Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Injury Notes: Holmes, Bagley, Butler, Augustin, Hayward, SGA

Kings center Richaun Holmes will miss at least three games with a strained right hamstring, writes Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. After suffering the injury in Monday’s game, Holmes underwent an MRI that revealed the extent of the damage.

He will be held out of tonight’s game against the Wizards and won’t accompany the team on a two-game road trip to face the Suns and Mavericks. Holmes is averaging 14.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game this season.

“We’ll see how he’s doing as we get back into town,” coach Luke Walton said. “Clearly, we’ll miss him. He’s had an incredible year for us so far and he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do.”

There are more injury updates from around the league:

  • The Kings got good news about Marvin Bagley III, who will rejoin the team Thursday in Phoenix, according to Jason Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Bagley has been away from his teammates while rehabbing a fracture in his left hand, and there were plans for him to return to the club when he was close to being able to play again.
  • Heat forward Jimmy Butler had an injury scare involving his ankle in Tuesday’s game, but he will be in the starting lineup tonight in Denver, tweets Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “There’s no doubt about it, that Jimmy will always want to go,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But we evaluated him today and he passed all the tests with the trainers and that allowed him to where we all feel comfortable, him going tonight.”
  • Rockets guard D.J. Augustin had an MRI today on his sprained left ankle, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26 Houston. Coach Stephen Silas said Augustin is using crutches and a walking boot and has been ruled out at least through Monday. Danuel House, who hasn’t played since April 4 due to a sprained ankle, and Eric Gordon, who has been sidelined since March 11 with a groin strain, are also both expected to miss another week or so.
  • Hornets forward Gordon Hayward still has a protective boot on his strained right foot, according to Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). He is expected to be re-evaluated early next month.
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was projected to be out through at least mid-April with plantar fasciitis, but his condition hasn’t been re-evaluated yet, coach Mark Daigneault told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter link).

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Out Until At Least Mid-April

Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander still isn’t close to a return, according to head coach Mark Daigneault, who said on Wednesday that the guard will be out for at least the first half of April, per ESPN’s Royce Young. Gilgeous-Alexander has been diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.

“(Mid-April) will be our next touchpoint with him,” Daigneault said, indicating that Gilgeous-Alexader will be reevaluated in about two weeks. “He’s progressing and doing his thing.”

Gilgeous-Alexander has had his best season as a pro so far in 2020/21, averaging 23.7 PPG, 5.9 APG, and 4.7 RPG on .508/.418/.808 shooting in 35 games (33.7 MPG).

However, as Young observes, the Thunder want to be careful with SGA’s workload, since the team is coming off a shortened offseason and the former lottery pick may play for Team Canada in the Olympic qualifiers this summer, resulting in another abridged break between seasons.

Additionally, the 20-27 Thunder are signaling that they’re not exactly going all-out in a push for one of the final playoff spots in the West this season, having traded away veteran guard George Hill and sat big man Al Horford. Still, the expectation is that Gilgeous-Alexander will return before the end of the season, says Young.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander To Miss Time With Plantar Fasciitis

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will be out for an extended time with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, tweets Bryan Keating of KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City.

“I don’t want to use long-term because it’s vague, but it’s not day to day,” coach Mark Daigneault told reporters. “It’s going to be a more significant amount of time than day to day. This one is an injury that we need to now take a look at.”

Daigneault described the injury as “a little bit more cumulative,” rather than something that happened on one play (video link). He added that the extent of the injury was just discovered today. He noted that Gilgeous-Alexander is a “higher-minute player” and said the condition is a result of wear and tear on the foot.

“I think he walked in this morning and that’s when we started to kinda unpack it,” Daigneault said. “I don’t have a ton of detail on it to be honest with you. It’s happened pretty quickly today.” 

Daigneault said the team was hoping to avoid this type of injury by aggressively resting players. He pointed out that players are coming off a short offseason after participating in the restart last summer, and they’re facing a shorter-than-normal break once this season ends.

Gilgeous-Alexander has emerged as a star since being traded to Oklahoma City in the summer of 2019. He’s averaging a career-high 23.7 points per game this year and shooting 41.8% from three-point range.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Jazz, Diallo, Wolves

After an up-and-down start to the season, the Nuggets have played some of their best basketball as of late, winning six of their last seven games and rising to the No. 5 seed in the West. With the trade deadline around the corner, the team will likely consider ways to upgrade its roster and cement its status as a contender, but JaMychal Green said on Monday night that he doesn’t believe a trade is necessary.

“We have everything we need,” the Nuggets forward said, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link).

Asked if he agreed with Green’s assessment, Nuggets guard Jamal Murray replied, I’d be crazy if I didn’t. I believe every year we have everything we need. That’s just how I think, that’s just how we play, that’s just how we believe in each other” (Twitter link via Singer).

  • The NBA announced on Monday that it has concluded its investigation into Elijah Millsap‘s allegations that Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey made a racially insensitive comment during a 2015 exit meeting and found no evidence to support the claim, writes ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The league interviewed Lindsey, GM Justin Zanik, and head coach Quin Snyder – all of whom were present at the meeting – as well as Millsap and agent Daniel Hazan. Lindsey, Zanik, and Snyder all denied the statement was made, while Hazan said Millsap hadn’t made him aware of it during his two season with the Jazz, per Wojnarowski.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who played college ball with Hamidou Diallo at Kentucky, admitted it was tough to see his Thunder teammate traded to Detroit, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman details. “It sucks. A guy that’s super close that I love playing around, love being around,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “But it is what it is. It’s the NBA. It’s a business. The front office, it’s not my job, it’s their job. They make decisions like that and they felt like it was best for the team and for Hami. My job’s to go play basketball.”
  • Chris Hine of The Star Tribune considers how much stock to put into the trade rumors linking the Timberwolves to John Collins.

Northwest Notes: SGA, Murray, Beasley, Jazz

Thunder point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is looking forward to getting the chance to play Chris Paul and the Suns for the first time this season on Wednesday, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Paul served as a mentor for Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City last season, and the two guards have remained close even after CP3 was dealt to Phoenix.

“Obviously me and him built a bond over the past year, to where he’s almost like a brother to me,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “We talk about everything. How life’s going, how the teams are doing, how we’re doing.”

Gilgeous-Alexander added that it was a “blessing” to play with a veteran star like Paul last season, and that the bond the two former teammates built has had “even more of an impact than the on-the-court stuff,” per Mussatto.

Here’s more from around the Thunder:

  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray was fined $25K on Wednesday for an incident that occurred during Monday’s win over Dallas, according to an NBA press release. During the third quarter of that game, Murray struck Mavericks wing Tim Hardaway Jr. in the groin area. Murray was assessed a Flagrant Foul 2 and was ejected.
  • After signing a lucrative new long-term deal with the Timberwolves in the offseason, Malik Beasley wants to win the Most Improved Player award and help lead the team to the playoffs this season, as he tells Ben Stinar of Forbes.
  • The Jazz‘s G League affiliate (the Salt Lake City Stars) officially announced its roster for the upcoming season, while the Thunder‘s affiliate (the Oklahoma City Blue) named Bradford Burgess an assistant coach. The Stars’ roster includes Yogi Ferrell, who will be an affiliate player for the Jazz after a brief stint with the Cavaliers earlier this month.

Thunder Exercise Options On Gilgeous-Alexander, Bazley, Jerome

The Thunder have exercised the fourth-year contract option on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($5.5MM), plus the third-year options on Darius Bazley ($2.5MM) and Ty Jerome ($2.4MM), the team announced in a press release. All options are for the 2021/22 season.

Gilgeous-Alexander, widely considered to be the club’s best player, averaged 19.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game this past season. He also shot an impressive 47% from the floor and 35% from downtown, doing so at just 21 years of age.

Bazley, a 20-year-old forward, was acquired by the team in the 2019 NBA Draft. He was selected No. 23 overall in the event, holding per-game averages of 5.6 points, four rebounds and 18.5 minutes last season.

As for Jerome, he was taken with the very next pick in 2019, starting his career in Philadelphia. Oklahoma City acquired the 23-year-old and others as part of the Chris Paul trade with Phoenix last month.

After surprising onlookers during the 2019/20 season, the Thunder have accelerated their rebuild by acquiring several draft assets and young players. The team is well-positioned to succeed in the future and will have Gilgeous-Alexander, Bazley and Jerome all under contract next season.

Thunder Notes: Arena, Rebuild, Gilgeous-Alexander

The Thunder announced this week that “concerning trends” in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Oklahoma have prompted the team to open the 2020/21 season without fans in Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation over the coming weeks to determine when fans will be able to attend our games,” the team said in its statement.

It’s a reversal of course for the franchise — the Thunder had initially planned for a limited number of fans to be in attendance at their home games, as Royce Young of ESPN writes. However, the team determined in recent weeks that even significantly reducing the capacity of Chesapeake Energy Arena may not be satisfactory to address health and safety concerns.

Here’s more on the Thunder:

  • In a Q&A with Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman, Thunder head of basketball operations Sam Presti explained why he felt the time was right to fully launch the club’s rebuild this offseason. “When you step back and take a clear-eyed, rational view of the season we had last year, and all of the randomness that occurred in our favor, the loss of future value we would be relinquishing for a small probability of replicating those performances, it was clear that the most objective path was to prioritize the future,” Presti said.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s role as a centerpiece of the Thunder’s rebuild has been unaffected by the significant roster overhaul in Oklahoma City this fall. We’re putting a lot in faith in him and showing him he’s a central figure to a lot of things we ultimately want to be,” Presti said (Twitter link via Young).
  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman says that, while he “despises” tanking, he understands why going that route is the best way forward for the Thunder.
  • In case you missed it, the Thunder have officially signed No. 17 pick Aleksej Pokusevski to his rookie contract, as we detailed earlier this morning.

Doncic, Porzingis, SGA Among Players Out For Monday’s Games

Mavericks stars Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis won’t play in Monday’s game against Utah, according to the league’s official injury report. Dallas will also be without starting forward Dorian Finney-Smith.

Doncic and Porzingis are both listed out due to “injury recovery” — right ankle for Doncic and left knee for Porzingis. Finney-Smith, meanwhile, is dealing with a left hip strain.

At 42-30, the No. 7 Mavericks are two games behind the sixth-seeded Jazz (43-27), so today’s game has seeding implications. If the Mavs lose, they’ll be locked into the No. 7 seed in the West. Utah, just a half-game behind the No. 5 Thunder, could still move up a spot or two in the standings, though the team may prefer to remain at No. 6 if it means avoiding the Rockets in the first round. Houston has eliminated the Jazz in the postseason in each of the last two years.

Donovan Mitchell has also been downgraded from questionable to out for today’s game due to a left lower leg peroneal strain, according to the Jazz (via Twitter).

Meanwhile, per the league’s injury report, the Thunder will be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (right calf contusion), Steven Adams (left lower leg contusion), Danilo Gallinari (left ankle injury maintenance), and Nerlens Noel (right ankle sprain), in addition to missing Dennis Schröder, who remains out for personal reasons after attending the birth of his child.

Those absences bode well for the Suns, who will need to remain undefeated in the bubble in order to keep pace in the race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot. As we detailed earlier today, Phoenix won’t technically be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss, but it would make the path to a play-in spot a whole lot more difficult.

Northwest Notes: Carmelo, MPJ, SGA, Wolves

Carmelo Anthony‘s NBA career appeared to be on life support after aborted stints in Oklahoma City and Houston in recent years. However, Anthony and the Trail Blazers have brought out the best in one another, Mark Medina of USA Today argues in the wake of Portland’s impressive win over Houston on Tuesday.

“He’s all about the team. He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard said of Anthony. “He knows how the game is going. He knows how to put himself in place to help the team. It’s obvious for somebody like me that pays attention to everything. I find it real funny and disrespectful how people speak on him. He’s a Hall-of-Famer.”

Anthony’s NBA future was in jeopardy following his release from the Rockets due in large part to questions about his defense. Although he hasn’t exactly become a defensive stopper since joining the Trail Blazers, Carmelo hasn’t been a major liability either — the team has an identical defensive rating when he plays and when he sits. As Medina notes, the veteran forward had a key blocked shot on P.J. Tucker late in Tuesday’s game.

“I say everybody who was talking, or said something negative about him, they need to apologize, you know?” Blazers wing Gary Trent Jr. said, per Jason Quick of The Athletic. “It’s Carmelo Anthony. He went through tough times. He battled, stayed resilient and for him to come back and bounce back like it’s nothing? That’s why he’s Carmelo Anthony and why he does what he does.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. followed up a 37-point, 12-rebound performance on Monday with a 30-point, 15-rebound showing on Wednesday, prompting rave reviews from his coach and teammates. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes, Michael Malone referred to Porter as a “cornerstone” of the franchise. Meanwhile, injured swingman Will Barton – whom Porter is replacing in the staring lineup – tweeted that the second-year forward is “special,” adding that he “can’t be on a leash with that type (of) ability.”
  • Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is getting more of a chance to run the offense during Dennis Schröder‘s absence from the team, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman observes. While Schröder and Chris Paul have spent most of the time handling the point this season, Gilgeous-Alexander projects to be the team’s long-term point guard.
  • With Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor mulling a sale of the franchise, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic takes a fascinating, in-depth look at Taylor’s original purchase of the team in 1994, exploring how he helped keep the Wolves in Minnesota.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, SGA, Nurkic, Nuggets, Gobert

As Glen Taylor considers a potential sale of the Timberwolves, one of his top priorities is making sure the team remains in Minnesota. Sources tell Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that any purchase agreement will likely include steep financial penalties for moving the franchise, while Chris Hine of The Star Tribune reports that the Wolves already have an agreement with the city to pay a $50MM penalty if they move before 2035.

Meanwhile, Krawczynski writes that Taylor and the Timberwolves have been “inundated” with interest over the last couple weeks. According to The Athletic, there are at least five “legitimate” bidders besides the groups that include former NBA players Kevin Garnett and Arron Afflalo.

While it remains to be seen which group might emerge as the most serious suitor for the Timberwolves, Taylor tells The Star Tribune that one group – a family from out of state – is further along in the process than the others.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman suggests that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s superstar potential should dissuade the Thunder from engaging in a full-fledged teardown in a year or two, since acquiring a player with SGA’s upside would be the goal of such a process.
  • Ramona Shelburne of ESPN takes an in-depth look at Jusuf Nurkic‘s long recovery from the broken leg that sidelined him for 16 months, exploring what the Trail Blazers center gained from losing a year to that injury. “​For me to be on the sideline for 16 months, watching the team play and just being around them as more of a coach than as a player,” Nurkic said, “it gives you a totally different perspective for the game, for life, for my team and family.”
  • The health and conditioning of his players are among Michael Malone‘s most pressing concerns with the Nuggets‘ seeding games about to get underway, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Injuries and late arrivals make it unclear which players will be at full speed when Denver resumes play on Saturday, Singer observes.
  • Rudy Gobert‘s positive coronavirus test on March 11 shut down the NBA. Four-and-a-half months later, it was Gobert scoring the game-winning basket for the Jazz in the first game of the NBA’s restart. As Tim MacMahon of ESPN details, Gobert said on Thursday night that he’s “grateful” to be in a position to get back on the court and resume the season. “Life works in mysterious ways,” he said.