Josh Jackson

And-Ones: Tibbetts, J. Jackson, Load Management, Vasiljevic

Veteran NBA assistant Nate Tibbetts, who had been employed by the Magic as part of Jamahl Mosley‘s staff, is finalizing an agreement to become the new head coach of the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). According to Wojnarowski, the deal will make Tibbetts the highest-paid coach in WNBA history.

Tibbetts, who was hired Orlando in 2021, previously served as the associate head coach in Portland and was also an assistant for the Cavaliers. He has head coaching experience at the G League level and has interviewed for the top coaching job for several NBA teams over the years.

Interestingly, one of those NBA head coaching interviews that Tibbetts received was from the Suns back in 2019, before the team hired Monty Williams. Four years later, with the Suns and Mercury under ownership, Tibbetts will be the named the head coach of Phoenix’s other basketball franchise.

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

  • Veteran NBA forward Josh Jackson, the No. 4 pick in the 2017 draft, has been accused of raping a woman and then sending two other women to break into apartment to threaten her, according to Shreyas Laddha and Luke Nozicka of The Kansas City Star, who share details from a federal lawsuit filed by Jackson’s accuser. The former Kansas Jayhawk last played in the NBA in 2021/22, when he appeared in 51 games for Detroit and Sacramento.
  • While Joe Dumars and the NBA have publicly stated that their data doesn’t support the benefits of “load management,” some coaches around the league are skeptical of that conclusion, according to Joe Vardon and Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. “It’s just PR,” one coach told The Athletic. “There are plenty of other studies that prove load management makes sense from an injury and recovery standpoint.”
  • Australian guard Dejan Vasiljevic signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Wizards in September and was waived a couple weeks ago, but it seems he won’t be joining the Capital City Go-Go, Washington’s G League affiliate. Olgun Uluc of ESPN reports that Vasiljevic is headed back to his home country and is set to officially sign with the Adelaide 36ers after the Sydney Kings renounced their right of first refusal.
  • In a pair of features for The Athletic, John Hollinger makes win-loss predictions for the eight teams he projects to finish at the bottom of the West and his bottom eight teams in the East. Of note: Hollinger has the Kings (39-43) and Bulls (33-49) finishing out of the play-in picture in their respective conferences.

Pacific Notes: Booker, Saric, Wiseman, Moody, Jackson

Suns guard Devin Booker is scheduled for a second reevaluation Wednesday for a left groin strain he suffered on Christmas Day, according to Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic. Booker missed his 18th consecutive game with the left groin strain Monday against Toronto but there’s optimism he’ll play this week. The Suns have a home game on Wednesday, then embark on a five-game road trip.

“Everybody is excited,” Suns forward Dario Saric said. “He’s our best player.”

However, Suns head coach Monty Williams said Booker still hasn’t participated in any 5-on-5 scrimmages, Gerald Bourguet of tweets.

We have more Pacific Division news:

  • Speaking of Saric, he’s thrilled to be getting steady minutes, Rankin tweets. “I’m feeling great being back in the rotation. Serious minutes,” he said. “Feeling great about that. I think I deserve that. I work hard for that. Played a couple of good games. I hope I’m going to continue like that.” Saric, who is averaging 7.9 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 18.3 minutes this month, needs to pump up his value since he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr met with James Wiseman over the weekend to give the young center some encouraging words, Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Wiseman has struggled to establish a rotation spot this season. “One of the things I told James is that in this league things change quickly,” Kerr said. “You just don’t know. … I would love to get him out there, but right now, JaMychal (Green) is playing really well. Obviously, we’ve gone to a smaller lineup, so that … creates a little bit of a logjam at that position. James just has to stay ready.”
  • The Warriors have recalled second-year guard Moses Moody from their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, the team’s PR department tweets. Moody played two games with the G League team after being assigned last week, averaging 23 points in those games. Moody has appeared in 39 games with Golden State this season but recently fell out of the rotation.
  • The G League’s Stockton Kings released former lottery pick Josh Jackson over the weekend, the team tweets. Jackson appeared in a combined 51 NBA games with Detroit and Sacramento last season. He joined the G League team last week, but appeared in one game.

Josh Jackson Joins Kings’ G League Team

Josh Jackson, who finished last season with the Kings, has officially joined Sacramento’s G League affiliate in Stockton, tweets Brandon Nunes of Kings Pulse. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype (Twitter link) first reported that Jackson had signed a G League contract and was set to join the Stockton Kings.

Jackson, the fourth selection in the 2017 draft, was in training camp with the Raptors but was waived shortly before the start of the season. The 25-year-old wing has previous G League experience, playing 26 games with the Memphis Hustle in 2019/20.

Jackson has turned into an NBA journeyman after spending his first two seasons in Phoenix. The Suns traded him to the Grizzlies in 2019, and he signed with the Pistons as a free agent in 2020. Detroit shipped him to Sacramento as part of a four-team deal at the trade deadline last February, and he appeared in 12 games with the Kings before becoming a free agent again.

In five seasons, Jackson has played 291 total games with career averages of 11.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Suns Notes: Payne, Paul, FAs, Bridges, Ayton

Already missing Devin Booker for several weeks, the Suns are finding themselves increasingly shorthanded in the backcourt.

Key reserve Cameron Payne aggravated his right foot injury on Wednesday in his second game back from the ailment and was ruled out for Friday’s contest vs. Miami. Starting point guard Chris Paul was available for that game against the Heat, but didn’t play in the second half due to right hip soreness, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

“It’s tough having guys in and out,” Suns wing Torrey Craig said. “Soon as you think you’re about to get guys back, somebody else gets hurt. Guys get re-injured, but it’s part of the game It’s part of adversity, but we’ve just got to figure out a way to get through all this.”

The banged-up Suns – who have also been without starting forward Cameron Johnson (knee surgery) since early November and former starting forward Jae Crowder (away from team) all season – are in the midst of their worst skid of the last few years — after a 16-7 start, they’ve lost 13 of their last 17 games, including the last five in a row. Now at 20-20 on the year, Phoenix has already lost more games than it did all of last season, when the club led the NBA with a 64-18 record.

“If you think about everything we’ve been through, we’re still .500,” Williams said after Friday’s loss, per Rankin. “We just want to win one. Our guys are hurting to win a game and that’s where as a coach, you just feel bad for those guys because you know how hard we’re playing and how bad they want it.”

Here’s more on the Suns:

  • The Suns have an open roster spot and could look to the free agent market for help, writes Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic. Although Moore mentions Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Favors as possibilities, the player he’d really like to see the team call is Josh Jackson. Moore argues that the former Suns lottery pick could help bring the team the “fire and intensity” it needs.
  • With Booker and Johnson out and Paul underachieving, there has been more pressure on Mikal Bridges this season to be a two-way force. He has struggled to score as efficiently as he has in the past — his .449 FG% is easily his lowest mark since his rookie year. Gerald Bourguet of considers what the Suns and their fans should realistically expect from the fifth-year forward and whether or not he’s meeting those expectations this season.
  • After averaging just 10.3 points per game in his previous three appearances, Deandre Ayton bounced back offensively on Friday with 23 points, though it took him 20 field goal attempts. Before Friday’s contest, Ayton spoke about his role on offense, and Rankin has the highlights in a story for The Arizona Republic.

Justin Champagnie Earns Raptors’ 15th Roster Spot

Justin Champagnie has won the training camp battle for the Raptors‘ 15th and final standard roster spot, sources tell Michael Grange of Sportsnet (Twitter link).

Toronto has waived the three other contenders for the last spot on the 15-man roster, tweets Josh Lewenberg of Those players are Josh Jackson, D.J. Wilson and Gabe Brown, and they’ll clear waivers on Monday, assuming they go unclaimed.

Champagnie, 21, went undrafted last year after starring in two college seasons at Pitt. He signed a two-way deal with the Raptors as a rookie, averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds in 7.8 minutes per night in 36 games last season.

Though his role with the NBA club was modest, Champagnie averaged 21.1 points, 8.3 boards, 1.2 steals and 1.1 blocks on .489/.409/.778 shooting in 14 regular season games (35.9 minutes) for the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate, and clearly made a strong impression on the organization. His contract was previously partially guaranteed for $325K, but now he’s set to have his $1,637,966 deal for 2022/23 fully guaranteed.

Wilson had a $250K partial guarantee on his deal, and the Raptors will be on the hook for that amount. Jackson’s deal was non-guaranteed, as was Brown’s, but unlike Jackson, Brown signed an Exhibit 10 contract, so he will earn a $50K bonus if he spends at least 60 days with the Raptors 905.

Raptors Notes: Roster Battle, Boucher, Porter, J. Jackson, Achiuwa

With Dalano Banton likely to make the team after a strong preseason, the Raptors appear to have a three-man battle for their final roster spot, writes Lori Ewing of The Toronto StarJustin ChampagnieJosh Jackson and D.J. Wilson are all in the running and Friday’s preseason finale is their last chance to make an impression.

The competition is particularly stressful for Champagnie, who missed the first three preseason games with pain in his hip, Ewing notes. He played only eight minutes Sunday, recording one point and one rebound. Champagnie, who appeared in 36 games for Toronto as a rookie last season, estimates that he is 90 to 95 percent recovered from the hip issue.

“I sensed some urgency from Justin,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I think some other guys just kind of let their game each day do what it does. It’s hard to get all excited one game and be not so excited the next because they play good and then not so good. Then they come back in practice and light it up again and get you thinking again. (Making cuts) is always a tricky thing. We’ll see how it all shakes out. I think there are still a lot of questions to be answered.”

There’s more from Toronto:

  • A hamstring injury will keep Chris Boucher out of the lineup for Friday’s game, which is in his hometown of Montreal, Ewing adds. Free agency addition Otto Porter Jr. will also miss the game with an injured hamstring, and Nurse said he’s not certain if either player will be ready for the regular season opener next Wednesday.
  • Jackson is hoping to revive his career with the Raptors after playing for four teams in his first five NBA seasons, per Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. Jackson takes responsibility for not living up to the expectations that came along with being the fourth pick in the 2017 draft. “I can’t say that every organization that I’ve been a part of has been great in helping its players succeed but, with that, what I have learned is you’ve got to be the one to make sure that you’re getting everything that you need,” he said. “You have to make sure you’re working on the things you need to work on because, at the end of the day, it is your career, it’s not theirs.”
  • Sixth Man of the Year or Most Improved Player honors might be within reach for Precious Achiuwa after his impressive performance during the second half of last season, according to Josh Lewenberg of TSN. “[The accolades are] something that [will] just happen based on how I play,” Achiuwa said. “Control what I can control. Your shots aren’t always going to go in but being able to play defense and bring effort, that’s something you can control every game.”

Raptors Notes: Starting Lineup, VanVleet, Last Roster Spot, Barnes

When the Raptors face opponents with bigger frontcourts, they may switch up their lineup, Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports tweets. Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and OG Anunoby will start most nights but it “doesn’t mean you always have to start your five best,” according to head coach Nick Nurse said.

“Do we really want Scottie, Pascal or OG guarding a really good, big five to start the game?” Nurse said. “I don’t think we do, so we’re going to have to make some adjustments to that, or it’s just going to be three minutes and we’re sending in a guy.”

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Fred VanVleet believes there’s good chemistry in the locker room, Michael Grange of writes. “I think you have to give credit to management and coaching staff. They have their hands full in terms of putting together a locker room that works before we even step on the court,” said VanVleet. “I think we have done a good job of building that back up. It feels more like a Raptors team now.”
  • Nurse may weigh potential offensive contributions a little more heavily when it comes to deciding which player gets the 15th spot on the roster, Grange tweetsJustin ChampagnieD.J. WilsonJosh Jackson and Gabe Brown are the candidates.
  • Barnes has been a little slow getting up to speed and there’s a good reason for that — the reigning Rookie of the Year was held out of training for the last three weeks prior to camp with a mild ankle sprain, Grange tweets. Nurse commented on that subject. “He’s playing a little bit of catch-up and it’s noticeable,” Nurse said, as relayed via a Lewenberg tweet. “I don’t think he’s shown a whole lot in the preseason… I think he’s just behind a little bit, conditioning-wise, feel-wise. We need to keep plugging away and get him feeling (like himself).”

Atlantic Notes: Harden, Melton, Raptors, G. Williams

Asked by Joe Vardon of The Athletic if he believes he’s gotten the proper credit for taking a pay cut this season in order to allow the Sixers to sign other players, including P.J. Tucker and Danuel House, James Harden shook his head.

“Nope, but guess what? I don’t care,” Harden said. “There’s like a stereotype (of Harden) where people always want to talk. People don’t really know me, so they feel like they can just say anything. One thing I won’t do is give them any attention. I won’t say anything, media-wise, publicly. I don’t care, because I’m comfortable and I’m confident in the things I do on and off the court.”

Harden turned down a player option worth more than $47MM and accepted a $33MM salary for 2022/23, with a player option worth $35.64MM for ’23/24. Having sacrificed some short-term money for the good of the team, the former MVP told Vardon he intends to take the same approach with his on-court statistics this season.

“At this point, (big) numbers are great, but whether I’m averaging 22 or 28 (points per game), I think it’s more that I’m making an impact on the game each and every night,” Harden said. “I don’t really think about numbers. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about numbers, honestly. … Ultimately, it’s winning a championship. The numbers don’t really mean anything, individually.”

Here’s more from around the Atlantic:

  • De’Anthony Melton is looking forward to showing what he can bring this season to the Sixers and is grateful that Grizzlies head of basketball operations Zach Kleiman traded him to a favorable landing spot, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “Zach and I have a good relationship to where I know he wouldn’t send me to a bad situation,” Melton said. “He wouldn’t do anything that he doesn’t feel like is a good situation for his organization and for me. You don’t get that in a lot of GMs. So that’s why the care factor was there. I could be wrong. I could be right, but that’s what I felt, given the situation.”
  • Dalano Banton‘s place on the Raptors‘ regular season roster looks increasingly secure after another solid performance vs. Chicago on Sunday, but the team’s 15th spot remains very much up in the air, says Michael Grange of As Grange notes, Justin Champagnie got a late start to the preseason, but hasn’t fallen far behind in the battle for the No. 15 spot, since none of D.J. Wilson, Josh Jackson, and Gabe Brown have run away with it.
  • In a mailbag for NBC Sports Boston, Chris Forsberg makes a case for why the Celtics and Grant Williams should be able to get a rookie scale extension done before next Monday’s deadline, arguing that a deal in the range of $12-13MM per year would allow Williams to earn more than the mid-level and let the team lock up another member of its core.

Atlantic Notes: Nets, Simmons, Korkmaz, J. Jackson

The Nets are hoping to move past a chaotic offseason, but they looked completely out of sync in Thursday’s 29-point loss to the Heat, writes Brian Lewis of The New York Post. “I didn’t like anything,” Kevin Durant said after Brooklyn committed 26 turnovers while shooting 39.2% from the field and 5-of-28 from three-point range. Coach Steve Nash agreed, saying a lot of improvement is needed before the regular season begins.

“We were second best in every category,” Nash said. “The mentality Miami brought, as we know they play physical, they’re going to get into you, and we allowed them to win that battle. All those little battles: Space, time, poise, screening, not screening, getting cut, no vision, not boxing out, not getting loose balls. You can go down the list, but really it starts with the mentality. They showed it and we’ve got to try to match that going forward.”

Ben Simmons struggled with playmaking duties in his second game after sitting out all of last season. Nash wants him to be more aggressive in attacking the basket, particularly against smaller defenders, but he managed just four points and four assists Thursday while turning the ball over six times.

“Get them out of the way now. Gotta get them out now. So that’s something I can be conscious of it and fix that I’m not too worried about that. I mean, it’s just the second game back in like a year,” Simmons said. “… I can’t be turning the ball over. I’m the point guard, so I’ve got to take responsibility in terms of that. But I’d rather figure out my angles and time the passes now and then in the regular season.”

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Nets were on the brink of disaster this summer, but they still haven’t gone over the edge, John Hollinger of the Athletic states in his preview of the team. Although there was high drama involving Durant and Kyrie Irving, Hollinger points out that Brooklyn didn’t make an offseason roster move involving anyone earning more than $10MM.
  • Sixers guard Furkan Korkmaz blames nerve damage in his right arm for what he calls a “horrible” 2021/22 season, per Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The injury affected his shot and Korkmaz fell out of the team’s rotation after hitting a career-low 28.9% on three-pointers. “I want to show the people again what I’m capable of,” he said. “Because, at the end of the day, whatever you do, people remember the end (of the season).”
  • After signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Raptors this summer, Josh Jackson is making a strong bid for a roster spot, according to Doug Smith of The Toronto Star.

Raptors Notes: Banton, Champagnie, Wilson, Jackson, Siakam

From all appearances, Dalano Banton will have his contract guaranteed and a spot on the Raptors’ opening night roster, according to Doug Smith of the Toronto Star. That would leave forwards Justin Champagnie, D.J. Wilson and Josh Jackson fighting for one job during the preseason.

Coach Nick Nurse has spelled out the parameters of what he’s looking for at the end of his bench.

“Are they going to be able to understand what we’re doing, know what we’re doing, not make too many mistakes, be opportunity-type scorers?” he said. “Being on the same page out there, and being able to execute so that you’re fitting in, is always right at the top of the list. Competitive fire and drive, (playing) super hard is always 1, 1 and 1A. It’ll be interesting. It’s a battle, for sure.”

We have more on the Raptors:

  • Banton, a 2021 second-round selection, had nine points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Jazz in the preseason opener. Fred VanVleet notes how much Banton has learned since joining the team, Smith writes. “There’s a progression to the game slowing down for guys as they gain experience and you can see that with him,” VanVleet said of his young teammate. “Picking his spots, knowing where to attack, getting stronger and being able to finish at the rim. Last year he came in with amazing pace and that height at 6-9 but for him to really read the floor and know the system and kind of run the team a bit, I think that’s where he’s probably grown most and will continue to grow.”
  • A Siakam will bide his time with the team’s NBA G League affiliate this season. Christian Siakam, the older brother of the star forward, has been added to the Raptors 905 coaching staff, according to The Star. He worked with the club last season and played professionally for Bahrain Club and the Malaysian club KL Dragons.
  • Pascal Siakam aspires to reach the superstar level, prompting both Michael Grange of Sportsnet and Eric Koreen of The Athletic to explore how he could elevate his game to new heights.