Michael Malone

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Porter, Hernangomez, Malone

Nuggets coach Michael Malone credits reserve guard Malik Beasley for not sulking during a difficult season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post relays. Beasley, who can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Nuggets extend a qualifying offer, got extended minutes on Thursday with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris sidelined and took advantage. He scored a season-high 27 points in an overtime win over Golden State. Beasley hasn’t received steady playing time but Malone says Beasley has handled it professionally.

“You have a choice, as a man, you have a choice,” Malone said. “‘Am I gonna feel sorry for myself or am I gonna stay ready?’ And to his credit he’s continued to stay ready.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Malone vows to keep rookie Michael Porter Jr. in the rotation going forward, Singer tweets “Earlier in the season, he wasn’t sure when he was going to be playing, is he going to be playing? So now, that’s out the window,” he said. “Michael Porter is a huge part of our future, he’s going to play every night.” Porter has reached double figures in each of his last three games, including an 18-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist performance against the Warriors.
  • Trading forward Juan Hernangomez would negatively impact the locker room, Singer opines in his latest mailbag. Hernangomez has a major influence on team chemistry and is close friends with Nikola Jokic, Singer notes, adding that Jokic, Murray and Porter are the team’s untouchables in trade discussions.
  • Malone is glad to be coaching a playoff contender that didn’t take shortcuts to success, as he explained to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Malone notes that Denver hasn’t gone for the quick fix. “For me, this being my fifth year, that’s maybe one of the more enjoyable things about our journey, is how we’ve been able to build this from the ground up and build it from within, organically,” he said. “We haven’t gone out and traded for the marquee player. We haven’t mortgaged our future by sending these two young assets to here, to rent a player for a year or two, to have instant success, but not long-term success. It speaks to our front office, our ownership that we can continue to communicate and collaborate and challenge each other.”

Team Serbia In Talks To Hire Michael Malone As Aide, Consultant

JANUARY 16: Asked on Wednesday night about his status with Serbia, Malone denied that the two sides had finalized an agreement, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). They’ve talked, but nothing is official yet, Singer adds.

JANUARY 15: Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has been hired by the Serbian national program to be a consultant and a top aide for Igor Kokoskov during this summer’s Olympic qualifying efforts, as Nick Kosmider of The Athletic tweets. Marc Stein of The New York Times first reported (via Twitter) that the two sides were in advanced discussions.

Although Kokoskov – the former Suns head coach and current Kings assistant – will run the show for Serbia this summer, Malone’s experience with Nuggets star Nikola Jokic makes him a natural fit to be involved with the team as well. Mike Singer of The Denver Post notes (via Twitter) that Malone’s involvement is likely contingent on Jokic participating.

With his contract locked in through 2023, there’s no reason to think Jokic won’t play for Serbia in the summer, barring an injury. After a disappointing showing at the 2019 World Cup, the Serbians will be vying for one of the four remaining spots for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, with Denver’s big man leading the way.

One of those four Olympic qualifying tournaments in June will be held in Belgrade — Serbia will need to win that tournament to advance to Tokyo.

Malone becomes the latest in a line of NBA head coaches who are involved in international programs. Gregg Popovich, of course, will coach Team USA in the 2020 Olympics and may be joined by assistants like Steve Kerr and Lloyd Pierce, who were on Popovich’s World Cup staff. Brett Brown and Nick Nurse coach Australia and Canada, respectively.

Nuggets, Michael Malone Agree To Contract Extension

The Nuggets have agreed to a contract extension with head coach Michael Malone, the club announced today in a press release. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that it extends Malone’s contract through the 2022/23 season.

“This season and team has been about continuity, with Coach Malone being the first piece of that,” controlling owner Josh Kroenke said in a statement. “We are thrilled to continue to have him lead this promising young roster and are excited about what the future holds. Coach Malone has been pivotal in this organization’s success and will continue to be so.”

“We have been very fortunate to have Coach Malone lead our resurgence. His tireless work ethic and passion are clearly reflected in the continued improvement of our roster,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly added in a statement of his own. “We are all extremely excited for him to continue to lead our team as we try to build a championship level organization.”

Malone, who previously coached the Kings, has been on the sidelines for the Nuggets since the 2015/16 season. The team won just 33 games in his first year, but has improved its record in every season since then and is on pace to do so again in 2019/20. In total, Malone has a 194-163 (.543) record with the franchise, with one playoff series victory.

This is the second time in the last 15 months that the Nuggets have announced a new deal for Malone. The previous extension, which was finalized in October 2018, reportedly added two years to his contract, locking him up through the 2020/21 season. His latest agreement with Denver adds two more years to that deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Malone, Rotation, Porter, Craig, Murray

The Nuggets have recalled rookie center Bol Bol from the G League but they’re not burning any of the 45 days he’s allotted to spend in the NBA on his two-way contract, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

Bol is expected to remain with the Nuggets for a couple of weeks but won’t practice or play before being sent back down to the Windy City Bulls. He’ll be listed as out due to “injury management” for his surgically repaired left foot, Singer adds. Bol has averaged 11.5 PPG, 6.5 RPG and 2.3 BPG in less than 17 MPG with Windy City.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The league has instituted coach’s challenges this season but like many of the men who patrol the sidelines, Michael Malone likes to save his challenge for crunch time, Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website notes. “As you see it kind of play out, most coaches like to keep it (the challenge) in their pocket for late game situations. The only time I can see using it early is if you’re trying to protect a great player (from foul trouble),” Malone said.
  • The Nuggets have plenty of depth, which has created a pleasant dilemma for Malone on a game-by-game basis, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic points out. Mason Plumlee, Monte Morris and Jerami Grant have defined reserve roles but Torrey Craig, Juancho Hernangomez, Michael Porter Jr. and Malik Beasley have seen major fluctuations in playing time. “It’s not easy from a player or coach’s standpoint,” Plumlee said. “But I’ll say guys have handled it as well as any team I’ve been on.”
  • Porter has appeared in 10 games, averaging 3.8 PPG in 9.0 MPG, and Malone hopes to expand his role, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic“I have to find ways to play him this year,” Malone said. “This cannot be a wasted year for him.”
  • Craig has lost playing time but he’s not creating any problems in the locker room, Singer relays in a separate story“We all get along, we’re all happy for each other when each other have success,” he said. “I’m not one to sit here and pout when my teammates are doing good. If they’re doing good and we’re winning, I’m happy.”
  • Jamal Murray will play for Team Canada next summer, Michael Grange of Sportsnet Canada reports. Canada will host an Olympic qualifying tournament in Victoria, B.C. in late June, and then head to Tokyo if the team snags one of the six remaining spots in the 12-team Olympic tournament.

Northwest Notes: Gasol, Malone, Paul, Rohan

Trail Blazers center Pau Gasol is hopeful he’ll be ready to play by opening night, Joe Freeman of the Oregonian tweets.  Gasol underwent surgery in May to repair a navicular stress fracture in his left foot. He’s scheduled to begin contact work this week and is happy how his rehab is coming along, Freeman relays. Gasol signed a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal with the Blazers to provide depth at the center spot as Jusuf Nurkic mends from a serious leg injury.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • After reaching the Western Conference Semifinals last season, the Nuggets find themselves in an unfamiliar role as the hunted, coach Michael Malone told website writer Eric Spyropoulos. “Because of the season that we had, we have to know that we’re going to be a team that’s hunted, unlike being the hunter last season,” Malone said. “We can’t just relax. Things can change quickly in the NBA, so we can’t just show up and think we’ll go from point A to B.”
  • Chris Paul isn’t pouting, at least not publicly, about being on a rebuilding Thunder team after being traded from the contending Rockets, Brett Dawson of The Athletic reports. Paul took a positive tone during the team’s Media Day. “It’s funny, because a lot people try to tell your truth or your story and say what you want, all this different type stuff,” Paul said. “I’m excited about the opportunity, excited about our team, excited about building.”
  • The Timberwolves have promoted Emmanuel Rohan to assistant GM, according to a team press release. Assistant GM Gianluca Pascucci will have the added responsibilities of GM of the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Grant, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jazz

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard believes he can bring out the best of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic center acquired from the Heat as part of the multi-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. Lillard has a good friendship with Whiteside and that should help prevent Whiteside from getting over-emotional, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I said, ‘So this is what this is going to come down to: If in the middle of the game, you are not getting the ball and you mad, and you felt like somebody should have done something, you come and say something to me,” Lillard said. “And if (Trail Blazers) Coach (Terry Stotts) is getting on you, or Coach takes you out and you get mad at Coach, me and you have to be able to communicate. Even if we argue, that’s fine. But we have to be able to get through to each other.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder a long-term answer at point guard who may have a better future than Paul George, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Gilgeous-Alexander is nine years younger than George, Tramel notes, and he displayed better defensive and shooting skills than Russell Westbrook did in his rookie year.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert shrugs off the Clippers’ acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, confident that the Jazz have done enough this offseason to become serious contenders. “We don’t want to pay too much attention into what the other teams are doing,” Gobert told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We want to keep working hard, and we want to stay hungry. We know what we have to do. Whenever we step out onto the court, the goal is to win. We know that we have a chance to do some good things this year. But we want to take things one step at a time.”
  • The Timberwolves have brought back Bryan Gates as an assistant coach under Ryan Saunders, according to an Associated Press report. Gates has been on the Kings’ staff the last three seasons but spent the 2015/16 season with Minnesota.

Budenholzer Named Coach Of Year

The Bucks’ Mike Budenholzer was named Coach of the Year at NBA’s annual awards show on Monday.

The former Hawks coach was hired last summer and guided Milwaukee to the league’s best record. The Bucks became an offensive juggernaut under his watch, scoring a league-best 118.1 points per game.

The Nuggets’ Michael Malone and Clippers’ Doc Rivers were the other finalists.

Budenholzer was also named Coach of the Year in 2015 with Atlanta. He was also Hoops Rumors’ consensus choice this year.

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Connelly, Karnisovas, Offseason

The Nuggets are optimistic they’ll retain veteran forward Paul Millsap, though not necessarily by picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “Our goal and Paul’s goal is to have him back with us,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. The easiest way to do that would be to pick up the option by the June 29 deadline but that would hamper the team’s ability to make upgrades.

It already has more than $90MM in guaranteed salary commitments for next season. A more likely scenario would be to decline the option and sign Millsap to a multi-year deal in free agency at a lower annual salary. “We both want the same thing,” Connelly said. “We’ll figure out the best way for the organization and Paul to make sure that’s achieved. I fully expect Paul to be back in a Nuggets uniform.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly downplayed his interview with the Wizards for their top front office job, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “We just had a conversation. It was not much more than that,” Connelly said. There are conflicting reports on whether the Wizards formally made Connelly a four-year contract offer but he ultimately decided to stay put.
  • Head coach Michael Malone said the organization “wouldn’t have skipped a beat” if Connelly had taken the Wizards job and the Nuggets replaced him with GM Arturas Karnisovas, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic tweets. However, Malone is happy Connelly decided to stay since they and owner Josh Kroenke have a strong working relationship.
  • The Nuggets can’t continue to rely on developing their young players alone to bridge the gap between them and the other championship contenders, Kosmider writes. The moves that Connelly makes this offseason will be crucial and viewed with intense scrutiny, Kosmider adds.

Harden, Giannis, George Named MVP Finalists

Defending champion James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George are the finalists for this season’s Most Valuable Player award, the league announced in a press release.

The voting is expected to be close between Harden, who averaged 36.1 PPG and 7.5 APG during the regular season, and Antetokounmpo, who carried the Bucks to the best record in the league while averaging 27.7 PPG, 12.5 RPG and 5.9 APG. George averaged 28.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG and 4.1 APG.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2019 NBA Award Picks: Most Valuable Player]

The league also released the finalists for its other awards. The winners will be revealed during a TNT broadcast on Monday, June 24. Here are the rest of the finalists:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Coach of the Year:

  • Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
  • Michael Malone (Nuggets)
  • Doc Rivers (Clippers)

Northwest Notes: Donovan, Rosas, Murray

Despite the fact that he’s already spent five seasons at the helm of the Thunder and that his All-Star dynamic duo was just dispatched in five games by the Trail Blazers, head coach Billy Donovan is expected to return to his post in 2019/20.

That patience in an era of scapegoating and quick fixes, Brett Dawson of The Athletic writes, could be attributed to general manager Sam Presti‘s tendency to take a long view on things.

Dawson writes about Donovan’s impact in Oklahoma City over the past few seasons, suggesting that he’s earned the faith of the organization and this is one organization in particular that isn’t afraid to see things through.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson has nothing but high praise for recent franchise hire Gersson Rosas, Chris Hine of the Minnesota Star Tribune writes. Rosas impressed the organization with a detailed vision not only for a generic basketball franchise but for the Timberwolves in particular. Beyond the team’s current roster, Rosas had a deep understanding of the team’s history and marketplace.
  • Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic logged a record-breaking 65 minutes played in Denver’s four-overtime loss to the Trail Blazers Friday night. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the media afterward that he apologized for giving his center such a heavy work load. Jokic averaged 31.3 minutes per game for Denver this season.
  • Despite struggles from the field in his first playoff experience, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is figuring out the difference between regular and playoff basketball, Sean Keeler of The Denver Post writes.