Sixers Rumors

Injury Notes: Oubre, Sixers, Edwards, Murray, Booker, Wiggins

Sixers wing Kelly Oubre was a full practice participant on Thursday and also did some extra work after practice, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oubre hasn’t played since November 10 after being struck by a vehicle. There was initially some optimism that he could be upgraded from out to questionable for Friday’s matchup with Boston, but sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium that the veteran swingman is targeting a return next week, possibly Wednesday against Washington or Friday against Atlanta (Twitter link).

According to Pompey, X-rays on Nicolas Batum‘s injured finger were negative and he plans to play against the Celtics. Star center Joel Embiid is questionable with an illness, but head coach Nick Nurse thinks he’ll be ready to go, Pompey adds.

Here are a few more injury notes:

  • Timberwolves star Anthony Edwards sustained a bruised right hip on Tuesday against Oklahoma City after taking a hard fall, causing him to exit the game, according to an Associated Press report relayed by Edwards is officially listed as doubtful for Thursday’s game against Utah, but forward Kyle Anderson indicated the fourth-year guard won’t play, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Free agent addition Troy Brown is likely to start in Edwards’ place, Krawczynski adds (via Twitter).
  • Making his return from a hamstring injury on Wednesday, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray contributed 16 points (on 4-of-14 shooting), six rebounds and six assists in 22 minutes. However, he appeared to roll his right ankle and might miss Friday’s contest in Phoenix, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Murray said he was “frustrated” by the ankle injury, which he iced throughout the game when he wasn’t playing.
  • The Suns got good and bad news on Wednesday. Kevin Durant returned from a two-game absence in the loss to Toronto, but Devin Booker suffered a right ankle injury after landing on Dennis Schröder‘s foot, according to Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It’s unclear if Booker will miss time with the injury, but he had his worst game of the season trying to play through it yesterday.
  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins has been ruled out of Thursday’s game against the Clippers, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. The former No. 1 overall pick is dealing with right finger soreness. Golden State will be shorthanded, as Chris Paul (leg contusion) and Gary Payton II (calf) are also out.

Sixers Notes: Batum, Beverley, House, Maxey

Nicolas Batum‘s impact on the Sixers‘ defense has made him the most valuable player the team received in the James Harden trade, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The versatile swingman not only moved into the starting lineup, he routinely guards the opposition’s top scorer, a list that so far has included Anthony Edwards, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LeBron James and Brandon Ingram.

“It’s super valuable in a lot of ways, and he just does a lot of it by working,” coach Nick Nurse said. “Like he’s up the floor picking up full court. He’s in denial a lot. So the guy doesn’t even get it. That’s the easiest way to guard somebody if they don’t have the ball.”

Batum’s next assignment will be Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, but that’s only if he’s able to play Friday at Boston. Batum didn’t return to Wednesday’s game after he hyperextended his right index finger in the third quarter, reaggravating an existing injury.

“We will see (Thursday),” he said. “It’s new so I don’t know what’s going to happen. … We haven’t had an X-ray yet. It’s more like we will see what happens (Thursday).”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • At age 35, Patrick Beverley is posting the lowest scoring average of his career at 3.3 points per game, but he continues to help the Sixers through a combination of defense, leadership and finding ways to motivate himself, Pompey notes in a separate story. On Monday, it involved a confrontation with former Lakers teammate Austin Reaves that led to them being separated by officials. Beverley, who is still seething about Reaves doing the “too small” gesture after scoring on him last season, commented about the matchup on his podcast. “Every time I see the Lakers until I retire — whatever team Austin Reaves is on — I’m on his ass,” Beverley said.
  • Danuel House missed his third straight game Wednesday with a left quadriceps strain, Pompey states in the same piece. House tested the injury at the morning shootaround, and Nurse is hoping he’ll be able to participate in today’s practice. “We’ve been over a week now since he’s done anything, practice or game-wise,” Nurse said after the game. “I didn’t think it was much there. So it’s a little bit disappointing. But tomorrow we shall see if we can make some progress.”
  • Tyrese Maxey‘s playing time has increased dramatically under Nurse, who was known for leaning heavily on his core players in Toronto, Pompey adds. Maxey is averaging 38.4 minutes per night, which would be the most since Jimmy Butler reached 38.7 with the Bulls nine years ago.

Eastern Rumors: Nets, Quickley, Hawks, Hayward, Martin

Executives around the NBA continue to monitor Nets forwards Dorian Finney-Smith and Royce O’Neale, who were considered trade candidates during the offseason, writes Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

Rival executives believe Brooklyn will seek the equivalent of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith, though they hope that cost will drop closer to the deadline, according to Scotto, who adds that some execs who spoke to HoopsHype think the Nets would want a protected first-round pick for O’Neale. Finney-Smith still has multiple years left on his contract, while O’Neale is on an expiring deal.

Teams are also eyeing Nic Claxton and are curious to see whether Brooklyn is willing to roll the dice on re-signing him as an unrestricted free agent next summer, since he won’t become extension-eligible before then. For now, the Nets view Claxton as part of their core and wouldn’t be inclined to move him unless they get an offer that blows them away, Scotto explains.

Finally, some NBA executives think that veteran guard Spencer Dinwiddie might be available on the trade market later this season — and they think he’d have some value. “Dinwiddie can help a team and make big shots,” one exec told Scotto.

Scotto has more trade rumors and notes from around the Eastern Conference. Let’s dive in…

  • Rival teams are keeping an eye on whether or not the Knicks will make Immanuel Quickley available, according to Scotto, who says the guard was seeking about $25MM per year on a rookie scale extension before the season, while New York offered approximately $18MM annually. “I think Quickley might be New York’s best trade asset besides Jalen Brunson,” one league executive told HoopsHype.
  • The Hawks still have some trade interest in Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, says Scotto. De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela were mentioned during the offseason as possible trade candidates for Atlanta and Scotto believes one or both players could be available again before February’s deadline. However, the Mavericks‘ interest in Capela has diminished due to the strong play of rookie Dereck Lively, Scotto notes.
  • Multiple “playoff-caliber” teams have been in touch with the Hornets to gauge the potential availability of veteran forward Gordon Hayward, per Scotto.
  • Scotto also reports that teams have expressed some exploratory interest in Sixers wing KJ Martin, who was part of the James Harden blockbuster earlier this month. Martin has played a limited role in Philadelphia but is coming off a solid year in Houston.

Reed Surprised By Blowback On Davis Comments

  • Paul Reed was surprised that his comments about the LakersAnthony Davis during the morning shootaround on Monday went viral, as Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer details. The Sixers big man called Davis “a big flopper” and added, “he’s going to be flailing.” Reed soon found out his comments caused controversy. “I started checking Twitter and Instagram,” he said, “and I’m like, ‘Damn, people are really mad at me in the Lakers community.’” Reed and Davis wound up sharing the court for only three minutes in Philly’s blowout win.

Schedule For NBA Tournament Non-Qualifiers Set

The NBA in-season tournament will reach the quarterfinal stage next week and the eight qualifiers and their seeds were finalized on Tuesday. The 22 teams that failed to advance had two holes in their schedules that needed to be filled.

Those matchups were determined late Tuesday evening, with each team receiving a home and away contest, NBA Communications tweets. The newly-scheduled games will take place next Wednesday (December 6) and Friday (Dec. 8).

The Cavaliers and Magic, who missed the quarterfinals despite their 3-1 tournament records, will face each other in Cleveland on Wednesday. Cleveland will then visit the Heat (2-2 tournament) on Friday.

The Nets, who also had a 3-1 tournament record, wound up with a road game against the Hawks (1-3) and home game against the Wizards (0-4)

The Sixers, who finished 2-2 in the tournament, drew a road game against the Wizards and a home game against the Hawks.

In the West, the Timberwolves were the only 3-1 tournament team that didn’t reach the quarterfinals. They’ll host the Spurs (0-4) and visit the Grizzlies (0-4).

The defending champion Nuggets will visit Los Angeles to face the Clippers (1-3), then head home to take on the Rockets (2-2). The Warriors, who were knocked out of contention by Sacramento on Tuesday, drew a home game against the Trail Blazers (1-3) and a road contest against the Thunder (1-3).

Here’s the full schedule for next Wednesday and Friday:

Wednesday, Dec. 6

  • Orlando at Cleveland
  • Memphis at Detroit
  • Miami at Toronto
  • Philadelphia at Washington
  • Brooklyn at Atlanta
  • San Antonio at Minnesota
  • Charlotte at Chicago
  • Oklahoma City at Houston
  • Utah at Dallas
  • Portland at Golden State
  • Denver at LA Clippers

Friday, Dec. 8

  • Toronto at Charlotte
  • Detroit at Orlando
  • Atlanta at Philadelphia
  • Washington at Brooklyn
  • Cleveland at Miami
  • Minnesota at Memphis
  • Golden State at Oklahoma City
  • Chicago at San Antonio
  • Houston at Denver
  • LA Clippers at Utah
  • Dallas at Portland

Two more regular season games will be added to the NBA’s schedule after the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament are complete, since the four teams that lose those matchups will require an 82nd game on their respective schedules.

Injury Notes: Ball, Bouknight, Butler, Murphy, Reddish, Oubre

There’s some good news and bad news on the injury front for the Hornets. The team confirmed (via Twitter) that star guard LaMelo Ball will be unavailable on Tuesday in New York for Charlotte’s final round robin game in the in-season tournament, as he’s been ruled out due to a right ankle strain.

However, guard James Bouknight, who has spent the entire season recovering from knee surgery that he underwent last month, has been cleared to return and will be active for the first time on Tuesday. According to Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link), Bouknight described himself as “excited (and) anxious,” noting that it has been quite some time since he played.

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

  • The Heat still have a chance to claim a spot in the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament with a win over Milwaukee tonight, but if they’re going to do it, they’ll need to do it without Jimmy Butler. He has been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest due to a sprained right ankle, per the team (Twitter link).
  • With CJ McCollum reportedly nearing a return for the Pelicans, will Trey Murphy be right behind him? Christian Clark of hears from multiple sources that there’s optimism Murphy could make his season debut next week. Murphy underwent surgery in September to repair a torn meniscus in his knee.
  • Cam Reddish, who has missed the Lakers‘ past three games with a groin strain, is “extremely close” to returning, head coach Darvin Ham said on Monday, according to Khobi Price of The Southern California News Group (Twitter link).
  • Sixers forward Kelly Oubre won’t play on Wednesday, but head coach Nick Nurse isn’t ruling out the possibility that Oubre could be back in action on Friday, tweets Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports. Oubre, who hasn’t played since November 10 after being struck by a vehicle, took part in contact drills in practice on Tuesday.

Morris Adjusting To Reduced Role

Marcus Morris is trying to stay positive with the Sixers, even though he’s played a limited role since being traded from the Clippers in the James Harden blockbuster. Morris scored 16 points in 20 minutes during the team’s blowout victory over the Lakers on Monday but has played eight or fewer minutes in six of 10 games this season.

  • In the same story, Pompey reports that Kelly Oubre participated in the Sixers’ practice on Sunday. Oubre, who is recovering from broken ribs suffered when he was struck by a vehicle while walking, also participated in the team’s shootaround on Monday, Pompey tweets.

Atlantic Notes: Grimes, Holiday, Porzingis, Sixers

Knicks starting shooting guard Quentin Grimes is downplaying a sore wrist that seems to be impacting his play, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post.

After missing two games with the ailment, Grimes didn’t look quite like himself in a loss to the Timberwolves on Monday. He went scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting from the floor, while logging a -18 plus-minus, the worst such mark on the team.

“I feel good,” Grimes said. “Everybody didn’t shoot the ball and make shots, and we’re kind of [on the] last game of a road trip, so everybody was a little fatigued like that, but overall it feels good… It’s a little sore and everything. But I got four, five days to kind of just calm back down.”

Grimes struggled again on Friday, compiling as many fouls as points (3) and recording a minus-20 mark in a two-point win over Miami.

There’s more out of the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics star guard Jrue Holiday has sat out Boston’s last two contests with a right ankle sprain, per Jared Weiss of The Athletic (Twitter link). Head coach Joe Mazzulla opted to promote guard Dalano Banton into the club’s starting lineup. During his first season with Boston, Holiday is averaging 12.3 PPG on a .420/.338/.792 slash line, plus 7.4 RPG, 4.9 APG and 1.0 BPG.
  • Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis sat out Boston’s 113-103 win over the Hawks on Sunday with a calf injury. Joe Mazzulla revealed that the 7’2″ big man will be reassessed in “a week or so,” though there is not currently a set timeline for his return, per ESPN News Services. This season, the 28-year-old is averaging 18.9 PPG on .547/.324/.800 shooting splits for Boston, along with 6.7 RPG, 1.9 APG and 1.7 BPG. Al Horford started in his stead against Atlanta.
  • The 11-5 Sixers have gotten off to a stellar start in 2023/24, and are currently missing a surprising key scorer in starting small forward Kelly Oubre Jr. In a new column, Keith Pompey of The Inquirer considers whether a fully healthy Philadelphia club would be a serious title contender this year. No Joel Embiid-era Sixers team has ever advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs.

Eastern Notes: J. Johnson, Thompson, Niang, Bagley

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will undergo further testing on his left wrist, which he injured during Saturday’s win in Washington, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Johnson left the game about two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter after taking a hard hit from Kyle Kuzma as he attempted to complete a fast-break dunk (video link). Johnson fell into the stanchion and landed on his left hand, which he immediately grabbed in obvious pain. After taking his free throws, he exited to the locker room and didn’t return.

The Hawks haven’t provided any updates on the injury since ruling out Johnson for the rest of Saturday’s game. He’ll be further evaluated in the coming days, a source tells Williams.

If he’s forced to miss time, it would be a blow to the Hawks, who have benefited from a breakout year from Johnson so far in 2023/24. Entering Saturday’s contest, the 21-year-old had averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.4 minutes per night (14 games), with a .590/.421/.774 shooting line.

[UPDATE: Johnson Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Only two players in NBA history who are 6’6″ or shorter have ever averaged at least 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steal per game over the course of a season (Charles Barkley and Gar Heard). Pistons guard Ausar Thompson is flirting with that feat through 16 games (9.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG), which makes him something of a unicorn, according to James L. Edwards of The Athletic, who says the rookie likes the label. “I’m a unicorn, even if it doesn’t appear that way because of how people see ‘unicorns’ in their head, physically,” Thompson said. “What I’m out there doing, as you pointed out, only two people have done it before.”
  • Now a member of the Cavaliers, forward Georges Niang faced his former team this week and spoke about how much he enjoyed his time with the Sixers, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It felt like home while I was here,” Niang said during his return to Philadelphia. “It’s a place that I’ll always enjoy coming back to. … It jolted me into the next part of my career. So I’m super thankful for the organization, the fans, the people, staff. It was an amazing place to be.” Niang also praised former teammate Tyrese Maxey and suggested the experience the 76ers gained from going through the Ben Simmons saga in 2021/22 helped them navigate James Harden‘s trade request this year.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, making a career-high 58.6% of his shots from the floor, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press details. Bagley credits a newfound focus on his mental health as one important reason for his strong start, noting that he has given up social media and is meditating when he can.

Timberwolves Notes: Conley, Future, Milton

Mike Conley and his family were prepared for the possibility of a trade out of Utah last season, but they began to become convinced as the trade deadline neared that they would stay put, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After moving Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Bojan Bogdanovic prior to the season, the Jazz remained in the postseason hunt for much of 2022/23, with Conley playing a key role for the club.

However, just before the deadline arrived, Utah agreed to a three-team deal with the Lakers and Timberwolves that sent Conley to Minnesota. It came as a shock to the Conley family, as Krawczynski details — Mike and his wife Mary weren’t together when the news broke and had to deal with the impact the move would have on their three children, who were seven, five, and three years old. Conley knows that trades are part of the business for highly compensated NBA players, but admitted it was a difficult time.

“You can make a lot of money, but if you get punched in the face, you’re still like, ‘Oh my God, that hurt,'” he said. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. But at this moment, it’s hurting me. So let me feel this for a second here and then move on.”

Nearly a year later, Conley and his family are enjoying life in Minnesota, according to Krawczynski, who notes that the kids have made new friends, while the veteran guard has taken to the area’s “lake life” off the court and embraced the opportunity he has with the Timberwolves on the court.

“It’s probably the best situation for me at this stage of my career,” Conley said. “Not only do we have a team that can be competitive to a contending team in no time, but I also get to be a part of that, like I’m not being thrown to the side where they say, ‘Hey, you know, you’re done playing. You’re not going to play much. It’s a leadership role.'”

Here’s more on Conley and the Wolves:

  • Conley is on an expiring contract and it may be a challenge for the Timberwolves to bring him back on a market-value deal, given their other financial commitments. However, Minnesota has no in-house point guard to replace him and Conley sounds open to the idea of trying to find a way to make it work with the Wolves beyond this season. “Why not chase it here and hope that my family adjusts and gets settled here right now and not have to run around for three or four more times before I retire,” he said, per Krawczynski. “And just because I’m chasing something I want, you’re not guaranteed to get it anywhere else you go anyway. So why not do it with people that love, respect you and treat you the way you want to be treated? This organization is all about heading in that direction.”
  • If the Timberwolves had fallen flat this season, it would’ve helped simplify some major roster decisions in 2024 and beyond, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune. However, as long as this group continues to prove it’s capable of playing at a high level, the franchise’s future will become much more “nuanced,” according to Rand, who points out that Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, Gobert, and Jaden McDaniels will earn approximately $155MM combined next season. Keeping that core together will result in a very expensive roster.
  • Facing his former team for the first time on Wednesday, Timberwolves guard Shake Milton expressed appreciation to the Sixers for the years he spent there, as Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Milton added that he has been loving his time with the Wolves so far. “I just felt like this would be a good opportunity, and so far, it has been,” he said. “I love it out here, being in Minnesota, the people, the staff members. Just coming to work every day is really enjoyable. And we’re winning, too. You’ve got to love all three of those things.”