Josh Giddey

Northwest Notes: Markkanen, Giddey, Nuggets, Scoot

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, the NBA’s reigning Most Improved Player and a first-time All-Star last season, received high praise last week from Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

He’s a great, great young player,” Carlisle said of Markkanen. “He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to (Dirk) Nowitzki.”

Carlisle, of course, coached the Mavericks in 2011, when Nowitzki led Dallas to its first and only title.

(He’s) a seven-footer that can really stretch the game out and play inside,” Carlisle continued. “He’s underrated as an athlete. And his length is really special and the efficiency with which he catches the ball and gets rid of it, shoots it — he just like catches it up here and just goes like this from like anywhere.

“People have tried to put bigger guys on him, smaller guys on him, he shoots over the smaller guys, he’s out-crafts the big guys. So, he’s tough. He’s a much tougher player than what you may think looking at him. He’s tall, slender, angular, but he’s rugged. So he’s a major, major problem.”

While Markkanen has had another excellent season, with averages that are extremely similar to last season, he also missed 10 games due to injury and the competition for All-Star spots in the West will be fierce, Larsen notes. For his part, Markkanen says he hopes he makes it in.

I think it can get it, I’ve just got to keep grinding. It would mean a lot obviously,” Markkanen said, per Larsen. “Winning games is what helps us, so I’m just doing trying to do my part to get us there, and hopefully I get in. It would definitely be a big thing for me.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Both Thunder guard/forward Josh Giddey and head coach Mark Daigneault replied with “no comment” when they were asked about the investigation into Giddey being closed by the Newport Beach Police Department, as Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman relays (Twitter links). Giddey was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a minor, but he won’t face criminal charges due to a lack of evidence.
  • Denver handed Boston its first home loss of the season in what could be a potential preview of the 2024 NBA Finals, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who argues the Nuggets should still be considered the favorite to defend their title. Tim Bontemps of ESPN has additional quotes after the high-intensity matchup between two of the top teams in the league.
  • No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson sustained a nasal contusion in Friday’s victory over Indiana, causing him to leave the game and not return (Twittter link via the Trail Blazers), but head coach Chauncey Billups was relieved the 19-year-old rookie didn’t have a concussion, as Sean Highkin of The Rose Garden Report tweets. Henderson was active for Sunday’s game vs. the Lakers.

Josh Giddey Won’t Face Criminal Charges Following Allegations

8:30pm: In a press release (Twitter link), the Newport Beach Police Department confirmed that Giddey won’t face criminal charges.

7:40pm: The Newport Beach Police Department has concluded its investigation into Thunder guard/forward Josh Giddey and he will not be charged with a crime after no corroborating evidence was found, as first reported by TMZ Sports. Shams Charania of The Athletic later confirmed the news.

In November, a series of posts on social media accused Giddey of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl who is a student at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach. That prompted both the NBA and the Newport Beach Police Department to open investigations into the claims.

However, TMZ reported at the time that the alleged minor and her family were unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement officials. Now, the case is considered closed, according to TMZ.

The NBA’s investigation is technically still active, but it seems unlikely to turn out differently considering Giddey won’t face criminal charges.

The sixth overall pick of the 2021 draft, Giddey is averaging 11.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 4.6 APG in 39 games this season for Oklahoma City (24.8 MPG).

Western Rumors: Markkanen, Giddey, Mann, Kings, Lofton

After Marc Stein reported that teams around the NBA are keeping an eye on Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports says that several clubs have already contacted Utah to inquire on Markkanen.

Fischer stresses that the Jazz are “by no means expected” to trade Markkanen, who is a favorite of team officials. However, opposing executives have gotten the sense that the All-Star forward is no longer quite as untouchable as he was in the past.

“Do I expect Utah to trade Lauri? No,” one general manager told Fischer. “But they are saying they’re willing to listen. They are willing to listen to calls on everyone, but it’s a matter of meeting their price like Minnesota did for Rudy [Gobert].”

As Fischer notes, even if a deal is unlikely, the fact that the Jazz are open to listening on Markkanen means that there will continue to be plenty of buzz around him as the trade deadline nears. League personnel believe that the Kings, Hawks, and Thunder are among the teams that would have the most interest in the Finnish star, Fischer adds.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Rival teams had begun to zero in on Thunder guard Josh Giddey as a possible trade target before the NBA and California police began looking into allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor, per Fischer. Depending on the outcome of those investigations, Giddey may still draw interest ahead of the trade deadline. Oklahoma City also explored moving Tre Mann prior to the start of the season, Fischer adds.
  • If the Kings pursue either Pascal Siakam or OG Anunoby, the Raptors are expected to ask for Keegan Murray in return, which may be a non-starter for Sacramento, Fischer writes, since the Kings view Murray as an important piece in both the present and the future. However, another former lottery pick, Davion Mitchell, is considered a “strong” trade candidate, league sources tell Yahoo Sports.
  • The Grizzlies have made calls to potential trade partners to gauge those teams’ interest in some of Memphis’ reserves, but if a deal doesn’t materialize in the coming days, the expectation is that the team will probably waive Kenneth Lofton Jr. to open up a roster spot to activate Ja Morant next week, says Fischer. We took a closer look at Memphis’ looming roster decisions earlier in the week.

Police In California Looking Into Allegations Against Josh Giddey

1:30pm: The Newport Beach Police Department has issued an update, announcing that its investigation into the allegations against Giddey remains “active” and putting out a call for more information.

“The Newport Beach Police Department is actively seeking additional information related to these allegations and pursuing all leads and evidence to obtain the facts of the case,” the statements reads (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN).

10:58am: The Newport Beach Police Department has opened an inquiry into the allegations against Thunder guard Josh Giddey in an attempt to assess the validity of the claims and determine whether any laws were broken, according to reports from TMZ Sports and Salvador Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times.

As Nolan Clay and Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman detail, a series of posts on social media last week accused Giddey of having an inappropriate relationship with an underage girl who is a student at Newport Harbor High School in Newport Beach.

The NBA has confirmed that it’s investigating those claims, and now local police are looking into them as well.

According to The Oklahoman’s reporting, online court records put the Thunder guard in the Newport Beach area in July 2022, when he was ticketed for a pair of traffic violations. However, it’s not clear whether the allegations stem from that time – when Giddey would have been 19 – or if they’re based on a more recent incident.

The age of consent in California is 18. Giddey turned 21 last month.

Clay and Lorenzi explain that a violation of consent laws in California is considered a misdemeanor if the perpetrator and the minor are within three years of age. Otherwise, it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

The latest reporting from TMZ Sports indicates that the alleged minor and her family have thus far been unwilling to cooperate with law enforcement officials in Newport Beach.

Giddey has remained active while the NBA and California police investigate the accusations. Asked on Tuesday ahead of the Thunder’s game vs. Minnesota about the police inquiry, head coach Mark Daigneault cut the reporter short and said he wouldn’t discuss “anything as it relates to Josh off the court” before confirming that Giddey would play vs. the Timberwolves.

Giddey finished with 10 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes on Tuesday. He was booed by the crowd in Minnesota every time he touched the ball.

Northwest Notes: Giddey, Jazz, Hornacek, Wolves

The Thunder plan on having guard Josh Giddey available on Saturday – and going forward – while the NBA looks into allegations that he had an improper relationship with a minor, head coach Mark Daigneault told reporters this afternoon (Twitter video link via Andrew Schlecht of The Athletic)

“Just with the information we have at this point, that’s the decision that we’ve made,” Daigneault said when asked why the team feels comfortable keeping Giddey active. “It’s really not even a decision, to be honest with you.”

A Thunder spokesperson later clarified that Daigneault meant the decision on Giddey’s availability isn’t within his jurisdiction and is in the league’s hands, according to Joel Lorenzi of The Oklahoman (Twitter link). Of course, Oklahoma City could decide on its own to hold Giddey out, but it sounds like the team will continue playing him while the investigation is ongoing unless the NBA advises otherwise.

“It’s obviously a league matter at this point,” Daigneault said. “So the ball’s in their court on that.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • There’s good news and bad news for the Jazz on the injury report for Saturday’s game vs. New Orleans, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah will be without its top two scorers, as forward Lauri Markkanen has been ruled out due to left hamstring soreness while Jordan Clarkson will be unavailable due to an illness. However, the Jazz appear likely to have their starting center back in the lineup, as Walker Kessler, who has missed the last seven games due to a sprained left elbow, has been upgraded to probable.
  • Former Jazz guard Jeff Hornacek remains involved with the organization behind the scenes as a coaching consultant. In a story for The Salt Lake Tribune (subscription required), Larsen explores what that role entails and the impact that Hornacek has had on head coach Will Hardy. “He’s been a really, really good friend and confidant and in some ways like a mentor for me in this role, because he also knows what it’s like to be a head coach and a first-time head coach,” Hardy said. “There are tough moments during the season where sometimes he just offers a ‘Hang in there, you’re doing what you should be doing.’ It’s just a tough stretch over 82 games and so he’s been a really calming influence for me.”
  • The Timberwolves had high hopes that their 2022 trade for Rudy Gobert would help create an elite defense. The results were mixed last season – Minnesota narrowly cracked the top 10 in defensive rating – but it has all come together for the team so far in 2023/24, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, who takes a closer look at the parts Gobert, head coach Chris Finch, and top defensive assistant coach Elston Turner have played in building one of the league’s best Ds.

NBA Investigating Allegations Against Josh Giddey

The NBA is looking into allegations made against Thunder guard Josh Giddey, league spokesperson Mike Bass said today (Twitter links via Chris Mannix of and Shams Charania of The Athletic).

A series of videos and photos went viral on social media this week accusing Giddey, who turned 21 last month, of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a minor.

Giddey was asked during a media session on Friday about the allegations and declined to address them, telling reporters, “I understand the question, obviously, but there’s no further comment right now” (Twitter video link via Rylan Stiles of Locked on Thunder).

Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault also rebuffed questions about the situation on Friday when he was asked about is being a possible distraction, referring to it as a “personal matter” and declining to comment (Twitter video link via Stiles).

There’s no indication to this point that Giddey won’t continue to be available for the Thunder while the NBA’s investigation is ongoing. He has started each of Oklahoma City’s 15 games so far, averaging 12.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in 27.2 minutes per night for the 11-4 club.

Southwest Notes: Jones, Doncic, Green, Giddey, VanVleet

Herbert Jones made an immediate impact after returning from a three-game absence due to a right fibula contusion. Jones sparked the Pelicans on a defensive end as they avenged a loss to the Mavericks two days earlier. Two days after Luka Doncic dropped 30 points on New Orleans, Jones held the Mavs star to 16 points in the Pelicans’ 131-110 win.

Doncic gave high praise to the Pelicans swingman after the game, Rod Walker of the New Orleans Times-Picayune notes. “He’s just a great defender,” Doncic said. “You could see his impact today when he wasn’t there for the first game (Sunday). I really admire that guy.”

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • Speaking of Doncic, he wasn’t exactly thrilled with the in-season tournament court at New Orleans’ Smoothie King Center, he told Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I mean, outside all of the colors the court today was really bad,” the Mavericks star said. “It was really slippery. And then some places the ball didn’t really bounce. So you know, if we’re going to have these courts we’ve got to make sure that it’s a stable court, so you can play on it. Like in Dallas, you know? It wasn’t stable, so we had to change it.”
  • Veteran forward Jeff Green‘s minutes have fluctuated in his first nine games with the Rockets, but he has been more than just a veteran voice in the locker room, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle (subscription required). Head coach Ime Udoka lauded Green for his versatility, noting that he has been a good fit as a small-ball five in certain lineups.
  • The Spurs’ No. 1 goal this offseason should be to bring in a lead ball-hander, Kelly Iko of The Athletic opines. A scout that Iko interviewed indicated that the Thunder’s Josh Giddey could be a future target, though there’s no indication Giddey will be available in the short term. Within the same mailbag, Iko gives the Rockets high praise for their Fred VanVleet addition in free agency. VanVleet has improved the club at both ends of the floor, empowered their young players and displayed his leadership skills, Iko notes.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Edwards, Brogdon, Giddey

It’s only been seven games, but the 5-2 Timberwolves have to be encouraged by what they’ve seen from Rudy Gobert, who has looked much more like the player who earned six straight All-Defensive First Team appearances and won three Defensive Player of the Year awards from 2016-22, as opposed to the player who didn’t receive a single vote for an All-Defensive squad last season.

In fact, Gobert believes he’s playing better than he ever has, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details.

Not even my old self. I feel better than I’ve ever felt because I feel like I’m stronger than I’ve been,” Gobert said earlier this season. “And I just see the experience that I have now, and you add that to the rest of the abilities that I have, I think that’s the best that I’ve been.”

The Wolves have the league’s top defense thus far in 2023/24 and Gobert has been a major reason why, according to Krawczynski, who writes that the 7’1″ big man has been noticeably more mobile and athletic than he was in ’22/23. Head coach Chris Finch met with Gobert over the summer to stress that the team needed him to be more flexible defensively, and he has been pleased with the 31-year-old’s level of buy-in.

Being able to keep your mind open and being able to adapt, I think this is the strength of the best teams in the world,” Gobert said, per Krawczynski. “And I feel like right now we are creating our identity. And soon enough, I think people are gonna have to adapt to us and not the opposite.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Speaking to Shams Charania of Stadium (Twitter video link), Gobert says Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards has a chance to be an All-Defensive team member in the future. “The things he can do are incredible,” Gobert said. “He has all the tools to be an All-Defensive type of player. He has the one that you don’t teach, which is the fire, wanting to take every possession personally.” Gobert added that while Edwards is an impressive on-ball defender, he has challenged the former No. 1 overall pick to be better and more alert off the ball.
  • Trail Blazers guard Malcolm Brogdon exited Wednesday’s loss to Sacramento due to a left hamstring strain and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest, Portland announced (via Twitter). We’ll have to wait for further updates to see how long the reigning Sixth Man of the Year might be sidelined.
  • Thunder guard/forward Josh Giddey received a technical foul in the second quarter of Monday’s victory over Atlanta, but it has been rescinded, the NBA announced on Thursday (Twitter link). The No. 6 pick of the 2021 draft, Giddey will be eligible for a rookie scale extension next offseason after having his fourth-year option exercised last month.

Thunder Exercise 2024/25 Team Options On Five Players

The Thunder have exercised their rookie scale team options for the 2024/25 season on five players, the team announced today in a press release. Those options are as follows:

Most of these decisions were no-brainers. Holmgren, Giddey, and Williams project as long-term building blocks for the franchise. Dieng didn’t have a major role as a rookie but is only a year removed from being selected 11th overall in the 2022 draft.

The most noteworthy option pick-up of the bunch is Mann’s. The 22-year-old guard had a promising rookie season in 2021/22, averaging 10.4 points per game with a .360 3PT%, but saw his scoring average (7.7 PPG) and 3PT% (.315) dip last season as his playing time was cut back, from 22.8 minutes per game to 17.7 MPG.

Given the Thunder’s roster crunch this offseason, Mann looked like a candidate to be one of the odd men out, but today’s decision signals that the club has no plans to waive him. That leaves Jack White, whose 2023/24 salary is only partially guaranteed for $600K, as perhaps the most likely release candidate on the roster, though the club could go in another direction. Oklahoma City previously traded Victor Oladipo and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl to get down from 18 players on standard contracts to 16.

Giddey and Mann will now become eligible for rookie scale extensions next July, while the Thunder will have to decide by next October 31 whether to exercise their fourth-year options on Holmgren, Dieng, and Williams.

World Cup Notes: F. Wagner, Schröder, Top Players, Banchi

Germany’s Franz Wagner was thrilled not only to win a gold medal at the World Cup, but to be able to accomplish the feat while playing alongside his brother, writes Cesare Milanti of EuroHoops. Franz and Moritz Wagner are also teammates on the Magic, but their undefeated run through the World Cup field is the highlight of their careers.

“It’s special,” Franz Wagner said after Sunday’s win over Serbia. “Special to have our parents here too. This is so surreal, it doesn’t make sense that we are both on this team and we can enjoy it.”

Wagner appears to be fully recovered from a sprained ankle he suffered in Germany’s opening game. Although he missed the rest of pool play, he was back for the knockout round, scoring 22 points and grabbing five rebounds in a semifinal win over Team USA, then posting 19 points and seven rebounds in the gold medal contest.

“There were so many moments this year in so many games that the other team made a run, this game, the game before against the States,” he added. “We never let it slip, we just kept playing and kept staying together. That made a huge difference in all these games.”

There’s more from the World Cup:

  • Tournament MVP Dennis Schröder hopes Germany’s success will lead to more exposure for basketball in his home country, per Aris Barkas of Eurohoops. The German team has become more successful in international competitions, but the games aren’t widely available to the public. “We first thought the tournament was going to be on the TV. Only the final was on the TV,” Schröder said. “Basketball is a great sport and I hope we can get our respect for what we are doing the last two years. I wish that every single game is on TV. Ten years ago when I started, we had Dirk Nowitzki but nobody knew who were the other guys on the team. Now we go to Japan and the Philippines and they know us. We hope to get this respect also in our country and get recognized.”
  • Schröder was a first-team selection by Brian Windhorst of ESPN on his list of the best players at the World Cup. Joining him on the first team are Team USA’s Anthony Edwards, Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Slovenina’s Luka Doncic and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic. Making up Windhorst’s second team are the USA’s Mikal Bridges, Australia’s Josh Giddey, South Sudan’s Carlik Jones, Serbia’s Nikola Milutinov and the Dominican Republic’s Karl-Anthony Towns.
  • Luca Banchi was honored as the tournament’s best coach after leading Latvia to a fifth-place finish in its first-ever World Cup.