Paul Millsap

Nuggets’ Paul Millsap Suffers Broken Toe

11:08am: Millsap has suffered a right big toe fracture, the Nuggets announced in a press release on Saturday. Updates on his status will be provided when appropriate.

9:24am: Nuggets forward Paul Millsap suffered a broken toe on his right foot and will be re-evaluated once the team returns to Denver, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (Twitter link). Millsap sustained the injury on Friday in Charlotte as the Nuggets lost to the Hornets.

Denver head coach Michael Malone said he heard Millsap suffered a cut on his foot whereas teammate Monte Morris said he heard the injury was a broken toe, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Millsap, 33, is in the midst of a productive season for Denver, averaging 13.6 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 2.0 APG through 25 contests. His .495% field goal percentage is his highest since the 2010/11 season.

The Nuggets signed the veteran to a three-year. $90 million deal in the summer of 2017. Millsap underwent surgery for a torn ligament in his left wrist last November and missed 44 games in 2017/18. Losing Millsap for another extended stretch would be a tough break for a Nuggets team currently percentage points ahead of the Warriors for first place in the Western Conference.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Nader, Schroder, Millsap

The Timberwolves have hosted a handful of free agents for a workout this week, with Marcus Georges-Hunt, Rashad Vaughn, and John Jenkins among the latest players to earn a look from Minnesota, per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 (Twitter link) also adds Eric Moreland to the list of players auditioned by the Wolves.

Nick Young, Arron Afflalo and Corey Brewer worked out for the Timberwolves too, but according to Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune, a number of agents believe the Wolves simply plan to sign Luol Deng, making them reluctant to send their players for a workout with the team. Minnesota reportedly launched its pursuit of Deng this week.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Following his trade from the Celtics this summer, Thunder forward Abdel Nader is looking forward to his new opportunity with the team, relays Nick Gallo of “It’s great,” Nader said. “I met a lot of the younger guys mostly, and even Russ, PG, Raymond (Felton). Everybody has been great. It’s a great group of guys. High character guys. I’m just really excited to be able to start playing with this team and build chemistry on the court as well as off the court.”
  • Dennis Schroder, who was also traded to the Thunder this summer, discussed his upcoming season, the difficulties he faced growing up in Germany and the advice he received from Dirk Nowitzki in a separate piece written by Nick Gallo. Schroder will provide depth off the bench behind All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook this season.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap is set to start the season injury-free after wrist surgery forced him to miss 44 games last year, as detailed by Chris Dempsey of Millsap will be relied upon to anchor Denver’s defense and stretch the club’s offense.

Northwest Notes: Butler, Lyles, Neto, Jokic/Millsap

With four crucial games left in the regular season, Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler said he is “this close” to returning following practice on Tuesday, per Dave Campbell of The Associated Press. Minnesota’s next game is against the Nuggets on Thursday and it’s possible Butler will be available.

The Timberwolves have been without Butler since February 23, when he tore his meniscus and underwent surgery sidelining him for an estimated four-to-six weeks. In 56 games before the injury, Butler was arguably Minnesota’s best two-way asset as he played his usual strong defense while averaging 22.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 5.0 APG.

Just 2.5 games separate the seventh-place Timberwolves and the 10th-place Clippers with four games to go. Having a healthy Butler back in the lineup for this crucial stretch would provide a huge boost to the team’s playoff hopes.

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • Former Jazz player Trey Lyles, now with the Nuggets, did not have many kind words about his former team. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News passes along some of Lyles’ comments, made during an appearance on teammate Richard Jefferson‘s Road Trippin’ Podcast. Lyles was critical of head coach Quin Snyder and expressed a general distaste for his tenure in Utah.
  • Jazz point guard Raul Neto has made significant progress on his fractured wrist, tweets Tony Jones of the Salt Lake City Tribune. No firm decision has been made, but it’s possible that Neto plays in tomorrow’s game against the Lakers, Jones adds.
  • Having both Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic in the lineup healthy and producing has been a tremendous boost for the Nuggets, Gina Mizell of the Denver Post writes. “They’re my safety blanket,” head coach Michael Malone said. “If one of those two are in the game at all times, we have somebody to play through and to kind of calm things down when they’re not going our way.”

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Rose, Brewer

The Trail Blazers have surged into third place in a wild Western Conference playoff race thanks largely to an impressive level of depth, Jason Quick of NBC Sports Northwest writes. On a nightly basis, Portland’s success can be at least partly attributed to team defense and solid performances from role players.

In the past two years, when we went on great runs, it’s always been C.J. McCollum has a great stretch, or I have a great stretch,” lone Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard said. “But now, it’s much more collective – both this season and during this run.

Quick cites Jusuf Nurkic‘s in-season improvement shooting around the basket, the pleasant emergence of rookie Zach Collins and a clutch performance from Shabazz Napier as some of the driving forces behind the Trail Blazer’s recent success.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets have struggled since offseason addition Paul Millsap made his return from an extended absence. Now the playoff hopeful club needs to figure out how to right the ship. “When a player of Paul Millsap’s magnitude misses 44 games and comes back with 22 games to go, that is a huge challenge,” head coach Michael Malone told Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. “Especially when the team was playing so well.
  • We wrote last month that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor wasn’t interested in having his team sign Derrick Rose. That line of thinking changed after Jimmy Butler went down with his knee injury, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes.
  • The Thunder may have found a suitable replacement for the injured Andre Roberson in recently bought out veteran Corey Brewer. “I’m not comparing him and Andre in any way personality-wise or player-wise,” head coach Billy Donovan told ESPN’s Royce Young, “But the one thing I will compare them, they both have a pop and a bounce to them where they play the game where they find the ball. They find it and are able to make plays.”

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Brewer, Millsap, Butler

Nikola Jokic‘s offensive production has dropped dramatically over the last three games, coinciding with the return of Paul Millsap from a wrist injury. Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters, including the Denver Post’s Gina Mizell, that his offense still revolves around his center. Jokic has averaged 12 PPG and while committing 12 turnovers over the last three games. “Nikola is still the focal point of our offense,” Malone said. “I don’t want Nikola thinking that he has to play second fiddle to anyone. … I want him to shoot the ball more and be more aggressive.”

In other developments around the Northwest Division:

  • Playing time, and the possibility of a starting role, led to Corey Brewer‘s decision to join the Thunder, Eric Horne of the The Oklahoman reports. “I didn’t feel like I could really pass that up,” Brewer told Horne.  Brewer played 12 scoreless minutes in his Oklahoma City debut on Saturday after being bought out by the Lakers and agreeing to terms with the Thunder. He reportedly also drew interest from the Wizards, Cavaliers and Bucks. The Thunder have sought help at shooting guard since Andre Roberson went down with a season-ending knee injury in late January.
  • Millsap hasn’t played more than 27 minutes in his first three games back but Malone said his workload will increase very soon, Chris Dempsey of tweets. Millsap scored 11 points in 26 minutes against the Cavaliers on Saturday.
  • The Timberwolves are 2-2 in the first four games without Jimmy Butler and their defense, in particular, has suffered without him, as Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details. Metrics show that the Timberwolves have the 11th-best defensive rating with Butler on the court. When he’s not playing, their defensive rating is the worst in the league. Butler is recovering from knee surgery.  “Jimmy always guards the best perimeter player,” veteran guard Jamal Crawford noted to Hine.
  • There was skepticism when the Jazz signed Joe Ingles a four-year, $52MM contract last summer but it’s proving to be a bargain, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Advanced metrics rate Ingles as one of the league’s top 10 small forwards this season and the intangibles he brings add to his value, as coach Quin Snyder told MacMahon. “There just hasn’t been anything that he’s not willing to do for the team,” Snyder said. “That’s where he’s found his game. He’s found his game making the team better when he’s on the floor.”

Northwest Notes: Teague, Butler, Shabazz, Millsap

If the Timberwolves want to continue their winning ways while All-Star Jimmy Butler is sidelined, point guard Jeff Teague must continue to play with pace and aggression, opines Britt Robson of The Athletic Minnesota.

Despite an apparent tendency and preference to let his teammates get involved as playmakers, Teague no longer has that luxury, at least for the time being, with Butler out of the equation. Teague must also continue to push the pace of play, as he has done in the team’s last two games.

In fact, in the team’s first full game since Butler’s injury, Minnesota launched a season-high 35 three pointers, primarily a product of Teague’s ability to  get into the half-court offense quickly, beat defenders off the dribble, and present a viable threat to score at the rim or kick it out to the perimeter for a shot or extra pass.

As head coach Tom Thibodeau described, “We have to make sure we get to the right spots so we can get that pass out. And once you get that pass out, usually the second pass will get you a great shot.” 

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves‘ reserve guard Shabazz Muhammad is not likely to be bought out after all, tweets Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune. When asked about the possibility, Thibodeau simply said, “Nope, we like the team we have.”
  • In a piece for The Athletic Minnesota, Jon Krawczynski details Butler’s decision to have surgery on his damaged right meniscus. Fortunately for Butler and the Timberwolves, the procedure was neither a major repair nor a removal, and the hope is that he will be able to return to action without facing some of the long-term risks involved with removal.
  • With last night’s loss to the Clippers, the Nuggets have fallen to ninth place in the Western Conference, percentage points behind the Clippers, who now also own the the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two teams. Part of the problem recently is Denver’s defense, reports Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Head coach Mike Malone is particularly frustrated, saying the recent struggles defensively have left him “questioning (his) whole being as a coach.”
  • In brighter news for the Nuggets, forward Paul Millsap played last night for the first time since he injured his left wrist on Nov. 19.

Northwest Notes: Butler, Anthony, Millsap, Jazz

In the wake of Jimmy Butler‘s meniscus injury, the Timberwolves find themselves in a worse position than their Western Conference rivals who have lost star players, writes Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated. With the trade deadline already passed, Minnesota has few options to replace Butler if he is sidelined for several weeks or the rest of the season.

The Grizzlies lost Mike Conley early in the season and started pointing toward next year before Christmas arrived. Rudy Gobert of the Jazz and Paul Millsap of the Nuggets both had time to heal before the stretch run. The Pelicans were able to deal for Nikola Mirotic when DeMarcus Cousins got injured. The Spurs have a successful foundation to fall back on without Kawhi Leonard.

None of those benefits are available to the Wolves, who are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Coach Tom Thibodeau has relied heavily on Butler on both ends of the court since acquiring him from the Bulls in an offseason trade. Butler ranks second in the league in minutes per game at 37.1 and is the key to a defense that becomes the NBA’s worst without him on the court.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Some tears can’t be fixed surgically, meaning the meniscus has to be removed, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. That leads to a faster recovery, adds Chris Mannix of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link), but it has become less popular since Dwyane Wade had it done and blames it for his ongoing knee pain.
  • Thunder forward Carmelo Anthony is enjoying himself away from the stress that marked most of his time in New York, relays Tim Keown of ESPN. Anthony’s tenure with the Knicks was marked by disappointing results and a long public feud with team president Phil Jackson. “In New York, there was so much going on with the organization and the city,” Anthony said. “It was very tense up there, and you never really get a chance to have stability there. Here, man, I’m having fun with the game again. The joy of it — that’s what guys know me as: laughing and smiling and enjoying the game. I think over the past couple of years I’ve lost that, and I think guys around the league have seen it.”
  • After climbing to sixth in the Western standings, the Nuggets face the challenge of incorporating two injured players back into their rotation, writes Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post. Mason Plumlee returned to the lineup Friday, and Millsap is expected back soon. “It’s just great to have those guys back,” said coach Michael Malone. “We’ll figure out who plays and when they play, but being healthy with 24 games to go [is] a good thing to be.”
  • The Jazz, who haven’t hosted an All-Star Game in 25 years, have submitted a formal bid to bring the game to Utah in 2022 or 2023, according to Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.

Northwest Notes: Roberson, Millsap, Lillard

The Thunder have limited options in trying to replace Andre Roberson through trades, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. Oklahoma City lost its best wing defender Saturday when Roberson was carried off the court in Detroit with a ruptured patellar tendonTerrance Ferguson and Alex Abrines are potential replacements on the roster, but both have deficiencies in their games and neither can match Roberson’s defensive prowess. Josh Huestis has similar skills to Roberson, but only shoots 28.4% from 3-point range.

Offseason deals for Paul George and Carmelo Anthony pushed the team over the luxury tax, with a projected $20MM payment due this season. Also, OKC doesn’t have a first-round pick available to trade until 2024. Pelton suggests trying to improve the offense by getting a lower-salary guard like Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, who is making a little more than $1.5MM on an expiring contract, or possibly dealing Abrines for Atlanta’s Marco Belinelli, who has a $6.6MM expiring deal.

There’s more news from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder have a pair of trade exceptions available, posts Bobby Marks on ESPN Now. However, they are only valued at $2.55M and $1.49M, so the team’s options with those exceptions will be limited.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap remains on schedule to return from wrist surgery after the All-Star break, according to Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Millsap hasn’t played since mid-November because of a torn ligament in his left wrist, but he is able to participate in shooting, ball handling and catching drills and work on conditioning. “There are good days and bad days,” coach Mike Malone said. “He’s a little sore right now from that ramping up his on-court activity, but he’s fired up. He’s working hard.” Millsap, who signed a three-year, $90MM contract over the summer, was averaging 15.3 points and 6.2 rebounds before being sidelined.
  • Damian Lillard‘s recent meeting with Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen could be the first step in seeking a trade, speculates John Canzano of The Oregonian. Lillard met with Allen without the knowledge of coach Terry Stotts or GM Neil Olshey. They reportedly discussed the state of the team, but Canzano thinks Lillard may have demanded a roster upgrade and given himself leeway to ask for a trade if it doesn’t happen before next year’s deadline.

Injury Updates: Harden, Millsap, Allen, Turner

James Harden is showing signs of improvement as he recovers from a strained hamstring, but the Rockets‘ star guard won’t get the chance to lobby for a quicker return to the court, Mike D’Antoni said on Wednesday, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle.

“I walk into there to the trainers,” the Rockets head coach said. “‘Can he play?’ ‘No.’ Then he can’t play. There is no challenge. He’s going to try to push the envelope because he wants to play. That’s on trainers and doctors. I don’t figure into it. He’d beat me up.”

The Rockets announced on January 1 that Harden would be re-evaluated in two weeks, so he’s likely still at least a few days away from returning to action.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Paul Millsap has been out of the Nuggets‘ lineup since undergoing wrist surgery in late November, but he recently had his cast removed and is progressing toward a return, writes Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. According to Mizell, Millsap is on track to get back on the court around the time of the All-Star break next month.
  • Pelicans guard Tony Allen suffered a setback in his recovery from a fibula fracture, per Jennifer Hale of FOX Sports New Orleans (Twitter link). Allen, originally expected to be back around this time, will likely miss another two to four weeks, says Hale.
  • Pacers center Myles Turner, who sat out last night’s game against Miami with a right elbow injury, will also miss Friday’s contest vs. Cleveland, the club announced in a press release.

Northwest Notes: George, Millsap, Timberwolves

It was an emotional night for both Paul George and Pacers fans as the Thunder arrived in Indiana. Now, with the contest in the rearview mirror, George is ready to move on. As Clifton Brown of the Indianapolis Star writes, the All-Star is happy that the “circus” is over.

While George struggled in his return to the city in which he launched his career, Thunder head coach Billy Donovan thinks that his forward handled it well, showing incredible poise.

George shot 3-14 from the field in the Thunder’s narrow victory Wednesday night, the latest inconsistent offensive showing in a season that has, to this point, been full of them.

I understood I was going to be coming into it, so it wasn’t a surprise,” George said. “My [Thunder] teammates did a great job of helping me battle this one tonight. Just kept everything within that rectangle out there.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • While his return is still weeks, if not months away, injured Nuggets forward Paul Millsap is back with the team and doing everything possible to return to the court as quickly as possible, Christopher Dempsey of Denver’s official site writes.
  • Much has been said of the heavy usage that Timberwolves starters have seen so far this season but that could be caused by a lack of depth. Michael Rand of the Star Tribune writes that the Wolves wouldn’t need to rely on their short-list of stars if they could consistently expect more out of their bench.
  • It was always possible that the NBA’s latest big three experiment could take time to bear fruit. Now 27 games into the 2017/18 season, however, Royce Young of ESPN asks, if the Thunder are running out of time.