Paul Millsap

Northwest Notes: Collins, Nuggets, Millsap, Westbrook

Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins remains on track to return in March after undergoing shoulder surgery, Jason Quick of The Athletic relays.  Collins suffered a left shoulder dislocation and had the surgery performed in early November. “That’s definitely my goal,” Collins said of returning in March. “We will be in the playoff race and I’ll be able to come back and make a really good push. And hopefully Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic) comes back around that time and we can all just really come together at the right time for the playoffs.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone hopes the current roster remains in place through the trade deadline, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. However, he also knows that some reserves would have better opportunities elsewhere. Among those players are guard Malik Beasley and forward Juancho Hernangomez. “I hope we can keep this team because I know what this team is capable of… I also know it’s a business, I also know these guys all want to play,” Malone said.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap wishes he would have played it safer regarding the left knee contusion he suffered in a collision with Jamal Murray on December 20, Singer reports. Millsap has missed three games and hasn’t played up to his usual standards when he has suited up. “Probably should’ve got it taken care of and sat down and make sure it was good at that time,” Millsap said. “It’s a little lingering effect to it, and a few other things going on because of it. But, best-case scenario is just sit down and make sure I’m fully healthy.” Millsap, who insists the injury isn’t serious, will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
  • Rockets point guard Russell Westbrook returned to Oklahoma City on Thursday night and indicated he had no regrets about his tenure with the Thunder, Mark Medina of USA Today writes. “I have no bad blood or nothing here in this city with no fans or nobody in the organization,” Westbrook said. “They gave me all they had, and I gave them all I had.” Westbrook, who was traded in July, scored 34 points against his former team but OKC rolled to an easy victory.

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Millsap, Wolves, Bol

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard isn’t expressing concern over the team’s slow start to the season, reminding fans of the successful campaigns the team has had in the past despite being wildly overlooked.

“Just watch,” Lillard said calmly, as relayed by Jason Quick of The Athletic. “Just watch. You’ve seen this movie before.”

Portland has opened the 2019/20 season with a 5-12 record, good for second-worst in the Western Conference. The Blazers have dealt with various injuries and have yet to play with starting center Jusuf Nurkic (fractured leg rehab), but the team’s performances have been nothing short of worrisome.

The Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony, exiled from the league over the past year for a variety of reasons, to a non-guaranteed contract and immediately named him a starter. They rank No. 21 in FG% (44.3%), No. 23 in free throws attempted (21.6 per game) and No. 22 in defensive rating (111.6) on the season.

“You all probably don’t want to hear it, but it’s such a long way to go,” Lillard told reporters. “Because of that, there are two things you can do: you can either pout and say we should have won that game [against Cleveland on Saturday], or ‘We should have did this’ or ‘We are not doing this.’

“I think our team understands that there are certain things we are not doing well enough to win games. But we really do as a group believe it is going to turn around. So, we are just going to stay with it and keep working towards improving. That’s all we can do.”

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Nuggets veteran Paul Millsap is feeling rejuvenated in his 14th NBA season, Kyle Fredrickson of the Denver Post writes. Millsap is averaging 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds through the team’s first 14 games, proving his worth on both ends of the floor — including a variety of posterizing dunks in the season’s first month. “A lot of my teammates, they appreciate it, so I try to do it for them sometimes,” Millsap said of the slams. “But a lot of times it’s for myself to get going to show what I can do. One of my goals this year is trying to be more aggressive going to the basket and finishing above the rim.”
  • A trio of G League players received major opportunities with the Timberwolves on Saturday, as the team needed their services due to multiple players being sidelined to illness or injury, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune details. Minnesota recalled Jaylen Nowell, Kelan Martin and Keita Bates-Diop to play against Phoenix, with Bates-Diop recording 22 points and four rebounds in 37 minutes of work. “He’s capable,” teammate Andrew Wiggins said of Bates-Diop. “Keita’s a very versatile player. He can knock down a shot, great defender, even though he’s very good at getting to the rim and amazing off-the-ball player.”
  • Bol Bol might be the Nuggets’ latest second-round steal, Mike Singer writes for the Denver Post. The Nuggets selected Bol at No. 44 overall in the draft, and the 7-foot-2 center has impressed in the G League so far.

Nuggets Notes: Load Management, Duval, Cancar, Backcourt

Paul Millsap, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are all candidates for load management in order to keep them fresh for the playoffs, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. While coach Michael Malone isn’t a fan of the tactic, an occasional night off for the trio could make some sense, Kosmider continues. Age is a factor for Millsap, while there isn’t a lot of depth behind Jokic and Murray at their respective positions.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Free agent point guard Trevon Duval worked out for the Nuggets last week, Ben Stinar of Amico Hoops tweets. Duval was a two-way player for the Rockets last season and became a free agent when the team didn’t give him a qualifying offer this summer. He was claimed by Houston in March after the Bucks waived him.
  • Rookie forward Vlatko Cancar isn’t the kind of player that brings people out of their seats, as he told Eric Spyropoulos of the team’s website. Cancar signed with Denver, which drafted him in the second round in 2017, after spending last season in Spain. “I’m not a spectacular, flashy player,” he said. “I’ll be the player that gets the job done and helps the team be in the best position it can be.”
  • The starting backcourt of Murray and Gary Harris is ranked among the top five in the league by Bleacher Report.

Nuggets Notes: Harris, Bol, Cook

Gary Harris is primed for a bounce-back season with the Nuggets after injuries marred his 2018/19 campaign, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic writes. Harris was only able to play in 57 regular-season games last season. Harris shot 40.2% from long range in the last 21 games of the regular season and averaged 14.2 PPG in the postseason, Kosmider notes.

Coach Michael Malone has praised Harris for his consistency and the shooting guard has a capable backup in Malik Beasley, which gives Malone the luxury of resting Harris more often prior to the playoffs, Kosmider adds.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • They would prefer to have second-round pick Bol Bol sign a two-way contract in order to stay below the luxury tax line, as Albert Nahmad details. A two-way deal instead of a $898K minimum-salary contract with Bol would give them a little more elbow room as opposed to being less than $100K under the line. If Bol doesn’t want a two-way, the team would have to issue him that minimum deal by September 5 to make him a restricted free agent. Bol would have until October 15 to accept the offer. The team is currently $979K below the tax line, though that figures excludes some unlikely bonuses for Harris and Paul Millsap, Nahmad adds (Twitter links here).
  • Undrafted forward Tyler Cook currently holds the other two-way spot and he has no illusions about making an impact in his rookie year, according to Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. Like most two-way players, Cook will try to hone his skills in the G League for a majority of the season. “I’m a rookie and I understand that,” Cook said. “I’m coming into an established group and so I want to be able to do whatever I can do, whatever they ask me to do to help them win.”
  • According to a rookie survey, Bol was a steal in this year’s draft. Get more details here.

Team USA Updates: Millsap, Plumlee, Harrell, Select Team

USA Basketball has issued a press release announcing a series of updates relating to the team it’s putting together for the 2019 World Cup in China, as well as the training camp that will take place in August before that event. Here are the highlights of that announcement:

More withdrawals:

Nuggets big man Paul Millsap has joined the ever-growing list of players from Team USA’s initial 20-man roster who have decided not to participate in this year’s World Cup. As expected, Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love has also withdrawn from Team USA’s 2019 roster.

Millsap and Love join Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, James Harden, Tobias Harris, Damian Lillard, and CJ McCollum among the original invitees who have removed their names from World Cup consideration.

New invitees:

Team USA confirmed that Thaddeus Young, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, and Jaylen Brown will join the training camp roster for next month, as previous reports indicated.

In addition to those four players, two big men will join the roster as well, with Clippers center Montrezl Harrell and Nuggets center Mason Plumlee have received invitations from USA Basketball. Assuming the remaining 11 players from the original 20-man roster remain committed, that would bring the roster back up to 17.

[UPDATE: Harrell may turn down his invitation]

Those 11 other players are Harrison Barnes, Andre Drummond, Kyle Kuzma, Brook Lopez, Kyle Lowry, Khris Middleton, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, P.J. Tucker, Myles Turner, and Kemba Walker.

Select Team:

For the first time, USA Basketball confirmed the players who will make up the Select Team at next month’s training camp in Las Vegas. The members of the 13-man Select Team will practice and scrimmage with Team USA’s training camp invitees, and will be coached by Jeff Van Gundy.

It’s possible that a player could be elevated from the Select Team to the primary roster and eventually find his way onto the 12-man squad that will play in China, but that’s probably a long shot.

The 13 players who will play for the Select Team are as follows:

  1. Jarrett Allen (Nets)
  2. Marvin Bagley III (Kings)
  3. Mikal Bridges (Suns)
  4. Jalen Brunson (Mavericks)
  5. John Collins (Hawks)
  6. Pat Connaughton (Bucks)
  7. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  8. Joe Harris (Nets)
  9. Jonathan Isaac (Magic)
  10. Mitchell Robinson (Knicks)
  11. Landry Shamet (Clippers)
  12. Derrick White (Spurs)
  13. Trae Young (Hawks)

Team USA’s training camp will take place during the week of August 5, while the World Cup itself is scheduled to run from August 31 to September 15.

Nuggets Exercise Paul Millsap’s Team Option

12:48pm: The Nuggets have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve picked up Millsap’s option.

11:54am: The Nuggets are picking up their team option for 2019/20 on big man Paul Millsap, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). The option will pay Millsap $30.35MM for next season, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks.

[RELATED: NBA Team Option Decisions For 2019/20]

Millsap, 34, played a slightly reduced role for Denver in 2018/19. His 12.6 PPG and 27.1 MPG were his lowest marks since the 2009/10 campaign. However, his interior presence helped stabilize the Nuggets’ defense, and he also chipped in as a rebounder (7.2 RPG) and outside threat (.365 3PT%).

There was some uncertainty over whether the Nuggets would exercise Millsap’s option, given its cost. The team was believed to be exploring whether turning down that option and bringing back Millsap on a more favorable multiyear contract was possible. However, as Marks points out (via Twitter), a deal along those lines would have cut into Denver’s projected cap space for 2020, which may represent the club’s best chance to spend.

If Denver had decided to move on from Millsap altogether, the team could have opened up about $17MM in cap room to pursue an outside free agent. Instead, as Wojnarowski tweets, the Nuggets are in position to potentially use their full mid-level exception ($9.25MM) and still sneak under the projected tax line.

Millsap, meanwhile, is now on track to reach the unrestricted free agent market in 2020 at age 35.

Today represents the last day for clubs to exercise team options or for veterans to pick up player options, so the Nuggets took their decision on Millsap down to the wire.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Millsap, Blazers, Lakers, D-Lo, Kemba, Portis

The Nuggets are prepared to potentially account for Paul Millsap‘s $30MM team option on their 2019/20 cap if they don’t believe they’ll be able to negotiate a new, more favorable deal with the big man in free agency, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski suggested as part of the network’s free agency special on Tuesday night (video link).

While the Nuggets would have limited cap flexibility this summer with Millsap’s $30MM on their books, the club values him and wants to bring him back, according to both Woj and ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

Meanwhile, Woj and Lowe also weighed in on Trail Blazers, Denver’s opponent in the Western Semifinals this spring. There are indications that the Blazers won’t rest on their laurels this offseason, according to Lowe, who suggests that Portland may be one move away from becoming a legit title threat.

Wojnarowski agrees, though he cautions that the Blazers – who are more likely to make a big move via trade than on the free agent market – may end up waiting until during the season to try to make that move. Woj adds that Portland may not be able to keep Rodney Hood, since it looks as if his value this summer could exceed the taxpayer mid-level. The Blazers don’t have Hood’s Bird rights.

Here’s more on free agency from around the NBA:

  • In a pair of ESPN appearances (video links), Wojnarowski continues to suggest that the idea of a reunion between the Lakers and D’Angelo Russell isn’t far-fetched. According to Woj, Russell is “open-minded” about the idea, while the Lakers wouldn’t mind seeing Kyrie Irving go to Brooklyn, since it would increase the odds of the Nets withdrawing Russell’s QO and making him an unrestricted free agent. If Anthony Davis waives his trade kicker, the Lakers could theoretically offer Russell his max without trading Moritz Wagner or Isaac Bonga.
  • One league source who spoke to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link) views the Celtics as the favorites for free agent point guard Kemba Walker, followed by the Hornets and Mavericks.
  • The Wizards aren’t expected to match a huge offer sheet for Bobby Portis, who has generated interest from multiple teams already, sources tell Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones also repeats a number that has been previously reported, indicating that Portis is seeking an annual salary of up to $16MM.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu is technically eligible for a contract extension with the Trail Blazers until Sunday, but he tells Jason Quick of The Athletic, “I haven’t really talked to [president of basketball operations] Neil [Olshey] (Twitter link). Aminu will reach the open market as an unrestricted free agent on the evening of June 30, assuming Portland doesn’t lock him up before then.

Team USA Announces 20-Player Camp Roster For World Cup

USA Basketball has officially announced the group of 20 players that will participate in training camp this summer in advance of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The camp will take place from August 5-9, and will be used to select the 12-man roster for this year’s World Cup in China.

The 20-man training camp roster is as follows:

  1. Harrison Barnes (Kings)
  2. Bradley Beal (Wizards)
  3. Anthony Davis (Pelicans)
  4. Andre Drummond (Pistons)
  5. Eric Gordon (Rockets)
  6. James Harden (Rockets)
  7. Tobias Harris (Sixers / FA)
  8. Kyle Kuzma (Lakers)
  9. Damian Lillard (Trail Blazers)
  10. Brook Lopez (Bucks / FA)
  11. Kevin Love (Cavaliers)
  12. Kyle Lowry (Raptors)
  13. CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers)
  14. Khris Middleton (Bucks)
  15. Paul Millsap (Nuggets)
  16. Donovan Mitchell (Jazz)
  17. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  18. Myles Turner (Pacers)
  19. P.J. Tucker (Rockets)
  20. Kemba Walker (Hornets / FA)

“I am excited about getting to training camp in August and working with all of the players that have been selected to attend the USA National Team training camp in Las Vegas,” Team USA head coach Gregg Popovich said in a statement. “We’ve got an excellent cross-section of veteran USA Basketball and NBA players, as well as some exciting younger players who possess amazing versatility.

“I’m appreciative of commitment that our National Team players continue to make, and the eagerness of the new players to become involved,” Popovich continued. “Selecting a 12-man team will be extremely difficult.”

It will be an eventful summer for many of the players on the 20-man Team USA training camp roster. Besides Harris, Lopez, and Walker, who are all headed for unrestricted free agency and could be on new teams by August, players like Barnes, Middleton, and Millsap could reach the open market if their player or team options are declined. Others – including Davis, Gordon, Kuzma, Tatum, and Tucker – have been mentioned in trade rumors.

Kuzma and Mitchell are the only players on the roster who haven’t played internationally for Team USA in the past. Five player on the roster (Barnes, Davis, Harden, Love, and Lowry) have won gold medals for USA Basketball at the 2012 or 2016 Olympics, while two others (Drummond and Gordon) have taken home gold at previous World Cups.

Previous reports indicated that Zion Williamson, John Collins, and Marvin Bagley are expected to be among the players named to a 10-man select team that will scrimmage with Team USA’s 20-man roster at the training camp in August.

More Names Revealed For Team USA World Cup Tryouts

Team USA’s training camp roster for the FIBA World Cup will be announced next week, but four players have already been confirmed, tweets Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Anthony Davis, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Kemba Walker will definitely be part of the team, while the other 14 slots are still being worked out. The roster will be trimmed to 12 when the players gather in Las Vegas in early August to prepare for the tournament, which takes place from August 31 to September 15 in China.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski drops a few more names in a full story on the World Cup tryouts, which sources tell him are also expected to include Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Bradley Beal and Kevin Love. Others planning to be part of the camp include Eric Gordon, Jayson Tatum, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, LaMarcus Aldridge, Andre Drummond and Kyle Kuzma.

P.J. Tucker will attend training camp as well, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, and league sources tell Woj that Paul Millsap also plans to be there. Other names leaked for the camp are Tobias Harris (Twitter link from Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer) and Myles Turner (Twitter link from Scott Agness of the Athletic).

Zion Williamson, expected to be the first pick in the draft later this month, has been invited to camp as part of the 10-man select team that will scrimmage against the 18-man roster, Stein tweets. Williamson will be given a chance to play his way onto the final roster if he has a standout performance in that role, according to USA Basketball chairman Jerry Colangelo (Twitter link).

The select team will also include John Collins and Marvin Bagley, tweets Tim Bomtemps of ESPN.

The camp will be held from August 5-8, with exhibition games to follow before the start of World Cup play. Gregg Popovich will serve as head coach.

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Connelly, Karnisovas, Offseason

The Nuggets are optimistic they’ll retain veteran forward Paul Millsap, though not necessarily by picking up his $30.1MM option for next season, Sean Keeler of the Denver Post reports. “Our goal and Paul’s goal is to have him back with us,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. The easiest way to do that would be to pick up the option by the June 29 deadline but that would hamper the team’s ability to make upgrades.

It already has more than $90MM in guaranteed salary commitments for next season. A more likely scenario would be to decline the option and sign Millsap to a multi-year deal in free agency at a lower annual salary. “We both want the same thing,” Connelly said. “We’ll figure out the best way for the organization and Paul to make sure that’s achieved. I fully expect Paul to be back in a Nuggets uniform.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Connelly downplayed his interview with the Wizards for their top front office job, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. “We just had a conversation. It was not much more than that,” Connelly said. There are conflicting reports on whether the Wizards formally made Connelly a four-year contract offer but he ultimately decided to stay put.
  • Head coach Michael Malone said the organization “wouldn’t have skipped a beat” if Connelly had taken the Wizards job and the Nuggets replaced him with GM Arturas Karnisovas, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic tweets. However, Malone is happy Connelly decided to stay since they and owner Josh Kroenke have a strong working relationship.
  • The Nuggets can’t continue to rely on developing their young players alone to bridge the gap between them and the other championship contenders, Kosmider writes. The moves that Connelly makes this offseason will be crucial and viewed with intense scrutiny, Kosmider adds.