Jeff Green

Nuggets Notes: Defense, Porter Jr., Malone, Pace, Green, Smith

Nuggets coach Michael Malone ripped into his team’s defensive effort in Game 2. During the team’s film session on Tuesday, Malone encouraged his players to talk through their mistakes and take responsibility for their assignments. Forward Michael Porter Jr. didn’t mind the tone, he told Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

“You definitely gotta own it,” he said. “You can’t be sensitive. Me personally, I know I gotta play better. If my teammates tell me that, I’m not going to be sensitive. If I tell that to someone else, like, ‘Yo, you gotta tell me if we need to work on switches.’ They’re not going to be sensitive.”

Porter Jr. knows he has to ramp up his game. He is shooting just 3-for-17 beyond the arc during the series, along with some defensive lapses.

“I think intensity and energy wasn’t where it needed to be from me personally or really the team as a whole,” he said. “We can talk about the mistakes that we had defensively, but really, it’s about intensity.”

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • Malone wants to see his team increase the tempo in Game 3 on Wednesday but they have to play better defensively to make that happen, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes. “We want to play fast; they want to play slow,” he said. “When you’re not getting stops, advantage Miami Heat because now they have their 2-2-1 press back to the zone. We’re playing way too slow to try to attack that, which is forcing a lot of late-clock situations for us.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green, who will be a free agent after the series, said he made a point of taking Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown under his wing. “I’m here to push them to be better,” Green told Rob Mahoney of The Ringer. “Make sure that they’re doing what they need to do for us to win, but also for their career to go to the next level. Together we’ve been great, and that’s just a culmination of our relationship and trying to understand each other.”
  • Ish Smith has barely played in the postseason but the journeyman point guard, who is on his 13th team, could win his first championship ring if Denver takes the series. Smith will be a free agent after the season and hopes to get another opportunity. “Until they cut off the lights and say don’t come back, I’m going to be out here playing,” he told Ryan McFadden of the Denver Post. “You’re still going to see No. 14 running fast.”

Nuggets Notes: Malone, Jokic, Strategy, Game 4

Nuggets coach Michael Malone was incredulous about the way his team approached Game 2 of the NBA Finals, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. With a chance to take control of the series, the Nuggets came out flat Sunday night, allowing Miami to start the game on a 10-2 run.

“We had guys out there that were just whether feeling sorry for themselves for not making shots or thinking they can just turn it on or off. This is not the preseason, this is not the regular season,” Malone said. “This is the NBA Finals. That to me is really, really perplexing, disappointing.”

Malone was particularly upset about “miscommunication, game-plan breakdowns, personnel breakdowns” that enabled the Heat to shoot 17-of-35 from three-point range. He cited slow rotations and called for his players to start making contact with Miami’s shooters as soon as they cross mid-court.

“Those are guys that we are supposed to have a heightened awareness to,” Malone said. “As I mentioned after Game 1, the fact that they got 16 wide-open threes was concerning. They didn’t make them. So we got lucky in Game 1. ”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Nikola Jokic had 41 points Sunday night, but Miami was able to disrupt the Nuggets’ offense by turning him into more of a scorer than a passer, notes Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Jokic had 10 assists by halftime in Game 1, but only four overall in Game 2. “They just put us in their rhythm,” Jokic said. “And we didn’t want to play that way, and they want to, obviously. But maybe just to play a little bit faster is going to help us.”
  • Malone explained his decision to not call a timeout on the final possession of the game with his team trailing by three points, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. Denver wound up with a step-back three-point shot by Jamal Murray that spun out. “Some nights, yeah, I think we can take the timeout,” Malone said. “Other nights, give our guys the freedom to get out and run. But with how well they were guarding in that quarter and how hard it was for us to generate looks, I felt in that transition we had the best chance to get the look that we wanted.”
  • Sunday’s game marked the Nuggets’ first home loss of the playoffs and the first time they haven’t held a 2-0 lead in a series, states Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. The team will be facing real adversity for the first time in the postseason as the series resumes Wednesday at Miami. “I think we understand what’s at stake,” Jeff Green said. “They did what they were supposed to do. They came in here, got a split. Now they’re going home, and I think we have to go in there worried about Game 3. We can’t worry about Game 4. We have to worry about Game 3.”

Nuggets Notes: Green, Smith, Murray, Jokic, Offense

Veteran Nuggets power forward Jeff Green, an unrestricted free agent this summer, is hoping that his 11th NBA team will be his last, writes Chris Tomasson of The Denver Gazette.

“I’m finishing my career here, if I can,’’ Green said. “I want to just play two more years and, if my wife lets me play three, cool. But my goal is to play two more years and be a Nugget for those two years.”

Even in his 15th NBA season, Green remains surprisingly athletic and has been a solid two-way role player. As a reserve in these playoffs, the 36-year-old is averaging 3.9 PPG, 1.9 RPG and 0.7 APG across 18.1 MPG. He inked a two-year, $9MM deal with the Nuggets in 2021.

Here’s more out of Denver:

  • Nuggets guard Ish Smith has suited up for even more franchises than his teammate Green, having played for 13 different teams across his 13 pro seasons. The journeyman role player is hoping to nab his first title with the Nuggets this year, writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. “It would be gratifying, honestly,” Smith said of a possible title. “The years you go through, the 13 years and counting. The years you won 10 games. The years you were enjoying a city, you’re on a team, and all of a sudden they call you and say, ‘Ish, you’re about to get traded.’ … A ring isn’t everything, but man, it (would feel) good.”
  • Heat reserve point guard Kyle Lowry, Denver’s latest nemesis in the playoffs, drew a Hall of Fame parallel between the lethal Nuggets tandem of point guard Jamal Murray and center Nikola Jokic, per Vic Lombardi of Altitude TV (Twitter link). “Yeah, I’m old,” Lowry said. “The closest I can remember is (title-winning Spurs duo) Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.”
  • Denver’s diverse offensive arsenal is helping drive its romp through the playoffs, and could be the key to its first championship, as Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link) details. “It’s about being selfless, playing for each other, wanting others to succeed — all the things this culture is about,” versatile small forward Michael Porter Jr. said. Starting power forward Aaron Gordon shares this ethos. “The open man is the right one,” Gordon said. “As long as they’re open, the ball has to go there.”

Northwest Notes: Jackson, Watson, Green, Towns, Sexton

Nuggets coach Michael Malone strongly hinted at possible rotation changes for Game 5 against the Suns on Tuesday night. Malone mentioned that he might use Reggie Jackson as an extra ball-handler and Peyton Watson as a defender, Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sports tweets. Blackburn notes that the Nuggets were -37 when the starters weren’t on the floor together over the past two games.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Veteran forward Jeff Green has a simpler solution for how the Nuggets can win the series, which is currently tied at 2-2. “It’s about pride. It’s about effort,” Green told Harrison Wind of the “And it’s about wanting to take on the challenge.” Denver has allowed 43 fast break points in the last two games.
  • Dealing Karl-Anthony Towns, if the Timberwolves choose to go that path, could be made easier if the Knicks get eliminated by the Heat, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune opines. New York seems like a logical landing spot and rumors are already flying about the Knicks having interest in the Timberwolves big man. Towns will make $36MM next season and the Knicks have a combination of starters with suitable salaries (such as Julius Randle and RJ Barrett) and extra draft picks that could entice the Minnesota front office.
  • Coming back from a serious knee injury, Collin Sexton saw his first season with the Jazz marred by hamstring strains. However, he showed improvement in his overall game compared to his time in Cleveland, particularly with his passing and decision-making, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Sexton shot a career-high 50.6% from the field and made 39.3% of his 3-point attempts. He averaged 14.3 points in 23.9 minutes while appearing in 48 games. Sexton inked a four-year, $71MM contract last summer in a sign-and-trade transaction.

Nets Notes: B. Brown, J. Green, Simmons, M. Brown, Bridges

Two former Nets who returned to Brooklyn Sunday as members of the Nuggets weren’t surprised to see the end of the Kevin DurantKyrie Irving era, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Bruce Brown, who spent two seasons with the Nets before signing with Denver last summer, said there were issues behind the scenes that went beyond the turmoil the public saw.

“Once the summer (trade request from Durant occurred), it could happen. They started off playing really well, and then when the Ky situation came about you knew they were going to move him,” Brown said. “So, end of an era.”

Lewis points out that the “Ky situation” could refer to his contentious contract talks last June, his online promotion of an antisemitic film or his trade demand in February after being dissatisfied with the team’s extension offer. Jeff Green, who played for Brooklyn in 2020/21, also indicated that there were forces pulling the team apart.

“I don’t know if I’m surprised,” Green said. “But at the end of the day, we realize that it as a business. It was stuff that both sides couldn’t really control, and it ran its course.”

There’s more on the Nets:

  • Continued soreness in his left knee and back caused Ben Simmons to miss his 13th straight game Sunday, and coach Jacque Vaughn isn’t sure if he’ll be able to return before the season ends, Lewis states in the same story. “Not really a timeline or update,” Vaughn said of Simmons, who has only been available for 42 games. “Again, what I can give you is no setback which is good and he continues to progress on court.”
  • Moses Brown wasn’t used in his first game since joining the Nets, but Vaughn promised he’ll get a chance to play before his 10-day contract expires, Lewis adds. “(We) still have Day’Ron (Sharpe) and his ability to play for us,” Vaughn said. “But the way I coach, at some point you will see Moses and we’ll see him during the stretch of the next 10 days for sure.”
  • Mikal Bridges, who has emerged as a star since being acquired in the Durant trade, blamed himself for Sunday’s loss, saying his defensive effort wasn’t up to par, Lewis notes in another New York Post story. “Personally I take a lot of blame, because I was just poor on the defensive end,” Bridges said. “Obviously I was missing shots early, but that comes with the game. Just missing, that’s just part of it; but I can control playing defense. So that’s what messed me up right now, and that’s on me. I’ve just got to be more locked in on that side of the ball.”

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Williams, Hyland, Nuggets Bench

Tony Jones of The Athletic believes it’s “very, very unlikely” that Russell Westbrook will ever play a game for the Jazz, noting that the veteran guard wouldn’t receive much playing time as the team prioritizes its younger players (Twitter links).

According to Jones, the two most likely scenarios for Westbrook are securing a buyout if he finds a situation he likes, or remaining on Utah’s roster but away from the team.

While that’s hardly surprising news, it’s still noteworthy that Westbrook might finish the season not actively playing. On the other hand, if he joins another team and things go awry, that could hurt his value ahead of free agency.

The 2016/17 MVP has made over $300MM in his career, so it’s not like he needs more money, but it’s a lot easier for a team to move on from a player who isn’t making much money than one who is. It’s a tricky balance to strike for a decorated player who was often criticized (sometimes unfairly) on his last team.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Thunder swingman Jalen Williams has flown under the radar a bit in ’22/23, but he’s having an outstanding rookie season, averaging 12.2 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.9 APG and 1.2 SPG on .508/.324/.759 shooting. He recently spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype about a number of topics, sharing an amusing story about how he first met head coach Mark Daigneault.
  • Bones Hyland was traded to the Clippers last week after a rocky end to his Nuggets tenure. The second-year guard explained that he had “great communication” with Denver’s front office, but not so much with the coaching staff. “Yeah, I feel like it could’ve been done better on both ends,” Hyland said, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). “Just more communication. I’ve got so much love for Denver, but I just feel like the communication was just so low. I had a lot of mixed emotions, and we didn’t come together and just make it better.”
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone suggested he’s going to run a five-man bench lineup of Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Christian Braun, Vlatko Cancar and Thomas Bryant once Jackson is activated after the All-Star break, tweets Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports. A notable omission from that group is veteran forward Jeff Green, who has consistently been in the rotation when healthy and scored a season-high 24 points in Wednesday’s victory over Dallas. Malone has tweaked the bench rotation multiple times this season, however, so it wouldn’t be surprising if that five-man group changes over time.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Gay, Green, Watson

As the Timberwolves deal with injuries and disappointing box scores alike, it has become clear that 21-year-old shooting guard Anthony Edwards should be the one to lead them, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“All leaders have one thing in common,” head coach Chris Finch said. “People follow them.”

Krawczynski notes that Edwards is not without flaw, citing the swingman’s at-times questionable shot profile and occasional defensive gaffes. But over the past 10 contests, Edwards has emerged as the Wolves’ most reliable healthy player, averaging 28.1 PPG on 54.7% field goal shooting, 8.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Although veteran Jazz power forward Rudy Gay has been putting up modest numbers for Utah, he has been a huge contributor beyond the traditional stats. The 6’8″ forward is helping the club achieve a net rating of +12.9 when he’s on the court, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Todd notes that Gay has a strong connection with first-year Jazz head coach Will Hardy, who counts on the veteran’s leadership to help the team’s younger players.
  • The fractured left hand of Nuggets reserve power forward Jeff Green has been improving, reports Harrison Wind of DNR Sports (Twitter link). According nto Wind, Green has been wearing a protective glove on the hand in recent pregame shootarounds. Wind adds that Green is expected to have his hand reassessed in two weeks.
  • According to Wind (via Twitter), rookie Nuggets shooting guard Peyton Watson will miss the next few weeks with a strained left adductor. Denver has liked what it has seen out of Watson while he’s spent time with the team’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, per Wind.

Jeff Green Out At Least Four Weeks With Fractured Hand, Sprained Finger

Nuggets power forward Jeff Green has sprained his left finger and fractured his left hand, the team announced today (Twitter link). Green will have his hand reassessed in four weeks.

The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of Friday night’s 120-107 victory over the Trail Blazers,

Green has remained a helpful bench big for the 20-11 Nuggets, the top seed in the Western Conference. The 6’8″ forward is averaging 7.5 PPG on 52.7% shooting in 19.3 MPG. He is also logging 2.8 RPG and 1.1 APG through his first 24 games for Denver.

The 36-year-old is currently on the second year of a two-season, $9MM deal he inked with Denver in 2021. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets that he expects third-year power forward Zeke Nnaji to see additional minutes backing up starting power forward Aaron Gordon with Green shelved.

Western Notes: Gordon, Green, Porter Jr., Davis

The Rockets are more inclined to deal Eric Gordon than at any point over the past two seasons, Kelly Iko of The Athletic reports.

The Rockets, who have had preliminary talks regarding Gordon with numerous teams, have more interest in acquiring a young player or a future first-round pick for Gordon than a late first in next year’s draft, according to Iko, since they already two first-rounders in the next draft — their own and Milwaukee’s pick.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Josh Green won’t return until next month from his elbow injury, he told Callie Caplan of the Dallas Morning News. “Doing as much treatment and working on it as much as I can, but we’re going to revisit it in another couple weeks with the training staff,” the Mavericks guard said. The 2020 first-rounder hasn’t played since Dec. 9. The Mavericks would be very hesitant to trade Green, according to Tim Cato of The Athletic, with a front office source telling him that he’s considered the team’s third-most important player after Luka Dončić and Spencer Dinwiddie.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., who has missed a dozen games due to a heel injury, has been upgraded to doubtful for Tuesday’s game against Memphis, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jamal Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jeff Green are all listed as questionable.
  • Anthony Davis‘ foot injury is a grim development for the Lakers, who are already floundering under the .500 mark. First-year coach Darvin Ham is trying to take a positive approach, hoping Davis’ absence will benefit the team in the long run, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group. “I’m looking forward to the challenge of the period of discovery,” Ham said. “When you’re missing a huge piece like A.D., it allows you to mix and match and I think people are getting caught up in him not being there but I’m looking at another opportunity to see what we have and what combinations we can throw out there so upon his return, we can have several, several different bullets in the chamber that we can use.”

Nuggets Notes: Hyland, Defense, Braun, Green

Everything was back to normal for Nuggets guard Bones Hyland Tuesday night after he was benched over the weekend for a lack of effort, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Hyland returned to his usual role, sparking Denver’s second unit with 20 points, including five three-pointers, and handing out five assists in 30 minutes of action.

Hyland played just five minutes Sunday in New Orleans, being pulled from the game as Jose Alvarado was lighting up Denver’s reserves on the way to a career-high 38 points. Nuggets coach Michael Malone talked to Hyland about the benching at Tuesday’s shootaround, according to Singer, and came away encouraged that his young guard understands what’s expected of him.

“As I told him this morning, ‘Offensively, we need your scoring, but it’s required to give forth the same effort on both ends of the floor,’” Malone said after Tuesday’s game. “… I felt he competed, I felt he fought, he contested, he tried to be physical with guys. That’s all I’m ever asking for, from Bones or for anybody.”

There’s more from Denver:

  • Team defense continues to be a concern for the Nuggets, who rank 26th in the league on that end of the court, per Harrison Wind of DNVR. Denver allowed the Mavericks to shoot 50% from the floor and 47.2% from beyond the arc Tuesday night in a one-point loss. “We’re losing games that we’re supposed to be winning,” Hyland said. “We know we’re not giving a sense of urgency to defend and go out there and compete every night. The locker room’s definitely frustrated.”
  • Malone is hoping to carve out a greater role for first-round pick Christian Braun, Singer tweets. “I gotta get him minutes,” Malone told reporters Tuesday. “… He’s a part of our future.” Braun has played in 22 of the team’s first 24 games, but is averaging just 12.9 minutes per night.
  • Jeff Green returned Tuesday after missing seven games with a knee contusion, but he’s been able to make a contribution even when he’s not playing, according to Vinny Benedetto of The Denver Gazette. “His voice, he has the respect of the entire locker room. I think when he uses his voice and he steps up, I think it’s critical to our success, and it’s critical to our young players,” Malone said. “If it’s me all the time, that’s cool. We’re only going to be a good team. When our players and our veterans take ownership and leadership, I think that allows you the potential to go much further, much farther and much deeper.”