Malcolm Brogdon

Central Notes: Wood, Brogdon, Cavs, Bulls

Christian Wood will be reaching the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 on the heels of a career year, and the Pistons‘ big man isn’t pretending that he hasn’t thought about what the offseason might bring, as Keith Langlois of Pistons.com details.

“I know it’s a big summer for me,” Wood said on Tuesday. “I actually think I’m one of the best bigs in this free agency coming up with my ability to shoot and space the floor and be able to play the five and be able to guard and switch on the perimeter. I’ve just got to stay focused. I’ve got to keep with the same mindset, same attitude what I’m doing right now.”

While Wood should draw a good deal of interest on the open market this summer, he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of remaining with the Pistons. The fact that Detroit is the team that finally gave him an opportunity to play a regular role is something he won’t forget as he considers his options, per Langlois.

“It’s a huge factor,” Wood said. “Especially with this team being one of the first to actually give me a legitimate chance and playing in games and believing in me and believing in what I do. Especially with (head coach Dwane) Casey, with us establishing a relationship early and throughout right now. It plays a big factor.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

Pacers List Malcolm Brogdon As Week-To-Week

Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon has been diagnosed with a torn left rectus femoris (a muscle in the quadriceps), the team announced in a press release. His status is listed as week-to-week.

He suffered the injury Wednesday at Milwaukee when a sore left hip forced him to leave the game after 11 minutes. He underwent an MRI that showed the extent of the damage.

Brogdon is putting up the best numbers of his career in his first season in Indiana, averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 48 games. However, he has suffered seven different injuries that have forced him to miss 15 games, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

An extended absence for Brogdon could have a huge effect on the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Pacers are tied with the Sixers for fifth place at 38-25 and are two games behind Miami for home court advantage in the first round.

Central Notes: Brogdon, Porter Jr., McRae, Mokoka

When the Pacers play the Bulls on Friday night, they could be without a few notable players, including Malcolm Brogdon.

Brogdon is dealing with a left hip injury that limited him to only 11 minutes of game action on Wednesday night against the Bucks. The former Rookie of the Year award winner got an MRI and did not practice on Thursday, according to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

In 48 games this season, Brogdon is averaging 16.3 PPG, 7.1 APG, and 4.7 RPG. He is also shooting 43.9% from the field and a career-low 31.3% from three-point range.

Along with Brogdon, T.J. Warren, Doug McDermott, and JaKarr Sampson are all questionable for tomorrow’s contest.

Here’s more from out of the Central:

  • The Cavaliers announced on Thursday that rookie Kevin Porter Jr. was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol after suffering a head injury on Wednesday night against the Celtics. His status to return is unclear. The late first-round pick is averaging 10 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 2.2 APG this season.
  • Who is Adam Mokoka? If you asked Bulls fans earlier this season, they might not be able to answer that question. Fast-forward to March, and the 21-year-old is starting to carve out a role for himself with Chicago. Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago looks at the road the Bulls’ two-player has taken from his early playing days in France, Serbia, and now Chicago.
  • With the Pistons potentially gearing up for a rebuild, newly-acquired guard Jordan McRae will get an opportunity to show Detroit’s front-office brass that he’s a keeper, writes Ron Beard of the Detroit News. McRae scored 15 points in his debut on Wednesday night against the Thunder.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Pacers Notes: Oladipo, Sabonis, Lamb, Practices

Pacers star Victor Oladipo downplayed his shooting struggles against the Bulls on Wednesday and Knicks on Saturday, with the 27-year-old still working to regain his rhythm and get back into the swing of things, as relayed by J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star.

Oladipo, who missed the past 12 months after suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee, shot 2-of-8 against Chicago and 2-of-14 against New York. He appeared in limited time during both of those games (21 minutes and 22 minutes), coming off the bench in both stints.

“We’re still trying to figure each other out,” Oladipo said. “Obviously I’m still trying to get my rhythm. I’ve been out a year. Coming off the bench and obviously playing limited minutes is new, so I got to get used to that. I got to get used to the flow of the game again, we have to get used to each other again. 

“Obviously we won last game [against Chicago]. We made big shots in order to win, but unfortunately tonight [against New York] we couldn’t do that. We just can’t overreact. Everybody else might, obviously, but that’s just how everybody else is. We just got to stay even-keeled and get ready for the Mavs on Monday.”

During his last full season before the injury, Oladipo averaged a career-best 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 steals per contest in 75 games in 2017/18. He was averaging 18.8 points and 5.6 rebounds through 36 games last season, remaining the team’s best player on the offensive end.

Here are some other notes out of Indiana tonight:

  • Domantas Sabonis has taken an impressive path since joining the team, climbing the ranks from a bench player to a starter (and now an NBA All-Star), Mark Montieth of Pacers.com writes. Sabonis was selected to his first All-Star team last month, holding season-averages of 18.2 points, 12.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game.
  • Oladipo will help establish the Pacers as one of the beasts of the East, giving other top-tier teams a run for their money as the postseason nears, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Players such as Jeremy Lamb will have to sacrifice minutes for Oladipo, a two-time All-Star, with Indiana eventually expected to sport a starting lineup of Malcolm Brogdon, Oladipo, T.J. Warren, Myles Turner and Sabonis.
  • Indiana is emphasizing a lighter practice schedule going forward as multiple players work to come back from injuries, J. Michael writes for the Indianapolis Star. Instead, the Pacers will focus on recovery and film study.

Pacers Notes: Brogdon, Sabonis, Oladipo, Warren

Malcolm Brogdon has taken on the closer’s role in his first season with the Pacers, at least until Victor Oladipo returns, writes Scott Agness of The Athletic. In training camp, it wasn’t clear who might get that designation with nine new players on the roster, but Brogdon, who was acquired from the Bucks in a sign-and-trade, feels comfortable making decisions that will win or lose games.

“It’s a privilege,” he said. “Being the closer, sometimes it’s about making the last shot, but sometimes it’s about making the right play, making the right pass. My teammates, this organization, my coach — they trust me with the ball, and I’m going to continue to make good decisions.”

Indiana is using Brogdon as a full-time point guard, Agness adds, instead of a floor spacer like he was in Milwaukee. As a result, he has eight double-doubles this season after just three in his first three years in the NBA.

“I was hoping for it,” he said of the point guard duties. “Especially with Vic being out, I was hoping I could be that guy, but I knew I had to prove myself. And now that I’ve proven myself, Coach and my teammates allow me to do that and empower me to do that.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • Doctors don’t believe Domantas Sabonis is risking further injury by playing with a bone bruise in his left knee, Agness relays in a separate story. After he was checked by the team doctor, his representatives had two other specialists examine the knee before any decision was made. “There’s swelling in the bone that all doctors say can’t get worse unless you get hit in that same spot,” he said. “It’s the same thing if I get hit in my healthy knee. There’s the same chance. It’s not a muscle or anything, so by doing more stuff, you can’t technically get it worse.”
  • Oladipo remained in Indiana as the team left for a nine-day road trip, Agness adds in the same piece. He plans to practice with the team’s G League affiliate as he prepares for his season debut January 29.
  • Picking up T.J. Warren in an offseason trade with the Suns has provided a boost for the Pacers’ offense, observes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Warren is averaging 18.1 PPG and his versatility has made the team more difficult to defend. “He can score any way possible,” Jeremy Lamb said. “Off the dribble. Catch and shoot. Floaters. Threes. Pull-ups. Post-ups. However you want it, he’ll give it to you.”

Brogdon: Pacers Valued Me More Than Bucks Did

When Malcolm Brogdon reached free agency last summer, the Bucks had the ability to match any offer sheet he signed, but opted instead to send him to the Pacers in a sign-and-trade deal in exchange for a handful of draft picks. Speaking to reporters on Sunday when he returned to Milwaukee, Brogdon said he realized in the weeks leading up to free agency that he might not be the Bucks’ top priority.

“I had a pretty good inkling that things may not work out and things may not go in the direction that I thought they were going to go in, so I started to change my mindset and started to identify different teams and prepare myself,” Brogdon said, per ESPN’s Eric Woodyard. “I would’ve loved to play for this team (the Bucks), if they had wanted me. If they had valued me the way the Pacers value me. That’s all I gotta say.”

Despite suggesting that the Bucks didn’t value him like Indiana did, Brogdon expressed no hard feelings toward his old team. Milwaukee has an NBA-best 27-4 record so far this season, while Brogdon – in the first season of a four-year, $85MM contract – is having a career year, so it may turn out to be a win-win outcome.

Although Brogdon’s efficiency numbers have taken a bit of a hit so far this season, he’s averaging career highs in PPG (18.3), APG (7.6), and several other categories. Perhaps most importantly, he has a starring role for his new team in Indiana after being a complementary player for his first three NBA seasons in Milwaukee. Brogdon acknowledged that was a factor in his willingness to move on from the Bucks this past offseason.

“It’s about a new opportunity, a new challenge,” Brogdon said. “Sort of being a leader of a team now is a totally different role, it’s a way bigger role for me, but it’s something I’ve been molded into and something I’ve prepared myself to do over the past three years.

“This is, I think, something that every respected NBA player wants. They want a team that they can call theirs, they want a team that they can still win at a high level, but they have the ball more in their hands and they can control more of the game.”

Pacers Notes: A. Holiday, Mitrou-Long, Sabonis, Brogdon

With their second-year point guard Aaron Holiday on a tear recently, J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star notes that the Pacers will be sure to field a litany of trade offers. Nine months ago, team advisor Larry Bird apparently cautioned Indiana against including Holiday in a potential trade deal for Mike Conley with the Grizzlies. Bird was confident in the potential of Holiday, picked 23rd in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Magic and Suns apparently also expressed interest in making a move for Holiday around the 2018/19 trade deadline.

Following a performative hiccup at the start of the season, Holiday has picked up his play of late. Though he will return to the bench after starting in the injured Malcolm Brogdon‘s absence, Michael speculates that Holiday has displayed enough flashes to tantalize teams as a potential trade chip once again.

There’s more from Indianapolis:

  • Speaking of Brogdon, The Athletic’s Scott Agness tweets that the point guard will return to the floor for the Pacers tomorrow against the Grizzlies for the first time since injuring his back on November 15th against the Rockets. “I think I stepped wrong and my back reacted strongly to it,” Brogdon said, per Agness. “They said I strained a muscle and possibly a joint. But now the inflammation has gone away, my movement is all the way back, I have no pain and I feel great on the court.”
  • Two-way player Naz Mitrou-Long spoke with Mark Montieth of Pacers.com about his unlikely path to Indiana. A five-year college player for Iowa State, Mitrou-Long toiled in the 2017 Summer League and saw 15 games of NBA action as a two-way player for the Jazz in 2017/18 and 2018/19. He joined the Pacers on November 17th for emergency spot rotation minutes in a game against the Bucks before making the most out of the team’s next outing, a win against the Nets in which he scored 12 points in 25 minutes. “I know guys who have been in the league for three, four, five years who are looking to put a stretch together to reassure themselves,” Mitrou-Long said. “Playing a game like Brooklyn and getting my feet wet against Milwaukee, feeling the comfortability, it reassures me that I am an NBA player.”
  • According to Ennio Terrasi Borghesan of Sportando, Pacers center/power forward Domantas Sabonis confirmed that he will appear for Lithuania in the FIBA Qualifying Tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It’s what we have to go through to qualify for the next Olympics,” Sabonis observed. “We’re going to battle for the tournament and get a ticket for Japan.”

Eastern Notes: Love, Thompson, Bucks, Silva, Kurucs

Sources close to Cavaliers veterans Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that both big men would ideally like to play for a team with a chance to win a championship. However, Vardon warns not to read too much into that, suggesting that neither player has given any indication he wants out of Cleveland.

Additionally, even if the Cavaliers decide to try to deal Love or Thompson, it’s not clear if there would be a strong market for either player, Vardon notes. That doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appeal to contenders, but trade chatter around the NBA is “way down,” according to one general manager who spoke to The Athletic, and Love’s and Thompson’s big cap hits would make them tricky to move.

Over at The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor tries to identify a few teams that might match up with the Cavaliers in a Love trade, writing that rival team executives believe GM Koby Altman is “just posturing” when he insists Cleveland has zero interest in moving the five-time All-Star. However, O’Connor has a tough time finding ideal fits, listing the Kings, Spurs, Heat, Trail Blazers, and Rockets as some teams that might work in theory.

As Altman and the Cavs consider their options, here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

Giannis On Brogdon: “Wish He Was Still Here”

As Malcolm Brogdon thrives in his first season for the division-rival Pacers, Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted on Thursday that he’d like to still be teammates with the former Rookie of the Year, writes Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

“Definitely wish he was still here,” Antetokounmpo said. “One of my friends, one of the guys that I always teased every day when I see him – call him ugly, we’re just going back and forth. I’m going to miss that, but at the end of the day, you got to do what’s best for you. I wish him the best, I wish his team the best and I’m excited to play against him.”

Antetokounmpo’s comments are noteworthy because Brogdon’s departure from Milwaukee has been a hot topic for the last several months. The 26-year-old guard was a restricted free agent, so the Bucks could have kept him if they’d wanted to. However, there were questions about how re-signing Brogdon would impact the team’s ability to keep other key free agents, and whether or not Bucks ownership was willing to pay a big tax bill.

Of course, with Antetokounmpo eligible for a super-max extension in 2020 or free agency in 2021, the Bucks will be looking to do all they can to keep the reigning MVP happy and convince him to stick around long-term. Which is why Giannis’ follow-up comment on Brogdon, relayed by Nehm, is perhaps even more interesting.

“Can you imagine this team with also Malcolm?” Antetokounmpo said after the Bucks improved their record to 8-3 on Thursday. “But hey, man, everybody takes their decision. His decision was to go to Indiana and build a team over there. I think that was best for him.”

As Nehm points out, Giannis’ framing of his teammate’s departure as a decision made by Brogdon rather than by the Bucks seems to suggest he doesn’t blame the team for the move, even though Milwaukee essentially controlled the process. Nehm notes that Brogdon used similar language recently when discussing his move with Scott Agness of The Athletic (podcast link).

“I had to figure out what my options were,” Brogdon told Agness. “I had two or three teams in the mix that we were really considering, but Indiana was by far the best. It was the team I was really pushing for and my agents made it work.”

Brogdon’s comments indicate he may have been more interested in landing with the Pacers than in re-upping with the Bucks, which is perhaps one key reason why Milwaukee was willing to negotiate a sign-and-trade. The Bucks netted multiple draft picks, including a lottery-protected first-rounder, in the deal and still insist they’ll be willing to pay the tax when it becomes necessary.

Meanwhile, Brogdon – like Antetokounmpo – is looking forward to the first Bucks/Pacers game of the season on Saturday in Indiana, but is downplaying its significance, per J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star.

“It’s just another game for me,” Brogdon said. “Looking forward to seeing those guys. Competing against them. I had a lot of good games in there, a lot of good memories in there. That’s all I got to say about it.”