Maurice Harkless

Injury Updates: Mitchell, Anderson, Harkless, Irving

Jazz star rookie guard Donovan Mitchell is questionable to play in Game 2 against the Thunder because of a left foot contusion, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Mitchell, who scored 27 points with 10 rebounds in his playoff debut, is optimistic he’ll play Wednesday after undergoing an MRI. “I can walk. I’m good. I’m not limping,” Mitchell told Woodyard and other media members.

In other injury-related news:

  • Rockets power forward Ryan Anderson could return from an ankle sprain to play in Game 2 of their series against the Timberwolves, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. He missed the last four regular-season games and Game 1. “The last I heard is he had a good workout before the game,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told Feigen. “He has a real good shot [to play on] Wednesday and definitely on Saturday.” Anderson shot well against Minnesota this season, averaging 12 PPG while making 50% of his 3-point tries.
  • Trail Blazers small forward Maurice Harkless has been upgraded to questionable for Game 2 against the Pelicans, Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest tweets. Harkless missed the last 10 games with a left knee injury. Harkless averaged 14.8 PPG in his last six outings prior to the injury.
  • Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving is already walking around without a noticeable limp just a little over a week after knee surgery, Taylor Snow of Celtics.com writes. Irving underwent season-ending knee surgery April 7 to remove two screws in his left knee. “I had just got done literally 10 minutes ago talking to our training staff and the people who are working most closely with him, and they feel great about his early [progress] a week in, or whatever it is,” coach Brad Stevens said. “That’s exciting, that’s encouraging. Again, he’s going to make a full recovery.”

Injury Updates: Embiid, Brewer, Harkless, Bembry

Joel Embiid said he’s feeling better as he recovers from facial surgery but the Sixers big man maintains that it is unlikely that he plays in the team’s Game 1 playoff matchup against the Heat, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.

“œUnlikely,” Embiid said, “œbut there’s still a chance based on the way I’™ve been feeling the past couple of days and the way I’ve progressed. Unlikely, but we’re going to see how it feels.”

Embiid missed Philadelphia’s last eight regular season games after he suffered an orbital fracture near his left eye and a concussion during a March 28 matchup against the Knicks. While the Sixers did not lose a game during Embiid’s absence, adding a player who averaged 22.9 PPG and 11.0 RPG during the regular season would be a major postseason boost.

Check out more injury updates below:

  • Thunder guard Corey Brewer will receive treatment on his sprained knee over the next few days with the intention to play in the Thunder’s Game 1 matchup against the Jazz, tweets Yahoo Sports’ Shams Charania. Brewer suffered the injury in Oklahoma City’s regular-season finale, causing concern about his postseason status.
  • The Trail Blazers got some positive news on Maurice Harkless, who is expected to return sometime during Portland’s first-round series against the Pelicans, sources tell Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. Harkless missed Portland’s final nine games to clean out his left knee and was a key part of the team before the injury.
  • Hawks forward DeAndre’ Bembry has been diagnosed with a right wrist fracture, the team announced. He is expected to recover within four to six weeks.

Contract Notes: Embiid, Davis, Lillard, Lowry

When All-NBA voters decide whether or not to classify Anthony Davis as a forward or center on their ballots this year, they may indirectly impact the value of Joel Embiid‘s new contract by approximately $30MM.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, the extension Embiid signed with the Sixers last offseason will be worth 25% of the cap starting in 2018/19. However, the contract includes a clause that states his starting salary would increase to 30% if he’s named to the All-NBA First Team. That salary bump would increase his overall earnings by about $30MM over the life of the five-year deal, but it can probably only happen if Davis receives most of his All-NBA votes at forward. Otherwise, he seems like a good bet to beat out Embiid for the center spot on the First Team.

No player has more at stake as a result of All-NBA voting or various other benchmarks than Embiid. But that contract is just one of many that could be affected by a variety of award results, postseason outcomes, or other criteria.

Marks’ piece is worth checking out in full for all the details, but here’s a quick look at a few noteworthy contract situations:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis will become eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in 2019 if he earns an All-NBA spot this year. However, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is among the players who would need another All-NBA nod in 2019 to qualify for a supermax deal, even if he’s on this year’s All-NBA squad. Those Designated Veteran Extensions are known as supermax contracts because they start at 35% of the salary cap instead of 30%.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers) would get sizable bonuses if their teams make deep playoff runs. Lowry would receive $500K for reaching the Eastern Finals, another $500K for winning the East, and another $500K for a title. Oladipo would earn $250K if Indiana reaches the NBA Finals.
  • All-Defense honors would pay off for Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. Gobert will get a $500K bonus if he’s named to the All-Defense First Team, while Holiday would get $100K for a spot on the First Team or Second Team.
  • Among the players who have already earned bonuses: Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon ($900K for incentives related to points, rebounds, and games played), Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless ($500K for his three-point percentage), Bucks center John Henson ($500K for playing 75+ games), and Jazz guard Ricky Rubio ($175K for his field-goal and free-throw percentages).

Blazers’ Maurice Harkless Undergoes Knee Procedure

MARCH 28, 3:51pm: After undergoing a procedure on his left knee today, Harkless will be re-evaluated in two weeks, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The regular season will end two weeks from today, so it sounds like the Blazers likely won’t get Harkless back until the playoffs. The forward’s recovery could take about two to three weeks, league sources tell Wojnarowski.

MARCH 27, 9:41pm: Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless will undergo an arthroscopy Wednesday to remove a loose body in his left knee, the team announced in a press release. His timetable to return to action will be determined following the procedure.

Harkless is averaging 6.5 PPG and 2.7 RPG in 21.4 MPG. He’s coming off one of his best performances of the season, as he posted 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and four blocks against the Thunder on Sunday. He has scored 16 or more points in four of the last six games.

The Blazers are currently third in the Western Conference and this could be a significant blow if Harkless is not ready to return by the postseason. This leaves the club thin at the small forward spot, since Evan Turner and Harkless have played the bulk of the minutes there.

Northwest Notes: Wiggins, Stockton, Harkless

Despite reports of whispers this week that Andrew Wiggins is unhappy as the Timberwolves‘ third option, the Minnesota guard and head coach Tom Thibodeau rejected those reports, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes.

Wiggins, 23, is in his fourth season with the Wolves but his numbers are down from the past two seasons. The former first overall pick is averaging 17.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 69 games. However, Thibodeau denied that the team’s leading shot-taker is unhappy with his role.

“I know Andrew’s character,” Thibodeau said. “There’s no way in the world Andrew is saying any of that, particularly from a guy who’s taken the most shots on our team.”

Earlier this week, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN (Twitter link) said that Wiggins has “whispered to teammates” that he’s unhappy being a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler — who is sidelined with a torn meniscus. “It’s just someone’s word of mouth. It wasn’t no quote from me,” Wiggins said. “Everyone that knows me knows I don’t talk much, I just go with the flow … I don’t whisper. If I say something, I’m going to say it clearly and loudly.”

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • David Stockton, the son of Jazz legend John Stockton, agreed to a 10-day contract with Utah on Friday. The elder Stockton played with the Jazz for 19 seasons, becoming the NBA’s all-time assists leader and 2008 Hall of Fame inductee. Brad Rock of The Deseret News writes that John and the rest of the Stockton family are excited for the 26-year-old and his newest NBA opportunity. “I’m glad to stay out of that,” John Stockton said of his comparisons between him and his son. “He’s his own player and it wouldn’t do him any good to try to be me. He can just be the best he can be.”
  • Having reached 100 three-point attempts on the season, Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless is now eligible to receive a $500K bonus for his three-point shooting percentage, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Harkless will receive the bonus if his percentage is greater than 35%; he’s shooting 37.6% from the beyond the arc.

Northwest Notes: D. Harris, Crowder, Harkless, Wolves

Devin Harris is happy to have another shot at the postseason in Denver, relays Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. The veteran guard found his way back into the playoff race on Thursday when he was shipped from the Mavericks to the Nuggets in a three-team trade. Harris was preparing for a game at Golden State when he heard about the deal, then caught a flight to Dallas and then Phoenix to join his new team in time for Saturday’s game.

At age 34, Harris brings not just experience to Denver’s young backcourt, but playoff experience. He has been in 64 postseason games, including a trip to the Finals with Dallas in 2006.

“I don’t want to be playing golf right now,” Harris said. “I’d rather be playing meaningful basketball.”

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey has been a longtime fan of Jae Crowder, who was acquired Thursday in a three-team deal, says Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Crowder made an immediate impact in his Utah debut with 15 points and four rebounds in tonight’s win over the Trail Blazers“He’s really versatile defensively and can play really two through four with switches and physicality,” Lindsey said. “His build is quite obvious and the systems that he’s played in with Dallas, Boston and Cleveland, we’ve seen enough to think that he can mesh very well in how we play. We’re really anxious to get him here.” Lindsay also said as many as 20 teams asked about Rodney Hood before he decided to send him to Cleveland in that deal.
  • The recent re-emergence of Maurice Harkless has created a dilemma for Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, according to Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest. The team’s former starting forward got expanded playing time this week because of injuries to other players and has convinced Stotts to expand his rotation, at least temporarily. “I think it’s just being back in the rotation,’’ Harkless said in explaining his recent success. “It’s hard to not know if you are going to play, how much you are going to play, then get thrown out there for six minutes. It’s tough to play like that and be consistent.’’
  • The Timberwolves were quiet at the deadline, and Michael Rand and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune make a case for why that was probably Minnesota’s best option.

Latest On Thunder’s Search For Wing Help

With Andre Roberson sidelined for the rest of the season, the Thunder are on the lookout for help on the wing. With less than 48 hours left until the arrival of this year’s trade deadline, let’s check in on the latest reports on OKC’s options…

  • There’s a “growing expectation” that the Thunder will make a move in advance of the trade deadline, since there’s a lot riding on this season, says ESPN’s Royce Young. Oklahoma City would prefer not to give up rookie Terrance Ferguson in a deal for a veteran rental though, Young adds.
  • TNT’s David Aldridge (Twitter link) identifies Maurice Harkless and Tony Allen as two potential targets to watch for the Thunder. Harkless would be an interesting fit, though it may be difficult for the Trail Blazers and Thunder to figure out a deal, since both teams are projected taxpayers and will be reluctant to add salary. As for Allen, Aldridge tweets that the veteran swingman has been cleared to play after recovering from his broken leg, but will need some time to get back to full speed.
  • The Thunder have done “due diligence” on Clippers guard Avery Bradley and Magic swingman Jonathon Simmons, per Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports. Mannix suggests that the Thunder might wait until closer to the deadline in the hopes that teams’ asking prices come down, noting that they could also wait until after the deadline and take their chances on what’s expected to be a “robust” buyout market.
  • Within his trade deadline preview, Jake Fischer of SI.com writes that the Thunder have shown interest in Clippers guard Lou Williams and expressed “serious” interest in Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans.
  • Oklahoma City has also been linked to Rodney Hood.

Woj/Lowe On Blazers, Jordan, Cavs, Hornets

With the February 8 trade deadline right around the corner, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski appeared this morning on Zach Lowe’s Lowe Post podcast to address some rumors and discuss some trade possibilities for teams around the NBA. While Wojnarowski and Lowe didn’t drop any bombshells during their hour-long conversation, the duo did share several items of note, so let’s dive in and round up some highlights…

  • Although the Trail Blazers had interest in Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, Wojnarowski hears that Portland has “backed away” as of late. According to Woj, it’s “entirely possible” that Jordan won’t get traded at all this week — the Clips may prefer to simply let him walk in free agency rather than taking on a bad contract or two in order to get a late first-round pick back in a trade.
  • Wojnarowski and Lowe discussed Brooklyn’s 2018 first-round pick at length, exploring what sort of deal would entice the Cavaliers to surrender that first-rounder. The duo agreed that Cleveland wouldn’t offer it to the Clippers for Jordan. In Woj’s view, it would take a Paul George-type veteran or a young star on a rookie contract to get the Cavs to part with that pick, but that sort of player isn’t really available.
  • The Cavaliers and Hornets have “definitely talked,” with those conversations presumed to have focused on Kemba Walker. That doesn’t mean that any deal is likely though, as virtually every team with any sort of need at point guard has checked in with the Hornets about Walker, per Wojnarowski.
  • Despite ongoing speculation that they’ll need to break up their star backcourt at some point, the Trail Blazers have “summarily rejected” any inquiries on Damian Lillard and/or C.J. McCollum, says Lowe. Maurice Harkless is a more realistic trade candidate in Portland, according to Wojnarowski, who says the Kings are one team that has had interest in Harkless in the past.
  • While the Nets aren’t necessarily looking to trade Spencer Dinwiddie, they’d have to consider it if they could get a first-round pick, according to Lowe. Woj agreed with that assessment.

Embiid Bonus Could Affect Sixers’ Cap Space

Joel Embiid‘s strong start could lead to a bonus that would affect the Sixers’ ability to compete on the free agent market next summer, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.

The second-year center signed a five-year extension over the summer that has a base value of $146MM, but could rise as high as $178MM if he reaches certain benchmarks. That includes a hefty bonus if he is named Most Valuable Player or earns first-team All-NBA honors this season. Embiid, who came into tonight averaging 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, is certainly a candidate to make the All-NBA team at center, especially with the injury to Rudy Gobert and the move of Anthony Davis to power forward.

The bonus would raise Embiid’s cap hit from $25.3MM to $30.3MM for 2018/19 and would cost Philadelphia $5MM in cap space for each subsequent year of the contract. The Sixers have nearly $32MM in projected cap room right now, not counting $1.6MM team options for T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, so $5MM could affect their ability to offer a full max contract.

Emiid’s contract also contains a minutes clause that could boost his future earnings. He can make his contract fully guaranteed starting in 2020/21 or 2021/22 if he plays at least 1,650 minutes in three consecutive years or three out of four starting with this season. He has accumulated 532 minutes in 18 games, putting him on pace to reach that figure for this year.

Marks passes on a few other tidbits related to contract incentives:

  • The punch from Bobby Portis that hospitalized Nikola Mirotic has cost the Bulls forward $1MM in bonuses. Mirotic had four benchmarks valued at $250K each, and although each was unlikely, he needed to play 65 games to be eligible and he has already missed 20.
  • Nets guard Jeremy Lin, who played just one game this season before needing knee surgery, missed a chance to earn several bonuses worth $750K.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap has a $500K incentive for making the All-Star team, which is impossible after wrist surgery that will keep him sidelined until after the February 18 game. Millsap had been an All-Star the past four seasons in the East. He also would receive a $150K bonus for playing 65 games and averaging seven rebounds per 36 minutes, but that’s out of reach because of the injury. He can still get $150K if the Nuggets make the playoffs, but for now his cap hit for next season will be cut from $29.7MM to $29.2MM.
  • Gobert took the biggest hit because of injury, which could cost him up to $2MM. The Jazz center, who is not expected back until the middle of the month because of a bone bruise in his right knee, had a pair of $250K incentives based on 67 games played, along with a $500K bonus for being named first team All-Defense and $1MM for making the All-Star game.
  • Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon needs his scoring and rebounding averages to total more than 16 to collect a $900K bonus. He was at 11.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG before his recent injury.
  • The Trail Blazers could see a smaller luxury tax bill if Maurice Harkless continues to struggle with his three-point shot. Currently shooting 24.3% from distance, Harkless needs to reach 35% at the end of the season to get a $500K bonus. If he falls short, Portland’s tax bill will dip from $4.3MM to $3.5MM.

Knicks, Nets Have Inquired On Blazers’ Picks

The Trail Blazers are reportedly open to discussing their three first-round picks in trades that would allow them to move salary, and it appears they’ve received interest from a pair of New York clubs. According to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, the Knicks and Nets have inquired about Portland’s first-round picks.

As Deveney details, talks between the Blazers and Knicks are “ongoing,” with New York having asked about some combination of the 15th, 20th, and 26th overall selections. While it’s possible the Knicks could move down from No. 8, it’s more likely that they’d want to pick up a second first-rounder to add to that lottery selection. We heard earlier this month that the Knicks had discussed the possibility of acquiring a second first-round pick in a trade.

Meanwhile, the Nets have also inquired about Portland’s picks, and could be an intriguing trade partner. Allen Crabbe, who has a $19.33MM cap hit for 2017/18, is one potential trade candidate for the Blazers as they look to clear salary, and it was Brooklyn that signed Crabbe to that pricey four-year offer sheet last summer. If the Nets still have interest in Crabbe and are willing to take on his substantial contract and trade kicker, there could be a match there. In that scenario, the two teams would have to wait until after the one-year anniversary of Crabbe’s 2016 signing, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post noted when he explored the subject.

The Blazers currently have more than $133MM in guaranteed salary on their books for 2017/18, and that number would rise further if they use their draft picks and sign those players, which is why the team is open to moving a pick or two to clear some salary and perhaps get out of tax territory. As I noted on Wednesday, Crabbe, Evan Turner ($17.13MM), and Meyers Leonard ($9.9MM) are among the candidates for a salary dump. Maurice Harkless ($9.66MM) could also be on the block, though he’d have a little more value.