Matisse Thybulle

Atlantic Notes: Williams, Durant, Thybulle, Stevens

Celtics center Robert Williams III had a strong performance in the team’s 114-112 victory over Chicago on Saturday, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Williams finished with 14 points, 13 rebounds, six assists and two blocks, helping Boston secure a much-needed win at home.

“I think he was just out there playing with a lot of energy, staying solid, and he’s handled it very well,” Celtics veteran Al Horford said of Williams. “He looks more and more comfortable, and that’s a good time for us.”

Williams agreed to a four-year, $54MM contract extension with Boston last summer. In 35 starts this season, he’s averaged a career-best 10.0 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks, playing 29.3 minutes per game. The Celtics rank sixth in defensive rating (107.3) largely because of his play.

Here are some other notes from the Atlantic:

  • Alex Schiffer of The Athletic examines what Kevin Durant‘s MCL sprain means for the Nets. Durant is averaging 29.3 points per game this season, his highest mark since the 2012/13 season. He’s also shooting 52% from the floor, 37% from three and 89% from the charity stripe. “We’ve been a resilient group all year since I’ve been here,” James Harden said. “So, we just got to keep pushing.”
  • Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle will be out for at least one week after an MRI revealed a right shoulder sprain, Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times tweets. Thybulle missed the team’s game against Miami on Saturday due to the injury, starting in 17 of his 32 games so far this season.
  • A. Sherrod Blakely of Full Court Press spoke to Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens about the upcoming trade deadline. The deadline falls on February 10 this season, just three weeks from Thursday. “It’s always the same goal here,” Stevens said. “Whatever we do has to make sense…putting yourself in the mix to compete for the next banner.”

COVID-19 Updates: Grizzlies, Harrell, Thybulle, Bolmaro, More

All the Grizzlies players who were recently placed in the NBA’s health and safety protocols have now been cleared, head coach Taylor Jenkins said on Thursday evening (Twitter link via Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal). After three Memphis players exited the protocols on Wednesday, John Konchar and Xavier Tillman were the only players still affected — they’re apparently out of the protocols now too.

Here are more updates on COVID-19 and the health and safety protocols:

  • Wizards big man Montrezl Harrell has cleared the protocols and is questionable to play on Friday in Chicago, tweets Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.
  • Matisse Thybulle is no longer on the Sixers‘ injury report, as Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets, which is a good indication he’s out of the protocols.
  • Timberwolves rookie Leandro Bolmaro has entered the COVID-19 protocols, according to the team (Twitter link). He’s the only Minnesota player in the protocols for now.
  • The NBA’s latest injury report lists Mavericks guard Isaiah Thomas as simply “not with team” and Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman as probable to play on Friday in Portland as he takes part in return to competition reconditioning, so it sounds like both players have exited the protocols. However, Thomas has been ruled out for tonight’s game and his 10-day contract will expire overnight.
  • Hawks guard Chris Clemons has entered the protocols, per Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Clemons’ 10-day deal expires tonight, so his time in Atlanta could be over.
  • The NBA will continue daily COVID-19 testing of players who haven’t received a booster shot through the All-Star break, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. All players and coaches, regardless of vaccination status, will also continue to be tested daily through January 15, Wojnarowski adds.

COVID-19 Updates: Sixers, Celtics, Rondo, Blazers, More

Sixers wing Danny Green cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Sunday, tweets Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, Jaden Springer and Matisse Thybulle are both in the protocols now, joining two-way player Myles Powell.

In the latest injury report for the Sixers’ Monday game vs. Houston, Powell and Springer are both listed as out, while Thybulle is considered questionable. That suggests that the team is likely waiting for the results of Thybulle’s latest COVID-19 test before determining whether or not he’ll be available.

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

  • Dennis Schröder and Bruno Fernando returned to action for the Celtics on Sunday after a stint in the health and safety protocols. Jayson Tatum has exited the protocols, but remained sidelined for Sunday’s game — he’s expected to return on Wednesday, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
  • On the LakersSunday injury report, Rajon Rondo was listed as out due to return to competition reconditioning. Rondo had been in the COVID-19 protocols since December 26, which presumably delayed the official completion of the trade sending him to Cleveland. Now that he has cleared the protocols, the Cavaliers and Lakers should soon officially announce that deal.
  • Robert Covington, Trendon Watford, and Keljin Blevins are no longer in the health and safety protocols for the Trail Blazers, per the injury report.
  • Knicks center Jericho Sims remained out of action on Sunday, but he was listed on the injury report as taking part in return to competition conditioning, so he has exited the protocols.
  • McKinley Wright (Timberwolves), Jarrett Culver (Grizzlies), and Jay Scrubb (Clippers) are among the other players who have recently cleared the COVID-19 protocols, according to the league’s injury report.
  • Our full health and safety protocols tracker can be found right here.

Atlantic Notes: Claxton, Sixers, Embiid, Brown

The Nets are ready to welcome back Nicolas Claxton, who is expected to be available tonight after missing more than five weeks with a non-COVID illness, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Claxton was Brooklyn’s starting center in the first three games of the season, then moved to a reserve role for game four before the illness struck.

Claxton refused to comment on reports that he had mononucleosis, preferring to call it an “undisclosed” illness. He said the most difficult aspect of the experience was dropping weight off his already-slender 6’11” frame.

“The toughest part was just honestly just losing weight, and looking at yourself in the mirror and I was just so small,” Claxton said. “But I’m back now. I’m back in shape and ready to get back in game shape.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Trail Blazersfiring of general manager Neil Olshey may open the door for a trade with the Sixers, suggests Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice. Olshey drafted backcourt stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and has been reluctant to break them up. Both have been mentioned as possible returns for Philadelphia as the Sixers seek a resolution to the Ben Simmons standoff. Neubeck states that Portland may be more open to moving McCollum now that Olshey is no longer in charge, or Lillard may see Olshey’s firing as incentive to request a trade. While most Philadelphia fans prefer the second option, Neubeck believes a move with McCollum is more realistic.
  • In a separate story, Neubeck examines the Sixers‘ recent offensive struggles and looks at how the team can create more easy opportunities for Joel Embiid. Part of the problem occurs when Matisse Thybulle is used for defensive purposes, making it easier for opponents to double team Embiid. Neubeck says coach Doc Rivers needs to adjust his rotations, especially late in games. “The whole season I haven’t gotten any easy ones. It feels like I’ve got to work for everything, that’s why I say we’ve got to communicate,” Embiid said this week. “I’ve got to let my teammates and my guys know, and I probably got to come up with it myself, find ways that I can get easy ones. It just feels like I have to work for everything. I get doubled every single possession.”
  • Jaylen Brown experienced tightness in his right hamstring during Wednesday’s game and Celtics coach Ime Udoka plans to be “cautious” about playing him, tweets Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston. Brown missed eight games last month with a hamstring strain.

Eastern Notes: Sheppard, Anthony, Thybulle, Morris

Wizards president Tommy Sheppard is “grateful” for and “humbled” by his recent promotion with the franchise, he told NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes. Sheppard had been serving as general manager and also received a multi-year contract extension.

“I’m just so grateful and I’m very humbled. I think it’s a reflection that we have good people here. I’m very, very grateful for all of them,” Sheppard said. “The thing I look forward to most every day is the people I work with, the people and the staff. I’m very grateful to Ted and his belief and his support. I look forward to greater days ahead.”

Sheppard constructed a Wizards roster that’s opened the season with a 10-5 record. Washington has succeeded despite Rui Hachimura (personal) and Thomas Bryant (torn ACL rehab) not appearing in a game to date.

The Wizards overhauled their roster this past offseason, signing Spencer Dinwiddie and trading for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell. The club was eliminated from the playoffs last year in a five-game, first-round series against the Sixers.

There’s more from the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • Magic guard Cole Anthony has suffered a sprained right ankle, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). Anthony will miss the club’s game against Milwaukee on Saturday. He’s averaging 19.6 points, 5.9 assists and 34.1 minutes per game on 42% shooting.
  • Sixers wing Matisse Thybulle will return from a seven-game COVID absence on Saturday against the Blazers, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Pompey notes that Thybulle isn’t scheduled to receive many minutes. The Sixers are still missing Joel Embiid (health and safety protocols), Danny Green (left hamstring tightness), and Ben Simmons (personal).
  • Heat veteran Markieff Morris (neck) isn’t traveling with the team for its four-game road trip, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press (Twitter link). Morris has yet to play since being intentionally hit from behind by Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic on Nov. 9 — an altercation that began with Morris’ hard foul in transition.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Thybulle, Simmons, Joe

This Thursday (November 18) is the earliest that Joel Embiid could return after his stint in the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer said on the HoopsHype Podcast with Michael Scotto that the Sixers center will likely be out a little longer than that.

As Pompey explains, Embiid was symptomatic after contracting COVID-19 and “hasn’t been doing anything basketball-wise” during his absence, so he’ll likely need some time to ramp back up and get game-ready. While Pompey acknowledges it’s possible the All-NBA big man is back in the lineup on Thursday, he thinks it’s more likely to happen on Saturday or sometime next week.

[UPDATE: Embiid has been ruled out for Thursday’s game, tweets Pompey.]

Here’s more on the Sixers:

  • Pompey also told Scotto that Matisse Thybulle (health and safety protocols) should be back by next week, if not sooner. Head coach Doc Rivers didn’t offer any real specifics on Tuesday when asked by reporters about potential return dates for Embiid and Thybulle, as Pompey tweets.
  • Ben Simmons was, of course, a popular topic of conversation during Pompey’s appearance on the HoopsHype Podcast. During that discussion, Pompey said he still believes Simmons has played his last game as a Sixer, but trade talks appear to be “on pause” for now. Scotto said he has heard from some executives that the 76ers’ hot start without Simmons may have hurt the 25-year-old’s value a little in the eyes of potential suitors. “When you lose a star player, you typically struggle, but Philadelphia coming out of the gate, was leading the Eastern Conference,” Scotto said, noting the team has slumped since Embiid was sidelined.
  • Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com takes an in-depth look at where the Simmons situation stands. Within his column, Neubeck argues there’s an inherent contradiction between agent Rich Paul‘s claim that negative publicity is hurting Simmons’ mental health and Klutch Sports’ apparent willingness to wage a PR battle by leaking details of the standoff to media outlets.
  • As Pompey writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Isaiah Joe said that he experienced some symptoms of COVID-19, including loss of smell, during his time in the health and safety protocols, but is feeling better now. Joe played on Tuesday for the first time since November 3, logging a season-high 24 minutes in Philadelphia’s blowout loss in Utah.

Eastern Notes: Schroder, Maxey, Joe, Bertans

Dennis Schröder signed a one-year contract for the taxpayer mid-level exception in the hopes of building his value. So far, so good. Schröder erupted for 38 points on Friday in the Celtics’ victory over Milwaukee and elicited MVP chants from the home fans, Jared Weiss of The Athletic writes. Schröder is averaging 20.8 PPG and 5.8 APG as a starter.

“He’s finding his way,” Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said. “He’s brought his bench role to the starting lineup. He’s been very aggressive.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • While Ben Simmons continues to sit out, Sixers second-year guard Tyrese Maxey has become one of the most popular athletes in Philadelphia. Fans were chanting “MVP!” during Thursday’s home game, according to Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Maxey has piled up 64 points and nine assists while committing just two turnovers over the last two games. “I appreciate the Philly fans, of course,” Maxey said. “They’re always behind us.”
  • Isaiah Joe has cleared protocols and will join the Sixers in Indiana for Saturday’s game, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweetsHe is expected to go through a workout pregame and is questionable to play, Pompey addsJoel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle remain under those health and safety protocols.
  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans is a week away from returning to action, coach Wes Unseld Jr. told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link) and other media members on Friday. Bertans has done more shooting drills in recent days. He has been out since November 1 with a sprained left ankle.

Atlantic Notes: Thybulle, Walker, Noel, Dekker, Birch, Trent

Matisse Thybulle is the latest Sixers player placed under the league’s health and safety protocols, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey. Tobias Harris was placed under the protocols on Monday and Isaiah Joe was added to the list on Thursday. The entire team was tested for the virus before Thursday’s game against the Pistons and everyone else produced a negative test.

Thybulle, whose locker is next to Joe’s, was placed in protocols for contact tracing. That could leave the Sixers will just eight available players for Saturday’s game against Chicago due to protocols, injuries and Ben Simmons‘ situation.

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Knicks point guard Kemba Walker has scored a total of nine points over the last two games and admits he needs to step up his play, particularly at the start of games, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Walker has shot 4-for-19 from the field in those games. “I have to get my guys going. I take ownership of that,” he said. “That’s who I can be. I have to do a better job at that. I have to be ready to start the game better.’’
  • With Nerlens Noel back in action for the Knicks, he notes that there’s always a shot-blocking presence when he shares the center spot with Mitchell Robinson, Berman relays in a separate story. “Me and Mitch do similar things but we do it different ways,” Noel said. “So I bring what I bring — being aggressive on the pick-and-rolls, hedging out and getting guys uncomfortable, as well as protecting the rim. Mitch brings what he brings with his size and physicality. … We want to get to the level of having two Twin Towers back and holding down the paint.’’ Noel returned this week after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries.
  • The Raptors decided to waive Sam Dekker before his $1.7MM contract became fully guaranteed on Saturday. That leaves the club $618,540 below the luxury tax, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. That has an added benefit, since tax distribution for teams below the line projects to be $13MM, Marks adds. That estimate figures to change by the end of the season as more projected taxpayers look to duck below the tax line or reduce their bills.
  • During the offseason, the Raptors re-signed Khem Birch on a three-year contract and did the same with Gary Trent. Thus far, both players are living up their deals, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports writes. “I always told myself if I ever got the opportunity, I would take advantage of it,” Birch said. “So now that I got a contract, I don’t think it’s time to rest. I think it’s time to take advantage of that and also prove myself.”

Sixers Pick Up 2022/23 Options On Thybulle, Maxey

The Sixers have picked up their 2022/23 team options on forward Matisse Thybulle and guard Tyrese Maxey, the team announced today in a press release.

Thybulle, 24, hasn’t done much offensively since entering the league as the No. 20 overall pick in 2019, averaging just 4.3 PPG across 135 games. However, he’s a key contributor on the other side of the ball, having been named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2020/21. His fourth-year option for ’22/23 will pay him $4,379,527.

Maxey, the 21st overall pick in the 2020 draft, has been forced into starting point guard duty in his second NBA season due to Ben Simmons‘ absence. He’s still finding his footing, but has put up respectable averages of 14.4 PPG, 4.4 RPG, and 3.6 APG in five games (33.0 MPG). His third-year option for ’22/23 is worth $2,726,880.

Thybulle will be extension-eligible during the 2022 offseason, while the 76ers will still have to make one more team-option decision on Maxey for the 2023/24 season.

All of this year’s ’22/23 rookie scale option decisions, which are due on Monday, can be found right here.

Eastern Notes: Harrell, Thybulle, Irving, Reddish, Toppin, Young

Former Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell feels like the Lakers didn’t play him enough last season, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards big man is happy to get a fresh start. He averaged 4.2 fewer shot attempts per game with the Lakers than his final year with the Clippers.

“I’m trying to just get back to playing basketball freely and just get back to enjoying the game and just being able to help my team on both ends of the floor. I didn’t really get to be utilized how I wanted to be last year,” he said. “I damn near felt like I had a season off. So, I’m using this preseason to really ramp back up and knock off a lot of the rust on my own game, really.”

Playing more would help to boost his value. Harrell, who is making $9.72MM this season, will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • Sixers swingman Matisse Thybulle has a sore right shoulder and will be out at least a week, Derek Bodner of The Athletic tweets. He’ll undergo rehab for the injury and be reevaluated sometime next week. Thybulle was named to the All-Defensive Second Team last season.
  • Kyrie Irving is listed as ineligible to play for the Nets’ preseason home opener on Friday, according to The Associated Press. It’s an indication that Irving remains unvaccinated. He practiced with the Nets last week when they held training camp in San Diego, but he hasn’t been able to practice with the team under New York City restrictions.
  • Cam Reddish heard his name pop up in trade rumors this offseason but the Hawks forward puts a positive spin on it, Chris Kirchner of The Athletic writes. “It didn’t affect me at all,” Reddish said. “It’s really a compliment when you think about it. It’s all good. I just have to control what I can control. Clearly, I have some decent value, so that’s a compliment.”
  • Knicks second-year Obi Toppin is determined to establish himself after a spotty rookie campaign, Steve Popper of Newsday writes. He’s gotten in better shape and feels “a lot more comfortable” going into his sophomore campaign. “I feel like I’ve put in a lot of work this summer, not only me but everyone here,” he said. “We put in a lot of work and there is just the start. … I feel like I just have a little bit more knowledge of being here now. I feel like I’ve kind of put my foot in the water already, so I kind of have a feel of what it’s like playing out there.”
  • Hawks star guard Trae Young feels all the pieces are in place for a championship run, according to Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated“We have everything,” Young said. Pina takes an in-depth look at Young’s development and his supporting cast.