Nikola Jokic

And-Ones: Silver, Jordan, MVP Race, Cousins

In addition to addressing the state of the CBA negotiations between the NBA and NBPA during his press conference on Wednesday, commissioner Adam Silver spoke about several other topics, including  rumors that he could replace Bob Iger as Disney’s CEO (“I have no intention of going anywhere,” Silver said) and his meeting earlier this month with Grizzlies guard Ja Morant.

As Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays, Silver also discussed the reports stating that Michael Jordan is in talks to sell a stake in the Hornets, explaining that Jordan expects to still be very much involved in the NBA even if he’s no longer the majority owner in Charlotte.

“One thing Michael has told me is that whether or not that transaction gets done, he will remain governor in the league, technically maybe the alternate governor instead of the governor, so he’ll still stay very involved,” Silver said. “He’d still continue to have an interest in the league.

“I recognize that over time, people’s interests move on to other areas. He’s not living in the market right now, etc. So, completely understandable. But the good news is, I think regardless of his ownership status, he will remain part and parcel of everything that this league continues to do. I have no doubt about that.”

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

  • The 2023 MVP race is tighter than ever in the season’s home stretch, according to the third and final straw poll conducted by Tim Bontemps of ESPN. The 100 media members who submitted five-man ballots to Bontemps picked Sixers center Joel Embiid over Nuggets center Nikola Jokic by a grand total of two points (790 to 788). Jokic actually received more first-place votes (42) than Embiid (40), while Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was also very much in the mix, with the remaining 18 first-place votes and 612 total points.
  • Asked during an appearance on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter audio link) if he has received feedback from NBA teams about why he’s not in the league, free agent center DeMarcus Cousins said he hasn’t gotten a real explanation. “I’ve asked many questions. I’ve reached out to former teams,” Cousins said. “I kind of get sugar-coated answers. I can never really get the raw, honest truth. I’ve struggled with that as well. I would love to get a real answer.”
  • In an Insider-only article for, Kevin Pelton considers the effect a minimum games-played requirement would have on All-NBA voting, noting that players who have earned All-NBA honors while playing fewer than 58 games have often been among the league’s biggest superstars.

And-Ones: Revenue Sharing, Draft Lottery, NCAA Tourney, MVP Race, Broadcasting

The Warriors and Lakers were the biggest contributors in revenue sharing for the 2021/22 season, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Those franchises combined to pay more than $88MM to smaller-market teams last season. A total of 10 teams paid out $163.6MM in revenue sharing. Adding in approximately $240MM in luxury tax payouts, there were 20 teams collecting a total of $404MM.

Topping the list of revenue sharing beneficiaries was the Pacers, who collected $42.2MM. The Nuggets ($35.5M) and Trail Blazers ($32M) rounded out the top three, according to Wojnarowski.

We have more from the basketball world:

  • For all lottery-bound teams, May 16 is the big night. That’s when the lottery will be held, the NBA’s PR department tweets. The G League Elite Camp will be held May 13 and 14, while the draft combine will take place from May 15-21.
  • UCLA guard Amari Bailey, Missouri forward Kobe Brown and Furman forward Jalen Slawson were among the draft prospects who helped their cause in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, as Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report details.
  • While Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic was seemingly pulling away from the pack for the Most Valuable Player award earlier this season, the race has tightened up the last few weeks, ESPN’s Tim Bontemps writes. Joel Embiid has pulled even with Jokic, according to a prominent Las Vegas sportsbook, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is very much in the running due to the Bucks’ surge to the top of the East.
  • The recent turmoil among regional sports networks affects 18 NBA teams, prompting The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov to detail what changes could be coming to the industry and what steps those franchises might take.

Northwest Notes: Braun, Murray, Lillard, Towns

Christian Braun‘s playing time has diminished since the Nuggets signed veteran point guard Reggie Jackson. Braun may warrant a return to the second unit, considering his performance on Sunday against Brooklyn, Harrison Wind of writes. Braun had seven points, three rebounds and an assist in 12 minutes. Braun is also one of the team’s better defenders, Wind adds, and got an endorsement from the team’s franchise player.

“He was good. I actually told him, not just his energy, he actually played really good,” Nuggets center Nikola Jokic said of the first-round pick out of Kansas. “He had good minutes. He was talking on the floor. He was running correct. Energy, you need to have energy when you play, especially him.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jamal Murray departed the Nuggets’ loss to the Nets in the third quarter on Sunday due to left knee soreness. However, a source told the Denver Post’s Mike Singer (Twitter link) that Murray was “fine.”
  • Damian Lillard missed Sunday’s game with calf tightness but coach Chauncey Billups was still stunned by how poorly the Trail Blazers played in a loss to New Orleans, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian writes. Portland trailed by as much as 39 points to the Pelicans. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me either, knowing how pivotal this game is,” he said. “That team was very short-handed. That team was playing on the back-to-back. That team was very desperate.”
  • A good sign for the Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns was spotted in a practice uniform putting up shots at the end of the team’s shootaround in Atlanta on Monday, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets. A calf strain has kept the star big man on the shelf since November 28.

Western Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Jones, Cancar, Nuggets’ Bench

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander pumped in 35 points against New Orleans on Saturday but the Thunder are still playing it cautious with his recent injury. He sat out the second game of a back-to-back against San Antonio on Sunday due to what the team described as abdominal strain injury management, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. The Thunder star guard has exceeded the 30-point mark in his last four outings.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Tre Jones missed the Spurs‘ game against Oklahoma City on Sunday with a non-COVID illness, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News tweets. Jones averaged 13 points and six assists in his last two appearances.
  • Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar was available to play against Brooklyn on Sunday, coach Michael Malone told Mike Singer of the Denver Post (Twitter link). Cancar missed three games with a wrist sprain and also didn’t play against San Antonio on Friday.
  • The Nuggets’ second unit has been unsettled after changes were made during and after the trade deadline, Singer writes. Reggie Jackson has struggled with his shooting (29%) since becoming the backup point guard and Thomas Bryant has been relatively quiet since he was brought in to back up Nikola Jokic. “We’re still trying to figure stuff out,” swingman Bruce Brown said.

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Vucevic, Porter Jr., Micic, Prince

Bulls center Nikola Vucevic doesn’t think Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic should be penalized for being a prior Most Valuable Player award winner when voters make their selections this season, he told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago.

“I think he deserves to get another one, the way he’s playing. I think you take him out of that team, it’s not even close to the same team,” Vučević said of the Nuggets’ franchise player. “The things that he does, you look at his stats, the efficiency he’s playing at, it’s very impressive. And it’s not like he’s putting up numbers and they’re not winning. They’re (25-0) when he has a triple-double. And he plays in a winning way. He makes the right play. He doesn’t force. He doesn’t try to do something just to do it. It’s all within the flow of the game. It’s winning basketball.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets may finally reach the Finals this season in large part because of Michael Porter Jr’s maturity, Harrison Wind of writes. Porter has made himself a force at both ends of the floor after teams previously tried to take advantage of his defensive shortcomings. “I think Michael Porter has been just tremendous on both ends of the floor all season long,” coach Michael Malone said.
  • Serbian guard Vasilije Micic has hired the Wasserman Media Group as his new representative, HoopsHype tweets. Micic, whose draft rights are owned by the Thunder, is a two-time Euroleague Final Four MVP and is considered the best guard in Europe. However, it’s unclear whether the Thunder would have a role for the 29-year-old if he pursued an NBA career next season and he could be traded if he wants to make the jump.
  • Taurean Prince‘s value to the Timberwolves is reflected in their won-loss record, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes.  They are 24-17 when he plays and 10-16 when he doesn’t. “He’s like the ultimate glue guy with a little bit extra spice to it,” guard Mike Conley said. “You think he’s just three-and-D and all of a sudden, coming off pin downs, he’s making plays for guys. He’s being a leader. … He’s got a full game to him that’s really big for our second unit.” Prince has a non-guaranteed salary of $7.455MM next season and Minnesota has to make a decision on his contract status before free agency.

Nikola Jokic, Jalen Brunson Named Players Of The Month

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic and Knicks guard Jalen Brunson have been named the NBA’s players of the month, the league announced (via Twitter).

Jokic, the Western Conference’s winner for the second straight month, averaged 22.6 points, 14.2 rebounds and 10.2 assists on .642/.500/.806 shooting in 11 February games (33.3 MPG). Denver went 9-2 in games he played and got blown out in the one game he missed (four starters were out). The Nuggets are 44-19, the No. 1 seed in the West.

The reigning back-to-back MVP recorded eight triple-doubles last month and now has 24 on the season — the team is undefeated on those occasions. According to the Nuggets, Jokic has shot 50-plus percent from the field in 49 straight games, which is the third-longest streak in NBA history.

Brunson, meanwhile, averaged 27.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists on .529/.426/.776 shooting in 10 games (37.8 MPG) last month. The Knicks went 9-2 in February, including 8-2 with Brunson in the lineup, and are currently on a seven-game winning streak, which has moved them up to the No. 5 seed in the East.

According to New York (Twitter link), Brunson is the first Knick to be named the East’s player of the month since Julius Randle won in April 2021. The 26-year-old guard is having a stellar season for the Knicks, averaging career highs in points (23.8), assists (6.2) and three-point percentage (41.0%).

The other nominees in the West were Anthony Davis, De’Aaron Fox, Damian Lillard, Lauri Markkanen and Klay Thompson, while Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, Randle, Pascal Siakam and Trae Young were nominated in the East, per the NBA (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: Towns, Sexton, Clarkson, Jokic, SGA

Teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on Karl-Anthony Towns‘ situation in Minnesota and wondering whether the Timberwolves big man might become available via trade in the not-too-distant future, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to RealGM). However, Krawczynski told Lowe that there’s no indication that the Wolves are considering such a move.

“I can tell you from everyone that I’ve talked to within the organization, they very much believe in KAT,” Krawczynski said, per RealGM. “They believe that once he comes back and they have some time to build around (Anthony Edwards) and (Rudy) Gobert and KAT, they very much believe that can still work. (Head coach) Chris Finch believes it. (President of basketball operations) Tim Connelly believes it. They don’t have any plans to trade him.”

There has been skepticism that the Timberwolves’ twin towers duo of Towns and Gobert can be effective, but the organization still believes in the pairing and hasn’t had an opportunity to assess it at length this season — Towns has been limited to just 21 games so far due to a calf strain that has sidelined him since November 28.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Jazz guard Collin Sexton will remain on the shelf for at least one more week due to his left hamstring strain, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The team stated that Sexton is “progressing as expected” and will be reevaluated next Monday. His backcourt mate Jordan Clarkson has also been added to the injury list and will miss Tuesday’s game with a sprained right thumb, tweets Larsen.
  • It remains to be seen whether Nikola Jokic will win a third consecutive Most Valuable Player award, but Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has already made up his mind about this season’s MVP race, per Craig Meyer of The Associated Press. “If you’re looking for a super athlete to win MVP, he’s not your candidate,” Malone said of Jokic. “If you’re looking for a great player that impacts winning in every possible way, whose team is first place in the Western Conference, then he’s your man. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what people think. I know he’s the MVP and his teammates know that and all the fans here in Denver and back home in Serbia know that.”
  • Already hampered by an abdominal strain and right ankle soreness, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has now entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The OKC All-Star has been ruled out for Tuesday’s game vs. Sacramento and will likely miss at least Wednesday’s contest against the Lakers too now that he’s in the COVID-19 protocols, Mussatto adds.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, SGA, Jokic, Gordon, Butler

Following a disappointing 121-113 Friday night defeat to the lottery-bound Hornets, the Timberwolves came under fire from their own head coach and starting center, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“It’s just a sense of urgency,” head coach Chris Finch said of what the Timberwolves are missing. “It’s just not there. We just talked about it – you can’t wait. It’s a 20-game season. We have nothing to wait for. You’ve got to go. We only have seven home games left and we’ve got a tough schedule. I think it’s just that urgency. We’ve got to have more urgency from the get-go. We’re not playing desperate enough.”

Minnesota big man Rudy Gobert had a solid individual night, scoring 17 points, pulling down 10 boards and swatting three shots, but was frustrated with his club’s effort.

“We have to decide who we want to be,” said Gobert. “We had a tough loss going into the break, and you would think we would come back with some urgency, but we started the game just like we finished the previous one.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • All-Star Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will miss his second straight game, the team’s home contest against the Kings Sunday, due to an abdominal strain and a sore right ankle, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The ankle isn’t considered a major issue. “I think if that was the only thing he was dealing with, he would probably try to go,” head coach Mark Daigneault said. “But the hip flexor thing (abdominal strain) is what we’re being careful with.”
  • The burgeoning bond between the Nuggets‘ starting frontcourt of MVP candidate Nikola Jokic and power forward Aaron Gordon is paying dividends on the hardwood, writes Kendra Andrews of ESPN. “The load that he can carry … he is a really strong guy,” Jokic said of Gordon. “He’s making sure he’s taking that advantage really seriously. It’s always an option for us … I know where to find him, how to throw him the ball. And he knows how to box his guys out to give me the space to throw him the ball.”
  • With no G League affiliate team of their own, the Trail Blazers announced (Twitter link) that they have transferred rookie center John Butler to the Kings’ Stockton NBAGL affiliate. The 7’1″ big man has played sparingly thus far while on his two-way contract with Portland, appearing in mop-up minutes in just nine games.

All-Star Notes: Malone, Tatum, New Draft Format, Irving

There were several memorable moments from All-Star Weekend, but not many occurred during Sunday night’s game. Defense has rarely been a priority in the All-Star Game, but there was minimal effort from most players on that end of the court as Team Giannis posted a 184-175 win over Team LeBron.

Among the critics was the Nuggets’ Michael Malone, who guided Team LeBron in his second All-Star coaching appearance (video link from Vic Lombardi of Altitude TV).

“It’s an honor to be here; it’s an honor to be part of a great weekend, great players, but that was the worst basketball game ever played,” Malone said at the postgame press conference. “… I give Joel Embiid, Kyrie Irving, those guys were, like, competing. Joel was imploring some of the guys to play harder, to try to get some defense in. No one got hurt, they put on a show for the fans, but that is a tough game to sit through, I’m not gonna lie.”

Celtics star Jaylen Brown was also critical of the contest, calling it a glorified “layup line” and saying, “that’s not basketball,” tweets Dan Woike of The Los Angeles Times.

There’s more from All-Star Weekend:

  • Jayson Tatum realized midway through the fourth quarter Sunday night that he had a chance to break the All-Star Game scoring record, writes Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Tatum, who finished with 55 points to top Anthony Davis‘ old mark of 52, credits Damian Lillard for pointing out that the record was within reach. Tatum added that he has been hoping to win All-Star MVP honors since the trophy was named in honor of Kobe Bryant. “It’s extremely special to me,” Tatum said. “My first All-Star Game was in Chicago in 2020 when they renamed the MVP after him, and I remember telling myself that someday I got to get one of those.”
  • The new format of having captains select their teams shortly before game time mostly went smoothly, although Giannis Antetokounmpo mistakenly picked starter Ja Morant while drafting the reserves. Also, Nikola Jokic walked over to Team LeBron before the final pick among starters was made, but he didn’t realize that Lauri Markkanen still hadn’t been selected, tweets Tim Bontemps of ESPN.
  • Among the most notable picks in the draft was LeBron James choosing Irving, his former teammate in Cleveland. The Lakers were rumored to be among the top contenders to land Irving after he made his trade request to the Nets. “It’s always good to see him. I’m very proud of him,” James told reporters (video link from Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register). “Very proud of the man that he has become in his life right now.”

Doncic, Irving To Start For Team LeBron

Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving are not only Mavericks teammates, they’re also starting together for Team LeBron at the All-Star Game Sunday in Salt Lake City.

LeBron James selected his former Cleveland teammate Irving and Doncic, the league’s leading scorer, during the first captain’s draft conducted on the same night as the All-Star Game. Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid will start up front for Team LeBron. The reserves for LeBron’s team include Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Brown, Paul George, Tyrese Haliburton, Julius Randle, De’Aaron Fox and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Donovan Mitchell and one of the players he was traded for, Lauri Markkanen, will start for Team Giannis. Ja Morant and Jayson Tatum round out the starting lineup. Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, DeMar DeRozan, Pascal Siakam, Bam Adebayo and Domantas Sabonis will be the reserves for Team Giannis.