Nikola Jokic

Northwest Notes: Jokic, MPJ, Exum, Wolves

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who earned All-NBA First Team honors this season, expects to play for Serbia this summer in the 2019 FIBA World Cup and is confident the club can win a medal, as he tells Serbian outlet Tanjug (translation via Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Jokic wasn’t on Serbia’s roster for the 2014 World Cup, but he did join the squad for the 2016 Olympics. In both instances, Serbia lost the championship game to Team USA and took home silver medals.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Nuggets are attempting to balance optimism and caution when it comes to 2018 first-rounder Michael Porter Jr., who is expected to make his professional debut in Summer League play this July, writes Alex Labidou of Nuggets.com.
  • Injured Jazz point guard Dante Exum is trying to focus on the positives as he goes through another rehab process, per Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com. “It’s frustrating to go into an offseason injured,” said Exum, who underwent knee surgery in March. “But I’ve thrown a lot of my energy and time into planning what my offseason will look like so I can be the best player I can be coming out of it.”
  • After participating in Houston’s free agent minicamp this week, veteran guard Xavier Munford will attend a similar camp hosted by the Timberwolves during the first week of June, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Munford last played in the NBA in 2017/18, when he appeared in six games for Milwaukee.
  • Sid Hartman of Star Tribune examines the Timberwolves‘ decision to retain head coach Ryan Saunders, including how big a factor Glen Taylor‘s support of Saunders was.

NBA Announces 2018/19 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2018/19 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Antetokounmpo and Harden scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

As we detailed in March, this year’s All-NBA selections have significant financial implications for several players. Here’s a breakdown of how several All-NBA candidates were impacted:

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Bucks, which he can sign in 2020. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by five years.
  • Damian Lillard is now eligible for a super-max extension with the Trail Blazers, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2021/22 and would extend his contract by four years.
  • Kemba Walker is now eligible for a super-max contract with the Hornets, which he can sign in 2019. It would start at 35% of the cap in 2019/20 and would be for five years.
  • Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Nikola Vucevic, and other super-max candidates who didn’t earn All-NBA honors aren’t eligible for super-max contracts (or a super-max extension, in Beal’s case). Thompson’s and Vucevic’s maximum contracts this summer would start at 30% of the cap.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ extension with the Timberwolves, which goes into effect in 2019/20, will start at 25% of the cap, rather than 30%, because he didn’t earn All-NBA honors.

Beal and Thompson received the most All-NBA votes of any guards who missed out on the All-NBA teams, receiving 34 and 27 points respectively. Sixers guard Ben Simmons got seven points, while no other guards had more than four.

LaMarcus Aldridge (Spurs) and Danilo Gallinari (Clippers) were the runners-up at forward, receiving 17 and seven points, respectively. Pascal Siakam (Raptors) had four points, while no other forwards had more than three.

At center, Towns received 20 points, followed by Vucevic at four and Pistons center Andre Drummond with three.

Interestingly, the 15 players named to the All-NBA teams for 2018/19 were the same 15 players that Hoops Rumors readers voted for in our end-of-season All-NBA polls last month. The only differences were George swapping places with Durant and Irving flipping spots with Westbrook.

The full and official All-NBA voting results can be found right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Donovan, Rosas, Murray

Despite the fact that he’s already spent five seasons at the helm of the Thunder and that his All-Star dynamic duo was just dispatched in five games by the Trail Blazers, head coach Billy Donovan is expected to return to his post in 2019/20.

That patience in an era of scapegoating and quick fixes, Brett Dawson of The Athletic writes, could be attributed to general manager Sam Presti‘s tendency to take a long view on things.

Dawson writes about Donovan’s impact in Oklahoma City over the past few seasons, suggesting that he’s earned the faith of the organization and this is one organization in particular that isn’t afraid to see things through.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves CEO Ethan Casson has nothing but high praise for recent franchise hire Gersson Rosas, Chris Hine of the Minnesota Star Tribune writes. Rosas impressed the organization with a detailed vision not only for a generic basketball franchise but for the Timberwolves in particular. Beyond the team’s current roster, Rosas had a deep understanding of the team’s history and marketplace.
  • Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic logged a record-breaking 65 minutes played in Denver’s four-overtime loss to the Trail Blazers Friday night. Nuggets head coach Michael Malone told the media afterward that he apologized for giving his center such a heavy work load. Jokic averaged 31.3 minutes per game for Denver this season.
  • Despite struggles from the field in his first playoff experience, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is figuring out the difference between regular and playoff basketball, Sean Keeler of The Denver Post writes.

Terry Stotts Says Jokic Elbow Was “Uncalled For”

The Trail Blazers are upset about an elbow from Nuggets center Nikola Jokic in Friday’s four-overtime game that aggravated Enes Kanter‘s left shoulder injury, relays Royce Young of ESPN. Kanter said his shoulder was separated “more” during the game and blames a shot from Jokic that he posted on social media following the game (Twitter link).

Portland coach Terry Stotts addressed the situation today, saying it was “uncalled for” and he “certainly didn’t approve of it.” He isn’t sure if the NBA plans to review the play for possible disciplinary action against Jokic. Technical or flagrant fouls can be handed out retroactively, Young notes.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone defended his star center and disagreed with Stotts’ view of the incident.

“Normal play,” Malone said. “I think Terry is off base there. Personally, I don’t think it was anything malicious. Just like some of their screens in the first two games, I don’t think there was anything malicious to it — with Kanter getting tossed into Torrey Craig. This is the playoffs. We’re all big boys, let’s go out and play the game accordingly.

“I have known Nikola Jokic for four years. He doesn’t have that kind of personality, he doesn’t have that DNA gene where he’s going to go out there and make non-basketball plays and try to hurt anybody or do anything that is beyond the limits of what is sportsmanship and what is not sportsmanship. So I would definitely not agree with Terry’s assessment.”

Kanter separated his shoulder in the final game of the first-round series against the Thunder. Despite playing in pain, he logged 56 minutes last night and posted 18 points and 15 rebounds.

Kanter said after the game that he had to tuck his left arm in his jersey because he was unable to lift it. He received treatment from the team’s medical staff today and his status for tomorrow’s Game 4 remains uncertain.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Saunders, Layden, Donovan

The Nuggets wrapped up their first playoff series victory in a decade last night, but the franchise would have been well positioned for the future no matter what happened, writes Joe Vardon of The Athletic.

Franchise cornerstone Nikola Jokic is signed through the 2022/23 season, while young star Jamal Murray remains on his rookie contract. Denver has a $30MM option for next year on Paul Millsap and can get nearly $20MM under the cap by declining it. They hold three trade exceptions totaling roughly $33MM that don’t expire until July, and first-round pick Michael Porter Jr. is expected to be ready next year after missing this season because of back surgery.

“What gets me really excited is when I think about what this team has in the next couple of years,” coach Michael Malone said. “I think we have a great window that we’re just beginning with this young group, and Malik (Beasley), Jamal, all of our young guys are a big part of that.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders and GM Scott Layden have been meeting with prospective candidates for the president of basketball operations job and both seem in position to return next season, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Layden, who was rumored to be on thin ice after the Jimmy Butler fiasco, solidified his relationship with owner Glen Taylor after Tom Thibodeau was fired, Krawczynski adds. Sanders is still classified as an interim coach, but he has the full support of star center Karl-Anthony Towns and virtually all the players.
  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan didn’t offer any clues about his future with the franchise during this week’s exit interviews, relays Clay Horning of The Norman Transcript. “For me, it’s just kind of business as usual,” said Donovan, who is coming off his third straight first-round playoff ouster. “(GM) Sam (Presti) and I had a chance to visit a little bit on the plane yesterday on the way back, just talking about the next couple of days and getting together. So, I’m sure he and I will get a chance to sit down as some of this stuff slows down and talk in detail and (I) look forward to that.”
  • Thunder rookie Deonte Burton thinks he benefited greatly from the time he spent in the G League, relays Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Burton started the season as a two-way player before signing a multi-year contract in March. “G League is good talent, too,” he said. “Like a lot, a lot more talent than people think.”

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Jokic, Millsap, Wolves

While teammate Damian Lillard says he’s mentally preparing for C.J. McCollum to miss most or all of the rest of the regular season with a knee injury, McCollum isn’t ready to specify a target date or even to provide a general recovery timeline. As Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com relays, McCollum says he’s simply taking the injury “day by day.”

“What, did they say I’ll be re-evaluated in one week?” McCollum said when asked about a potential return date. “So, just taking it day by day, I don’t have a timeline that I’m going to give you guys, but I think just based on the research, there’s not a lot of injuries like this that have happened. So timeline is different just depending on the age, how well your body heals, what you’ve done before that and kind of where you’re at. But hopefully I can be back sooner than later.”

As I noted on Tuesday, the Trail Blazers are in a competitive race for a top-four seed, but have an easier schedule than several of their Western Conference rivals, meaning they won’t rush McCollum back onto the court. The important thing for Portland is that the 27-year-old is as close to 100% healthy as possible when the postseason gets underway. He’s due to be re-evaluated this weekend.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • When the Nuggets clinched a playoff spot earlier this week, Nikola Jokic and Paul Millsap locked in bonuses worth $431K and $150K respectively, according to Bobby Marks of ESPN.com, who adds (via Twitter) that both players will receive additional bonuses if Denver wins a postseason series. As Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports observes (via Twitter), Jokic and Millsap will have slightly higher cap hits next season now that those incentives shift from “unlikely” to “likely.”
  • Cameron Reynolds‘ new multiyear deal with Minnesota is actually a three-year contract that runs through 2020/21, tweets Keith Smith. That means the Timberwolves used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Reynolds. The deal still isn’t expected to include much – if any – guaranteed money beyond this season.
  • The Timberwolves‘ playoff hopes have been extinguished, but there’s still plenty to watch in Minnesota in the coming weeks, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Most pressingly, it remains to be seen who will be making the personnel decisions for the club this offseason or coaching the team next fall, Robson notes.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Jokic, Jazz, Exum

Thunder star Russell Westbrook will be suspended one game after picking up his 16th technical foul of the season on Saturday, the league announced today. Westbrook will serve his one-game suspension on Monday night against the Heat.

League rules mandate that any player who receives his 16th technical foul receive a one-game suspension and a $5,000 fine. For Westbrook, every other technical foul between now and the end of the regular season will result in another one-game suspension.

Westbrook, known as a highly expressive player during his 11 NBA seasons, was upset over a questionable no-call in the team’s game against Golden State. Westbrook attacked the basket and drew some contact from Klay Thompson, receiving a technical shortly afterward.

The Thunder are battling for a high playoff seed in the Western Conference, currently leading the No. 6 Spurs by one game and trailing the No. 4 Blazers by a half-game. Westbrook’s poor shooting could’ve played a role in his frustration on Saturday, with the 30-year-old scoring just seven points on 2-for-16 shooting.

In addition to his fine, Westbrook will lose $245,891 in salary by sitting Monday’s game, ESPN’s Royce Young tweets. The Thunder will save $522,518 toward the luxury tax.

There’s more from the Northwest Division today:

  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was ejected Saturday after accruing two technical fouls, expressing his frustration to the media after the game. “It’s extremely hard because it’s not equal for everybody,” Jokic said, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Jokic was adamant that he didn’t say anything to referee Tony Brothers, who assessed Jokic his second technical. “I didn’t say nothing, I don’t know what he was talking (about).”
  • Jazz owner Gail Miller sent an important message to Utah fans following the incident with Russell Westbrook and a disruptive fan last week, sharing the importance of keeping a respectful atmosphere while attending home games. “We do not permit hate speech, racism, sexism or homophobia,” Miller said as part of a larger statement. “We also do not allow disruptive behavior, including bullying, foul or abusive language, or obscene gestures. Violators may be subject to ejection and other penalties, including a lifetime ban.”
  • Jazz players have rallied around Dante Exum after the 23-year-old suffered yet another injury last week. Exum, who already missed 25 straight games due to injury this year, suffered a torn patellar tendon in his right knee and will be out indefinitely. “They’ve been very supportive,” Exum said, as relayed by Aaron Falk of Jazz.com. “Just every day they wanted to make sure I was right.” Exum, the No. 5 pick in 2014’s draft, has only appeared in 42 games with the team this season.

LeBron, Giannis Draft 2019 All-Star Teams

LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo drafted their teams for the 2019 All-Star Game on Thursday, officially finalizing the rosters for this year’s contest. James and Antetokounmpo were chosen as captains because they were the All-Star starter from each conference with the most fan votes.

Both James and Antetokounmpo first had to select from a pool of starters, then from a list of reserve players. The starters, which consisted of eight other players, were voted on by the fans, players and media this season. The reserve players were voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches.

James drafted Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard and James Harden as starters, choosing Durant as his first selection. His reserves were Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, LaMarcus Aldridge, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal and Dwyane Wade.

Antetokounmpo drafted Stephen Curry, Joel Embiid, Paul George and Kemba Walker as his starters, selecting Curry with his first pick. He drafted Khris Middleton, Nikola Jokic, Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, D’Angelo Russell, Nikola Vucevic, Kyle Lowry and Dirk Nowitzki as his reserves.

James later traded Westbrook to Team Giannis in exchange for Simmons, making an effort to repair the relationship of Westbrook and Embiid.

The 68th NBA All-Star Game is set to commence on February 17 at Spectrum Center, featuring 26 of the best basketball players in the world.

One-Game Suspension For Nikola Jokic

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has received a one-game suspension for leaving the team’s bench area during an altercation, the NBA announced on Twitter.

The incident took place during Wednesday’s skirmish between Denver’s Mason Plumlee and Utah’s Derrick Favors. Plumlee was fined $25K and Favors was docked $15K, according to a statement from the league. Both players received technical fouls and were ejected.

Jokic will serve his suspension during tonight’s game against the Suns. He emerged as an MVP candidate this season, averaging career highs in points (19.8), rebounds (10.3) and assists (7.7) while leading Denver to the second-best record in the West.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Barton, Jokic, Westbrook

The Timberwolves are back to where they started before the first Jimmy Butler trade with a young nucleus built around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, writes Chip Scoggins of The Star-Tribune. Coach/executive Tom Thibodeau changed the blueprint in Minnesota last year when he acquired Butler from the Bulls in hopes of finding a veteran leader who could vault the team to the top of the West. Now the Wolves are back to square one, only instead of having Zach LaVine, who was sent to Chicago in the Butler deal along with a draft pick that became Lauri Markkanen, their core will include Dario Saric and Robert Covington.

Thibodeau has reduced job security after the Butler incident, and Scoggins suggests his first move should be to try to repair relationships within the organization. He let Butler virtually run the team over the past two months — catering to his outrageous behavior in an effort to convince him to stay —  which created dissension in the locker room that won’t be easy to erase.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets guard Will Barton is making progress in his rehab after surgery to repair core and hip muscle injuries, according to an Associated Press story. There’s still no timetable for his return, but Barton said he’s “getting stronger every day.” Team doctors planned to re-evaluate his progress six weeks after the October 23 procedure, so his comeback could start in early December. Barton said strengthening core muscles is the focus of his rehab work.
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone defended center Nikola Jokic, who was fined $25K this week for using “derogatory and offensive language” in a postgame interview, relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post“There’s so many things being said about this poor kid, and I understand some of it, but those of us who know him, like most people in this hallway, give the kid a break,” Malone said. “He made a mistake, he’s paying for it, get off his back a little bit. He’s a great kid. He loves everybody, and he meant no offense to anybody.”
  • The Thunder are citing progress for Russell Westbrook, who is recovering a a sprained left ankle he suffered in Monday’s game, writes Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. With a packed schedule this week, OKC hasn’t had time to fit in a practice to fully evaluate Westbrook’s condition. “He’s got to get out there, he’s got to practice, move and cut and do those things, so that’s going to take a little bit of time,” coach Billy Donovan said at Saturday’s shootaround.