- It’s time for third-year guard Anfernee Simons to assert himself with CJ McCollum sidelined by a foot injury, Jason Quick of The Athletic opines. Simons needs to show he can consistently make 3-pointers, run the team and defend without fouling, Quick points out. In Simons’ last outing, he scored six points in 15 minutes on Monday. The Trail Blazers picked up its 2021/22 option on Simons last month.
The NBA has postponed the Grizzlies‘ next three games, the league announced in a press release. Memphis is being affected by the NBA’s contact tracing protocols and, as a result, has a number of players unavailable.
The affected games are as follows:
- Friday, January 22 at Portland vs. the Trail Blazers.
- Sunday, January 24 at Memphis vs. the Kings.
- Monday, January 25 at Memphis vs. the Kings.
The Grizzlies had been scheduled to play in Portland vs. the Blazers on Wednesday night, but that game had to be postponed as well.
As of Monday, Jonas Valanciunas was the only Grizzlies player who was ruled out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, with Jaren Jackson Jr., Justise Winslow, and Jontay Porter all sidelined due to injuries.
While the NBA’s contact tracing protocols have affected more players since Monday, it doesn’t sound as if those players have been asked to complete week-long quarantine periods yet, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Wojnarowski tweets that the COVID-19 exposure within the Grizzlies’ organization may be isolated, and that the league is “erring on the side of caution” by deciding to not have the team play its next few games as scheduled.
Chris Herrington of The Daily Memphian adds (via Twitter) that the Grizzlies, for now at least, have just one active case of the coronavirus.
Following this series of postponements, the Grizzlies’ next game (vs. the Bulls) is set to be played on Wednesday, January 27 in Memphis. At that point, it will have been more than a week since the team was first affected by contact tracing. If there are no additional positive tests or other setbacks, that game shouldn’t be in jeopardy.
The NBA has now postponed 20 games in 2020/21, as seen in our tracker. The growing number of postponements will make it a challenge for certain teams to play a full 72-game season.
The game between the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies scheduled to be played in Portland on Wednesday is being postponed due to COVID-19 contact tracing, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).
The Grizzlies, who last played on Monday night vs. Phoenix, are the team being affected by the contact tracing protocols, per Wojnarowski (Twitter link). The NBA, in officially announcing the postponement, confirmed that Memphis doesn’t have the league-mandated minimum of eight players available.
As of Monday, Jonas Valanciunas was the only Grizzlies player who was ruled out due to the league’s health and safety protocols — it’s not clear if today’s contact tracing is related to the veteran center, or if members of the team have had possible close contact with someone else who tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Blazers and Grizzlies are scheduled to play again in Portland on Friday, so unless the NBA’s contact tracing investigation resolves quickly, that game may be in danger of being pushed back as well.
This is the 16th NBA game so far during the 2020/21 season to be postponed. The full list can be found right here.
After the NBA’s transactions wire remained relatively quiet for the first few weeks of the 2020/21 season, teams have begun making moves with a little more frequency as of late.
While one recent transaction – the four-team trade that sent James Harden to Brooklyn – was clearly a higher-impact move than the rest, a number of clubs have made smaller changes to their rosters by waiving players this week. The Raptors and Wizards cut big men Alex Len and Anzejs Pasecniks from their 15-man rosters, while the Sixers opened up a two-way slot by releasing Dakota Mathias.
As a result, there are now 12 teams across the NBA that have at least one open 15-man roster spot. One of those teams – the Trail Blazers – also has an open two-way contract slot, as do two others, leaving just 16 clubs who are carrying the maximum of 17 players.
With so many clubs facing roster shortages recently and the NBA and NBPA discussing the possibility of adding a third two-way slot to rosters for the rest of the season, it’s a little surprising that more teams aren’t making use of all 17 available spots, but it will likely just be a matter of time before those many of those openings get filled.
Here’s the current breakdown of teams with open roster spots:
Teams with an open 15-man roster spot:
- Brooklyn Nets
- Note: The Nets have three open roster spots and will need to fill at least two of them within two weeks of completing the Harden trade.
- Charlotte Hornets
- Los Angeles Clippers *
- Los Angeles Lakers *
- Milwaukee Bucks *
- Minnesota Timberwolves
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Portland Trail Blazers
- San Antonio Spurs
- Toronto Raptors
- Utah Jazz
- Washington Wizards
Note: An asterisk (*) denotes that the team can’t currently sign a 15th man due to the hard cap.
Teams with an open two-way slot:
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Phoenix Suns
- Portland Trail Blazers
Nurkic will wear a splint for four weeks and be re-evaluated in six weeks. The timeline offered by the team suggests that the snakebit Portland big man will not return until March at the earliest.
The procedure was performed by Dr. Steven Shin at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.
Nurkic suffered his latest major injury during the fourth quarter of Thursday’s game against the Pacers while attempting to block a shot.
He missed nearly the entire 2019/20 season due to a major leg injury suffered late in the previous season. Nurkic is averaging 9.8 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 12 games (23.3 MPG) this season. He enjoyed a career year, averaged 15.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG and 3.2 APG, in 2018/19 before fracturing his left leg.
Nurkic has a partially guaranteed base salary of $12MM next season. The Trail Blazers will have to decide whether to give him a full guarantee this summer.
Enes Kanter started in his place on Monday against San Antonio with Harry Giles backing him up. The Trail Blazers have a spot open on the 15-man roster as well as a two-way slot to add another big man if they wish. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, they are $1.87MM below the luxury tax line (Twitter link).
JANUARY 19: Further testing on McCollum’s foot injury revealed a small hairline fracture to the lateral cuneiform, the Blazers announced late on Monday night (Twitter link). According to the club, the standout guard will wear a walking boot and will be re-evaluated in four weeks.
McCollum is the third key Portland rotation player to be sidelined with a multi-week injury, joining Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins. The increasing number of absences may put more pressure on the Blazers to make use of one of their open roster spots.
JANUARY 18: Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who left Saturday’s win over Atlanta due to a left foot sprain, will be re-evaluated in one week, head coach Terry Stotts said today (link via Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com).
McCollum remained in the locker room at halftime on Saturday after appearing to suffer the injury in the first quarter when Hawks center Clint Capela landed on his foot following a layup attempt. Rodney Hood was moved into the starting lineup for today’s game vs. San Antonio to replace the Blazers’ second-leading scorer.
If McCollum remains sidelined for a week, he’d also miss two games against the Grizzlies (Wednesday and Friday) and one against the Knicks (Sunday). While there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready to go next week, it doesn’t sound like the injury will result in a long-term absence for McCollum.
Hood, Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons are the other most obvious candidates to see some extra minutes for Portland until McCollum gets healthy. The club also has a pair of open roster spots (one standard and one two-way), but there has been no indication that any signings are imminent.
After suffering a right wrist fracture on Thursday night, Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic will undergo surgery and will be sidelined for at least the next eight weeks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).
The injury happened during the third quarter of Thursday’s game vs. the Pacers, apparently occurring when Nurkic swiped at the ball as Malcolm Brogdon drove to the basket. It’s the second major injury in the last two years for the 26-year-old, who missed most of last season due to a significant leg fracture.
The timeline reported by Charania would result in Nurkic missing the rest of the first half of the 2020/21 season, which ends on March 4 — the second half begins on March 11, eight weeks from yesterday. The Trail Blazers have 25 games on their schedule between now and then, so their starting center would miss over a third of the season, assuming all those games can be played without postponements.
Nurkic’s absence will also cost him a $1.25MM bonus, as we outlined earlier today. In order to earn that bonus, he needed to appear in at least 62 games, which won’t happen.
With Nurkic and fellow big man Zach Collins (ankle) on the shelf, Portland figures to lean more heavily on big men Enes Kanter and Harry Giles. The Blazers have an open spot on their 15-man roster, as well as an open two-way contract slot, so they could consider signing another center for depth purposes.
A fractured right wrist may prevent Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic from earning a $1.25MM bonus this season, as Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter). Nurkic would earn that bonus if he plays in at least 62 games and Portland wins at least 44 games. Those thresholds are prorated downward from 70 and 50, respectively, to account for the 72-game season.
As we noted last night in our story on Nurkic’s injury, the Blazers do have an open spot on their 15-man roster and an open two-way contract slot, so they have options if they want to add depth up front with Nurkic and Zach Collins (ankle) both sidelined.
Portland is currently $1.87MM below the luxury tax line, according to Marks. Since two-way signings don’t count toward the tax and there’s no deadline to sign a player to a two-way deal this season, that option could appeal more to the Blazers.
While it’s not 100% clear how the injury occurred, Nurkic appeared to come up holding his wrist after a defensive possession in which he swiped at the ball with his right hand, blocked a Myles Turner shot attempt, and then fell to the floor (video link via NBC Sports Northwest).
The Blazers haven’t offered much info yet on the severity of Nurkic’s injury, how it’ll be treated, or how much time he might miss. However, it seems safe to assume that he’ll be sidelined for the foreseeable future, whether or not he requires surgery on his wrist.
It’s an unfortunate turn of events for Portland’s 26-year-old starting center, who missed nearly the entire 2019/20 season due to a major leg injury. This season, Nurkic had been averaging 10.3 PPG, 7.6 RPG, and 2.8 APG in 11 games (23.6 MPG) entering Thursday’s action.
With Nurkic and fellow big man Zach Collins (ankle) on the shelf, the team figures to lean more heavily on big men Enes Kanter and Harry Giles. The Blazers have an open spot on their 15-man roster, as well as an open two-way contract slot, so they could consider signing another center for depth purposes.
- Damian Lillard and his camp have advocated for the Blazers to acquire Warriors forward Draymond Green over the past couple of years, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic (hat tip Dan Feldman of NBC Sports). However, there has been no indication that Golden State has any interest in trading Green, who has spent all nine seasons of his career with the Warriors.