Nickeil Alexander-Walker

And-Ones: BIG3, Canada, Hezonja, Coaches

Ty Lawson, Corey Brewer, Jordan Crawford, Jonathon Simmons, Norris Cole, Festus Ezeli, and Jordan Hill are among the many former NBA players whose names are in the BIG3 draft pool for the 2022 season, per the league’s official website.

The BIG3 will hold its draft on Wednesday evening in Los Angeles as it gears up for the coming season. As we previously relayed, the first games of 2022 are scheduled for June 18 and this will be the first year in which the BIG3 holds an All-Star Game.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

Northwest Notes: Vanderbilt, Murray, Barton, Alexander-Walker

Jarred Vanderbilt played 25 minutes on Wednesday, but the Timberwolves forward is still bothered by a left quad contusion, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune tweets. Head coach Chris Finch said Vanderbilt, who is listed as questionable to play on Saturday, is closer to 70% than 100% and he’ll remain on a minutes restriction.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray‘s practice with the G League Grand Rapids included some live work but he still must overcome some hurdles before he makes his season debut, coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Nuggets guard was assigned to Grand Rapids early this week and is expected to report back to the NBA team on Saturday.
  • Nuggets swingman Will Barton has missed opportunities to play in the postseason due to injuries and he’s hopeful that will change next month, Singer writes“That’s really all my focus is on is just staying healthy, trying to play good basketball and getting ready for the playoffs – something I’ve been looking forward to my whole career,” he said. “And I haven’t been able to be in there healthy. Now I have the chance if everything keeps going well.” Barton, who is signed through next season, is averaging 14.7, 4.9 RPG and a career-best 3.8 APG.
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker has looked sharp while getting extended playing time this week, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Alexander-Walker had 13 points and five assists against the Clippers on Friday after a 16-point outing against Chicago. The Jazz also believe Alexander-Walker, who is eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason, can be a defensive factor off the bench.

Jazz Notes: Deadline, Alexander-Walker, House

Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said he looked at many possibilities ahead of Thursday’s trade deadline, but ultimately decided that trading for Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Juan Hernangomez was the best move for the group, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Zanik still believes Utah can compete for a title this season, when healthy and connected.

I feel really confident in the amount of information we knew about the market and what was going on. And every opportunity that came our way, we were able to look at and understand and make really good decisions from where we stand as a team,” Zanik told reporters. “We’re a very competitive team. When we’re healthy, when we’re connected, we have a chance to contend for a title. … I’m excited about this group. We want to make a bet on this group. We have proof of concept with this group.”

Alexander-Walker has been very inconsistent to this point in his career, but has flashed upside at times as a versatile shot-creator. As a third-year former first-round pick, he’s eligible for a rookie scale extension this summer. If the sides can’t come to an agreement, he’ll become a restricted free agent in 2023, if Utah tenders him a qualifying offer. The possibility of team control on a young player appealed to the club, Zanik said.

We look at those opportunities whatever our timeline, in terms of the competitiveness of our team, whether we’re a young, rebuilding team, or a playoff-competitive team, or we’re trying to be a championship-contending team,” Zanik said. “It’s not just, ‘What are we doing for the next four months? What are we doing for the next year?’ Nickeil has a chance to be here on a multiyear timeline, and you always have to have a chance to add some of those guys.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • When asked by a reporter if the team considered trading a future first-round pick, Zanik said everything was on the table to improve the team, but the opportunity cost wasn’t worth it with the deals that were available, as Walden relays. “There’s always a value proposition of the assets that you have, and that goes for future picks. … This trade deadline window, we investigated every possible situation and the value coming back: Can it make us better? Can it definitively make us better? That’s a high bar with this group because we’re really good,” Zanik said. “… There was just not anything definitive that reached a bar, whether using a future first or not.”
  • Alexander-Walker spoke to coach Quin Snyder about his role with the team, and he recognizes that his role will be different with Utah than it was in New Orleans, per Walden. “Really helping defend, being a good perimeter defender. Giving that good spark off the bench defensively, and allowing the offensive end to come,” Alexander-Walker said. “The team’s full of great guards and All-Stars, so my role is not to be that spark plug of scoring.”
  • Zanik said Danuel House brings a lot to the table for the Jazz, which is why the team opted to sign him to a contract for the remainder of the season after multiple 10-day deals, as Ryan McDonald and Sarah Todd of The Desert News relay. “His activity level, the ability to defend, his ability to make a shot — we wanted to give him a shot and he has integrated seamlessly within this group … when he was still available and we got through the deadline, it made sense. He’s done well with his opportunity and we’d like to see it continue,” Zanik said.

Northwest Notes: Ja. Green, Beasley, Jazz, Muscala

Nuggets forward JaMychal Green, one of the team’s top remaining trade candidates, showed his value on Tuesday night, pouring in 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting in just 17 minutes, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Green and his $8.2MM cap hit could be necessary if Denver makes a move for a small forward, but the veteran suggested after Tuesday’s game that he’s not worried about being the subject of trade rumors.

“I’m still getting paid, man, first and the 15th,” Green said with a laugh, according to Singer.

Of course, Green has reason not to be concerned. The contract he signed in the offseason gives him the ability to veto a trade, and Singer has reported that the 31-year-old likely wouldn’t approve a move to a non-contender. That will increase the level of difficulty for the Nuggets as they consider their options today.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves wing Malik Beasley, the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, said this week that his preference would be to stay in Minnesota. I’m just working hard and doing what I gotta do, whether I’m here or anywhere else,” Beasley said (Twitter link via Dane Moore). “I’d rather be here, but it’s a business, so you can never know what can happen.”
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic takes a look at how Nickeil Alexander-Walker will fit in with the Jazz, writing that the third-year guard represents a low-risk, high-reward addition to the roster. Utah isn’t necessarily done dealing, but has been reluctant to add a first-round pick to its trade offers, according to Jones, who adds that it remains to be seen whether newly-acquired forward Juan Hernangomez will remain on the roster for the rest of the season.
  • Thunder big man Mike Muscala will be sidelined through the All-Star break due to a right ankle injury, per head coach Mark Daigneault (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Muscala is knocking down 42.9% of his threes this year and could theoretically be a trade candidate, but his ankle issue will hurt his value and Oklahoma City seems to like having him around anyway. Muscala has been in OKC since 2019.

Jazz Acquire Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Juan Hernangomez In Three-Team Trade

7:54pm: The three-team trade is now official, the Jazz, Blazers and Spurs announced.


2:24pm: The Jazz are sending Memphis’ 2022 second-round pick to Portland in the trade and will send a 2027 second-rounder to San Antonio, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Utah has already traded away its own 2027 second-rounder, so the pick going to San Antonio will likely be the least favorable of Oklahoma City’s, Houston’s, Indiana’s, and Miami’s ’27 second-rounders. The Jazz previously acquired that pick from the Thunder in the 2021 offseason.


1:13pm: The Jazz, Spurs, and Trail Blazers have reached an agreement on a three-team trade, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, Utah will acquire Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Portland and Juan Hernangomez from San Antonio. The Spurs will receive Tomas Satoransky and a second-round pick, while the Blazers will get Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, and a second-round pick. Both second-rounders will be coming from the Jazz, Woj adds (via Twitter).

Even before Ingles went down with a season-ending ACL tear, the Jazz had been exploring the market to see if they could find an upgrade on the wing using his expiring contract and a draft pick. Following the injury, Ingles’ value dipped, and Utah apparently decided none of the options available for the forward’s expiring deal and a first-round pick were worth moving forward on.

Instead, the Jazz will make a move that sees them sacrifice a pair of future second-round selections – rather than a first-rounder – for two healthy players, while reducing their projected tax bill in the process. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) estimates $11MM in tax savings. Utah should also create a new trade exception worth nearly $10MM by taking Hernangomez into an existing TPE.

Alexander-Walker, a third-year guard, had a promising sophomore season in 2020/21, but has struggled to score efficiently this season, averaging 12.8 PPG on .375/.311/.722 shooting in 50 games (26.3 MPG). He has spent most of the season in New Orleans, having been sent to Portland on Monday in the CJ McCollum trade. The 23-year-old has a $3.3MM salary this season and will make $5MM next season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency.

Hernangomez has had some success in the past as a stretch four, but has played poorly in limited minutes this season, putting up 1.1 PPG and 1.7 RPG on 21.2% shooting in 23 games (6.4 MPG). He was traded from Boston to San Antonio in last month’s three-team Bryn Forbes deal. Hernangomez is essentially on an expiring contract, since his $7.4MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

From San Antonio’s perspective, the deal is about picking up an extra draft asset. Neither Hernangomez nor Satoransky is in the team’s long-term plans, so the Spurs were rewarded for their willingness to add to this season’s payroll by taking on a slightly bigger contract (Satoransky has a $10MM expiring salary).

The Blazers, meanwhile, continue to wheel and deal, agreeing to their third trade in the last week. It appears they weren’t particularly high on Alexander-Walker, choosing to flip him right away in a deal that clears another $5MM off their books for 2022/23 and nets them another second-round pick.

Both Ingles and Hughes will be free agents this offseason. Ingles spoke last week about remaining in Utah to rehab his knee injury even if he were traded and said he’d be interested in eventually re-signing with the Jazz (Twitter links via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).

[RELATED: Joe Ingles Has “No Doubt” He’ll Come Back From ACL Tear]

Despite the fact that Satoransky, Alexander-Walker, and Hernangomez were recently traded, the NBA’s rules don’t prevent them from being moved again right away, since they’re not being aggregated with a second player for salary-matching purposes in this deal.

From Portland’s perspective, Satoransky’s salary is being used to match Ingles’ $13MM cap charge, with Alexander-Walker’s salary not required for matching purposes (the Blazers will create a trade exception worth his $3.3MM cap hit), since Hughes can be acquired using a minimum salary exception. San Antonio is trading Hernangomez on his own for Satoransky.

Blazers Trade CJ McCollum, Larry Nance Jr. To Pelicans

8:00pm: The trade is now official, according to press releases from the Pelicans and Trail Blazers. Portland waived Cody Zeller to create room on their 15-man roster for the incoming players.

The full deal looks like this:

  • Pelicans acquire McCollum, Nance, and Snell.
  • Trail Blazers acquire Hart, Satoransky, Alexander-Walker, Louzada, the Pelicans’ protected 2022 first-round pick, the Pelicans’ 2027 second-round pick, and either the Pelicans’ or Blazers’ 2026 second-round pick (whichever is more favorable; New Orleans had previously acquired Portland’s 2026 second-rounder).

“On behalf of the Trail Blazers organization, I want to thank CJ McCollum for the integral role he has played in the success of the franchise over the last nine seasons and for his countless acts of service to the Portland community,” Blazers GM Joe Cronin said in a statement. “CJ has cemented himself in Trail Blazers history with his elite skill level and memorable moments on the court as well as with the work ethic, professionalism and generosity he displays behind the scenes.”


10:10am: The Pelicans and Blazers have reached an agreement, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter links), who reports that Larry Nance Jr. and Tony Snell are also headed to New Orleans in the deal, with Didi Louzada going to Portland.

The Blazers will receive a future first-round pick and two future second-rounder, Wojnarowski adds (via Twitter). As Woj explains (via Twitter), the Blazers will get New Orleans’ 2022 first-round selection if it lands between No. 5 and No. 14. Otherwise, the Blazers will receive a future first-rounder. That Pelicans pick currently projects to be No. 9.

The inclusion of Nance, who has been out for the last month with a knee injury, will give the Pelicans another versatile two-way contributor in the frontcourt while clearing even more multiyear money off the Blazers’ books. The Pels will presumably acquire Nance and his $10.7MM cap hit using a portion of their $17MM trade exception. Nance is under contract for $9.7MM in 2022/23.

Because the Blazers have a full roster, they’ll have to trade or waive a player to accommodate the three-for-four swap.


9:24am: The Pelicans and Trail Blazers are finalizing a deal that will send CJ McCollum to New Orleans, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The package for McCollum will include Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, and draft compensation, per Charania (Twitter link).

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who first reported that the two sides were engaged in serious talks, an agreement technically hasn’t been finalized yet and there’s still work to be done, but Woj says there’s optimism a deal will be completed (Twitter link).

McCollum, 30, has been a Blazer since entering the NBA in 2013, making up one-half of the team’s star backcourt alongside Damian Lillard. Portland made the postseason in each of McCollum’s first eight NBA seasons and got as far as the Western Conference Finals in 2019, but the team has taken a step back this year and is clearly in retooling mode, having sent Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers last Friday.

Trading McCollum will create more future financial flexibility for the Blazers, who are reportedly interested in re-signing free-agents-to-be Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic this offseason. Based on the team’s moves so far, it appears Portland views those players, along with Lillard and Nassir Little, as keepers going forward, though there’s still time for things to change in the 48+ hours before Thursday’s trade deadline.

While we’ll have to wait to see what sort of draft compensation is headed from New Orleans to Portland in the trade, the Blazers did well to acquire a solid two-way player like Hart, and they’ll get a chance to take a flier on Alexander-Walker, who has struggled in 2021/22 after a promising sophomore performance last season.

The Pelicans, meanwhile, are on the verge of adding a talented shot creator to their backcourt as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. New Orleans currently leads Portland by a half-game for the No. 10 seed in the West.

McCollum has been hampered this season by health issues, including a collapsed lung, and his numbers have dipped a little as a result, but he’s still averaging 20.5 PPG and 4.5 APG on .436/.384/.706 shooting in 36 games (35.2 MPG).

McCollum, Brandon Ingram, and Jonas Valanciunas will be the go-to offensive options in New Orleans for the time being. The Pelicans are also hoping to get Zion Williamson back in their lineup at some point in the second half, though it’s been a while since we’ve gotten an update on Williamson’s recovery from foot surgery.

McCollum is owed $30.9MM this season, $33.3MM in 2022/23, and $35.8MM in ’23/24 before becoming eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2024. Hart’s contract is more team-friendly — after earning $12MM this season, he has a $13MM non-guaranteed salary next season, with a $13MM player option (also non-guaranteed) for ’23/24.

Satoransky has an expiring $10MM contract, while Alexander-Walker is earning $3.3MM this season. Alexander-Walker is under contract for $5MM in 2022/23 and will be eligible this offseason for a rookie scale extension. He’ll be a restricted free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t sign a new deal later this year.

The Hawks, Knicks, and Pacers were among the other teams said to have trade interest in McCollum.

Pelicans, Blazers In Serious Talks About CJ McCollum

CJ McCollum is now the biggest name that people around the NBA expect to be dealt before this Thursday’s trade deadline, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who confirms that the Pelicans, Knicks, and Hawks remain in the mix for the Trail Blazers guard. Fischer also reported that the Pacers are among the teams believed to have interest in McCollum.

While a handful of new clubs have been identified this week as potential suitors for McCollum, the Pelicans may still be the frontrunners. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link), New Orleans and Portland are engaged in “serious” discussions about McCollum, with those talks ongoing today.

Sources tell Bleacher Report that the Blazers, after sending Norman Powell to the Clippers, remain focused on creating more financial flexibility going forward and have expressed little interest in taking back future salary in a potential McCollum deal.

As Fischer explains, Portland wants to sign Anfernee Simons to a long-term deal this offseason and appears increasingly unlikely to trade Jusuf Nurkic, since he and the team have mutual interest in working out a new contract this offseason. If they keep McCollum and sign Simons and Nurkic to lucrative new deals, the Blazers would be at risk of going back into luxury tax territory next season.

A Pelicans offer for McCollum seems likely to include some combination of Josh Hart, Tomas Satoransky, Jaxson Hayes, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker, according to Fischer, who notes that New Orleans also still has a surplus of first-round picks available to include as sweeteners, if necessary.

Fischer suggests that a Hawks proposal for McCollum may include Danilo Gallinari and Delon Wright‘s expiring contract. He’s skeptical that the Knicks would be able to make an appealing offer, pointing to Evan Fournier‘s and Julius Randle‘s long-term contracts as pieces Portland wouldn’t want to take back. Theoretically, New York could put together a package of players on shorter-term contracts, such as Alec Burks, Kemba Walker, and Nerlens Noel, but it’s unclear exactly which players the club would be willing to put on the table.

Marc Berman of The New York Post, confirming the Knicks have talked to Portland about McCollum, says New York also had interest in Powell before he was sent to Los Angeles.

Pelicans Rumors: Barnes, Covington, Alexander-Walker, Hayes, Hart

Multiple reports in January indicated that the Pelicans would likely be buyers at the trade deadline, and there are no signs that has changed, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Scotto reports that New Orleans is expressing interest in several trade candidates, including Kings forward Harrison Barnes and Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington.

As previously relayed, the Pelicans have also been “repeatedly linked” to Rockets guard Eric Gordon and are said to be among the teams with interest in Pacers center Domantas Sabonis. Blazers guard CJ McCollum has also been cited by multiple reports as a player firmly on New Orleans’ radar.

Here are a few more updates on the Pelicans:

  • Rival executives believe Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes are available in trade discussions, Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast. Multiple executives tell HoopsHype that the Pelicans are more willing to listen to inquiries about Alexander-Walker than they have been in the past.
  • Noting that Josh Hart is a player worth keeping an eye on because of his strong play this season and his team-friendly contract structure, Scotto says the Hawks are among the teams that are fans of Hart.
  • According to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, the Pelicans are believed to be revisiting a trade concept that they first discussed with the Kings in the 2021 offseason — the hypothetical deal would involve Barnes and Hart.

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Louzada, Rockets, Porzingis

Pelicans 2019 draft selections Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes have disappointed during their NBA tenures thus far, opines Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark argues that reduced roles for Alexander-Walker and Hayes have been a factor in the team’s 11-10 record across its last 21 contests. Alexander-Walker is no longer starting for New Orleans, and Hayes is effectively out of the team’s rotation.

Clark writes that 6’6″ shooting guard Alexander-Walker, drafted with the No. 17 pick out of Virginia Tech, struggles to make the proper choices with the ball, while consistent motivation appears to be an issue for 6’11” center Hayes, the eighth pick out of Texas. The Pelicans could theoretically offer both players contract extensions during the summer of 2022, but that appears unlikely given their play.

There’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans small forward Didi Louzada has officially been available to play since earlier this week for New Orleans after returning from a 25-game suspension, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Louzada was suspended in November for violating the NBA anti-drug policy. Louzada has yet to play since being reactivated.
  • The rebuilding Rockets offer plenty of promise, but have yet to string together much consistency on the court and have a 12-32 record so far. Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take stock of the team’s player development this season. Young point guard Kevin Porter Jr. has struggled to mesh with rookie shooting guard Jalen Green, as both Vecenie considers both to be score-first players. The floor spacing provided by shooting guards Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks helped the team during an injury absence for Green.
  • The solid return of Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis from a stint in the COVID-19 protocols should encourage Dallas fans, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. The big man notched 19 points and seven boards during a 108-92 Dallas victory over the Magic on Saturday night. “I didn’t want to force anything too much,” Porzingis said of his return to game action. “First game back, lungs are going to feel it a little bit.”

COVID-19 Updates: Vogel, Lue, Pelicans, Raptors, Pokusevski

One Los Angeles team is getting its head coach out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols today, while the other has placed their coach in the protocols.

The Lakers got the good news, as Frank Vogel has cleared the protocols and will be back on the sidelines for the team on Friday night vs. Portland, according to Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). David Fizdale will return to his role as Vogel’s lead assistant after serving as the acting head coach for the last 12 days.

Meanwhile, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has entered the protocols, according to an announcement from the team. Lue, the 10th head coach to be affected by the protocols this month, will be replaced in the short term by assistant Brian Shaw.

Here are more protocol-related updates from across the NBA:

  • The Pelicans got Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Naji Marshall, and Jose Alvarado back at practice today following their respective stints in the COVID-19 protocols, tweets Christian Clark of NOLA.com. New Orleans isn’t entirely out of the woods though — center Jonas Valanciunas has entered the protocols, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • According to Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca (Twitter link), Raptors rookie Justin Champagnie has exited the protocols, leaving Isaac Bonga as the only player from the team’s standard roster still affected. However, one of Toronto’s replacement players – D.J. Wilson – has now entered the protocols, Murphy notes.
  • Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski is no longer in the protocols and will be available for Friday’s contest vs. the Knicks, says Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).