Michael Porter Jr.

Northwest Notes: Teague, MPJ, Blazers, O’Neale

Point guard Jeff Teague felt that it was only a matter of time before the new Timberwolves regime traded him. That came to pass in a Friday deal with the Hawks. “I came from the [Tom Thibodeau] regime, and I knew they [GM Gersson Rosas and head coach Ryan Saunders] wanted to get their guys in there,” Teague explained, according to The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner.

“It was very difficult because I went there to play with Thibs, Jimmy [Butler], [Derrick] Rose and Taj [Gibson],” Teague continued. “That’s what I had envisioned for my whole time that I was going to be there.” Teague is in the final season of a three-year, $57MM contract he signed with the Timberwolves in 2017.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Intriguing rookie Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has shown enough defensive improvement to lock in rotation minutes for coach Michael Malone, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Since Christmas, Porter has been averaging nearly 11 PPG on a team-high 65.4% field goal percentage, including 48.3% from long distance. But Malone had special praise for his defense. “You see the improvement,” Malone said. “Understanding what our game plan is, what our rules are.”
  • Yesterday’s five-player trade that sent Kent Bazemore, Anthony Tolliver and two second-round draft picks to the Kings in exchange for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan and saved the Trail Blazers $12.6MM off their cap bill this season. John Hollinger of The Athletic speculates that the Trail Blazers may be making further deals to get the team under the tax line for even more savings. Portland currently sits at a paltry 18-26 record and the No. 11 seed in the West, three games behind current N0. 8 seed Memphis.
  • After Jazz forward Royce O’Neale inked a four-year, $36MM extension today, Utah GM Justin Zanik and executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey spoke with reporters, including Aaron Falk of Jazz.com, about the deal. Lindsey spoke to the import of complementary role players like O’Neale as the team builds a contender around centerpieces Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. “It goes beyond Donovan and Rudy,” Lindsey said. “As Donovan’s and Rudy’s decisions come up, they can see a core they can win with and see that we’re serious.”

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Patton, Wolves, Gilgeous-Alexander

Forward Michael Porter Jr. has solidified his spot in the Nuggets’ rotation and he may even become a regular starter sooner rather than later, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. It’s unlikely that Porter will supplant Will Barton in the lineup despite his 25-point outburst against Indiana but it’s not out of the question, Singer continues. It’s a safer bet that Porter carves out a significant role down the stretch as a microwave-type scorer off the bench, Singer adds.

We have more from around the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder‘s Justin Patton is the player most likely to be dealt over the next week, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger. Patton’s $1.62MM salary becomes fully guaranteed if he remains on their roster through January 7 and the Thunder are currently $750,250 into the luxury tax threshold. The center could only be acquired by one of the nine teams with workable trade exceptions, or by the Hawks via cap room, Hollinger adds.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr has been impressed with the Timberwolves’ unheralded young players, as he told reporters including Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “What I see with the Wolves is similar to what I see with our team, in that suddenly a bunch of young guys get their chance, and they play hard,” Kerr said. “For Minnesota to go to Milwaukee, play the best team in the league down the wire, without (Karl-Anthony) Towns and (Andrew) Wiggins, it shows you what a young team is capable of, just competing.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has established himself as one of the league’s top second-year players, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. The second-year Thunder guard, the centerpiece of the Paul George deal with the Clippers from Oklahoma City’s perspective, is averaging 19.9 PPG while mainly playing the off-guard spot after averaging 10.8 PPG in his rookie year as a point man.

Nuggets Notes: Beasley, Porter Jr., Bol, G League

Malik Beasley hasn’t seen consistent minutes for the Nuggets lately, but head coach Mike Malone insists that the current rotation decisions are not set in stone.

“I think our players understand the importance of staying ready because I’m going to go back to Malik,” Malone said (via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). “Malik could play 25 minutes tomorrow night and help us win the game.

“By no means is anybody written off, we believe in all of our players, but it’s my job when we’re struggling to find something that maybe gives us a better chance.”

Here’s more from Denver:

  • Michael Porter Jr. won’t improve without playing meaningful minutes regularly and Singer (separate piece) examines whether the Nuggets should make a trade to free up playing time for the second-year wing. Beasley and Juan Hernangomez are both restricted free agents this summer, so perhaps trading one of two makes sense.
  • Nick Kosmider of The Athletic breaks down why the Nuggets are taking it slow with Bol Bol, who is on a two-way contract with the club. Denver wants to see Bol play within a system. Through his first 154 minutes in the G League, the rookie center hasn’t had one assist, which is something that seems problematic given Malone’s free-flowing game plan.
  • The Nuggets don’t have a G League team, though they do have an interesting agreement with the Windy City Bulls with regard to their two-way center, Kosmider relays in the same piece. The franchise mandates that Bol receives a certain amount of minutes per game when the big man is with Chicago’s G League squad.

Woj, Lowe On D-Lo, Mavs, MPJ, Love, VanVleet, More

Approximately 120 players around the NBA became trade-eligible on Sunday, signaling the unofficial start of the NBA’s 2019/20 trade season. To celebrate the occasion, Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe hosted an ESPN special to survey the trade market, discussing which teams are most likely to make moves and which players are most likely to be dealt.

Here are several of the highlights from that discussion between Woj and Lowe:

Western Conference:

  • The Warriors may field trade inquiries on D’Angelo Russell leading up to February’s trade deadline, but they’re unlikely to actively shop him and probably won’t move him before the 2020 offseason, according to Wojnarowski (video link).
  • Wojnarowski believes the Mavericks would like to acquire a standout center to complement Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis (video link). He cites Montrezl Harrell as one player who might fit that bill, though Dallas would have to wait for the Clippers‘ big man to reach free agency.
  • The Nuggets essentially view Michael Porter Jr. as “untouchable,” says Wojnarowski (video link).
  • Wojnarowski and Lowe expect contenders to keep a close eye on Pelicans guards Jrue Holiday and J.J. Redick as the deadline nears (video link). According to Woj, Holiday loves New Orleans, but it’s not clear how patient he’ll be with the team’s rebuilding process.
  • Woj and Lowe note that the Clippers pursued Marcus Morris in free agency and could have interest in him again on the trade market. Lowe wouldn’t be surprised if the club tries to see what it can get using a package of Maurice Harkless, Patrick Patterson, and its first-round pick (video link).
  • Wojnarowski views 2019/20 as a pivotal year for the Rockets, adding that GM Daryl Morey seems to have given up trying to find a way to trade for Grizzlies wing Andre Iguodala after exploring multi-team scenarios earlier in the year (video link).

Eastern Conference:

  • Wojnarowski thinks the best the Cavaliers can realistically expect in a Kevin Love trade is a protected first-round pick, an expiring salary, and another throw-in player (video link). Woj adds that it seems as if Love is “ready to go,” having lost patience with the rebuild in Cleveland.
  • Count the Raptors and Heat among teams that will be reluctant to make any moves that compromise their 2021 cap flexibility (video links). According to Wojnarowski, Toronto wants to re-sign Fred VanVleet this summer, but continues to eye Giannis Antetokounmpo for ’21. As for the Heat, they seem less likely to trade young players for veterans than they have been in the past.
  • Pistons owner Tom Gores “loves” Andre Drummond, but the club will soon have to have a serious conversation about whether to go all-in on the veteran center or whether to try to shop him, per Woj (video link).
  • Lowe thinks players like Timberwolves forward Robert Covington and J.J. Redick will be on the Bucks‘ radar if they’re available, adding that Milwaukee appears willing to go over the tax line for the right deal (video link).

Northwest Notes: SGA, Vonleh, MPJ, Gallinari

New Thunder point guard Chris Paul has changed the way the team’s other new point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, thinks about defense, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman relays. “Everybody’s always talking about offense, offense, offense,” Paul said in November, “but the biggest thing I’m talking to him about is defense.”

Gilgeous-Alexander told Lee that before Paul, no one had “really sat me down and shown me how to read (an opposing team’s) offense the same way you read a defense on the opposite end.” Paul is a nine-time All-Defensive Team selection. The Thunder are currently 11-12, good for the No. 7 seed in a top-heavy Western Conference.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Wolves center Noah Vonleh has been relegated to the bench a lot lately, tallying eight healthy scratches in the last 10 games heading into tonight’s contest against the Jazz (he has yet to play tonight, too). Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details Vonleh’s plight. The forward signed a one-year, $2MM contract with Minnesota expecting an opportunity to play, but thus far has seen sparse playing time.
  • In Denver, Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. is struggling to carve out a bench role for himself, and seeking clarity on his usage in coach Mike Malone‘s system.. The No. 14 draft pick in 2018, Porter got some meaningful spot minutes during the first half of last night’s 97-92 loss to the Sixers. But he was passed over in the third quarter in favor of fellow small forwards Torrey Craig and Juan Hernangomez“Yeah, I need to talk to coach again,” Porter told The Denver Post’s Mike Singer. “When we’re more mentally prepared about when we’re coming in, what he’s thinking for certain games.”
  • With most summer contracts eligible to be traded come December 15th, Thunder power forward Danilo Gallinari and his expiring $22.6MM contract have been the talk of the NBA town. One possible suitor, the Trail Blazers, could use Gallinari as their starting four in a 2020 playoff push. HoopsHype’s Bryan Kalbrosky details the versatile scorer’s potential fit in Portland.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Murray, Wolves, Jazz

Nuggets head coach Mike Malone said he considers expanding Michael Porter Jr.‘s role “everyday”

“I really do,” Malone said (via Mike Singer of The Denver Post). “We met as a staff yesterday and today, this morning prior to shootaround, when you’re 1-4 [over the last five games] and your offense is kind of holding you back, you have to have all options on the table.”

Heading into the night, Porter was averaging just 8.6 minutes per game and has appeared in just 10 contests for Denver.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray left the Nuggets‘ contest tonight with a torso injury, Singer tweets. The point guard injured himself during a collision with Ben Simmons. There’s no word yet on the severity of the ailment.
  • Matt John of Basketball Insiders examines whether the Timberwolves will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline. Minnesota would like to add more talent, though its hard to envision the team making a substantial trade without including one of its core pieces.
  • The Jazz remain buyers and could certainly use some help after a disappointing start to the 2019/20 campaign, John writes in the same piece. Utah’s bench has struggled and adding depth could be the key to turning around the club’s season.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Okogie, Green, Thunder

In a piece chronicling the first NBA game for Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., Nick Kosmider of The Athletic explains how Porter’s debut ended up being a long time coming after the 21-year-old had to rehab through two back surgeries and miss his entire first season as a professional.

In the team hotel the night before Porter’s debut, Tim Connelly, Denver’s president of basketball operations, encouraged Porter to let each frame of his debut experience sink in, notwithstanding the fact that it was just a preseason game.

“I told him, ‘You should really pat yourself on the back,'” Connelly said. “It’s not easy to do what he’s done. He’s been a guy that, forever, the assumption was that he was going to play in the NBA because he was so talented, but the road has been a little more convoluted and challenging, so I said, ‘Appreciate the moment. You’re officially in the NBA. It wasn’t how you thought it would be three or four years ago, but it’s still special.'”

Teammate Jarred Vanderbilt, who is close with Porter and helped him throughout the rehab process and beforehand, had some good advice for his friend.

“I know how tough it was for him to sit out, like it was for me, but he sat out the whole year,” Vanderbilt said. “It was a lot tougher for him, so it’s just great to see him playing again. I told him, ‘Don’t put any pressure on yourself. Just be happy to be out there.’ That’s how I was. I was just happy to be out there. I know how it feels to be not able to play. To come back and feel all antsy like you have to make the right play and everything, I felt like I was doing that and thinking too much, so I just told him to let the game come. Everything will fall into place.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie, who is entering his second season in the NBA, was able to improve his game this summer by playing in the FIBA World Cup as a member of Team Nigeria, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Specifically, Okogie believes he has gotten better mentally. “My experience was great playing overseas. One reason being, it forced me to think the game.”
  • As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, we may see some new tricks from Jazz newcomer, veteran forward Jeff Green, as his ever-expanding skill set could prove crucial for the team this coming season.
  • The Thunder rolled out a starting lineup that included Chris PaulShai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dennis Schroder in their latest preseason game, perhaps signaling the team’s plan to use multiple point guard rotations throughout this season. Tim MacMahon of ESPN has the story.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Craig, Culver, O’Neale

Amid the news that the team has picked up his option for the 2020/21 season, forward Michael Porter Jr. is eager to take the court for the first time with the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports. Porter will make his preseason debut against Portland on Tuesday. He missed all of last season with a back injury after being drafted No. 14 overall and didn’t play any summer league games due to a knee injury.

“I feel like I’ve prepared my whole life to be an NBA player,” the Nuggets’ forward said. “It’s crazy because I watch these players growing up and now we’re on the same court. I kind of had to have a mindset change. These are my opponents. I can’t be a fan of these dudes anymore.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Torrey Craig will open the season as the Nuggets’ starting small forward, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic predicts. He’s the best defensive option at that spot and has made improvements to his offensive game. “Torrey shot lights out in September and he’s shot it very well in camp,” coach Michael Malone told Kosmider. “If he shoots it the way he did in the playoffs, he’s going to be a guy who is hard to keep off the floor.” Craig made 47.2% of his three-point attempts in 14 playoff games, compared to his 32.4% showing in the regular season.
  • Lottery pick Jarrett Culver has wasted no time making a strong impression at Timberwolves camp, the team’s play-by-play announcer Alan Horton tweets. Coach Ryan Saunders said Culver has been the early standout in the preseason. “He’s definitely made some plays that make you look around and say wow,” Saunders said. “Now those might be normal plays for someone who’s been in the league, but for a rookie in his first couple of days, it was impressive.”
  • With the departures of Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, forward Royce O’Neale could play an even bigger role with the Jazz this season, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune reports. O’Neale appeared in every regular-season game last season, averaging 20.4 MPG.  Coach Quin Snyder is experimenting with the 6’6” O’Neale playing power forward in small ball lineups. “[I’m] just trying to be a leader, [trying to] step up, helping out on defense, helping new guys any way I can,” O’Neale said.

Nuggets Exercise 2020/21 Option On Michael Porter Jr.

The Nuggets have picked up the their rookie scale option on forward Michael Porter Jr.‘s contract for the 2020-21 season, Sam Amick of The Athletic tweets.

Porter is due to earn $3.55MM next season after making $3.39MM during the upcoming season.

The decision comes as no surprise, given the patience Denver’s front office has exhibited with Porter, who did not play last season. The No. 14 overall pick in the 2018 draft spent his first pro season recovering and rehabbing from back surgery.

Denver has high hopes that Porter can make a significant contribution this season. However, it remains to be seen how much of an impact he’ll deliver, considering how long it has been since he’s played.

He did not participate in summer league games in July after suffering a left knee sprain. He’s expected to make his preseason debut against Portland on Tuesday.

Nuggets Notes: Bol, Beasley, Porter, Small Forward

Nuggets rookie Bol Bol told reporters at Media Day that he expects to be cleared for five-on-five drills sometime in late October or November, relays Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. Bol is still recovering from a season-ending foot injury he suffered last year at Oregon. He signed a two-way deal with Denver after being drafted with the 44th pick, but hasn’t been medically cleared to start playing again.

Bol said the team has been “taking it slow” regarding his rehabilitation and no plan has been set for when he might be able to return. He may spend the entire season in the G League, but because the Nuggets don’t have a direct affiliate, his playing time will be determined by another organization.

“It’s kind of like a check-step process,” Bol said of his recovery. “Month by month, you check in to see how I am doing. But I think in the next month or two I’ll be able to (play) five-on-five.”

There’s more from Media Day in Denver:

  • With three weeks left before the deadline for a rookie scale extension, Malik Beasley is focusing on his game and letting newly hired agent Rich Paul take care of negotiations, tweets Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Beasley, who will be a restricted free agent next summer if no deal is reached, chose Klutch Sports as his representative last week.
  • Michael Porter Jr. remains a mystery after sitting out his rookie year and most of his lone college season with back issues, but he’s ready to start proving he was worth a lottery pick, tweets Chris Dempsey of Altitude Sports. Porter said it was tough to skip Summer League again, but he has been focused on preparing for the season. “My time will come eventually,” Porter said. “So I’ll be patient. I’ve been working through this stuff for a couple of years, so what’s another month or so?”
  • Coach Michael Malone promises an “open competition” for the starting spot at small forward, Dempsey tweets.