Scoot Henderson

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Henderson, Markkanen, Gobert, Towns

Appearing on the “It Is What It Is” podcast, Damian Lillard said he wasn’t upset when the Trail Blazers used their lottery pick to draft Scoot Henderson. The electrifying point guard is projected to be Lillard’s eventual replacement as the star of Portland’s backcourt, but Lillard won’t mind sharing the court with the rookie until he gets the trade he wants.

“Me and Scoot, we’ve had a few conversations with him coming into the league,” Lillard said. “That wasn’t a deal breaker for me at all. I respect his game. I think in that position he was the best player available, so that’s what you’ve gotta do if you’ve got the pick. But no, I wasn’t offended at all, because at the end of the day, you’ve gotta come in and play. I’ve been doing this for a long time, so to me that wasn’t a knock on me or anything.”

With trade talks between the Blazers and Heat reportedly at a standstill and other teams reluctant to make their best offers because of Lillard’s preference to play in Miami, it appears there’s a good chance that Lillard and Henderson will begin the season as teammates.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Lauri Markkanen is one of the best values in the NBA, but the Jazz need to consider his future beyond his current contract, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Markkanen has two seasons left at $17.3MM and $18MM, with only a $6MM guarantee for the final year. Larsen notes that Utah can either let him play out the deal and take advantage of about $41MM in cap space next summer or renegotiate the final year and sign him to an extension. The new CBA places a 140% limit on extensions, so Markkanen would have to get to about $35MM in 2024/25 to be eligible for a max deal of $49MM the following season.
  • The Timberwolves are hoping for improvement in the second year of the Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns pairing, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic states in an overview of Minnesota’s roster. He adds that Gobert was dealing with knee soreness following EuroBasket last fall while Towns missed most of training camp because of an infection, so there’s hope that better health will lead to better results.
  • The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice has fined Timberwolves assistant trainer Jesse Geffon $500 for treating players without a license for part of last season, per Paul Walsh of The Star-Tribune. Geffon joined the team in September, but didn’t apply for his license until February.

Northwest Notes: Small-Market Stars, Henderson, SGA, Edwards

Current Sixers guard Patrick Beverley sent a ripple through the NBA when he suggested Timberwolves star guard Anthony Edwards should leave Minnesota when he gets the chance. Stars of small-market teams are often subject to trade rumors and to that point, the Trail Blazers look poised to send franchise icon Damian Lillard to a “bigger market” after years of speculation.

The Trail Blazers have an heir apparent to the point guard spot in 2023 No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson, but Henderson recognizes that he has plenty of work to do to help offset a potential loss of Lillard, he said in an interview with The Oregonian’s Bill Oram. Part of that starts with being an active member of the Portland community, which Lillard was, according to Oram.

I can definitely learn from that and seeing how he goes out his way to do certain things for the fans here,” Henderson said. “That’s something I’ve seen and heard about. That’s who I am as a person as well.

Henderson said Lillard has been in communication with the former G League Ignite guard, and he’s been giving him pointers on living in Portland, per Oram. Whatever way the Lillard situation ends, Oram writes, Henderson is prepared to help get the Blazers back to the playoffs.

I’m here to work,” Henderson said. “I’m here to come here and win some games. Never been focused on anyone else’s situation, ever.

Oram believes Henderson has a real chance to connect with Portland fans in a similar way to Lillard, but knows sentiments like Beverley’s will persist through Henderson’s career if he’s a breakout star. However, Oram believes Henderson is well-situated to become the franchise’s next staple, and the guard appears to have similar plans.

It’s probably the best situation I could possibly be in, ever,” Henderson said. “I’m here to stay.

We have more Northwest Division notes:

  • While Portland has a star on the way out, the Thunder‘s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is poised to stick around for a while. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, rival executives who hoped Gilgeous-Alexander would want out of Oklahoma City less than a year ago appear to have given up on those hopes. Amick writes that organizational excitement is at an all-time high, and that Gilgeous-Alexander has a chance to take the young Thunder to the playoffs — he’ll get a chance to play with last year’s No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren this season.
  • Responding to Beverley’s comment about Edwards, The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski pushed back on the notion that Edwards should leave the Timberwolves. Krawczynski echoes the point that small-market fans are used to hearing people say their players should or will depart for bigger markets, but to hear it from Beverley, who played for the team in 2021/22, is different. Krawczynski writes that Minnesota is a bigger market than given credit for and can push to keep Edwards around, though the team will need to continue to build around the star guard.
  • In case you missed it, free agent Javonte Cooke is reportedly signing an Exhibit 10 deal with the Timberwolves.

Heat Notes: Jovic, World Cup, Lillard, Giannis

The Heat have been counting on a productive summer from Nikola Jovic after back issues disrupted his rookie season, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. The 27th pick in the 2022 draft displayed flashes of talent, but physical concerns limited him to 15 games, plus seven short appearances in the playoffs.

Coach Eric Spoelstra said the organization put Jovic on a rehab and weight-training program to get him ready for the offseason. He was impressive during Summer League and now is one of the leaders of Serbia’s World Cup team.

“This is exactly the type of summer and offseason that he needed, to be able to play, to be able to participate in all of our Summer League practices and play in those Summer League games against high-level competition,” Spoelstra said. “And we didn’t know necessarily how the Serbian team would shake out. And it’s turned out to be marvelous for him.”

The absence of Nikola Jokic and Vasilije Micic, along with an injury to Filip Petrusev, means Serbia will need more production from Jovic, who scored nine points in 24 minutes in Saturday’s win over China. The Serbians are playing in Manila, which puts Jovic close to Spoelstra, an assistant coach with Team USA.

“He’s getting a great opportunity,” Spoelstra said. “They had about a two-and-half-, three-week training camp, with the exhibition games included. He’s been able to play in all of those games. We were able to send our staff out and see a week of his training camp. And we’re in the same place right now. He’s only about five, 10 miles away — with traffic that could end up being about 45 minutes. But we are definitely getting together while we’re out here.”

There’s more on the Heat:

  • The World Cup experience gives Spoelstra a chance to connect with some of the NBA’s best young players, Winderman points out in a separate story. There have been plenty of cases where relationships built in international competitions spilled over to the NBA, with the Heat benefiting from the most famous example of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who played together in the 2008 Olympics.
  • If Damian Lillard isn’t dealt to Miami before training camp starts, the Trail Blazers could turn into a “circus” with the young backcourt of Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons uncertain of what their roles will be, Winderman states in a mailbag column. He also suggests that the Heat may be better than expected without a Lillard trade, as Tyler Herro will enter camp fully healthy and will be joined by free agent additions Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant, rookie Jaime Jaquez and a better version of Jovic.
  • As the Lillard standoff continues, the Heat may be preparing for another waiting game involving Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Winderman writes in another piece. In a recent interview, Antetokounmpo said he’ll wait until next summer to decide on an extension and wouldn’t commit to a long-term future in Milwaukee.

Western Notes: Henderson, Brooks, Jones, Jackson Jr.

The biggest knock against No. 3 overall pick Scoot Henderson entering the draft was his shooting — he made just 27.5% of his 3-point attempts in the G League. His trainer, Brandon Payne, brushes off criticism regarding Henderson’s shot as he heads into his rookie season with the Trail Blazers.

“Scoot can shoot the ball,” Payne told Mark Medina in a Sportskeeda article. “When he feels one go down the right way, you better watch out because there’s a bunch coming behind him. But like with any young player, there’s going to be ups and downs. He will just have to weather those and work through them.”

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • LeBron James shook off Dillon Brooks‘ tactics in the playoff series between the Lakers and Grizzlies. James shot 61.1 percent when guarded by Brooks, yet the new Rockets swingman has a different interpretation of how his matchup with LeBron played out, he told Arash Madani in a Sportsnet interview (hat tip to Kurt Helin of NBC Sports). “I feel like I always had him,” Brooks said. “I feel like that series was thrown upon me cause of the words that I say, but I’ve been saying things all year and we won 50 games.”
  • Derrick Jones‘ guaranteed one-year contract with the Mavericks is worth the veteran’s minimum, Hoops Rumors has confirmed. Jones will earn approximately $2.71MM on the deal, while Dallas takes on a cap hit of $2.02MM.
  • Jaren Jackson Jr. has been manning the middle for Team USA this summer and that may be his future spot with the Grizzlies, Damichael Cole of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. Veteran center Steven Adams is signed through the 2024/25 season but Jackson could be his eventual replacement.

Poll: Early Rookie Of The Year Pick

Scoot Henderson declared this week that he intends to take home the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award in 2024, and he should be in a good position to do so.

Assuming the Trail Blazers trade Damian Lillard before the season begins, Henderson is primed to play a key role in the backcourt for a Portland team that figures to take a step back and focus more on developing its young cornerstones than vying for a high seed in the Western Conference. In that scenario, this year’s No. 3 overall pick would have the ball in his hands a lot and would be given the opportunity to take on considerable scoring and play-making responsibilites as a rookie.

Unsurprisingly though, betting site doesn’t consider Henderson the Rookie of the Year favorite. That spot belongs to No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, widely considered the best prospect to enter the NBA since LeBron James.

Like LeBron in 2003, Wembanyama is considered a safe bet to make an immediate impact. While San Antonio will likely manage his workload, especially in back-to-back scenarios, he should play a significant frontcourt role on a retooling Spurs team that intends to build around him for years to come. It’s possible Wembanyama won’t match Henderson’s scoring numbers as a rookie, but he has a better chance to be a two-way force in his first NBA season.

While Wembanyama (-150) and Henderson (+250) are the two Rookie of the Year frontrunners, considers Thunder big man Chet Holmgren (+325) a legitimate contender too. The No. 2 overall pick in 2022, Holmgren missed his entire rookie season due to a foot injury, putting him in position to essentially get a second rookie year in 2023/24.

Holmgren likely won’t be asked to carry much of the offensive load for an Oklahoma City team that has plenty of scoring options, but his ability to protect the rim and block shots could make him an ideal fit for the Thunder, who could have used that sort of player last season (they ranked 22nd in blocks per game).

Holmgren’s year of NBA seasoning off the court could work in his favor, as could a strong year from the Thunder, who came one play-in game away from a postseason spot last season. Playing a key role on a playoff team helped swing the Rookie of the Year vote in Scottie Barnes‘ favor in 2022, for instance.

While views them as longer shots, other rookies who were drafted in the lottery in June, including Hornets forward Brandon Miller and the Thompson twins, could make a run at Rookie of the Year honors too.

We want to know what you think. Who’s your early pick for Rookie of the Year in 2023/24? Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Scoot Henderson: “I Will Win Rookie Of The Year”

After being selected third overall in the 2023 NBA draft, Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson is confident that he’ll have a big rookie season in Portland.

“My goal, obviously, is to win Rookie of the Year,” Henderson told Playmaker (YouTube link). “And I will win Rookie of the Year. … My goals for the season are to help win a lot of games, to embrace the position I’m in, to embrace my role on the team, to be a great listener, and watching film and applying it to the next game.”

Henderson’s assertion that he’ll be the 2023/24 Rookie of the Year is just one of the lofty goals he expressed during the Playmaker interview. He also said he wants to eventually “be remembered as the best point guard to ever play the game.”

Henderson’s professional career got off to a promising start at the Las Vegas Summer League, where he put up 15 points, six assists, and five rebounds in just 21 minutes before exiting the Trail Blazers’ first game due to a shoulder injury. There’s no indication that he won’t be fully healthy by the time training camp begins this fall.

Still, before he begins chasing his most ambitious career goals, Henderson may have to achieve a more modest one: cracking Portland’s starting lineup. Even if Damian Lillard is traded, Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe appear to be the favorites to open the season as the starters in the Blazers’ backcourt, a league source tells Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian.

Of course, Henderson figures to have a major role even if he’s coming off the bench, and it’s possible he’ll show enough this fall that it will be impossible for the club to keep him out of its starting five.

Henderson also figures to face stiff competition in the ’23/24 Rookie of the Year race. The betting favorite is No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama, while last year’s No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren is also considered a strong contender for the award.

Players Who Signed July 1 Are Now Eligible To Be Traded

The peak of the NBA’s transactions season has calmed down after an active start to July, but a few more players have become eligible to be traded on the final day of the month, notes Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link).

The 30-day trade restriction window has expired for draft picks who signed their contracts on July 1, along with six players who inked two-way contracts on that date.

The designation won’t matter for those at the very top of the draft, as the Spurs and Trail Blazers obviously won’t consider trading Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, respectively. However, it could come into play for a few others, especially if more big-name players are on the move as the summer winds down.

In addition to those top-three picks, first-rounders who signed on July 1 are the Magic’s Anthony Black and Jett Howard, the PacersJarace Walker and Ben Sheppard, the Trail BlazersKris Murray and the Heat’s Jaime Jaquez. The No. 18 pick out of UCLA, Jaquez has been mentioned as a potential asset in a trade to bring Damian Lillard to Miami.

Two-way players who signed on July 1, according to’s transactions log, are the SixersTerquavion Smith and Ricky Council, the Heat‘s Dru Smith and Jamaree Bouyea, the Trail Blazers Ibou Badji and the RocketsTrevor Hudgins.

Most veteran free agents who signed this summer won’t become eligible to be traded by their teams until December 15 or January 15, depending on their circumstances. Those signings didn’t become official until July 6 or later because of the NBA’s summer moratorium.

And-Ones: Walker, Irving, Summer League Rookies

Kemba Walker is ready for the opportunity to revive his career in France, whether it eventually leads him back to the NBA or not. After signing a one-year deal with AS Monaco Basket, Walker talked about his future in a press release issued by the team.

“The NBA is obviously the main focus, but I played there for many years,” he said. “For now I am only focusing on my new adventure, this experience that awaits me with the new life I will have. I am so excited and looking forward to this opportunity in Monaco. I’m really looking forward to discovering the city, the people, my teammates, the staff and everything around the club. We are going to live great moments. Let it begin.”

Walker is a four-time All-Star, but his career has been slowed by knee issues over the past three years. He signed with the Mavericks late last November, but played just nine games before Dallas waived him in January to avoid having a full guarantee on his salary.

Walker hasn’t gotten any other NBA offers, so he was open to playing in Europe when AS Monaco reached out to him.

The club was very interested in me, and I just wanted to be part of a club that wanted me, that believed in me,” Walker said. “I saw that the leaders felt that I could help them reach another level. That’s what convinced me, and what made me decide to join Monaco. In addition, it is an extraordinary city, in which I want to spend time, gain a new life experience. So it’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I just want to keep playing basketball at a high level, and Monaco allows me to do that.”

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving posted a triple-double on Saturday in his first-ever appearance at the Drew League in Los Angeles, writes Law Murray of The Athletic. Irving helped his team, Nationwide Souljas, qualify for next month’s playoffs in the pro-am league, which he is now eligible to participate in.
  • Spurs big man Victor Wembanyama should eventually become a dominant player, but turnovers might be a problem for him in his first NBA season, Sam Vecenie of The Athletic states in a review of several rookies at Summer League. Wembanyama’s handle isn’t as tight as it needs to be when he drives to the basket, Vecenie observes, but he’s still likely to have the best career of anyone in the 2023 draft class. Vecenie also predicts stardom for Trail Blazers guard Scoot Henderson and offers his thoughts on numerous other first-year players.
  • Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explains why it makes more sense to evaluate new free agent contracts by the percentage of the salary cap they take up rather than their overall dollar value.

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Billups, Towns, Juzang, Tyson

Trail Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said that developing lottery pick Scoot Henderson into a top-level point guard is a “personal” project, he told The Athletic’s David Aldridge.

“It’s personal for me,” said Billups, the 2004 Finals MVP. “‘Cause I just remember myself being that dude, third pick in the draft. The expectations. I want to give Scoot what I needed at the time. I can do that. I’ve done everything he wants to do in this league. I struggled mightily early, which I don’t see that happening with him.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Timberwolves had some pre-draft discussions about a possible Karl-Anthony Towns trade, Ian Begley of SNY TV said on ESPN’s Zach Lowe podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “There were talks between the Timberwolves and other teams before the draft and Towns’ name came up,” Begley said. “I don’t know how aggressive the Timberwolves were with Towns, if at all.” Towns is entering the first year of his four-year super max extension.
  • Jazz summer league coach and developmental assistant Evan Bradds said he’s been pushing second-year swingman Johnny Juzang hard, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes. Juzang had a high efficient 26-point outing in the team’s second Summer League game. “I want him to succeed, and I think over the [past] year, we were able to build a good relationship,” Bradds said. “I think if you ask him, he would want to be coached hard. So if you tell me you want me to coach hard, I’m gonna coach you hard, no matter what — when you’re good, when you’re bad. Even during the game, we get a little heated, and that’s OK, that’s part of it.” Juzang is an unrestricted free agent after the Jazz pulled their qualifying offer.
  • Second-round pick Hunter Tyson was a standout for the Nuggets in the Summer League, Matt Schubert of the Denver Post writes. Tyson averaged 20.8 points in five games and made half of his 3-point attempts. He also averaged 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Trail Blazers Notes: Henderson, Draft, Billups, Lillard

Scoot Henderson‘s role in the Trail Blazers’ backcourt will be vastly different if Damian Lillard gets traded, but the former G League Ignite star plans to approach his rookie season the same way no matter what happens. In an interview with Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Henderson said he’s grateful for the advice Lillard has offered so far and he’s not watching the internet to check the status of trade talks.

“If he leaves, I’m going to just embrace that,” Henderson said. “I’m going to embrace being the point guard for the team. And that comes with practice. I don’t have my spot guaranteed; I know that. My goal is to get better every day at practice and get better game by game.”

Midway through the interview, members of the Hornets walked past and Brandon Miller stopped to ask Henderson about the shoulder injury he suffered in his first Summer League game. O’Connor questioned Henderson about why Miller was drafted ahead of him and whether sliding to No. 3 will provide any extra incentive.

“If I was the no. 1 pick I’d still feel the edge,” Henderson replied. “So just making sure everybody knows that that’s how I’m coming, and I’m coming up with a fiery edge for myself no matter where I went. I would’ve had the same edge if I went 1. My main focus is basketball and being the greatest version of myself. So, whether I was 1, 2, 50, I would still have that edge.”

There’s more on the Blazers:

  • Henderson made an extremely strong impression on rival teams with his Summer League performance, even though it was limited to 21 minutes, according to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Mannix said a couple representatives from other teams suggested that even the Spurs might eventually regret passing on Henderson to take Victor Wembanyama.
  • Portland coach Chauncey Billups admitted that Lillard’s trade request has brought a level of chaos to the summer, Mannix adds. Billups stated that he understands that Lillard needs to make the best decision for his career, and he complimented general manager Joe Cronin for how he has handled the situation. “You can’t control fate. So we’ll see how it plays,” Billups said. “But for me as a coach, there’s a lot of other guys on the team that I have to coach and that I have to be here for, that I have to mentor, I have to teach, and I want us to just continue to move forward, however we do that.”
  • Lillard posted an Instagram message Friday night to try to calm a social media controversy, per Larry Brown Sports. Lillard recently liked a tweet calling for Nike founder Phil Knight to buy the team from Jody Allen and convince Lillard to change his mind about being traded. On Instagram, Lillard called the incident a “mishap” and said he didn’t intend to disrespect Allen.