Maurice Harkless

Blazers Notes: Ownership, Nurkic, Hood, Kanter

While there’s a perception in NBA circles that the Trail Blazers‘ ownership situation is unsettled in the wake of Paul Allen‘s death last fall, the team’s head of basketball operations, Neil Olshey, doesn’t subscribe to that notion, as Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.

“Nothing is unsettled. Jody is our owner,” Olshey said during the Blazers’ exit interviews, referring to Paul’s sister Jody Allen. “She has been fantastic in terms of engagement. She has addressed the team when we’ve asked her to. She was really emotional after the OKC series, that was the validation, knowing how much Paul believed in the core of this group and to see it come to fruition.

“Jody stepped up and spoke to the team in a way that resonated with everybody and struck a chord with the players and staff and everyone there that she has our back, she has a vision for the franchise, she believes in the group, she cares about the players, and the magnitude of what she has had to take on,” Olshey continued, per Quick. “At a time when we needed ownership to show solidarity with the front office, the coaching staff, the business division, she was there for us.”

Allen has exhibited that commitment to the franchise since Portland’s season ended earlier this month, having locked up Olshey and head coach Terry Stotts to contract extensions.

Here’s more on the Blazers:

  • According to Olshey (via Quick), injured Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic is making “great progress” from his broken left leg. While the team hasn’t offered a specific recovery timetable for Nurkic, Quick speculates that the big man could be ready to return to action sometime just before next season’s All-Star break. “Guys can’t believe where he is relative to what they saw only four weeks ago,” Olshey said of Nurkic. “He is a core piece to this roster, a foundational piece going forward, and we are going to drive him. But also knowing we are going to do what’s best for Nurk on a long-term basis in terms of his recovery and his timeline.”
  • The Blazers aren’t expecting to be able to retain Rodney Hood or Enes Kanter using the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be worth about $5.7MM), writes Quick. If the club can shed enough salary to gain access to the full mid-level exception – or Hood and Kanter don’t receive as much interest as anticipated – Hood would likely be the priority over Kanter, in Quick’s view.
  • Quick doesn’t expect the Blazers’ three big expiring contracts for Evan Turner, Meyers Leonard, and Maurice Harkless to garner a ton of interest on the trade market this offseason, contending that they could become more intriguing trade chips during the season.
  • Former St. John’s guard Shamorie Ponds is set to work out for the Trail Blazers on Friday, tweets Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com. According to Quick, Portland will likely only hold “three or four” pre-draft workouts since the club has just one pick (No. 25) in this year’s draft.

Moe Harkless Sprains Ankle, Questionable For Game 3

Maurice Harkless underwent an MRI on his right ankle and the results confirmed that it’s a sprain, as the Trail BlazersTwitter feed relays. Harkless is questionable for Game 3 against the Nuggets.

The combo forward played in 60 games for Portland this season, starting 53 of those contests. He’s started in every game for the Blazers this postseason, averaging 9.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks in the six games leading up to Game 2, in which he suffered the injury.

Harkless, who made approximately $10.8MM this year, has one year left on the four-year, $40MM deal he signed in July of 2016. That was the offseason when the NBA’s cap spiked, paving the way for many players to sign lucrative deals that today appear outlandish. Harkless’ pact seems like one of the most team-friendly deals among those signed during the shopping-spree summer.

Jake Layman, who started 33 games this year, came out with the rest of the first unit to begin the second half in Game 2 on Wednesday. Layman, Rodney Hood, and Seth Curry are among those who could see additional minutes if Harkless misses time.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Millsap, Murray, Harkless, Nuggets

The Trail Blazers are focused on executing their game plan more than using their emotion for Sunday’s Game 4 in Oklahoma City, Sekou Smith of NBA.com writes. 

Portland will look to take a 3-1 series lead in a hostile playoff environment and quiet the boisterous Thunder crowd, one of the league’s toughest arenas to win games in.

“We’ve just got to focus on us,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “We’ve got to be us and do what we do and all of the peripheral stuff … doesn’t have to do with us.”

The Blazers protected home court in Games 1 and 2, jumping out to a 2-0 series lead. Stealing Game 4 on Sunday would allow the team to wrap the series up in five games at their arena on Tuesday, but the mission will prove to be challenging.

“It’s going to be talk, it’s going to be fouls, it’s going to be all that stuff. All that stuff is going to be part of it. But it’s who can deal with that stuff and not be too emotional,” Lillard said on Saturday, one day after a crazy Game 3 atmosphere. “Who can be more even-keeled. Who can handle it more and still have the right mentality through all of those things. And we just stay within ourselves, play hard and we compete.

“And if something is brought to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on. And that’s all it was. Because we don’t go out there talking and acting no type of way. But like I said, if it comes to our doorstep, we’re going to open the door and see what’s going on.”

There’s more today from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap opened up on “little brother” and teammate Jamal Murray, as detailed by Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “The main thing is just playing the game,” Millsap said of Murray. “Not getting focused on what people want him to do but just playing the game. Seeing him having 19 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds instead of focusing in on just scoring and trying to be going for 50 every single night. He’s actually playing the game now, and I’m super proud of him by how far he’s come.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless was fined $15,000 for throwing his headband into the spectator stands during Game 3 of the team’s series against Oklahoma City, the league announced on Saturday. Harkless’ incident marks the fifth separate fine the NBA has issued since the weekend began.
  • Nuggets coach Mike Malone made a change to his starting lineup in Game 4 against San Antonio, starting Torrey Craig in place of Will Barton. The adjustment played a part in Denver stealing a road victory and regaining homecourt advantage, with Craig scoring 18 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 37 minutes. “Torrey’s size and physicality, his hustle, like Torrey Craig was leaving it all on the floor, which I love,” Malone previously said after Game 3, as relayed by Mike Singer in a different story for the Denver Post. “And then Malik’s obviously shooting (well).  He’s been one of our best offensive players this whole series, shooting the ball very confidently. Attacking the basket and also playing pretty good defense. Both of those guys warrant more minutes, and I’m sure they’ll both get a great chance to play extended minutes [in Game 4].”

Contract Bonus Notes: Lowry, Olynyk, Gobert, Harkless

Although he didn’t play in the Raptors‘ regular season finale on Tuesday night, Kyle Lowry appeared in 65 games in 2018/19, just barely reaching an important threshold for the bonuses in his contract, ESPN’s Bobby Marks observes.

Having met the 65-game criteria, Lowry has earned his $200K bonus for making the All-Star Game, which was deemed likely entering the season. He’s also eligible for another $1.5MM in incentives depending on how far Toronto advances in the playoffs — he’ll get $500K if the Raps win the Eastern Semifinals, another $500K if they win the Eastern Finals, and an additional $500K if they win the NBA Finals.

Here are details on a few more bonuses that have been resolved or are about to be:

  • Since the Heat failed to reach the postseason, Kelly Olynyk missed out on a $400K bonus that had been considered likely, Marks tweets. That will move Miami further below the tax line and will ensure that Olynyk’s 2019/20 cap hit adjusts from approximately $13.07MM to $12.67MM.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert met a statistical threshold determined by his minutes divided by his rebounds, earning a $250K unlikely incentives, per Marks. If Gobert also earns a spot on the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team and secures a $500K likely incentive, his cap hit for 2019/20 is set to increase from $24.75MM to $25MM.
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless has a $500K bonus in his contract for shooting at least 35.0% on three-point attempts, but he won’t earn it this season, having made just 27.5% of his threes. As Marks details, the incentives had been considered likely this season, but it will be adjusted to unlikely for 2019/20. Portland will slightly reduce its tax bill for this season and Harkless’ cap hit for next year will dip from about $11.5MM to $11MM.

Deveney’s Latest: Blazers, Harkless, Saric, Matthews

After officially acquiring Rodney Hood in a trade with Cleveland earlier today, the Trail Blazers may not be done dealing, writes Sean Deveney of Sporting News. According to Deveney, some executives around the NBA have suggested that Portland regretted its relative inactivity at last season’s deadline and is more willing to make moves this time around.

Whether the Trail Blazers do anything drastic may hinge on their willingness to move second-year big man Zach Collins, according to Deveney, who says that the team has “resisted inquiries” on Collins so far.

Maurice Harkless is among the Trail Blazers who could be had though, and the team is open to moving its first-round pick as well, per Deveney. Harkless has one more year on his contract after this season, which figures to limit his value — teams like the Knicks and Nets have had interest in him in the past, but won’t want to compromise their 2019 cap flexibility by acquiring him now, Deveney observes.

Here’s more on the Blazers, plus a couple other notes from Deveney on the trade market:

  • Nikola Mirotic (Pelicans), Jeremy Lin (Hawks), Evan Fournier (Magic), and JaMychal Green (Grizzlies) are among the players the Trail Blazers have expressed interest in, sources tell Deveney.
  • Dario Saric‘s production and playing time has dipped since Ryan Saunders took over as the Timberwolves‘ head coach, and Deveney suggests that it wouldn’t be a shock to see Saric back on the trade block in the offseason, or even this week. “He could be had for a decent offer, a first-rounder and a player,” one league executive told Deveney.
  • Deveney reiterates that the Raptors and Rockets are expected to be among the favorites for Wesley Matthews if he’s bought out, as we heard earlier today. The Bucks wouldn’t be among Matthews’ suitors, per Deveney, though Milwaukee hopes to add one more frontcourt piece via trade or free agency.

Injury Updates: Nowitzki, Markkanen, Leonard, Harkless

Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is targeting next month for his season debut, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Nowitzki provided an update today on his condition as he continues rehab work after having surgery on his left ankle in April. “Hopefully somewhere in December, I’ll be ready,” he said, although he hasn’t been able to participate in a full practice since the operation.

Nowitzki saw some action in a “staff game” today, playing against interns and younger members of the coaching staff. “I wasn’t the best player out there, so I have some work to do,” he said.

Nowitzki, who turned 40 over the summer, remained effective last season, playing 77 games and averaging 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per night. He has indicated that this may be his final NBA season, although he hasn’t made a formal announcement.

There’s more injury-related news to pass along:

  • Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen continues to make progress in his return from a right elbow injury and could start practicing with contact next week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Coach Fred Hoiberg said Markkanen has made major improvements with his conditioning. He suffered a high-grade lateral elbow sprain during training camp.
  • Hoiberg added that Kris Dunn is ahead of Bobby Portis in recovering from knee injuries that they suffered within days of each other (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors are moving closer to using Kawhi Leonard in back-to-back games, coach Nick Nurse told Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun (Twitter link). Nurse added that the team’s strategy with Leonard over the first quarter of the season has been successful, and there have been no problems when he has been asked to play a lot of minutes. “He feels good,” Nurse added of Leonard, who was limited to nine games with the Spurs last season because of a quad injury.
  • The RaptorsC.J. Miles missed his fifth straight game tonight with a groin strain, but he should be back soon, Wolstat adds (Twitter link).
  • Maurice Harkless is returning to the Trail Blazers‘ lineup tonight after missing 13 games with a sore left knee, tweets Joe Freeman of The Oregonian.

Injury Updates: Theis, Giannis, Harkless, Harris

The Celtics may be without big man Daniel Theis for the next few weeks, head coach Brad Stevens acknowledged today (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

While Stevens said Theis’ injury won’t require surgery and isn’t necessarily as bad it sounds, the 26-year-old is dealing with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot and has been ruled out indefinitely (Twitter links via Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald and the Celtics’ official account).

Theis doesn’t play a major role for the Celtics, but has been productive in limited minutes. So far in his second season with the franchise, he has averaged 6.0 PPG and 3.4 RPG in just 12.2 minutes per contest.

Here are a few more noteworthy injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, who initially returned to Saturday night’s game after taking a blow to the head, has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will miss at least Monday’s game against Toronto, the Bucks announced today. The Raptors will be without their own star player, having announced that Kawhi Leonard will rest in the first game of the club’s back-to-back set.
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless continues to deal with the effects of the arthroscopic knee surgery he underwent in March. As Joe Freeman of The Oregonian details, Harkless’ left knee pain recently resurfaced and will keep him out of Monday’s game against Indiana. It’s not clear whether Harkless will continue to miss more time beyond that contest.
  • Mavericks guard Devin Harris, who remains out of action due to a hamstring injury, has been targeting Wednesday’s game against the Lakers as a potential return date, but that’s not set in stone, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. “I ran on it for the first time,” Harris said on Sunday. “The next step is to run on it comfortably. It didn’t feel quite right.”

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Schroder, Neto, Harkless

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook is progressing in his rehab from knee surgery, though it’s unclear when he’ll make his return to the court, Royce Young of ESPN.com writes.

Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery in his right knee on September 12, and the former NBA Most Valuable Player is still unable to participate in full-contact drills. His status for Tuesday’s season-opener against Golden State is uncertain.

“Every day for him, he feels better and better,” coach Billy Donovan said after a team practice Thursday. “I don’t want to say [if he’ll be ready for Tuesday]. I know you guys want to know that, but that’s too far out and there will be a lot of things that will go into that decision.

“There’s certain things he’ll have to go through to get himself fully cleared to play, but he’s certainly moving in the right direction and he’s worked really hard at his rehab to get himself back.”

Despite not being able to play with full contact, Westbrook has participated in portions of team practices this month. The Thunder hope he can make his return next week, but they refuse to rush the process.

“He’s been in controlled situations that the medical staff has allowed him to do,” Donovan said. “And hopefully with the way he responds physically after going through a workout, they’ll be able to add a little bit more and more.”

There’s more notes out of the Northwest Division:

Northwest Notes: Allen, Nuggets, Harkless, Allen

Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen announced in a press release that he is once again being treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  Allen was treated for the same cancer in 2009. Allen says he will remain involved in the operations of Trail Blazers as well as the NFL’s Seahawks and his other business ventures.

The statement reads in part, “A lot has happened in medicine since I overcame this disease in 2009. My doctors are optimistic that I will see good results from the latest therapies, as am I. I will continue to stay involved with Vulcan, the Allen Institutes, the Seahawks and Trail Blazers, as I have in the past. I have confidence in the leadership teams to manage their ongoing operations during my treatment.”

We have more news from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets have most of their rotation players back from last season and that led to a productive first week of training camp, according to Christopher Dempsey of the team’s website. “I think the advantage that we have is continuity – year four, we know each other,” coach Michael Malone told Dempsey. “That’s already in. … We’re ahead of the curve. So, we have hit the ground running. We are, I think, ahead of a lot of teams because of the continuity that we have.”
  • Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless has been limited in camp by a left knee injury he suffered last March, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports. Harkless would like to play in a couple of preseason games and ease his way into the regular season. “I want to play in a couple,” he said. “I don’t want to just go out there and just go all out. It’s tough on the body. Coming from an injury, it’s probably not smart to do.”
  • Jazz rookie guard Grayson Allen made a promising preseason debut, as Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders examines. Allen scored 19 points off the bench against Australia’s Perth Wildcats, making 7-of-14 shots overall while going 5-for-9 on 3-point tries. Bench scoring was an issue for Utah last season and the Duke rookie could prove to be a significant asset in another postseason run, Hicks points out.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Roberson, Nuggets, Towns

The Trail Blazers didn’t make any major roster moves this offseason, but tweaked their roster slightly by adding players like Seth Curry, Nik Stauskas, and Anfernee Simons. Head of basketball operations Neil Olshey said on Monday that he’s “happy with what we did” over the summer, though he acknowledged that Portland was outbid for six veteran free agents (Twitter link via Joe Freeman of The Oregonian).

In other Trail Blazers news, starting small forward Maurice Harkless continues to recover from arthroscopic left knee surgery, and his availability during training camp is limited (link via Freeman). Harkless said he’ll be involved in practices, but he hasn’t been cleared to play in 5-on-5 games and doesn’t think he’ll be 100% in practices.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Andre Roberson, who ruptured his left patellar tendon last season, provided an update on his recovery timetable on Monday, indicating that he expects to be cleared for contact soon and back to full speed “around December.” Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press has the details, along with the full quotes from the Thunder‘s top defender.
  • The Nuggets aren’t providing any timelines for Isaiah Thomas or Michael Porter Jr. to make their respective debuts with the club, as Matt L. Stephens of The Denver Post writes. The team sounds ready to take a cautious approach with both players. “I do not have a date right now, I’m going to take my sweet time, because I’ve rushed it before and that did not work out for me,” Thomas said of his own status. “We’re not worried about right now. We’re worried about April, worried about the playoffs and me being as healthy as I can going into that stretch. However long it takes, I’m only going to go out on the court when I can produce at a high level.”
  • After officially signing his new maximum-salary extension with the Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns spoke to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic about the deal, which he admits took “a lot longer than I expected” to get done.