- Pelicans guard Dyson Daniels and Thunder guard Josh Giddey could make history on Monday. If they both play in their matchup, they would be the first NBA Global Academy teammates to play against each other in an NBA game, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The two Australian point guards have been friends for several years and competed together for the Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, Mussatto notes. Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin, another lottery pick, is the third Global Academy alumnus to make it to the NBA.
Pelicans reserve point guard Jose Alvarado has evolved into an important contributor for New Orleans in his second season, writes Will Guillory of The Athletic in an extensive feature. Guillory notes that Alvarado provides the Pelicans with a burst of energy in his minutes off the bench, especially on defense.
“A lot of people told me that the sophomore year is a slump year for some guys,” Alvarado told Guillory in an interview. “I wanted people to say, ‘Oh, he improved. What else can he do?’ … Obviously, the GTAs and playing defense is who I am. I accept that. But I’m also a complete basketball player. I can be a great point guard. I’m a knockdown shooter. I think there are a lot of things I can do on the court to help this team.”
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Pelicans All-Star small forward Brandon Ingram is considered day-to-day with a left big toe contusion, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Lopez adds that imaging indicated the ailing digit had incurred no serious structural damage.
- The 9-9 Mavericks have lost three straight games, but the team is striving to stay focused, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. Dallas is currently 1-6 in its road games, and will play an excellent Bucks club in Milwaukee on Sunday in the second game in a back-to-back set. The club has struggled mightily from long range. “We’re able to get into the paint,” head coach Jason Kidd noted. “We’re able to get to the rim and finish. But right now we’re just not shooting the ball straight.”
- Spurs reserve center Zach Collins was assessed a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected from Saturday’s 143-138 loss to the visiting Lakers after he hit L.A. point guard Russell Westbrook in the head while fighting for a rebound. Per Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News, the impact was not deliberate. “I shouldn’t have jumped on the pump fake, but I did,” Collins said. “And then the worst thing you can do is give up an and-one in that situation, so I was just trying to come down and hit his arm so the ball wouldn’t get up to the rim.”
According to ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, Ingram initially tried to play through the injury after stepping on another player’s foot. He left a couple possessions later and was able to walk to the locker room under his own power, but the fact that he wasn’t able to return for the second half might be a sign that he could miss more time.
The 25-year-old is having another strong season for the Pelicans, averaging 21.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists on .476/.475/.861 shooting through 14 games (33.1 minutes per night). He missed four games earlier this season after sustaining a concussion.
After dropping Friday’s contest, the Pelicans are now 11-8. Second-year wing Trey Murphy started the second half in place of Ingram, and Naji Marshall is another candidate to receive more playing time if Ingram’s future availability is impacted. The Pelicans are off this weekend and face Oklahoma City at home on Monday.
In his first full season as a starting point guard, the Pelicans veteran is averaging 18.7 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 6.1 APG and 1.2 SPG on .410/.342/.794 shooting through 17 games (35.1 MPG). The rebounds and assists represent career highs, but the FG% and 3PT% are career lows. McCollum has never shot below 37.5% from long distance, so his current figure should rise over time.
With McCollum sidelined in Wednesday’s victory over the Spurs, second-year guard Jose Alvarado started in his place, with Devonte’ Graham and Dyson Daniels receiving more playing time off the bench. That should continue until McCollum is cleared to return.
Here’s more from the Southwest Division:
- The Pelicans‘ bench has been a major reason the team has withstood short-term injuries to stars Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram thus far in 2022/23, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com (subscriber link). “It’s extremely important if you want to go far in the postseason,” head coach Willie Green said. “Having your second unit come in that can execute, that’s fearless. They play together. They play with joy. It makes all the difference in the world of how far your team can go.” As Clark notes, Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. have been standout performers off the bench, but multiple players are contributing to wins for the 11-7 Pelicans.
- Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News questions why Christian Wood hasn’t received more playing time after the Mavericks dealt their 2022 first-round pick to acquire him from Houston in the offseason. Sherrington writes that the Mavs knew Wood wasn’t a great defensive player when they made the trade, and he’s been highly productive when on the court, averaging 17.3 PPG and 7.8 RPG on .585/.447/.697 shooting in just 25.3 MPG through 15 games. On the other end of the spectrum, Sherrington states that JaVale McGee has been a disappointing free agent addition thus far and probably shouldn’t be getting rotation minutes.
- Both Wood and head coach Jason Kidd responded to questions about Wood potentially entering the Mavericks‘ starting lineup after Wednesday’s lopsided loss to the Celtics, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I think I’m gonna just keep that that personal opinion to myself,” Wood said. “But what I can say is I’m enjoying my time here. I love playing for Dallas. These guys, they support me. They pick me up when I have a bad game. So things are going great.” Kidd said he talks to his staff about possible changes every day, and suggested one might be coming soon. “You’ve got to look at all the combinations you got to see who’s playing well,” he said, per Townsend. “And just understand that sometimes change has to happen. It’s just the nature of sport. There’s no hard feelings or anything personal. This is their job and we’re trying to win ballgames. We’re trying to put the right combinations out there.”
- In an interview with Kelly Iko of The Athletic, former Rockets guard John Wall talked about mentoring the team’s young backcourt and his relationship with head coach Stephen Silas, among other topics. Wall signed with the Clippers over the summer after being bought out by Houston, and is averaging 11.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.7 APG and 1.1 APG through 15 games (22.1 MPG) as Los Angeles’ backup point guard.
The term “poison pill” doesn’t actually show up in the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, but it’s used colloquially to refer to a provision in the CBA that affects players who recently signed rookie scale contract extensions.
As we explain in our glossary entry, the so-called poison pill provision applies when a player who signed a rookie scale extension is traded before the extension takes effect.
In that scenario, the player’s incoming value for the receiving team for matching purposes is determined by averaging his current-year salary and the salaries in each year of his new extension. His current team, on the other hand, simply treats his current-year salary as the outgoing figure for matching purposes.
For instance, Heat guard Tyler Herro is earning a $5,722,116 salary in 2022/23, but signed a four-year, $120MM extension that will begin in ’23/24. Therefore, if Miami wanted to trade Herro this season, his outgoing value for salary-matching purposes would be $5,722,116 (this year’s salary), while his incoming value for the team acquiring him would be $25,144,423 (this year’s salary, plus the $120MM extension, divided by five years).
[RELATED: 2022 NBA Rookie Scale Extension Recap]
Most of the players who signed rookie scale extensions aren’t candidates to be traded anytime soon. But even in the event that a team does want to look into trading one of these recently extended players, the gap between the player’s incoming trade value and outgoing trade value could make it a real challenge to find a deal that works for both sides.
The “poison pill” provision applies to 11 players who signed rookie scale extensions in 2022. Here are those players, along with their outgoing salaries and incoming salaries for trade purposes:
|Player||Team||Outgoing trade value||Incoming trade value
|Kevin Porter Jr.||HOU||$3,217,631||$15,234,726|
Once the 2023/24 league year begins, the poison pill provision will no longer apply to these players. At that time, the player’s ’23/24 salary would represent both his outgoing and incoming value.
Until then though, the gap between those outgoing and incoming figures will make it tricky for these players to be moved, with one or two exceptions.
The small difference between Little’s incoming and outgoing trade figures, for instance, wouldn’t be very problematic if the Blazers wanted to trade him. But the much larger divide between Poole’s incoming and outgoing numbers means there’s virtually no chance he could be moved to an over-the-cap team in 2022/23, even if the Warriors wanted to.
After sitting out a week with a right foot contusion, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said he’ll “definitely” be ready for Monday’s game, writes Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Williamson suffered the injury last Saturday in a game against the Rockets when he stepped on Usman Garuba‘s foot on a drive to the basket. Williamson landed awkwardly and awoke with pain the next day.
“I felt it a little bit, but it wasn’t nothing for me to be like, ‘This is really something crazy,’” Williamson said. “I didn’t feel it til I woke up the next morning. I was like, ‘Man.’ Felt like I could barely walk on it. Went and got all the scans. It was a simple bone bruise.”
The incident brought back bad memories for Williamson, who missed all of last season with a fracture in his right foot. He has managed to avoid serious injury so far this year and is averaging 23.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 11 games.
“There was a moment when I was like, ‘I ain’t trying to go through this again. I just went through it,’” Williamson said. “Scans were positive outside of the bruise. I’m straight.”
There’s more from the Soutwest Division:
- Trey Murphy, who took Williamson’s place in the Pelicans‘ starting lineup, is also dealing with a foot issue, Clark adds. Murphy left Friday’s game after 12 minutes with a contusion in his right foot. “Kind of rolled his ankle a little bit,” coach Willie Green explained. “All his imaging checked out fine. He’ll be day-to-day. We’ll evaluate him and see where he is.”
- The Grizzlies are counting on their depth to sustain them until Desmond Bane and Ja Morant are able to return, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Bane is sidelined with a sprained toe, and Morant suffered a sprained left ankle Friday night. “It is frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Dillon Brooks said. “We still got guys ready to play, ready to be active and have their shot. It was a tough one, but at the same time, though, next man up.”
- Rockets coach Stephen Silas remains optimistic despite a disappointing start to the season, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston is 3-13 and in danger of posting the league’s worst record for the third straight year, but Silas is confident that patience will eventually pay off for a roster filled with young players. “I was with LeBron (James) in his first year and I was with (Stephen Curry) in his first year and I was with Luka (Doncic) in his first year,” he said, “and things were uneven and hard, but you have to go through it. I am more than prepared to go through it and will be happy to see the results of it.”
Victor Wembanyama led France to a pair of blowout victories in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, scoring 39 total points in 48 minutes as the French team beat Lithuania by 25 points and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 36. The performances on the international stage were the latest reminder why Wembanyama is ranked atop every draft expert’s big board for 2023.
That list of draft experts includes Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who unveiled his full top-100 list for the 2023 NBA draft on Thursday, with the usual suspects (Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson) leading the way.
Givony’s initial list features Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson at No. 3, Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. at No. 4, and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore at No. 5. Keyonte George, Ausar Thompson, Dillon Mitchell, Kel’el Ware, and Brandon Miller round out his top 10.
In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony also shared his impressions on this year’s Champions Classic, evaluating Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as a lottery prospect and taking a closer look at Gradey Dick‘s strong start to the season for Kansas.
- Which NBA teams have the best collection of trade assets? Yossi Gozlan and the staff at HoopsHype rank the Thunder, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies as the top three due to their impressive mix of young talent and future draft picks. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wizards are considered the team with the least valuable trade assets.
- Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at nine players who are making an impact this season after changing teams in the summer, starting with Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, while Frank Urbina of HoopsHype singles out nine players who appear to be taking a major leap forward, including Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
- In his latest look around the NBA, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer considers whether the Warriors and Bulls will have to turn to the trade market this season, explores Joel Embiid‘s ongoing evolution, and highlights some of the league’s most impressive three-point shooters.
- John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks out the “panic meter” to determine how concerned we should be about some would-be contenders who are off to slow starts. Hollinger isn’t too worried about the Sixers and Clippers, but has serious reservations about the Timberwolves, Nets, and Lakers, with the Heat and Warriors falling in the middle.
Pelicans forward Zion Williamson missed Tuesday’s game vs. Memphis due to a right foot contusion, but the injury isn’t expected to sideline him for long.
According to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link), head coach Willie Green said on Tuesday that Williamson has a chance to be back in the lineup on Wednesday vs. Chicago. The former No. 1 pick will be evaluated today after resting on Tuesday.
Once Williamson is available, the Pelicans will continue trying to figure out how best to use him on offense. As Christian Clark of NOLA.com writes, after Williamson dished six assists to go with 26 points on Saturday, Green said the team trusts Zion to “make the right play” with the ball in his hands and will try to use him in a ball-handling role more often going forward.
“I think it’s adding more layers to our offense,” Green said. “We recognized that from the past, with Z handling the basketball and trying to take advantage of mismatches, it’s something we need to exploit.”
Here’s more on the Pelicans:
- After making just 15-of-55 (27.3%) field goal attempts in his previous four games, CJ McCollum knocked down 11-of-23 in Tuesday’s win, scoring a season-high 30 points. According to Clark, McCollum had been dealing with a viral infection that seemed to be affecting his play. “I’ve been playing like s–t,” McCollum said. “I’ve been feeling like s–t. I have been shooting the ball really poorly, which is uncharacteristic. I’m normally not good at the other things, but I can always shoot. That was frustrating: not being able to help my team the way I wanted to but not having the energy.”
- Dyson Daniels hasn’t seen regular playing time so far in his rookie season, but Green said on Tuesday after Daniels played 17 minutes that he doesn’t have any reservations about using the 19-year-old. “He understands the game at a high level,” Green said, per Clark. “I feel comfortable putting him on the floor. I’m super excited about what he did tonight.” Daniels scored just three points on 1-of-5 shooting on Tuesday, but grabbed nine rebounds and was a plus-13 off the bench.
- Kira Lewis was assigned to the Birmingham Squadron in the G League earlier this week to regain his rhythm as he continues to make his way back from an ACL tear, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. Asked by Lopez if he feels faster than he was before the injury, Lewis said that he does, since the rehab process forced him to focus on specific parts of his body that he never had before. “With therapy, you have to slow down and work on every part of your leg,” Lewis said (Twitter link). “… My movements feel more efficient. … I definitely feel faster.”
- James Herbert of CBS Sports profiles Jose Alvarado, examining how the second-year guard became an important piece of the Pelicans’ backcourt after going undrafted last year.
Rockets rookie first-round pick TyTy Washington was sent to Houston’s NBAGL affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, this week as he continues to rehabilitate from his sprained left knee, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.
“I’m excited,” Washington, the No. 29 pick out of Kentucky this summer, said. “I can’t wait. I can play and get my feet under me, go down there, have fun. This is the game I love. I can go down there and handle my business. And when I get back up here, get my moment and do what I’ll do down there and help win games.”
“He just needs to play,” Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. “We very obviously value the G League. Almost all of our players have spent real extensive time down there. It’s more of an abnormality for people not to. He’s coming off an injury. He needs to get back in game shape and play minutes. Right now, we don’t have that opportunity for him here.”
There’s more out of the Southwest Division:
- Starting Rockets point guard Kevin Porter Jr. may have unlocked something as a passer lately, having averaged 11 assists per game across his last two contests, Feigen writes in a separate piece. “It’s just the flow of the game,” Porter said. “I’ve just been able to balance sharing the ball and taking my shots, knowing my guys, where they like the ball and just getting them where they’re open. It’s been easy to read these last couple games. I want to continue to do that and find my shots, too.”
- Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson has struggled defensively thus far this season, to the point where William Guillory of The Athletic wonders if it could impact how far New Orleans can actually go in the postseason this year. Guillory notes that Williams has exhibited promising flashes as a defender thanks to his speed and strength, but overall has struggled communicating on the floor to teammates and has had trouble defending against dribble penetration.
- Grizzlies All-Star point guard Ja Morant opines that he and breakout shooting guard Desmond Bane are the NBA’s current best backcourt, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “Top two, not [number] two,” Morant responded to a question about where the duo ranks among league backcourt tandems. “That’s the easiest question ever.” Morant was already an All-NBA guard, but Bane has taken a major leap in expanding his breadth as a scorer. “That was the goal this summer,” Bane said. “Not just be a 3-point shooter, be able to affect the game. Being able to set it up for myself and my teammates, getting to the free-throw line. All of that will help me remain consistent.”