John Henson‘s wrist injury will cost him more than just a chunk of the season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN explains. The Bucks center will lose $750K in bonus money due to clauses in his contract. He was due $250K for appearing in 60 games and an additional $500K for 75 games. Henson, who is signed through next season, is expected to miss at least 12 weeks due to a torn left wrist ligament. Henson’s cap hit for the 2019/20 campaign will be reduced to $9.7MM after the season once the bonuses are deemed unlikely. That will give Milwaukee a little more financial flexibility next summer.
We have more from around the Central Division:
- Bulls center Robin Lopez has seen his playing time increase in recent games and the team may be showcasing him and his expiring contract, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Lopez is making $14.3MM and the team could acquire an asset and move him to a contender, where he could add toughness off the bench without a long-term commitment, Cowley notes. Lopez is downplaying the possibility of getting traded. ‘‘I’ve always found that I kind of play best when I go out there and play unencumbered or unhampered by things like that,’’ he said.
- Collin Sexton may have taken over the Cavaliers’ starting point guard spot from George Hill, according to Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cleveland’s lottery selection is averaging 18.0 PPG and shooting 48.4% since Hill injured his shoulder earlier this month. “There are just guys who feel more comfortable starting than coming off the bench,” head coach Larry Drew told Fedor and other media members. “I think everybody wants to start, but everybody’s production as a starter is not very good. … Certainly with G-Hill out, Collin has definitely stepped up to the plate and made his presence felt and has made a major impact to what we’ve been doing.”
- Pistons shooting guard Luke Kennard will be out a few more weeks, according to the team’s latest medical update. Kennard suffered a right shoulder AC joint sprain on October 25th. Kennard’s rehabilitation process will continue for an additional two weeks with a gradual intensification towards basketball activity. That suggests Kennard, a second-year guard, won’t be back until sometime next month.
Bucks backup center John Henson will undergo surgery after being diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left wrist, the team announced today in a press release. Henson initially sustained the injury on November 6 before reporting additional discomfort after Milwaukee’s game on Wednesday, per the club.
While the Bucks don’t provide a specific timeline on Henson’s recovery in their announcement, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that the big man is expected to be sidelined for at least the next 12 weeks. While Henson plans to return this season, it likely won’t happen until after February’s All-Star break, according to Charania.
It’s a tough break for the Bucks and for Henson, who had been giving the team solid minutes as Brook Lopez‘s backup at the five. In 14 games (13.4 MPG), the 27-year-old had recorded 5.6 PPG and 5.1 RPG. He has even added a three-point shot to his game this season under new head coach Mike Budenholzer, making 0.8 threes per game at a 35.5% rate.
The Bucks’ update today also notes that Donte DiVincenzo will miss at least the next three games after suffering a minor left quadriceps strain. Pat Connaughton figures to be first in line to help replace DiVincenzo’s production.
Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Bucks have recalled Sterling Brown from the Wisconsin Herd, the team announced (Twitter link). Brown scored 23 points and made five threes in the Herd’s loss to the Mad Ants on Wednesday.
- The Sixers reassigned Jonah Bolden to the Delaware Blue Coats, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Bolden has played six games with Philadelphia this season.
- The Pistons assigned and then later recalled Henry Ellenson, Khyri Thomas and Bruce Brown, announcing the news in a pair of press releases.
- The Celtics assigned Guerschon Yabusele and Brad Wanamaker to the Maine Red Claws, the team announced (Twitter link). The Red Claws played the Raptors 905 on Thursday, with the Celtics set to play the Raptors on Friday.
- The Wizards have assigned Thomas Bryant to the Capital City Go-Go, announcing the news on their website. Bryant will travel with the Go-Go for their game against the Wisconsin Herd on Friday.
- The Grizzlies recalled then assigned Jevon Carter to the Memphis Hustle, the team’s G League affiliate, announcing the news on Twitter.
- The Magic have recalled Isaiah Briscoe and Melvin Frazier Jr. from the Lakeland Magic, the team tweets. Orlando hosts the Lakers on Sunday.
Here are Tuesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:
- The Jazz have assigned Raul Neto to the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s website. Neto is rehabbing from a hamstring injury.
- The Raptors have assigned Malachi Richardson to their G League affiliate, according to the Raptors 905’s Twitter feed.
- The Lakers have recalled Moritz Wagner and Svi Mykhailiuk from the South Bay Lakers, the team announces on Twitter.
- Elie Okobo will head to the Northern Arizona Suns, as Phoenix has assigned him to their G League affiliate (per the team’s website). The rookie has played in 11 NBA games for the Suns this season.
- The Bucks have assigned Christian Wood to the Wisconsin Herd, according to the team’s Twitter feed.
Zach LaVine has thrived with the Bulls as a volume scorer this season, averaging 27.2 points per game in 13 contests so far. He’s shot 46% from the floor, 35% from 3-point territory and 86% from the charity stripe, which would easily make this the best scoring season of his five-year career if his numbers hold up.
The Bulls own just a 4-9 record, but it’s hard to blame LaVine for the team’s shortcomings. LaVine provides Chicago with production today, but also likely remains years away from his prime age at just 23 years old.
“I’ll do whatever I gotta do to try to put points on the board or help us win,” LaVine said before a team practice Friday, according to Mark Strotman of NBC Sports. “If that’s scoring, facilitating, rebounding, whatever it is. It’s scoring for right now. I’ll continue to do that until we need something else.”
LaVine, the No. 13 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, was shipped to Chicago from the Timberwolves as part of a Jimmy Butler trade in 2017. He missed most of last season rehabbing from a torn ACL and has since come back stronger than ever.
“He’s really improved in the area of attacking the basket,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “You can see his free throw numbers are up, his finishing is better at the rim, he’s not settling for as many shots as he did a year ago and I think a lot of that has to do with the confidence that he has with his health.
“Zach is in a great rhythm on the offensive end.”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will work to add a three-point shot to his arsenal, according to ESPN. “Every year he comes back with something different,” general manager Jon Horst said. “Whether it’s at some point this year or next year, you’re going to see him with a 3-point shot.” Antetokounmpo has averaged 25.7 points and 13.4 rebounds in 11 games this season. He’s made just two of 25 shots from downtown.
- The Pistons would likely make a strong push for Bradley Beal if the Wizards choose to blow up their roster, Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press writes. Washington has started the season with a disappointing 3-9 record, and the Pistons could express interest in adding another shooter to the mix.
- Ryan Arcidiacono will remain the Bulls’ starting point guard for now, tweets K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. Kris Dunn, the usual starter for Chicago, has been out of the lineup with a moderate MCL sprain. Arcidiacono scored 15 points on 6-8 shooting in a win over the Cavaliers on Saturday.
Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if those players’ stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Central Division:
Justin Holiday, Bulls 29, SG (Up) – Signed to a two-year, $9MM deal in 2017
Holiday is playing heavy minutes for the injury-riddled Bulls. His scoring average (12.0 PPG) is modest, given the amount of playing time he’s receiving, but he’s been solid from long range (38.9%) and rarely turns the ball over. His OBPM (Offensive Box Plus/Minus) is a career-best 1.7, according to Basketball Reference. Defensively, he leads the club in steals (1.6). Holiday probably won’t find a starting gig on the open market, but he’d be a solid second unit option on a playoff contender.
Rodney Hood, Cavaliers, 26, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $3.47MM deal in 2018
Hood accepted the Cavaliers’ qualifying offer as a restricted free agent over the summer with the aim of landing a lucrative mult-year pact as an unrestricted FA next summer. Thus far, Hood hasn’t really stood out from the pack on a struggling team. With Kevin Love sidelined by a foot injury, Hood had an opportunity to be a bigger offensive force. Instead, his numbers have declined. He averaged 14.0 PPG in 27.7 MPG last month but has posted a 9.3 PPG average in 26.0 MPG through four November outings.
Stanley Johnson, Pistons, 22, SF (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $12.85MM deal in 2015
Johnson didn’t receive a rookie scale extension and he’ll be a restricted free agent if the Pistons extend a $5.3MM qualifying offer after the season. Right now, that’s a big if. Johnson lost his starting job to Glenn Robinson III after shooting 35.2% overall and 25.0% from deep while committing 16 turnovers in seven starts. The Pistons are currently looking at Johnson as a small ball power forward off the bench. He’s looked comfortable in that role, posting back-to-back double-digit games while shooting with more confidence.
Tyreke Evans, Pacers, 29, SG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $12MM deal in 2018
Coming off a career year with the Grizzlies in which he averaged 19.3 PPG, Evans was expected to be one of the league’s premier sixth men. He’s still finding his way with a much more talented team, averaging 10.9 PPG, though he’s been fine beyond the arc (41.7%). In his last six games, Evans is averaging 10.0 PPG while shooting 38.2% from the field. Evans’ numbers should spike up but for now, he hasn’t done anything to make him more attractive on the open market than he was this summer.
Khris Middleton, Bucks, 27, SF (Up) – Signed to a five-year, $70MM deal in 2015
Middleton has a $13MM option on his contract for next season and it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll test the open market. His value continues to rise with his early-season performances. He’s the second-best player on a very good team, averaging 19.3 PPG and shooting a whopping 45.5% from long range. Throw in career bests in rebounding (5.2 per game) and assists (4.3) along with his solid defense and Middleton will be highly coveted in July.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Bucks credit new coach Mike Budenholzer for their hot start, as Nick Friedell of ESPN relays. The Bucks’ offense has more structure than it did under former coach Jason Kidd and interim coach Joe Prunty, multiple players told Friedell and other media members. “We have multiple sets we can get into, we have — just more of a foundation to play off of rather than just freestyle,” guard Malcolm Brogdon said. The players are displaying trust in the system, which emphasizes 3-point shots and ball movement, Friedell adds. “I think teams are starting to take notice and realize we’re not the Bucks that we were when I first got here six years ago,” small forward Khris Middleton said. “We’re a totally different team even from last year.”
The Raptors, Nuggets, Bucks, Grizzlies, and Kings are among the NBA teams that have made the strongest impression in the first month of the 2018/19 season, outperforming expectations early in the year. On the other end of the spectrum, the Cavaliers and Mavericks have been among the league’s worst teams, underperforming expectations that weren’t all that high to begin with.
These teams all have something in common — they’ve traded away their 2019 first-round picks, often with protections on them. We still have about 70 games to go in ’18/19, so it’s way too early to determine exactly where those picks will fall, or even whether or not they’ll changes hands in many cases. However, based on what we’ve seen from those teams so far, we have a better idea of what to expect the rest of the way than we did a month ago.
Let’s take a look at how some of those early-season trades may affect 2019’s traded first round picks…
Toronto Raptors (11-1)
First-round pick traded to Spurs (top-20 protected)
Even with top-20 protection, this pick looks like a very safe bet to change hands. If the season ended today, it would be No. 30, since Toronto has the NBA’s best record.
Denver Nuggets (9-2)
First-round pick traded to Nets (top-12 protected)
After a season in which the Nuggets narrowly missed the playoffs, it wasn’t unreasonable for Brooklyn to hope this pick would fall in the mid-teens. Instead, with Denver looking like one of the Western Conference’s best teams so far, it may land well into the 20s.
Milwaukee Bucks (9-2)
First-round pick traded to Suns (top-3 protected; 17-30 protected)
The unusual protections on this pick will likely to prevent it from changing hands for a second consecutive year, since it projects to fall in the 17-30 range. If Milwaukee’s 2019 first-rounder doesn’t convey, the Bucks would owe the Suns their 2020 first-rounder, with top-7 protection.
Memphis Grizzlies (6-4)
First-round pick traded to Celtics (top-8 protected)
After finishing last season with a 22-60 record, the Grizzlies were no lock to take a major step forward in 2018/19. In the early going though, the club looks like a legitimate playoff contender. Assuming Memphis can remain in the postseason mix, even if it’s just on the outskirts, this pick should stay out of the top eight and get sent to Boston.
Sacramento Kings (6-5)
First-round pick traded to Sixers (if it’s No. 1 overall or if it’s less favorable than Sixers’ pick) or Celtics (if it’s more favorable than Sixers’ pick and isn’t No. 1 overall)
The Kings, who were expected to be one of the NBA’s worst teams entering the season, would generate some fascinating drama between the Sixers and Celtics if their pick ends up in play for No. 1 overall. However, Sacramento’s young roster has created more problems than anticipated for opponents so far, with the team occupying a playoff spot for now.
Despite the Kings’ hot start, a finish in the lottery still seems likely, but if Sacramento keeps exceeding expectations, the team’s first-round pick will almost certainly end up in Boston instead of Philadelphia, avoiding that No. 1 spot.
Los Angeles Clippers (6-5)
First-round pick traded to Celtics (top-14 protected)
This could be one to watch all season long — the Clippers currently hold a playoff spot in the West by one game, but teams like the Jazz, Lakers, Pelicans, and Rockets are right on their tail. If the Clips eventually fall out of the top eight in the West, they’ll keep their 2019 pick and would owe Boston their top-14 protected 2020 first-rounder. If L.A. keeps winning, the Celtics have a real shot at ending up with four first-rounders next spring.
Dallas Mavericks (3-8)
First-round pick traded to Hawks (top-5 protected)
After drafting NBA-ready prospect Luka Doncic and signing DeAndre Jordan, the Mavericks hoped to contend for the postseason and expected to lose this pick. Given the way Dallas has struggled so far, that no longer looks like a sure thing. I don’t view the Mavs as a bottom-five team in the NBA, but if they don’t turn things around soon, an aggressive second-half tank is a possibility. The Hawks would love for this pick to land in the back half of the top 10.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1-10)
First-round pick traded to Hawks (top-10 protected)
While Atlanta may luck out with the Mavs’ pick, the Hawks will probably have to wait at least one more year to get anything from the Cavaliers, who have the NBA’s worst record so far and aren’t exactly in position to turn things around. If the Cavs keep their 2019 first-rounder, they’ll owe the Hawks their top-10 protected 2020 pick.