Rui Hachimura

Southeast Notes: C. Martin, Hachimura, Suggs, Hawks

Heat forward Caleb Martin has emerged as a regular rotation player this month, but his two-way contract could complicate his role as the season progresses, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Two-way players can only be active for 50 of 82 games — Martin has been active for 17 of Miami’s first 19 contests, so if the club continues to use him regularly, he could reach his limit prior to the All-Star break. The easiest way to avoid that scenario would be to promote Martin to the 15-man roster, but the Heat aren’t filling their lone opening yet due to luxury tax concerns. As Winderman notes, Martin said this week that it’d be great to earn a standard contract, but that he’s not concerned about it yet.

“I haven’t really thought that far ahead,” Martin said. “I’ll leave that up to them. For them, that’s really on them to decide when they need me or when not. … Obviously that standard contract is what anybody who comes in on this situation works toward.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura, whose debut this season has been delayed due to a personal absence, still isn’t quite ready to return to action. According to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link), Hachimura didn’t accompany the team on its current four-game road trip, which runs through Monday.
  • Magic guard Jalen Suggs has struggled a little early in his rookie season, but after putting up 17 points and six assists in a loss to Charlotte on Wednesday, the first-year guard said he’s feeling more “comfortable and confident,” as Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel details. “These past four or five games I’ve felt I’ve kind of turned the corner [from] trying to get adjusted, trying to get my feet wet, because it’s just a completely different situation to now,” Suggs said.
  • Chris Kirschner and John Hollinger of The Athletic teamed up to discuss whether the Hawks make sense as a potential Ben Simmons suitor and how much urgency the team should feel to make a major consolidation trade. Kirschner doesn’t believe Atlanta needs to make a big in-season move, but thinks the team should seriously consider it during the 2022 offseason, a year before De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are eligible for restricted free agency.

Injury Notes: Hayes, Bertans, I. Jackson, Murray

Second-year guard Killian Hayes is expected to miss at least the next two games as the Pistons‘ medical staff attempts to alleviate the soreness in his sprained left thumb and increase its mobility, the team announced today.

As Keith Langlois of Pistons.com notes (via Twitter), the injury has been an ongoing problem for Hayes, who first sat out on November 5 due to the ailment. He had mostly been playing through the injury up until Sunday, but has aggravated it several times, Langlois adds.

Here are a few more health updates from around the NBA:

  • Wizards forward Davis Bertans and Rui Hachimura both practiced with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League today, per Chris Miller of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link). Bertans, who has been out for three weeks due to a left ankle sprain, will be a game-time decision tonight. Hachimura, who missed the start of the season for personal reasons, continues to ramp up his conditioning.
  • Pacers rookie big man Isaiah Jackson has been recalled from the G League and will be available on Monday vs. Chicago, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. Jackson hasn’t played since October 27 due to a hyperextended left knee.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray said on Instagram Live over the weekend that he’s feeling “great” as he ramps up his pre-game workouts in his recovery from ACL surgery, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The hope is that Murray will be able to return before the end of the season.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Morris, Hachimura, Mulder

The Heat may have enough talent to challenge for an NBA title, but they’ll have to break their habit of letting big leads slip away, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Jimmy Butler addressed the topic Saturday night after Miami squandered a 16-point third quarter advantage while losing to the Wizards in a battle of two of the East’s top teams.

Most troubling for an organization built around its defensive mentality is that the Heat couldn’t stop the Wizards in the fourth quarter. Miami allowed Washington to shoot 73.3% in the final 12 minutes, including 5 of 9 from three-point range.

“I just think everybody’s got to grow up a little bit and realize, if we want to be a really good team, we’ve got to win these games, we’ve got to hold on to these leads, we’ve got to keep playing basketball the right way, keep getting stops, even when we’re not making shots,” Butler said. “Because that’s what’s going to win us a championship, on the defensive end. And if we’re making shots, great. Maybe we’ll win by a little bit more. But it we’re stopping other teams from scoring, that’s what champions are borne of.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Heat coach Erik Spoelstra provided an update on Markieff Morris, who is still recovering from whiplash after being hit from behind by Nikola Jokic, Winderman adds in a separate story. Morris didn’t accompany the team on its current four-game road trip, which means he will miss at least 10 games. “It was a very dangerous play and it’s really unfortunate,” Spoelstra said. “That’s the byproduct of those kind of dangerous actions. But he is feeling better. We’ll just continue to take it one day at a time.”
  • Rui Hachimura attended the Wizards‘ shootaround Saturday and is getting closer to making his season debut, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. “The fact that he was able to go through parts of shootaround today were terrific,” said coach Wes Unseld Jr. “I think it’s just another step in his ramp-up. We still don’t have a definitive timetable, but every day it seems like it’s more.”
  • Mychal Mulder, who signed a two-way contract with the Magic late last month, enjoys being with his new team, notes Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel. The former Warriors guard turned in his best performance of the season Saturday night as Orlando’s reserves nearly erased a 28-point deficit in Milwaukee. “We’ve got good chemistry all around, up and down the roster,” Mulder said. “Guys love playing with each other here. We like one another. We’re a unit and we’re connected. That connectedness in our group is going to show up over time.”

Southeast Notes: Ball, Hachimura, Okongwu, Adebayo

Hornets coach James Borrego meets individually with LaMelo Ball at least twice a week to go over details that will aid the point guard’s development, Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes. They are especially focused on reducing turnovers and fouls.

“It’s really about decision-making,” Borrego said. “That’s really it. ‘What are you seeing here? What are your reads here? What are you thinking on this play offensively, defensively?’ Some of it is accountability, some of it is simply, ‘You are in the right position, you are not in the right position.’ I show him positives, I show him areas of growth. It’s not all areas of concern for me.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura is expected to begin training with the Capital City Go-Go in the G League next week, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington reports. Hachimura hasn’t played this season due to personal reasons and the Wizards are hopeful he’ll soon return to their rotation. The focus right now is mainly about getting his conditioning up to speed.
  • Hawks second-year forward Onyeka Okongwu has ramped up his activity as he seeks to return from shoulder surgery, he told Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  The 2020 lottery pick is hopeful he can get back in action sometime next month. “I feel stronger. Legs feel stronger, I’m getting my upper-body muscles back, and everything’s going well right now,” he said. “You could say that I’m definitely on track; my goal is still to come back in December, but I’m not going to rush or anything.”
  • Heat center Bam Adebayo admits the team was worn out by the time the playoffs came around last season, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Miami was swept by the Bucks in the opening round. “We are more solution-based and trying to figure out how to get it done rather than, ‘Here is our excuses to why we can’t get it done,’” Adebayo said. “But after the season, looking back at it, you was like, ‘Nah, we were broken.’”

Charania’s Latest: Sexton, Hachimura, T. Bryant

Besides sharing updates on the Celtics’ possible interest in Ben Simmons, a potential return timeline for Pacers forward T.J. Warren, and Sixers center Joel Embiid entering the health and safety protocols, Shams Charania of The Athletic touched upon a few other topics from around the NBA in his latest Inside Pass column. Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Cavaliers are still interested in working out a new deal with Collin Sexton once he reaches restricted free agency in 2022, according to Charania, who says Sexton and his camp sought a four-year rookie scale extension worth about $100MM, while Cleveland wanted a fifth year. This seems a little odd, since any rookie scale extension covering five years has to be worth the maximum salary. But perhaps Charania meant that the Cavs preferred to wait until free agency to work something out with Sexton, since they can offer a five-year, non-max deal at that point.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura, who has been sidelined to start the season for personal reasons, is expected to be “reintegrated fully” within the next couple weeks, sources tell Charania. Hachimura will have to through a ramp-up process before he’s ready to return to the court.
  • The Wizards remain hopeful that center Thomas Bryant, who is coming off an ACL tear, will return before January, per Charania. The team has previously stated that it hopes Bryant will be able to play “sometime in December,” so that timeline remains unchanged.

Southeast Notes: Oubre, Carter, Hachimura, Johnson

The Hornets lost handily to the Warriors in Kelly Oubre‘s first trip back to the Chase Center, 114-92. He says it was strange to be back in the arena on an opposing team, but is happy with how he’s fit in thus far with the Hornets, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer.

It’s definitely weird being on the opposite side of the arena,” Oubre told Boone. “But at the end of the day, man, we are in the moment. So I’m really happy to be able to go against these guys and just get the jitters out for myself. It’s always weird when you go get comfortable somewhere and then you’re uprooted to another place where you have to become comfortable as well.

Oubre signed a two-year, $24.6MM deal with Charlotte in free agency over the summer. The second year is partially guaranteed at $5MM. Oubre says his energetic play is a good match with the young Hornets.

This is just a young, energetic group and we are just trying to figure this thing out,” Oubre said, per Boone. “We are all trying to become our best selves and we’re all trying to set up a culture with this team. And I’m just more so happy to be a part of the culture forming in this organization rather than being somewhere the culture is already formed, guys are pretty much older so they are relaxed in how they approach the game.

And here it’s just more like, ‘Let’s get it. Let’s go. Let’s go to war, let’s have fun while doing this.’ So I’m just super excited and ecstatic to be on this team.”

Here’s more from the Southeast:

  • The young Magic are 2-7 to start the season. Fourth-year big man Wendell Carter Jr. knows it’s going to take time for the team to improve, writes Matt Murschel of The Orlando Sentinel. “Teams do not become great overnight,” Carter said. “It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a lot of time.”
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura is back with the team, but there’s still uncertainty about when he’ll rejoin the lineup. Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said that he tentatively expects Hachimura back “sooner rather than later,” according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post. “I don’t have a timetable, but I would agree with [‘sooner rather than later’],” Unseld said on Thursday. “He’s been around more, he’s working out, so it’s good to have him in the building and be present.
  • Hawks rookie forward Jalen Johnson, the 20th overall pick of the 2021 draft, has been assigned to the College Park Skyhawks, Atlanta’s G League affiliate, tweets Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. Kirschner notes that two-way players Sharife Cooper and Skylar Mays were transferred to the Skyhawks as well.

Wizards Notes: Beal, Unseld, Gafford, Hachimura

One of the benefits of the Wizards‘ fast start is showing Bradley Beal that he can be part of a winning team in Washington, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. At 5-1, the Wizards are tied for the best record in the league after beating the Celtics in double overtime Saturday. Beal, who has been the subject of trade speculation for years, sounds as committed as ever to remaining with the franchise.

“I always say I want to win. I want to be productive and I want to win in D.C.,” he said. “We’ve done that, obviously, so far. Granted, we’re only scratching the surface.”

Washington shook up its roster over the offseason, trading Russell Westbrook to the Lakers in exchange for three players and signing Spencer Dinwiddie in free agency. The Wizards have a deeper team than they’ve fielded for several years and could be solidly in the playoff mix all season. With Beal eligible for an extension but also on the brink of free agency, it’s a good time for the franchise to be off to its best start in 16 years.

“It feels amazing, man. I tell these guys all the time, they can be a part of a lot of history over here,” Beal said. “Just from the way we’ve been doing things to the opportunity we have to create and mold our culture. We always talk about what a culture is and I always emphasize at the beginning of the year, it’s what we make it.”

There’s more from Washington:

  • One of the connections to the Wizards’ last 5-1 start is new head coach Wes Unseld Jr., who was in his first year as an assistant with that 2005/06 team, Hughes adds. “That’s actually a stat I didn’t know,” Unseld said. “It’s great. There’s hopefully a lot of firsts this year.”
  • Unseld had good news about center Daniel Gafford, who suffered a right quad contusion on Wednesday, Hughes adds in a separate story“He’s much better. Still a bit tender. He got him right in the sweet spot,” Unseld said before Saturday’s game. “He’ll be out tonight, I think it’s more give him another day, day and a half to get his strength back. He got treated this morning and was moving a lot better.”
  • There’s still no clarity on Rui Hachimura, who was given a leave of absence for personal reasons in September, according to Quinton Mayo of Substack. Multiple sources tell Mayo that Hachimura hasn’t been in the practice facility at the same time as his teammates since the leave began.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Gafford, Hachimura, Collins, Bridges

The Magic are being realistic about their expectations as they prepare for a season that will likely end with another trip to the draft lottery, writes Chris Hays of The Orlando Sentinel. With the league’s third-youngest roster at an average age of 24.7 years, Orlando will focus on developing its young talent rather than wins and losses.

“I don’t really set benchmark goals. I always believe that if you play the right way and play together, then the results will kind if speak for themselves,” said president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. “Obviously, we’ve recalibrated what we’re doing right now, so with this group I do expect us to play hard. This is about growth. This is about the development of our players. It’s about a lot of young guys learning what it takes to win in the NBA.”

Weltman has upended the Magic’s roster since the March trade deadline, shipping out most of the team’s veterans in exchange for young players and draft assets. Mohamed Bamba, who is about to start his fourth season, is now second on the team in most games played for Orlando, and admitted surprise at becoming a veteran leader so quickly.

“I just try to do my part,” he said. “I don’t try to do too much, I don’t over-extend myself and when the younger guys come to me for anything, I try do the best I can to help.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Daniel Gafford‘s three-year extension shows the value the Wizards place on their young center, observes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The team also has Thomas Bryant, the starting center before being injured last year, along with Montrezl Harrell, who was acquired in an offseason trade, but management decided to make a long-term commitment to Gafford, who is now the team’s only player signed through the 2025/26 season.
  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols and has returned to the team, Hughes tweets. However, he won’t travel with his teammates to Toronto for Wednesday’s season opener, according to Ava Wallace of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura will remain in Washington and will continue individual workouts with assistant coaches.
  • Hawks big man John Collins is relieved not to have to think about his contract situation this season after signing a five-year, $125MM deal with the team over the summer, he tells Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “It’s like getting a full, restful night of sleep. That’s what it felt like to sign the paper,” Collins said. “That relief of stress and pressure just felt like I was fully awake now. It put me in a better mood. It took me a while to understand the stress but in the moment, it’s just pure bliss.”
  • Miles Bridges didn’t work out a contract extension with the Hornets by Monday’s deadline, but he tells Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer that he loves playing in the city. “I’m just going to continue to get better,” he said, “and hopefully I can stay with the Hornets my whole career.”

Wizards Pick Up Options On Hachimura, Avdija

The Wizards have picked up their 2022/23 rookie scale contract options on forwards Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington (Twitter link).

Selected with consecutive ninth overall picks in the 2019 and 2020 drafts, respectively, Hachimura and Avdija are among the intriguing lottery picks with which Washington hopes to construct its supportive core around All-Star Bradley Beal and $54MM point guard Spencer Dinwiddie.

A 2019/20 All-Rookie Second Teamer, Hachimura holds averages of 13.7 PPG and 5.8 RPG across two years of NBA action. Avdija averaged 6.3 PPG and 4.9 RPG during his 2020/21 rookie season.

Hachimura, currently entering his third season in the NBA, will be eligible for a contract extension in 2022, while Avdija would be extension-eligible in 2023 if the Wizards exercise his 2023/24 team option next year.

Eastern Notes: Simmons, Hachimura, Nets, Hawks, Magic

Although Ben Simmons has reported to the Sixers and head coach Doc Rivers has said he assumes the three-time All-Star plans to suit up and play for the team, we still don’t know when that will happen or what version of Simmons the club will get, writes Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com.

One source who spoke to Neubeck described Simmons as “going through the motions” during his individual workouts this week, though that source said things have improved each day since the 25-year-old’s return. The expectation is that Simmons will clear the health and safety protocols soon, but he’s considered “doubtful” to play in Friday’s preseason finale.

Within Neubeck’s report, he notes that the Sixers have shown little interest in a Pacers trade package that includes Malcolm Brogdon and/or Caris LeVert. The 76ers have been focused on acquiring a star, since trading Simmons for multiple “good” players isn’t something they believe will improve their title odds or increase their chances of acquiring another impact player down the road, Neubeck explains.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Wizards forward Rui Hachimura remains in the health and safety protocols after recently reporting to the team, and he may miss some time at the beginning of the regular season as he gets back up to speed and adjusts to a new playbook and coaching staff, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I don’t think (him catching up) is way down the line,” head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “We already have some edits that we’ll send to him. Obviously, when he’s ready we’ll spend some time away from the court to try to help him get back up to speed. That in itself is going to take some time.”
  • Nets forward Kevin Durant admitted to reporters on Thursday that Kyrie Irving‘s absence is not an “ideal” situation and said he’d rather be playing alongside his friend this season. However, Durant added that he’s confident “things will work out the best for both parties” and said he’s not upset about the situation. “What is being mad going to do?” Durant said, per Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “We are not going to change his mind, know what I’m saying? We’ll let him figure out what he needs to do and the team figure out what they need to do.”
  • Nets head coach Steve Nash plans to lean on the team’s depth to replace Kyrie Irving, rather than putting that responsibility on one player, writes Greg Joyce of The New York Post. Bruce Brown and Patty Mills are among the obvious candidates for increased roles.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic liked the Hawks‘ offseason moves and is optimistic about the club’s chances of avoiding regression in 2021/22, projecting them to win 50 games and a playoff series. Predictably, Hollinger is far less bullish on the Magic, forecasting a 21-win season and a last-place finish in the East for Orlando.