Michael Porter Jr.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Deck, Thunder, Snyder

Michael Porter Jr. is remaining patient while his agent works out an extension with the Nuggets, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Porter is eligible for a new deal worth up to $168MM over five years, but Denver may be reluctant to commit the full amount because of his injury history. He had back issues coming out of college and sat out his entire rookie season.

Porter is coming off a breakthrough year that saw him average 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 61 games. He’s clearly a part of the team’s future and he is optimistic that agent Mark Bartelstein will work out a favorable deal.

“Everything is sounding great, in the direction that I’d like to be headed,” Porter said. “Nothing is set in stone, but everything is going smooth as far as that goes. One thing about Mark – something probably could’ve been done already but Mark is the best in the business. I told him, ‘Take your time, do your thing. I’m in no rush, I’m in grindmode. I’m not stressed about it. I’m just in the gym, and whenever you’ve got some news for me, hit me up.’”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Argentinian forward Gabriel Deck faces an uncertain future with the Thunder, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. He’s set to make $3.67MM this season, but the team hasn’t stated how much he’s guaranteed or how the contract is structured. There are two more years on the deal he signed in April, but they are both non-guaranteed. There were rumors last month that the 26-year-old was considering a return to Spain. He averaged 8.4 PPG and 4.0 RPG in 10 games last season.
  • The Thunder will have plenty of bench players who are worthy of a spot in the rotation, and Brandon Rahbar of Daily Thunder tries to sort out the hierarchy of which ones should get playing time.
  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder received a lot of criticism last season for keeping his main rotation players on the court too long, and Sarah Todd of The Deseret News looks at whether that practice is likely to continue.

Western Notes: Hyland, Porter Jr., Towns, Russell, Toliver

Rookie Bones Hyland averaged 19.7 PPG across four games in Las Vegas and his Nuggets summer league coach believes he can play right away for the NBA club, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “His skill set is undeniable,” Charles Klask said. “… I think there’s always room for players like him that have great feel for the game. They find a way to get on the floor because they can do so many different things, and as long as he can bring it on both ends, night in and night out, I think he can be part of our rotation, for sure.” Hyland was drafted with the No. 26 pick.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • There shouldn’t be any serious concern about the Nuggets’ ability to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Michael Porter Jr., Singer opines in a mailbag piece. Singer’s sources say there shouldn’t be too much read into the lack of news regarding negotiations, since the club has until the start of the season to extend Porter. His agent, Mark Bartelstein, had a number of other clients to focus on during free agency, Singer adds.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell are determined to do what it takes this offseason to turn the Timberwolves’ fortunes around, coach Chris Finch told The Athletic’s Britt Robson. “There is a deep and genuine motivation by Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to have their best offseason ever. And that’s really where it begins and ends, because if your best players aren’t all-in and ready, then you are not going to go very far,” Finch said. “They’ve seen their contemporaries having success. Devin Booker’s in the Finals. Nikola Jokic wins MVP. These are guys who they feel they are every bit as good as, if not better than — or at one point have been better than — in the league.”
  • The Mavericks are hiring Kristi Toliver as an assistant coach, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Dallas had been seeking a female assistant for Jason Kidd‘s staff. Toliver, who remains an active player in the WNBA, spent two seasons in the Wizards’ organization.

Hawks, Trae Young Agree To Five-Year Max Extension

AUGUST 3, 7:37am: Young’s extension will include an early termination option after the fourth year, according to RealGM (Twitter link). An ETO is similar to a player option, so Young will have the ability to opt out and sign a new deal in 2026.


AUGUST 2, 11:02pm: The Hawks and Young are in agreement on a five-year, maximum-salary extension, agent Omar Wilkes tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Wojnarowski pegs the projected value of Young’s deal at $207MM, which would mean a starting salary worth 30% of a $119MM cap in 2022/23. That suggests that Atlanta has indeed put Rose Rule language in the deal, but Young will still need to meet the criteria to earn that amount. If he fails to earn All-NBA honors next season, the extension would be worth a projected $172.55MM.


AUGUST 2, 3:59pm: The Hawks and star guard Trae Young are expected to finalize an agreement on a maximum-salary contract extension shortly after he becomes extension-eligible on Monday night, reports Jeff Schultz of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The move had been widely expected, as Young has emerged as the cornerstone of a Hawks team that made a surprising Eastern Conference Finals run this season.

He averaged 25.3 PPG, 9.4 APG, and 3.9 RPG in 63 regular season games (33.7 MPG) in 2020/21, then helped lead Atlanta past the Knicks and Sixers in the first two rounds of the playoffs before suffering a foot injury in the Eastern Finals vs. Milwaukee.

Young remains under his rookie contract for one more season and will earn $8.33MM in 2021/22. His extension would go into effect in ’22/23.

The exact value of that deal would depend on where the cap lands for the 2022/23 season. However, a conservative estimate would result in a five-year deal of approximately $168MM.

That number could increase to about $201.5MM if the Hawks include Rose Rule language that would bump Young’s starting salary to 30% of the cap instead of 25%. However, he’d have to earn an All-NBA spot this coming season to trigger that increase.

Young is one of a number of young stars entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts who could receive a maximum-salary extension shortly after the NBA’s new league year begins.

Luka Doncic, who has already qualified for the 30% max, is in line to get a five-year extension, though it likely won’t be finalized until after the Olympics. Multiple reports have indicated the Thunder will likely lock up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a max-salary extension, and Marc Stein identified Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) as other strong candidates for max extensions.

Nuggets Notes: Porter Jr., Luxury Tax, Gordon, Barton, Green

The Nuggets are hoping to reach a rookie scale extension agreement with Michael Porter Jr. this offseason, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Porter had a breakout season, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly is eager to lock up his combo forward long-term.

“He’s basketball-obsessed. His work ethic is an A-plus. It’s fun when you see guys like that where he had to battle through adversity and all the injuries,” Connelly said. “We’ll sit down with Michael’s representation. Our M.O. is when we can, we try to lock guys up and reward them for what they’ve done.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly said that the luxury tax is not a factor in keeping the team competitive, as he told Singer. “We have no financial restraints in terms of trying to further develop a championship-level roster,” he said. Singer notes team salary would likely surpass the tax threshold during the 2022/23 season if Porter is signed to an extension.
  • Porter might be more valuable as a trade chip than a fixture in the Nuggets’ lineup, Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla opines. While Porter is an elite scorer, he has ball-handling issues and is an obvious defensive liability. If Denver can get a star such as Bradley Beal and Zion Williamson in a trade involving Porter, Connelly shouldn’t hesitate, Kiszla adds.
  • Along with Porter’s contract situation, the Nuggets must decide this offseason whether to pursue an extension with Aaron Gordon and whether they want to re-sign Will Barton and JaMychal Green if they decline their player options, Singer writes in an offseason outlook. Adding backcourt depth is also a priority until Murray returns from his knee injury.

Northwest Notes: Wolves Sale, Conley, Lillard, MPJ

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has filed legal documentation responding to a complaint filed recently by minority shareholder Meyer Orbach, writes Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Orbach, who says he owns approximately 17% of the franchise, argued that his “tag-along rights” were violated, since he didn’t get the opportunity to cash out his stake in the team when the sale agreement with Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore was finalized.

Taylor contends that Orbach is not entitled to be bought out at this point because Rodriguez and Lore won’t assume majority control of the Timberwolves for two more years. For now, the duo has only agreed to purchase 20% of the club — full majority control will be subject to further investment and further league approval over the next two years.

While the legal battle between Taylor and Orbach may ultimately have little-to-no impact on Timberwolves fans, Dane Moore of Blue Wire Podcasts (Twitter link) points to an Instagram comment that made be of more interest to fans in Minnesota.

As Moore writes, Rodriguez replied to a comment asking him to keep the Timberwolves in Minnesota by replying, “We will!” There has been speculation that the new ownership group might want to relocate the franchise, but A-Rod’s first public statement on the topic suggests that’s not the plan.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jazz point guard Mike Conley, who has yet to play in the second round due to a mild right hamstring strain, is “making progress” but remains day-to-day, head coach Quin Snyder said on Monday, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). While Utah could still conceivably win the series if Conley remains unavailable, the last couple games have showed how much the team misses its starting point guard, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Trail Blazers center Enes Kanter said during a Monday appearance on SiriusXM Radio that he’d be surprised if Damian Lillard decides he wants to leave Portland, as Marc Berman of The New York Post relays. “He wants to win it all in Portland. I’m saying this every time I talk about him, but he’s definitely one of the most loyal and maybe the most loyal player in the league,” Kanter said. “… He doesn’t care about the big market, big-city base, and that he wants to just bring a championship to Portland and the state of Oregon.”
  • With Michael Porter Jr. up for a rookie scale extension this offseason, Mark Kiszla and Mike Singer of The Denver Post discuss whether the Nuggets should be comfortable putting a maximum-salary offer on the table for the 22-year-old forward.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Barton, Porter, Offseason

The Nuggets became the latest NBA team to be eliminated from the postseason, as the Suns completed a four-game sweep on Sunday night in Denver. This season’s Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic, wasn’t on the court for the last quarter of his team’s season, having been ejected after being assessed with a flagrant two for a hard foul on Suns guard Cameron Payne. Head coach Michael Malone wasn’t thrilled with the decision, as ESPN’s Royce Young writes.

“I just didn’t feel like it warranted a flagrant two ejection because he’s making a play on the ball,” Malone said. “There’s marginal contact to Cameron Payne’s nose, I believe. So I was shocked. I’m still a little bit shocked that they called a flagrant two and ejected the MVP on such a play.”

Suns head coach Monty Williams said that he didn’t believe there was any “malicious” intent on Jokic’s part. But whether or not the star center had been ejected, the Nuggets were on the ropes and were unlikely to climb out of a deep hole in the series against Phoenix.

While Denver would’ve liked to advance further in the playoffs, the club was pleased with what it accomplished this season, including a first-round victory without standout guard Jamal Murray.

“The whole season was great, I think,” Jokic said. “Until the last four games.”

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton has battled toe, adductor, knee, and hamstring injuries since the 2019/20 season began and has had to mourn the death of his cousin, who was shot and killed in December 2019, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Barton admitted after Sunday’s loss that the last 18 months have been “tough for me, physically and mentally,” but vowed to “keep fighting.”
  • Barton will have to decide in the coming weeks whether to pick up his $14.7MM option for 2021/22 or decline it to seek a new contract. According to Keeler, Barton said on Sunday that if he opts out, he’ll want to end up somewhere where he can “play my game” and be in a “winning environment.” A new contract with the Nuggets is a possibility, since it sounds like he views Denver as a place that meets those criteria. “I definitely believe we’ve got the pieces,” Barton said. “And if we’re healthy, I feel like we can win it. And that’s all I’ll say about that.”
  • Barton’s potential free agency will be one of the biggest decisions facing the Nuggets this summer, but there will be plenty of others, according to Nick Kosmider of The Athletic, who points to JaMychal Green‘s contract situation, a possible extension for Aaron Gordon, and Paul Millsap‘s free agency as some other issues the organization will have to address.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) also previews the Nuggets’ offseason, with a focus on how the team will handle a potential rookie scale extension for rising star Michael Porter Jr.

Nuggets Notes: Jokic, Morris, Porter, Barton, Dozier

In an interview with Serbian television that aired this week, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic expressed a desire to spend his entire career in Denver (Twitter link). The interview was filmed before the start of the season, but Jokic’s connection to the city and the team have likely gotten stronger in the wake of his MVP-caliber season.

Jokic has two more years on his current contract, paying him $31.58MM next season and $33.62MM in 2022/23. He will be 28 when he reaches free agency, and the Nuggets will almost certainly make a max extension offer before then, especially with Jamal Murray having the only significant salary beyond those years.

“When I came to Denver I said that I would love to be Denver’s Tim Duncan, because he played his whole career in San Antonio,” Jokic told RTS. “God willing, I would love to play my whole career in Denver.”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Damian Lillard is putting up historic numbers, but the Nuggets hold the lead in their series with the Trail Blazers because Austin Rivers and Monte Morris have been able to neutralize CJ McCollum, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. Morris, who got a three-year, $27MM extension in December after starting his career as a two-way player, said he has come a long way since his first postseason experience in 2019.“I had nightmares before every playoff game, my first playoffs,” he said. “That’s why I bust my (backside) and work hard, whether I’m here or off the Ball Arena premises. Just because I don’t ever want that feeling again. It was a hard feeling. A hard pill to swallow.”
  • With Murray unavailable for the playoffs, Denver needs more production from Michael Porter Jr., and he able to deliver in Game 5, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Using his size advantage over the Portland wings, Porter shook off two sub-par games and posted 26 points and 12 rebounds in the double-overtime victory. “Michael’s way too talented of a player to have two games like that, back-to-back,” coach Michael Malone said. “I just told him how proud I was of him, and he goes, ‘Hey coach, I gotta do that every night.’ And he’s right, he does. And he understands that.”
  • Will Barton and PJ Dozier will both miss Thursday’s Game 6, Singer tweets. Barton is dealing with a strained right hamstring and hasn’t played since April 23. Dozier is sidelined with a right adductor strain.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves Sale, Micic, Barton, Porter Jr.

A lawsuit filed by a limited partner regarding the agreement to sell the Timberwolves has revealed that there’s no language in the contract that prevents the team from being moved into a different market, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details. The filing made in district court alleges that team owner Glen Taylor was in breach of contract because limited partner Meyer Orbach, who has a 17% stake in the team, was not given the opportunity to sell his shares before the agreement was completed.

The agreement between Taylor to sell the team to former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and tech entrepreneur Marc Lore was announced earlier this month.

Taylor has repeatedly said he wants the team to stay in Minneapolis. Sources told Krawczynski that Lore and Rodriguez are committed to the Twin Cities market and there haven’t been any discussions about moving the Timberwolves.

According to the The Athletic’s report, Taylor entered a unique arrangement with Lore and Rodriguez, subject to league approval this summer. They’ll initially invest $250MM and will not be majority partners right from the start. The plan is for the duo to purchase shares of the team gradually and gain  controlling interest by December 2023.

Taylor would thus retain control over the team for two more seasons unless Lore and Rodriguez can pay him off earlier than that.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic was named the EuroLeague’s Final Four Most Valuable Player after leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to the championship for the first time in club history, according to EuroLeague.net. He averaged 25.0 points and 5.5 assists in the Final Four. He previously was named the league’s MVP after averaging 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games. He is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.
  • Nuggets swingman Will Barton won’t play against Portland in Game 5 on Tuesday but he could be available for Game 6 and a potential Game 7, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Barton, who has been sidelined by a right hamstring strain, practiced in full on Monday.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. vows to be much more aggressive in Game 5 after a lackluster outing in Game 4, Singer writes. “It’s on us as a team but a lot of it is on me as well,” he said. “If I’m not getting any actions, I’ve got to figure it out in transition, on the glass. I can’t let myself be as small of a factor as I was the last couple of games.”

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Daigneault, Gobert, Wolves

With Jamal Murray sidelined, Michael Porter Jr. will be the No. 2 option for the Nuggets in the playoffs alongside likely Most Valuable Player Nikola Jokic. Porter is looking forward to showcasing the growth of his game on the big stage, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“I’m welcoming it, I’m embracing it,” Porter said. “It’s where I wanted to be. Progressing, taking a jump. I want to take a jump every year, I’m never going to be content. … I’m excited to see what teams throw at me, and how I’m going to overcome those situations.”

Porter is eligible for a rookie scale extension prior to next season.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder GM Sam Presti was impressed by the performance of first-year coach Mark Daigneault during a rebuilding season, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets“I think he did an excellent job … There was a significant amount of adjustments he had to make,” Presti said.
  • Rudy Gobert only missed one game this season and his impact on the Jazz is undeniable, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Gobert led the league in total plus-minus at plus-728 and ranked first in the NBA in defensive rating (100.6), defensive win shares (5.2) and total blocks (190). “When you look at other players in the league, his impact is at the highest level,” coach Quin Snyder said.
  • The Timberwolves have a solid starting five, regardless of how the draft lottery shakes out, Jim Souhan of the Minnesota Star Tribune writes. They also have some good young pieces on the bench and therefore they don’t need saviors, just more experience and growth, Souhan adds.

Finalists For Major 2020/21 NBA Awards Announced

During a TNT broadcast ahead of tonight’s Wizards-Pacers play-in matchup, the finalists for six big end-of-season 2020/21 awards were announced. Here is the full list, as voted on by reporters.

NBA Most Valuable Player:

NBA Defensive Player of the Year:

NBA Rookie of the Year:

NBA Most Improved Player:

NBA Sixth Man of the Year:

NBA Coach of the Year:

  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Tom Thibodeau (Knicks)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Some of these current contenders are familiar with the hardware they’re up for again. Curry is a two-time MVP, having won the award previously in 2015 and 2016. Gobert and Green have both previously won Defensive Player of the Year awards — Green in 2017 and Gobert in 2018 and 2019. Thibodeau was voted Coach of the Year a decade ago while with the Bulls.

The winners for the awards will be announced during the 2020/21 NBA playoffs.