Hassan Whiteside

International Notes: Whiteside, Vonleh, Figueroa, Schakel, Schmidt

A former All-Defensive player and a former lottery pick are among the veteran NBA free agents reportedly receiving overseas interest.

Big man Hassan Whiteside, who led the league in blocks per game twice and made an All-Defensive team in 2016, has drawn interest from Israeli team Hapoel Tel Aviv, per Omri Manhime of Sport5 (Twitter link; hat tip to Sportando). Whiteside was out of the NBA in 2022/23 and played in Lebanon earlier in his professional career.

Meanwhile, Greek team Panathinaikos is said to be eyeing Noah Vonleh, according to Stavros Barbarousis of Eurohoops.net. The No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Vonleh has appeared in 362 career regular season NBA games, including 23 last season for Boston. He played for the Shanghai Sharks in 2021/22 but has never joined a European team.

Here are a few more notes from around the international basketball world:

  • Former Oregon guard L.J. Figueroa, who has spent the last two seasons in the G League playing with the Santa Cruz Warriors and South Bay Lakers, has signed with German club Ratiopharm Ulm, per a press release from the team. Although Figueroa signed Exhibit 10 contracts with Golden State and L.A., he has yet to play in a regular season NBA game.
  • Jordan Schakel, a member of the Wizards for parts of the last two seasons, is aiming to play for the German national team in the 2024 Olympics in Paris, agents Mike Naiditch and Daniel Poneman tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link). Schakel has only appeared in six games at the NBA level, but made 39.9% of his three-point attempts in the G League last season.
  • Ryan Schmidt has left his job as the head coach of the London Lions in the British Basketball League in order to take a coaching job with an NBA team, according to a press release. While his destination isn’t yet known, Schmidt will be joining an Eastern Conference club, reports Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.com. He previously had a four-year stint as an assistant coach for the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League team (2017-21).

Hassan Whiteside, Brandon Knight Join Puerto Rican Team

Longtime NBA players Hassan Whiteside and Brandon Knight have signed with Puerto Rico’s Piratas de Quebradillas, La Guerra del BSN tweets. The tweet shows the two players standing near a plane holding Puerto Rican flags.

The Baloncesto Superior Nacional (BSN) is the top level professional league in Puerto Rico.

Whiteside, 33, played 65 regular season games for the Jazz last season, backing up Rudy Gobert. He’s averaged 12.6 points and 10.8 rebounds in his 511-game NBA career. He also played for Sacramento, Miami and Portland.

Whiteside became a free agent after last season but didn’t generate much buzz on the open market. Traditional veteran centers have found it increasingly difficult to find suitors due to the way the game is currently played.

Knight, 31, has averaged 14.0 points and 3.9 assists in his 451-game NBA career. He had a five-game stint with the Mavericks last season on a pair of 10-day contracts. He has also played for Detroit, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Houston and Cleveland.

Nets Notes: Anthony, Centers, Trade Exception, Durant

There has been speculation that the Nets might consider signing Carmelo Anthony to help fill out their roster, an unidentified league executive tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. The signing could be a way to help placate Kevin Durant if Brooklyn isn’t able to trade him soon.

Anthony, 38, spent last season with the Lakers on a one-year, minimum-salary contract. He averaged 13.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 69 games, but L.A. filled out its bench with younger players this offseason and there may not be room to bring Anthony back.

The Nets are also likely to sign another center, but the move may not come for a while.

“They need another big guy, but they’re not feeling a lot of pressure as far as filling that spot,” the executive said. There are veterans they can sign this month or even early next month — Dwight Howard would be the obvious one, maybe Hassan Whiteside. Cody Zeller is out there, too. They want to see what they have with Nic Claxton, but they want some insurance there, too. And they’re going to play (Ben) Simmons there quite a bit in small ball lineups.”

There’s more from Brooklyn:

  • The Nets allowed a $6.27MM trade exception to expire Friday, indicating that they will seek lower-cost moves to complete their roster, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Roughly five weeks ahead of training camp, Brooklyn still has room for two more players on standard deals, along with three Exhibit 10 contracts and a two-way slot. Lewis points out that David Duke Jr. has already turned down a two-way offer from the team in hopes of filling one of those standard spots.
  • The Nets also need to figure out the roles of their coaching staff after losing assistant Jordan Ott to the Lakers, Lewis adds in the same piece. The team will have to assign a defensive coordinator, and while Lewis sees Jacque Vaughn as the obvious candidate, he notes that Vaughn has experienced “mixed results” when asked to take on that role.
  • Durant landed a “haymaker” with his demand that owner Joe Tsai fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks, but it may not have changed his trade prospects, ESPN’s Tim Legler said on SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter link). Legler acknowledges that there’s a real chance Durant may still be with the Nets when the season begins.

Rockets Notes: Free Agent Targets, Burke, Gordon, Draft

The Rockets will target a backup center when free agency opens at the end of the month, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. The team is short on reliable big men after agreeing to trade Christian Wood to the Mavericks, and although Houston will receive Boban Marjanovic in the deal, the front office plans to explore other options on the free agent market.

Feigen identifies Nic Claxton as one possibility, saying the Nets likely wouldn’t match a full mid-level exception offer (starting at $10MM+) because of luxury tax concerns. Claxton was a part-time starter this season and put up career-best numbers with 8.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per night.

Other free agents that Feigen mentions include former Rocket Isaiah Hartenstein, Andre Drummond, Mason Plumlee, Mo Bamba, Hassan Whiteside, JaVale McGee and Dewayne Dedmon. After a promising rookie year, Alperen Sengun is expected to be Houston’s starting center next season.

There’s more on the Rockets:

  • As expected, Mavericks guard Trey Burke has officially exercised his $3.3MM player option for next season, which is necessary for the Wood trade to be finalized, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. The deal still can’t be announced until after Dallas picks at No. 26 on Thursday because the Mavs owe a protected 2023 first-round pick to New York.
  • In his latest piece for Substack, Marc Stein confirms that the Rockets are shopping veteran guard Eric Gordon in hopes of getting a first-round pick in return. Houston also tried to move Gordon at the trade deadline, but couldn’t find an acceptable offer. The 33-year-old will make $19.57MM next season and a non-guaranteed $20.92MM in 2023/24.
  • In a separate story, Feigen examines the information the Rockets use when evaluating draft prospects. The team was among the first to embrace analytics under former general manager Daryl Morey, but current GM Rafael Stone admits there are many times when the numbers don’t match what talent evaluators believe they’re seeing. “There are so many different tools you can look at,” he said. “If you like a particular stat a majority of the time it can easily lie to you in individual instances. You don’t just go back to work with video. You can back to work with the whole thing. It gives you hints about what you need to study more with a particular player.”

Western Notes: Jazz, Mitchell, Ginobili, Christopher

The Jazz are expected to make some roster moves before the end of the season, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. Utah will likely convert guard Trent Forrest from his two-way contract, but the team still has a need at backup center.

By converting Forrest to the 15-man roster, Utah would also open a two-way spot for another player. Hassan Whiteside (bone spur fracture) and Udoka Azubuike (ankle surgery) remain sidelined, leading the team to sign veteran center Greg Monroe to a 10-day contract last week.

Monroe’s 10-day deal expires on Wednesday night. In order to keep him and convert Forrest, the Jazz would have to waive a player to create roster space. Converting Forrest would allow him to become playoff-eligible.

Here are some other notes from the Western Conference:

  • Jazz star Donovan Mitchell insisted his team will “figure out” its recent struggles, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. Utah blew a 21-point lead against the Warriors on Saturday, losing 111-107. Utah is just 1-6 in its last seven games. “We have a group of guys — including myself — where it’s gonna feel good when we figure it out,” he said. “So, we can sit here and feel sorry for ourselves or we can use it as fuel. And I think we have a group of guys who want to do that. Yeah, we messed up. We’ve messed up fourth quarters 14 times, 15 times — how do we respond, how do we adjust? That’s really where I’m at, that’s where we’re at. We’ll figure it out.”
  • Spurs legend Manu Ginobili has embraced his role as the team’s advisor, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News writes. Ginobili, a soon-to-be Hall of Famer, assumed that position last September. He specifically enjoys working with the team’s young players, Orsborn notes. Ginobili played his entire 16-year career with the Spurs and retired in 2018.
  • Rockets rookie Josh Christopher is growing into an increased role with the team, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle examines. Christopher has played over 15 minutes in seven straight games. He finished with 30 points and two steals against Minnesota on Sunday, shooting 11-of-14 from the floor.

Injury Notes: Lakers, Jazz, Bulls, Heat

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Anthony Davis is progressing each day as he inches closer to a return to action, as Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet tweets.

Anthony has had a good week … He’s had a productive week,” Vogel said.

Davis continues to do spot shooting, which began on Monday. Davis originally suffered a right foot strain on February 16, so he’s a little more than four weeks into his four-to-six week recovery timetable.

Lakers reserves Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington were both unable to play on Friday at Toronto due to non-COVID illnesses, Trudell relays (via Twitter).

Talen Horton-Tucker missed the game as well, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Horton-Tucker has been battling a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

Here are more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Jazz are dealing with a plethora of maladies at the moment. Six players were listed as out for Friday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced (Twitter link): Donovan Mitchell (right calf contusion), Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise), Hassan Whiteside (non-COVID illness), Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).
  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan says Lonzo Ball has been experiencing discomfort in his rehab, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He has not responded,” Donovan said. “There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing. He has not been able to do anything full speed. And anytime we get him close to that, there’s discomfort. So I think they’re going to probably at least look at, you know, ‘Do you back off and let him rest for a little bit and see if that helps?’” Johnson notes that Friday marked seven weeks since Ball underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, and given his lack of progress, it seems highly unlikely he’ll return in the six-to-eight week recovery timetable Chicago originally provided. Donovan said there’s been no talk of Ball missing the remainder of the season, but the team is still determining the next steps in his recovery process.
  • On a more positive note, Donovan said Patrick Williams has been a full participant in G League practices with the Windy City Bulls, with no setbacks. He also said there was a “very real” possibility that Williams could return to action versus Toronto on Monday or Milwaukee on Tuesday, Johnson tweets. Williams has been targeting a return next week; he’s been out since October due to wrist surgery.
  • Jimmy Butler (sprained right ankle) and Victor Oladipo (back spasms) both missed the Heat‘s 120-108 win over the Thunder on Friday, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. It’s the third time Butler has sprained his right ankle this season, Chiang notes, which is definitely a concerning trend. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. On the bright side, Caleb Martin (hyperextended left knee) and P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation) were both able to play after being listed as questionable. Martin had missed the past three games for the 47-24 Heat, who hold the No. 1 seed in the East.

COVID-19 Updates: Olynyk, Whiteside, D. Johnson, Thunder

Pistons big man Kelly Olynyk, who returned this week after missing more than two months with a knee injury, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic.

Olynyk, who signed as a free agent over the summer, played in two games before being sidelined again, bringing his season total to 12. He’s averaging 12.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per night.

Olynyk joins teammates Jerami Grant and Luka Garza in the protocols, as the Pistons and Grizzlies are the only teams with three players currently affected by COVID-19.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Jazz backup center Hassan Whiteside has exited the protocols, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link). However, he is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with the Warriors because of conditioning. Whiteside was the sixth Utah player in the protocols when he entered 10 days ago, but all of them have now been cleared.
  • Raptors rookie forward David Johnson has been placed in the protocols, tweets Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca. The two-way player has only logged two minutes in two games at the NBA level, but has played four games for the Raptors 905 in the G League.
  • Thunder assistant coaches Mike Wilks and David Akinyooye have entered the protocols, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Head coach Mark Daigneault was in the protocols earlier this month.

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Finch, Edwards, Bol

With Jazz reserve center Hassan Whiteside unavailable while recovering from a concussion, Utah struggled to find much success in its small-ball lineups when All-Star center Rudy Gobert went to the bench, writes Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune. Walden notes that lineups with 6’8″ reserve forward Rudy Gay playing the five were minus-19 across 19:52 of action.

“It’s different without having a traditional big in Hassan or Rudy [Gobert] back there, because we base our defense solely on forcing everybody to our big,” All-Star point guard Mike Conley said. “Everybody’s kind of activated into more of a help-the-helper situation, as opposed to trying to make it a two-on-two situation with the big and the guard like we’re accustomed to doing.” Gay signed a two-year, $12.1MM contract with the team this summer.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has earned rave reviews for the way he handled Minnesota’s rotations as the team was impacted by several coronavirus-related absences, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Win or lose, the Wolves have always been prepared and kept contests close. “His [after-timeout plays], his mindset, how he conducts practice, very detailed man,” point guard Patrick Beverley said. “His professionalism, I preach to these guys every day that they’re fortunate to have a coach like that, for sure.”
  • After Finch had a quick hook for Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards due to what the head coach perceived as lackluster defense in the first quarter of an eventual 122-104 Minnesota victory over the Clippers, Edwards responded with renewed effort, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Finch inserted Jaylen Nowell in Edwards’s stead early in the first quarter. “I wasn’t a big fan of his approach defensively to start the game, which is why I went that direction early,” Finch said. “He responded to that and was a lot more dialed in.” Edwards conceded that Finch had a point: “I get mad, but he right. At the end of the day I can’t do nothing but take the constructive criticism and come back and show him that I can do it.”
  • 7’2″ Nuggets power forward Bol Bol showed promise in scoring a career-best 11 points across 20 minutes against the Rockets in a 124-111 win this weekend. He has support in high places as a prospect with upside, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. One big name in his corner is Denver head coach Michael Malone, who sent Bol a congratulatory text after his big night.

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Ingles, Mitchell, Whiteside, Butler, Wade

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pacers center Myles Turner engaged in a skirmish during Thursday’s game in Utah, briefly wrestling with one another after getting tangled up following a Gobert drive (video link).

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune details, the incident resulted in ejections for Gobert and Turner, as well as for Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell. Ingles was ejected for shoving referee Ed Malloy while trying to break up the fight; Mitchell was said to be “acting as an instigator and escalating the situation.” It’s unclear if any players will face suspensions as a result of the incident, but fines, at least, seem likely.

After the game, Mitchell and Gobert were focused more on the way the game was being officiated than concerns about forthcoming penalties. Gobert said referees are “allowing guys to do way too much s–t” this season and Mitchell agreed.

“It’s really at a point now, especially tonight, where the referees are allowing things to get out of hand,” Mitchell said, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “Both teams, we’re competitors and we’ll play through contact and talk s–t and do whatever. But at some point it’s continuing to build and you can sense that.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Hassan Whiteside has been a great fit so far as the Jazz’s second-string center, Todd writes for The Deseret News. According to Todd, the veteran big man – who has been accused in the past of looking to pad his own stats – has embraced the team-first philosophy in Utah. “It’s so cool how close this team is, I haven’t been on a team that’s this close,” Whiteside said. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey we’re close team, hey we do this together.’ Nah. This is really like a close-knit group. It’s great. I love it.”
  • Rookie guard Jared Butler can expect to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League this season, as Todd outlines in a separate story for The Deseret News. The veteran-heavy Jazz won’t be making it a top priority to develop their young prospects at the NBA level, so Butler, Udoka Azubuike, and Elijah Hughes could all see reps for the Salt Lake City Stars when they’re not part of Utah’s rotation, says general manager Justin Zanik.
  • Dwyane Wade‘s position as a part-owner of the Jazz hasn’t diminished his Heat fandom, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Wade said he still “loves” his old team and would be rooting for them to win a championship if the Jazz don’t. “Miami, from a personal standpoint, I would love to see them win it all,” he said. “But I also would love to see us win it all. So, for me, it’s a win-win.”