Monte Morris

Nuggets Notes: Craig, Morris, Porter Jr., Booth

Torrey Craig has established himself as a menace defensively but the Nuggets still have a tough decision regarding the swingman, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post explains. Craig is headed to restricted free agency and his playing time this season fluctuated due to his offensive limitations. However, Craig had some big moments as the season wore on and he’s a valuable reserve due to his pesky style, Singer adds. The team can make him a restricted FA by extending a $2.5MM qualifying offer.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Backup point guard Monte Morris has emerged as a key locker room voice, according to Singer. Morris is candid with the media and refuses to accept excuses such as injuries or absences during losses. Morris, who has a non-guaranteed $1.7MM contract next season, contributed on the court with his solid assist-to-turnover ratio and savvy decision making, Singer adds.
  • Michael Porter Jr. saw wild fluctuations in his playing time but the Nuggets haven’t lost any confidence in the rookie forward, who sat out the 2018/19 season due to back surgery, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post writes. Coach Michael Malone said Porter got frustrated at times and was bothered by an ankle injury prior to the hiatus but can still become a “great” player. “He’s shown all of us what he can do,” Malone said. “Now, the challenge is to help him do that on a more consistent basis.”
  • The team has reportedly chosen Calvin Booth as its GM and Malone wholeheartedly endorses the promotion, Fredrickson reports in the same story. “He works his butt off, is very detailed and organized. … I have complete confidence in Calvin Booth if he’s selected,” Malone said. “I would be shocked if he wasn’t.”

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.

Western Notes: Morant, Harrell, Hood, Gasol, Murray

The Grizzlies are playing Ja Morant limited minutes and they plan to keep it that way for the foreseeable future, David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports. Morant played fewer than 30 minutes in four of his first five games, with the exception coming during an overtime game. Coach Taylor Jenkins hopes the approach will keep the second overall pick and anointed floor leader fresh during the 82-game schedule. “I’ve always been a big believer, you start playing in the mid-30s (minutes per game) you kind of wear down,” Jenkins said. “Our rookies, including him, have never played 82 games in a season.”

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Forward Montrezl Harrell continues to prove his worth to the Clippers, Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times writes. Harrell, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, is averaging 19.3 PPG and 5.9 RPG to help the team weather the injury absence of Paul George. After acquiring him in the Chris Paul deal with Houston, the Clippers were so unsure about Harrell that they considered waiving him during the summer of 2017, according to Elliott.
  • Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood suffered a knee injury on Saturday but he didn’t sustain any structural damage, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports. The team’s medical staff determined that Hood has a bone bruise. Hood re-signed with Portland this offseason on a two-year, $11.7MM contract. Veteran center Pau Gasol, who joined Portland on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, has ramped up his workouts as he continues rehab from offseason foot surgery. Gasol did a series of shooting drills after a shootaround last week.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has become a more vocal leader this season and his teammates appreciate the change, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic relays. “I think it’s big-time,” fellow guard Monte Morris said. “If he’s going to be our starting point guard, everybody’s going to look for him to lead us.”
  • Nikola Jokic‘s numbers are down and Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his center must get more aggressive, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. He’s averaging 15.8 PPG, 4.3 PPG down from his average last season, while taking 2.6 fewer shots per game. “I don’t think he is, in terms of people thinking he’s checked out or not playing hard,” Malone said. “I don’t see that as the case at all. … I just have to make sure I keep on reminding him of how important he is to us, being aggressive and setting the tone.” Jokic is in the second year of a five-year, $147.7MM contract.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Bird, Westbrook, Presti

Keeping his young core group together is enough to make the Nuggets a prime Western Conference contender, general manager Arturas Karnisovas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on “The Woj Pod” (hat tip to the Denver Post’s Mike Singer).

“Definitely we’re banking on our continuity,” the Nuggets GM said. “A lot of teams that made changes and added huge pieces and stars, they’re still dealing in hypotheticals. We’ve watched this group show us last year, take us to a 54-28 season, having the best home record, 34-7, so this group is (established) and they’re still the third youngest group in the league.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Longtime WNBA star Sue Bird has a wide variety of duties as a basketball operations associate with the Nuggets during her league’s offseason, as Alex Coffey of The Athletic details. She observes games and practices, sits in on front office meetings, watches film and helps scouting college and international players. She also provided advice to point guard Monte Morris, which he found insightful. “She helped me stay encouraged when things were getting tough,” Morris said. “She would tell me things she noticed in how I played. It wasn’t always positive. There were times when she was like, ‘This guy’s guarding you this way. Try to counter him this way.’ Just little things like that.”
  • The Thunder have lost superstars before but the trade of Russell Westbrook to the Rockets has left a void, as Brett Dawson of The Athletic details. The bond between Westbrook and the city was stronger than any other star player.
  • Thunder GM Sam Presti remains hopeful the team can be fairly competitive next season despite trading away Westbrook and Paul George, Nick Gallo of the team’s website writes. “It’s going to be a different iteration of Thunder team than we’ve seen over the last several years,” Presti said. “The way we were able to pivot has given us the opportunity to have a much brighter future going forward and still have a team coming back this season that we feel good about.”

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Butler, Morris, Sefolosha

The Timberwolves‘ roller coaster season took a new turn on Friday, with the team suffering a 30-point loss to the Bucks in front of their home crowd. Minnesota has been rocked by trade rumors centered around Jimmy Butler, who remains on the roster nearly six weeks after his trade request went public.

Despite the constant, sometimes nagging attention from media and fans, Wolves players have tried to keep their focus on handling business and business only.

“Me personally, I don’t care,” Gorgui Dieng said, according to Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “If they trade Jimmy, then they’re trading him. If they keep him here, then they keep him here. It’s not my decision, it’s not something that I have a voice [in]. Most important is just what’s important for the team, and what I can do to help this basketball team.”

The Wolves have opened the 2018/19 season with a 2-4 record, and discussions to trade Butler are ongoing. Butler scored just four points on 2-11 shooting in Friday’s game.

“No team is ever going to go through a perfect season unscathed,” Taj Gibson said. “Everybody has a story at the end of the year sometimes of triumph and sometimes falling down. We’re in a crazy situation, kind of difficult, but we have to push through it. That’s why we’re professionals.

“We have to go into every practice, into every game with a smile on your face and push yourself.”

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division:

  • Andrew Wiggins discussed his relationship with Jimmy Butler last week, stating that he and Butler “have always been cool,” according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports (Twitter link). Wiggins also claims the infamous practice where Butler stormed the court and took on the Wolves’ starters was overblown (Twitter link).
  • The emergence of second-year player Monte Morris has greatly helped the Nuggets, who have jumped out to a 4-1 record this season, Mike Singer of The Denver Post contends. Morris is averaging 9.4 points in five games, providing depth in the backcourt with Isaiah Thomas still out to injury.
  • Jazz guard Thabo Sefolosha will be available to play Sunday against the Mavericks, according to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. Sefolosha served a five-game suspension this season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy in April, and played just 38 games with the team last year.

Contract Details: Thomas, Harris, Len, Knicks

The three-year, minimum-salary deal that Khyri Thomas signed with the Pistons looks identical to the one fellow second-rounder Bruce Brown received from the club, as Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders details. Both contracts include two guaranteed seasons with a non-guaranteed third year.

In giving Thomas three years instead of two, the Pistons had to once again dip into the mid-level exception. The team has now used that exception to sign Thomas, Brown, and Glenn Robinson, pushing its total MLE commitments to about $5.75MM. That figure exceeds the amount of the taxpayer mid-level, meaning Detroit will now be hard-capped at $129.817MM for the rest of the 2018/19 league year.

Teams become hard-capped when they acquire a player via sign-and-trade, use their bi-annual exception, or use more than the taxpayer portion ($5.337MM) of the mid-level exception.

Here are several more contract- and salary-related updates from Pincus:

  • Joe Harris‘ fully guaranteed two-year deal with the Nets is worth exactly $16MM, but it’s worth more in the first year ($8.33MM) than the second ($7.67MM), per Pincus.
  • The Hawks used nearly their entire room exception ($4.449MM) on Alex Len‘s two-year contract, which starts at $4.35MM. Len will earn a little less in year two, for a total value of $8.51MM (link).
  • Noah Vonleh and Kadeem Allen both signed one-year, non-guaranteed contracts with the Knicks, according to Pincus. Vonleh will be owed a $100K guarantee if he remains under contract through September 25.
  • Monte Morris‘ three-year pact with the Nuggets was originally reported as a $4.8MM deal, but Pincus classifies it as a minimum-salary contract, worth about $4.6MM. Morris received two guaranteed years, with the third-year salary set to become guaranteed if he remains under contract through June 30, 2020.
  • The Rockets and Thunder dipped into their taxpayer mid-level exceptions for rookie deals for Isaiah Hartenstein and Hamidou Diallo, respectively. Both are three-year, minimum-salary contracts, but Hartenstein only has one guaranteed year (link) while Diallo has two (link).

Nuggets Sign Monte Morris To Three-Year Deal

JULY 25: The Nuggets have officially signed Morris, the team announced today in a press release.

JULY 19: The Nuggets have reached an agreement with Monte Morris on a three-year contract worth $4.8MM, with the first two seasons guaranteed, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Morris had been on a two-way contract with Denver, but his new deal will be a standard contract that moves him to the team’s 15-man roster.

Morris, the 51st overall pick in the 2017 draft, only appeared in three NBA games during his rookie season. However, he had a strong season for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the G League, averaging 17.8 PPG, 6.5 APG, 4.5 RPG, and 1.8 SPG in 37 contests.

The 6’2″ guard also played well for the Nuggets in Summer League action this month, posting a team-high 17.5 PPG on 50% shooting in four games in Las Vegas. He also chipped in 6.3 APG and 3.3 RPG.

Morris will fill out the roster for the Nuggets, who now have 15 players on NBA contracts. He figures to slot in as the team’s third point guard behind Jamal Murray and Isaiah Thomas. As long as both Murray and Thomas are healthy, Morris may not have much of a role in Denver’s rotation, so more G League stints are possible.

A three-year, minimum-salary contract would have been worth about $4.66MM for Morris. Based on Charania’s report, he’ll receive slightly more than that, so Denver will likely use Morris’ Non-Bird rights to complete the signing.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 10/23/17

NBA G League training camps open today, with the start of the 2017/18 season less than two weeks away. With camps getting underway, NBA teams have begun to assign players to their respective affiliates. However, as we detailed earlier this year, four teams are still lacking affiliates.

The Nuggets are one of those teams without an affiliate for 2017/18, which means their two-way players are headed to two different G League clubs. Denver announced today in a press release that Monte Morris will join the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the Rockets‘ affiliate, while Torrey Craig will play for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heat‘s affiliate.

Here are today’s G League assignments:

8:00pm:

  • After spending the day in the G League, Isaiah Whitehead has been recalled to the Nets, the team announced this evening in a press release.

5:13pm:

  • The Nuggets have assigned first-round pick Tyler Lydon to the G League too, according to the team. Lydon will head to the Rockets‘ affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, along with Morris.
  • While the Rockets are adding a pair of Denver players to their G League squad, they’ll also send a couple players from their own NBA roster to the Vipers, announcing today (via Twitter) that Chinanu Onuaku and Troy Williams are G-League-bound.
  • Despite some minutes becoming available in the Nets‘ backcourt in the wake of Jeremy Lin‘s season-ending injury, second-year guard Isaiah Whitehead hasn’t cracked the rotation. Brooklyn is sending him to the Long Island Nets to get him some playing time, tweets Brian Lewis of The New York Post.
  • The Heat have assigned center A.J. Hammons to the G League, the club announced today in a press release. Head coach Erik Spoelstra said that Hammons is joining the Skyforce to work on his conditioning after he missed time with the flu, tweets Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Nuggets Sign Monte Morris To Two-Way Contract

The Nuggets have signed second-round pick Monte Morris to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release. It’s the second two-way deal for Denver — the club confirmed earlier this week that forward Torrey Craig received the other one.

[RELATED: 2017/18 NBA Two-Way Contract Tracker]

Morris, 22, played his college ball at Iowa State, averaging 16.4 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 4.8 RPG in his senior year. The young point guard was selected 51st overall in the 2017 NBA draft last month, so he’ll become the highest pick so far to agree to a two-way contract rather than an NBA deal.

Two-way contracts are a new addition to the NBA’s latest Collective Bargaining Agreement, so it has been interesting to see how teams have been using them for second-round picks in particular. So far, the four players drafted between Nos. 51 and 54 have all reportedly agreed to two-way deals.

For more information on how two-way contracts work, be sure to check out our FAQ.

Wizards Notes: Free Agency, Workouts, Beal, Brooks

As John Wall has suggested, fortifying the bench will be a priority for the Wizards this offseason, so J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic.com has examined the upcoming free agent market in an effort to identify some potential fits for Washington. Assuming they remain over the cap, which is a near certainty, the Wizards will have the mid-level, bi-annual, and minimum salary exceptions available to sign players, giving them a little flexibility.

In three separate pieces, Michael lists some potential point guard backups for Wall, a few possible backups for Beal at the two, and several veteran forwards who could be targets. While some of the players on Michael’s lists, such as J.J. Redick and Patty Mills, may end up being out of Washington’s price range, there are a handful of intriguing names noted, including Darren Collison, Kyle Korver, and Patrick Patterson.

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • The Wizards are bringing in six prospects for a pre-draft workout on Tuesday, the team announced in a press release. Jamel Artis (Pittsburgh), James Blackmon Jr. (Indiana), Daniel Dixon (William & Mary), D.J. Fenner (Nevada), Monte Morris (Iowa State), and Melo Trimble (Maryland) will get a closer look from the club.
  • When the Wizards signed Bradley Beal to a maximum-salary, five-year contract last summer, there was skepticism among NBA observers that it was the right call. However, as Chase Hughes of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes, Beal showed in the first year of the deal that he’s capable of living up to it and making good on Washington’s $127MM+ investment.
  • New head coach Scott Brooks turned out to be another solid investment for the Wizards, Hughes details in a separate piece for CSNMidAtlantic.com. “I think as a team we respect him,” Beal said of Brooks. “On the outside of coaching, he’s a really down-to-earth guy. He has a relationship with everyone on the team. I think everybody loves that. He holds everybody accountable. Me, I loved him. He granted everybody confidence and freedom on both ends of the floor, especially offense.”