Gordon Hayward’s Wife Criticizes Hornets Over Handling Of Injuries

Gordon Hayward‘s wife has accused the Hornets of failing to protect injured players, writes Bryan Fonseca of The New York Post. Robyn Hayward criticized the franchise via her Instagram account.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Friday night that Gordon Hayward has suffered a fracture in his left shoulder that will keep him out indefinitely. Robyn Hayward pointed out that the team called it a left shoulder contusion, which isn’t nearly as serious.

“He actually has a fractured scapula… that they had him play with last game… that’s why he couldn’t move his arm up in the last game,” she wrote. “… Everyone who knows Gordon knows he has one goal and that’s to win and play the right way, he’s the most truthful player/person you’d find. If he’s not going to play it’s for something more than a bruise.”

Robyn promised to “stop there and not get into prior things,” but she shared the story of another Hornets player who had a similar experience.

“I’m over them not protecting players. Just was talking with a young player’s mom, and she was saying the same thing,” she added.

Injuries have been a recurring problem for Hayward since he suffered a fractured tibia and dislocated ankle in 2017. He played 44 and 49 games in his first two seasons with Charlotte after being acquired in a trade and has appeared in 11 so far this season. He’s making a little more than $30MM this year and has one season left on his contract at $31.5MM.

Markelle Fultz Could Make 2022/23 Debut On Sunday

Magic guard Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2017 draft, could make his 2022/23 season debut on Sunday against the Sixers, per Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel (subscription required).

The 24-year-old has missed the first 19 games of the season after fracturing his left big toe in late September, right before training camp opened. However, he was able to practice on Wednesday and he’s been upgraded from out to questionable for Sunday’s game, as Price relays.

A couple weeks ago, Price reported that Fultz hoped to return in the next three-to-four weeks, so a Sunday return would be a little ahead of schedule for that timeline. Still, he’s only listed as questionable, not probable or available, so there’s no guarantee that he’ll actually play, though it’s certainly encouraging that his return appears imminent.

Injuries have been a major factor in Fultz’s career, limiting him to just 131 games over five-plus seasons, including 18 in ’21/22 after recovering from a torn ACL. He averaged 10.8 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.1 steals in 20.0 minutes last season.

Fultz will earn a guaranteed $16.5MM this season, but his $17MM salary for ’23/24 is only partially guaranteed at $2MM, so how he performs upon his return will likely have a significant impact on whether he’s in Orlando’s future plans. The Magic have dealt with a number of injuries to key rotation players this season and are currently 5-14, the third-worst record in the NBA.

Gordon Hayward Out Indefinitely With Left Shoulder Fracture

NOVEMBER 26, 7:14am: Hayward will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis going forward, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

NOVEMBER 25, 8:54pm: Hornets forward Gordon Hayward has sustained a left shoulder fracture and is out indefinitely, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

According to Charania, Hayward is in the process of getting more testing done to reveal the full extent of the injury.

Hayward missed eight consecutive games earlier this month after suffering a left shoulder contusion on November 2. He returned on November 18 and had played three straight games prior to Friday’s victory over Minnesota, in which he was sidelined with the shoulder injury.

The 32-year-old had been a mainstay in the Jazz’s lineups prior to joining Boston as a free agent in 2017. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe ankle injury in his first game with the Celtics, and injuries have continued to plague him ever since — from 2017-22, he averaged just 43.6 games per season.

Through 11 games (32.3 MPG) in 2022/23, Hayward has averaged 16.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG and 4.4 APG on .445/.381/.767 shooting. In addition to Hayward, Charlotte has dealt with injuries to other key players, including star point guard LaMelo Ball (ankle sprains), who has appeared in just three games for the 6-14 Hornets.

Jalen McDaniels started in place of Hayward Friday night, and players like P.J. Washington and Kelly Oubre should continue to receive a heavy workload. Second-year big man Kai Jones also received a major uptick in playing time — he played double-digit minutes (28) for the first time in his career on Friday, recording career highs of nine points and 12 rebounds.

LeBron James To Return On Friday

NOVEMBER 25: James is available tonight, the Lakers announced (Twitter link via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin).

NOVEMBER 23: Lakers star LeBron James, who has missed the team’s last five games due to left adductor strain, is expected to make his return on Friday vs. the Spurs, Chris Haynes reported during Tuesday’s TNT broadcast (Twitter video link).

The Lakers will play a back-to-back set in San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, so if James avoids setbacks and does return on Friday, it’s unclear if he’d suit up for the next day’s game too. Still, it’s encouraging news for a Los Angeles team that has managed to hold its own with the four-time MVP sidelined.

When James went down with his adductor/groin injury, the Lakers were 2-9 and had lost four games in a row. That losing streak extended to five games in their first game without LeBron, but Anthony Davis led the team to three consecutive wins prior to Tuesday’s loss in Phoenix. L.A. is now 5-11 on the season, 3.5 games back of the 10th-seeded Timberwolves.

James’ .457/.239/.667 shooting line so far this season has been underwhelming, but his per-game averages remain strong. He has put up 24.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 6.9 assists per night in his first 10 appearances (35.7 MPG).

Austin Reaves took James’ spot in the starting lineup during his absence, making him the most logical player to move to the bench upon LeBron’s return. Of course, even if Reaves is the odd man out, he could get at least one more start if Patrick Beverley ends up facing a suspension for his Tuesday altercation with Deandre Ayton.

Heat Waive Orlando Robinson, Sign Dru Smith To Two-Way Deal

The Heat have waived two-way center Orlando Robinson and signed guard Dru Smith to fill his two-way spot, the team announced (via Twitter).

Just a couple of weeks ago, those roles were reversed, as Smith had made the opening night roster on a two-way deal but then was waived in favor of Robinson when the team’s frontcourt was hit hard by injuries.

According to Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (Twitter link), head coach Erik Spoelstra said the team still likes Robinson, but the Heat currently need wing depth, so that’s why Smith was promoted from their G League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.

In three games (34.0 MPG) with the Skyforce during the G League’s ongoing Showcase Cup tournament, the 6’3″ Smith has filled up the stat sheet, averaging 17.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 3.0 SPG and 1.3 BPG on .488/.421/.800 shooting. He made one cameo appearance for the Heat on October 26 for his NBA debut, recording two points and one rebound in less than six minutes of action.

Robinson, an undrafted rookie out of Fresno State, averaged 7.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 1.0 SPG in two games (20.0 MPG) with the Heat. If he goes unclaimed on waivers, he could be headed back to Sioux Falls.

Patrick Beverley Suspended For Three Games

The NBA has suspended Lakers point guard Patrick Beverley for three games without pay, the league announced today in a press release (Twitter link).

As we detailed on Wednesday, Beverley shoved Suns center Deandre Ayton in the back while the Phoenix center was standing over Lakers guard Austin Reaves during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s 115-105 Suns victory. This led to a brief on-court fracas between the two clubs. Beverley was instantly ejected, while Ayton was assessed with a technical foul.

According to the NBA’s announcement, the suspension was “based in part on Beverley’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.”

Back when he was a member of the Clippers, Beverley shoved Suns point guard Chris Paul in the back during a stoppage in play in Game 6 of the 2021 Western Conference Finals. He received a one-game suspension for that incident.

Beverley’s teammates and head coach Darvin Ham defended him after Tuesday’s game and gave him credit for standing up for a teammate, but there was a sense that a suspension could be in play. Ham told reporters that Beverley would likely “go through some type of consequence” for his actions, while the veteran guard said he was prepared to “take my lumps however they come.”

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the three-game suspension will cost Beverley $89,655 per game (1/145th of his $13MM salary), for a total of $268,966. The Lakers will receive half that amount (a total of $134,483) as a tax variance credit, Marks notes, saving them a little money on their end-of-season bill.

Beverley has struggled offensively during his first season as a Laker. The 34-year-old is averaging 4.1 PPG on .266/.238./824 shooting splits.

Robert Williams Hopes To Return By Christmas

Celtics center Robert Williams expects to be back on the court by Christmas Day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said tonight on the network’s pre-game show (video link), relaying a conversation with Williams’ agent.

Williams is “progressing well” with his rehab after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his left knee in September, Woj adds, noting that it was the second knee operation for Williams this year. Williams was originally projected to miss eight to 12 weeks, and the Celtics have been cautious about his return. He began participating in three-on-three drills a few days ago.

Williams became a full-time starter last season and emerged as a defensive anchor during Boston’s run to the NBA Finals. The Celtics are off to a 14-4 start without him, but Wojnarowski believes they’ll be in the market for another center to provide insurance against further injuries.

“I think for Boston now as you start to look out to the February trade deadline, I think another big man, another center who could play minutes in the case of Rob Williams missing time or a 36-year-old Al Horford being out,” Wojnarowski said. “They are trying to close every hole they can to be a championship team. We can watch Boston as they get closer to the trade deadline, seeing if there are any frontcourt help off their bench they could acquire.”

The Celtics were already rumored to have interest in Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, notes Brian Robb of MassLive. He also points out that Noah Vonleh and Justin Jackson both have contracts that won’t be guaranteed until early January, making it easy to waive them if an open roster spot is needed. Boston also has two trade exceptions that could be used to acquire players earning between $5-7MM without sending out salary in return.

Multi-Team Deal Possible For Jae Crowder

Several teams have expressed interest in Suns forward Jae Crowder and there’s speculation that a trade could get done soon, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. Crowder, who had been a starter during his first two years in Phoenix, is working out on his own while he waits for a deal to be completed.

The Bucks, Hawks and Warriors are among the most prominent suitors for Crowder, sources tell Pincus, and an unidentified executive believes the final version of the deal could include as many as five teams.

Pincus hears that Milwaukee has offered Grayson Allen for Crowder, while Atlanta is willing to part with some combination of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Justin Holiday and John Collins. The Suns don’t have any immediate interest in either of those offers, Pincus adds.

As reported earlier today by Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, the Rockets could play an important role in a multi-team deal. Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports stated last week that Phoenix had interest in Kenyon Martin Jr., and Pincus speculates that veteran guard Eric Gordon could also be included in a trade that sends Crowder and Dario Saric to another team. Pincus hears that Houston would want “real value” to get involved, whether it’s in the form of young talent or draft assets.

The Warriors could be a team to watch in the Crowder sweepstakes if they’ve become more willing to unload some of their young players after an 8-10 start, Pincus writes. Golden State’s defense has regressed after losing Gary Payton II and Otto Porter in free agency, and Crowder is the type of multi-positional defender who could fix those issues.

The Warriors also need help with rebounding after falling from seventh to 25th in the league in that category, and rival executives expect them to target another big man as well as a defensive wing. Pincus cites Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl as possibilities, though the Pacers may decide to keep Turner after their strong start. The Spurs are limited to less than $13MM as the starting point for an extension offer to Poeltl, and the team may be inclined to trade him rather than risk losing him in free agency.

Golden State would have to send out nearly $16MM in salary to acquire both Crowder and Poeltl, but it’s limited in what it can offer until Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Andre Iguodala and Kevon Looney become trade-eligible later this season.

Pincus offers a sample trade in which send the Warriors send James Wiseman and Ryan Rollins to the Spurs, while the Rockets get Jonathan Kuminga from Golden State and Saric from Phoenix. Another Pincus suggestion has the Warriors keeping Kuminga while shipping Moses Moody and either Patrick Baldwin or Rollins to the Rockets, while San Antonio gets Baldwin or Rollins along with Wiseman.

Sixers Sign Saben Lee To Two-Way Deal

NOVEMBER 23: The Sixers have officially signed Lee and waived Foster, the team confirmed today in a press release.

NOVEMBER 22: The Sixers will sign point guard Saben Lee to a two-way deal, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps tweets.

Philadelphia waive Michael Foster Jr. to clear a spot for Lee, Bontemps adds. The hope is that he’ll clear waivers and join the 76ers’ G League team, the Delaware Blue Coats.

Lee spent the last two seasons with the Pistons after being the 38th pick of the 2020 draft. He appeared in 85 games for Detroit, averaging 5.6 points, 2.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per contest, with a shooting line of .434/.265/.731.

Lee was included in the preseason trade with the Jazz that landed Bojan Bogdanovic in Detroit. He failed to make the Jazz’s opening night roster and was waived. He then signed with Phoenix and was quickly waived; the Raptors signed and waived him in mid-October.

Toronto gave Lee an Exhibit 10 contract and he has played for Raptors 905, their G League team, so far this season. Lee was averaging 21.7 points and 6.0 assists in seven G League appearances.

Foster, a rookie forward, had his Exhibit 10 contract converted into a two-way deal in mid-October. He made a brief appearance in Tuesday’s win over the Nets. Foster played for the G League Ignite last season.

Lee provides some depth at the point guard spot with Tyrese Maxey sidelined by a foot fracture and James Harden out due to a foot strain.

Clippers In Market For Additional Frontcourt Depth

The Clippers‘ front office and head coach Tyronn Lue are “aligned” on the need for additional frontcourt depth behind center Ivica Zubac, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Zubac is currently the only traditional center on the Clippers’ 15-man roster, so the team has been leaning on forwards like Nicolas Batum and Marcus Morris to spend time at the five in small-ball lineups. Two-way big man Moses Brown is also an option in the middle, but Los Angeles only appears comfortable deploying him sparingly.

As Fischer notes, Myles Turner and Jakob Poeltl are the two most intriguing centers who are in contract years and are considered potential trade candidates — a report last week stated that Turner has drawn interest from the Clippers. However, Fischer believes L.A. may desire a more “switchable” center who can be used in “zippier” lineups without resorting to full-fledged small ball.

Backup centers who can capably switch onto and defend guards or forwards aren’t exactly a dime a dozen, so it’s unclear which players around the NBA the Clippers might be monitoring.

Last week’s report on Turner suggested that the Clippers might look to trade from their wing depth in a deal for a center. Batum and Robert Covington are among the wings whose playing time has dipped this season as the club attempts to find minutes for several vets who are accustomed to playing regular rotation roles. Minutes will be even harder to come by for the players further down the depth chart if and when Kawhi Leonard starts playing regularly, so a consolidation trade using a forward or two would make sense.

The Clippers have dealt away their 2024 and 2026 first-round picks, but could include their 2028 or 2029 first-rounder in a trade offer. They also have a $9.7MM trade exception that could come in handy if they’re eyeing a player earning less than the mid-level.