Injury Notes: Alvarado, Lyles, Mitchell, Beal, Hornets

Pelicans guard Jose Alvarado is getting “really close” to making his season debut, head coach Willie Green said on Friday, per Christian Clark of (Twitter link). Alvarado, who has been sidelined for the first few weeks of the season due to a right ankle sprain, missed Friday’s in-season tournament game against Denver but has been upgraded to questionable for Saturday’s contest vs. Minnesota, per the team (Twitter link).

While Alvarado has a chance to return on Saturday, forward Zion Williamson will be getting the night off on the second night of a back-to-back set, according to the Pelicans. Williamson’s designation is “rest,” so it sounds like there’s no new injury there — it’s just a matter of the team being cautious.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Kings forward Trey Lyles tells Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee that he expects to make his season debut at some point during the team’s current road trip, which continues on Sunday in Dallas and wraps up next Friday in Minnesota. Lyles has been unavailable so far this fall due to a calf injury, but has progressed to 3-on-3 work and says he feels “great,” adding that he’s mostly focused now on improving his conditioning.
  • While it doesn’t appear to be a cause for any significant concern at this point, Cavaliers star Donovan Mitchell missed a second game on Friday due to a right hamstring issue. Mitchell also sat out on October 28 due to right hamstring soreness, notes Chris Fedor of
  • Suns guard Bradley Beal was listed as probable to play on Wednesday before being downgraded to out and then ruled out for at least three weeks due to a low back strain. Head coach Frank Vogel explained on Friday that Beal turned out not to be back to 100% when he made his season debut and playing in games was impeding his recovery process. “We want to put this thing behind him,” Vogel said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic (Twitter link). “Playing in the games was slowing down his progress for really trying to put this behind him. We don’t want to do the ‘play a game, be out a game, play a game, be out a game.'”
  • The Hornets continue to be beset by injuries, as big man Nick Richards left Friday’s game due to concussion-like symptoms and has now been placed in the concussion protocol and ruled out for Saturday’s contest, per the team (Twitter link). In other Hornets injury news, Terry Rozier, who is sidelined due to a left groin issue, has yet to resume practicing, notes Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Camara, Fontecchio, Kessler, Kamagate

Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, like Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels, was fined $25K for his role in an altercation early in a game between Minnesota and Golden State that ended with Draymond Green ejected and later suspended. However, according to The Star Tribune’s Chris Hine, Gobert wasn’t satisfied with the league’s ruling and said this week that he planned to appeal his fine.

You know every situation is different, but to me that was more than just a reaction,” Gobert said. “That was a personal attack. Me being fined when I chose to, when I was being a peacemaker and I chose to keep my hands up while I was being assaulted, is shameful. Shameful. And I’m gonna appeal that fine.

Immediately following Tuesday’s fracas, Gobert called Green out.

Clown behavior, and I’m proud of myself for being the bigger man again and again,” Gobert said after the altercation. “And yeah, [Green] doesn’t even deserve me putting my hands on him. My team needed me tonight. I did whatever I could to keep my cool and then show that I wasn’t making the situation worse, and I do hope that the league is going to do what needs to be done, because that’s just clown behavior. Not much to say. It’s clown behavior.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The 3-9 Trail Blazers have been searching for more physicality, size and rebounding in their starting lineup and may have found it in second-round rookie Toumani Camara, according to OregonLive’s Aaron Fentress. Camara has started the past three games for Portland, replacing Matisse Thybulle. While Portland lost all three games, Camara’s impressive rookie season is continuing. In his three starts, he’s averaging 6.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks. “Tou is going to be who he is going to be no matter if he’s starting or not,” head coach Chauncey Billups said. “He’s going to be the same guy. He’s going to scrap, he’s going to claw, he’s going to rebound. He’s going to protect the rim a little. He’s going to always be who he is.
  • Simone Fontecchio feels more comfortable with the Jazz in his second season with the team, even if the minutes haven’t come yet, according to The Deseret News’ Sarah Todd. Fontecchio had been bouncing around international rosters, along with playing for the Italian national team, before joining the Jazz. The fact that Utah had other international players that Fontecchio could relate to was huge for his acclimation. “He has an ability to really stay ready,” coach Will Hardy said. “Whether he plays a ton of minutes or whether he plays zero. Obviously his threat of shooting is is great for us. But I’m more excited about all the the other things that he does — crashing the glass, changing things on the floor, he is a great cutter, and he really has a toughness about him that I think our team needs.
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler is out for around two weeks with a UCL injury that usually requires Tommy John surgery. UCL injuries in basketball are a bit rare, but it’s a positive sign Kessler was diagnosed with a sprain and not a tear, according to The Salt Lake Tribune’s Eric Walden. Walden broke down the injury with a doctor, concluding that ligament isn’t used often in basketball, and the injury shouldn’t be worrisome.
  • The Nuggets selected Ismael Kamagate with the 46th overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft. He’s currently playing his first EuroLeague season with Milan and got to play with the Nuggets in Summer League this past season, averaging 6.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks across four starts. Though he admitted to that playing in the NBA is his dream, he’s willing to be patient. “We just have to not rush the process, because that’s how to can lose yourself. Take your time, do what you can do. In the team, everybody can do everything. You have to master what you do better, and that’s what I learned this summer,” Kamagate said.

Pacific Notes: Harden, Westbrook, Mann, Booker, Green

The Clippers picked up their first win since acquiring James Harden, beating the Rockets on Friday on a game-winning shot from the 10-time All-Star. According to ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, the win goes beyond simply snapping a win streak, as it shows Harden is becoming more comfortable in his new home.

I’m getting real close,” Harden said. “I’m getting close to myself every game I feel like I’m improving.

The win also showed a glimpse of what the Clippers can be when they’re at full strength, with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Harden all having their fair share of moments. On top of that, their victory comes off the heels of Russell Westbrook approaching coach Tyronn Lue about coming off the bench to help stabilize the team.

He wanted to do that, which [is] an ultimate sacrifice for a guy of his caliber,” Lue said. “For things he’s done in this league, the things he’s done for this team. So shout-out to Russ for wanting to do that. It’s a huge part of what we’ve talked about, just sacrificing wanting to win at a high level.

Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times further explored Westbrook’s move to the bench, writing that the lineup change is here to stay. Westbrook finished with just 17 minutes played, his fewest since joining the team. Norman Powell, P.J. Tucker and Daniel Theis, the latter of whom made his Clippers debut, also joined Westbrook off the bench. According to Greif, his teammates didn’t know about the change until he walked onto the practice court on Friday in the white jerseys worn by reserves.

We just got to get him used to it and get him accustomed to doing that, and it’s tough, it’s tough to go from starting to off the bench or from off the bench to starting, especially with the caliber player that he is,” Lue said. “So we just got to get him comfortable, make sure we got the right guys on the floor with him.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Lue put Clippers guard Terance Mann in the starting lineup over Westbrook instead of other options like Tucker. He explained the decision on Friday. “We kind of went back and forth with T-Mann and P.J, but I think T-Mann can take the responsibility of guarding point guards every night … you can kind of put him on those guys to start the games and so we don’t have to wear PG and Kawhi down to start the games every single night,” Lue said (Twitter link via Justin Russo). “And so that’s why it kind of made sense to us.
  • Suns superstar guard Devin Booker is averaging a career-high 10.3 assists through his first four games, including a single-game career high of 15 on Friday against the Jazz. Even though the sample size is small, he’s looking much more comfortable as a distributor. His previous career-best average was 6.8 in 2018/19. The Suns brass is talking about him like a point guard. “He’s our most vocal guy,” head coach Frank Vogel said (Twitter link via PHNX Suns). “He’s really taken the reins of that this year with this team, and even more so on the floor as the point guard running the show.
  • Warriors forward Draymond Green was suspended after engaging in a physical confrontation with Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert, and the last couple times Green has been involved in drama, frustrations in the locker room were tangible, according to The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II. However, his teammates are completely behind him this time, knowing he’s looking out for them on the court. The events that led to Green’s suspension began with Klay Thompson and Jaden McDaniels getting into an altercation with Green later stepping in. “We’ve got his back,Gary Payton II said. “And we gon’ hold him down until he gets back.” According to Thompson, Green apologized to his team and knows he took it too far.

Bulls Notes: Caruso, Rumors, LaVine, Donovan

Bulls guard Alex Caruso drew his first start of the season on Friday against the Magic, replacing Torrey Craig, who originally took over for Patrick Williams. According to NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson, Caruso will start for the foreseeable future.

It does put you in a different situation because you’re not playing him for almost 12 straight minutes. I have to take a look at that combination of guys and what that looks like,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “You’re taking a guy that’s your energy guy and he’s going 12 minutes without playing. I have to manage his minutes.

Caruso played 23 minutes, having left play briefly to have his fingers taped after diving for a loose ball. He finished with 18 points, two blocks, and two steals while knocking down four of his five three-point attempts.

This is probably the most unattached to results that I’ve been in my life basketball-wise as far as shots going in or out,” Caruso said. “And that’s probably why I’m making most of them. There’s a part of me that doesn’t care. If I’m open, I shoot it. I’m playing basketball, competing to win. If it’s the right shot, take it. Trust the work. I worked really hard this summer and this preseason and during the season. There’s no reason not to shoot them.

We have more from the Bulls:

  • While Zach LaVine rumors have spread like wildfire since it was reported Tuesday that both sides were open to exploring a trade, Donovan doesn’t see them as a distraction for his locker room, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “As a coach, you get a feel on some of those things when there’s talk or when there’s chatter,” Donovan said. “I have not sensed any of that stuff at all. I just have a hard time believing that our guys are going to get wrapped up in someone’s social-media account.” Cowley writes that it helps the Bulls to have veterans like Caruso, Andre Drummond and DeMar DeRozan, who have been subject to trade rumors before.
  • For what it’s worth, DeRozan also doesn’t believe the Bulls’ locker room will be impacted by LaVine rumors. “It won’t,” DeRozan said of any potential effects (relayed by NBC Sports Chicago via Twitter). “You play in this league long enough, that’s something you have to deal with. If it’s not personally, it’s with a teammate. … It’s not preschool, we’re all grown men. We understand what comes with the territory when you sign up for it.
  • There are several suitors with some level of expressed interest in LaVine, and The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie explores which teams make the most sense. In his view, LaVine will fetch more in a trade than what the Sixers got for James Harden, but less than what the Trail Blazers received for Jrue Holiday. The Heat, Sixers and Lakers are among the most-reported teams that could pursue LaVine, but Vecenie only sees the Lakers out of that grouping as a logical trade partner. The Jazz, Magic, Raptors and Pistons also deserve consideration to put together a package, per Vecenie, who identifies Orlando as favorite on-court fit for LaVine.
  • Coaches of struggling teams usually catch flak from fans, and Donovan is no exception as the head of the 4-9 Bulls, according to The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. However, Mayberry suggests LaVine’s comments following Friday’s game are indicative of the star guard turning up the heat on his coach. “I mean, the players are doing everything they can,” LaVine said. “I know everybody’s trying to do the best they can. We’ve just got to figure out something that works.” This isn’t the first time reports of tensions between the two parties have percolated, though these have been refuted.

Heat Notes: Jaquez, Martin, LaVine, Hampton

Rookie Jaime Jaquez has immediately become a rotation player for the surging Heat, playing the fifth-most minutes and recording the fifth-highest scoring total for Miami thus far. In his first NBA season, Jaquez has also already becoming a late-game staple for Miami during its seven-game winning streak, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

The UCLA product has played the full fourth quarter in each of the Heat’s past five victories. He ranks third entering Saturday in minutes played in the fourth quarter among rookies across the league, behind only Bilal Coulibaly and Toumani Camara, who both play for rebuilding teams.

All of those things that you need to win on the road and that you would like to develop out of your team, those are his strengths,” Head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Jaquez. “The grit, the perseverance, the mental and the emotional stability. He’s learning things, but he typically doesn’t make the same mistake twice. So these experiences in the fourth quarter are like exponential 10x opportunities for him.

Jaquez is averaging 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 49.5% from the floor. Chiang observes that the youngster’s defense has been impressive, and he’s already drawing defensive assignments on the likes of Anthony Edwards, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and LeBron James.

I just learned and felt like this is where I belong,” Jaquez said. “This is where I want to be at, in the NBA. I feel like I can play. There’s a lot of things I still need to learn, but I felt comfortable out there and I felt like I’m ready to play and that I belong in this league.

We have more from the Heat:

  • Miami got reinforcements in their last game, with Caleb Martin returning to the lineup. Martin was on a minutes restriction, according to Chiang, but he’s feeling like himself again after missing the previous 10 games. “I thought he fit in great,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t think he tried to overdo those 12 minutes. We had a pretty good understanding of what it would look like. He just fits in very seamlessly with how we’ve been playing and that’s on both ends of the court.” With Martin healthy, the Heat went with a bench lineup of Jaquez, Martin, Josh Richardson and Kevin LoveThomas Bryant and Dru Smith were out of the rotation.
  • The Heat are rumored to be one of the teams that both could have interest in Bulls star Zach LaVine and that could appeal to him. However, in a mailbag for The Herald, Chiang questions whether LaVine makes sense for Miami. As Chiang notes, the Bulls guard is owed $40+MM in each of the next three seasons, as well as owning a player option worth just under $50MM in 2026/27. Additionally, the fit could be questionable alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro. Chiang points to Alex Caruso as someone who makes more sense on the court for Miami. However, there’s no indication he’ll be available for trade and even if he is, it would probably require at least one first-round pick, which Chiang is skeptical the Heat would offer.
  • Heat two-way guard R.J. Hampton is expected to be out an extended period of time with a knee injury, according to Ira Winderman of South Florida’s Sun Sentinel (Twitter link). It’s currently unclear just how much time Hampton will miss, but it’s an obvious setback for a former first-round pick who looked impressive in training camp. Hampton, 22, has appeared in just one game with the Heat so far this year, but averaged 8.5 points and 4.0 assists in two preseason games.

Latest On Bulls, Zach LaVine

The Bulls explored Zach LaVine trades over the offseason, but they had a very high asking price — the fact that they’re open to moving him isn’t new. However, LaVine had always remained loyal to Chicago, and he’s now open to a trade himself — something he didn’t deny when asked about it this week.

According to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, LaVine doesn’t think the Bulls will be able to turn into a contender in the East after being mired in mediocrity ever since Lonzo Ball injured his knee in January 2022. Multiple sources tell Fischer that LaVine would prefer to play under a new head coach as well, which aligns with recent reporting that the two-time All-Star may not be the biggest fan of Billy Donovan.

As Fischer observes, while LaVine is one of the most talented scorers in the league, there are reasons why other players on the roster could have more trade value. He’s not known for his defense, he’s in the second season of a five-year, maximum-salary contract, and he’s had multiple knee injuries in the past.

Still, there are plenty of teams interested in LaVine, according to Fischer, who says rival executives view the shooting guard as more of a complementary piece rather than a player to build around. A potential deal isn’t expected to come together in the near future, which is typical considering many players around the league aren’t eligible to be traded but will be in a month or two.

Sources tell Fischer that LaVine would like to play for a “winning franchise” and he has interest in the Lakers, Heat and Sixers, who were all previously identified as potential suitors. But there are questions about whether any of those teams will ultimately pursue him for various reasons, particularly Philadelphia, which prefers to add more of a two-way player.

That list is far from comprehensive, however. They aren’t a winner at the moment, but LaVine is interested in joining the Spurs and No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama — as Fischer writes, LaVine played under Gregg Popovich on Team USA in the 2020 Olympics, winning a gold medal with the Hall of Fame coach.

Sources tell Fischer that LaVine has interest in several other teams as well, including the Kings. LaVine signed an offer sheet with Sacramento as a restricted free agent back in 2018, though that was under a different front office regime, Fischer notes.

While recent reports have indicated that the 4-9 Bulls are unlikely to entertain a rebuild even if they continue to struggle, Fischer hears ownership has recently changed its stance and would be open to dealing additional veterans beyond LaVine. That could include DeMar DeRozan, who is on an expiring $28.6MM contract, and All-Defensive guard Alex Caruso.

If Caruso does become available, his market would be robust, according to Fischer, who writes that the Bulls have asked for multiple first-round picks in exchange for the 29-year-old in the past. Due to Caruso’s favorable contract (he’s owed $19.4MM over the next two seasons) and the winning plays he makes on the court, Fischer believes Chicago could indeed get a couple first-rounders for him.

Dewayne Dedmon Joining Ontario Clippers

Free agent center Dewayne Dedmon is signing a G League contract to play with the Ontario Clippers, league sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopHype (Twitter link). Ontario is, of course, the Clippers‘ NBAGL affiliate.

A 10-year NBA veteran, Dedmon was unable to find a team as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He appeared in 38 regular season games with the Heat and Sixers in 2022/23, averaging 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds in 11.2 minutes per night.

Dedmon, 34, holds career averages of 6.3 points and 5.8 rebounds over 510 regular season contests, including 210 starts (17.3 minutes).

The Clippers reportedly kicked the tires on Kai Jones in their search for a frontcourt help after losing Mason Plumlee to a knee injury. They wound up signing veteran center Daniel Theis as a temporary Plumlee replacement, but perhaps Dedmon is hoping if that move doesn’t work out and he impresses with Ontario, he could sign with the Clippers and serve as the backup center instead.

Either way, a veteran signing a G League deal as a way to audition for NBA jobs is something that occurs multiple times every season, and that’s almost certainly what Dedmon will be aiming for as well.

Dedmon will remain an NBA free agent after joining Ontario, as the Clippers will only hold his G League rights.

Kings’ Alex Len Out 6-8 Weeks With High Ankle Sprain

Kings reserve center Alex Len will miss about six-to-eight weeks after sustaining a “moderate but stable” high right ankle sprain on Monday, the team announced (Twitter link via James Ham of

It’s unfortunate news for Len, who was out of Sacramento’s rotation for the first six games but then started receiving minutes over JaVale McGee after impressing head coach Mike Brown in garbage time during a blowout loss to Houston on November 6. McGee received spot minutes after Len was injured on Monday and then again on Wednesday against the Lakers, but the Kings have mostly gone with a shortened rotation that emphasizes pace and shooting during their past couple games.

A former lottery pick (fifth overall in 2013), Len has never really lived up to his lofty draft status, but he’s in his 11th NBA season, so he has carved out a long career as a journeyman role player. The Ukrainian big man re-signed with the Kings as a free agent this offseason, inking a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum.

Len, 30, averaged 2.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG and 0.8 BPG in 6.8 MPG during his six appearances in 2023/24. He holds career averages of 7.4 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 0.9 BPG over 610 regular season contests.

Grizzlies’ Marcus Smart Out 3-5 Weeks With Foot Sprain

Grizzlies guard Marcus Smart is expected to miss three-to-five weeks after being diagnosed with a left foot sprain, the team announced in a press release (via Twitter).

Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link) first reported that Smart is expected to miss multiple weeks as a result of the injury, which occurred during Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers. Smart left the game in the first quarter after landing on Austin Reaves‘ foot while contesting a shot (Twitter video link via Bally Sports).

Smart, 29, was acquired in a three-team trade this offseason that involved Boston and Washington. The 2021/22 Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 12.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.0 steals on .429/.295/.810 shooting in 11 games this season (29.9 minutes per night).

It’s a tough blow for the Grizzlies, who won 50-plus games each of the past two seasons but are currently 2-9 and rank last in the Western Conference. Injuries and a suspension have played a major part in that, and losing Smart certainly won’t help matters.

Luke Kennard also left Tuesday’s game early after sustaining a left knee bone bruise, and he has been ruled out for Saturday’s game in San Antonio (Twitter link via the Grizzlies). The sharpshooting guard led the NBA in three-point percentage the past two seasons.

The Grizzlies are particularly shorthanded at point guard, with Ja Morant out for the first 25 games of 2023/24 after being suspended multiple times in the past year. Derrick Rose has also been out since October 30 due to a left knee injury, but he’s officially listed as questionable for Saturday’s game, so he may be back soon.

The frontcourt is another area of the roster that has been decimated by injuries. Steven Adams is out for the year after undergoing season-ending knee surgery, while Brandon Clarke figures to remain on the shelf for most of the season after tearing his Achilles tendon in March. Xavier Tillman has missed four of the past five games with a left knee injury, and he’s out Saturday as well.

For what it’s worth, the Grizzlies could qualify for a second extra roster spot via a hardship exception, but that would require four players to have missed at least three consecutive games due to an injury or illness, with an expectation they’d remain sidelined for some time beyond those three games, and they don’t meet that criteria right now. Bismack Biyombo currently occupies the first extra spot after Morant was placed on the suspended list.

Two-way player Jacob Gilyard, a 5’9″ point guard, has started the past three games for Memphis and will likely continue to receive extended run until the Grizzlies get more reinforcements back.

Clippers Sign Daniel Theis

After clearing waivers on Friday, free agent center Daniel Theis has officially signed with the Clippers, the team announced (via Twitter).

According to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), Theis is expected to be available for Friday’s contest against Houston.

The move was expected. Theis reached a buyout agreement with the Pacers on Wednesday and was subsequently waived. The Clippers can only offer the prorated veteran’s minimum — worth about $2.2MM in Theis’ case — which is reportedly how much he gave up in his buyout.

Theis, 31, is a 6’8″ German big man who has spent most of his seven-year NBA career with Boston, but he has also played for Chicago, Houston and Indiana. He holds career averages of 7.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG and 0.9 BPG on .542/.325/.714 shooting in 314 games (148 starts, 19.4 MPG).

Theis was limited to just seven NBA appearances last season due to a knee injury, but had a strong summer in international competition. He started at center for the German national team that captured gold at the 2023 World Cup, averaging 10.9 PPG, 5.4 RPG and 1.9 APG in 21.8 MPG in the club’s eight FIBA contests.

Theis had hoped to carry over that success into the 2023/24 NBA season, but the Pacers have a crowded frontcourt behind starting center Myles Turner. Isaiah Jackson and Jalen Smith were both ahead of Theis on the depth chart through the first three weeks of the season.

As a result, Theis was limited to just one cameo appearance this season and admitted earlier this month that was “not happy” about his nonexistent role in Indiana.

The Clippers were looking for frontcourt depth after trading multiple power forwards in the James Harden trade and then losing backup center Mason Plumlee to a sprained MCL in his left knee. Plumlee is expected to miss multiple months.

The Clippers now have a full 18-man roster after signing Theis.