Trey Murphy

Pelicans Notes: Valanciunas, McCollum, Murphy

If the Pelicans decide to shake things up this summer, Jonas Valanciunas could be on the move, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune writes. Valanciunas will have an expiring $15.435MM contract next season and the Pelicans’ coaching staff showed a lack of trust in the veteran center during high-leverage moments, Clark observes. He averaged 14.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game.

We have more on the Pelicans:

  • The fact that CJ McCollum played 37 games with a torn ligament in the thumb of his shooting hand shouldn’t be overlooked, Rod Walker of the Times-Picayune opines. By doing so, McCollum displayed the importance of leading by example, a role he embraces both on and off the court. Despite the injury, McCollum averaged 20.9 points and 5.7 assists in 75 games this season.
  • The growth of Trey Murphy in his second season was one of the few bright spots for the franchise in 2022/23, Clark writes in a separate story. Murphy raised his scoring average from 5.4 points per game as a rookie to 14.5 PPG this season. He has developed into a prolific shooter, averaging 48.4% from the field overall, 40.6% on 3-point attempts and 90.5% from the free throw line.
  • In case you missed it, top executive David Griffin said he didn’t anticipate making “huge moves” this offseason.

Grizzlies Notes: Adams’ Absence, Jackson, Williams, Morant

Now that they know they can’t count on having Steven Adams back for the playoffs, the Grizzlies must embrace the new identity they’ve been establishing without Adams – and his offensive rebounding and screen setting – available, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

As Cole outlines, that means Jaren Jackson Jr. may face more challenging defensive assignments in the postseason and that everyone will have to help out on the glass, including guards Ja Morant and Desmond Bane.

Cole also suggests that the Grizzlies should look to take advantage of the added versatility of their Adams-less lineups, since having David Roddy, Xavier Tillman, or Santi Aldama on the court makes the team more switchable on defense.

Here’s more on the Grizzlies:

  • Jackson believes he should win this season’s Defensive Player of the Year award, telling Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he wants it “bad.” However, while Jackson’s ability to protect the rim and anchor the Grizzlies’ defense was his greatest asset during the regular season, his scoring on offense might ultimately determine how high the team’s ceiling is this spring, according to MacMahon, who notes that the big man averaged 22.7 points per game on 51.1% shooting in the nine games Morant missed in March.
  • Writing for the Commercial Appeal, Cole looks back at the Grizzlies’ decision to select Ziaire Williams at No. 10 in the 2021 draft. Williams spent much of the 2022/23 season playing in the G League and battling injuries. Meanwhile, Trey Murphy – whom the Pelicans selected with the No. 17 pick they received from Memphis in the trade that also included the No. 10 pick, Adams, and Jonas Valanciunas – has enjoyed a breakout year in New Orleans, averaging 20.4 points per game on .506/.453/.903 shooting in his last 18 games.
  • In an exclusive report, Gus Garcia-Roberts and Molly Hensley-Clancy of The Washington Post provide more details on the off-court incidents that Morant was involved in during the past year and suggest that local police didn’t investigate those incidents as thoroughly as they could have. The Post’s duo identified and interviewed the teenager who was punched by the Grizzlies guard in a pickup game and spoke to a shoe salesman at a Memphis mall who said he was shaken up after allegedly being threatened by Morant.

Pelicans Notes: Richardson, Daniels, Zion, Nance

Having inserted new addition Josh Richardson into his starting five ahead of incumbent second-year swingman Trey Murphy, Pelicans head coach Willie Green spoke on Saturday about that decision, per Christian Clark of (Twitter link).

Richardson, who arrived to the Pelicans via the Spurs in a trade deadline deal, has started the club’s last two games ahead of Murphy, on Thursday and Saturday.

“Just want to give us a different look,” Green said of the change. “Looking at that lineup over the past few weeks, we wanted to make an adjustment. Trey will still play 25 plus minutes. Just putting a bit more know-how on the floor with Josh. And Herb (Jones). Being able to guard multiple guys. Trey getting some minutes against teams’ second units. We want to see if that helps us.”

There’s more out of The Big Easy:

  • The Pelicans have gone 7-17 since All-Star forward Zion Williamson injured his right hamstring. As a result, the team has plummeted in the Western Conference standings while Williamson remains out indefinitely. Andrew Lopez of ESPN identifies three key questions for New Orleans heading into the 2022/23 season’s closing stretch. When he was available, Williamson was his typically spectacular self, averaging 26 PPG on .608/.368/.714 shooting splits. He also chipped in 7.0 PRG and 4.6 APG in his 29 healthy contests.
  • Pelicans rookie point guard Dyson Daniels returned to the floor tonight for New Orleans after missing 12 games with a right ankle sprain, reports Jim Eichenhofer of Pelicans Podcast (Twitter link). The 6’8″ guard was selected with the eighth pick in the 2022 draft by New Orleans. He has averaged 4.5 PPG on .445/.333/.621 shooting splits, 3.5 RPG, 2.5 APG and 0.9 SPG across his 39 games for the Pelicans thus far.
  • Veteran Pelicans reserve forward Larry Nance Jr. departed the team’s road game tonight against the Knicks with what New Orleans is calling a left ankle sprain, Clark tweets. Nance was subsequently ruled out for the remainder of the contest.

NBA Announces All-Star Saturday Night Participants

It was quite a Valentine’s Day for Mac McClung. He was signed to a two-way contract by the Sixers and, hours later, was named as one of the four participants in this year’s Slam Dunk competition during All-Star weekend, according to an NBA press release.

He’ll be joined by the Rockets’ Kenyon Martin Jr., the Pelicans’ Trey Murphy III and the Knicks’ Jericho Sims.

The Skills Challenge will feature a brother act. Team Antetokounmpo, predictably, will include Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thanasis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks and Alex Antetokounmpo of the G League’s Wisconsin Herd.

Team Jazz will include Jordan Clarkson, Walker Kessler and Collin Sexton, while Team Rookies will feature top pick Paolo Banchero of the Magic, as well as the Pistons’ Jaden Ivey and the Rockets’ Jabari Smith Jr. 

The participants in this year’s 3-point contest can be found here.

Lowe’s Latest: Durant, Grizzlies, Anunoby, Pelicans, Warriors, Clippers

In the wake of the NetsKevin Durant trade agreement with the Suns, reports indicated that Brooklyn only really negotiated with Phoenix rather than canvassing the NBA to generate a bidding war. The Nets likely already knew what teams were willing to offer after discussing Durant deals for nearly two months in the offseason, and liked the combination of players and picks the Suns were willing to offer.

According to Zach Lowe of ESPN (Insider link), another team that was prepared to put a strong package of draft picks on the table for Durant was the Grizzlies. Sources tell Lowe that the Nets were aware since July that Memphis was willing to trade every available draft pick and swap of its own for Durant (it’s unclear if that offer would’ve included Golden State’s lightly protected 2024 first-round pick or just the Grizzlies’ own first-rounders).

However, the Suns’ inclusion of Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson helped tip the scales in their favor. Sources around the league have said that the Grizzlies have kept Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. entirely off-limits in any trade talks, according to Lowe, so the players in Memphis’ offer wouldn’t have been as valuable as the ones in the deal Brooklyn ultimately accepted.

Here’s more from Lowe:

  • After mentioning on his podcast that the Grizzlies and Pacers each offered three first-round picks for Raptors forward OG Anunoby, Lowe says the Pelicans – another presumed suitor – didn’t hold any serious talks with Toronto about him. As Lowe reiterates, the Raptors were seeking a high-level player or prospect in an Anunoby deal; Will Guillory of The Athletic says New Orleans didn’t show much interest in discussing Dyson Daniels or Trey Murphy in trade talks.
  • The Warriors also engaged with the Raptors about Anunoby, Lowe confirms, but he says the two teams don’t appear to have gotten all that close to an agreement. Golden State likely would have had to include Jonathan Kuminga as the centerpiece of its offer, sources tell ESPN.
  • The Clippers never ended up having any serious trade talks for D’Angelo Russell or Kyle Lowry, and the Mike Conley bidding was out of their price range, Lowe says. They also got nowhere close on Fred VanVleet, since the Raptors would have wanted Terance Mann and possibly more draft equity than L.A. could’ve offered, Lowe adds.

Pelicans Notes: Travel Issues, Williamson, Slump, Murphy

The inclement weather that grounded the Pistons in Dallas and forced a postponement of Wednesday’s Pistons/Wizards game is also wreaking havoc on the Pelicans, who are scheduled to play in Dallas on Thursday.

After facing the Nuggets in Denver on Tuesday, the Pelicans have been unable to fly into Dallas on Wednesday and now intend to stay another night in Denver, according to Christian Clark of (Twitter link). A source tells Clark that the Pels’ plan is to fly into Dallas on Thursday in advance of the evening game vs. the Mavericks.

According to Marc Stein (Twitter link), the Pelicans – who practiced in Denver on Wednesday – had been considering a handful of options to get to Dallas, including a “less-than-inviting” scenario that would have seen them fly into Oklahoma City today and then take a bus the rest of the way. Flying on Thursday is the best-case scenario of those options, Stein adds (via Twitter).

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • After being limited to stationary shooting and dribbling, Zion Williamson was cleared on Tuesday to begin running as part of his rehab from a right hamstring strain, Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report said on TNT’s Tuesday night broadcast (Twitter video link). The Pelicans plan to reevaluate Williamson next Tuesday, but don’t want to set a timeline yet for his return to action.
  • It was a brutal month for the Pelicans, who were a half-game behind Denver for the Western Conference’s top seed when January began and now find themselves holding the last play-in spot after losing 13 of 16 games, Clark writes for The team has been without star forwards Williamson and Brandon Ingram for extended periods this winter, but doesn’t want to use that as an excuse. “No one feels sorry for us,” Larry Nance Jr. said. “That’s the reality of it. No Z, no B for an extended period of time. Threw off our rhythm a little bit. It’s hard to pick back up. After being first in the West, we have a target on our back. This schedule has been pretty unforgiving. We have to throw the first punch.”
  • Pelicans wing Trey Murphy confirmed that he has accepted an invitation to participate in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest in Salt Lake City and tells William Guillory of The Athletic that he’s looking forward to trying to make his mark on the event. “I’m pretty excited. There are definitely some high flyers I’m going against,” Murphy said of reported participants Kenyon Martin Jr., Shaedon Sharpe, and Mac McClung. “I know those guys are going to come with some great dunks. I’ve seen some of the dunks they’ve done in the past. That just makes me want to come in and do even better.”

NBA Announces Player Pool For Rising Stars Event

The NBA officially unveiled the 28-player pool for this year’s Rising Stars event on Tuesday, making the announcement via the NBA App. The following players made the cut:



G League players:

As was the case last season, the Rising Stars event will consist of four teams and three games. The seven G League players will comprise one team, coached by longtime NBA guard Jason Terry. The other 21 players will be drafted to three squads coached by former NBA stars Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Deron Williams.

The four teams will be split into two first-round matchups and the winners of those two games will face one another for the Rising Stars championship. The two semifinals will be played to a target score of 40 points, while the final will be played to a target score of 25 points.

All three contests will take place on Friday, February 17 as part of All-Star weekend in Salt Lake City. The NBA’s full press release with more information on the event can be found right here.

Southwest Notes: McCollum, Murphy, Tate, Popovich

Pelicans star guard CJ McCollum, acquired just before last season’s trade deadline, reflected on his first calendar year spent with his new team, writes Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated.

“It’s been the most complex year of my life,” McCollum says. “It’s been a lot of character building, a lot of learning, a lot of trial and error, and a lot of meditation, therapy sessions with my therapist. And a lot of just heart-to-hearts with my family, with my wife, just trying to figure out next steps and what we want to accomplish in this life.”

As Beck notes, New Orleans finds itself at a crossroads, having slipped to fifth place in the West following long-term injuries to star forwards Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. Ingram has returned to the Pelicans after a two-month absence. The 26-24 Pelicans are currently on a seven-game losing streak.

“It’s definitely been tough,” McCollum says of having a more featured role without the star forwards. “It’s been a unique challenge. And I’ve had conversations with [coach Willie Green] about it. And obviously there’s a different type of load, a different type of usage, when BI and Zion are playing.”

This season, McCollum is averaging 21.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 4.5 RPG and 1.0 SPG across 45 contests for the Pelicans. He is posting a shooting line of .431/.388/.783.

There’s more out of the Southwest Division:

  • The league has invited Pelicans forward Trey Murphy III to participate in this season’s All-Star game dunk contest, sources inform Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). It is unclear as of this writing if Murphy has accepted the invitation.
  • Teams are inquiring about the availability of young Rockets swingman Jae’Sean Tate, Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports said on his podcast Please Don’t Aggregate This (hat tip to HoopsHype for the transcription). “The Houston Rockets are a clear seller,” Fischer said. “Today I heard Jae’Sean Tate is a player that has has received a lot of incoming calls.” Tate, 27, is in the first-year of a three-season, $20.6MM deal he signed with Houston. The 6’4″ forward is averaging 7.7 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 3.1 APG and 0.8 SPG in a reduced role this season.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich is making sure to keep his young players motivated despite the rebuilding team’s increasing loss tally, reports Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “There are ups and downs in your life probably, and what do you do? You move on,” Popovich said. “You just go. I don’t pull out this piece of paper or this formula and go, ‘This is how I’m going to act because we didn’t make the playoffs.’”

Pacers Rumors: Power Forward, Duarte, Collins, Turner, Bitadze

The growing sense among rival teams is that the 23-19 Pacers could be a buyer, rather than a seller, at this season’s trade deadline, writes Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Fischer acknowledges that Indiana’s trade deadline outlook could certainly be altered if Tyrese Haliburton‘s foot injury causes him to miss an extended period. Fischer also adds a caveat to the team’s potential status as a buyer — the Pacers won’t be in the market for short-term veterans like Jae Crowder or Bojan Bogdanovic, but will have an eye out for players who could be long-term fits.

According to Fischer, power forward is the spot the Pacers would most like to upgrade. Indiana was high on Keegan Murray prior to the 2022 draft, and while the club was happy to ultimately land Bennedict Mathurin at No. 6, missing out on Murray means the power forward position remains a priority going forward.

If they want to get aggressive, the Pacers will have a couple extra 2023 first-round picks to dangle in trade talks, having acquired Cleveland’s and Boston’s first-rounders. Additionally, while Indiana viewed Chris Duarte as off limits at one point, multiple front office sources tell Fischer that the team has been more willing to discuss him in recent talks.

Here’s more on the Pacers’ plans:

  • Indiana has had internal discussions about the possibility of pursuing Hawks power forward John Collins, according to Fischer, who notes that Duarte and draft capital might appeal to Atlanta. The Hawks previously pitched the idea of trading Collins to the Pelicans for Trey Murphy and a first-round pick, Fischer explains. The fact that the Pacers could absorb Collins into their cap room without sending out matching salary could also intrigue the Hawks, who are right around the luxury tax line.
  • The Pacers and Myles Turner‘s representatives at CAA continue to discuss a possible renegotiation-and-extension for the veteran center, sources tell Yahoo Sports. Fischer suggests that the four-year, $133MM offer sheet Indiana gave Deandre Ayton in July would be an “obvious benchmark” for Turner’s side to use in contract negotiations.
  • Trade rumors involving Turner have slowed down as of late, Fischer observes. Teams like the Hornets, Pelicans, Mavericks, and Lakers have been viewed as potential suitors in the past, but don’t appear to be targeting Turner at this point. If the 26-year-old ends up back on the trade block, the Knicks, Raptors, and Clippers could be fits, Fischer writes.
  • The most likely Pacers center to be traded is Goga Bitadze, according to Fischer, who hears from sources that the club would be willing to work with Bitadze’s representatives to find him a new team. Daniel Theis is due back from injury soon and Bitadze hasn’t had much of a role even with Theis out. The fourth-year center also hasn’t been interested in accepting an assignment to the Pacers’ G League team in Fort Wayne, says Fischer.

Southwest Notes: Zion, Murphy, Grizzlies, Silas

After sitting out a week with a right foot contusion, Pelicans forward Zion Williamson said he’ll “definitely” be ready for Monday’s game, writes Christian Clark of Williamson suffered the injury last Saturday in a game against the Rockets when he stepped on Usman Garuba‘s foot on a drive to the basket. Williamson landed awkwardly and awoke with pain the next day.

“I felt it a little bit, but it wasn’t nothing for me to be like, ‘This is really something crazy,’” Williamson said. “I didn’t feel it til I woke up the next morning. I was like, ‘Man.’ Felt like I could barely walk on it. Went and got all the scans. It was a simple bone bruise.”

The incident brought back bad memories for Williamson, who missed all of last season with a fracture in his right foot. He has managed to avoid serious injury so far this year and is averaging 23.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 11 games.

“There was a moment when I was like, ‘I ain’t trying to go through this again. I just went through it,’” Williamson said. “Scans were positive outside of the bruise. I’m straight.”

There’s more from the Soutwest Division:

  • Trey Murphy, who took Williamson’s place in the Pelicans‘ starting lineup, is also dealing with a foot issue, Clark adds. Murphy left Friday’s game after 12 minutes with a contusion in his right foot. “Kind of rolled his ankle a little bit,” coach Willie Green explained. “All his imaging checked out fine. He’ll be day-to-day. We’ll evaluate him and see where he is.”
  • The Grizzlies are counting on their depth to sustain them until Desmond Bane and Ja Morant are able to return, per Damichael Cole of The Commercial Appeal. Bane is sidelined with a sprained toe, and Morant suffered a sprained left ankle Friday night. “It is frustrating, but it’s part of the game,” Dillon Brooks said. “We still got guys ready to play, ready to be active and have their shot. It was a tough one, but at the same time, though, next man up.”
  • Rockets coach Stephen Silas remains optimistic despite a disappointing start to the season, according to Brian T. Smith of The Houston Chronicle. Houston is 3-13 and in danger of posting the league’s worst record for the third straight year, but Silas is confident that patience will eventually pay off for a roster filled with young players. “I was with LeBron (James) in his first year and I was with (Stephen Curry) in his first year and I was with Luka (Doncic) in his first year,” he said, “and things were uneven and hard, but you have to go through it. I am more than prepared to go through it and will be happy to see the results of it.”