Braxton Key

Nuggets Notes: Winning Streak, KCP, Key, Top Seed, Lakers

The Nuggets have won six straight, reminding the league that the championship still runs through Denver, The Athletic’s Tony Jones writes.

The development of Peyton Watson and Christian Braun has supplemented Denver’s starting five after the Nuggets lost some key reserves during the offseason.

Denver put away the Lakers 124-114 on Saturday night with Nikola Jokic recording 35 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” coach Michael Malone said. “We know that we have to play well, especially at this time of the year. We lost three in a row going into the break, and I’m just impressed at our mindset coming into the second half of the season. We got up for Washington. We got up for Portland and Golden State and so on. We’re playing the right way this time of year, and our guys are locked in, regardless of the opponent.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and two-way player Braxton Key were both away from the team Saturday due to personal reasons, according to Bennett Durando of the Denver Post.  Both players are expected to return before the team’s next game on Tuesday against the Suns.
  • Caldwell-Pope told Durando that Nuggets want to be the No. 1 seed, but as Durando writes, that may not be a great spot come playoff time. Jokic notes they could draw a traditional powerhouse in the first round. “Nobody wants the Lakers in the first round or Golden State in the first round,” Jokic said.
  • The Nuggets have faced the Lakers during some special nights this season, Durando tweets. They beat the Lakers on opening night in a rematch of the Western Conference finals. They also matched up the night Kobe Bryant‘s statue was unveiled and, on Saturday, when LeBron James scored his 40,000th career point. “It’s weird,” Jamal Murray said. “Every time there’s some night in L.A., we’ve gotta play them, you know? Like, first game of the season, revenge game? We play them. Mamba Night? We play them. LeBron night? We play them. It’s like, man, give them somebody else.”

Nuggets Notes: Malone, Key, Tyson, KCP, Jokic, Murray

Nuggets head coach Michael Malone was back on the sidelines for Thursday’s preseason finale after spending some time away from the team following the death of his father. However, even during his absence, Malone didn’t stop coaching his players, according to Bennett Durando of The Denver Post, who writes that the veteran coach sent a text message to two-way player Braxton Key before Tuesday’s preseason game telling him to slow down on offense.

“I was just doing some things that were uncharacteristic. Trying to do a little too much at the offensive end. So I listened to him,” said Key, who responded with 14 points and 10 rebounds on Tuesday vs. the Clippers.

As Durando notes, Key wasn’t the only young Nuggets player to get a message from Malone ahead of Tuesday’s contest. Michael channeled his late father Brendan in a text he sent to rookie Hunter Tyson.

“I said don’t ever lose your confidence,” Malone recalled. “That’s something my father told me for years. Don’t let anybody take away your confidence. I said, ‘Hunter, you’re a good shooter. And I see you hesitating now, I see you tentative.’ I said, ‘If you’re open, shoot the ball. Make or miss, shoot the ball. That’s what you do.'”

Tyson, who made just 9-of-28 field goal attempts (32.1%) and 5-of-19 three-pointers (26.3%) in his first three preseason games, responded by scoring 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting (3-of-7 threes), Durando writes.

Here’s more on the defending champions:

  • Speaking to Mark Medina of Sportskeeda about a variety of topics, Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope expressed confidence in the team’s depth even after the offseason departures of key role players like Bruce Brown and Jeff Green. “We already know what Christian Braun can do with stepping into that role that Bruce had,” Caldwell-Pope said. “We’re still going to be great. I still feel we haven’t lost a step.”
  • Nuggets star Nikola Jokic didn’t suit up for the Serbian national team in this year’s World Cup, but Bozidar Maljkovic, the president of the Olympic Committee of Serbia, expressed confidence in an interview with Juan Jimenez of that the two-time MVP will be playing in Paris in the 2024 Olympics, per
  • Jamal Murray‘s torn ACL cost him a full regular season and two postseasons, but Jokic believes the guard has gotten to the point now where he’s even better than he was before the injury (story via “He’s much better. Not even close. … Mature, experienced,” Jokic said. “I think just because the injury slowed him down, so he needed to read a little bit better. Maybe it sounds stupid, but the injury helped him.”
  • As part of an interview with Katie Heindl of Uproxx, Murray said he appreciates how the Nuggets’ front office has handled its business since he joined the franchise. “These guys do a good job of communicating what’s happening or what they’re thinking,” Murray said. “I just like how they treat us like human beings that have families and lives and houses and mortgages and all that stuff, you know? It’s nice to get an update every once in a while about work.”

Nuggets Notes: Booth, Jokic, Strawther, Jackson, Holiday

In an interview with Mark Medina of Sportskeeda, Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth discussed a number of topics, including his roster-building philosophy within the financial constraints of the new CBA, maximizing the team’s championship window, attempting to repeat in 2023/24, and more.

While Booth says the Nuggets will certainly miss departed veterans Bruce Brown, Jeff Green and Ish Smith, he expressed confidence that Denver has players who can contribute off the bench, such as Christian Braun, Justin Holiday and Peyton Watson.

Justin has been polished and has been around for a while,” Booth said. “I know he didn’t shoot the ball the best last season, but I feel like he has taken on the challenge to make sure he has a good year. He played fantastic in the intrasquad scrimmages. He made shots. He’s in the right spots. He guards.

For Christian, the game has slowed down. He’s a two-way player. He brings athleticism, strength to the game, and the ability to make a shot. Christian will automatically start in Bruce’s role. He started in the scrimmages [on Friday]. Naturally, with more minutes and responsibilities, that opportunity for growth will be there.

Justin Holiday is a pro. But guys like Peyton Watson, he’s seeing the game slow down and learning how to be a professional off the court, having a routine that he sticks to and getting work in. Let the chips fall where it may after you put the work in because a 21-year-old kid is going to make mistakes. The game is going to look fast for him. At other times, it’s going to look like he’s a master with everything. We have to roll with the punches with him because he’s a really talented kid.”

Here are a few more notes on the defending champions:

  • Finals MVP Nikola Jokic appears to be at ease entering ’23/24, which should bode well for the Nuggets, per Tony Jones of The Athletic. “I think our biggest concern with Nikola was just him being homesick,” head coach Michael Malone said. “We all like to be home with our friends and our family, and for him, his horses. Since he’s been back, we haven’t seen any signs of him being down in the dumps. He’s becoming an even better leader, not always just vocal, but with body language. He’s in a good place, and because of that, the team is in a good place. And it’s hard not to be. We’ve had a great run. We won a championship. And we’ve worked hard this week.”
  • Rookie wing Julian Strawther and veteran point guard Reggie Jackson recently sat down for interviews with Adam Mares and Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (YouTube link). Strawther, Denver’s 2023 first-round pick (29th overall), says the Nuggets’ unselfishness and team play has stood out in his first NBA training camp. “I feel like that’s what really sets us apart from the rest of the league is just, everyone is so bought in,” he said. “And it’s kind of like a lost art today in basketball. Everybody’s kind of playing for themselves around the league.”
  • Jackson and Holiday may have earned rotation roles with strong performances in training camp, Wind writes for DNVR Sports. Forward Braxton Key, who is on a two-way contract, also had some good moments in the portion of Friday’s scrimmage that was open to the media, according to Wind.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Sarr, Waters, Brown, Watson, Key

Anthony Edwards has become the breakout star for USA Basketball this summer. For the Timberwolves to take the next step, Edwards needs to be their unquestioned leader, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune opines. While he has remained deferential to Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert, Edwards will be the player the Timberwolves turn to when they need a basket or a lift this upcoming season.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The two-way contracts signed by Thunder big man Olivier Sarr and wing Lindy Waters both cover only the 2023/24 season, Hoops Rumors has learned. Sarr and Waters will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2024, assuming they finish the season on those deals.
  • Moses Brown has a partial guarantee of $250K in the one-year contract he signed with the Trail Blazers this week, Spotrac contributor Keith Smith tweets. Brown’s guarantee increases to $500K if he’s on the opening night roster and would become fully guaranteed on the league-wide date in January. Brown’s contract is for the veteran’s minimum, so he’ll receive $2.165MM as a four-year veteran if he remains on the roster after the January deadline.
  • Forward Peyton Watson‘s development will be a key component to the Nuggets’ season, Harrison Wind of opines. Watson needs to emerge as a reliable reserve with the free agent loss of Jeff Green to the Rockets. Another potential factor for the second unit is two-way player Braxton Key, a defense-oriented wing that the organization believes could emerge as a reliable option.

Nuggets Sign Braxton Key On Two-Way Deal

JULY 18: The signing is official, according to a team press release.

JULY 13: The Nuggets are signing combo forward Braxton Key on a two-way contract, his Excel Sports agents Anthony Coleman and Max Lipsett tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

Prior to this agreement, Key had been turning heads as an athletic finisher and defender for the Mavericks’ Summer League team.

Since going undrafted out of Virginia in 2020, the 6’8″ high flyer has bounced around a bit between the G League and the NBA proper. He also enjoyed a brief stint with a club in a Puerto Rican league earlier this year.

Key has served two separate stints on the Sixers’ NBAGL affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, in addition to suiting up for two contests with Philadelphia proper on a 10-day contract. He also inked 10-day and two-way deals with the Pistons during the 2021/22 season. He has cumulatively appeared in 14 total NBA games to date.

That said, he has been racking up accolades in the G League of late. With the Blue Coats in 2022/23, Key averaged 13.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.2 BPG with a .523/.402/.638 shooting line en route to a a G League title with Delaware last season. Key was also named to the All-NBA G League Second Team and the NBA G League All-Defensive Team while with the Blue Coats in 2021/22.

Denver extended point guard Collin Gillespie, a two-way player last season, a qualifying offer earlier this summer, making him a restricted free agent. With Key forthcoming, the reigning champs will still have two other two-way vacancies available, with Gillesepie a prime candidate to occupy one of those slots.

Pistons Waive Braxton Key, Sign Jared Rhoden To Two-Way Deal

DECEMBER 27: The Pistons officially waived Key and signed Rhoden on Monday, per’s transaction log.

DECEMBER 26: The Pistons are waiving two-way forward Braxton Key and signing guard/forward Jared Rhoden to fill their open two-way spot, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (via Twitter).

Rhoden, 23, went undrafted over the summer after four years with Seton Hall. He played for Sacramento’s Summer League team and then signed an Exhibit 10 deal with the Trail Blazers, but Portland doesn’t have a G League affiliate and he was waived before the season started.

The College Park Skyhawks (Atlanta’s affiliate) secured Rhoden’s G League rights in the NBA G League draft in October. In 16 games (25.3 minutes) with the Skyhawks, he put up 13.9 points and 6.4 rebounds on .547/.514/.821 shooting.

Rhoden is the second Skyhawk who will be promoted to a two-way deal today, joining A.J. Lawson, who is reportedly signing with the Mavericks.

Key, 25, spent most of last season in the G League with Philadelphia’s affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats, earning a spot on the NBAGL All-Defensive Team. He signed a 10-day hardship deal with the Sixers and appeared in a couple games, then caught on with the Pistons at the end of 2021/22, first on a 10-day contract, then a two-way deal, averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.0 steal and 1.2 blocks in nine games (21.2 minutes).

The 6’8″ forward has rarely seen the court for the Pistons this season, making just three appearances for nine total minutes. He has spent most of ’22/23 with their G League affiliate, the Motor City Cruise, averaging 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks on .441/.256/.615 shooting in 13 games (31.3 minutes).

NBA G League Announces 2021/22 All-NBAGL Teams

Rockets two-way player Trevelin Queen, who was named the NBA G League MVP and the G League Finals MVP this season, has added two more honors to his impressive 2021/22 résumé.

Queen headlined this year’s All-NBA G League First Team and also earned a spot on the NBAGL’s All-Defensive team, as the league announced today in a press release.

The complete list of the 2021/22 All-NBA G League teams, along with the All-Rookie and All-Defensive squads, is below. Players who finished the season on NBA contracts are noted with an asterisk (*), while those on two-way contracts are noted with a caret (^).

All-NBAGL First Team

All-NBAGL Second Team

All-NBAGL Third Team

NBAGL All-Rookie Team

  • Charles Bassey (Delaware Blue Coats) *
  • Luka Garza (Motor City Cruise) *
  • Carlik Jones (Texas Legends)
  • Mac McClung (South Bay Lakers) ^
  • Micah Potter (Sioux Falls Skyforce)

NBAGL All-Defensive Team

  • Charles Bassey (Delaware Blue Coats) *
  • Braxton Key (Delaware Blue Coats) ^
  • Tacko Fall (Cleveland Charge)
  • Shaquille Harrison (Delaware Blue Coats)
  • Trevelin Queen (Rio Grande Valley Vipers) ^

All 19 players who earned a spot on one of the G League’s All-NBAGL, All-Rookie, or All-Defensive teams this year were on some form of standard, two-way, or 10-day NBA contract during the 2021/22 season.

Of those 19, Tillman is the only player who has yet to make his NBA debut, as he didn’t appear in any games after signing a 10-day deal with Atlanta in December.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, Nembhard, P. Williams, Key, Vildoza

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was fined $15K on Monday for his public criticism of the league’s officiating, the NBA announced in a press release. Bickerstaff griped about the foul calls on Sunday following a 112-108 loss to Philadelphia in which James Harden and Joel Embiid combined to attempt 32 free throws.

“We deserved to win that game. That game was taken from us,” Bickerstaff said, per Chris Fedor of “We did a great job defensively, making their two best players have a difficult time from the field. But one thing you can’t defend is the free throw line. That’s absurd. That’s absurd. Our guys deserve way better than what they got tonight.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • RJ Nembhard‘s new contract with the Cavaliers is a straight-up conversion from his two-way deal, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Nembhard, who will earn $58,493 on the prorated minimum-salary contract, remains on track for restricted free agency this offseason.
  • Having returned from a wrist injury on March 21, Patrick Williams is playing increasingly well for the Bulls as the postseason nears, according to Cole Huff of The Athletic, who says the second-year forward has been “efficient and opportunistic” on offense while showcasing his usual versatility on the defensive end. Having already displayed the potential to be a long-term cornerstone in Chicago, Williams could help in the short term too and be an asset in the playoffs if he keeps progressing, Huff writes.
  • Braxton Key‘s new two-way contract with the Pistons is a two-year agreement, covering 2022/23 as well as the rest of this season, league sources tell our JD Shaw (Twitter link).
  • Luca Vildoza‘s two-year deal with the Bucks will be non-guaranteed for next season, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic.

Pistons Sign Carsen Edwards, Give Two-Way Contract To Braxton Key

4:14pm: Detroit has officially signed Key to a two-way contract, the team announced in a press release. Smith’s waiving was also made official.

1:52pm: The Pistons have officially signed Edwards, the team announced in a press release.

11:24am: To make room for Key, Detroit has waived Smith, a rookie power forward who recently underwent ACL surgery, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press.

9:55am: The Pistons will sign G League guard Carsen Edwards to a two-year contract, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Edwards, 24, has been playing for Salt Lake City this season and is averaging 26.7 points in 31 games. The 33rd pick in the 2019 draft, Edwards spent two years with the Celtics, but has been out of the NBA since the end of last season.

In addition, Braxton Key will get a two-way contract from Detroit, sources tell JD Shaw of HoopsRumors (Twitter link).

The rookie small forward was productive on a 10-day deal he signed on March 24. He averaged 6.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in five games and put up 10 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in Friday’s win over the Thunder.

The 25-year-old also played two games for the Sixers on a 10-day hardship contract in January. He was in training camp with Philadelphia and has spent much of this season with the team’s G League affiliate in Delaware.

The Pistons have a 15-man roster opening with Key’s 10-day contract having expired overnight, but both two-way slots are currently filled, so another move will be necessary before he can be signed. Chris Smith and Jamorko Pickett currently hold those spots.

Braxton Key Signs 10-Day Deal With Pistons

MARCH 24: The Pistons have officially signed Key to a 10-day contract, the team announced today in a press release. The deal will run through April 2 and will be worth $53,176.

MARCH 22: Free agent forward Braxton Key is set to sign a 10-day deal with the Pistons, his agent Billy Davis informs JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors (Twitter link). Key was most recently with the Sixers’ NBAGL affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats.

The 19-53 Pistons are locked into the NBA lottery at this point. It makes sense for them to check out intriguing young prospects during this stretch of the season. Detroit will now get a first-hand look at the 6’8″ Key, who has enjoyed a promising season in the G League.

In 31 games with Delaware this season, including 21 starts, Key has averaged 18.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.6 APG, 2.1 SPG and 1.5 BPG. He also sports shooting splits of .475/.388/.670.

The 24-year-old signed a 10-day hardship exception contract with Philadelphia earlier this season, though he appeared in just two games for the club in limited minutes. He went undrafted out of Virginia in 2020, and latched on with the Delaware Blue Coats during the NBAGL’s Orlando “bubble” season in 2020/21.

The Pistons have an open spot on their 15-man roster, so no corresponding move will be required to officially sign Key.