- Heat rookie Omer Yurtseven stepped up in the absence of Bam Adebayo against the Pacers on Friday, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Yurtseven received a season-high 19 minutes, recording 12 points, five rebounds and two blocks. His production allowed PJ Tucker to remain at power forward for most of the contest.
- Speaking of the Heat, center Dewayne Dedmon is prepared to continue starting until Adebayo returns, Winderman writes in a separate article for the Sun Sentinel. Dedmon registered a team-high +11 net rating against Indiana. Despite losing by 26 to Cleveland two days prior, the team still managed to win that game by two in the 31 minutes Dedmon played.
Heat star Bam Adebayo says he’s always been a positive person, but after learning of the thumb injury that will sideline him for roughly six weeks, he understandably had a tough day on Wednesday, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald relays.
“I’m not the type of person that will put out negative energy. So I always think positive. But today was a downer,” Adebayo said after watching Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the Cavaliers. “But for these six weeks, I can’t change nothing about it. That’s my only option.”
Coach Erik Spoelstra says there’s no way to replace what Adebayo does for Miami and the team needs to weather the storm until it gets healthier.
“We need a little bit of time just to assess everything and formulate a new plan, a new direction,” Spoelstra said. “… Collectively as a group, we’ll make the necessary adjustments. When you lose an All-Star player, it’s never easy. But this is the league.
“When I look around the league, I see a lot of teams dealing with injuries and guys out and guys coming back. There’s a lot of that going on right now and we just have to weather the storm and recalibrate and figure out a new plan, new direction, which our guys are very capable of doing.”
Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:
- Rockets coach Stephen Silas says rookie Jalen Green isn’t close to returning from his strained hamstring, according to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Nothing really new,” Silas said on Friday. “He is still injured. He is progressing in a good manner but slowly. We’re just going to continue to evaluate week-by-week. But he’s not going to play any time soon.”
- Pacers guard T.J. McConnell, who was previously said to be out “a while,” is wearing a cast and is now expected to be out for “weeks, not days” according to coach Rick Carlisle, the team announced (via Twitter). The Pacers also tweeted that T.J. Warren will not be playing in December, per Carlisle. He will have more scans on his foot at the end of month or in early January. Warren has yet to play a game this season after playing in just four games last season.
- Karl-Anthony Towns missed Friday’s game for the Timberwolves with a tailbone contusion, the team announced (Twitter link). Towns had a hard fall late Wednesday night. He did warm up for the game, which is a good sign that it should be a short-term injury.
- Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis was also sidelined for Friday’s game, per a team public relations announcement (via Twitter). He has a knee contusion. It’s unclear how long he might be out.
P.J. Tucker didn’t spend much time in Milwaukee, but he became a fan favorite while helping the Bucks capture their first NBA title in 50 years, writes Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Acquired at the trade deadline, Tucker played a vital role on defense during the team’s playoff run. Even though he signed with the Heat during the offseason, Tucker can expect an enthusiastic reception when he returns to the city Saturday night.
“I’ll always love Milwaukee,” he said. “I’ll love the people of Milwaukee forever. They embraced me so much from day one when I first got there to the day I left; they were always there, they always had my back. That’s not something you get right away. You don’t normally get the trust and the love of the city so fast. It was an amazing experience and journey.”
There’s more Bucks news to pass along:
- The organization is optimistic that Brook Lopez will be able to return sometime this season after undergoing back surgery Thursday, a source tells Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Coach Mike Budenholzer declined to speculate about a possible timeline, but said Lopez will start rehab soon and remains in the team’s plans for later in the season. “The feedback, the conversations, the follow-up after this morning was very, very positive, including expecting him to be able to play and be productive,” Budenholzer said on Thursday. “I think the surgery today has been done on multiple basketball players, multiple athletes, multiple sports. Return to play is very, very often successful.”
- Veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, who was signed to help fill the void left by Lopez, had a strong debut with seven points and four rebounds in 15 minutes in Wednesday’s win over the Hornets, Nehm adds. Because Thursday’s game was a back-to-back, Cousins was held out for “return to competition reconditioning.” “The guy has been dominant for so many years,” Khris Middleton said. “He’s been on a bad path with the injuries so far, but I’m glad to see him back on the court healthy. I’m definitely excited and I know the rest of the guys are excited to have him on the court with us.”
- Cousins is grateful to the Bucks for giving him an opportunity after being out of the league since the end of last season. “It’s always a great feeling to be wanted or appreciated, so when my name is called, I’ll be ready to play,” he said in an interview with Zora Stephenson of NBC Sports (Twitter link).
NBA executives and player agents believe the Bulls and Heat received a proverbial slap on the wrist for violating league policies in the free agent acquisitions of Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report writes.
The teams will have to forfeit their next available second-round pick, but that is unlikely to prevent other teams from trying to circumvent the rules in pursuit of free agents. Second-round picks appear more available than ever, Fischer notes.
As part of the league’s investigation and subsequent penalty, Chicago and Miami can’t trade any of their currently held future second-round draft picks until the forfeiture is resolved, Fischer reports.
We have more from around the basketball world:
- Due to the success of LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey, Australia is increasingly viewed by European prospects as a springboard to the NBA, according to Ken Maguire of The Associated Press. According to NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger, the Next Stars program has become so popular, the league had to turn “people away in droves.” Four of this season’s seven Next Stars are from Europe and another French prospect is playing for the New Zealand Breakers.
- ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes an in-depth look at this year’s trade market, breaking down the league’s players into three categories — those with expiring contracts; those on multi-year deals; and those with trade restrictions. Marks notes that only the Thunder can acquire a player via cap space, so the rest of the teams will need to trade salaries that match within 125%, 175% or $5MM, depending on how much salary is changing hands and whether or not the teams are taxpayers.
- The Suns’ Monty Williams and the Bulls’ Billy Donovan have been named the league’s Coaches of the Month for games played in October and November, NBA Communications tweets. Phoenix is on the verge of setting a franchise record for most consecutive victories, while Chicago has a 14-8 record.
- Heat star Jimmy Butler (tailbone) missed his second consecutive game Wednesday night against the Cavs and it sounds like he could miss more time. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweets that he’s likely to miss the back-to-back games Friday and Saturday against the Pacers and Bucks.
- Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters there’s still no update on Markieff Morris, who has now missed 12 games in a row with whiplash, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
Heat big man Bam Adebayo has sustained a torn UCL in his left thumb, according to a press release from the team. Adebayo will undergo surgery on the injury this weekend and has been ruled out indefinitely.
The Heat will have a better sense of Adebayo’s potential recovery timeline once the procedure is complete. The expectation for now is that he’ll be sidelined for approximately six weeks, tweets Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggests (via Twitter) that a four-to-six week recovery is possible, but Jeff Stotts of In Street Clothes notes (via Twitter) that no player has come back in less than five weeks from an in-season torn UCL repair.
Adebayo, 24, is the anchor of Miami’s defense and one of the team’s go-to scorers. In 18 games (32.9 MPG) so far this season, he has averaged 18.7 PPG, 10.2 RPG, and 3.2 APG with a .519 FG%.
The Heat have had bad injury luck against Denver so far this season. Forward Markieff Morris hasn’t played since the November 8 meeting between the two teams, having suffered whiplash when he was hit from behind by Nikola Jokic. Adebayo tore the UCL in his thumb during the Heat’s rematch vs. the Nuggets on Monday.
Morris and Dewayne Dedmon, who is currently day-to-day with a knee injury, would see an uptick in minutes during Adebayo’s absence if they’re available. P.J. Tucker could also take on an increased role, a backup big man like Udonis Haslem or Omer Yurtseven could start playing regular minutes.
The Heat and Bulls will each forfeit their next available second-round pick as a result of the NBA’s investigation into the free agent acquisitions of Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, the league announced today in a press release.
According to the NBA’s announcement, both clubs violated league rules governing the timing of free agency discussions, having jumped the gun on negotiations with Lowry and Ball.
It’s no secret that most teams are in touch with players’ agents before free agency officially begins, but the league determined that the Heat’s deal for Lowry and the Bulls’ acquisition of Ball were particularly egregious, since they were sign-and-trade agreements (which require the approval of two teams and at least one player) that were reported within the opening minutes of free agency.
The league told teams in a memo that the Bulls and Heat “fully cooperated with the investigations,” which was taken into account when determining the penalties, says ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Both clubs issued statements acknowledging the penalties and saying they’re moving on with their seasons — the Heat said in their statement that they disagreed with the league’s ruling.
A lost second-round pick is the same penalty the Bucks faced a year ago for jumping the gun in free agency with Bogdan Bogdanovic. In that case, Bogdanovic ended up in Atlanta rather than Milwaukee — the Heat and Bulls landed their respective free agent targets, so it’s a little surprising the two teams this time around didn’t face harsher punishments. However, we don’t know exactly what the NBA’s investigations turned up.
Both the Heat and Bulls have traded away many of their upcoming second-rounders, so it’s possible they won’t actually have to forfeit a pick for a few years. According to RealGM, Miami has traded all its second-round selections through 2027, though the 2024 pick is top-50 protected and could remain with the Heat. Chicago has traded all its second-rounders through 2025.
However, the Heat are on track to receive the less favorable of Philadelphia’s and Denver’s second-rounders in 2022, assuming they make the playoffs. The Bulls, meanwhile, will receive Denver’s 2023 second-rounder if it’s not in the top 46. The NBA’s announcement today didn’t explicitly say that Miami and Chicago will be required to surrender their own next available second-rounders, so those ’22 and ’23 picks from other teams could be the ones forfeited.
It appears the Raptors and Pelicans – who worked with Miami and Chicago, respectively, in the Lowry and Ball sign-and-trades – will face no punishment. While that’s not a major surprise, it’s still a relief for those two teams — especially for the Pelicans, who acquired Garrett Temple via sign-and-trade in the Ball deal.
After making 42.7% of his three-point attempts from 2019-21 and earning a $90MM contract this offseason, Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson is off to a slow start in 2021/22. On the heels of a 1-for-9 night vs. Denver on Monday, Robinson’s three-point rate is down to 32.8% for the season, including just 23.6% in home games.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra doesn’t have a good explanation for Robinson’s drop in production at home, but also doesn’t sound too concerned that the 27-year-old will struggle all season, as Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel relays.
“He just has to stay with it,” Spoelstra said, adding that he thought Robinson got some good looks on Monday. “I don’t have an answer for why it would be different. It’s probably a little bit too short of a sample size this early in the season.”
The Heat have every reason to be patient with Robinson — his new contract runs through at least the 2024/25 season, with an option for ’25/26.
Here’s more out of Miami:
- If Robinson’s shooting doesn’t improve, the Heat could lean more on Max Strus, Winderman writes in a separate article for the Sun Sentinel. Strus, who signed a two-year, minimum-salary deal over the summer, has gotten off to a solid start from beyond the arc, with a .382 3PT%.
- The Heat’s point guard depth behind Kyle Lowry looked awfully thin to start the season, but the team’s decision to promote Gabe Vincent to the 15-man roster and allow him to earn the backup point guard spot is working out so far, writes Winderman. Vincent has a career-best .370 3PT% through 18 games (15.1 MPG) and the team has a +9.2 net rating when he’s on the court.
- While Goran Dragic is very unlikely to end the season with the Raptors, there’s probably not a viable path for him to return to Miami, given the NBA’s rules preventing teams from reacquiring players they traded earlier in the league year, Winderman says in a mailbag for the Sun Sentinel.
With a rematch against the Nuggets set for Monday, players from the Heat are moving on from the Nikola Jokic–Markieff Morris incident that happened earlier this month, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.
The November 8 altercation started with Morris giving Jokic a hard foul in transition, then continued when Jokic blindsided him from behind. Morris has missed the Heat’s last 10 games with a neck injury caused by the hit.
“It’s over with, man. It’s over with,” veteran Udonis Haslem said, according to Chiang. “Nobody got time for that. Life is too short. It’s over with. It happened. In the heat of the moment, everybody reacted. OK, let’s move on.
“It’s over with. It is so far over with. I don’t have time for that. You’re talking to somebody who has seen everything but the wind. I’ve seen it all. That’s over with.”
Jokic is questionable to play in the contest due to a wrist injury, while Morris has been ruled out. Morris also didn’t accompany the Heat during the team’s recent four-game road trip.
Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division:
- The Hornets are being cautious with Mason Plumlee‘s calf injury, Rod Boone of the Charlotte Observer tweets. Head coach James Borrego said it shouldn’t be a long-term issue, though Plumlee’s status for the team’s brief road trip (Chicago on Monday and Milwaukee on Wednesday) is unknown.
- The Wizards are encouraged by their strong start to the season, Ava Wallace of the Washington Post writes. The team owns the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 13-7 after winning an impressive road game against the Mavericks 120-114 on Saturday. “I trust my teammates. I trust them to make the right play, and it means the world to me not having to make every one,” Bradley Beal said. “I have guys I can throw the ball to and then go get a shot, go create a play for somebody else. I can have a hockey assist. Those are all — I’m definitely proud of [it], and it’s a stepping stone for me, too. It’s a learning process.”
- Speaking of Beal and the Wizards, Josh Robbins of The Athletic examines how the All-Star guard is maturing and why it’s so important. In 17 games this season, Beal is averaging 23.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists, shooting 44% from the floor, 28% from deep and 93% from the free throw line.