Hunter Tyson

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.”

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Billups, Towns, Juzang, Tyson

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said that developing lottery pick Scoot Henderson into a top-level point guard is a “personal” project, he told The Athletic’s David Aldridge.

“It’s personal for me,” said Billups, the 2004 Finals MVP. “‘Cause I just remember myself being that dude, third pick in the draft. The expectations. I want to give Scoot what I needed at the time. I can do that. I’ve done everything he wants to do in this league. I struggled mightily early, which I don’t see that happening with him.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had some pre-draft discussions about a possible Karl-Anthony Towns trade, Ian Begley of SNY TV said on ESPN’s Zach Lowe podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “There were talks between the Timberwolves and other teams before the draft and Towns’ name came up,” Begley said. “I don’t know how aggressive the Timberwolves were with Towns, if at all.” Towns is entering the first year of his four-year super max extension.
  • Jazz summer league coach and developmental assistant Evan Bradds said he’s been pushing second-year swingman Johnny Juzang hard, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes. Juzang had a high efficient 26-point outing in the team’s second Summer League game. “I want him to succeed, and I think over the [past] year, we were able to build a good relationship,” Bradds said. “I think if you ask him, he would want to be coached hard. So if you tell me you want me to coach hard, I’m gonna coach you hard, no matter what — when you’re good, when you’re bad. Even during the game, we get a little heated, and that’s OK, that’s part of it.” Juzang is an unrestricted free agent after the Jazz pulled their qualifying offer.
  • Second-round pick Hunter Tyson was a standout for the Nuggets in the Summer League, Matt Schubert of the Denver Post writes. Tyson averaged 20.8 points in five games and made half of his 3-point attempts. He also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Rockets’ Cam Whitmore Named Summer League MVP

Rockets forward Cam Whitmore has been named the Las Vegas Summer League Most Valuable Player, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

The NBA also announced its All-Summer League First and Second Teams, which are as follows (Twitter links):

First Team

Second Team

According to the NBA (Twitter link), Christie and Moon received the same amount of votes, which is why there is an additional backcourt player on the second team.

Whitmore, a projected lottery pick in last month’s draft who fell to Houston at No. 20, averaged 20.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.2 APG and 3.0 SPG on .465/.293/.625 shooting in his five Vegas Summer League games, per

Houston faces Cleveland at 8 p.m. CT tonight in the Summer League championship game. Both teams are undefeated, holding identical 5-0 records.

Julian Strawther Signs Rookie Contract With Nuggets

The Nuggets have signed No. 29 overall pick Julian Strawther to his rookie scale contract, according to the official transaction log at

Strawther, 21, played three college seasons at Gonzaga before putting his name in the 2023 draft as an early entrant. In 37 games (31.2 MPG) with the Bulldogs in 2022/23, the small forward averaged 15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds on .469/.408/.776 shooting.

The Celtics originally held the No. 29 pick, but traded it to the Pacers last year in the Malcolm Brogdon deal. The Pacers sent the rights to the Nos. 29 and 32 picks to Denver as part of a four-team trade last month.

Speaking of the No. 32 pick, Jalen Pickett‘s four-year contract with the Nuggets is now official, per, as is Hunter Tyson‘s (No. 37). Denver also acquired the rights to Tyson in the four-team deal.

Assuming he receives the maximum allowable 120% of the rookie scale amount, which virtually every first-rounder does, Strawther will earn approximately $2.4MM as a rookie and nearly $12.5MM if he plays out his full four-year rookie contract. The first two years are guaranteed, while the third and fourth are team options.

Nuggets, Hunter Tyson Agree To Four-Year Deal

The Nuggets are signing rookie second-round pick Hunter Tyson to a four-year, $7.7MM contract, reports Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). The first three seasons are guaranteed, according to Singer, with a fourth-year team option.

As with Jalen Pickett, a fellow rookie second-rounder, the Nuggets are using the new second-round pick exception to complete the signing. That enables them to offer a four-year deal.

Tyson spent five college seasons with Clemson before Denver selected him 37th overall in last month’s draft. The 23-year-old had by far his best season in 2022/23 as a “super senior,” averaging 15.3 points and 9.6 rebounds on .479/.405/.835 shooting in 34 games (34.7 minutes) for the Tigers.

The Nuggets will have 15 players on standard deals once their third draft pick, first-rounder Julian Strawther, signs his rookie scale deal, Singer notes (via Twitter). Collin Gillespie, who missed his entire rookie season following a leg fracture last summer, is expected to return on a two-way deal and play regularly, per Singer. Gillespie is a restricted free agent after he was given a qualifying offer.

Nuggets, Thunder, Pacers, Lakers Fold Draft-Pick Deals Into Four-Team Trade

Three separate draft-pick trades have been officially completed and have been turned into a single four-team deal, according to press releases from the Nuggets, Thunder, and Lakers. The reported terms are as follows:

  • Nuggets acquire the draft rights to Julian Strawther (No. 29 pick; from Pacers), the draft rights to Jalen Pickett (No. 32 pick; from Pacers), the draft rights to Hunter Tyson (No. 37 pick; from Thunder), and the least favorable of the Timberwolves’ and Hornets’ 2024 second-round picks (from Thunder).
  • Thunder acquire the Nuggets’ 2029 first-round pick (protected; from Nuggets).
  • Pacers acquire the least favorable of the Thunder’s, Clippers’, Rockets’ (top-four protected), and Jazz’s (top-10 protected) 2024 first-round picks (from Thunder); the draft rights to Mojave King (No. 47 pick; from Lakers); and cash (approximately $4.3MM; from Lakers).
  • Lakers acquire the draft rights to Maxwell Lewis (No. 40 pick; from Nuggets).

The Nuggets and Thunder reached the first of these trade agreements two weeks ago, followed by the Nuggets and Pacers agreeing to a deal on Wednesday that included one of the picks Denver had received from Oklahoma City. Indiana subsequently flipped one of the picks it got from the Nuggets to the Lakers in a third agreement on Thursday.

Each team involved in this four-way swap is “touching” at least two other clubs in the deal, so no additional pieces needed to be added to make it legal.

Pacific Notes: Sabonis, Beal, Murray, Lakers’ Workout, Hachimura

Kings big man Domantas Sabonis is unlikely to play in the FIBA World Cup, according to Lithuanian national team head coach Kazys Maksvytis. “We all hope that Domantas will play,” Maksvytis said in the Zalgiris on Air podcast, as relayed by “However, we all know the valid reasons [that could prevent him from playing]. If I had to say on his chances today, I’d say those chances are less than 50 percent.”

Sabonis said earlier this month he may need surgery on his right thumb. The Kings and Sabonis could also pursue an extension this offseason.

We have more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Kings were among the teams to inquire about a trade for Wizards wing Bradley Beal but — not surprisingly — Sacramento balked when Washington asked about last year’s lottery pick, Keegan Murray, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic. The Wizards were interested in drafting Murray and tried to move up from the No. 10 pick to select the versatile forward, Aldridge adds.
  • Gonzaga big man Drew Timme was among the draft prospects who worked out for the Lakers on Monday, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Damion Baugh (TCU), Alex Fudge (Florida), Colin Castleton (Florida), Sincere Carry (Kent State) and Hunter Tyson (Clemson) joined Timme at the workout.
  • Rui Hachimura‘s market value is projected to be in the $12-18MM starting range, multiple executives told Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. While a majority of teams won’t have more than the $12.2MM non-taxpayer mid-level exception to offer Hachimura, at least seven teams project to have the cap room to put together a substantial offer sheet. Since Hachimura is a restricted free agent, the Lakers can match any offer.

Draft Notes: Walker, Pacers, Bates, Pistons

Houston’s Jarace Walker is a projected top-10 pick, currently ranked No. 7 on ESPN’s big board. As Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files writes, Walker’s workout on Wednesday with the Pacers, who control the No. 7 overall pick, was actually his first with an NBA team, but he has upcoming workouts with the Pistons (No. 5) and Jazz (No. 9).

A strong, long-armed forward who is viewed as one of the best defenders in the draft, Walker could fill an immediate need for Indiana at the four if he’s available on draft night, Agness notes. The Pacers are reportedly searching for a starting power forward and need help defensively.

I think my biggest asset is my defense, just my versatility there,” Walker said, stressing that he wants to show that he’s more than a good defender. “That’s what people focus on, but there’s so many other things on the floor that I can do.”

The 19-year-old cited Luguentz Dort and Jrue Holiday as a couple of burly defenders he looks up to, according to Agness.

Here are a few more notes on the 2023 NBA draft, which will take place June 22:

  • The Pacers have been extremely busy hosting prospects for workouts, and that will continue on Thursday, Agness tweets. Tyger Campbell (UCLA), Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite), Markquis Nowell (Kansas State), Ben Sheppard (Belmont), Hunter Tyson (Clemson) and Jalen Wilson (Kansas) will be the six participants. Sheppard is currently the highest-rated of the group on ESPN’s list, coming in at No. 37. In addition to No. 7, Indiana also controls the Nos. 26, 29, 32 and 55 picks
  • Eastern Michigan wing Emoni Bates has had a busy schedule leading up to the draft, reportedly working out for nearly half the league already. A source tells Adam Zagoria of (Twitter link) that Bates will be visiting the Bucks on Friday. He’s currently No. 51 on ESPN’s board.
  • While much ink has (understandably) been spilled about what the Pistons might do at No. 5, they control the 31st pick in the draft as well. Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press (subscriber link) examines six 3-and-D wings who might be available with the second-rounder, including Xavier’s Colby Jones (No. 28 on ESPN’s board) UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez (No. 30), and Pepperdine’s Maxwell Lewis (No. 32).

Draft Notes: Henderson, Sheppard, Wizards, Hornets, Magic, Warriors

With Scoot Henderson ranked second or third in nearly every mock draft, the G League Ignite star only plans two workouts during the pre-draft process, tweets Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report.

Henderson was in Portland on Saturday to show off the skills that have made him one of the most talked-about prospects in this year’s class. The Trail Blazers hold the third pick and appear to be the most likely destination for Henderson if speculation about Brandon Miller going to Charlotte at No. 2 is correct. There’s been plenty of conjecture that Portland may trade the pick for veteran help, but some sources believe the team would be comfortable adding another young player.

Henderson hasn’t scheduled a session with the Hornets yet, but he told Casey Holdahl of that he expects to work out for them at some point before the June 22 draft. He also talked about what he’ll bring to the team that selects him.

“You always want a guy like me, that dog mentality,” Henderson said. “Just my personality, the culture I bring to the locker room. I’m a great leader, I’ll tell what’s up and I can do everything on the floor. I can do everything on the floor. I’m going to go out there and give my 110 percent every day. And that’s the thing about me: I’m very consistent in effort. Even if it’s not there, I just try to even it out the next game, try to get right to it. Give it a 120 if I didn’t give it 110 the last game.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Draft Notes: Wembanyama, Henderson, Combine, Roach

Victor Wembanyama will be the grand prize at Tuesday’s draft lottery, so Brian Windhorst and Jonathan Givony of ESPN took a look at the decade-long development of the French phenom. Long before he grew into a 7’5″ international star, Wembanyama was considered a special prospect even at age eight. The authors cite a YouTube video in which he intercepts a pass in a 2012 game and covers about 30 feet in two dribbles before laying the ball into the basket.

Wembanyama grew up in an athletic family near Paris with his mother playing basketball professionally before becoming a youth coach and his father competing as a long jumper. Wembanyama also learned the game from Karim Boubekri, a coach who developed his strategies by watching Pete Maravich and the AND1 Mixtape stars. That brought a level of creativity to Wembanyama’s game that he was determined to preserve, even if it meant battling with his coaches.

“I was probably born with that will to do things differently and do things my way,” he said. “I’m really glad I kept that willpower, to not (let) sometimes coaches put me in a box. That’s really an everyday fight.”

There’s more draft news to pass along:

  • G League guard Scoot Henderson, who’s a strong candidate to be taken second overall, is receiving assistance from Stephen Curry‘s training team as he prepares for his NBA future, writes Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. Henderson and his sister Moochie, who will play at Georgia State, have partnered with Curry’s company, SC30 Inc. “Just getting this early training and early knowledge from Steph mentoring me and the people around him, it’s a blessing,” Scoot Henderson said. “Me just turning 19, just getting that knowledge early, it’s really cool.”
  • Wembanyama and Henderson occupy the top two spots in the latest mock draft issued by Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. Brandon Miller, Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson round out the top five.
  • With the NBA Draft Combine starting today, eight players have been called up from the G League Elite Camp, Givony tweets. They are Jazian Gortman of Overtime Elite, Sir’Jabari Rice of Texas, Hunter Tyson and PJ Hall of Clemson, Johni Broome of Auburn, Tosan Evbuomwan of Princeton, Kendric Davis of Memphis and Dillon Jones of Weber State.
  • Jeremy Roach has elected to pull his name out of the draft and return to Duke for another season, tweets Jeff Goodman of Stadium. Roach wasn’t listed on ESPN’s big board and was considered unlikely to be drafted.