Michael Porter Jr.

Nuggets Notes: Campazzo, Lineup, Green, Arena, Roster

Having officially signed a two-year contract with the Nuggets, longtime EuroLeague star Facundo Campazzo is excited about finally making it to the NBA, as he wrote for HoopsHype. Campazzo said that he also received interest from the Knicks and Timberwolves before signing with Denver.

“Aside from being super happy about becoming an NBA player, I’m also ecstatic about doing it so with the Nuggets,” he wrote. “There was mild interest from New York and Minnesota made a hard run at my services with my friend Pablo Prigioni recruiting me all the time, but it was impossible to say no to Denver.”

As Campazzo explained, the Nuggets’ ability to contend was a major factor in his decision. He also got feedback from fellow Argentines Manu Ginobili, Andres Nocioni, and Luis Scola about the Nuggets organization and the city of Denver, which helped win him over.

“It goes without saying that signing with the Nuggets is a dream come true, but it’s by no means mission accomplished for me,” Campazzo wrote. “I’m coming here to stay and have a relevant NBA career.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Discussing his projected starting five today, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said that no one besides Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are locked in yet, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Malone did single out Michael Porter Jr. though, telling reporters that the young forward has a chance to be an “All-League talent” (Twitter link via Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN).
  • JaMychal Green said today that he’s not concerned about whether or not he starts, as long as he gets consistent minutes (Twitter link via Singer). The veteran forward also said he nearly signed with Denver a year ago as a free agent (Twitter link via Singer).
  • The Nuggets have formally announced that they won’t be hosting fans at Ball Arena in Denver to start the 2020/21 season due to coronavirus-related regulations and concerns.
  • The Nuggets plan on going through training camp with just 17 players under contract and won’t bring in camp invitees to fill out the final three spots, a source tell Singer (Twitter link). After signing RJ Hampton today, the Nuggets have 15 players officially locked up, with Paul Millsap and Zeke Nnaji still to be finalized.

Nuggets Notes: Porter, Beal, Oladipo, Grant, Pokusevski

The Nuggets might have to do something bold to land a third star to join Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, but they won’t deal Michael Porter Jr. to make that happen. Brian Windhorst of ESPN said in a recent podcast that Denver has zero interest in trading the young forward.

“In talking to teams around the league, the Nuggets have made it clear Michael Porter Jr. is not available,” Windhorst said.

Porter, who averaged 11.4 PPG and 6.7 RPG in 23.7 MPG during the postseason, can become a restricted free agent during the summer of 2022.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Without including Porter in a blockbuster, the Nuggets have no chance to acquire Bradley Beal if the Wizards make the All-Star guard available, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. A trade for Victor Oladipo is also unlikely, given Oladipo’s injury issues and his impending free agency next year, Singer continues. A deal for the Pacers guard would be more realistic at the trade deadline if he’s healthy and productive, Singer adds.
  • It’s a near lock that Jerami Grant will decline his player option but it would be mutually beneficial for both parties if he re-signs, according to Joel Rush of Forbes.com. Grant will essentially assure himself of a starting job if he stays put, Rush continues. Other contenders don’t have the financial means to outspend Denver for Grant’s services and lottery teams with cap space are less likely now to overspend for a role player like Grant, Rush adds.
  • Several mock drafts have projected 18-year-old international prospect Aleksej Pokusevski going to the Nuggets with the No. 22 pick, Eric Spyropoulos of Nuggets.com notes. Currently slotted as the 19th-best prospect by ESPN, Pokusevski played limited minutes in Greek’s second division last season due to an injury, but the seven-footer has intriguing offensive skills and length.

Nuggets Notes: Murray, Grant, Millsap, Porter

The five-year, $170MM extension the Nuggets gave to Jamal Murray last summer could be a clue as to how they’ll handle their four free agents this year, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. There were many throughout the league who thought Denver overpaid when the deal with Murray was announced, but he has proved capable of being part of the team’s foundation and silenced any remaining critics with his performance in the playoffs.

“When we can, we take care of our own,” president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “And we do it with a smile on our face, and we do it cognizant of how it could affect the relationship both short- and long-term. Certainly we could’ve taken a different approach. ‘Go prove it, go earn it.’ We thought he had already earned it. … You can be a bit too cute at times if you don’t take care of the guys that have gotten you here.”

That should be good news for Jerami Grant, Paul Millsap, Mason Plumlee and Torrey Craig, who will all be on the open market this offseason. Connelly and general manager Calvin Booth have both stated that they want to hang on to as many of their free agents as they can. Connelly added that Denver has become a more desirable city to play in as the team has improved, and he has received increased interest from players and agents.

There’s more from Denver:

  • Grant proved his worth in the postseason and is very likely to be re-signed, Singer writes in a mailbag column. He states that the Nuggets wouldn’t have won either playoff series without Grant, adding that they don’t have the resources to replace him with a similar talent if he leaves. Singer expects a new deal to be somewhere around $64MM over four years.
  • The market will determine whether Millsap returns to Denver, Singer adds in the same piece. The Nuggets probably can’t afford to keep all four free agents without going into luxury tax territory, and Singer suggests another team could probably land the veteran forward with an offer in the $10-12MM range. If the Nuggets don’t keep Plumlee, Singer sees plenty of other options at backup center, including Meyers LeonardKelly Olynyk, Aron Baynes, Enes Kanter and Robin Lopez.
  • Sean Keeler of The Denver Post talks to insiders around the league about Michael Porter Jr. and finds a wide range of opinions on the future of the 22-year-old rookie.

Northwest Notes: Murray, MPJ, Wolves, Thunder

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has demonstrated his leadership abilities during the team’s playoff run this year, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times writes.

Denver is currently trailing 0-1 against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and has bounced back from a 3-1 series deficit twice this postseason, something no other NBA franchise has ever done.

“Jamal has grown up, he has become more of a leader, more vocal,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “What he did in that Utah series was incredible with his play but also the emotional leadership that he showed for our team and that was contagious.

“He took his whole team with him, which you don’t see very often for such a young player.”

Murray has stepped up on both ends of the floor, averaging 26.7 points, 6.3 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game in 15 playoff contests. He was a key cog in the team’s victories over the Jazz and Clippers in previous rounds, proving his worth at just 23 years old.

“This is something that you have to understand, take responsibility for,” Malone said. “You’ve got to be better. On the court, your preparation, your professionalism, your work ethic and your leadership. He’s taken all those things into account and tried to be better in every one of those areas, which is all you want.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post explores how Michael Porter Jr. has earned the respects of his coach, with the 22-year-old providing quality depth off the bench during the Nuggets’ postseason run. “In those games, the games that you talk about when he’s on the floor when so much is hanging in the balance, that’s invaluable for a young player,” Malone said as part of a larger quote. “I think what’s earned him those minutes is that he’s really bought in, grown and committed to the defensive end of the floor.”
  • The Timberwolves are hiring 247 Sports analyst Josh Gershon in a draft preparation and player personnel consultant role, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Minnesota owns the No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft, set to commence on November 18.
  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman proposes three trade scenarios for the Thunder involving star point guard Chris Paul, who led the franchise to a 44-28 record this season and received All-NBA Second Team honors. Multiple teams are said to have interest in Paul, 35, though his contract ($41.35MM next season and $44.21MM player option in 2021-22) would make any potential deal challenging. It’s also unclear how motivated Oklahoma City is to move him.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, MPJ, Rondo, Kings, Warriors

With the Nuggets and Clippers facing one another in the second round of the postseason, Michael Porter Jr. is getting an opportunity to play against a team he feels played a major role in his slide in the 2018 draft. As Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details, the Clippers’ team doctor was pessimistic in his assessment of Porter’s back injury and L.A. passed on the forward twice in the lottery before he was selected by Denver at No. 14.

“Their doctor was the one that wrote the report on me,” Porter said of the Clippers. “I think he wrote some stuff like he thought that I would never play basketball again, so I didn’t think they’d pick me.”

While Doc Rivers acknowledged that Porter’s health was a concern for the Clippers, he said that the decision to pass on him with the No. 13 pick after trading up for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 was a tough one, according to Youngmisuk. The team opted instead for Boston College guard Jerome Robinson.

“We got the one guy we wanted in (Gilgeous-Alexander),” the Clippers’ head coach said. “And the second pick, when (Porter) was on the board, it was a brutal pass because everyone in the room knew his talent but it was more the injury concern. That was the only other concern.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo is listed as probable for Game 1 of the Lakers’ second-round series vs. Houston on Friday, per the league’s official injury report. Assuming Rondo sees action, it will be the first time he has played since March 10 — a broken thumb and back spasms have sidelined him all summer.
  • The Kings recently furloughed some employees in their basketball operations department, as Sam Amick of The Athletic relays (via Twitter). According to Amick, essential personnel in the front office and analytics/scouting departments weren’t affected, but G League employees were. The hope is to bring the staffers back in November, depending on when the 2020/21 season gets underway.
  • James Ham of NBC Sports Bay Area makes a case that Villanova forward Saddiq Bey is an ideal fit for the Kings with the No. 12 pick in this year’s draft.
  • Count the Warriors among the teams keeping a close eye on the Bucks’ fate in their second-round series against Miami, according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area. While the Heat and Raptors may be viewed as the strongest threats to lure Giannis Antetokounmpo out of Milwaukee, Golden State would also make every effort to do so if the opportunity arises.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Harris, Barton, Bryant, Little

The first round of the playoffs is an educational experience for young Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details. Porter had 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes in the team’s postseason opener against Utah on Monday but was also targeted on defense and saw extra attention offensively.

“Just being out there, learning, going through it, you can’t put a dollar sign on that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the best teacher that Michael is going to have. We can tell him, we can prepare him, but he has to go out there and feel it for himself and learn from it, which I know he will.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will once again be down two starters in Game 2 of their first-round series on Wednesday, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic tweets. Wings Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee), both of whom missed the opener, will sit out. Porter and Torrey Craig started in their place, though Jerami Grant and Monte Morris played heavy minutes off the bench.
  • Johnnie Bryant will remain on the Jazz’s coaching staff through the playoffs, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Bryant has reportedly reached an agreement with the Knicks to become the club’s associate head coach.
  • Trail Blazers rookie forward Nassir Little experienced a syncopal episode (fainting) on August 12 while attending an optional practice in Orlando, the team tweets. He was diagnosed with dehydration and further tests have been negative. He will remain with the team and undergo precautionary health monitoring for two weeks. Little has appeared in 48 games, but none during the restart.

NBA Announces All-Bubble Awards

The NBA announced today that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has been named the Player of the Seeding Games, earning de facto MVP honors for the league’s restart.

Lillard, who averaged 37.6 PPG and 9.6 APG on .497/.436/.888 shooting in eight seeding games, led the Blazers to a 6-2 record, allowing the team to surpass the Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the West. Portland will earn the conference’s final playoff spot if it picks up a win over Memphis today or tomorrow.

Lillard was the unanimous selection among 22 media voters for the bubble’s MVP award. Devin Booker (Suns) received 19 second-place votes, with T.J. Warren (Pacers) picking up two and Luka Doncic (Mavericks) getting the other one. Booker, Warren, Doncic, James Harden (Rockets) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks) all received third-place votes.

Meanwhile, Suns head coach Monty Williams was named the Coach of the Seeding Games, per today’s announcement. The selection comes as no surprise after Williams led Phoenix to an 8-0 record this summer. The Suns narrowly missed out on a spot in the play-in tournament, but were the only club that went undefeated during the seeding games, despite initially being ranked 21st of the 22 teams invited to Orlando.

Williams was a near-unanimous choice, with Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts receiving one first-place vote and finishing second overall in voting. Nets coach Jacque Vaughn and Raptors coach Nick Nurse were among the other top vote-getters.

The NBA also announced All-Seeding Games First and Second Teams, as follows:

First Team:

  • Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  • Devin Booker (Suns)
  • Luka Doncic (Mavericks)
  • James Harden (Rockets)
  • T.J. Warren (Pacers)

Second Team:

Lillard, Booker, and Doncic were unanimous First Team selections, with Harden and Warren each receiving 18 of 22 First Team votes. Antetokounmpo received the other eight First Team votes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Notes: Offseason, Boylen, MPJ-Carter Draft, Delete Eight

New Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations Arturas Karnisovas has plenty of interesting choices to make with regards to team personnel on both the court and on the bench during the 2020 offseason. Bobby Marks of ESPN Insider examines some of the key issues Karnisovas should address.

The future of embattled head coach Jim Boylen has been the hottest topic of speculation for Bulls fans since the hiring of Karnisovas earlier this year. Boylen’s disappointing 39-84 record has been partly affected by several player injuries, including those afflicting former lottery picks Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., but Marks addresses just how much blame for the team’s poor finishes during the last two seasons should be placed on those absences as opposed to Boylen’s coaching approach.

The possible fates of restricted free agent Kris Dunn and leading scorer Zach LaVine during this crucial Bulls offseason are also discussed.

There’s more out of the Windy City:

  • Boylen’s status is also addressed in a fairly comprehensive recent Bulls mailbag from NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. Johnson reiterates that Karnisovas apparently has the full green light from team owner Jerry Reinsdorf to replace Boylen, but that Karnisovas and GM Marc Eversley have been asked by ownership to “take time to get to know” the coach before making a decision. Boylen is earning $1.6MM annually, making him one of the most affordable head coaches in the NBA.
  • Nuggets rookie forward Michael Porter Jr. has been enjoying a coming-out party within the NBA’s Orlando restart campus. Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago takes a look at the player the Bulls passed over in favor of Wendell Carter Jr. with the No. 7 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Porter is averaging 22 PPG and 8.6 RPG, while shooting 55.1% from the field (including 42.2% from long range and 93.1% from the charity stripe) in Orlando. Porter’s checkered injury history gave Chicago pause at the time, and Schaefer contends that Carter’s promising future as a passing big man on the cusp of averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounding means the jury on the selection is still out.
  • The Bulls rank among just eight teams bad enough to miss the NBA’s 22-squad Orlando restart. As we discussed previously, talks remain ongoing about potentially keeping the so-called “Delete Eight” clubs active. One concept touched upon during recent conference call involves bringing the Bulls and the other underperforming teams to Orlando after the first round of the NBA playoffs, when only eight of the original 22 teams would remain on the Disney World campus. However, it’s not clear whether it has gained any traction with the NBPA.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, MPJ, SGA, Wolves

Carmelo Anthony‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support after aborted stints in Oklahoma City and Houston in recent years. However, Anthony and the Trail Blazers have brought out the best in one another, Mark Medina of USA Today argues in the wake of Portland’s impressive win over Houston on Tuesday.

“He’s all about the team. He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said of Anthony. “He knows how the game is going. He knows how to put himself in place to help the team. It’s obvious for somebody like me that pays attention to everything. I find it real funny and disrespectful how people speak on him. He’s a Hall-of-Famer.”

Anthony’s NBA future was in jeopardy following his release from the Rockets due in large part to questions about his defense. Although he hasn’t exactly become a defensive stopper since joining the Trail Blazers, Carmelo hasn’t been a major liability either — the team has an identical defensive rating when he plays and when he sits. As Medina notes, the veteran forward had a key blocked shot on P.J. Tucker late in Tuesday’s game.

“I say everybody who was talking, or said something negative about him, they need to apologize, you know?” Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr. said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “It’s Carmelo Anthony. He went through tough times. He battled, stayed resilient and for him to come back and bounce back like it’s nothing? That’s why he’s Carmelo Anthony and why he does what he does.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. followed up a 37-point, 12-rebound performance on Monday with a 30-point, 15-rebound showing on Wednesday, prompting rave reviews from his coach and teammates. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, Michael Malone referred to Porter as a “cornerstone” of the franchise. Meanwhile, injured swingman Will Barton – whom Porter is replacing in the staring lineup – tweeted that the second-year forward is “special,” adding that he “can’t be on a leash with that type (of) ability.”
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is getting more of a chance to run the offense during Dennis Schröder‘s absence from the team, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman observes. While Schröder and Chris Paul have spent most of the time handling the point this season, Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be the team’s long-term point guard.
  • With Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor mulling a sale of the franchise, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes a fascinating, in-depth look at Taylor’s original purchase of the team in 1994, exploring how he helped keep the Wolves in Minnesota.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Trent, Diallo, Norel

With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton sidelined again, Michael Porter Jr. delivered a career-high 37 points in a Nuggets win on Monday, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. Porter had told head coach Michael Malone he was determined to step up after an underwhelming showing on Saturday vs. Miami.

“Especially with Jamal, Gary and Will out, I got to be a guy that steps up and kind of takes on more of a role,” Porter added. “I told (Malone) that I understand that and that it wouldn’t happen again.”

While the Nuggets will need healthy and productive versions of Murray, Harris, and Barton to maximize their potential postseason upside, the opportunity to increase Porter’s role and confidence is a silver lining of the team’s current situation. The young forward could be one of Denver’s X-factors in the playoffs.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers have a pair of stars – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – in their backcourt and their frontcourt has been fortified by the return of Jusuf Nurkic and fellow big man Zach Collins. However, the wing has been an area of concern for the team all season, especially with Rodney Hood sidelined due to a torn Achilles. Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian takes a look at how emerging youngster Gary Trent Jr. – a restricted free agent in 2021 – is filling that void this summer.
  • In and out of the Thunder‘s rotation over the course of the 2019/20 season, Hamidou Diallo has reclaimed a key role off the bench, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Diallo – who has a minimum-salary team option for 2020/21 – had nine points in Oklahoma City’s Saturday win over Utah, then was a +19 on Monday in a game the Thunder lost by eight points.
  • Dutch big man Henk Norel announced his retirement this week due to ongoing knee issues, as relayed by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Norel never played in the NBA, but was selected 47th overall in the 2009 draft by the Timberwolves, who still hold his NBA rights.