Jalen Johnson

Hawks’ Jalen Johnson Out At Least 3-4 Weeks

1:53pm: While Charania’s reporting (detailed below) suggested that testing on Johnson’s wrist didn’t show a fracture, the Hawks stated in a press release that the forward has been diagnosed with a left distal radius fracture.

However, the team’s announcement doesn’t necessarily contradict the recovery timeline provided by Charania. According to the Hawks, Johnson will be reevaluated in about three or four weeks.

11:30am: Hawks forward Jalen Johnson is expected to miss four-to-six weeks due to a left wrist injury, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

While Atlanta will have to get by without one of its most important players until at least late December – and possibly until sometime in January – there’s some good news, according to Charania. Testing on Johnson’s wrist showed no fractures or a need for surgery, which would’ve sidelined him for even longer. Charania refers to it as a “best-case scenario” (Twitter link).

As we outlined earlier today, Johnson left Saturday’s game vs. the Wizards about two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter after taking a hard hit from Kyle Kuzma as he attempted to complete a fast-break dunk (video link). Johnson fell into the stanchion and landed on his left hand, which he immediately grabbed in obvious pain. After taking his free throws, he exited to the locker room and didn’t return.

Johnson had gotten off to an extremely strong start for the Hawks this season, establishing himself as a dynamic two-way player after having been known primarily for his defense in his first two NBA seasons.

Entering Saturday’s contest, the 21-year-old had averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.4 minutes per night (14 games), with a .590/.421/.774 shooting line. He came off the bench a few times early in the season, but had started Atlanta’s past 10 games.

In Johnson’s absence, the Hawks figure to lean more heavily on De’Andre Hunter and Saddiq Bey, with second-year forward AJ Griffin moving up the depth chart and perhaps playing more regular minutes.

Eastern Notes: J. Johnson, Thompson, Niang, Bagley

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson will undergo further testing on his left wrist, which he injured during Saturday’s win in Washington, writes Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Johnson left the game about two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter after taking a hard hit from Kyle Kuzma as he attempted to complete a fast-break dunk (video link). Johnson fell into the stanchion and landed on his left hand, which he immediately grabbed in obvious pain. After taking his free throws, he exited to the locker room and didn’t return.

The Hawks haven’t provided any updates on the injury since ruling out Johnson for the rest of Saturday’s game. He’ll be further evaluated in the coming days, a source tells Williams.

If he’s forced to miss time, it would be a blow to the Hawks, who have benefited from a breakout year from Johnson so far in 2023/24. Entering Saturday’s contest, the 21-year-old had averaged 14.6 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 2.5 assists in 31.4 minutes per night (14 games), with a .590/.421/.774 shooting line.

[UPDATE: Johnson Expected To Miss 4-6 Weeks]

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Only two players in NBA history who are 6’6″ or shorter have ever averaged at least 10 rebounds, 1.5 blocks, and 1.0 steal per game over the course of a season (Charles Barkley and Gar Heard). Pistons guard Ausar Thompson is flirting with that feat through 16 games (9.8 RPG, 1.8 BPG, 1.1 SPG), which makes him something of a unicorn, according to James L. Edwards of The Athletic, who says the rookie likes the label. “I’m a unicorn, even if it doesn’t appear that way because of how people see ‘unicorns’ in their head, physically,” Thompson said. “What I’m out there doing, as you pointed out, only two people have done it before.”
  • Now a member of the Cavaliers, forward Georges Niang faced his former team this week and spoke about how much he enjoyed his time with the Sixers, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “It felt like home while I was here,” Niang said during his return to Philadelphia. “It’s a place that I’ll always enjoy coming back to. … It jolted me into the next part of my career. So I’m super thankful for the organization, the fans, the people, staff. It was an amazing place to be.” Niang also praised former teammate Tyrese Maxey and suggested the experience the 76ers gained from going through the Ben Simmons saga in 2021/22 helped them navigate James Harden‘s trade request this year.
  • Pistons big man Marvin Bagley III is playing some of the best basketball of his career this season, making a career-high 58.6% of his shots from the floor, as Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press details. Bagley credits a newfound focus on his mental health as one important reason for his strong start, noting that he has given up social media and is meditating when he can.

And-Ones: Self, 2024 FAs, G League, Harrison, More

Longtime University of Kansas head coach Bill Self has signed an amended lifetime contract with the school’s basketball program, according to a press release. The deal is worth approximately $53MM over the next five years, a source tells Jeff Goodman of The Messenger (Twitter link).

Self, who has never coached in the NBA, was mentioned a few years ago as a possible successor for Gregg Popovich in San Antonio. However, he shot down those rumors on multiple occasions and said he had no intention of leaving the Jayhawks — this latest contract agreement confirms that’s still the case.

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

  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report looks ahead to 2024 NBA free agency, previewing the potential top stories and attempting to forecast landing spots for the best free agents in the class. Three Clippers stars – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and James Harden – headline Pincus’ list.
  • The NBA G League announced this week that it has entered into a streaming partnership with Tubi, an ad-supported video-on-demand service. “NBA G League TV” will be the result of the union and will air more than 75 live NBAGL games on Fridays and Saturdays each season, starting tomorrow with the opening night of this year’s Showcase Cup.
  • After initially reporting that veteran NBA guard Shaquille Harrison was on track to finalize a contract with Olimpia Milano, Fabrizio Lorenzi of La Repubblica now says that talks between the two sides have stalled, as Sportando relays.
  • Following up on the report that the NBA is considering expanding its draft from one day to two days, Zach Harper of The Athletic offers his other suggestions for draft-related changes, including moving it to after free agency.
  • Hawks forward Jalen Johnson, Pelicans wing Matt Ryan, and Suns center Drew Eubanks are among 10 players singled out by John Hollinger of The Athletic as names who are “emerging from obscurity” and making themselves worth watching in the early going this season.

Southeast Notes: Muscala, Shamet, Hornets, Hawks

Wizards big man Mike Muscala, who was acquired from Boston this offseason in the Kristaps Porzingis trade, got the Latin phrase “carpe diem” (it translates to “seize the day”) tattooed on his right forearm this summer in honor of his late mother, who passed away prior to 2022/23. As Bijan Todd of Monumental Sports Network writes, the 11-year veteran tries to his embody his mother’s zeal for life by bringing her “positive energy” and gratitude, both on and off the court.

You owe [the starters], when you come in off the bench, just to have that extra energy, and try to, like you said, bring a spark,” Muscala said. “It doesn’t got to be anything crazy, but something to just kinda change the game up a little bit, figure out how you can fit into that. I feel like we got a lot of guys on this team that can do that, too. That’ll be a big thing for us throughout the season.”

Muscala, 32, has appeared in three of Washington’s four games, averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per night. He’s playing on an expiring $3.5MM contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024.

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • Wizards guard Landry Shamet, another offseason addition who was acquired from Phoenix in the Bradley Beal trade, made his ’23/24 season debut on Wednesday, recording eight points, two assists and a steal in 12 minutes. As Josh Robbins of The Athletic notes (via Twitter), Shamet had missed all of preseason and Washington’s first three games with a fractured left toe. Now on his fifth team in six seasons, Shamet could be a free agent next summer — his contract is only guaranteed for this season.
  • Slow starts to games and poor defensive rotations have plagued Charlotte through four games, with the Hornets off to a 1-3 start. Head coach Steve Clifford said he’s still trying to figure out how to juggle the rotations, according to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. “That’s ever evolving,” Clifford said. “That’s every day. To be honest with you, I think once you start playing, I think if you talk to most coaches, that’s what you spend your time on. But I do have to be careful in that it still starts with you want the guys on your team to be in rhythm when they are playing. And you can’t just do, ‘We are going to play match-up basketball every night,’ because you can’t be taking guys out. I really think if a guy doesn’t play at least six minutes, you can’t expect him to play well.”
  • Hawks head coach Quin Snyder told reporters on Wednesday that minutes at power forward will be split between Saddiq Bey, Jalen Johnson and — to a lesser extent — De’Andre Hunter, who mostly plays the three. Neither Snyder nor the players are concerned with who starts, per Brad Rowland (Twitter link). “People get fixated on starting,” Snyder said as part of a larger quote. “It is what it is. You go watch a game in Europe, they start different lineups all the time and no one thinks anything of it. … I think, particularly in Saddiq and Jalen’s case because they’ve both started games, they haven’t thought about it the way the general public thinks about it. … And that’s refreshing, because I think it shows their commitment to the bottom line, which is not the stat sheet. It’s the wins.”

Eastern Notes: I. Smith, Strus, Hawks, Bulls, Dosunmu

Ish Smith‘s new contract with the Hornets is a one-year, minimum-salary deal that is fully non-guaranteed, Hoops Rumors has learned.

Although Smith didn’t sign in the offseason, his salary won’t be prorated, since he finalized his deal on the very first day of the regular season. That means if he remains under contract through January 7, 2024, which would guarantee his full salary, he’ll make $3,196,448 while the Hornets carry a cap hit of $2,019,706. Until then, he’ll earn $18,370 per day, with no assurances for the full season.

Smith is one of three Hornets players without a fully guaranteed salary — Frank Ntilikina and JT Thor are also on non-guaranteed contracts.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Max Strus‘ debut with the Cavaliers couldn’t have gone much better, as the club’s new starting small forward racked up 27 points and a career-high 12 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over Brooklyn. “I wish I could guarantee that every night, but I don’t think it’s going to be like that,” Strus said after the game, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I think we have so many talented guys on this roster. It’s going to be anybody’s night any given game. One through 15, anybody can step up and play for us. That’s when our team is going to be very successful when we’re all enjoying each other’s success, and everybody is chipping in.”
  • After Jalen Johnson, De’Andre Hunter, and Saddiq Bey each played at least 29 minutes in the Hawks’ regular season opener, head coach Quin Snyder stressed that he expects all three forwards to get regular playing time and that he doesn’t necessarily need to roll with just two of them at the expense of the third. “It’s not a binary question of Jalen or Saddiq,” Snyder said (Twitter link via Brad Rowland of Locked on Hawks). “Maybe tonight will make that clear.”
  • While he acknowledged that a blowout loss at home – followed by a players-only meeting – wasn’t exactly a great way to start the season, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan said the important thing is how the team bounces back in its second game on Friday, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “You can sit up there and have a million conversations about something,” DeRozan said. “But it’s about how you respond and the mindset that I know how everybody came in here (to practice) with, how they feel. That’s how I know for a fact (Friday) will not be like (Wednesday). I can guarantee you that.”
  • The NBA has recognized Ayo Dosunmu for his work off the court, naming the Bulls guard the winner of the NBA Cares Bob Lanier Community Assist award, the league announced on Thursday in a press release.

Hawks Exercise 2024/25 Options On Johnson, Griffin

The Hawks have exercised their rookie scale team options for the 2024/25 season on forward Jalen Johnson and guard AJ Griffin, the team announced in a press release.

The moves had been expected, given the relatively modest cost of Johnson’s and Griffin’s ’24/25 option salaries. Johnson’s fourth-year option is worth $4,510,905, while Griffin will earn $3,889,920 in his third NBA season. Those salaries are now fully guaranteed.

Johnson, who will turn 22 in December, emerged as a regular rotation player for Atlanta in 2022/23, averaging 5.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 14.9 minutes per game across 70 appearances. He’s expected to take on a more prominent role this fall following the offseason trade of John Collins.

Exercising Johnson’s fourth-year option means the Hawks will have the ability to sign him to a rookie scale extension next summer. If he doesn’t sign a new deal at that point, the former Duke standout will become eligible for restricted free agency in 2025.

As for Griffin, he had a promising rookie year that saw him average 8.9 PPG on .465/.390/.894 shooting in 72 games (19.5 MPG). Another ex-Blue Devil, the 20-year-old has a fourth-year option worth $5,967,137 for the 2025/26 season — Atlanta will have to decide by next October 31 whether to pick it up.

The full list of 2024/25 rookie scale team options decisions can be found right here.

Southeast Notes: Davis, Rozier, Hayward, J. Johnson

Wizards guard Johnny Davis injured his left elbow on practice on Sunday and has been diagnosed with a sprain, per the team (Twitter link via Ava Wallace of The Washington Post). According to the Wizards, Davis is expected to be out for one or two weeks, so he may not be available when the team tips off its regular season on October 25.

The 2023/24 season is a big one for Davis, who appeared in only 28 games as a rookie and didn’t shoot the ball well (.386/.243/.519). The front office that drafted the former Wisconsin standout 10th overall in 2022 has since been overhauled, so the second-year guard will be looking to make a positive impression on the Wizards’ new decision-makers this season.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Terry Rozier set new career highs in points (21.1) and assists (5.1) per game last season, but he didn’t score efficiently and saw the Hornets take a step back from 43 wins in 2021/22 to just 27 victories in ’22/23. Referring to last season as a “reality check,” Rozier says he’s determined to help Charlotte get to the postseason and that he wants to be more of a leader and exude more positive energy in ’23/24, as Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer relays.
  • In a separate story for The Observer, Boone passes along a few Hornets notes, including some positive news on the injury front: Gordon Hayward (right foot discomfort) was a full participant in practice on Monday and appears on track to play in the team’s regular season opener, if not earlier.
  • Third-year forward Jalen Johnson has been one of the Hawks‘ most impressive players in training camp and the preseason, says Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). Johnson improved defensively last season and has shown off his versatility on the offensive end this fall, Williams notes, averaging 4.0 assists per game in the preseason and making 60% of his three-point tries. After coming off the bench in 86 of his first 92 NBA games, Johnson is a good candidate to join Atlanta’s starting five this season — he has started three of four preseason contests.

Southeast Notes: Johnson, Toppert, Jovic, Heat

Hawks forward Jalen Johnson took a step forward last season into a rotational role with Atlanta and he’s looking to make another leap next season, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Lauren Williams. Williams writes that Johnson has spent most of his time this offseason working out in Atlanta and Los Angeles, which allowed him to cross paths with LeBron James.

Johnson and James share a trainer in Chris Johnson, and the opportunity arose to train with James. The Duke product said he was trying to learn as much as he could from the future Hall of Famer.

Before the workout, seeing how he goes about his business,” Johnson said. “Just once he gets the gym, he’s locked in, laser-focused, does his routine and then, as far as drill-wise, [he’s] the best on court. Everything’s precise. Everything’s the right way. Even if he messes up, he messes up and makes a shot, he’s still coming back and doing it the right way.

And while Johnson spent time trying to pick up on what James was doing from the side, LeBron also outright gave the third-year Hawks forward some advice.

He’s giving me pointers on how to do certain moves, how to be more effective with certain moves, little tricks, just kind of when we’re working out,” Johnson said. “So, just hearing that from him, having that as someone that I can reach out and ask questions to now, you know, it’s cool.

Johnson, 21, went from playing in 22 games and averaging 5.5 minutes in his rookie season to 70 games and 14.9 minutes in his sophomore year in the league. In 2022/23, Johnson averaged 5.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game — he’s in line for even more minutes, following the offseason trade of John Collins.

Atlanta seems primed to blend their veterans with their impressive young talent, including Johnson. Onyeka Okongwu and AJ Griffin appear poised for breakout seasons and the team picked guard Kobe Bufkin with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2023 draft. Trae Young and Dejounte Murray headline the team, which acquired veterans like Wesley Matthews and Patty Mills this offseason.

But Johnson is just one part of that, and he’s keeping everything in perspective.

I put in the same work every summer,” Johnson said. “Even if John doesn’t get traded, I feel like it’s the same mentality of trying to kill everybody that’s in front of me. Just kind of got to have that killer mentality as far as no matter what situation that is, just go control what you can control, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Wizards are hiring LSU assistant coach Cody Toppert to become the head coach of their G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Wojnarowski notes that Toppert previously worked with the Suns in the NBA and as a G League coach. Toppert also spent time with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, the affiliate of the Rockets, as well as the University of Memphis as an assistant.
  • Though the Heat don’t have any players on Team USA, Nikola Jovic is putting on a show this summer while playing for Serbia’s national team. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel continues documenting his performances this season. While Jovic has struggled at times, including a five-point showing in a loss to Italy, Winderman suggests Jovic’s stock as a whole continues to rise this summer. Jovic’s best performance of the summer was a 25-point outing against South Sudan. Winderman writes that Jovic’s summer should dispel any notion of the Heat not having enough assets to make a play for Damian Lillard. In another piece, Winderman writes that Jovic’s trade value seems to be comparable to Precious Achiuwa, whom Miami included in the trade for Kyle Lowry.
  • In a separate piece, Winderman writes that the Heat‘s trade history suggests they ultimately won’t be completely picked clean by any potential Lillard trade. While several huge NBA trades have gone down in the past year including dozens of draft picks, from the Rudy Gobert haul last summer to the Kevin Durant package in February, the Heat have never traded more than two first-round picks for a player. That includes the sign-and-trades for James and Chris Bosh, the Shaquille O’Neal trade, and the Alonzo Mourning deal. While Miami may ultimately have to give into Portland’s demands for Lillard, Winderman writes, they’re justified for not wanting to put everything on the table right away.

John Collins Trade Notes, Reactions

It’s easy to understand from a financial perspective why trading John Collins to Utah in a salary-dump deal is the right move for the Hawks, who no longer project to be a taxpayer in 2023/24, writes Jeff Schultz of The Athletic. Still, Schultz views the move as an embarrassing culmination of three years of trade rumors, which began even before Collins signed a five-year, $125MM contract with the team in 2021.

Certainly, if the Hawks had moved Collins a year or two earlier, they could’ve brought back more value from an on-court perspective. As Shams Charania of The Athletic writes, Atlanta had an opportunity to acquire Harrison Barnes from the Kings in a Collins deal last June, but decided against it. The Hawks will instead acquire Rudy Gay and a second-round pick from the Jazz.

Collins’ exit will give young players like Jalen Johnson and AJ Griffin the opportunity to play larger roles going forward, according to Schultz, who adds that the Hawks will continue to explore the trade market. Although Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter are viewed as possible candidates to be dealt, don’t expect Dejounte Murray to go anywhere. Schultz says a number of teams have inquired on Murray, but GM Landry Fields and head coach Quin Snyder are both fans of the veteran guard.

Here’s more on the Collins trade:

  • Gay is unlikely to actually suit up for the Hawks next season, per Lauren Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required). People familiar with the situation tell Williams that the team is expected to try to trade Gay. If no favorable deals emerge, he’ll likely be waived.
  • There’s no shame in admitting that the Collins trade is a salary dump, says ESPN’s Bobby Marks (YouTube link), pointing out that the move will give the Hawks flexibility for future deals with players like Saddiq Bey and Onyeka Okongwu.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic takes a look at what Collins will bring to the Jazz and how adding him to the mix will affect the rest of the roster. Based on the current make-up of the frontcourt, it appears that Collins, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, and Kelly Olynyk will have major roles, with others – including Taylor Hendricks – vying for playing time, says Jones.
  • The Jazz‘s acquisition of Collins signals that the front office is willing to accelerate the team’s rebuilding process rather than simply continuing to stockpile draft picks and build through the draft, writes Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscription required).
  • Zach Harper of The Athletic is far more bullish on the Jazz‘s side of the Collins deal, giving Utah a grade of A for the move while assigning the Hawks an “F-plus.”

Injury Notes: S. Barnes, Kuzma, J. Johnson, J. Allen

An MRI on Scottie Barnes‘ left wrist came back clean, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca (Twitter link). However, the wrist – which the Raptors forward injured during Sunday’s loss in Milwaukee – is still sore and will likely undergo more testing, Lewenberg adds. For now, Barnes is considered day-to-day, and Lewenberg believes he’ll likely be listed as questionable to play on Wednesday vs. Indiana after not practicing on Tuesday.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma has been ruled out for Tuesday’s contest in Orlando due to a right ankle sprain, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. It will be the third time in the last four games that Washington will be without either Kuzma or Kristaps Porzingis.
  • Following an MRI, Hawks forward Jalen Johnson was diagnosed with a mild hamstring and groin strain, a league source tells Lauren L. Williams of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). According to Williams, Johnson will be reevaluated early next week.
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen, who has been out for four games due to a right eye contusion, is nearing a return. According to Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link), Allen was a full participant in Monday’s practice and has a chance to play on Tuesday. He’s currently listed as questionable.
  • After missing four games due to a right ankle sprain, Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin returned to action on Monday, as Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star details. Mathurin showed no ill effects following the brief layoff, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting.