Matt Janning

Western Notes: Gasol, Harden, Chalmers

Rockets shooting guard James Harden is growing increasingly frustrated with the team’s up-and-down play this season, Calvin Watkins of notes. “Yeah, because my first year was different,” Harden said. “We weren’t as talented and we still made playoffs, which was a big step for us. We have a lot of talent in this locker room, of course, coming off the Western Conference finals and being in the seventh spot right now. It’s frustrating, but we still have opportunities.

Harden has come under fire for being careless with his turnovers and not being more of a playmaker, but interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff says that the swingman has shown marked improvement this season in both areas, Watkins adds. “One thing, his turnovers are down dramatically,” Bickerstaff said. “If his turnovers are down, then his assists are up. That’s one of the things he said he wanted to improve on, and obviously he’s done it, the decision-making … the creativity has been there. It’s been outstanding the last month. It’s not surprising, we knew he could do it.” It should be noted that despite Bickerstaff’s praise, Harden is still averaging 4.4 turnovers per game on the year, which would be a career high if he were to finish the season with that mark.

Here’s more from out West:

  • The Grizzlies have been second-guessed for not resting Marc Gasol when he complained of foot soreness, but doing so would only likely have delayed his injury, not prevented it, Chris Herrington of The Commercial Appeal opines. The center is out indefinitely with a broken foot, though Herrington speculates Gasol won’t return to action this season, which goes along with an earlier report from that indicated the Spaniard would miss four to six months of action.
  • Mario Chalmers has solidified the Grizzlies’ bench with his play as reserve point guard since arriving via trade earlier this season from Miami, but when the Heat were looking to find a taker for the veteran, a number of teams, including the Jazz, were turned off by Chalmers’ stubborn personality and propensity to make poor decisions on the court, notes Zach Lowe of
  • The Mavs are pleased with the development of 2015 first-rounder Justin Anderson, Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News writes. “He’s not putting up big numbers or anything like that, but he’s playing solid within the system and has had some good plus-minus stretches,” coach Rick Carlisle said of the young swingman. “So he’s making progress. He’s learned a lot over the last three months. He’s doing what he needs to do. Generally, he’s in there with other primary guys and playmakers. Many of his shot opportunities will come off of other activity. But defensively, he’s made progress. Where we are right now, we need him.
  • Nuggets camp cut Matt Janning‘s deal with the Russian club Lokomotiv Cuban includes a team option for 2016/17, international journalist David Pick informed Hoops Rumors.

Western Notes: Chalmers, Pekovic, Janning

Wolves big man Nikola Pekovic‘s surgically repaired right Achilles tendon continues to bother him, and he’s frustrated as a result while he plays his way back into shape, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes. “I’m still not pain-free. I’m still feeling pain,” Pekovic told Zgoda. “It’s kind of a little of everything. I’m just learning to play with pain again. That’s the biggest adjustment. And, of course, when you don’t play for 10 months, what do you expect? Come back in two games? It’s not possible.

We appreciate the fact that Pek’s dealing with something I can only imagine,” interim coach Sam Mitchell said regarding the center’s struggles. “He’s doing the best he can to play through it, play as much as he can and get his game back to as close as it was. If he can do that, it’d be a minor miracle and it’d help us out. We just take it day-by-day and whatever Pek can give us, we have to be appreciative of that.

Here’s the latest from out West:

  • The Grizzlies will have a difficult time extracting value out of Jeff Green and his expiring contract if they decide to deal him prior to the trade deadline, Bobby Marks of The Vertical on Yahoo Sports opines in his deadline primer for Memphis. The team should hold onto point guard Mario Chalmers, who has solidified the position off the bench, and would likely come to regret parting ways with him down the stretch considering the lack of quality backup guards available around the league, Marks adds.
  • Nuggets camp cut Matt Janning has signed with the Russian club Lokomotiv Cuban, the team announced (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). International journalist David Pick notes (on Twitter) that Janning’s deal includes an option for 2016/17, though it is unclear if it is a team or player option.
  • Kobe Bryant acknowledges that the Lakers‘ struggles this season have changed his approach and perspective, in this, his final year in the league, writes Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report. “It’s just us not being as competitive as we used to be has changed my role substantially,” Bryant said, “to be more of a teacher, more of a coach, to a person who understands more and has more patience in dealing with the young guys. It’s much, much different in that aspect.

Nuggets Waive Matt Janning

12:27pm: The Nuggets have released Janning, the team announced via press release.

12:11pm: Janning has signed with Hapoel Jerusalem, the Israeli Winner League says via Twitter (hat tip to Sportando’s Orazio Cauchi). It’s a one-year deal with an option for a second, Pick tweets. The Nuggets haven’t announced anything about releasing Janning yet, and he’d have to clear waivers before any overseas deal could become official.

8:34am: The Nuggets will waive Matt Janning and his non-guaranteed deal, and the 27-year-old swingman is already in talks with Israel’s Hapoel Jerusalem, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Janning scored two points in about nine minutes of preseason action spread over a pair of games this month. The move will bring the Nuggets down to 18 players, including 15 with fully guaranteed pacts, as our roster count shows.

Janning’s contract with Denver is his first formal NBA deal since the 2010/11 season, when he was briefly on the Suns roster but didn’t manage to make it into a regular season game. He’s nonetheless been a frequent summer league participant, appearing on squads for the Suns, Celtics, Grizzlies, Pacers, Bulls, Nets and Timberwolves, though he didn’t play in an NBA summer league this year. Much of his career has taken place overseas, and he played for Anadolu Efes of Turkey last season.

He was a long shot to stick with the Nuggets for opening night, given the presence of those 15 guaranteed deals plus Erick Green, a holdover from last season who has a $100K partial guarantee. Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post opined recently that Green, and not Nick Johnson, who has a fully guaranteed one-year veteran’s minimum salary, is in the lead for the final regular season roster spot. Oleksiy Pecherov is also in Nuggets camp on a non-guaranteed contract as he attempts an NBA comeback, and Denver has summer-leaguer Devin Sweetney on a non-guaranteed deal, too.

Who do you think will end up on the Nuggets regular season roster? Leave a comment to give your thoughts.

Nuggets Sign Matt Janning For Camp

SEPTEMBER 16TH, 2:11pm: The signing has taken place, though the team has made no official announcement, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter link). It’s a one-year, minimum salary arrangement with limited injury protection, Pincus adds, so it’s an Exhibit 9 contract.

SEPTEMBER 8TH, 8:43am: The Nuggets and one-year NBA veteran Matt Janning have a non-guaranteed deal for training camp, reports international journalist David Pick (Twitter links). The 27-year-old shooting guard, who was on the Suns roster briefly during the 2010/11 season after he went undrafted out of Northeastern in 2010, picked Denver over a chance to join the Hawks as well as offers from overseas teams, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities (on Twitter).

Janning played with Turkish powerhouse Anadolu Efes this past season, averaging 9.2 points in 24.4 minutes per game with 37.9% three-point shooting combined between Turkish league and Euroleague play. He didn’t make it in a game during his 2010 stint with the Suns, who waived him a few weeks after opening night that year. He’s chiefly played overseas since, though he’s made multiple appearances in NBA summer league, the last coming in 2014 with the Timberwolves.

Denver has 14 full guarantees, plus Erick Green, who has a partial guarantee of $100K, and Kostas Papanikolaou, whose contract is non-guaranteed. Conflicting reports exist on whether the Nuggets are poised to waive Papanikolaou. The Nuggets could use some shooting, Wolfson tweets, pointing to that as one reason for Janning to choose them over Atlanta. The Hawks have only 13 full guarantees, though they have partial guarantees out to Mike Muscala, Lamar Patterson and Terran Petteway plus a non-guaranteed deal with Jason Richardson.

Who do you think deserves the final roster spot for the Nuggets? Leave a comment to tell us.

Matt Janning To Play In Italy

Former Suns guard Matt Janning is returning to Montepaschi Siena after being released by Croatian-based team Cibona Zagreb, according to Dailybasket (hat tip to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). The 6’5 combo guard played in Siena during the Italian League’s 2012-13 season before signing with Cibona Zagreb this past August. Janning himself also confirmed the news via his Twitter account.

Since appearing in NBA summer league games with the Celtics and Suns in 2010, Janning hasn’t had luck in securing much of a long-term opportunity in the NBA. While Phoenix initially signed him to a multi-year partially-guaranteed deal in August of 2010, they would eventually release him nearly three months later.

Aside from a few stints in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws and Rio Grande Valley Vipers between 2010 and 2011, as well a handful of cameos with the Pacers and Grizzlies’ summer rosters in 2012, Janning has mostly been playing overseas. His return to Siena marks his third appearance in Lega Basket Serie A in the last two years. In 23 games for Cibona this year, the former Northeastern standout averaged 10.4 PPG in 26.2 MPG.

Odds & Ends: Bledsoe, Jennings, Janning, Collins

LeBron James is the odds-on favorite to win this year's MVP trophy (again) but who is in the hunt for the MIP award?  Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld ran down this year's candidates for Most Improved Player, starting with newly-acquired Suns guard Eric Bledsoe.  Even if he doesn't start at the beginning of the season, Brigham expects him to carve out a significant role for himself by the end of the 2013/14 campaign.  Here's more from around the Association..

  • Even though this season might not be a landmark one for the Bucks, they're finally on the right path after purging themselves of Brandon Jennings' ego, opines Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  • Former D-Leaguer Matt Janning has an NBA out clause in his new contract with Croatia's Cibona Zagreb, according to Sportando.  The guard signed a multi-year deal with the Suns in 2010 after going undrafted but wound up getting cut in November before he ever appeared in a game.
  • In his weekend mailbag, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that he expects to see Jason Collins land a deal before the start of the season.