Chet Holmgren

And-Ones: Sarr, Sharavjamts, 2022 Re-Draft, Bradbury

French big man Alex Sarr is joining the Perth Wildcats of Australia’s National Basketball League for the 2023/24 season as part of the NBL’s Next Stars program, he tells Jonathan Givony of ESPN.

A promising young prospect who began his playing career with Real Madrid’s youth team in 2019, Sarr has spent the last two years with Overtime Elite. The 18-year-old – who currently projects as a top-20 pick in 2024, per Givony – told ESPN that he was seeking a “new challenge” before becoming draft-eligible next year.

“The OTE experience was great,” Sarr said. “I had all the resources in the world and improved a lot the past two years. I need to take the next step with my game now; the NBL is what I need.”

As Givony observes, the NBL’s Next Stars program has been a popular choice for top French prospects in recent years. Ousmane Dieng played for the New Zealand Breakers before being drafted 11th overall by Oklahoma City in 2022, while Rayan Rupert – a projected first-rounder in 2023 – spent this past season with the Breakers.

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Dayton forward Mike Sharavjamts, who declared for the draft following his freshman year, is leaning toward turning pro but has entered the NCAA’s transfer portal so that he has an opportunity to explore his options if he decides to continue his college career, reports Givony (via Twitter). Sharavjamts is among the prospects attending this weekend’s G League Elite Camp, which should give him a better idea of where he stands in the 2023 draft class.
  • Thunder forward Jalen Williams and Jazz center Walker Kessler are among the biggest risers in a re-draft of the 2022 draft conducted by Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Williams jumps from No. 12 to No. 2 in Vecenie’s exercise, while Kessler moves from No. 22 to No. 9. Vecenie remains high enough on Chet Holmgren to keep the Thunder big man at No. 3 despite his lost rookie season.
  • Veteran agent Kevin Bradbury, who represents players like Patrick Beverley and Robert Williams, has agreed to join LIFT Sports Management, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Bradbury will become the head of basketball for the agency, which was founded by Donnie McGrath and former NBA sharpshooter Mike Miller.

Northwest Notes: Holmgren, Timberwolves, Malone, Nuggets

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren continues to rehabilitate from two surgeries related to the Lisfranc right foot injury he suffered last year, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

As Mussatto notes, Oklahoma City has indicated Holmgren may play for the Thunder’s 2023 Summer League team, and anticipates he will be able to suit up in time for the 2023/24 season. Mussatto collected a variety of quotes from Holmgren’s Thunder colleagues about their teammate, who missed his entire rookie season after being drafted second overall.

“Chet is a great competitor,” rookie Jaylin Williams raved. “We played against each other in college and then we played against each other when we first got here, and we always talk about the college game, smack talking to each other.”

“Off the court, he’s a really good kid,” All-Star point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Then on the court, competitor. The kid wants to be good. I think that’s the biggest thing. Like he wants to be really good and he wants to prove himself to the world. That fire in him is impressive. It’s impressive. I think because of that he’s going to be a heck of a basketball player.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Following a very active 2022 offseason, Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune believes that the Timberwolves should operate more patiently this summer. Souhan notes that Minnesota has been plagued by wild swings from management in recent years and says the team needs to avoid repeating that behavior in the 2023 offseason.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone wants to make sure that Suns All-Star shooting guard Devin Booker has a harder time scoring, writes Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. Booker poured in 47 points on 20-of-25 shooting from the floor in Phoenix’s 121-114 Game 3 victory over Denver. “He’s going to score,” Malone acknowledged. “The sheer volume of shots he’s going to take, he’s going to score… But we can’t allow him to go 80% from the field when he goes 20 of 25. Being into him, being more physical, more aggressive, showing him more of a crowd, hopefully that doesn’t allow him to start off with 18 points and shooting into a big basket the rest of the night.”
  • After winning the first two games of their second round series vs. Phoenix at home, the Nuggets regressed to cough up a Game 3 loss on the road, writes Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. “I think we were just a little bit slow,” All-NBA center Nikola Jokic said. “I don’t want to say, sleepy, but they were making the first move and we were reacting.”

Northwest Notes: Murray, MPJ, Thunder, Clarkson

Jamal Murray‘s breakout on a postseason stage occurred during the 2020 playoffs in the Orlando bubble, when he averaged 26.5 points and 6.6 assists with a .505/.453/.897 shooting line in 19 games as the Nuggets made the Western Conference Finals.

Between then and now, Murray has had to endure a lengthy recovery process from an ACL tear, but he’s off to a great start in the 2023 postseason, putting up 32.0 PPG and 6.5 APG on .500/.500/.909 shooting in his first two games against Minnesota. Teammate Michael Porter Jr. told reporters this week that Murray “looks better than ever,” as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN relays.

For his part, the star guard is eager to prove that “Bubble Murray” isn’t just a moniker to live up to — it’s a level he believes he can surpass.

“People say, ‘Oh, that’s like vintage (Murray),'” he told Youngmisuk, referring to the “Bubble Murray” term. “It’s like, I haven’t even hit my best. … I feel like people are making that to be the best that’s been seen. And I’m thinking that was just the beginning.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Like Murray, Porter has had to overcome injury issues to get to where he’s at with the top-seeded Nuggets this spring, as Nick Kosmider of The Athletic details. Porter has undergone multiple back surgeries, including one procedure that wiped out his rookie year and another that limited him to nine games in 2021/22. “Injuries have definitely made my basketball career a little different path than I would have wished for growing up,” Porter said. “But I’m here in the playoffs, and it is a dream come true. I’m playing for the No. 1 team in the West. I’m playing a lot of minutes for the No. 1 team in the West and we’re up 2-0 in (the first round of) the playoffs. It’s all you can ask for.”
  • Speaking to local reporters on Thursday in his end-of-season presser, Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti didn’t rule out the possibility of last year’s No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren playing for OKC’s Summer League squad and stressed that he wants to see the team become more physical going forward, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “A lot of people think about physicality, and they think about one side of the ball, they think about defense,” Presti said. “Offensively I think there’s room for us to get more physical. You can see that at the free throw line. We were last in the league of getting into the bonus before our opponent. That’s not a place you want to be.”
  • If Jordan Clarkson declines his player option for 2023/24, the opportunity to play for a winning team will be a top priority as he weighs his options in free agency, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. However, that doesn’t mean Clarkson would rule out the retooling Jazz, who exceeded expectations this past season and are well positioned to keep improving. “Everybody this year really took steps super fast and grew super fast,” Clarkson said. “I think next year we’ll be back to our winning ways, with a chance to compete for something.”

Western Notes: Lindsey, Udoka, Borrego, Westbrook, Holmgren, Blazers, Towns

The Mavericks are in advanced discussions with former Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey to join the organization as a special assistant to GM Nico Harrison, Marc Stein of the Stein Line reports (via Twitter). Harrison has been seeking an experienced sounding-board voice to join the front office in a consultant’s role, dating to last offseason.

Following their failure to make the playoffs, the Mavericks have a pivotal offseason that includes trying to re-sign Kyrie Irving and finding ways to improve the roster, despite limited trade assets and salary cap issues.

We have more on the Western Conference:

  • The Rockets will interview former Celtics head coach Ime Udoka for their head coaching job on Wednesday, Kelly Iko of The Athletic tweets. They interviewed former Hornets head coach James Borrego on Monday for their head coaching job, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. The Rockets have already interviewed former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and are expected to interview a number of experienced head coaches and prominent assistant coaches in their search to replace Stephen Silas.
  • Russell Westbrook is unlikely to be suspended for Game 2 of the Clippers’ series against the Suns, Chris Haynes of TNT tweets. Westbrook had a verbal altercation with a fan during halftime of Game 1 on Sunday.
  • Chet Holmgren missed the entire season due to a Lisfranc injury in his right foot but the Thunder big man is ready to get back on the court, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Holmgren, the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft, says most of the recovery and rehab process is behind him. “I’m pretty much past the rehab part of this journey,” Holmgren said, “and now I’m progressing more into the 5-on-5 stuff and kind of taking away any restrictions that I have to this point.”
  • There could be a major change with the Trail Blazers’ guard rotation, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian notes. General manager Joe Cronin must decide whether Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe are part of the team’s long-term plans. Either or both could be traded for the All-Star level talent that Damian Lillard craves. Conversely, Simons and Sharpe could be the backcourt starters if Lillard is dealt and Portland goes into a full rebuild.
  • The Timberwolves will look to bounce back from their 29-point loss to top seed Denver when they play Game 2 on Wednesday. They’ll need a huge series from Karl-Anthony Towns to have any chance in the series, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details.
  • The matchup against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets could show just how far the Timberwolves are from becoming a true contender and whether the Towns-Rudy Gobert pairing can get them to that point, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune opines.

Northwest Notes: J. Williams, Simons, KCP, McDaniels, Jazz

The Thunder entered last year’s draft determined to come away with both Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst (Insider link), who takes a look back at how the team ensured it ended up with Williams late in the lottery. According to Windhorst, the Thunder were concerned that their interest in Williams had gotten out and that a team would trade for the Knicks’ pick at No. 11 to nab the Santa Clara star before Oklahoma City could take him at No. 12.

As Windhorst explains, the Thunder ultimately agreed to acquire the No. 11 pick from New York and used it to select Ousmane Dieng, then drafted Williams with their own pick at No. 12 — that way, if the deal with the Knicks fell through before becoming official, they’d still be assured of having Williams.

Williams is enjoying a strong rookie season for the Thunder, starting 45 of 58 games and averaging 12.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, and 3.1 APG while shooting 51.1% from the floor.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • After being sidelined due to a right ankle sprain, Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons returned to action on Wednesday, but he aggravated the injury in his first game back and said that he doubted he’d be able to play in Atlanta on Friday, per Jason Quick of The Athletic (Twitter link). Simons has since been ruled out for tonight’s game (Twitter link).
  • Nuggets wing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been “exactly what we needed,” according to head coach Michael Malone, who added that KCP is a “great two-way player” and said there’s “nothing not to love” about him. In a subscriber-only story for The Denver Post, Mike Singer looks at how the Nuggets have been impacted by Caldwell-Pope, whose teammates call him “First Team” (referencing his case for an All-Defensive spot).
  • Speaking of All-Defensive candidates, Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels is making a strong case for consideration, says Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. McDaniels has said he likes “locking someone up” on defense more than hitting a big shot. “I know I’m going to make shots throughout the game, but stopping someone else from scoring when that’s what they like to do, I like messing peoples’ night up. Just trying to do that,” he said.
  • Are the Jazz in officially in tank mode? Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune explored that question following Tuesday’s loss to San Antonio, arguing that Utah’s injury report and rotation decisions certainly suggested the team wasn’t going all-out to win.

Northwest Notes: Holmgren, Thunder, Winslow, Gobert

A Lisfranc injury that required surgery on his right foot is preventing Thunder draftee Chet Holmgren from playing during his first NBA season. Instead, he has immersed himself in learning and getting ready for next fall, writes David Gardner of The New York Times.

Holmgren was expected to be among the headliners in this year’s rookie class after being selected with the second pick in the 2022 draft. That changed when he suffered the injury during a summer pro-am game that was eventually canceled because of wet court conditions.

While recovering from the operation, Holmgren has become dedicated to film study as he tries to envision his role with Oklahoma City once he can return to the court. He also meets once a week with coach Mark Daigneault, discussing both philosophy and strategy.

“I don’t think anything can replace playing this year,” Holgren said. “I don’t think anybody could convince me of that. But at the end of the day, I could let this be a blessing or a curse, you know? So I got to figure out how to turn it into a blessing, how to make the most out of it.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder are surprisingly in the Western Conference play-in race at 22-24, but they don’t consider their rebuilding project to be ahead of schedule, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. Daigneault explains that the organization is committed to doing things the right way, regardless of how long it takes to be competitive. “There’s no schedule,” he said. “There’s a way of operating that we’re very confident in and that we’re just going to bet on. And that’s having, first of all, competitive guys and the team guys that we’ve known developing them, helping them grow through experiences, teaching professionalism, having a good environment and trying to play a style that scales forward.”
  • Justise Winslow has become a reliable veteran since being traded to the Trail Blazers last February, but he had a difficult journey through most of his NBA career. He talks about those challenges, including high expectations after being drafted by Miami and the difficulty of overcoming injuries, in an interview with Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I was very selfish; I thought the world was centered around me, especially when basketball was taken away,” Winslow said. “I didn’t know how to fill myself up. That’s when a lot of the negativity and darkness started to creep in.”
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert is missing his third straight game tonight with a groin injury, tweets Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Coach Chris Finch said Gobert was able to participate in shootaround and the pregame workout, so he should be back soon.

Northwest Notes: Vanderbilt, Blazers, Wolves, Holmgren, Nuggets

Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt had one of his best games of the season vs. Portland on Saturday, registering 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, the performance was well-timed, given that Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard previously singled out Vanderbilt as someone he’d like to play with. On Saturday, Lillard responded to a tweet about Vanderbilt’s possible trade value with an eyes emoji, though he has since deleted that one.

Vanderbilt is on a team-friendly contract and is under team control for another season beyond this one, so the Jazz may not be motivated to move him at this season’s deadline. But if they do make him available, it seems safe to assume the Blazers will be among the teams inquiring, given Lillard’s influence within the organization.

Here are a few more items from around the Northwest:

  • Patrick Beverley is having a down year on the court in Los Angeles this season, but the Timberwolves have missed his locker room leadership, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Head coach Chris Finch said on Monday that the team is still seeking its identity and looking for leaders. “Everything about winning requires leadership. It’s something that we’ve not been great at,” Finch said. “We’re trying to find a voice collectively, trying to find a personality as a team. Those are things that we’ve got to keep working on, trying to cultivate as a team. That’s my job.”
  • As expected – and as long planned – Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren underwent a successful “secondary” procedure on his foot on Tuesday to remove hardware from his initial Lisfranc surgery in August, the team announced. According to the Thunder, the timeline for Holmgren’s recovery hasn’t changed, and he remains on track to return for the 2023/24 season.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is willing to take the blame for the club’s inconsistent bench play so far this season, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “That unit has struggled most of the year, and I take responsibility for that,” Malone said. “Not finding a way to get those guys to play together, to play the right way, and most importantly, just to have some success.” Denver’s bench players have a net rating of minus-5.3, the third-worst mark in the NBA.

Injury Notes: MPJ, Hyland, Oladipo, Pelicans, Clippers, Holmgren

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (left heel contusion) will miss his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday, but Denver will get some reinforcements vs. Houston with Bones Hyland (non-COVID illness) set to make his return following a three-game absence, per Harrison Wind or DNVR Sports (Twitter links).

Hyland last played on November 22 and was hampered by his illness on that night, logging just nine minutes. The Nuggets guard said today that he “couldn’t breathe on the floor” during that game, but is “feeling great” now, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

Here are a few more health-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Heat guard Victor Oladipo practiced with the team on Tuesday, but there wasn’t any contact during that session and he won’t play on the current road trip, which runs through next Monday, head coach Erik Spoelstra said today (link via Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel). While Oladipo hasn’t played yet this season due to left knee tendinosis, it sounds like he’s making progress toward a return.
  • Pelicans guard CJ McCollum has exited the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but will remain sidelined on Wednesday as he attempts to get back into game shape, tweets Andrew Lopez of ESPN. New Orleans did get some good news on Larry Nance Jr. — he’ll be available after missing Monday’s game with a right shoulder injury.
  • Still without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Luke Kennard, the Clippers added Norman Powell to their injury report for Wednesday’s game in Utah due to a left groin strain. Powell is doubtful to play, says Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • Thunder big man Chet Holmgren will undergo a follow-up procedure to remove the “hardware” in his right foot from his previous surgery, a team spokesperson tells Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The procedure had been planned and is a sign that Holmgren is making progress, Mussatto adds.

NBA GMs High On Cavs’ Offseason Moves, Bucks’ Title Chances

The Cavaliers‘ acquisition of Donovan Mitchell made their offseason the most successful of any NBA team, according to the league’s general managers. In his annual survey of the NBA’s top basketball decision-makers, John Schuhmann of writes that 41% of the GM respondents picked Cleveland as having made the best offseason moves, while 59% chose the addition of Mitchell as the move that will have the biggest impact.

The Timberwolves and Jazz were on opposite ends of one of the summer’s other blockbuster trades, but the two clubs tied for second (along with the Sixers) in the GM vote for which teams made the best overall offseason moves. Minnesota’s trade for Rudy Gobert was the second-leading vote-getter for the offseason’s most impactful single acquisition, earning 31% of the vote.

The team viewed by the majority of GMs as the title favorite for 2023 didn’t earn any votes for having the best offseason. According to Schuhmann, 43% of the poll respondents picked the Bucks to win next year’s Finals, with GMs apparently betting on continuity in Milwaukee. The Warriors (25%), Clippers (21%), and Celtics (11%) also received votes.

Here are a few more interesting results from Schuhmann’s GM survey, which is worth checking out in full:

  • NBA general managers expect the Clippers – who will have Kawhi Leonard back – to be the most improved team in 2022/23. L.A. received 41% of the vote, with the Cavaliers and Pelicans at 17% apiece.
  • The Celtics‘ trade for Malcolm Brogdon earned the most votes (28%) for the summer’s most underrated acquisition. The Sixers‘ signing of P.J. Tucker and the Clippers‘ addition of John Wall were the runners-up, with 14% each.
  • Asked which team has the most promising young core, NBA GMs overwhelmingly chose the Cavaliers (41%) and Grizzlies (38%). The Pistons (10%) were the only other club to get multiple votes.
  • NBA GMs view Magic forward Paolo Banchero as the best bet to win Rookie of the Year (79%) and also chose him as the 2022 draftee most likely to be the best player in five years (31%), narrowly edging Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (28%). As for the steal of the draft, GMs were split between Pistons big man Jalen Duren and Rockets forward Tari Eason (14% apiece), among many others.
  • Mavericks star Luka Doncic was picked as the favorite to win MVP, earning 48% of the vote from NBA GMs. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks came in second with 34%.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Lillard, Edwards, Holmgren

Veterans Jeff Green, DeAndre Jordan, Ish Smith and Bruce Brown are providing the Nuggets with energy and a level of comfort during training camp, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic is laid back, which allows the more boisterous personalities of Green and Jordan to stand out, Singer notes.

Brown said he feels more at home in Denver than he did during last season’s drama-filled campaign with a big market club in Brooklyn.

I’m more laid back, chill,” Brown said. “I like to be in the house with my dog and my people. Obviously, New York gets a lot of attention, a lot of media attention. That wasn’t for me, but I love my time with those guys.”

According to Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter links), Brown has been playing point guard with the second unit, while Zeke Nnaji has been the backup center. That’s a bit of a change for both players — Brown is a swiss army knife type who has played multiple positions, but mostly on the wing, while Nnaji primarily played power forward in the past. Nnaji has performed well in camp thus far, Wind adds.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Damian Lillard is just 531 points shy of surpassing Hall of Famer Clyde Drexler to become the Trail Blazers‘ all-time leading scorer. Lillard says it’s an accomplishment he doesn’t take lightly. “This feat would mean a lot to me,” Lillard told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “Just the respect I have for the organization and for Clyde and how great of a player he was. I think it shows just how productive I’ve been throughout my career. It would truly be an honor.”
  • Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards is hoping to make big strides on the defensive end in 2022/23, saying that because he’ll be guarding top players more often, he’ll be “salty” to not make an All-Defensive team, as Wolves reporter Dane Moore relays (via Twitter). The former No. 1 overall pick will play a huge part in Minnesota’s standing in the West this season.
  • This year’s No. 2 overall pick, Chet Holmgren, will miss the entire season for the Thunder with a foot injury, but he’s still learning about the NBA while recovering, according to Cliff Brunt of The Associated Press. “What I’m trying to do right now is just kind of soak up all the knowledge of how things are done around here, how they’re going to be done going forward,” Holmgren said. “So when I’m ready to get get back in there, I can just kind of seamlessly plug myself in.”