Otto Porter

Wizards Notes: Rivers, Howard, Green, Bryant

It was already common knowledge that the NBA’s Western Conference has long been stronger than the Eastern Conference. Critics continue to call for a conference realignment even when the odds of it happening are slim to none.

But now that the game’s best player has moved from the East to the West, the gap has widened even more, leaving many Eastern Conference players, including newly acquired Wizards’ guard Austin Rivers, more confident in their team’s chances to make a run at the NBA Finals, reports Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

“This training camp, this season is just gonna be a different type of mindset,” Rivers said. “[Before] you would play and you know you’re going to run into Golden State. Here, in the East, it’s really like everybody can get there. You can go to the Finals or the conference finals if you’re a playoff-caliber team, which this team is. 

I think that puts a different confidence, focus and energy on a team. I think that will probably be a focal point in training camp, I’m sure the coaches and everyone will say this is something we need to take advantage of.” 

Per Hughes, Rivers did acknowledge that the Celtics are probably the favorites now, having been Eastern Conference runners-up the last two seasons despite missing two of their best players during the 2017/18 playoffs. But, Rivers is excited to see what he and his new teammates are capable of after falling short in the playoffs in four of the last five seasons.

There’s more out of the D.C. area tonight:

  • Jeremy Woo of Sports Illustrated takes a look at the Wizards’ reported free agent signings of veterans Jeff Green and Dwight Howard. Woo gives both signings a “B” grade, calling both moves thrifty and low-risk due in large part to the one-year length of both deals.
  • In another piece for NBC Sports Washington, Hughes gives his own analysis of the Howard signing, agreeing that the move is low-risk, high-reward. Hughes writes that Howard gives Washington an upgrade from last season at center and that he should be at his best surrounded by three-point shooters like Otto Porter and Bradley Beal.
  • In another, albeit more under-the-radar move we relayed earlier this week, the Wizards claimed promising young big man Thomas Bryant off waivers from the Lakers after he was cut to increase L.A.’s cap room.

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Collins, Trade Landscape

The Wizards have a host of tradable assets that could help them shake things up, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. That may be the franchise’s best hope of appeasing John Wall considering that they don’t have anywhere near enough financial flexibility to sign a free agent.

Hughes writes that both Wall and Bradley Beal could be considered untouchable this offseason but doesn’t grant such immunity to Otto Porter, the forward they paid handsomely just last summer. The 24-year-old is under team control for two more seasons and could play a role in landing an All-Star.

Other players that could be earmarked as potential trade bait include veterans Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris and developing youngsters like Kelly Oubre and Tomas Satoransky. The latter may already be 26 years old but showed excellent progress in what was just his sophomore season.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The fate of the Eastern Conference depends on what LeBron James decides to do this offseason. If he heads west, it could open new opportunities for other contenders. If the 15-year veteran decides to return to the Cavaliers, it could precipitate a trade market in which teams like the Heat and Wizards could be involved, Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel writes.
  • First-year Hawks big man John Collins won over plenty of fans during his rookie campaign, so much so that Mike Schmitz and Kevin Pelton of ESPN both rank him No. 7 in their list of the rookies from 2017/18 with the most future potential. That, according to the scribes, puts him ahead of players like Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson.
  • The Wizards made the ambitious decision to help 23-year-old two-way contract rookie Devin Robinson reinvent his jumpshot. NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes reports that Robinson was a solid shooter at Florida but ran into issues with his low release point.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Haslem, Van Gundy

According to general manager Mitch Kupchak, the Hornets have no immediate plans to blow up their roster. As Steve Reed of The Associated Press writes, recently appointed head coach James Borrego will approach his first season with the team under the assumption that there is no dramatic overhaul right around the corner.

I’m excited about that current group as it stands right now. I think our biggest room for growth is the internal development piece,” Borrego said. Given the Hornets’ lack of financial flexibility – they have $120 already tied up for next season – they may not have any other choice.

There were several calls for dramatic action last season as a short-staffed Hornets team limped its way to a second consecutive lottery appearance. In fact, things were so dire that mid-season the club’s previous executive team even said the franchise would consider trading star guard Kemba Walker.

Among the young players that could be developed by Borrego and the rest of the Hornets staff in 2018/19 are 2017 lottery pick Malik Monk, as well as other established rotation players like Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 24, and third-year big man Frank Kaminsky.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards signed forward Otto Porter to a four-year, $107MM contract last offseason. With that increased salary has come increased scrutiny, Candace Buckner of The Washington Post writes. Porter excelled as a three-point shooter in 2017/18 but was criticized for lacking aggressiveness in the fourth quarter.
  • Veteran Heat big man Udonis Haslem hasn’t made a decision about retirement yet but he does know that when that time comes, he has no interest in coaching. He would, however, be open to serving in Miami’s front office, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald writes.
  • Some Magic fans have contemplated the idea of bringing back former head coach Stan Van Gundy. David Whitley of The Orlando Sentinel writes that a reunion with the bench boss who led Dwight Howard and company to the Finals back in 2009 would not be a good idea.

Wizards Notes: Gortat, Porter, Oubre, Meeks, More

Bradley Beal and John Wall expressed a belief near the start of the 2017/18 season that the Wizards were the team to beat in the East, but the club ultimately finished eighth in the conference, and lasted just six games in the postseason. After their early exit from the playoffs, the Wizards are left searching for answers about what went wrong over the course of the season, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details. Hughes spoke to Beal, Markieff Morris, and Ian Mahinmi about the club’s shortcomings, with Mahinmi noting that roster continuity didn’t really pay off for Washington in ’17/18.

“When you’re talking about continuity, it’s supposed to be better. You expect better. I feel like we didn’t do better than last year,” Mahinmi said. “It’s hard. I love those guys, but we have our issues. Unless we work those issues out, we’re gonna continue to struggle at times. We’re gonna continue to not be consistent. We definitely have to have good communication this summer. Before looking elsewhere we have look at each other and be honest.

“I feel like we might not have identified the real issues,” Mahinmi added.

As the Wizards look to identify their “real issues,” here are a few more notes out of D.C….

  • Wizards center Marcin Gortat, never shy about sharing what’s on his mind, implored teammates Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre Jr. to spend the offseason bulking up, per Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Skill-set wise, [Porter]’s unbelievable. He’s got everything. He can rebound. He can shoot the ball. He can post up. He can pass. He can definitely defend, if he’s healthy,” Gortat said. “As I told him and I told Kelly, they’ve both got to improve in the weight room. They’ve got to get into the weight room.”
  • Asked if he’d work on improving his shooting range in the offseason, Gortat dismissed the idea that he needs to modernize his game by shooting three-pointers, as Buckner relays. “I truly believe I’m a solid, good shooter up to 15, 17 feet. But I’m not going to shoot threes,” Gortat said. “No, I’m not going to do that. I want to go into the paint. Body people. Be physical. Get scratches. Bleed. That’s how I made a living in for 11 years, and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m not going to pop on the three-point line and shoot threes. I’m not going to do that. I’ve got one more year left. I’m going to try to play as best as I can.”
  • The Wizards’ front office will have its work cut out for it this offseason as it looks to improve the roster, ESPN’s Bobby Marks writes in an Insider-only piece. Marks wonders if Washington has enough confidence in Oubre to consider the possibility of trading Porter, and notes that Gortat and Morris will be entering the last year of their respective contracts.
  • In a pair of tweets, Marks breaks down how Jodie Meekssuspension will affect his earnings and the Wizards’ tax bill. As Marks observes, Washington will be on the hook for approximately $7MM in tax payments for 2017/18.
  • Ohm Youngmisuk of takes a closer look at Ty Lawson‘s unexpected return to an NBA rotation role for the playoffs. Lawson spent the season in China before signing with the Wizards on the last day of the NBA regular season.

Injury Updates: Curry, Porter, VanVleet, Mbah a Moute

Stephen Curry is officially listed as questionable for the start of the Warriors‘ series with the Pelicans tomorrow night, relays Mark Medina of The San Jose Mercury News.

The star guard, who is recovering from a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, was able to go through a full-court scrimmage today for the first time since suffering the injury March 23. However, the team isn’t ready to commit to playing him in Game 1, and Curry calls his chances “50-50.”

“Still to be determined. They come up with those snazzy words for a reason – doubtful, questionable, probable,” he said. “Just trying to work my way up whatever I need to do with whatever [trainer] Chelsea [Lane], the rest of the athletic training staff and coaching staff need to see before I can get back out there.”

Curry and Lane spent about 20 minutes after practice talking to coach Steve Kerr, who said Curry will be re-examined tonight and after Saturday’s morning shootaround before making a decision.

“It’s not as simple as, ‘Does he feel good? Then throw him out there,’” Kerr said. “It’s more about, ‘Let’s give him a few days and see how he responds from it.’”

There’s more playoff-related injury news to pass along:

  • Wizards forward Otto Porter, who is out indefinitely following a surgical procedure today on his left leg, has been experiencing pain since Game 4 of the series with Toronto, tweets Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports. The decision to perform a lower leg fasciotomy to address a build-up of blood flow in the contusion area was made after reviewing the results of an MRI conducted today. Kelly Oubre will take Porter’s spot in the starting lineup, with Tomas Satoransky and Ty Lawson both expected to get more playing time, according to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk (Twitter link). “We need Kelly on the floor,” coach Scott Brooks said to Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. “Now that Otto is out, we need Kelly to give us great minutes. … It’s a great opportunity for him.” (Twitter link).
  • The Raptors will have guard Fred VanVleet available for tonight’s Game 6 with the Wizards, Lewenberg tweets. VanVleet has been limited to three minutes in the series because of soreness in his shoulder stemming from a collision on the final night of the season. “I don’t know what to expect,” said coach Dwane Casey, “but we’ll get him in.”
  • The Rockets had hoped to get Luc Mbah a Moute back for the start of their second-round series, but it appears that won’t happen, according to Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Sidelined by a dislocated shoulder, Mbah a Moute won’t be re-evaluated until next week, although he was able to participate in the non-contact part of today’s practice, said coach Mike D’Antoni.
  • Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue still wasn’t sure of George Hill‘s  status when he met with reporters before tonight’s game, relays Joe Vardon of Hill, who has been experiencing back spasms, warmed up before the game with a heat wrap on his back, notes ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Twitter link).

Otto Porter Undergoes Leg Procedure, Out Indefinitely

3:01pm: The Wizards have issued a press release confirming that Porter underwent the procedure detailed below, calling it a “left lower leg fasciotomy for compartment syndrome.” According to the team, it was necessary in order to prevent permanent damage to the muscles in Porter’s leg. He’ll be out “indefinitely.”

2:25pm: Wizards forward Otto Porter is undergoing a procedure on his injured left leg today, reports Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). According to Buckner, the procedure will address a build-up of blood flow in the area of Porter’s leg contusion.

As a result of the procedure, Porter will miss Game 6 of the Wizards’ first-round series against the Raptors on Friday night, and will also remain sidelined if the series goes to a Game 7, per Buckner. It’s not clear whether Porter would be able to return at a later date in the postseason if Washington were to advance.

Porter underwent an MRI on his troublesome left leg today, at which point the decision was made to move forward with the procedure to address the build-up around the bone bruise, tweets Buckner.

Porter, who appeared in 77 games for the Wizards this season, was one of the team’s key contributors, averaging 14.7 PPG, 6.4 RPG, and 2.0 APG with an impressive .503/.441/.828 shooting line in the first season of his new four-year, maximum-salary contract. However, the 24-year-old hasn’t looked like himself in the playoffs as he has dealt with his leg issue — Porter didn’t score more than 12 points in any of the first five games vs. Toronto.

Injury Updates: Griffin, Fournier, Warriors, Wizards

While news of Joel Embiid‘s orbital fracture and surgery has dominated the conversation over the last 24 hours, we have injury updates to pass along on several other notable players around the NBA. Let’s dive in…

  • Pistons star forward Blake Griffin has been diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right ankle, the team announced today in a press release. Griffin will be re-evaluated in a week. With just 13 days left in the regular season and Detroit all but eliminated from the postseason race, it wouldn’t be surprising if Griffin doesn’t play again this season.
  • Evan Fournier, who has been on the shelf since March 7 due to a sprained MCL, is “unlikely” to return to the court before the end of the 2017/18 season, Magic head coach Frank Vogel said this week (Twitter link via Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel). Fournier will head into the summer preparing to enter the third year of his five-year deal with Orlando.
  • The Warriors can’t seem to get everyone healthy as the regular season winds down. As Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle details, head coach Steve Kerr said Klay Thompson could return on Saturday from the thumb injury that has sidelined him for over two weeks. However, Andre Iguodala left Thursday’s game in the third quarter with a sore left knee, jeopardizing his short-term availability (link via
  • The Wizards appear to have avoided disaster in the form of Otto Porter and Bradley Beal injuries, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Beal was able to return to Thursday’s game after banging his knee, while Porter’s rolled ankle was dubbed just a “minor” sprain by head coach Scott Brooks.
  • The Nuggets, looking to stay alive in the playoff hunt, have a big game on tap Friday night against Oklahoma City, but Gary Harris will be unable to return from his knee injury to play in that game, as Gina Mizell of The Denver Post writes.

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

Wizards Don’t Plan Roster Addition To Replace Wall

The Wizards will be without star guard John Wall for about two weeks, but probably won’t make a roster move to replace him, tweets Candace Buckner of The Washington Post.

Washington has a roster opening, but coach Scott Brooks told reporters tonight that he does “not anticipate bringing anyone in.” The team has been carrying 14 players since waiving Carrick Felix at the start of the month.

Wall has been diagnosed with inflammation in his left knee and will get platelet-rich plasma injections to try to ease the pain. He received the first one today, along with a viscosupplementation shot (Twitter link). Wall has been dealing with soreness since November 7 in the wake of “knee-to-knee contact” during a game with the Mavericks. His earliest return date is probably December 9 against the Clippers in Los Angeles (Twitter link).

Brooks said he hopes rest, along with the injections, will “calm the knee down” enough for Wall to return by then (Twitter link). He added that “guys are ready to play bigger roles,” specifically Otto Porter and Markieff Morris, who has been taken off his minutes limit (Twitter link).

Southeast Notes: Oubre, Payne, Porter

The Wizards have benefited from third-year swingman Kelly Oubre‘s energy so far this season and the 21-year-old is earning a more substantial role with the squad, Chris Gehring of the team’s official site writes.

On a team built around core trio John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter, Oubre has managed to average 11.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and almost a block per game since sliding into the starting lineup. That spot in the first unit may not last but the impact Oubre’s had on the team could.

He has the ability, and at times last year it went up and down. But he hasn’t had those dips yet this year, though it’s early,” head coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s definitely improved with all of the hard work he put in.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • After going 15th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, Adreian Payne‘s NBA opportunities have come few and far between. Now a member of the Magic, the Michigan State product is excited to earn another shot. “I haven’t really gotten a chance to play the whole time I’ve been in the NBA,” Payne told Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. “Being able to spend some time down in the G League, to work on my game, to get better, to just be able to become a better person and a better player, on the court and off the court. I think it is going to help me grow, and then when I get called up and be able to play with the Magic team, I’ll be that Adreian that I was when I was in college.”
  • Don’t expect the Hornets to make a play for somebody like Eric Bledsoe, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer writes. A lateral move to add another point guard to the mix alongside Kemba Walker wouldn’t be worth what the Suns would presumably want for him.
  • The Wizards paid big bucks to bring Otto Porter back and, to this point, LeBron James believes he’s earned his $107MM contract. “He’s worked on his game extremely well and he’s earned the big paycheck that he got,” James told Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.