Matt Ryan

Pelicans Notes: Murphy, Alvarado, Valanciunas, Draft, Arena

A rookie scale extension for Trey Murphy will be one of the Pelicans‘ offseason priorities, but it will take a significant offer to make it happen, according to Christian Clark of Clark sees a new contract for Murphy falling somewhere between the four-year, $94.5MM deal that Brooklyn gave Cameron Johnson last summer and the five-year pact Devin Vassell signed with San Antonio that includes $135MM in guaranteed money.

Murphy came off the bench in 34 of the 57 games he played this season, but Clark points to an April matchup with Golden State as evidence that he can handle a full-time starting role. With Brandon Ingram sidelined by an injury, Murphy scored 24 points and sank six three-pointers, three of which were from 30 feet or longer.

New Orleans reportedly plans to explore trades involving Ingram this summer, creating an opportunity for Murphy to replace him in the starting lineup. Clark views Murphy as a better fit alongside Zion Williamson and Herbert Jones, adding that all three will be under long-term deals if Murphy signs an extension.

There’s more from New Orleans:

  • The Pelicans are very likely to pick up their $1.99MM team option on Jose Alvarado, Keith Smith of Spotrac states in an offseason overview of the team. Option decisions on Jeremiah Robinson-Earl ($2.2MM) and Matt Ryan ($2.4MM) are less certain, but Smith expects New Orleans to keep both players unless the front office decides it needs to open a roster spot. The more difficult choices, according to Smith, are what to do with center Jonas Valanciunas and small forward Naji Marshall, who will both be unrestricted free agents if they don’t agree to extensions by late June. Smith expects a one- or two-year deal for Valanciunas if he’s brought back, while Marshall seems likely to wind up elsewhere.
  • The Pelicans need to find a big man in the draft, and there should be plenty of decent options when they pick at No. 21, Smith adds, listing Zach Edey, Yves Missi, DaRon Holmes II and Kel’el Ware as players who could still be on the board. Smith expects New Orleans to defer the first-round pick that it’s owed from the Lakers, which is at No. 17, and take L.A.’s first-rounder next year instead.
  • The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District voted to delay planned improvements to Smoothie King Center because Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, who also owns the NFL’s Saints, is delinquent on payments for upgrades to the Superdome, Clark and Jeff Duncan write in a separate story. ASM Global, which manages the Superdome, contends the Saints are $11.5MM behind and haven’t made a payment since December. The NFL team issued a statement (via Twitter) saying it has no problem paying the $11.5MM — or its $41MM share of the $58MM project — but added, “We have, however, asked for certain documentation over an extended period and we have not received that documentation.” Last year, the Pelicans extended their lease at the arena through June of 2029.

Southwest Notes: Ryan, Morant, Grizzlies, Gafford, Mavs

When the Pelicans converted Matt Ryan from his two-way deal to a standard contract on the day before their regular season finale, they used their mid-level exception to sign him to a three-year deal that paid him $1.5MM in guaranteed money for the final two days of this season, tweets Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

In exchange for that substantial end-of-season payday, Ryan gave the Pelicans two additional years of low-cost control — he’s under contract for a non-guaranteed minimum salary ($2,196,970) in 2024/25, with a non-guaranteed minimum-salary team option ($2,381,501) for ’25/26.

Ryan’s salary for ’24/25 would become guaranteed if he remains under contract through the start of the regular season, but there are no trigger dates before that point, so New Orleans won’t necessarily need to make a decision on him until the fall.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is now being represented by Lift Management, according to a tweet from the agency. Morant reportedly parted ways with longtime agent Jim Tanner earlier this spring. The two-time All-Star has seen his stock drop following multiple suspensions for his off-court behavior, along with a shoulder injury that cost him nearly all of the 2023/24 season, but his maximum-salary contract runs for four more seasons.
  • Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what the Grizzlies want to see from their young players this summer, including projected Summer League participants like GG Jackson and Scotty Pippen Jr. As Cole observes, it’ll also a big offseason for Jake LaRavia, who will be entering his third NBA season, but it’s rare for former first-round picks to return for a third year of Summer League.
  • With center Daniel Gafford listed as questionable for Game 3 vs. the Clippers on Friday due to back spasms, the Mavericks could be forced to make a change to their starting lineup, writes Mike Curtis of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). Dereck Lively would likely be the top candidate to move into the starting five, though Maxi Kleber – who has averaged 27.0 minutes per game so far in the series – would also play a major role. Dwight Powell and Markieff Morris are also in the mix as depth options.

Matt Ryan Gets Standard Contract From Pelicans

The Pelicans have converted Matt Ryan‘s two-way contract to a standard deal, the team announced (via Twitter).

No details were provided on whether Ryan’s new contract will extend beyond the rest of this season, but the signing makes him eligible for postseason play. New Orleans had been carrying an open roster spot, so no corresponding move was necessary.

The 26-year-old forward has appeared in 27 games in his first season with the Pelicans, averaging 5.6 points and 1.5 rebounds in 14.4 minutes per night while shooting 43.4% from the field and 45.1% from three-point range. He underwent elbow surgery in December that sidelined him for a significant part of the season.

New Orleans claimed Ryan off waivers in October, inheriting the two-way contract he signed with Minnesota shortly before the start of training camp. He also had brief stints with the Celtics and Lakers earlier in his career.

The move leaves the Pelicans with a full 15-man roster, along with Dereon Seabron and Malcolm Hill as two-way players. The deadline for signing two-way contracts was in March, so New Orleans won’t be able to fill Ryan’s spot.

Southwest Notes: Grizzlies, Udoka, Brooks, Eason, Ryan

The injuries that have short-circuited the Grizzlies‘ season are providing more minutes for their young players and giving management a chance to evaluate them for the future, writes Michael Wallace of Grind City Media. With Ja Morant out for the rest of the season and Desmond Bane and Marcus Smart not expected back until late February, Memphis is relying on some unfamiliar names in an effort to remain competitive.

“It’s an opportunity for us young guys to develop and to try to win games, too,” said second-year power forward David Roddy. “It’s something we’re going to rely on in years to come, these pivotal games and this pivotal point in the season for our development. Just make it simple. Share the ball as much as we can, attack the rim and the paint. Be calm, relax and have fun.”

Among those getting an opportunity is 19-year-old rookie G.G. Jackson, who started the season in the G League but recently became the second-youngest player in league history with back-to-back 20-point games. Coach Taylor Jenkins said he’s still determining the best way to use the 6’9″ Jackson, who’s versatile enough to handle several positions.

“Figuring out what position he’ll play will come in time,” Jenkins said. “We want to continue to challenge him to be a better defender and rebounder. But the fact he’s super coachable, loves the game and wants to get better each day, I’m excited to see what transpires moving forward.”

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets held their first practice session of 2024 on Friday as they try to fix the defensive issues that led to a 1-5 road trip, per Danielle Lerner of The Houston Chronicle. Coach Ime Udoka emphasized to his players that they need to concentrate on what worked earlier this season. “With a younger team, you want to keep giving them reminders of what made us successful early, and the chance to get through and walk through some things and bang around a little bit, it was good for us,” Udoka said. “It felt just normal to what we were doing earlier and that’s why we had the success.” 
  • Dillon Brooks and Tari Eason weren’t available for Friday’s practice, Lerner adds, and while Brooks is playing tonight against Utah, the Rockets will have to survive a while longer without Eason, who is missing his 10th straight game. “No setback,” Udoka said. “He just is on the timeline where we’re giving him the time to operate and try to get healthy. And you know, the pain tolerance is a thing. Like I said, he was playing through some pain and we want to make sure that’s gone before he comes back. So an extended amount of time is what has been diagnosed for him.” 
  • Pelicans forward Matt Ryan said he feels “92%” recovered after undergoing elbow surgery last month, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. Ryan adds that his shot feels fine and he’s working toward his return.

Matt Ryan Undergoes Procedure On Elbow, Out 6-8 Weeks

Pelicans sharpshooter Matt Ryan will remain sidelined until well into the new year, as the team announced today in a press release that he underwent an arthroscopy on Tuesday morning to remove loose bodies from his right elbow.

According to the Pelicans, Ryan’s timeline for a return to action is about six-to-eight weeks.

Ryan, who is on a two-way contract with New Orleans, got off to a hot start this season after being claimed off waivers from Minnesota at the end of the preseason. He averaged 9.3 points on .458/.471/.929 shooting in his first 13 games as a Pelican, logging 22.9 minutes per night.

However, Ryan sustained a calf strain on November 18, which sidelined him for the next couple weeks. Just when it appeared he might be nearing a return from that injury, he was affected by another ailment — on December 2, he started being listed on the injury report as out due to elbow soreness. That diagnosis was eventually updated to an elbow strain and now he has had to undergo a procedure to address the issue.

As a two-way player, Ryan wasn’t exactly an irreplaceable piece in the Pelicans’ rotation, but he was one of the team’s few reliable outside shooters and provided floor spacing, especially prior to Trey Murphy‘s season debut. As Christian Clark of observes (via Twitter), despite not having played for three-and-a-half weeks, Ryan still ranks second on the club in total three-pointers made this season, behind only rookie Jordan Hawkins.

Injury Notes: McCollum, James, Reddish, Murray, Markkanen, Durant, Connaughton

Pelicans guard CJ McCollum has been upgraded to questionable for Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia, the team’s PR department tweets. McCollum has been out since Nov. 4 after being diagnosed with a collapsed lung. McCollum has missed New Orleans’ last 12 games.

Trey Murphy III (knee) and Matt Ryan (calf) have been upgraded to doubtful. Murphy, a starter most of last season, has yet to make his season debut. Ryan hasn’t played since Nov. 18.

We have more injury-related updates:

  • Lakers star LeBron James is listed as questionable to play against Detroit on Wednesday due to a left calf contusion, according to the team’s PR department (hat tip to Orange County Register’s Khobi Price). Cam Reddish (left groin strain) and Anthony Davis (left adductor) are listed as probable, while Gabe Vincent, Rui Hachimura and Jarred Vanderbilt will not play.
  • Jamal Murray has been upgraded to questionable for the Nuggets’ game against Houston on Wednesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Murray has been out since Nov. 4 due to a hamstring strain.
  • Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen will miss at least two more games due to a left hamstring strain, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. He’ll be reevaluated after the team returns from its two-game road trip.
  • The Suns have listed Kevin Durant (right foot contusion) and Grayson Allen (illness) as questionable to play Wednesday against Toronto, Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports tweets.
  • Pat Connaughton exited the Bucks’ game on Tuesday early with a right ankle sprain, the team tweets.

Pelicans’ Matt Ryan Out 10-14 Days With Calf Strain

Pelicans forward Matt Ryan has been diagnosed with a mild right calf strain and is expected to miss about 10-to-14 days, the team announced in a press release.

Ryan, who was injured during Saturday’s loss to Minnesota, is on a two-way contract with New Orleans. Two-way players are only eligible to be active for 50 NBA games, but the 26-year-old has already appeared in all 13 of the Pelicans’ contests this fall.

Known for his shooting prowess, Ryan is off to a strong start in 2023/24, averaging 9.3 points on an excellent .458/.471/.929 slash line in 22.9 minutes per night. All of those figures represent career highs for the third-year forward.

The Pelicans have once again dealt with a litany of injuries this season. Trey Murphy (knee surgery) has yet to make his season debut, CJ McCollum (small pneumothorax in his right lung) has missed the past seven games, and Larry Nance Jr. is out with a rib fracture. Several other players have missed multiple games as well.

On a more positive note, guard Jose Alvarado (ankle) plans to make his season debut tonight.

With Ryan out, the Pelicans will lean even more heavily on rookie first-rounder Jordan Hawkins to provide outside shooting.

And-Ones: Cousins, Expansion, 2024 Cap Room, Netflix, More

Veteran center DeMarcus Cousins, who last played in Puerto Rico, is drawing “strong” interest from a team in the Chinese Basketball Association, sources tell Orazio Cauchi of While it’s unclear which team in China is pursuing Cousins, one of BasketNews’ sources believes that a deal will be reached.

As Cauchi explains, Cousins – who has earned four All-Star nods and been named an All-NBA player twice – was already in China for a series of promotional events. Negotiations with the mystery CBA team have reportedly gotten more serious since he arrived in the country.

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

  • While Las Vegas and Seattle are the destinations most frequently cited for the next round of NBA expansion, commissioner Adam Silver said during an appearance on NBC Sports Boston’s Celtics telecast on Monday (Twitter video link via The Shift) that he wouldn’t rule out a pair of Canadian cities as eventual homes for NBA franchises. “I know there’s interest from Montreal, we’ve heard from them,” Silver said. “There’s still ongoing interest in Vancouver. … There will be more opportunity (in Canada) over time.”
  • Keith Smith of Spotrac recently took a closer look at each team’s projected spending power for the 2024 offseason, naming the Magic, Sixers, and Pistons as the clubs that are in the best position to create significant cap room.
  • Netflix has conveyed some interest in broadcasting the NBA’s in-season tournament in future seasons, sources tell John Ourand of Sports Business Journal. The 2023/24 in-season tournament games are airing on ESPN, TNT, and regional sports networks, but that could change in the NBA’s next media deal.
  • Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report ranked the best players and prospects on two-way contracts, with Pelicans sharpshooter Matt Ryan and Celtics big man Neemias Queta earning the top spots on his list.

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.

Injury Notes: Davis, Hayes, Jones, Herro, C. Thomas

After previously expressing optimism that he wouldn’t miss additional time with the injury, Lakers big man Anthony Davis was ruled out of Wednesday’s game vs. Houston due to left hip spasms, as Dave McMenamin of ESPN writes.

The Lakers were also without reserve center Jaxson Hayes, who is dealing with a left ankle sprain, McMenamin adds.

Davis initially sustained the injury on Monday against Miami, exiting the game in the third quarter. Sources tell McMenamin the Lakers are hopeful Davis will be back in action for Friday’s matchup in Phoenix.

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

  • The Pelicans were extremely shorthanded on Wednesday, with multiple rotation players sidelined for various reasons. A third starter — wing Herbert Jones — was ruled out ahead of the matchup vs. Minnesota due to a right fibula contusion, tweets Will Guillory of The Athletic. With so many players injured, all three of the team’s two-way players (Matt Ryan, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Dereon Seabron) received first-quarter minutes, with Robinson-Earl getting a starting nod, Guillory adds (via Twitter). Robinson-Earl just signed his two-way deal with the Pelicans last week.
  • Heat guard Tyler Herro is off to a strong start in 2023/24, but unfortunately he sustained a right ankle sprain in the first quarter of Wednesday’s game vs. Memphis and was ruled out for the remainder of the contest, the team announced (via Twitter). Bally Sports Heat has the video (Twitter link), with Herro landing on Jaren Jackson Jr.‘s foot following a floater in the lane. Herro was unable to put weight on his leg after the injury and hopped to the locker room.
  • Another player off to a terrific start this season is Nets guard Cam Thomas. Unfortunately, he suffered a left ankle sprain on Wednesday vs. the Clippers and missed the remainder of the game, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post (Twitter links), who adds that Thomas will undergo an MRI on Thursday. The 2021 first-round pick rolled his ankle after stepping on P.J. Tucker‘s foot (Twitter video link via Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily).