Maxi Kleber

Injury Updates: Tatum, Herro, Barnes, Langford, More

The Celtics will have star forward Jayson Tatum on the court for tonight’s showdown with the Mavericks, according to Souichi Terada of MassLive.

Tatum was listed as questionable after hurting his left ankle in Monday’s game at Chicago, but coach Joe Mazzulla told reporters that he’ll be able to play without any limitations. Tatum appeared to be moving normally during shootaround, Terada observes.

Tatum is among the early favorites in the MVP race, averaging 30.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists while playing 37.2 minutes per game, the most in his career. He has led Boston to the best start in the league at 13-4.

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

  • Tyler Herro will return for the Heat tonight after missing eight games with a sprained left ankle, the team announced (via Twitter). Max Strus was downgraded to out due to a shoulder injury, according to Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link).
  • Raptors forward Scottie Barnes will miss tonight’s game with a sprained left knee, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. Fred VanVleet is sidelined with an illness, so Toronto is down to 10 available players.
  • Spurs guard Romeo Langford has been cleared to return tonight after missing five games while in the health and safety protocols. Josh Richardson will miss the game after suffering a sprained ankle in Tuesday’s practice (Twitter link), and Zach Collins has been downgraded from probable to out as he recovers from a non-displaced fracture of his fibula (Twitter link). Coach Gregg Popovich sounded optimistic when asked if Collins is close to returning. “Yes, I guess is the answer,” he replied. “He’s just not ready yet. We thought he might be, but he’s not.” Popovich also refused to provide any details about the illness that forced him to miss Sunday’s game, telling reporters, “I’m fine,” Orsborn tweets.
  • Dean Wade, who missed the past six games with knee soreness, will come off the Cavaliers‘ bench tonight and will be on a minutes restriction, according to Chris Fedor of (Twitter link).
  • Nets forward Yuta Watanabe will be sidelined through at least Friday with a hamstring issue, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN. An MRI taken Tuesday night confirmed the injury (Twitter link), but Watanabe doesn’t seem concerned. “It’s not that serious,” he said. “… It’s day to day. We’ll see how long it takes.” (Twitter link)
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd is optimistic that Maxi Kleber, who’s dealing with a lower back contusion, will be available Saturday or Sunday, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Western Notes: George, Holmes, Fernando, Dinwiddie, Kleber, Popovich

Clippers star forward Paul George missed Monday’s game against Utah due to a right hamstring tendon strain, according to Law Murray of The Athletic.

It’s a different injury than the one the team cited when George sat out the second half of Saturday’s game against San Antonio. The reason given that night was right knee soreness.

George will be reevaluated in the next couple of days.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Richaun Holmes has fallen out of the Kings’ rotation and it may be difficult to move his contract, James Ham of The Kings Beat notes. Holmes is owed $11.2MM this season, $12MM next season and has a player option for $12.9MM in 2024/25.
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas is optimistic Bruno Fernando can return to action later this week, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle tweets. Fernando has only appeared in two games this season due to left knee soreness.
  • Mavericks coach Jason Kidd expressed hope that Spencer Dinwiddie and Maxi Kleber will be available during the team’s upcoming road trip, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dinwiddie dislocated his left shoulder against Denver on Sunday, while Kleber hasn’t played since Tuesday due to a lower back contusion.
  • Gregg Popovich didn’t coach the Spurs on Sunday after meeting with the press prior to the game. Brett Brown filled in after Popovich felt ill, but doctors who examined him in the locker room pronounced him OK, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets.

Mavericks Notes: Doncic, Dinwiddie, Wood, Kleber

Mavericks star Luka Doncic will represent Slovenia next summer at the FIBA World Cup, according to Johnny Askounis of Eurohoops. Doncic has become a regular in international competitions, so the news isn’t surprising, but it was made official by Basketball Federation of Slovenia president Matej Erjavec.

“Luka confirmed his participation a minute after the game with Germany, when it was certain that we would go to the championship,” Erjavec said in an interview with RTV, the country’s national public broadcaster. “To be very honest, we were actually 99% sure already after the game against Israel and even then, it was a great joy and a reassurance at the same time. If Luka is healthy, there is no fear at all.”

Doncic has played for the national team since 2017 when Slovenia won the gold medal at EuroBasket, and he was a standout at the most recent Olympics. The 32-team World Cup will take place from August 25 to September 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

“The club, led by coach Jason Kidd and owner Mark Cuban, approves of this approach,” Erjavec added. “They approve of his participation.”

There’s more from Dallas:

  • Spencer Dinwiddie dislocated his left shoulder late in Sunday’s game, but he doesn’t believe the injury is serious, writes Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. Dinwiddie got hurt when Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. collided with him on a steal attempt. He collapsed to the court in pain and had to leave the game, but felt OK in the locker room, Caplan adds. “It just popped out,” Dinwiddie said. “It’s back in. It’s all good.”
  • After logging 17 minutes off the bench Sunday, including just 1:54 in the fourth quarter, Christian Wood expressed frustration about his inconsistent playing time, Caplan tweets. Wood, who expected to have a regular role after being acquired from the Rockets in an offseason trade, said the coaching staff doesn’t give him an indication each night about how many minutes to expect. “I would love to play more,” he said. “I’ve voiced that several times, but I just play my role.”
  • Maxi Kleber remains sidelined with a lower back contusion, but there’s optimism that he can return soon, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Kidd hopes Kleber can resume practicing on Tuesday and join the team for its upcoming road trip.

Contract Details: Steward, Kleber, Pickett, Vaudrin

DJ Steward‘s new deal with the Kings is a one-year, minimum-salary contract, but it doesn’t include Exhibit 10 language, Hoops Rumors has learned. It’s a standard contract that features a small partial guarantee worth $50K.

If Steward is eventually waived, he would still be eligible to play for the Stockton Kings, Sacramento’s G League affiliate, since his guarantee doesn’t exceed $50K. So the most tangible difference between Steward’s deal and an Exhibit 10 contract is that Sacramento won’t have the option of converting it into a two-way contract. The former Duke guard isn’t ineligible to sign a two-way deal with the Kings, but he would have to pass through waivers first.

Here are a few more contract details from around the NBA:

  • Maxi Kleber‘s new three-year extension with the Mavericks is fairly straightforward — it features $11,000,000 annual base salaries in each of the three seasons and doesn’t include any bonuses or options years. Kleber’s extension will begin in 2023/24.
  • The contracts signed with the Cavaliers by Jamorko Pickett and Chandler Vaudrin are Exhibit 10 deals, Hoops Rumors has learned. Both of Cleveland’s two-way slots are currently full, so Pickett and Vaudrin could end up becoming affiliate players for the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs’ G League team.
  • In case you missed it, we’re tracking each team’s players with partially guaranteed and non-guaranteed contracts, including Exhibit 10 deals, right here.

Mavericks Sign Maxi Kleber To Three-Year Extension

7:41pm: The Mavericks have officially announced Kleber’s extension (via Twitter).

10:43am: Kleber’s extension will be fully guaranteed, sources tell Charania (Twitter link).

9:04am: The Mavericks are finalizing a three-year extension with forward Maxi Kleber, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that Kleber’s new contract will be worth $33MM.

Kleber is set to earn $9MM in 2022/23, the final season of the four-year, $34MM deal he signed with Dallas during the 2019 free agent period. His new agreement with the team, which will bump his average annual salary to $11MM, will extend his contract through the 2025/26 season.

An undrafted free agent from Germany, Kleber has spent the last five seasons with the Mavericks. He has appeared in 326 regular season games during that time, starting 136 of them and averaging 7.1 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .446/.359/.796 shooting in 22.7 minutes per contest.

Kleber, 30, saw his shooting percentages drop off noticeably in 2021/22, as he made just 39.8% of his shots from the floor, including 32.5% of his threes. However, Dallas’ new financial commitment to him suggests the team is confident he’ll bounce back in ’22/23.

With Spencer Dinwiddie‘s and Reggie Bullock‘s salaries for 2023/24 not yet fully guaranteed, there might have been a path for the Mavs to create some cap flexibility next summer. However, their deal with Kleber signals they’re fully preparing to operate over the cap again, even with Christian Wood and Dwight Powell still on expiring deals.

Kleber will become one of three Dallas players under contract through at least ’25/26, joining Luka Doncic and Dorian Finney-Smith, who holds a player option for that year.

Because Kleber’s extension will exceed the NBA’s extend-and-trade limits, he’ll be ineligible to be dealt for six months after his signing date. Even if the two sides finalize the agreement shortly, that six-month window will extend into March, well past the 2023 trade deadline, so Dallas won’t be able to move him until next offseason.

Kleber is set to become the 10th player to sign a veteran contract extension so far this offseason, as our tracker shows.

Mavericks To Guarantee Frank Ntilikina’s Salary

The Mavericks plan to retain Frank Ntilikina beyond Monday, fully guaranteeing him the $2MM he’s owed in 2022/23, according to veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein (via Twitter).

Ntilikina, who has a July 4 guarantee date on his contract, appeared in 58 games last season, averaging 4.1 points, 1.4 rebounds and 0.5 steals in 11.8 minutes. Ntilikina continues to intrigue teams because of his defense. Offensively, he hasn’t shot over 40% in any of his five NBA seasons.

Dallas is gearing up for another playoff run next year. The team traded for star big man Christian Wood this offseason, pairing Luka Doncic with a frontcourt presence to compete in the West.

Big man Maxi Kleber will also see his salary for 2022/23 ($9MM) become guaranteed, as Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News tweets. Kleber’s contract included a July 3 salary guarantee date.

Southwest Notes: Kleber, Wiltjer, Elmore, Pelicans’ Draft, Fertitta

Maxi Kleber remains a big part of the Mavericks’ plans despite the impending acquisition of Houston’s Christian Wood, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Kleber’s $9MM salary isn’t guaranteed until July 4, but that is considered a formality, according to MacMahon. Kleber, who has been a rotation player for Dallas for the past five seasons, projects as Wood’s backup if Dwight Powell is moved this offseason.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Kyle Wiltjer and Lydell Elmore are among the free agents participating in the Mavericks’ mini-camp, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Dallas is hosting more than 30 players this week, many of whom have some NBA experience. Wiltjer was previously with the Rockets, while Elmore played for the G League’s Westchester Knicks this past season.
  • Should the Pelicans draft Bennedict Mathurin or Dyson Daniels if both prospects are available with the No. 8 pick? The Athletic’s Will Guillory ponders that question. However, if Shaedon Sharpe falls to that spot, New Orleans shouldn’t pass up on his potential, in Guillory’s estimation.
  • The Rockets come into the draft with the No. 3 and 17 picks and will wind up with another at 26 when the Wood deal with Dallas is completed. Owner Tilman Fertitta anticipates there are more trades on the horizon on draft night. “In talking about the draft, look at the maneuvering that basketball ops did last year to pick up Al-P (Alperen Sengun) by moving things around,” Fertitta said. “I can promise you one thing: The way it looks on paper, it will not be exactly like that come Thursday. Stuff just happens. People call you. You’re calling people.”

Mavericks Notes: Bounce Back, Kidd, Adjustments, Kleber

The Mavericks bounced back in Friday night’s Game 3 with a 103-94 victory over the Suns, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Jalen Brunson, who struggled in the first two games of the series, scoring a combined 22 points on just 9-of-28 shooting, led the way with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting.

I kind of found myself playing with a little bit more hop in my step, getting to spots quicker and making decisions faster,” Brunson said. “Decisions came from me just being aggressive. My teammates just kept giving me confidence to go make plays, and I just kept doing that. … I found a way to bounce back tonight, but I just can’t be satisfied with this.”

Star Luka Doncic finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but perhaps more importantly, showed renewed vigor on the defensive end after being repeatedly targeted in Game 2.

The first or second possession, he was diving on the floor,” Dorian Finney-Smith said of Doncic. “When you see the best player do that, it kind of sets the mood.”

I knew I had to do better,” said Doncic, per MacMahon. “I knew I could do better. I think I made a big jump on defense this year. The second half (of Game 2) was horrible by me, and I knew I had to get back to my team and play better defense.”

Here’s more on the Mavs:

  • Head coach Jason Kidd lamented the fact that Doncic didn’t receive much help in the first two games, but he was happy with team’s well-rounded performance in Game 3, MacMahon relays in the same article. “Everybody joined the party,” Kidd said. “They helped out on both ends. Luka was great defensively. He participated, too. It puts us in a different position when that happens.”
  • Finney-Smith and Reggie Bullock were key in slowing down the Suns’ star backcourt of Chris Paul and Devin Booker, per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “Reggie and Doe-Doe (Finney-Smith), man, those guys have been incredible all year on the defensive end,” Doncic said. “They’re our leaders on defense. We go as they go on defense.” Bullock and Finney-Smith combined for six steals and 8-of-21 on three-pointers, limiting CP3 and Booker to more turnovers (12) than field goals converted (11).
  • Kidd said the NBA had the wrong priorities regarding the team’s $25K fine for ‘bench decorum’ violations, Townsend notes in another article. “The league is worried about the wrong thing. You have millionaires cheering on other millionaires. Doesn’t happen in this society. And the enthusiasm of the game, for a teammate to cheer on another teammate is special. And I think sometimes we’re focused on the wrong thing. And so when you look at people who make a lot of money cheering on their teammates or their employees, that’s what sport is all about. And so for us to get fined, that’s cool. It’s going to another good cause, charity. But again, we’re looking at the wrong thing,” Kidd said before Game 3.
  • Dallas’ heliocentric approach, with Doncic frequently dominating offensive possessions, has led to him being tired in the second halves of games in the postseason. Prior to Game 3, Tim Cato of The Athletic detailed how Doncic and the Mavs could adjust in order for him to contribute on both ends of the floor.
  • Maxi Kleber is improving after falling on his neck in Monday’s Game 1, tweets Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News. “It’s better. I still feel it a little bit when I move my head and all that, but it’s good. I was lucky,” Kleber said.

Texas Notes: Brunson, Kleber, Rockets, Walker

Mavericks point guard Jalen Brunson, an unrestricted free agent this summer, scored a career-high 41 points during the Mavericks’ 110-104 Game 2 victory over the Jazz Monday night, as Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. The win knots Dallas’ first-round series with Utah at 1-1.

Dallas explored a five-out offensive attack, capitalizing on a Jazz weakness (guarding the perimeter). Brunson’s performance proved critical for a Mavericks club missing its lone All-Star in Luka Doncic, still sidelined with a left calf strain.

“I know he’s dying to get out there soon, but he’s got to take his time,” Brunson said of his backcourt mate. “I know he’s doing everything in his power to not let his team down, but he has to make the decision that’s best for him. Not necessarily knowing where he is [in the recovery process], but I just know that he’s a competitor and he wants to be out there. We’re trying to hold it down for him.”

Following a breakout fourth season in Dallas and thanks to this playoff start, the market for Brunson should be robust this summer. He’s averaging 32.5 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.0 APG and 1.0 SPG across the first two games of the Utah series. For the regular season, Brunson registered averages of 16.3 PPG, 4.8 APG, and 3.9 APG, along with a shooting line of .502/.373/.840.

There’s more out of the Lone Star State:

  • Mavericks big man Maxi Kleber, dealing with a severe long-range shooting slump, seems to have righted the ship across his first two playoff games with Dallas this season, per Eddie Sefko of Kleber had been converting 18.8% of his three-point looks since returning from the All-Star break, but is now 10-of-16 from deep over the first two games of the Utah series. “Obviously it is a big boost, but even in the games before when I didn’t shoot well, I think overall I still did many things and we won as a team,” Kleber said. “It doesn’t matter if I get a hot day and make my shots or somebody else does. All we care about is getting the win. Obviously, it feels really good to make those shots because the end of the season wasn’t my prettiest.”
  • The rebuilding Rockets face a variety of roster choices during the 2022 offseason. Kelly Iko of The Athletic previews what could be an action-packed summer for Houston in a new piece. Iko examines the fits of expected high-lottery draft picks Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey; the future of $47.4MM man John Wall; potential extensions for Kevin Porter Jr. and Jae’Sean Tate, and more.
  • The Spurs face an interesting decision during the 2022 offseason, as fourth-year shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV is set to hit restricted free agency, writes Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. The 6’4″ wing has indicated that he is “hopeful” to sign a new deal with San Antonio. “Everyone talks about what I do for the community, but nobody talks about what the community does for us as players — the love and energy and everything they instill in us,” Walker said. “I embrace the fact the community embraced me. I’ve been having a hell of a time.” The 34-48 Spurs finished with the No. 10 seed and a play-in tournament appearance this season. In 70 games for San Antonio, Walker averaged a career-high 12.1 PPG and 2.2 APG, plus 2.6 RPG, in 23.0 MPG. He posted shooting splits of .407/.314/.784 this season.

Injury Updates: Simmons, Murray, Williams, Kleber

In an appearance on ESPN’s Get Up on Thursday morning, Brian Windhorst said that there’s a real chance Ben Simmons could make his Nets debut at some point during the team’s first-round series vs. Boston (video link).

“I am told that Ben Simmons is targeting Games 4, 5, or 6 for making his Brooklyn Nets debut,” said Windhorst, who added that he was “taken aback” when he received that information. “My response was, ‘Is he even playing 5-on-5 yet?’ And the answer to that is no, but the hope is by the end of the week he can ramp up to that.

“… It’s a big ask, but I have to say that really for seven (or) eight weeks now, I’ve heard nothing but pessimism on the Ben Simmons front and that has switched dramatically in the last few days.”

Shams Charania of The Athletic has also reported that a first-round return is a possibility for Simmons. When asked on Wednesday about Charania’s report, head coach Steve Nash pumped the brakes a little, telling reporters that there’s still no set timeline for Simmons’ debut. However, Nash did say the three-time All-Star has been making “heavier progress” in the last week, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post.

“He’s moving more, he’s shooting, he’s starting to move a little bit on the court in a one-on-zero environment,” Nash said. “So definitely positive signs that it’s improving and moving and all those things. But like I said he hasn’t been running full speed or playing against anybody, so still a lot more markers to meet.”

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

  • Jamal Murray‘s potential return from ACL surgery is in the “red zone,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said during an appearance on 92.5 FM Altitude Sports in Denver, meaning a decision will likely be made soon (Twitter link via Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports). A first-round return remains possible for Murray, who is still ahead of Michael Porter Jr. in the rehab process, according to Connelly.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said on Wednesday that he hasn’t closed the door on Murray returning in the first round, but “would lean more towards him being doubtful” for the club’s series vs. Golden State, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post relays.
  • Appearing today on Toucher & Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub in Boston, Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens said he remains comfortable with the four- to six-week timeline the team initially announced for Robert Williams‘ recovery (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston). Williams is progressing well, according to Stevens, but still hasn’t been cleared for contact and has “a ways to go.”
  • Mavericks forward Maxi Kleber missed the last four games of the regular season due to right ankle soreness, but went through a full practice on Wednesday and said he feels “100% better,” writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.