Myles Turner

Pacers Notes: Turner, Oladipo, Stephenson, Roster

Myles Turner is relieved to be able to focus on basketball again after his family’s experience with COVID-19, writes Mark Montieth of NBA.com. Turner’s father had to be quarantined in a bedroom for 10 days after contracting the virus, which made the Pacers center reluctant to support restarting the season.

“I saw it firsthand and how it affected my family and I couldn’t imagine how it’s affected other families,” Turner said Friday in a media session on Zoom. “I definitely wasn’t a big proponent of playing at first. I still have questions now, but most of the questions have been answered.”

Turner changed his mind about the restart after hearing the NBA’s plan to protect the players on the Walt Disney World campus. He turned in some of his best performances of the season just before the hiatus and will be vital to Indiana’s chances of advancing in the playoffs. Turner averaged 15.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.7 blocks in the Pacers’ last three games and seems to have figured out how to be effective alongside fellow big man Domantas Sabonis.

“This is what I do for a living,” Turner said. “It gives me my escape at a time like this. I’m trying to win a championship as well. From that standpoint, I’m all in.”

There’s more from Indiana:

  • The Pacers don’t plan to make a roster move even though Victor Oladipo won’t be available in Orlando, tweets J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Oladipo will travel with the team to Disney World, so Indiana would have to waive someone else to create a roster opening. Michael adds that the Pacers are focused on “getting out of this in one piece,” rather than making a playoff run.
  • Former Pacer Lance Stephenson won’t be an option if the team decides to add a player, according to Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports (Twitter link). Agness reports that Stephenson was close to signing with the Pacers on the morning the hiatus began because of injuries to Malcolm Brogdon and Jeremy Lamb. However, a source confirms Stephenson is ineligible to join the team in Orlando.
  • All 17 players who were on the roster when the hiatus began will travel to Disney World, Montieth writes in a separate story. That includes two-way players Brian Bowen and Naz Mitrou-Long. “Having all 17 players may be the most important thing, only because it gives them a chance to spend time together and create some bonds that could trickle over into next year,” said president of basketball operations Kevin Pritchard.And we’re looking at programming things we can do together to stimulate that.”

Pacers Rumors: Oladipo, Turner, Sabonis, Draft

A report earlier this month indicated that teams around the NBA are expected to monitor Victor Oladipo, who will be entering a contract year in 2020/21 and hadn’t fully hit his stride with the new-look Pacers since returning from a major leg injury.

However, a league source tells J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star that Oladipo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. According to that source, the Pacers have no plans to shop the two-time All-Star on the trade market during the 2020 offseason, and intend to focus on locking him up to a new deal beyond 2021. Oladipo’s name hasn’t come up in any trade talks to date, two sources told Michael.

As previous reports have indicated, Oladipo and the Pacers briefly discussed an extension before the 2019/20 season began, but he only could have added three new years at that point and wouldn’t have been eligible to increase his salary to the league max.

Oladipo decided at that point to wait on negotiating a new contract and will likely take the same approach during the 2020 offseason, according to Michael, who notes that Oladipo could maximize his potential earnings by waiting until his contract expires in 2021 to sign a new one. At that point, he’d be eligible for up to five years if he re-signs with Indiana.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • Despite a long-standing belief among outside observers that Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner aren’t compatible, there was no indication at the trade deadline that the Pacers planned to move either player, according to Michael. Still, the club remains in the market for a power forward, Michael adds.
  • Turner drew some interest around the NBA prior to the deadline, particularly from the Wizards, according to Michael. One source tells the Indy Star that Washington was only inquiring about the big man for future reference, but another source told the Star that a “key player” from the Wizards sat down with someone close to Turner to directly express interest. According to Michael, Turner’s camp didn’t take those inquiries too seriously because they were aware Indiana wasn’t looking to move the 24-year-old.
  • The Pacers weren’t interested in adding 2020 draft picks in pre-deadline deals, since they’re “not enamored by” the 2020 draft class and are in win-now mode, says Michael.
  • Michael adds that “for the foreseeable future, no one is going anywhere,” since the Pacers like their roster.

Central Notes: Bulls, P. Connelly, Turner, Kennard

The Bulls have yet to formally announce the hiring of Nuggets GM Arturas Karnisovas as their new executive VP of basketball operations. That delay is related in part to the fact that there’s still a possibility of other Denver staffers joining Karnisovas in Chicago, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links) that one such candidate who is in serious talks to join the Bulls’ front office is Nuggets director of pro personnel Pat Connelly, the brother of Denver’s president of basketball operations Tim Connelly.

Woj adds that a deal between the Bulls and Pat Connelly could come together quickly, and that an official announcement on Karnisovas’ departure from the Nuggets for Chicago could happen as soon as today.

Here’s more from around the Central Division:

  • No decisions have been made yet on Jim Boylen‘s future as head coach, but there has been “a lot of smoke” today around Adrian Griffin and the Bulls, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. One executive tells Cowley that the current Raptors assistant is so ready for a head coaching role that he’s “over-qualified” for most jobs.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner revealed during an appearance on CJ McCollum‘s podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports) that his father was hospitalized with COVID-19 for nearly a week before recovering. “He’s not contagious anymore. He’s back on his feet,” Turner said. “It’s a blessing that he was able to make it through, but there’s a lot of people that aren’t. So, I think having something personal happen to you like that, that’s kind of what made it, the perspective, all feel real.”
  • Getting Luke Kennard back on track will be a top priority for the Pistons if the regular season resumes, Keith Langlois of NBA.com writes. The former lottery pick will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension during the offseason.

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

USA Basketball Announces 44 Finalists For 2020 Olympic Roster

USA Basketball has formally announced a preliminary group of 44 players who are candidates to be part of the program’s roster for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The final roster will only consist of 12 players, so most of these finalists won’t actually play for Team USA at the Olympics. Some will likely withdraw from consideration, while others simply won’t make the final cut. However, these players have all expressed interest in being involved in the process.

“This is the first step in USA Basketball identifying the 12 players who will represent the United States as members of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team in Tokyo,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo.

“… Over the course of the remainder of the NBA season we’ll continue to monitor all of the athletes. Selecting the 12-man USA roster will obviously be an extremely challenging and difficult process, and we will again attempt to select the very best team possible to represent our country and who we hope will be successful in our difficult mission of repeating as Olympic champions for a fourth consecutive Olympics.”

Although the U.S. men’s team has won three consecutive Olympic gold medals, the program had a disappointing showing at last year’s World Cup, finishing in seventh place. Team USA will be looking for a bounce-back performance in Tokyo this summer, with many players from that World Cup squad among the 44 finalists announced today.

Here’s the full list of players who are candidates to play for Team USA at the 2020 Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs)
  3. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  4. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  5. Devin Booker (Suns)
  6. Malcolm Brogdon (Pacers)
  7. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  8. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  9. Mike Conley (Jazz)
  10. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  11. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  12. DeMar DeRozan (Spurs)
  13. Andre Drummond (Cavaliers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Nets)
  15. Paul George (Clippers)
  16. Draymond Green (Warriors)
  17. James Harden (Rockets)
  18. Montrezl Harrell (Clippers)
  19. Joe Harris (Nets)
  20. Tobias Harris (76ers)
  21. Gordon Hayward (Celtics)
  22. Dwight Howard (Lakers)
  23. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  24. Kyrie Irving (Nets)
  25. LeBron James (Lakers)
  26. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  27. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  28. Damian Lillard (Blazers)
  29. Brook Lopez (Bucks)
  30. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  31. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  32. JaVale McGee (Lakers)
  33. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  35. Victor Oladipo (Pacers)
  36. Chris Paul (Thunder)
  37. Mason Plumlee (Nuggets)
  38. Marcus Smart (Celtics)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Klay Thompson (Warriors)
  41. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  42. Kemba Walker (Celtics)
  43. Russell Westbrook (Rockets)
  44. Derrick White (Spurs)

Scotto’s Latest: Gallinari, Nunn, Pacers, Nuggets, More

When the Thunder and Heat discussed a potential Danilo Gallinari trade leading up to last week’s deadline, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Kendrick Nunn, and draft compensation were among the various assets that came up in talks, league sources tell Michael Scotto of Bleacher Report. Miami reportedly wanted to extend Gallinari’s contract as part of a deal, but couldn’t agree to terms with his camp, which is one main reason the trade didn’t happen.

ESPN’s Zach Lowe wrote last week that he believed the Heat could’ve acquired Gallinari without surrendering any of their young players like Nunn. So even though his name came up in discussions, that doesn’t necessarily mean the Thunder would have insisted on his inclusion, depending on what other pieces were involved.

While Gallinari remained with the Thunder for this season, Scotto suggests the Heat and Knicks could be among his potential suitors this summer. Miami clearly has interest, and created some cap flexibility for 2020/21 by moving Johnson and Dion Waiters last week. New York, meanwhile, will have cap space and is hiring veteran CAA agent Leon Rose as its new president of basketball operations. Gallinari is a CAA client.

Here are a few more noteworthy tidbits from Scotto’s look at the post-deadline landscape:

  • The Knicks and Pacers discussed a possible Marcus Morris trade. According to Scotto, a package that featured Aaron Holiday, Doug McDermott, and T.J. Leaf was “briefly kicked around,” but didn’t end up going far.
  • McDermott’s name also came up in discussions about a potential Pacers trade with the Bucks involving Ersan Ilyasova, says Scotto. It’s not known which team initiated those talks.
  • Before the Cavaliers traded for Andre Drummond, they called the Pacers to ask about Myles Turner‘s availability, per Scotto. Indiana has remained firm on keeping Turner, though many executives expect the team to eventually break up its Turner/Domantas Sabonis frontcourt.
  • The Nuggets discussed the possibility of trading Gary Harris, Malik Beasley, and Juan Hernangomez as part of a package for Bulls guard Zach LaVine or Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday, sources tell Scotto. New Orleans set a very high asking price for Holiday, while LaVine was said to be “off-limits” for Chicago, so Denver didn’t get far on either front.

O’Connor’s Latest: Lakers, Kings, Wolves, Gordon, More

When reports surfaced earlier in January suggesting that the Lakers and Kings had discussed a possible deal involving Kyle Kuzma and Bogdan Bogdanovic, there were conflicting accounts on which team instigated the talks and what was offered.

In his latest article for The Ringer, Kevin O’Connor provides some clarity on those discussions, citing sources who say the Kings offered Nemanja Bjelica and a draft pick in exchange for Kuzma. The Lakers countered by asking for Bogdanovic and Sacramento balked, according to O’Connor.

Bogdanovic is one of a handful of players that O’Connor would target in trade talks over the next week, as he explains in today’s article. That piece also features a few more noteworthy tidbits from O’Connor’s sources, so let’s round up some highlights…

  • The Timberwolves called the Magic about Aaron Gordon earlier in the season, league sources tell O’Connor. If Minnesota made an offer for Gordon, it’s unclear what exactly that offer consisted of, per O’Connor. However, he notes that the Wolves are shopping Robert Covington.
  • League sources don’t expect any major deals from the Pacers at this year’s deadline, according to O’Connor. However, the club could consider a significant move in the offseason if it’s eliminated in the first round this spring. O’Connor points to Myles Turner as a potential trade candidate down the road, though he acknowledges that Indiana would likely be more inclined to consider moving Turner if rookie Goga Bitadze was closer to being a reliable contributor.
  • NBA teams have begun to monitor Vasilije Micic‘s situation in Europe, since the Anadolu Efes guard has become one of the world’s best non-NBA players, sources tell O’Connor. Currently, the Sixers hold Micic’s rights. The 26-year-old, who was the No. 52 pick in the 2014 draft, is averaging 14.2 PPG and 5.8 APG in EuroLeague play this season.

Central Notes: Sampson, Turner, Giannis, Beilein

The Pacers have been able to weather a series of injuries because of surprising contributions from players such as JaKarr Sampson, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Now with his fifth NBA team, Sampson didn’t create much fanfare when he signed with Indiana in August. He’s averaging just 4.9 points per game, but his other contributions have helped make up for the loss of Thaddeus Young in free agency.

“You can’t look at a stat sheet for guys like him,” teammate Myles Turner said of Sampson. “He brings so much more to the game. Intensity. We feed off his energy.”

Sampson is suddenly getting an opportunity after missing 22 games with a back injury. He played 20 minutes Friday night after finding out 10 minutes before the game that he was starting because Domantas Sabonis had to sit out with a sore knee.

“I know I’m able to play this game at the highest level,” Sampson said. “I knew what I was walking into when I came to this team. They have two great players at the 4 and 5 (Sabonis and Turner).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • The Pacers are turning down trade requests for Turner, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Indiana has a lot of money invested in Turner and Sabonis, but wants to see how the team responds once Victor Oladipo returns from injury before considering a move.
  • The Bucks don’t seemed bothered by continued speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future, tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I think the team’s been incredibly focused, he’s been incredibly focused just on each day, getting better, competing with his group and being respectful of what we’re doing now,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
  • Cavaliers players are eager to move past the latest John Beilein controversy, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In comments that he later apologized for, the coach caused a stir this week when he said his team was “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs” when he meant to say “slugs.” “He says it all the time, so it’s all good,” Collin Sexton said. “He calls us slugs, because we slow. But it’s good. We knew what he meant, just blown out of proportion.”

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Central Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Central Division may have one or two more sellers than initially anticipated this season. Detroit and Chicago had playoff aspirations in the fall, but are both solidly in the lottery at this point, with the 14-25 Pistons narrowly ahead of the 13-25 Bulls. Both teams are dealing with significant injuries to frontcourt players and may look to move a veteran or two before the trade deadline.

Here are three more trade candidates from the Central, including one from each of those two struggling clubs:

Andre Drummond, C
Detroit Pistons
$27.1MM cap hit; $28.8MM player option for 2020/21

Blake Griffin‘s knee injury, which may be season-ending, makes it all the more likely that the Pistons will throw in the towel on the 2019/20 season and seriously consider getting what they can for Drummond. Even if the return for the big man isn’t massive, it might be a better outcome than seeing him walk for nothing in the offseason or having to invest heavily in a pricey new long-term contract for him.

The Hawks were among the teams linked last week to Drummond and appear on the surface to be an ideal fit for him. They have a massive expiring contract (Chandler Parsons‘) that could be used for salary-matching purposes; they have an extra 2020 first-round pick to offer (the Nets’); and they’re motivated to get up-and-coming star Trae Young some more help.

The idea of a Young/Drummond pick-and-roll combination is legitimately intriguing, but the Hawks have some leverage here — they’ll have more than enough cap room in the summer of 2020 to make a play for Drummond as a free agent. Are his Bird rights important enough that they’d give up a first-round pick and/or another asset of value to land him now?

It would be in the Pistons’ best interests to engage a couple potential trade partners that don’t project to have 2020 cap room in order to put pressure on Atlanta and drive up the price on Drummond. The report linking teams like the Raptors, Celtics, and Mavericks to the big man may have been designed to do that. We’ll see in the coming weeks just how serious those clubs – or others – are about Drummond.

Thaddeus Young, PF
Chicago Bulls
$12.9MM cap hit; $13.5MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; $14.2MM non-guaranteed salary in 2021/22

It was nearly a month ago that reports surfaced suggesting Young was dissatisfied with his role in Chicago and had privately spoken to the Bulls his desire for increased playing time. At the time, Young was averaging just 21.6 minutes per game, his lowest mark since he was a rookie in 2007/08.

Since then, Young’s minutes have increased — but only to 23.3 MPG, and that average is buoyed by his 29.8 MPG in the club’s last three games, which can be attributed partly to Wendell Carter‘s recent ankle injury.

To be fair, it’s hard to blame the Bulls for dialing back Young’s role. His effectiveness has dropped off this season, as his .401 FG% is easily a career low. Still, the veteran forward is only 31 years old, so I don’t know that his struggles are simply the result of him being past his prime. He and the Bulls just haven’t been a good fit so far, and a change of scenery may be in both sides’ best interests.

Young’s contract, which includes a guaranteed $13.5MM cap hit for next season, will probably limit his appeal, but he has reportedly drawn some interest, including from the Clippers. If Chicago can extract even a second-round pick without taking back bad money, it might make sense to pull the trigger.

Myles Turner, C
Indiana Pacers
$18MM cap hit; $18MM guaranteed salaries every season through 2022/23

NBA experts and teams around the league view Turner as a trade candidate. For now though, most importantly, the Pacers don’t. Indiana has insisted for the last couple years that it’s happy moving forward with its duo of Turner and Domantas Sabonis, and a report from earlier today indicated the team continues to rebuff inquiries on Turner.

Turner remains an intriguing speculative trade candidate for a couple reasons. For one, it’s hard to imagine the Pacers as a legit title contender with those two centers playing alongside each other. The Raptors won a championship last spring with Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka, but those two vets rarely played together, and Ibaka had to accept a reduced role coming off the bench.

Secondly, Turner’s ability to make three-pointers on offense and block shots on defense makes him the sort of player that teams with frontcourt holes all over the league would love to acquire. He’s locked into a reasonable long-term contract and it’s fair to assume the Pacers could get a strong return if they make him available.

The Pacers’ ideal target in a Turner trade would probably be a versatile, two-way forward who could guard top scorers like Kevin Durant and LeBron James while complementing Sabonis, Victor Oladipo, and Malcolm Brogdon on offense. The problem? There just aren’t many players out there who fit that bill and would actually be available. As such, I’d expect the Pacers to stick to their guns on Turner and only eventually entertain the idea of a trade if they have another disappointing first-round exit this spring.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pacers Notes: Holiday, McConnell, Turner, Warren

More than one rival executive believes the Pacers will be open to trading either Aaron Holiday or T.J. McConnell before this year’s deadline, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

For now, both Holiday and McConnell are regular parts of the club’s rotation, combining for a total of 42.8 minutes per game. However, once Victor Oladipo returns to the lineup later this month, that extra backcourt depth may be a luxury the Pacers can afford to give up if they get an offer they like, Pincus suggests.

Both Holiday and McConnell are on team-friendly contracts. Holiday is making $2.24MM in the second year of his rookie deal and won’t be eligible for restricted free agency until 2022, while McConnell is earning $3.5MM and has an identical non-guaranteed cap hit for next season. Holiday’s age (23) makes him a more valuable asset than the 27-year-old McConnell, so if the Pacers do consider moving one of those two guards, the price would be higher for Holiday.

Here’s more on the Pacers:

  • The Pacers have played well with both Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner on the court this season, recording a +6.4 net rating, and sources tell ESPN’s Zach Lowe that Indiana continues to turn away teams that inquire on Turner.
  • Still, Lowe points out that Turner averages just nine shots per 36 minutes alongside Sabonis, compared to 16 per 36 minutes when Sabonis sits. Now that the team “belongs” to Malcolm Brogdon, Sabonis, and Oladipo, Lowe questions whether Turner will be content going forward with his part-time role, and suggests that every team in need of a big man should keep an eye on the situation in Indiana.
  • The NBA has fined Pacers wing T.J. Warren $25K and Heat swingman Jimmy Butler $35K for their altercation during Wednesday’s game, the league announced in a press release. Butler received the higher penalty in part for “escalating the incident on social media” after the game, the NBA said in its statement.

Central Notes: Doumbouya, WCJ, Turner, Love

Rookie Sekou Doumbouya is working to prove he can be a reliable player for the Pistons and the team is giving him that opportunity.

“What do they say in the Baptist church when you get baptized? ‘Hallelujah.’” Casey said (via Rod Beard of The Detroit News). “OK, so go ahead, put him in the water. He’s in the water and he’s getting baptized with three of the top players in our league, Draymond [Green] and Kawhi [Leonard], and [LeBron] James, so he’s seeing the best he’s going to see right now.”

The No. 15 overall pick has taken on the responsibility of guarding the opposition’s best player on many occasions this season. With Blake Griffin sidelined for the foreseeable future, Doumbouya will have more opportunities to grow.

Here’s more from the Central Division:

  • Wendell Carter Jr. is dealing with an ankle injury and while the big man believes it’s just a sprain, he’ll undergo an MRI on Thursday, K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports relays on Twitter. Carter was originally scheduled to have the MRI on Tuesday but it’ll wait until the Bulls return home from their road trip.
  • J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star details how Pacers big man Myles Turner has turned his season around. Turning off social media has been a major plus for Turner. “For someone in my position, it can be toxic at times. You start hearing stuff, hearing your name pop up in certain places. You can’t pay it any mind. You got to be comfortable in your own skin,” he said.
  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (video link) doesn’t believe Kevin Love‘s relationship with GM Koby Altman is all that great. The two recently had a heated exchange and Love has acknowledged that his behavior was childlike, though he insists he and Altman are on good terms and says their supposed altercation was overblown.