Mike Brown

Western Notes: Spurs Trade, Mavs, Kemba, Nnaji, M. Brown

The Spurs received $1.5MM from the Celtics as part of Thursday’s Noah Vonleh trade, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link). As Marks lays out, the deal resulted in cash savings for both teams.

Because Vonleh’s cap hit is no longer on their books, the Celtics will save about $7.1MM on their projected luxury tax bill, so sending out just $1.5MM to realize those savings was a no-brainer for Boston.

As for the Spurs, they’ll only owe Vonleh about $28K in salary for the two days he spends on waivers, but will have to pay Gorgui Dieng an additional $992K for the rest of the season, since his salary was fully guaranteed. Still, factoring in the $1.5MM in cash that they got from Boston, the Spurs will come out about $480K ahead after waiving both players — on top of that, they have a newly opened roster spot, which they could use to take fliers on 10-day signees.

The draft pick the Spurs sent to the Celtics in the deal is San Antonio’s top-54 protected 2024 second-rounder, tweets Marks.

Here’s more from around the West:

  • Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd didn’t rule out the possibility of the team bringing back Kemba Walker on a 10-day contract after waiving him earlier today, tweets Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. The team now has an open roster spot to bring in Walker or another player on a 10-day deal.
  • Playing out of position as a center rather than a forward is getting Zeke Nnaji minutes in the Nuggets‘ rotation, but the role may not play to his strengths, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). After making 61-of-139 threes (43.9%) in his first two seasons, Nnaji is just 3-of-18 this season from beyond the arc. “With the five, it’s a lot less picking-and-popping,” he said. “They want me more rolling and putting pressure on that rim because if I’m popping every time, there’s not as much thrust on the rim, which collapses the defense. Right now I gotta roll more, even though I feel like I’m a capable shooter, I gotta do what’s best for the team.”
  • In an in-depth story for The Athletic, Jason Lloyd explores why Mike Brown was so intrigued by the Kings‘ head coaching opening this past spring and what he learned in his previous head coaching jobs that he brought with him to Sacramento.

Western Notes: Gordon, Nnaji, Brown, Wood

Aaron Gordon is having a career season for the Nuggets, and Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link) writes that the veteran forward has a compelling case to make his first All-Star appearance.

Gordon’s traditional stats — 17.5 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.9 SPG and 0.8 BPG through 29 games (30.0 MPG) — are all solid, if unspectacular. However, as Singer details, the 27-year-old’s efficiency (61.1 FG%, 68.0 2PT%, 39.0 3PT%, 66.9 true shooting percentage), defense, and synergy with center Nikola Jokic are what really stand out.

Singer also notes that Gordon is playing for one of the top teams in the league, which might matter to coaches (who select the All-Star reserves) — the Nuggets are currently 22-12, tied for the best record in the West.

Gordon (right shoulder strain) will return to the starting lineup on Friday against Miami following a two-game absence, tweets Singer.

Here’s more from the West:

  • With Nuggets forward Jeff Green sidelined for at least three more weeks due to a left hand fracture and left finger sprain, forward/center Zeke Nnaji has an opportunity to earn increased playing time. The former first-round pick plans to do the “dirty work” to help fill Green’s void, according to Singer (subscriber link). Head coach Michael Malone has a straightforward task for Nnaji. “I just want to feel Zeke’s energy out there,” Malone said.
  • The Kings announced that head coach Mike Brown has cleared the health and safety protocols and will resume his coaching duties on Friday against Utah, tweets James Ham of ESPN 1320 and TheKingsBeat.com. Brown entered the protocols on Tuesday, so his stint was brief. The Kings have been a pleasant surprise thus far, currently holding an 18-15 record, the No. 7 seed in the West.
  • Mavericks big man Christian Wood will be an unrestricted free agent in the offseason. How much will he make on his next contract? Keith Smith explores that topic in an article for Spotrac, ultimately concluding that Wood’s maximum extension number — about $77MM over four years — seems pretty fair. He’d be eligible for more than that if he reaches unrestricted free agency.

Pacific Notes: Kuminga, Wiggins, M. Brown, Lakers

The Warriors have liked what they’ve seen lately from second-year forward Jonathan Kuminga, Anthony Slater writes for The Athletic. Kuminga scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting in Tuesday’s win over Charlotte, but it was his defense that drew praise after the game.

“He f—ing locks up now,” teammate Draymond Green said. “I think it’s very impressive to see. Not that you never thought he was capable, but to see the maturity and buying into a role. Like, ‘Oh, that’s my role, that’s what I need to do. I’m going to go do that better than anyone.’ We’ve seen his impact over the last few weeks. He’s hawking every point guard he gets on.”

As Slater details, a steal Kuminga made against Hornets forward P.J. Washington in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 101-101 prompted head coach Steve Kerr to compare the 20-year-old to one of the Warriors’ veteran leaders.

“He looked like Andre Iguodala on that play,” Kerr said. “That’s an Andre-type play. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Andre’s been mentoring him throughout the season and last year.”

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • The Warriors got some good news and some bad news this week on forward Andrew Wiggins, who has been sidelined since December 3 due to an adductor strain. Wiggins has been cleared to return from that injury, but is battling an illness, which will keep him out at least through Wednesday’s game against Utah, tweets Slater.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced on Tuesday (Twitter link via James Ham of The Kings Beat). Assistant coach Jordi Fernandez is coaching the team in Brown’s place, but Brown is experiencing only mild COVID-19 symptoms and hopes to be cleared to return soon, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape (Twitter link).
  • In the past, LeBron James‘ comments to the media about his teams’ shortcomings have often spurred his front offices into action, but his calls for help this season appears to be falling on deaf ears, according to Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group, who explores whether any roster moves are coming for the Lakers.

Pacific Notes: Davis, Bryant, Clippers, M. Brown, Warriors

The Lakers haven’t released any information on Anthony Davis, who was expected to have an MRI on his right foot, but he has been ruled out for Sunday’s game with the Wizards due to foot soreness, writes Kyle Goon of The Southern California News Group.

Davis didn’t play in the second half Friday after tweaking his foot in a collision with Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. While there’s no official word on Davis’ condition, there’s obviously concern after he missed more than a month with a sprained foot last season.

While Davis is sidelined, L.A. will rely on center Thomas Bryant, who is settling into his role after thumb surgery forced him to miss the first month of the season. Goon notes that Bryant replaced Davis on Friday and outscored Jokic, 16-13, in the second half.

“He came out and a really, really huge effort against a two-time MVP,” coach Darvin Ham said. “Really helped us on both sides of the basketball, just his energy and activity. His no-quit mentality. We needed that. He was a huge burst for us.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Clippers‘ ups and downs continued this week as Kawhi Leonard delivered his best game since his ACL injury in a win over Boston, but half the team sat out a loss to Phoenix, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. The Clippers may have enough talent to contend for an NBA title, but it’s hard to maintain any rhythm when their stars are in and out of the lineup. “It’s disappointing because we can’t stay healthy,” coach Tyronn Lue said. “… You hate to see it but if it’s gonna happen, I’d rather it happen early than late.”
  • Kings coach Mike Brown, who got ejected from a game in Toronto this week for arguing with officials, believes it’s part of the fight for respect for an organization with a long history of losing, according to Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports. The incident cost Brown $25K, but his players were happy to see him do it. “Great, man, just knowing your coach has your back through thick and thin,” De’Aaron Fox said. “It starts at the top, goes from top to bottom, when trying to build a culture.”
  • Andre Snellings of ESPN looks at which Warriors might increase their production while Stephen Curry is sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Pacific Notes: Wiggins, Curry, Warriors, Lakers, M. Brown, Clippers

Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins, who has missed the last five games due to a right adductor strain, was cleared on Thursday to resume participating in practices and shootarounds, according to the team (Twitter link).

However, Wiggins will be unavailable for a sixth consecutive game when the Warriors visit Philadelphia on Friday and Draymond Green (right quad contusion) will be out as well, per the NBA’s latest official injury report. Klay Thompson is listed as questionable due to left knee soreness, so Golden State is at risk of being without four starters — Stephen Curry, of course, is expected to miss multiple weeks as a result of a shoulder injury.

As Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter video link) relays, Curry spoke to reporters today about his shoulder and expressed relief that he won’t have to undergo surgery, which might’ve forced him to miss several months. Asked if surgery is a possibility after the season, the Warriors star didn’t rule it out, but said that’s not the plan for now (Twitter links via Slater).

Here’s more from around the Pacific:

  • With several regulars battling injuries, the Warriors recalled center James Wiseman and rookie guard Ryan Rollins from the G League, the team announced on Thursday in a press release. Neither player has seen much action at the NBA level so far this season, with Wiseman appearing in just one game over the last month while Rollins has played only 43 total minutes since opening night.
  • The Lakers are unlikely to make a trade during the next two-to-four weeks, Jovan Buha of The Athletic reports within his look at the team’s approach to the deadline. Although the club would like to get a deal done sooner rather than later, it makes sense for Los Angeles to wait out the market in case more sellers emerge.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown has been fined $25K by the NBA for “aggressively pursuing and directing profane language” toward a referee, the league announced in a press release. The incident, which resulted in Brown’s ejection, occurred during the third quarter of Sacramento’s win in Toronto on Wednesday.
  • Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, and Luke Kennard were among the Clippers who missed Thursday’s game, but the team is optimistic they’ll all be back soon, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN (Twitter link), who says their absences on Thursday were more about managing prior injuries than dealing with new ones.

Kings Notes: Monk, Barnes, Brown, McNair, Fox

Kings players discussed the team’s 16-year postseason drought just once before the season began to clear the air about it, free agent addition Malik Monk tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. At 14-11 and sitting at fifth in the Western Conference, the current roster seems well positioned to take Sacramento back to the playoffs. Monk said that’s what envisioned when agreed to a two-year, $19.4MM contract over the summer.

“I wanted to change the culture,” he said. “I wanted to come in here and change everything about Sacramento and how everyone thought about it. I think we’re doing that now. We’ve just got to continue to win.”

The Kings also hired a new head coach in Mike Brown, whom several players praised for instilling accountability. Brown pointed to the leadership provided by Matthew Dellavedova, another offseason addition, and Harrison Barnes, who has been with the organization for nearly four years and is open to a new contract when he reaches free agency after this season.

“This group has a chance to do something special in Sacramento that hasn’t been done in almost two decades,” Barnes said. “I think that’s where my focus is. In terms of a contract, 11 years in now, I’m not too concerned about it. I think it’s all going to work out the way it’s supposed to.”

There’s more on the Kings:

  • Brown set his goals higher than just reaching the playoffs, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. “When I took this job, one of the things that I truly believed in is if we did it right, we can have a chance at this thing,” Brown said. “Not just to make the playoffs — which is not what I’m looking to do — but to advance. You take a job to try to build a championship-level team organization. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But you got to believe.” One way Brown has improved the team is by focusing on defense, where the Kings rank 15th in the league after finishing 27th last season.
  • General manager Monte McNair has overturned the roster since taking over as general manager in 2020 and hopes to get a chance to finish what he started, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. McNair is in the final year of his contract and declined to say if he’s had extension talks with owner Vivek Ranadive. “I’ll just say my family loves it in Sacramento and we’re very happy with how things are going,” McNair stated. “We’re just focused on winning and continuing to keep this thing growing.”
  • After missing the past two games with right foot soreness, De’Aaron Fox participated in today’s morning shootaround, Anderson tweets. He’s listed as questionable for tonight’s contest in Philadelphia.

And-Ones: Henderson, Top Offseason Adds, 2022 Re-Draft

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, has been diagnosed with a nose fracture after entering the concussion protocols and missing the team’s last four games, writes Cody Taylor of Rookie Wire.

Although Henderson has already been sidelined since November 18, the injury isn’t considered a long-term one and he’s being listed as day-to-day for the time being. According to Taylor, there’s a chance Henderson will be cleared to return on Sunday when the Ignite host the South Bay Lakers.

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

Warriors Notes: Wiggins, Williams, Green, Brown, Kerr, Wiseman

Andrew Wiggins, who signed a four-year, $109MM extension before the season, is playing like a star in the early going. He’s averaging 22.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.3 blocks through the first three games. Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes Wiggins is playing at the top of his game, according to Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“This is the best I’ve ever seen Wiggs,” Kerr said. “He was an All-Star last year, he helped us win a championship and I think he’s used that momentum that he gained a year ago to kind of springboard into this season.”

We have more on the Warriors:

  • Suns coach Monty Williams was “quietly upset” that JaMychal Green joined the Warriors on a one-year, veteran’s minimum contract, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic tweets. “Why did he go there?” Williams said.
  • The Warriors topped the Kings 130-125 on Sunday in a coaching matchup featuring Kerr and his former top assistant, Mike Brown. Kerr is thrilled that Brown got another head coaching job, Anthony Slater of The Athletic writes. “He’d always talk about how much he loved this job,” Kerr said. “That’s always what we’d lean on if he didn’t get an interview somewhere. Like, ‘You’ve got a pretty good gig. I’ve got it good. You’ve got it good. We’ll just keep it going.’ But we both felt like he was too talented and too young not to get another chance.”
  • In a subscriber-only story, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated speaks to James Wiseman about his comeback from a knee injury that kept him out of action last season. Wiseman is averaging 11 points and six rebounds in 17.7 minutes per game.

Pacific Notes: Johnson, Brown, Kings, Green

Suns forward Cameron Johnson hoped to sign a rookie scale extension before the deadline passed on Monday, but the two sides were unable to reach an agreement. He says he’s still focused on the task at hand.

I would’ve loved to have come to a conclusion,” Johnson said, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I love it here, but the fact of the matter is that I’m here for this year and that is what I’m focused on. I’m excited. We’ve got a good group. We’ve had a good group and we want to win a championship.”

The 26-year-old, who will be a restricted free agent next summer, suggested that the tenuous ownership situation played a factor in negotiations

Negotiations are interesting, especially when ownership is unclear,” said Johnson, a reference to majority owner Robert Sarver announcing his intention to sell the team after backlash from an NBA investigation into his behavior within the organization.

Extremely interesting,” Johnson continued. “Once you see that the situation is what it is, you can get over it relatively quickly and just be excited for the opportunity that’s been put in front of you.”

Johnson exited the team’s 107-105 comeback victory over Dallas early in the fourth quarter with right quad cramps, but he said he should be good to go for Friday’s contest at Portland, Rankin relays in another story for The Arizona Republic.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Not reaching an extension with Johnson feels like a missed opportunity for the Suns to put “some of the negativity and uncertainty of the offseason” in the rear-view mirror, according to Gerald Bourguet of PHNX Sports, who notes that Johnson could raise his stock significantly as a full-time starter in 2022/23. As Bourguet writes, failing to secure Johnson as a long-term fixture of the team’s core after Deandre Ayton‘s messy restricted free agency over the summer makes it seem like the Suns didn’t learn how protracted contract negotiations can negatively impact players.
  • Kings head coach Mike Brown says he’s focused on ending the team’s 16-year playoff drought, which is an NBA record. “We love the fans. We do. And they’re great fans, but even if the fans didn’t feel like we needed to make the playoffs, I’m not here to coach regular-season games. It’s just as simple as that,” he said (Twitter link via Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee).
  • Brown and center Domantas Sabonis have helped improve the Kings‘ vibes and culture, writes Chris Biderman of The Sacramento Bee. Brown has brought consistent energy and a “serious-yet-playful” personality to the team, while Sabonis hosted several teammates at his new offseason home in Napa, California to watch last season’s Finals and play pickup games. “The vibes were great,” Sabonis told The Bee. “If you’re an average team and if your off-court (dynamic) is amazing, you’re not an average team any more, you’re definitely better. I’m a firm believer in that.” As Biderman notes, it was the first offseason as a King for Sabonis, who only appeared in 15 games with Sacramento in ’21/22 after he was acquired from Indiana in a February trade.
  • Don’t expect the Warriors to consider an in-season trade for Draymond Green this season despite the uncomfortable situation he caused by punching Jordan Poole, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “If anything, I think that may be underplaying the level of iciness and tension that they’re navigating right now,” Lowe said. “And that’s not to say ‘Are they going to trade Draymond?’ Everything I’ve heard is they are not trading Draymond. They’re just not going to happen. They’re trying to win the championship and will try to ride it out unless something drastic happens. Draymond is going to be on the team all season.”

California Notes: Jackson, Wall, Zubac, Kings, Poole

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has claimed that a report indicating that Reggie Jackson had won the L.A. starting point guard gig over John Wall did not come from him, and that he has yet to make a final decision, according to Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles will play its first regular season contest this Thursday.

“Both guys are in a great position, and their mindset is in the right place,” Lue said. “It is about winning. It is not about who’s the starter, who’s the best player. It’s about the right fit and trying to win, and both of those guys are on board with that.”

Here’s more out of California:

  • Clippers center Ivica Zubac spoke with Mark Medina of NBA.com for a wide-ranging conversation that touched on the team’s hoped-for title contention this season, its stars’ injury woes, the development of Zubac around the rim, and more. Zubac also gave head coach Tyronn Lue a rave review. “Ty has been around the team and me for a while, even before he became a head coach,” Zubac noted. “He’s been seeing the progress for a while. It’s in big part thanks to him. He’s been pushing us. Last season, he asked me to do some things on the court that he hadn’t asked me to do in a while. He involved me more offensively. I think that was a big part of my progression.”
  • Following a rigorous training camp, the Kings opted to retain point guard Matthew Dellavedova, forward Chima Moneke, and power forward KZ Okpala into the regular season. Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee breaks down how the new Sacramento additions made the grade. All are currently signed to non-guaranteed deals with the team. “As training camp has gone on, [Moneke] is trending upwards,” head coach Mike Brown said. “I think the initial shock of being in the NBA and the speed and athleticism and all that stuff caught him off guard a little bit, but he belongs on this level and he can help us. I think KZ, too. Both of those guys were two of my first calls, even before I really got the job.” Brown also raved about Dellavedova’s effort on defense. “If Davion [Mitchell] ain’t going hard, he will get embarrassed by Delly… If [De’Aaron] Fox isn’t going hard, he will get embarrassed by Delly. To have a guy like that raises the level of intensity.”
  • Warriors reserve guard Jordan Poole signed a four-year contract extension with Golden State worth up to $140MM. Now, new details have emerged about the contract’s various incentives. Anthony Slater of The Athletic unpacks the deal, revealing that – beyond the guaranteed $123MM – Poole will make an extra $1.25MM per year (i.e. $5MM across all four seasons) depending on how far the team gets in the playoffs. He will net an additional $1MM for each year he wins the league MVP award (so a very, very hypothetical total of $4MM), plus $1MM annually per every Defensive Player of the Year award. Considering his skillset, earning either honor even once seems fairly far-fetched. Poole could earn $500K per season should he qualify for an All-NBA team (there are a total of 15 such slots available) and another $500K annually should he qualify for an All-Defensive Team (there are 10 available openings). Slater notes that it is possible Poole grows into being an All-NBA talent, but is skeptical he could ever be an elite defender or named the league MVP.