De’Aaron Fox

Edwards, Haliburton Earn Salary Increases With All-NBA Nods

The maximum-salary rookie scale extensions that Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards and Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton signed last offseason will have starting salaries worth 30% of the 2024/25 salary cap instead of 25% after both players made All-NBA teams. Edwards earned a spot on the Second Team, while Haliburton made the Third Team.

As our maximum-salary projections for ’24/25 show, based on a $141MM cap, the five-year deals signed by Edwards and Haliburton will now be worth $245,340,000 instead of $204,450,000. Those numbers could change if the cap comes in above or below $141MM.

Edwards and Haliburton agreed to Rose Rule language in their respective extensions. The Rose Rule allow players coming off their rookie scale contracts to receive salaries worth more than 25% of the cap in year five if they make an All-NBA team during the season (or two of the three seasons) before their extension goes into effect. Players can also qualify by being named Most Valuable Player or Defensive Player of the Year.

Hornets guard LaMelo Ball had similar language in his maximum-salary extension, but injuries prevented him from having any shot at All-NBA team in 2023/24, so his contract will be worth $204.45MM over five years.

Here are more of the financial implications of today’s All-NBA selections:

  • Because Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey didn’t make an All-NBA team, his maximum salary as a restricted free agent this offseason will be worth 25% of the cap instead of 30%. He’ll be eligible for a five-year deal up to a projected $204.45MM.
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander met the super-max performance criteria by earning All-NBA nods for a second straight year, but neither player has enough years of service yet to sign a designated veteran extension this summer. Both Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander will be eligible to sign super-max extensions during the 2025 offseason. As Bobby Marks of ESPN outlines (Twitter links), Doncic would be eligible for a five-year extension projected to be worth over $346MM that begins in 2026/27, while SGA could sign a four-year extension worth a projected $294MM+ that would begin in 2027/28.
  • Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is one year ahead of Doncic and Gilgeous-Alexander — he met the super-max performance criteria by making a second straight All-NBA team in 2023, but was still one year away from having the required years of service at that time. He’ll be eligible this July to sign a five-year super-max extension worth a projected $314.85MM.
  • Players who would have been eligible for super-max extensions if they had made an All-NBA team include Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Heat big man Bam Adebayo, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, and Nuggets guard Jamal Murray. All of those players could still qualify if they remain with their current teams and earn All-NBA honors next season, though it’s worth noting that Ingram is considered a trade candidate this summer and is highly unlikely to get a super-max offer even if he qualifies.
  • Kings center Domantas Sabonis earned a $1.3MM contract bonus as a result of being named to the All-NBA Third Team, tweets James Ham of The Kings Beat.

2023/24 All-NBA Teams Announced

The All-NBA teams have been announced for the 2023/24 season.

A total of 99 media members voted on the honors, with players receiving five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote and one point for a Third Team vote. This year’s All-NBA teams are as follows:

First Team

Second Team

Third Team

Others receiving votes and their point totals are the CelticsJaylen Brown (50), the ClippersPaul George (16), the SixersTyrese Maxey (16), the TimberwolvesRudy Gobert (12), the SpursVictor Wembanyama (11), the PelicansZion Williamson (11), the Magic’s Paolo Banchero (10), the KingsDe’Aaron Fox (9) the Heat’s Bam Adebayo (7) and the BullsDeMar DeRozan (1).

This is the first season that a minimum number of games was required to qualify for most postseason awards under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Among the stars who might have received All-NBA consideration if they had reached the 65-game threshold are Sixers center Joel Embiid, who was the 2022/23 MVP, along with Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell, Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Knicks forward Julius Randle and Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis.

Wembanyama, who received two votes for the Second Team and five for the Third Team, was the only rookie named on any of the ballots. Earlier this week, he became the first rookie to earn a spot on an All-Defensive First Team.

The Lakers with Davis and James and the Suns with Durant and Booker were the only teams to have multiple players honored. They were both eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Several players became eligible for salary increases by achieving All-NBA honors. Read more here.

Pacific Notes: Clippers, Powell, Fox, Ellis, Huerter, Allen

The Clippers found a way to hold the Mavericks to 30 points in the first half of Game 1. Coach Tyronn Lue knows that keeping Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving under control for Game 2 tonight will be even tougher, Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times writes.

“It’s very challenging,” he said. “You got two of the best scorers in the league on the same team. So, when they’re both on the court at the same time, it’s kind of hard to double-team one guy and leave the other guy. So, you got to pick your poison. I thought for the most part our guys did a good job with executing the defensive plan.”

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • Clippers forward Norman Powell is upset he wasn’t one of the finalists for the Sixth Man of the Year award, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. “I mean, I think it’s BS, to be honest, two years in a row,” he said. “I don’t know what else you’ve got to do to be a sixth man. Last year, you’re leading the league in bench points. Don’t get nominated. This year, the most efficient off the bench, given the fact I’m playing with four Hall of Famers, limited touches. … it’s just tough.” Powell averaged 13.9 points during the regular season on .486/.435/.831 shooting.
  • De’Aaron Fox said on Monday that it’s impossible to think of this Kings season as anything but a major disappointment, per Hunter Patterson of The Athletic. Sacramento was bounced in the play-in tournament. “You want to continue to play for more,” Fox said. “I don’t think we were bad this year, but obviously the West got tougher and I don’t think we stepped up to that plate. … We took a step backward a little bit as a team. We still have things we can continue to get better at as a group.”
  • In the same story, Patterson notes that Keon Ellis and Kevin Huerter could have a spirited battle for the Kings’ starting shooting guard spot next season. Ellis impressed with his defense, while Huerter is a career 38.2% 3-point shooter. “It’s definitely the season where I’ve kind of made a name for myself a little bit,” Ellis said. “We didn’t finish the way we wanted to with the injuries and all of the things that go into that, but definitely for me it’s a season I’m going to look back at and be like, ‘This is where it started for me.’”
  • Suns wing Grayson Allen suffered a right ankle injury in Tuesday’s game against Minnesota and did not return. Allen came into the game with a sore ankle, per The Arizona Republic’s Duane Rankin (Twitter link), but was deemed healthy enough to play.

Kings Notes: Offseason, Monk, Year In Review

After they fell to the Pelicans in the play-in and missed the playoffs, there will be questions regarding whether or not the current build of the Kings has plateaued, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. On one hand, a team that brought back the same starting five from last season went from the No. 3 seed to out of the playoffs. On the other, the Kings finished just two wins shy of their total from last year despite late-season injuries to Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk.

An already strong Western Conference is projected to get even stronger next year with almost every team in the conference set up to compete. Monk is the team’s most crucial free agent, but the Kings can’t offer the Sixth Man of the Year candidate more than four years and $78MM. Teams with cap space could outbid the Kings, and even if they are able to re-sign him, his $17.4MM projected first-year salary would send Sacramento into the luxury tax.

Outside of Monk, Sacramento’s potential to improve comes from the No. 13/14 pick (pending tiebreaker), Keegan Murray‘s growth, trades, and various cap exceptions. The Kings have four first-round picks and nine players earning between $2.1MM and $18MM to use in potential trades, but Marks notes that outside of the Domantas Sabonis deal, general manager Monte McNair has been relatively conservative on the trade market.

De’Aaron Fox, who has two years left on his contract, is an extension candidate this offseason, Marks notes. The Kings can currently add three more seasons at up to $165MM to his contract. If he’s named All-NBA this year, Fox would be eligible for a four-year, $267.5MM extension. If he doesn’t sign an extension by Oct. 21, he can become eligible for a four-year, $229MM deal next offseason — if he’s named All-NBA next year, he’d be eligible for a five-year, $346MM super-max deal.

We have more on the Kings:

  • Monk averaged a career-best 15.4 points and 5.1 assists per game this year for the Kings, but they’re limited by the money they can offer him, The Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman writes. “Obviously, I think he was extremely big for us,” Fox said. “People that watched us play know that he should be Sixth Man of the Year. But at the end of the day, this is a business, and I feel like what he gave to us in his two years that he has been here, I feel like he showed his value, what he can do for a team.
  • While Fox didn’t sound overly confident that Monk would re-sign with the Kings, he said he would try to convince his former Kentucky backcourt partner to return, per The Athletic’s Anthony Slater. “For sure,” Fox said. “But money talks. You can’t play this game forever. We have such a short window to play basketball. Not everyone is going to be Bron or CP, play 19, 20 years. You have to be able to get paid whenever you can. That’s what Vince Carter told me. He played 21, 22 years. I’d love to have him back, but I don’t know what the future holds.
  • The play-in loss to the Pelicans was emblematic of Sacramento’s season as a whole, Biderman writes in a separate story. Three nights after scoring 32 against the Warriors, Murray had just 11 against New Orleans. Keon Ellis, who did a great job defending Stephen Curry, went scoreless against the Pels and was a minus-20. All season, the Kings showed they could hang with the best of the West with a 17-11 record against the top seven teams in the conference (including a 3-1 record against Denver). However, they went 0-6 against New Orleans this season and lost games to the likes of Washington, Portland and Detroit throughout the regular season. “I feel like we had really good wins and we had really bad losses,” Murray said. “So it was really a mountain-and-valley season for us. That’s something that the top teams in the West, they’re just consistent throughout the whole season.

Pacific Notes: Monk, Murray, Warriors, Suns, O’Neale

Asked earlier this week about Malik Monk‘s recovery from an MCL sprain, Shams Charania of The Athletic said during an appearance on FanDuel’s Run it Back show (Twitter video link) that the Kings guard still isn’t anywhere close to returning to action.

“Malik Monk is going to be out well into April and May. He’s not going to return anywhere in this play-in tournament (or) the first round,” Charania said. “The Kings are preparing to move forward here – if they do they make it into the playoffs – for at least the first round without Malik Monk.”

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Monk didn’t rule out the possibility of making it back during the first round if the Kings advance, but admitted that he doesn’t yet have a clear idea of what his timeline will look like, since he hasn’t gotten back on the court or done any running yet (Twitter video link). Sacramento is expected to reevaluate him around April 27.

Following a win over Golden State on Tuesday, the Kings will be in New Orleans on Friday facing a banged-up Pelicans team that will be missing star forward Zion Williamson, so there’s a path to the No. 8 seed for Sacramento. Still, it sounds as if the Kings would probably need to knock off the No. 1 Thunder in the first round to have a chance to see Monk back in action this spring.

Monk will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, with the Kings holding his Early Bird rights.

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • Kings star De’Aaron Fox put in significant time last offseason training with second-year forward Keegan Murray, so Fox was thrilled to see the former No. 4 overall pick have a huge game on Tuesday, writes Hunter Patterson of The Athletic. Murray scored a game-high 32 points in Sacramento’s play-in victory over Golden State. “Just seeing his development, and how different he’s been,” Fox said. “… Obviously we want to see it on a consistent basis. But just seeing that come to fruition and seeing the work he put in all summer, especially on a big stage like this, it’s definitely great to see.”
  • Within a look at what’s next for the Warriors, Logan Murdock of The Ringer says league sources believe Andrew Wiggins will be included in trade discussions this offseason. Stephen Curry told Murdock that continuing to push toward contention is his top priority. “I want to win,” Curry said. “Plain and simple. It’s not my job to make all of those decisions, but it’s my job to hold people accountable and say I want to win, and I’ll give my input, but I just want to win.”
  • An unrestricted free agent this offseason, veteran forward Royce O’Neale suggested that he has enjoyed his time in Phoenix and would be open to re-signing with the Suns. “Yeah, for sure. It’s a great place, team, organization,” O’Neale said (Twitter video link via Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports). “It’s been great since I’ve been here, since day one.”
  • Already projected to be over the second tax apron next season, the Suns may be motivated to re-sign O’Neale since they’ll have limited resources to add outside talent. But a new deal for the forward would exponentially increase the projected luxury tax bill for team owner Mat Ishbia. “(Ishbia)’s gonna cost himself a s—ton of money under the new collective bargaining agreement,” one opposing executive told Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. “He just is. If he wants to pay it, that’s fine. The point is that he’s mortgaged everything on this current group here, and once this runs its course … that is, when (Kevin Durant) starts to slow down — and he hasn’t yet; he’s still very good — they’re going to be in a tough situation.”

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, Suns, S. Lee, Fox, Huerter, Reddish

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will miss his second straight game on Thursday vs. New York due to personal reasons, with Anthony Slater of The Athletic describing the absence as a “family matter.” It’s unclear when Wiggins will return to the lineup, though head coach Steve Kerr said the team expects him back at some point.

Don’t know,” Kerr said of a return timeline. “We’ll obviously respect Andrew’s wishes for this to remain private. Personal reasons.”

As Slater notes, Wiggins missed the final 25 games of the 2022/23 season due to personal reasons, returning just before the postseason began.

Here are a few more notes from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have an open roster spot. Veterans Mike Muscala (Pistons) and Patty Mills (Hawks) were recently waived by their former clubs, with Muscala reaching a buyout agreement. Would Phoenix be interested in either of those players? John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 says the answer is no (Twitter links). The Suns are much more likely to convert Saben Lee‘s two-way contract to a standard deal, according to Gambadoro, who says (via Twitter) the odds of that happening are “very high.” It’s worth noting that Lee, who was the 38th pick of the 2020 draft, is in his fourth NBA season — he will not be eligible for two-way contracts in 2024/25 and beyond.
  • After building an early lead on Wednesday against the Nuggets, the Kings wound up being blown out in Denver without star point guard De’Aaron Fox, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Fox, who sustained a left knee contusion in Monday’s loss to Miami, went through the team’s shootaround yesterday morning and his pregame shooting routine prior to being ruled out, which seemingly indicates the injury is relatively minor.
  • According to Biderman, guard Kevin Huerter was frustrated with his lack of playing time following Wednesday’s game, in which he played just 18 minutes. “I don’t know if I could put my finger on one (thing),” Huerter said of the Kings being outscored by 35 points over the second and third quarters. “I wish I was out there to help us more though.” Huerter declined to expand on those comments, but Biderman points out that the 25-year-old is playing a career-low 25.2 minutes per game and briefly lost his starting job in December before reclaiming it.
  • After missing the previous 14 games with a right ankle sprain, Lakers wing Cam Reddish returned to action in Wednesday’s win over the Clippers, per Khobi Price of The Southern Califnornia News Group. The former lottery pick played 20 minutes and supplanted second-year guard/forward Max Christie in the rotation, Price adds.

Pacific Notes: Kerr, Curry, Payton, Fox, Kings, LeBron

Stephen Curry smiled at his locker on Friday night when he realized Steve Kerr‘s new two-year extension now aligns with his own contract, which expires after the 2025/26 season, per Marcus Thompson II of The Athletic. Curry offered emphatic support for the deal.

There’s a handful of player-coach and trio-coach stories in league history that are comparable to ours,” Curry said. “And that’s not by accident. … He’s been such a consistent presence. Not just the X’s and O’s, but of managing the lows and the highs, mainly the highs, that we’ve been at. People think it’s easy. But with success comes expectation. The nuance of keeping things together and managing not just in here, but managing up as well, it’s hard. It just reminds you of the special personality and character you have to have to do this job.

Draymond Green, another key member of Golden State’s dynasty, was also happy to learn of Kerr’s extension, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

I think it’s incredible,” Green said. “I wouldn’t want finish my time here with any other coach. The way he’s been to this franchise, what he’s done for us as players, the winning ways that he brought here, you can’t replace that. So, very happy for Steve and his family.”

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • After missing Thursday’s contest vs. the Lakers, Warriors defensive ace Gary Payton II was back in action on Friday against Charlotte, as Slater relays (via Twitter). Payton, who finished with 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting in 11 minutes during the victory, has been limited to 21 games thus far in 2023/24 due to calf and hamstring strains.
  • According to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter links), Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox admitted on Tuesday that he’s been battling a right shoulder issue, but said the injury was minor and he hasn’t undergone an MRI because “it was never serious enough for me to do that.” There has been speculation that Fox might have been dealing with an ailment, as his offensive efficiency has waned a bit the past couple months after an excellent start to the 2023/24 campaign. The one-time All-Star had a strong performance in Thursday’s win over San Antonio, recording 28 points, nine assists, five rebounds and two steals while shooting 12-of-18 from the floor in 37 minutes.
  • Head coach Mike Brown has continually stressed that the Kings need to improve their defense to have a shot at postseason success, Anderson writes for The Sacramento Bee. After being ranked No. 25 in defensive rating last season, Sacramento is currently No. 19 in that category this season. However, the offense — which was ranked No. 1 in the league in 2022/23 — has slipped to No. 14. “We know we’ve got to improve the offense back closer to what it was last year,” GM Monte McNair said after the trade deadline. “If we do that, I think we can make some noise, but we’ve got some work to do because the West is tough 1 to 12 or 13 this year and every game is going to be a dogfight.” Anderson considers whether the team’s coach and top front office executive are on the same page when it comes to the balance of offense and defense.
  • As expected, Lakers superstar LeBron James returned to action on Friday vs. San Antonio after missing Thursday’s game with a left ankle injury that has been bothering him for some time. He was upgraded from questionable to probable before suiting up for the contest, tweets ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. The 39-year-old finished with 30 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in 34 minutes.

Team USA Announces 41-Player Pool For 2024 Olympics

USA Basketball has officially announced a pool of 41 players who are in the mix for the 12 spots on the 2024 Olympic men’s basketball team.

While the pool is subject to change, Team USA’s 12-man roster for the 2024 Paris Olympics will, in all likelihood, be made up of players from this group.

The list figures to shrink as the summer nears due to players suffering injuries or opting not to participate for other reasons, but at some point prior to the July event the U.S. decision-makers will have to choose a final roster from the remaining candidates.

Here’s the full list of 41 players, 28 of whom have represented Team USA in a previous World Cup or Olympics:

  1. Bam Adebayo (Heat)
  2. Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers)
  3. Paolo Banchero (Magic)
  4. Desmond Bane (Grizzlies)
  5. Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
  6. Devin Booker (Suns)
  7. Mikal Bridges (Nets)
  8. Jaylen Brown (Celtics)
  9. Jalen Brunson (Knicks)
  10. Jimmy Butler (Heat)
  11. Alex Caruso (Bulls)
  12. Stephen Curry (Warriors)
  13. Anthony Davis (Lakers)
  14. Kevin Durant (Suns)
  15. Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves)
  16. Joel Embiid (Sixers)
  17. De’Aaron Fox (Kings)
  18. Paul George (Clippers)
  19. Aaron Gordon (Nuggets)
  20. Tyrese Haliburton (Pacers)
  21. James Harden (Clippers)
  22. Josh Hart (Knicks)
  23. Tyler Herro (Heat)
  24. Jrue Holiday (Celtics)
  25. Chet Holmgren (Thunder)
  26. Brandon Ingram (Pelicans)
  27. Kyrie Irving (Mavericks)
  28. Jaren Jackson Jr. (Grizzlies)
  29. LeBron James (Lakers)
  30. Cameron Johnson (Nets)
  31. Walker Kessler (Jazz)
  32. Kawhi Leonard (Clippers)
  33. Damian Lillard (Bucks)
  34. Donovan Mitchell (Cavaliers)
  35. Chris Paul (Warriors)
  36. Bobby Portis (Bucks)
  37. Austin Reaves (Lakers)
  38. Duncan Robinson (Heat)
  39. Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
  40. Derrick White (Celtics)
  41. Trae Young (Hawks)

Adebayo, Booker, Durant, Holiday, Lillard, and Tatum were part of the Olympic team that won gold in Tokyo in 2021. Jerami Grant, Draymond Green, Keldon Johnson, Zach LaVine, JaVale McGee, and Khris Middleton were also on that roster, but aren’t part of the preliminary pool this time around. It’s possible some of them turned down invitations.

“The United States boasts unbelievable basketball talent and I am thrilled that many of the game’s superstars have expressed interest in representing our country at the 2024 Olympic Summer Games,” national team managing director Grant Hill said in a statement. “It is a privilege to select the team that will help us toward the goal of once again standing atop the Olympic podium. This challenging process will unfold over the next several months as we eagerly anticipate the start of national team activity.”

USA Basketball also announced today that Team USA will face Team Canada in Las Vegas on July 10 in an exhibition game. It sounds like that contest will take place during the NBA’s 2024 Summer League.

Minimum Game Requirement For Awards Looms Large For Super-Max Candidates

As we detailed back in September, there are several players around the NBA who would benefit financially from making an All-NBA team or winning a Most Valuable Player of Defensive Player of the Year award in 2023/24.

Heat big man Bam Adebayo, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray are among the players who would become eligible to sign a super-max (Designated Veteran) contract during the 2024 offseason by earning one of those honors this season.

Mavericks guard Luka Doncic and Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could ensure they become eligible to sign a super-max extension in 2025 by making this year’s All-NBA team. Grizzlies big man Jaren Jackson Jr. could do the same by winning a second consecutive Defensive Player of the Year award.

Additionally, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Hornets guard LaMelo Ball signed maximum-salary rookie scale extensions that will be worth 30% of next season’s salary cap (instead of 25%) if they make an All-NBA team this spring. These “Rose Rule” contracts are essentially “mini” super-max deals.

Not all of those 10 players look like legitimate All-NBA, MVP, or DPOY candidates this season, but many of them will be in the mix. However, as Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks write at ESPN.com, the newly implemented 65-game minimum requirement for award winners looms large for this group.

Without appearing in 65 games (including at least 63 of 20-plus minutes and two of 15-plus minutes), these players will be ineligible to earn an All-NBA spot, and without that end-of-season honor, they won’t be in position to receive a higher maximum salary.

According to Bontemps and Marks, a player who misses more than 17 of his team’s games, falling short of appearing in the required 65, can technically still qualify for award recognition, but only in very specific scenarios:

  1. If the player appeared in at least 62 games (and 85% of his team’s games to that point) and then suffers a season-ending injury.
  2. If the player files a grievance and presents “clear and convincing evidence” that his team limited his games or his minutes with the intention of depriving him of award eligibility.

While there’s also a clause for “extraordinary circumstances,” the NBA and NBPA don’t expect that clause to apply to injury absences, since it would essentially defeat the purpose of the rule, per ESPN’s duo.

Of the 10 players mentioned above, one is already ineligible for a major end-of-season award — Ball has appeared in just 19 of the Hornets’ first 39 games due to an ankle injury, so even if he doesn’t miss a game for the rest of the season, he’ll max out at 62 appearances. Given Charlotte’s spot in the standings, Ball would have been an All-NBA long shot anyway, but he has been playing at a very high level when he’s been healthy.

The 65-game mark remains within reach for the rest of this group, though some players can’t really afford any sort of extended absence. Adebayo, for instance, has missed 10 of Miami’s 42 games so far and only logged 12 minutes in an 11th, which means it won’t count toward his 65. Seven more missed games would cost him his award eligibility.

Murray is in a similar spot — he has missed 14 of Denver’s 43 games and played just 10 minutes in a 15th, so three more missed games would make him ineligible for award consideration.

Doncic has missed seven games for the Mavericks, while Fox has missed six for the Kings, so they’re on pace to play in enough games, but if either player turns an ankle or tweaks a hamstring and is forced to the sidelines for a couple weeks, he’d be in trouble.

It looked like that might happen with Haliburton, who sat out just three of the Pacers’ first 36 games, then strained his hamstring earlier this month. He was expected to be unavailable for at least a couple weeks, but returned to action on Friday night, ahead of schedule, after missing just five contests.

Haliburton is a legitimate All-NBA candidate and would be in line for a projected $41MM pay increase across his five-year extension if he earns one of those 15 spots. Were those financial considerations a factor in his early return to action? Would he still have been inactive on Friday if that 65-game minimum weren’t in play?

It’s hard to imagine the Pacers allowing their franchise player to risk potential re-injury by coming back too early, but Haliburton certainly has a ton of motivation to play in every game he can this year.

As Howard Beck of The Ringer writes, that 65-game minimum will be a fascinating subplot to follow in the second half of the season. Although we’ve focused here on players whose future earnings could be directly tied to whether or not they claim an end-of-season award, there are many other potential All-NBA candidates who may fall short of 65 games, changing the equation for voters.

Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, Zion Williamson, and Lauri Markkanen are among the stars who have been out for eight or more games so far this season, Beck observes. Kevin Durant has missed seven.

The 65-game minimum isn’t necessary to earn votes for Sixth Man of the Year, Rookie of the Year, or an All-Rookie spot, but the other major awards require at least 65 appearances.

In 2023, five of the 15 players who made an All-NBA team appeared in fewer than 65 games, but that won’t be the case in 2024. The players who have the most riding on All-NBA honors from a financial perspective may be the ones most motivated to stay on the court, but as Adebayo points out, you “can’t stop injuries from happening.”

“God forbid nobody gets hurt, but you can’t [prevent] injury,” he said, per Bontemps and Marks. “I think it’s crazy that we even have the rule. It’s one of those things where you just accept the rule. … I guess use your 17 games as wisely as possible.”

And-Ones: Yabusele, All-Stars, Shannon, Awards

Former NBA first-round pick Guerschon Yabusele, currently a member of Real Madrid, likely won’t be looking to return stateside anytime in the near future, he said in an interview with French outlet L’Equipe.

“I would like to return to the NBA, but I play for the best team in Europe and win championships,” Yabusele said (hat tip to Eurohoops). “Why would I leave that to sit on a bench? I will join the French National Team after the end of the season this summer, so I am waiting for the Olympics, not the NBA.”

The 16th overall pick in the 2016 draft, Yabusele joined the Celtics in 2017 and spent two seasons in Boston, appearing in 74 total games and seeing limited action. He averaged 2.3 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.6 minutes per contest.

The 6’8″ forward, who is now 28, has had more success since returning to Europe in 2020. Yabusele won a French League (LNB Pro A) title with ASVEL in 2021, a Spanish League (Liga ACB) title with Real Madrid in 2022, and a EuroLeague championship in 2023 while playing a key role for his teams.

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

  • Zach Harper of The Athletic previews what this year’s All-Star rosters might look like and considers which players could be left on the outside looking in. The Western Conference backcourt will be especially competitive, according to Harper, who suggests that star guards like Devin Booker and De’Aaron Fox aren’t locks to be All-Stars.
  • A federal judge reinstated Illinois wing Terrence Shannon Jr. on Friday, ending his suspension and ruling that the university had violated his civil rights by depriving him of “protected property interests” without due process, according to John O’Connor of The Associated Press. Shannon, who had been considered a probable first-round pick in the 2024 draft, was suspended indefinitely by Illinois after being accused of rape last month.
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer picks his award winners for the first half of the 2023/24 season, including narrowly choosing Sixers star Joel Embiid over Nuggets star Nikola Jokic as the MVP so far.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic poses a few questions for the Pacers and Raptors in the wake of their Pascal Siakam blockbuster, including what Siakam’s next contract will look like and whether Toronto will look to tank in the second half in an effort to hang onto its top-six protected first-round pick for 2024.