Magic Rookie Jalen Suggs Suffers Fractured Thumb

Magic guard Jalen Suggs has suffered a fractured right thumb, according to the team’s PR department (Twitter link). He’ll be out for an extended period of time.

Suggs was averaging 12.1 PPG, 3.5 APG and 3.4 RPG in his rookie campaign. The former Gonzaga All-American was the No. 5 pick in the draft. Suggs suffered the injury at Philadelphia on Monday, a game in which he scored 17 points and handed out five assists in 29 minutes. The injury occurred during the fourth quarter.

He’ll return to Orlando to be reevaluated before a clear timetable can be determined, but he’s expected to miss several weeks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Orlando’s other starting guard, Cole Anthony, has been sidelined since November 19 due to an ankle injury. Michael Carter-Williams has also been dealing with an ankle injury. That leaves R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Mychal Mulder as the remaining backcourt options.

Suggs suffered an injury to his left thumb during Summer League action. It’s been a rough start for many of the league’s top rookies, as Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jonathan Kuminga have all missed games due to various injuries.

Joe Harris Undergoes Ankle Surgery, Likely Out 4-8 Weeks

6:58pm: Harris had surgery on Monday to remove a loose body in the ankle, the team announced in a press release.

12:53pm: Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris will undergo surgery on his left ankle on Monday afternoon, head coach Steve Nash told reporters today (Twitter link via Kristian Winfield of The New York Daily News).

As Nash explained today, there’s a bone particle stuck in Harris’ ankle and the team decided the best course of action is to remove it. The hope is that the surgery will allow Harris to put the issue behind him for good once it has healed (Twitter links via Winfield).

The procedure is expected to sideline Harris for the next four-to-eight weeks, agent Mark Bartelstein tells ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter links). Woj adds that there’s optimism Harris will be able to return on the shorter end of that timeline.

Harris has already missed Brooklyn’s last six games with what the team was calling a left ankle sprain. He sustained the injury on November 14 vs. Oklahoma City. Heading into that game, the 30-year-old had been averaging 11.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG with an impressive .465 3PT% in 13 contests (31.5 MPG).

The Nets are now down two starters, with Kyrie Irving also unavailable until he takes the COVID-19 vaccine or New York City lifts its mandate. The team has held its own despite dealing with absences though and currently leads the East with a 14-6 record.

DeAndre’ Bembry, who has started Brooklyn’s last four games, and rookie Cameron Thomas are among the players who have earned increased roles with Harris on the shelf.

Knicks Pull Kemba Walker From Rotation

The Knicks are removing point guard Kemba Walker from both the starting lineup and their regular rotation, head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters on Monday (Twitter link via Fred Katz of The Athletic).

It’s unclear whether the change will be a short-term or long-term move, but Thibodeau said Walker is out of the rotation “as of right now.” Alec Burks will take over as the team’s starting point guard for the foreseeable future, according to Thibs (Twitter link via Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News).

The Knicks’ signing of Walker to a two-year, $18MM deal in the offseason after he was bought out by Oklahoma City was viewed as one of the summer’s highest-upside deals. After all, Walker had been a maximum-salary player and wasn’t far removed from making four consecutive All-Star teams.

However, while Walker’s .413 3PT% to date is a career high, he has failed to recapture his All-Star form, averaging a modest 11.7 PPG and 3.1 APG in 18 games (24.5 MPG). The 31-year-old, who has battled knee issues in recent years, has had his minutes managed for health reasons and has been a liability on the defensive end.

The Knicks have a 116.3 defensive rating and a -13.3 net rating with Walker on the court, compared to a 99.0 defensive rating and +11.2 net rating when he sits. Kemba isn’t the only New York starter who has struggled and isn’t entirely to blame for those numbers, but given how well Burks has played this season, a change at point guard made sense for the club.

Having signed a new three-year, $30MM contract with the Knicks in the offseason, Burks has averaged 10.5 PPG on .426/.451/.800 shooting in 20 games (22.3 MPG) so far in 2021/22 and has been a more reliable presence on defense. The team has a +5.2 net rating in his minutes.

Michael Porter Jr. Undergoing Back Surgery, Expected To Miss Rest Of Season

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is undergoing surgery on his lower back and will be ruled out indefinitely, agent Mark Bartelstein tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter links). The procedure is expected to take place on Wednesday.

While Wojnarowski says a timeline for Porter’s return will be determined after the surgery, Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) reports that the 23-year-old is expected to miss the rest of the 2021/22 season.

A recent report indicated that Porter, who is dealing with a nerve issue in his back, wanted to avoid going under the knife again. However, Charania says Porter and the team ultimately decided to take a “big-picture approach” to his health, with the young forward’s five-year, maximum-salary extension set to go into effect in 2022/23.

Porter previously underwent two surgeries on his back — one during his first and only college season, and the other prior to his rookie season in 2018, which delayed his NBA debut by a year.

Those back issues caused his draft stock to drop, allowing the Nuggets to nab him with the No. 14 overall pick in ’18. Denver appeared to be reaping the benefits of rolling the dice on Porter when he enjoyed a breakout season in 2020/21, averaging 19.0 PPG and 7.3 RPG on .542/.445/.791 shooting in 61 games (31.3 MPG).

However, MPJ battled back pain in his first nine games this season before the injury forced him to the sidelines — he posted just 9.9 PPG and 6.6 RPG on .359/.308/.556 shooting in 29.4 minutes per contest. Having already invested significant money in the former Missouri Tiger, the Nuggets will be counting on him to make a full recovery, and the expectation is that will happen, according to Wojnarowski.

The injury-plagued Nuggets will now be without three key players for the foreseeable future. Jamal Murray continues to recover from a torn ACL he suffered in the spring, while PJ Dozier recently sustained a torn ACL of his own. Nikola Jokic has also recently missed time with a wrist ailment, though he’s expected to return to action soon.

Denver will likely apply for a disabled player exception in the wake of Porter’s surgery. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), a DPE would be worth about $2.6MM (half of Porter’s 2021/22 salary) and the Nuggets are only currently about $1.9MM below the tax line, without an open roster spot, so its usefulness would be limited.

Christian Wood Expected To Generate Significant Trade Interest

There’s an expectation around the NBA that Rockets big man Christian Wood will generate “significant” trade interest this season, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who adds that people around the league believe Houston will consider offers.

Wood, 26, parlayed a strong 2019/20 season in Detroit into a three-year, $41MM deal with the Rockets during the 2020 offseason. He has outperformed that deal so far, averaging 19.5 PPG and 10.2 RPG on .499/.362/.612 shooting in 60 games (32.5 MPG) in Houston. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent in 2023.

As O’Connor notes, one reason Wood chose to sign with the Rockets a year ago was to play with James Harden, which obviously didn’t last long. That doesn’t necessarily mean Wood wants out now, but he’d be more valuable to a playoff team than a rebuilding club. Rival executives have wondered whether Houston will be motivated to trade its veteran bigs – Wood and/or Daniel Theis – in order to open up more minutes for promising rookie Alperen Sengun, O’Connor writes.

I’d be a little surprised if the Rockets look to move Theis this season — the team signed him to a long-term deal in August after having drafted Sengun and fully committed to the rebuild, so he doesn’t fall into the same category as vets like Wood, John Wall, and Eric Gordon, who were on the roster before Harden was dealt. For what it’s worth, O’Connor says Theis will receive “mild” trade interest from teams in need of a reliable backup center.

While it remains to be seen whether either Wood or Theis will be dealt, the 3-16 Rockets should certainly be sellers at the February deadline — Wall, Gordon, D.J. Augustin, and Danuel House are among the other vets who could be shopped.

Hawks’ Bogdanovic Out At Least Two Weeks With Ankle Sprain

After undergoing an MRI on Sunday, Hawks wing Bogdan Bogdanovic has been diagnosed with a sprained right ankle, the team announced (via Twitter). According to the announcement, Bogdanovic will undergo a period of rest and rehabilitation and will be reevaluated in about two weeks.

Bogdanovic, who sustained the injury during the second quarter of Atlanta’s loss to New York on Saturday, has started all 20 games he has played this season, averaging 11.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, and 2.5 APG on .447/.391/.786 shooting in 28.2 minutes per contest.

Meanwhile, Cam Reddish, who also had to exit Saturday’s game in the second quarter due to a left wrist sprain, hasn’t been given a recovery timeline. According to the Hawks (via Twitter), he’s considered day-to-day for now and his status will be determined by how the injury responds to daily treatment.

With Bogdanovic unavailable, Solomon Hill joined the starting five to begin the second half of Saturday’s loss. Reserves like Hill, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, and Lou Williams could take on larger roles with Bogdanovic and Reddish sidelined. The Hawks also may lean more heavily on starting wing Kevin Huerter — his 38 minutes on Saturday represented his second-highest total this season.

Ja Morant To Miss Multiple Weeks

Grizzlies star Ja Morant will be re-evaluated in “a few weeks” after suffering a knee sprain during Friday’s game, head coach Taylor Jenkins said, according to Evan Barnes of The Commerical Appeal (Twitter link).

As previously relayed, Morant avoided a serious injury and is expected to make a full recovery. Memphis will still be without its best player for several more games, meaning guards Tyus Jones and De’Anthony Melton will likely see increased minutes. The team started Jones against Sacramento on Sunday.

After sustaining the injury, Morant was able to return to the club’s bench without crutches. He underwent an MRI later that night to confirm a knee sprain, but an official timetable still hasn’t been issued by the Grizzlies.

Morant was in the midst of an electric season, averaging 24.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game on 48% shooting. Memphis entered Sunday’s game with a 9-10 record, good for the ninth-best in the Western Conference.

Warriors Assign Klay Thompson, James Wiseman To G League Affiliate

The Warriors have assigned Klay Thompson and James Wiseman to the team’s G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, the club announced on social media.

Thompson, who has missed the past two seasons due to a torn ACL and torn Achilles, will practice with Santa Cruz on Sunday. Joining the club’s G League affiliate is the latest step in his lengthy recovery.

Wiseman underwent surgery to repair a torn right meniscus in April. Golden State cleared him to participate in full team practices earlier in the month, but he has yet to play in a game this season. He averaged 11.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 21.4 minutes in 39 games during the 2021/22 campaign.

Despite Thompson and Wiseman being sidelined, the Warriors have opened the season with an impressive 17-2 record. Guards Jordan Poole and Damion Lee have helped make up for Thompson’s absence, while big men Kevon Looney and Nemanja Bjelica have impressed during their respective minutes.

DeMarcus Cousins Signing Non-Guaranteed Deal With Bucks

Former All-Star DeMarcus Cousins is signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Bucks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Cousins, 31, split time with the Rockets and Clippers last season, averaging a combined 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 1.9 APG in just 17.4 MPG across 41 games (11 starts).

“Boogie” is a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA member. He spent his prime seasons with the Kings and Pelicans before suffering a series of devastating leg injuries — first a torn Achilles tendon with the Pelicans, then a torn quad with the Warriors, and finally a torn ACL that sidelined him for the entire 2019/20 season.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN notes (via Twitter) that Cousins stayed in shape while awaiting an opportunity, and the Bucks were one of a handful of teams to have an open roster spot.

The Bucks have dealt with a series of injuries to open their title defense. Center Brook Lopez (lower back) has played just one game for the team, while Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Bobby Portis all missed significant time. Donte DiVincenzo has yet to suit up this season after undergoing left ankle surgery in June.

Cousins could see action immediately with the frontcourt depth thin at the moment. He was productive in limited minutes last season and Milwaukee could use his size and toughness off the bench. The Bucks have won six games in a row and sit with a 12-8 record after 20 games.

Goran Dragic Away From Raptors For Personal Matter

Raptors guard Goran Dragic will be away from the team for an undetermined period of time to attend to a personal matter, the team announced.

The former All-Star has played just five games for Toronto after being included in the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade with Miami in the offseason.

Here is the full statement from general manager Bobby Webster:

Goran is taking some time away from the team, with our full support, to manage a personal matter. He has been a complete professional in the time that he has been with the Raptors – Goran has been a great mentor to our younger players and a valued teammate for our veterans.

He will continue to work out and stay in shape during his time away. There is no definite timeline for this process, and we will advise updates as appropriate. Goran has the backing of Masai [Ujiri], Nick [Nurse] and the entire organization, and we wish him nothing but the best.

Michael Grange of tweets that this could be a long-term situation, with Dragic staying in Slovenia to attend to the personal matter until a trade or buyout agreement is reached.

Dragic, 35, holds career averages of 13.9 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.8 assists over 872 games (27.9 MPG). He averaged 8.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in the five games with the Raptors (18.0 MPG).