockets’ Trevelin Queen Named 2021/22 G League MVP

Shooting guard Trevelin Queen, who is on a two-way contract with the Rockets, has been named the NBA G League’s Most Valuable Player for the 2021/22 season, the league confirmed in a press release. Our JD Shaw was the first to report the news (via Twitter).

Queen signed a two-way deal with Houston in December, but has only appeared in 10 games with the NBA club this season. The 25-year-old saw more action in the G League, emerging as the go-to scorer for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers as the Rockets’ G League affiliate posted a 24-10 regular season record and claimed the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.

In 19 NBAGL games, Queen averaged 25.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and an eye-popping 3.3 steals in 35.0 minutes per contest, recording a shooting line of .480/.337/.796. It was his second season with the Vipers after going undrafted out of New Mexico State in 2020.

Queen beat out a pair of other players on NBA rosters – Pistons guard Saben Lee and Lakers two-way guard Mason Jones – in the G League’s MVP vote. Lee and Jones finished second and third, respectively.

Queen wasn’t the only member of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to take home some hardware this week. The team’s head coach, Mahmoud Abdelfattah, was named the NBAGL Coach of the Year, while general manager Travis Stockbridge earned G League Executive of the Year honors.

Because Queen’s two-way contract doesn’t cover the 2022/23 season, he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer.