Norvel Pelle

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Jazz Sign Norvel Pelle To 10-Day Contract

10:32am: The Jazz have officially signed Pelle to a 10-day deal using the hardship exception, the team announced today in a press release.

8:35am: The Jazz intend to sign center Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract using the hardship exception, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, Pelle is expected to be available for Utah’s game vs. Toronto on Friday night.

Pelle recently finished up a 10-day deal with the Celtics, though he didn’t play at all for Boston during those 10 days. Previously, the big man played for a handful of international teams and bounced back and forth between the NBA and the G League over the last two seasons.

Pelle appeared in a total of 37 games from 2019-21 for the Sixers, Nets, Kings, and Knicks. A talented rim protector, The 28-year-old has averaged 2.2 blocks per game in 95 career G League contests and put up 8.9 PPG and 8.3 RPG in nine games (22.1 MPG) with the Cleveland Charge this season.

Utah enjoyed some great COVID-related luck for much of this season, having not placed a player in the health and safety protocols until earlier this week. Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert are now both in the protocols for the Jazz, meaning the team is eligible to sign Pelle to a hardship deal, which won’t count against team salary for cap or tax purposes.

Pelle, who will earn $95,930 during his 10 days with the Jazz, has a chance to play a rotation role immediately, with Gobert out and backup center Hassan Whiteside listed as questionable as he goes through the concussion protocol.

Celtics Sign Al-Farouq Aminu, Norvel Pelle

DECEMBER 25: The Celtics have officially signed Aminu and Pelle to 10-day contracts, the team announced today in a press release. Both deals will run through January 3.

DECEMBER 24: The Celtics have agreed to sign forward Al-Farouq Aminu and big man Norvel Pelle to 10-day contracts via hardship exceptions, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Boston currently has eight players in the health and safety protocols. The team has signed Justin Jackson, C.J. Miles, and Joe Johnson to 10-day deals, but remains eligible to sign a few more replacement players and will take advantage of that allowance to add Aminu and Pelle.

An 11-year veteran, Aminu has averaged 7.5 PPG and 6.0 RPG across 711 total regular season games for six teams. The 31-year-old, who has long been considered a strong defender, has battled health issues in recent years and has only played in 41 total games since signing a three-year, $29MM+ deal with the Magic during the 2019 offseason. He was traded from Orlando to Chicago in last season’s Nikola Vucevic blockbuster, then was rerouted to San Antonio in the DeMar DeRozan sign-and-trade in August before being waived by the Spurs in October.

Pelle, meanwhile, has played for a handful of international teams and has bounced back and forth between the NBA and the G League over the last two seasons. The 28-year-old appeared in a total of 37 games from 2019-21 for the Sixers, Nets, Kings, and Knicks. A talented rim protector, Pelle has averaged 2.2 blocks per game in 95 career G League contests and put up 8.9 PPG and 8.3 RPG in his first nine games (22.1 MPG) with the Cleveland Charge this season.

Assuming they clear the COVID-19 testing process in time, Aminu and Pelle could join the Celtics for their Christmas Day game in Milwaukee on Saturday.

Norvel Pelle Signs G League Contract

Veteran big man Norvel Pelle has signed a G League contract, according to our JD Shaw, who reports (via Twitter) that Pelle will join the Cleveland Charge. The Cavaliers‘ NBAGL affiliate holds Pelle’s returning rights.

Pelle, 28, has appeared in a total of 37 NBA games for four teams since the start of the 2019/20 season. In ’20/21, he had stints with Brooklyn, Sacramento, and New York, finishing the season with the Knicks. His deal with New York included a non-guaranteed salary for ’21/22, but the club waived him in July just before free agency began.

A strong defender, Pelle has appeared in a total of 86 G League games across his professional career and has showed off his rim-protecting prowess at that level, averaging 2.3 blocks in just 18.3 minutes per contest. In a brief stint with the Charge in the G League bubble last season, he put up a double-double (10.0 PPG and 10.7 RPG) to go along with 3.0 BPG in three games (24.3 MPG).

While Pelle didn’t catch on with an NBA team this fall, he’ll be hoping that a strong performance in the G League once again earns him a shot from a club in need of frontcourt help.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Draft Night, Point Guards, Gibson

July 31 marked the trigger date for Julius Randle‘s contract guarantee, so the Knicks now owe him the full $19.8MM for next season, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. There was no suspense about whether New York would be willing to pay Randle that much in the wake of a career season that saw him win the Most Improved Player award and earn second-team All-NBA honors.

The real intrigue this offseason involves a four-year, $106MM+ extension that Randle is eligible to receive. The Knicks have plenty of incentive to sign him at that figure, as Randle could potentially make a lot more next summer as an unrestricted free agent, particularly if he puts together another All-NBA season. New York will have his Bird rights if that happens and can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him.

Randle joined the Knicks two years ago on a three-year, $63MM contract that carried just a $4MM guarantee for 2021/22. His game blossomed in New York, especially under new coach Tom Thibodeau, as he averaged 24.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists per night while leading the team to the No. 4 seed in the East.

There’s more from New York:

  • The Knicks’ decision to trade the 19th pick in this year’s draft to the Hornets for a heavily protected future selection was done to free up another $2.4MM for free agency, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, citing an NBA executive who has talked to team president Leon Rose. New York never planned to use both of its first-round picks Thursday night and was happy to get Quentin Grimes and Miles McBride after trading down.
  • Even if the Knicks can’t lure top targets Chris Paul and Kyle Lowry in free agency, they will have plenty of options at point guard, Berman adds. With more than $50MM in cap space, New York can outbid rival teams for Spencer DinwiddieCameron Payne, Dennis Schroder or Reggie Jackson. Restricted free agent Lonzo Ball remains a possibility, but the Knicks saw him as a better fit in February than they do now, sources tell Berman. Re-signing Derrick Rose, a favorite of Thibodeau, remains on the table, although the front office is debating whether to make a long-term offer to Rose, who will turn 33 in October. The Bulls may get into the bidding for the Chicago native.
  • Saturday’s decision to waive backup center Norvel Pelle increases the chances that Taj Gibson will be back on the roster next season, Berman states in a separate story. A source told Berman the Knicks would consider re-signing Pelle at some point during the season if injuries leave them needing help in the middle.

Knicks Exercise Team Option On Mitchell Robinson, Waive Norvel Pelle

The Knicks have picked up their option for next season on center Mitchell Robinson and have waived center Norvel Pelle, the team announced (via Twitter).

Robinson will make $1.8MM in the final season of the four-year deal he signed after being drafted in the second round in 2018. He was the team’s starting center before getting injured, so it was an easy decision for New York to exercise the option.

The 23-year-old averaged 8.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in 31 games before undergoing season-ending foot surgery in late March. He also suffered a broken hand during the season that caused him to miss 15 games.

Robinson is eligible for a four-year, $51MM extension during the offseason, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Knicks also have the option of using cap space to renegotiate his salary for next season and having that be the beginning of an extension. If no extension is reached, Robinson will be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

Pelle, 28, had a $1.7MM option for 2021/22 that New York chose not to exercise. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Knicks in April, shortly after Robinson broke his foot, and earned a contract through the end of the season. Pelle appeared in nine games, averaging 1.2 points and 1.2 rebounds in 5.8 minutes per night.

Atlantic Notes: Knicks, Udoka, Stoudemire, Bridges

The Knicks enter free agency with the most cap space in the league and some major holes to fill. With that in mind, Ian Begley of explores some of their potential options on the wing.

Reggie Bullock and Alec Burks both had success playing different roles on the wing for the Knicks during their overachieving year, and there was midseason interest in bringing both back, but following a postseason that exposed the team’s lack of offensive creators and with options like Kelly Oubre, DeMar DeRozan, Will Barton, Duncan Robinson and others available, it’s unclear if the Knicks will want to spend significant money on Bullock and Burks.

We have more from around the Atlantic Division:

  • The Knicks are closely watching the Damian Lillard situation, Begley reports. With Lillard reportedly considering his long-term future with the Blazers, and the Knicks employing Lillard’s mentor Johnnie Bryant as an assistant coach, the team is monitoring the All-Star guard in case a deal could be made. Begley writes that the team would also be content building patiently should a trade not materialize.
  • Norvel Pelle is looking to stick with the Knicks, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. The 6’10” center joined the team late, but provided a defensive spark off the bench, and was a willing and beloved team cheerleader, writes Berman. One NBA scout interviewed by Berman was impressed with the strides Pelle has made in recent years. “[He] looks like he’s reading angles better when switching on pick-and-rolls,” said the anonymous scout. “He’s avoiding foul trouble that way. We are talking about a guy who was [the] No. 1-ranked center in the country out of high school.”
  • Jay King of The Athletic profiles Celtics coach Ime Udoka, and how he found his calling as a coach. Much of the inspiration came from Isiah Thomas when Udoka played for Thomas on the Knicks in the 2005/06 season. “You may not see what your calling is,” Thomas told Udoka. “Your calling is coaching.” It took a long time for Udoka to accept that coaching could be his destiny rather than being an NBA star in his own right.
  • Former NBA point guard Damon Stoudamire is a target to join Ime Udoka on the Celtics coaching staff, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Stoudamire was the 2019/2020 WCC Coach of the Year for the Pacific Tigers.
  • The Sixers’ draft-night trade of Mikal Bridges to the Suns had a lasting impact on both teams. The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov dives deep into how the trade went down. Vorkunov writes that the Sixers had no intention of trading Bridges when they took him, but Zhaire Smith was tied with Bridges on their board, and when the Suns offered a 2021 Heat unprotected pick, the Sixers felt they couldn’t say no. “If second-round picks are cigarettes in prison,” said one anonymous source interviewed by Vorkunov, “unprotected picks are conjugal visits.”

Atlantic Notes: Celtics, Durant, Dinwiddie, Green, Pelle

Coming off a nice win over Phoenix on Thursday, the Celtics are set to play the Nets in Brooklyn on Friday, and both teams are a little banged up.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said during a radio appearance on Toucher and Rich on Thursday that Jaylen Brown, who is dealing with shoulder bursitis, is sore, but should be good to go “in the next few days” (Twitter link via Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston).

Meanwhile, Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols) is going through a ramping-up process and could return to game action as soon as this weekend, per Ainge. The Celtics’ president also said that Robert Williams (knee) is “not too far away.”

Nets star Kevin Durant, who has missed two games with a left thigh contusion, is listed as questionable on the club’s latest injury report and could be available to play on Friday vs. the Celtics, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. If not tonight, Durant looks like a good bet to be back on Sunday against Phoenix.

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a partially torn ACL early in the 2020/21 season, continues to say that he has a realistic chance of returning during the postseason, as Diamond Leung of The Athletic tweets. While that seemed unlikely at one point, there’s an increasing feeling among league sources that Dinwiddie could return before Brooklyn’s season is over, Lewis writes for The New York Post.
  • Danny Green‘s inclusion in a potential deal for Kyle Lowry at last month’s trade deadline didn’t make or break those talks, but the Sixers value Green as far more than just an expiring contract and were only willing to attach so many additional assets to him in their offer for Lowry, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a look at what Green brings to Philadelphia.
  • Bobby Marks of ESPN has the details on Norvel Pelle‘s new three-year contract with the Knicks, tweeting that Pelle received $500K this season (about double his minimum). The second and third years are non-guaranteed, with a team option on that third year. That option would allow the Knicks to make Pelle a restricted free agent in the summer of 2022 if they so choose.
  • In case you missed it, we rounded up a handful of Raptors-related notes on Thursday evening.

Knicks Sign Norvel Pelle To Multiyear Contract

APRIL 22, 1:55pm: Pelle’s new deal with the Knicks is now official, the team announced in a press release.

APRIL 22, 6:36am: The Knicks are signing Pelle to a multiyear deal now that his second 10-day has expired, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

As noted below, New York could offer Pelle up to four years. His new deal is expected to include a small guarantee beyond this season, tweets Marc Berman of The New York Post.

APRIL 21: Norvel Pelle‘s second 10-day contract with the Knicks will expire tonight, but the team isn’t expected to let him get away. Sources tell Ian Begley of (Twitter link) that the Knicks and Pelle will likely agree to a new contract.

Because teams aren’t permitted to sign a player to more than two 10-day contracts in a season, a new deal for Pelle would have to cover at least the rest of this season. New York has plenty of cap room available and could offer him up to a four-year deal with a 2020/21 salary above the minimum. If the Knicks do go that route, their offer likely wouldn’t include guaranteed money beyond this season.

Pelle, who spent some time with the Nets and Kings earlier in the year, hasn’t played much during his 20 days with the Knicks, but has been effective in his limited minutes. In three appearances (16 minutes), he has scored five points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked three shots.

As Begley notes, head coach Tom Thibodeau has complimented Pelle’s performance and his attitude during his time with the team.

Assuming they work out a rest-of-season agreement with Pelle, the Knicks will still have one more open spot on their 15-man roster.

Knicks Notes: Henson, Robinson, Noel, Thibodeau

John Henson‘s 10-day contract with the Knicks expired overnight and the team doesn’t plan to sign him for another 10-day stint, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post, who notes (via Twitter) that the big man injured his calf on the second day of his deal and didn’t get a chance to play at all.

With Henson no longer under contract, the Knicks have an open spot on their 15-man roster and could create a second one if they don’t re-sign Norvel Pelle after his second 10-day deal expires next Wednesday night. Pelle made a case on Wednesday for a rest-of-season contract, as he was a plus-19 in just 13 minutes in New York’s victory over New Orleans.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • The Knicks haven’t played any worse with Mitchell Robinson sidelined this season than they have with him in the lineup, prompting Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News to wonder how heavily the team should be willing to invest in Robinson on his next contract.
  • Nerlens Noel has played a major part in making up for Robinson’s absence. Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report takes a closer look at Noel’s resurgence and how it could impact the former lottery pick’s upcoming free agency.
  • Like Mark Cuban‘s Mavericks, Tom Thibodeau‘s Knicks may have to earn their playoff spot in a play-in tournament despite a possible top-eight finish. However, Thibodeau is more enthusiastic than Cuban about the merits of the play-in tournament, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. “I think we have to let it play out first and then assess it again,” Thibodeau said. “But I think a lot of a lot of teams being involved in important games, I think that that’s good for the league. I think you’re always concerned about that. And so let’s see we’ll how it plays out but the initial thought of it I think is very good.”
  • Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy pointed to the “extra training camp” that Thibodeau and the Knicks got last fall as one reason for the team’s surprise emergence this season, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. The teams that weren’t invited to the Walt Disney World bubble last summer were granted up to two weeks of organized team activities in September and October — that was Thibodeau’s first real chance to get familiar with his players, though it’s worth noting the roster was overhauled to some extent after that.