Markus Howard

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Northwest Notes: Jones, Nuggets, Blazers, Williams, Howard

Nuggets assistant Popeye Jones won his first game as acting head coach on Saturday against the Rockets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Jones was coaching in place of head coach Michael Malone and lead assistant David Adelman, both of whom entered health and safety protocols.

“I’m blessed to be a part of this organization,” Jones said after the game. “You come in as the only new guy, and guys are trying to get a feel for you. … To come into this culture, and all these guys are such good guys, man. They don’t complain, they work hard every day. Like I told them, ‘You established this culture. I’m blessed just to be a part of it.’”

Denver won the contest 124-111 behind Facundo Campazzo‘s 22 points, 12 assists and five steals. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic also added 24 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Nuggets secure their third-straight victory.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Trail Blazers have hired Rodney Billups as an assistant coach, the team announced in a press release. Billups is the younger brother of head coach Chauncey Billups, who joined the franchise last June. Portland owns the third-worst record in the West at 13-22 and has lost four straight games.
  • Every championship contender will take a look at Thunder forward Kenrich Williams leading up to the trade deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe opines. Williams has averaged 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 20.8 minutes for Oklahoma City this season, shooting 46% from the floor and 41% from three-point range. He also shot 44% from deep last season.
  • Nuggets two-way guard Markus Howard has hired new representation, choosing to sign with Octagon, the agency announced on social media (Twitter link). Howard will be represented by agents Josh Beauregard-Bell and Alex Saratsis. He’s averaged 4.3 points and 7.3 minutes in 16 games this season and is currently sidelined due to a knee injury.

Nuggets’ Howard Out At Least Six Weeks Due To Knee Injury

Nuggets guard Markus Howard, who left Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota in the fourth quarter due to a left knee injury, has been diagnosed with a sprained knee and will be reevaluated in six weeks, the team announced today (via Twitter).

While it’s a relief that Howard didn’t sustain a more significant injury, it’s still tough news for the second-year guard, who is playing on a two-way contract with Denver for a second consecutive year.

After logging limited minutes in 37 games as a rookie in 2020/21, Howard has averaged 4.3 PPG on .355/.391/.875 shooting in 16 games (7.3 MPG) this season. He had recently entered the team’s regular rotation, averaging 16.7 MPG in the last three games, so the timing is unfortunate — he’ll likely have to earn those minutes back when he eventually returns to action.

Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links) notes that Howard’s absence could reopen the door for the Nuggets to be granted a hardship exception, since Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier are also out with long-term injuries. In that scenario, Denver could circle back to Davon Reed, who made a positive impression during his 10 days with the club earlier this month, says Singer.

According to Singer (Twitter link), the Nuggets have also placed Porter in the health and safety protocols. That won’t have any tangible effect on the team’s lineup or rotation, since MPJ is expected to remain on the shelf all season as he recovers from back surgery.

Northwest Notes: Hyland, Nance Jr., Howard, Jazz

Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland is starting to win fans over in Denver with his electric play and personality, Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com writes. Hyland has provided solid backcourt production for the Nuggets this season, showing flashes of potential at just 21 years old.

“That’s honestly what I do,” Hyland said about becoming a fan favorite. “I’m getting more and more comfortable being out there and, as you can see, I’m showing a lot more. But that’s what I do: I get the crowd involved. I’m a fan favorite, I can already tell that. That’s been me for my whole life! It’s just going to keep happening as the season goes along.”

Denver drafted Hyland with the No. 26 pick in July, expressing confidence in the VCU product. The team will need his production as star guard Jamal Murray continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered last April.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers made a starting lineup adjustment on Sunday, choosing to start Larry Nance Jr. over Robert Covington at power forward, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). While the move adds more size to the lineup, it could hurt the team’s ability to space the floor and shoot. Nance has made just 29% of his attempts from three-point range this season, while Covington has hit 35%.
  • Nuggets guard Markus Howard made the most of his opportunity against the Spurs on Saturday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Howard, who is on a two-way contract, finished with 21 points in 21 minutes off the bench. “I just know any time I’m put in a position to be in the game, I know my skillset, and I know what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “And so do my teammates. They have trust in me to be able to make plays.”
  • The Jazz are urging vigilance against COVID-19, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune writes. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to go anywhere soon,” center Rudy Gobert explained. “So we have to be smart, keep moving forward, be smart, and that’s it. It’s unfortunate when someone tests positive, but it’s going to be our reality for a while, so we’ve got to just live with it.”

Nuggets Re-Sign Markus Howard To Two-Way Deal

Shooting guard Markus Howard has re-signed with the Nuggets on a new two-way contract, according to NBA.com’s transactions log.

Howard, who spent last season on a two-way deal with Denver, may have simply accepted his qualifying offer. Because he was a two-way player last season, that offer would be the equivalent of another two-way contract that includes a partial guarantee of $50K for the upcoming season.

Howard, 22, signed with Denver last November after going undrafted out of Marquette. He got into 37 games and averaged 2.8 PPG in 5.5 minutes per night. He was a two-time All-American in college and led the nation in scoring during the 2019/20 season.

Nico Mannion, Saben Lee, Others Receive Qualifying Offers

The Warriors have issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Nico Mannion, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Because Mannion, the 48th overall pick in the 2020 draft, was on a two-way contract during his rookie season, his qualifying offer will be the equivalent of another two-way deal, with a partial guarantee worth $50K. The QO will give Golden State matching rights in the event that another team signs Mannion to an offer sheet next week.

Here are more updates on players on two-way contracts receiving qualifying offers:

  • Saben Lee, a 2020 second-round pick who spent his rookie season on a two-way deal, has received a qualifying offer from the Pistons, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. As expected, Detroit also officially renounced the draft rights to Jaylen Hands, Smith notes.
  • The Bulls issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Devon Dotson, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Chicago also gave a QO to Lauri Markkanen on Friday.
  • Nuggets guard Markus Howard, another two-way player, received a qualifying offer that makes him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Howard appeared in 37 games for Denver last season as an undrafted rookie out of Marquette.
  • The Spurs extended a qualifying offer to forward Keita Bates-Diop to make him an RFA, tweets Smith. Like the other players listed above, Bates-Diop has fewer than four years of NBA experience and is therefore eligible to sign another two-way contract after spending the 2020/21 season on a two-way deal.
  • The Cavaliers gave a qualifying offer to two-way shooting guard Brodric Thomas, tweets Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link). Thomas appeared in a total of 32 games for Houston and Cleveland as a rookie in 2020/21.
  • The Grizzlies announced they’ve issued a qualifying offer to big man Killian Tillie, making him a restricted free agent. Tillie appeared in 18 games for Memphis as a rookie on his two-way deal.

Since all of these players are coming off two-way contracts and have only spent one season with their respective teams, their QOs are one-year, two-way offers with $50K guarantees.

Northwest Notes: Hill, Campazzo, Covington, Porter Jr.

Thunder guard George Hill‘s right thumb will remain in a hard cast for another week or two, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. Hill underwent surgery on February 2nd. He hasn’t played since January 24. In 14 games this season, all starts, he has posted averages of 11.8 points and 3.1 assists. Hill is a trade candidate with the Sixers among the teams reportedly interested in the veteran.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets backup guard Facundo Campazzo and rookie Markus Howard have been added to the team’s injury report due to contact tracing, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Both players are likely out through the All-Star break, though the Nuggets could appeal. Campazzo is doubtful to play against Chicago on Monday. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.3 APG in 16.3 MPG in his first NBA season.
  • Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, the NBA’s lone player from a Historically Black College and University, is expected to take part in the Skills Challenge prior to All-Star Game, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Covington attended Tennessee State is the only active player from a Historically Black College and University. The league is highlighting HBCUs on All-Star Weekend.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is establishing himself as part of a Big Three with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Singer writes in a separate story. The young forward is averaging 16.0 PPG and 7.8 RPG over the last six games and is focusing on trying to become a more complete player.

Nuggets Sign Markus Howard To Two-Way Contract

NOVEMBER 30: Howard’s two-way contract with Denver is now official, the team announced today (via Twitter).


NOVEMBER 19: The Nuggets will sign former Marquette guard Markus Howard to a two-way contract, according to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).

Howard was a candidate to be drafted on Wednesday night, but ultimately wasn’t one of the 60 players selected. He ranked seventh on ESPN’s list of this year’s undrafted prospects.

Howard, who spent four years playing college ball, averaged a career-best 27.8 PPG in his senior season in 2019/20. The 5’11” scorer is an impressive volume shooter, having knocked down 46.3% of 7.9 three-pointers per game over the course of 128 NCAA games.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.

Southeast Notes: Bamba, Okeke, Fultz, Hield, Howard

Magic center Mohamed Bamba, who missed the first-round series against Milwaukee, has not experienced any serious health issues after leaving the Orlando campus during the seeding round, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel reports. Bamba departed in mid-August for a comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation after he struggled from the the virus he contracted in June.

“The doctors have ruled out anything serious but it will take some time to clear his system. That’ll probably be measured in months, not weeks,” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Weltman said rookie forward Chuma Okeke is in the “late stage of his rehab and development” and the Magic expect him to contribute next season, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Orlando drafted Okeke with the 16th overall pick last year even though he was recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the NCAA Tournament.
  • Coach Steve Clifford expressed satisfaction with Markelle Fultz‘s development this season, Robbins relays in the same story. “He’s obviously a very talented guy. … I’m beyond ecstatic with the way that he played,” Clifford said. Fultz averaged 12.1 PPG and 5.1 APG during the regular season.
  • Buddy Hield and Spencer Dinwiddie are among the trade candidates that the Hawks might pursue to pair with Trae Young, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Kirschner and Peachtree Hoops’ Andrew Kelly take an in-depth look at what type of trades Atlanta might explore this offseason using the team’s cap room.
  • The Wizards have recently interviewed draft prospects Markus Howard of Marquette and Robert Woodard of Mississippi State, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. They are potential targets with the Wizards’ second-rounder at No. 37 overall.