Russell Westbrook

Wizards Notes: Brooks-Westbrook, Beal, Coach Search, Unseld

Russell Westbrook wanted the Wizards to keep Scott Brooks as head coach, but his endorsement wasn’t enough to save Brooks’ job, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports. Westbrook and Brooks have a long relationship that dates date to Oklahoma City, where Brooks coached him for seven seasons.

Westbrook endorsed Brooks after Washington was ousted from the playoffs and spoke to general manager Tommy Sheppard about the coaching situation during his exit interview. However, Sheppard doesn’t think Westbrook will be affected by the change on the bench.

“Moving forward, Russell’s career does speak for itself. He was fantastic with Scotty in (Oklahoma City),” Sheppard said. “He won MVP in (Oklahoma City) under a different coach. Last year, he was All-NBA under a different coach. This is part of the business that we all struggle with, but it’s a certain part of the business that is something we know when we get into this business, that the only constant thing is change.”

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • The Wizards’ decision to move on from head coach Scott Brooks is all about trying to ensure that All-Star guard Bradley Beal sticks around long-term, per Fred Katz of The Athletic“What we gotta do as an organization is continue to do whatever it takes to put ourselves forward to have sustainable winning,” GM Tommy Sheppard noted in comments to reporters about the decision. Katz notes, however, that it could behoove Washington to add a new voice on the bench who could be open to a rebuild, should Beal opt to leave ahead of the 2022/23 season.
  • Because Wizards stars Russell Westbrook (soon to be in his age-33 season) and Bradley Beal (an All-Star in his prime) both have player options in their deals for 2022/23, it may make sense to make a win-now hire, adding someone with a prior head coaching track record, opines Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. GM Tommy Sheppard seemed open to adding a first-time head coach if he deemed the fit appropriate. “You want the qualities that you think are going to amplify the needs of your team,” Sheppard said. “You look at the modern NBA and what’s going on, who’s in the [playoffs], who’s still playing. It’s a great snapshot of what the NBA is. You have very diverse coaches, you have former players, you have people that came from Division II colleges. It’s just a reminder that there’s no clear path of how to get there, there’s no magic formula.” Less experienced coaches can also be significantly more cost effective, Hughes notes.
  • The Wizards would be wise to consider longtime Nuggets assistant coach Wes Unseld Jr., writes David Aldridge of The Athletic. Aldridge notes that Unseld has significant roots in D.C., from his Hall of Fame father to the years he logged between stints as a scout and assistant coach for the Mystics and Wizards. Given the precarious nature of Beal’s future with the franchise (he can sign a long-term extension in the fall or opt out in 2022), nailing this hire will be crucial for Tommy Sheppard, Aldridge writes.

Arthur Hill contributed to this report.

NBA Announces 2020/2021 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2020/21 season, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way as the lone unanimous selection for the First Team.

Antetokounmpo and Nuggets‘ MVP Nikola Jokic were the two top vote-getters, combining for 998 out of a possible 1,000 points, with Warriors guard Stephen Curry following shortly behind. Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounding out the top five.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (69), Wizards guard Russell Westbrook (44), Nets guard James Harden (41), Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (37) and Heat center Bam Adebayo (32). A total of 12 other players received votes. The full results can be found here.

Today’s announcement has major financial implications across the league. Tatum, who received more votes than Kyrie Irving but still fell 20 votes short of a final forward spot, will lose out on a projected $32.6MM on his rookie scale extension, as his next deal will start at 25% of the cap instead of the 30% he would have received if he’d been named to an All-NBA team. Likewise, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, Kings guard De’Aaron Fox and Adebayo will all receive starting salaries worth 25% of the cap on their respective extensions as a result of missing out on All-NBA honors.

Doncic, having been named to his second consecutive All-NBA First Team, will be eligible for a 30% extension that would be worth a projected $201MM+ and is almost certain to be offered this summer. Doncic has previously made clear his intentions to sign the extension when offered. It will go into effect for the 2022/23 season.

Embiid is now eligible for a super-max contract extension, which would run for four years, starting in 2023/24, and would be worth a projected $191MM, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It’s unclear whether the Sixers will immediately put this extension on the table this offseason.

Bradley Beal‘s deal will not change with his first career All-NBA selection, as he is already eligible for a 35% contract extension on his next deal. Jokic, having been named MVP previously this week, also sees no change in his possible future super-max extension, which will be worth approximately $241MM.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our poll. Devin Booker, Adebayo, and Tatum were your picks who didn’t make the official list.

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Evans, Reddish, Huerter, Heat Arena

Russell Westbrook said he’s been embraced by the Wizards organization and the fans in the Washington, D.C. area, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “It’s been great,” he said. “The city, the team, the coaches; everybody has kind of welcomed me and my family with open arms. That’s all you can ask for.” Westbrook has two more seasons left on his contract. He’ll make $44.2MM next season and holds a $47MM option for the 2022/23 season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Dr. Katherine Evans has been named VP of research & information systems for the Wizards as well as the G League’s Go-Go and WNBA’s Mystics, according to a team press release. Evans is the first woman to head the research or analytics department of an NBA franchise. Prior to joining the Wizards, Dr. Evans served as the director of strategic research for the Raptors.
  • The Hawks could be adding another player to their rotation in the second round. Cam Reddish, who has been sidelined by right Achilles soreness, has progressed to full participation in practices the last two days, including live action, according to a team press release. Following upcoming five-on-five full-court scrimmages, he will be reviewed once again. Reddish has not played since February 21.
  • The Hawks ought to lock up Kevin Huerter with a rookie scale extension this offseason, even if he remains on the second unit, Chris Kirschner of The Athletic opines. Huerter’s perimeter shooting and ability to guard multiple positions gives the Hawks plenty of lineup flexibility, Kirschner notes. A contract extension similar to the one Luke Kennard received from the Clippers (worth up to $64MM over four years) would make sense, considering Huerter is a better all-around player, Kirschner adds.
  • The Heat will be playing in the same building but it has a new name. After a long run as AmericanAirlines Arena, the Heat’s home will be called FTX Arena, the team tweets.

Wizards Notes: Brooks, Westbrook, Beal, Gafford

Following the Wizards‘ elimination from the playoffs on Wednesday night, the franchise will face a number of crucial offseason decisions, starting with the future of head coach Scott Brooks. Brooks doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, but indicated after last night’s loss to Philadelphia that he’d like to remain in his current role.

“I love it here. There’s no decision in my mind, I love it here,” Brooks said, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington.

The decision on Brooks will ultimately be up to Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard and owner Ted Leonsis, but it’s possible they’ll seek input from the team’s star players. And it doesn’t sound like they’re looking for a change. As Candace Buckner of The Washington Post relays, Bradley Beal referred to Brooks as a “true player’s coach,” while Russell Westbrook endorsed the man who also coached him in Oklahoma City.

“If it was up to me, Scotty wouldn’t be going anywhere. It’s not even a question or a conversation to even be brought up,” Westbrook said, according to Hughes. “If the conversation is brought to me, I will definitely voice my opinion like I’m voicing it now and see what happens.”

Here’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal’s future will also be a major topic of discussion in D.C. this offseason as the All-Star guard enters a contract year, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Beal said on Wednesday that he’s making an effort not to focus on the inevitable rumors. “Ultimately, I’m in control,” Beal said. “I think that’s my biggest thing. People are going to report whatever they want, but I know where my mind is and I know if it’s not coming from the horse’s mouth, then it’s going to be rumors. I expect them. S–t, they’re starting now.”
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic argues that the Wizards can’t – and won’t – trade Beal this offseason, but that they owe it to him to be bold in reshaping and upgrading the roster around him.
  • In his look at the Wizards’ offseason, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) notes that Beal will be eligible for a four-year extension worth a projected $181MM this offseason. Marks also examines the team’s proximity to the luxury tax line and identifies wing defenders and depth as top summer priorities.
  • Recently-acquired big man Daniel Gafford, who looks to be part of the Wizards’ future, says he’ll be looking to put on weight and work on his conditioning during the summer, tweets Fred Katz of The Athletic. If I wanna be out there 20-plus minutes every single night, my conditioning has to be top-tier,” Gafford said.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Beal, Bertans, Gafford

Russell Westbrook was a game-time decision Saturday because of an ankle sprain he suffered in Game 2, but his Wizards teammates never had any doubt that he would be ready, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Westbrook not only played, he recorded his 11th playoff triple-double, posting 26 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a loss to the Sixers.

I know Russ. If it’s not broke, he’s going to play,” Bradley Beal said. “So, I’m gonna be honest, I kind of knew after the last game he was going to play. Just knowing who he is, if he could play for two minutes then he was going to go out there and give it everything he had.”

Westbrook said after the game that his ankle felt “so-so” and he “just tried to go out and do what I can.” His status for Monday night’s Game 4 hasn’t been determined.

There’s more on the Wizards:

  • Beal has taken a major step this season in proving he can be a franchise player, according to Kareem Copeland of The Washington Post. Beal has been moving in that direction for years, but his status became clearer with the trade of John Wall. “I take pride in getting better each and every game and, obviously, in the offseason getting better,” Beal said. “… Coach trusts me, teammates and the organization trusts me to just continue to lead and kind of be the franchise focal point. Obviously, I still have a long way to go and still have a lot of room to go. But I’m definitely not the same player I was two years ago in that series.”
  • The Wizards moved Davis Bertans into the starting lineup to provide more size against a taller Philadelphia team, but his shooting woes prevented that move from being effective, notes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Bertans is normally one of the league’s most dangerous three-point threats, but he made just one of five shots from long distance in Game 3 after missing all four attempts in Game 2.
  • Sixers center Joel Embiid is putting up dominant numbers in the first-round series after being an MVP candidate during the regular season. It’s a tough matchup for Daniel Gafford, but coach Scott Brooks believes the experience will benefit the young center in the long run, Hughes tweets.

Westbrook, Curry Cleared To Play Tonight

The Wizards will have Russell Westbrook in the lineup for tonight’s Game 3 against the Sixers, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Philadelphia’s Seth Curry will also be active, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Westbrook was a game-time decision with a sprained right ankle that he suffered in Game 2. He didn’t practice on Friday, but he made enough progress with the injury that Washington’s medical staff cleared him for tonight.

Curry sprained his left ankle in Game 2 and missed practice as well on Friday, but received clearance just before game time.

Wizards Notes: Westbrook, Gafford, Roster, Offseason

Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook is officially listed as questionable to play Saturday’s Game 3 against the Sixers due to a right ankle sprain, the team tweets. Westbrook injured his ankle in the second half of Game 2. He played just 29 minutes and shot 2-for-10 from the field. If he can’t go, Ish Smith would likely move into the lineup and play big minutes.

We have more from the Wizards:

  • Daniel Gafford understands why the coaching staff hasn’t let him play heavy minutes, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington details. Gafford has played 20 minutes in both games of the series. Gafford says his conditioning wasn’t ideal due to his spotty minutes before he was traded from the Bulls. “Sometimes it’s terrible, sometimes it’s better than what it was the day before,” he said. “I have to really just maintain consistency on where my conditioning is when it comes to doing things off the court and stuff. My conditioning was lopsided at the time [of the trade]. I’ve had a weird year, I’m not going to lie to you.”
  • Regardless of how the series shakes out, the playoffs are a perfect measuring stick for the Wizards’ roster heading into a crucial offseason, Hughes writes in a separate story. It could require a trade or a key free agent acquisition to take the next step to being a title contender, or simply improvement from within, Hughes continues. They’ll have to decide whether to mortgage their future to put the necessary pieces around Bradley Beal and Westbrook, Hughes adds.
  • The front office needs to put its mid-level exception and first-round pick to good use this offseason, specifically to address its lack of perimeter shooters, David Aldridge of The Athletic opines. With Davis Bertans rendered a non-factor in the series, Washington doesn’t have any consistent 3-point threats on the current roster, Aldridge notes.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Snyder, Fan Incidents

In limited minutes, Jazz All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell looked like his old self Thursday night, his first game back since spraining his right ankle on April 16, writes Nick Friedell of ESPN. Mitchell scored 25 points in 26 minutes of game action.

The 24-year-old’s return to the floor helped galvanize the Jazz. Utah ultimately beat the Grizzlies 141-129 to knot their first-round series at 1-1.

“I felt better than I anticipated, and as a whole, I think the biggest thing as a team is we did a lot of good things tonight … so it made my job easier,” Mitchell said of his return to the Jazz. “I didn’t have to come in and just do everything. I was able to find my spots and attack. And kind of just do what I do. And my teammates made it really easy for me.” 

There’s more out of Utah:

  • Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune examines the circuitous journey Jazz head coach Quin Snyder undertook before landing in Utah. Snyder had stints with the now-Austin Spurs of the G League (then the Austin Toros of the D League), the Sixers, the Lakers, CSKA Moscow, and the Hawks. He began his journey from the college ranks to the pros in a cross-country adventure in a 2002 Volkswagen Eurovan, after his seven-year tenure as the men’s basketball head coach for Missouri ended in 2006. “I was in North Carolina living by myself, I had a great black Lab, and I was trying to figure out, kind of, ‘What next?’ And, the (next) question is, ‘Where?’ And ‘What?’” Snyder said. “And I came to the conclusion that, really, it was like, ‘Anywhere,’ because it really didn’t matter at that point. And it was a little bit of ‘Anything.’ I wasn’t sure I wanted to coach again.”
  • During the Jazz’s Game 2 victory over the Grizzlies, Vivint Arena security ejected three fans for unruly verbal behavior directed toward the parents of star Memphis point guard Ja Morant, writes Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The team has banned the individuals from Utah’s home arena indefinitely.
  • A Utah judge has rejected a $100MM lawsuit filed by two other Jazz fans against Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook and the Jazz, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The fans, who claimed defamation and infliction of emotional stress in their suit, had also been banned indefinitely for comments and taunts directed towards Westbrook, then with the Thunder, in a March 2019 Jazz game.

Southeast Notes: Westbrook, Wizards, McMillan, Heat

It was a rough night for Russell Westbrook in Philadelphia on Wednesday. The Wizards guard left the blowout loss in the fourth quarter after injuring his right ankle, then had popcorn dumped on him by fan as he limped toward the locker room. Addressing the incident after the game, Westbrook called on the NBA to better protect its players with fans now permitted back in arenas, as Brian Windhorst of ESPN writes.

“To be completely honest, this s–t is getting out of hand, especially for me. The amount of disrespect, the amount of fans just doing whatever the f–k they want to do — it’s just out of pocket,” Westbrook said. “There are certain things that cross the line. Any other setting … a guy were to come up on the street and pour popcorn on my head, you know what happens. … In these arenas, you got to start protecting the players. We’ll see what the NBA does.”

The Sixers announced today in a press release that the fan who poured popcorn on Westbrook has had his season ticket membership revoked and will be banned indefinitely from attending events at Wells Fargo Center. While that’s a good first step, it’ll be interesting to see if the league takes any further action.

LeBron James (via Twitter) echoed Westbrook’s call for the NBA to protect its players, and the incident in Philadelphia isn’t the only one involving fans this week. A Knick fan appeared to spit on Hawks guard Trae Young on Wednesday (link via Bleacher Report), and Jason Quick of The Athletic notes (via Twitter) that multiple Trail Blazers players took issue with some Nuggets fans as the team was leaving the court in Game 2.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • Westbrook’s impressive play in the second half of the season was crucial in propelling the Wizards into the playoffs, but the team will need more from him in this series in order to have a chance at upsetting Philadelphia, writes Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. First and foremost, the Wizards will need Westbrook healthy — his status remain up in the air after Wednesday’s ankle injury.
  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan found his rotation decisions under the spotlight following Wednesday’s loss, but he said he was happy with his game plan, per Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. “Our starters played 35-plus minutes. That’s a lot of minutes for those guys,” McMillan said. “Trae plays 35. Bogi (Bogdan Bogdanovic) plays 35. Clint (Capela) is at 36. That’s a lot of minutes for starters. … I thought we got a little gassed in that first half. I think we have to give those guys a little breather. They’re not going to be able to play 40-48 minutes.”
  • Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley was aware that his club probably needed more firepower to have a chance to return to the NBA Finals this year, says Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. However, Riley was unable to land Kyle Lowry at the deadline and his acquisition of Victor Oladipo didn’t work out, which could contribute to an early postseason exit for the defending Eastern champs.
  • With the Heat trailing the Bucks 2-0, Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald explore whether a frontcourt pairing of Bam Adebayo and second-half addition Dewayne Dedmon might be a viable solution to counter Milwaukee’s size.

Southeast Notes: Ariza, Westbrook, Robinson, Brazdeikis

Heat forward Trevor Ariza has provided a maximum payoff since being traded to Miami earlier this year, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. Ariza has since earned a role in the team’s starting lineup, giving consistent production on both ends of the floor.

“Trevor’s one of the most underrated players in this league,” head coach Erik Spoelstra said of Ariza. “But I would say that the contending teams that had him before, he’s not underrated. He does so many things — his activity, his deflections, his ability to guard multiple positions.

“And he also has been a very underrated scorer over the course of his career.”

Ariza has averaged 8.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game this season, playing an average of 27.1 minutes across 23 contests. He’s provided versatility alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo at 6’8″, also shooting 35% from downtown.

Here are some other notes from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Wizards guard Russell Westbrook further proved that he’s still a star in the team’s game against the Mavericks on Saturday, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. Westbrook finished with 42 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals against Dallas, shooting 17-of-30 from the floor.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examines the impressive milestone from Heat sharpshooter Duncan Robinson. Robinson became the fastest player to reach 500 made threes in NBA history on Saturday, finishing the game against Cleveland shooting 6-of-9 from deep. He’ll be a restricted free agent in August.
  • Josh Cohen of NBA.com examines 10 interesting basketball facts about new Magic forward Ignas Brazdeikis, who signed a 10-day contract with the team on Sunday. Brazdeikis, the No. 47 pick in 2019, holds brief NBA experience with the Knicks and Sixers.