Markus Howard

Markus Howard Hopes Successful EuroLeague Run Leads To NBA Return

After spending his first two professional seasons in Denver with the Nuggets, guard Markus Howard headed overseas this past offseason, joining Spanish team Baskonia. While he’s enjoying his time in Europe so far, Howard told Bojan Brezovac of Mozzart Sport that his goal is to eventually make it back to the NBA.

“The NBA is my dream and my ultimate goal is to return to the NBA,” Howard said, per a translation (hat tip to Eurohoops). “And that’s possible if I fully commit to my duties in Baskonia, which has shown me that is a great organization that wants to compete for titles.”

Howard, 23, appeared in 68 games across two seasons in Denver, averaging 3.4 PPG on .382/.341/.844 shooting in 5.6 minutes per contest. He spent both years on a two-way contract and reportedly had two-way opportunities in the NBA this past summer, but opted for more guaranteed money with Baskonia.

Through five EuroLeague contests, Howard has been one of the league’s top scorers, averaging 18.2 points per game, including back-to-back 30-point performances against KK Partizan and Crvena Zvezda. Only former NBA guard Mike James and draft-and-stash prospects Sasha Vezenkov and Vasilije Micic have higher scoring averages in the early part of the season.

Howard told Brezovac that he had conversations with teammates and EuroLeague veterans before committing to Baskonia, ultimately determining that the Spanish team would be “ideal” for his development.

“I look up to guys like Mike James, Lorenzo Brown, and I had a long conversation with one of the best players who played in Europe — Facundo Campazzo,” Howard said. “He is an example of how someone can play in Europe with great success. I came to learn from the more experienced players and to find a way to help the team. I don’t just look at myself and my numbers, I’m interested in winning.”

Howard reportedly signed a two-year contract with Baskonia. It’s unclear if his deal includes an NBA opt-out clause after the first season.

International Notes: Howard, Bjelica, Ataman, Yabusele

The opportunity to earn guaranteed money was behind Markus Howard‘s decision to sign with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in the EuroLeague, he explained on the Role Player Podcast. Howard spent the past two seasons with the Nuggets on a two-way contract, and although he had two-way offers from other NBA teams, he opted for more security in Europe.

“Two years, that’s what I was saying,” Howard explained of his commitment to the NBA. “Because honestly I could have taken a two-way with a lot of teams now and maybe had more chances to play. Maybe. But at the end of the day, I’m not going through what I went through in Denver. I ain’t doing that again. I have a family. It’s not just me. … I want to earn my keep. I want to feel like I earned what I get.”

Howard appeared in 31 games last season and 37 games as a rookie, but he only averaged 5.6 minutes per night. He became frustrated by the inconsistent playing time and the constant uncertainty about his NBA future.

“I don’t look the part,” said Howard, who’s only 5’10”. “So they have no problem throwing you to the side. … Being in college for four years, you don’t get comfortable, but you understand where you are in your position on a team. In the NBA, you never know and you’re walking on tippy toes. For me, just having that mindset every day, like I could be gone.”

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Former Warriors forward Nemanja Bjelica, who signed with Fenerbahce last week, may have to miss the EuroBasket tournament because of a calf injury, according to a Eurohoops report. He was hurt this week on a non-contact play in Serbia’s exhibition game with Montenegro.
  • Ergin Ataman of Turkey’s Anadolu Efes, the reigning Coach of the Year in the EuroLeague, was rumored for NBA assistant jobs this summer but said the prospect doesn’t excite him, writes Bugra Uzar of Eurohoops“My goal to go to the NBA has decreasing chances because I see that the NBA is a different world,” Ataman said. “Their perspective of basketball head coaches in Europe is very different. No European coach has ever gone from Europe to the NBA as a head coach. There is no NBA history, zero.”
  • Guerschon Yabusele, who spent two seasons with the Celtics, talks to Eurohoops about the joy he gets from being a starter with Real Madrid and the French national team.

Markus Howard To Sign With Baskonia

Free agent guard Markus Howard has agreed to a two-year contract with Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, according to Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews.

The news that the two sides were close to an agreement was first reported by Home of Glory.

Howard played last season with the Nuggets on a two-way contract. He became an unrestricted free agent when he was not extended a qualifying offer.

The undrafted guard out of Marquette suffered a sprained knee early last season, then appeared in 31 regular-season games after he returned. He averaged 4.1 PPG in 5.7 MPG.

During his rookie season in 2020/21, Howard has averaged 4.3 PPG in 37 games with Denver. He also saw action in nine postseason contests.

COVID-19 Updates: Whiteside, Adams, Barton, Hornets, Spurs, More

Jazz center Hassan Whiteside has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Utah’s frontcourt depth is extremely depleted; in addition to Whiteside, Rudy Gobert, Rudy Gay, and Udoka Azubuike are all in the protocols, while 10-day hardship signee Norvel Pelle is out Wednesday against Cleveland with a non-COVID illness, Walden tweets. Whiteside is now the sixth Jazz player currently in the protocols.

Here are more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Grizzlies center Steven Adams is listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness for Thursday’s contest against Minnesota, Memphis’ PR department tweets, so he has cleared the protocols.
  • The Nuggets received two pieces of good news, as Will Barton has exited the COVID-19 protocols and Markus Howard, who was supposed to be sidelined at least six weeks with a sprained knee, is listed as questionable for Thursday’s contest against Portland, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). Howard has missed the past four weeks.
  • The news out of Charlotte is a mixed bag, as Vernon Carey Jr. has cleared the protocols, but rookie big man Kai Jones has entered for the Hornets, per the team’s PR department (Twitter links).
  • Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell have cleared the protocols for the Spurs and are available Wednesday night against Houston, Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News tweets.
  • Bucks guard Grayson Allen said he was fortunate to have an asymptomatic case of COVID-19 and will be available Thursday against the Warriors, according to Jim Owczarski of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). Allen also mentioned that the time away helped him recover from the flu.
  • Rockets guard Armoni Brooks has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available Wednesday against the Spurs, tweets Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Northwest Notes: Jones, Nuggets, Blazers, Williams, Howard

Nuggets assistant Popeye Jones won his first game as acting head coach on Saturday against the Rockets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Jones was coaching in place of head coach Michael Malone and lead assistant David Adelman, both of whom entered health and safety protocols.

“I’m blessed to be a part of this organization,” Jones said after the game. “You come in as the only new guy, and guys are trying to get a feel for you. … To come into this culture, and all these guys are such good guys, man. They don’t complain, they work hard every day. Like I told them, ‘You established this culture. I’m blessed just to be a part of it.’”

Denver won the contest 124-111 behind Facundo Campazzo‘s 22 points, 12 assists and five steals. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic also added 24 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Nuggets secure their third-straight victory.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • The Trail Blazers have hired Rodney Billups as an assistant coach, the team announced in a press release. Billups is the younger brother of head coach Chauncey Billups, who joined the franchise last June. Portland owns the third-worst record in the West at 13-22 and has lost four straight games.
  • Every championship contender will take a look at Thunder forward Kenrich Williams leading up to the trade deadline, ESPN’s Zach Lowe opines. Williams has averaged 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 20.8 minutes for Oklahoma City this season, shooting 46% from the floor and 41% from three-point range. He also shot 44% from deep last season.
  • Nuggets two-way guard Markus Howard has hired new representation, choosing to sign with Octagon, the agency announced on social media (Twitter link). Howard will be represented by agents Josh Beauregard-Bell and Alex Saratsis. He’s averaged 4.3 points and 7.3 minutes in 16 games this season and is currently sidelined due to a knee injury.

Nuggets’ Howard Out At Least Six Weeks Due To Knee Injury

Nuggets guard Markus Howard, who left Wednesday’s loss to Minnesota in the fourth quarter due to a left knee injury, has been diagnosed with a sprained knee and will be reevaluated in six weeks, the team announced today (via Twitter).

While it’s a relief that Howard didn’t sustain a more significant injury, it’s still tough news for the second-year guard, who is playing on a two-way contract with Denver for a second consecutive year.

After logging limited minutes in 37 games as a rookie in 2020/21, Howard has averaged 4.3 PPG on .355/.391/.875 shooting in 16 games (7.3 MPG) this season. He had recently entered the team’s regular rotation, averaging 16.7 MPG in the last three games, so the timing is unfortunate — he’ll likely have to earn those minutes back when he eventually returns to action.

Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter links) notes that Howard’s absence could reopen the door for the Nuggets to be granted a hardship exception, since Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and PJ Dozier are also out with long-term injuries. In that scenario, Denver could circle back to Davon Reed, who made a positive impression during his 10 days with the club earlier this month, says Singer.

According to Singer (Twitter link), the Nuggets have also placed Porter in the health and safety protocols. That won’t have any tangible effect on the team’s lineup or rotation, since MPJ is expected to remain on the shelf all season as he recovers from back surgery.

Northwest Notes: Hyland, Nance Jr., Howard, Jazz

Nuggets rookie Bones Hyland is starting to win fans over in Denver with his electric play and personality, Alex Kennedy of writes. Hyland has provided solid backcourt production for the Nuggets this season, showing flashes of potential at just 21 years old.

“That’s honestly what I do,” Hyland said about becoming a fan favorite. “I’m getting more and more comfortable being out there and, as you can see, I’m showing a lot more. But that’s what I do: I get the crowd involved. I’m a fan favorite, I can already tell that. That’s been me for my whole life! It’s just going to keep happening as the season goes along.”

Denver drafted Hyland with the No. 26 pick in July, expressing confidence in the VCU product. The team will need his production as star guard Jamal Murray continues to rehab from a torn ACL suffered last April.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers made a starting lineup adjustment on Sunday, choosing to start Larry Nance Jr. over Robert Covington at power forward, Jason Quick of The Athletic reports (via Twitter). While the move adds more size to the lineup, it could hurt the team’s ability to space the floor and shoot. Nance has made just 29% of his attempts from three-point range this season, while Covington has hit 35%.
  • Nuggets guard Markus Howard made the most of his opportunity against the Spurs on Saturday, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. Howard, who is on a two-way contract, finished with 21 points in 21 minutes off the bench. “I just know any time I’m put in a position to be in the game, I know my skillset, and I know what I’m capable of doing,” he said. “And so do my teammates. They have trust in me to be able to make plays.”
  • The Jazz are urging vigilance against COVID-19, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune writes. “It doesn’t look like it’s going to go anywhere soon,” center Rudy Gobert explained. “So we have to be smart, keep moving forward, be smart, and that’s it. It’s unfortunate when someone tests positive, but it’s going to be our reality for a while, so we’ve got to just live with it.”

Nuggets Re-Sign Markus Howard To Two-Way Deal

Shooting guard Markus Howard has re-signed with the Nuggets on a new two-way contract, according to’s transactions log.

Howard, who spent last season on a two-way deal with Denver, may have simply accepted his qualifying offer. Because he was a two-way player last season, that offer would be the equivalent of another two-way contract that includes a partial guarantee of $50K for the upcoming season.

Howard, 22, signed with Denver last November after going undrafted out of Marquette. He got into 37 games and averaged 2.8 PPG in 5.5 minutes per night. He was a two-time All-American in college and led the nation in scoring during the 2019/20 season.

Nico Mannion, Saben Lee, Others Receive Qualifying Offers

The Warriors have issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Nico Mannion, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Keith Smith of Spotrac. Because Mannion, the 48th overall pick in the 2020 draft, was on a two-way contract during his rookie season, his qualifying offer will be the equivalent of another two-way deal, with a partial guarantee worth $50K. The QO will give Golden State matching rights in the event that another team signs Mannion to an offer sheet next week.

Here are more updates on players on two-way contracts receiving qualifying offers:

  • Saben Lee, a 2020 second-round pick who spent his rookie season on a two-way deal, has received a qualifying offer from the Pistons, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. As expected, Detroit also officially renounced the draft rights to Jaylen Hands, Smith notes.
  • The Bulls issued a qualifying offer to two-way player Devon Dotson, making him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Chicago also gave a QO to Lauri Markkanen on Friday.
  • Nuggets guard Markus Howard, another two-way player, received a qualifying offer that makes him a restricted free agent, tweets Smith. Howard appeared in 37 games for Denver last season as an undrafted rookie out of Marquette.
  • The Spurs extended a qualifying offer to forward Keita Bates-Diop to make him an RFA, tweets Smith. Like the other players listed above, Bates-Diop has fewer than four years of NBA experience and is therefore eligible to sign another two-way contract after spending the 2020/21 season on a two-way deal.
  • The Cavaliers gave a qualifying offer to two-way shooting guard Brodric Thomas, tweets Chris Fedor of (Twitter link). Thomas appeared in a total of 32 games for Houston and Cleveland as a rookie in 2020/21.
  • The Grizzlies announced they’ve issued a qualifying offer to big man Killian Tillie, making him a restricted free agent. Tillie appeared in 18 games for Memphis as a rookie on his two-way deal.

Since all of these players are coming off two-way contracts and have only spent one season with their respective teams, their QOs are one-year, two-way offers with $50K guarantees.

Northwest Notes: Hill, Campazzo, Covington, Porter Jr.

Thunder guard George Hill‘s right thumb will remain in a hard cast for another week or two, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets. Hill underwent surgery on February 2nd. He hasn’t played since January 24. In 14 games this season, all starts, he has posted averages of 11.8 points and 3.1 assists. Hill is a trade candidate with the Sixers among the teams reportedly interested in the veteran.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets backup guard Facundo Campazzo and rookie Markus Howard have been added to the team’s injury report due to contact tracing, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Both players are likely out through the All-Star break, though the Nuggets could appeal. Campazzo is doubtful to play against Chicago on Monday. He’s averaging 5.5 PPG and 2.3 APG in 16.3 MPG in his first NBA season.
  • Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, the NBA’s lone player from a Historically Black College and University, is expected to take part in the Skills Challenge prior to All-Star Game, according to ESPN’s Marc J. Spears. Covington attended Tennessee State is the only active player from a Historically Black College and University. The league is highlighting HBCUs on All-Star Weekend.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. is establishing himself as part of a Big Three with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, Singer writes in a separate story. The young forward is averaging 16.0 PPG and 7.8 RPG over the last six games and is focusing on trying to become a more complete player.