Sharife Cooper

COVID-19 Updates: Doncic, SGA, Robinson, Hawks, Nuggets, More

Mavericks star Luka Doncic has cleared the league’s health and safety protocols, sources tell Marc Stein (Twitter link). Doncic, who hasn’t played since December 10, missed a combined 10 games due to a left ankle injury and his time in the protocols. He’s expected to meet his teammates in Oklahoma City and may return to the court on Sunday.

Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber may also be able to exit the protocols in time for Sunday’s game, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Dallas, which has five other players still in protocols, managed to go 5-5 without Doncic and is holding onto eighth place in the Western Conference.

Here are more updates on players entering and exiting the protocols:

COVID-19 Updates: Marshall, Cooper, Hampton, Towns, Brown

The Pelicans’ Naji Marshall has entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Christian Clark of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. Earlier in the day, Nickeil Alexander-Walker became the first New Orleans player to enter protocols this season. Marshall, a second-year forward, has appeared in 19 games off the bench this season.

We have more COVID-19 related updates:

  • Hawks rookie point guard Sharife Cooper has entered the health and safety protocols, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets. Cooper joins six other Atlanta players currently on the list. The second-round pick has appeared in eight games off the bench this season.
  • Magic guard R.J. Hampton exited the protocols on Thursday, Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel tweets. He didn’t play on Thursday in order to work on his conditioning. Hampton was placed in the protocols on December 17, which means he produced two negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns is asymptomatic, Timberwolves coach Chris Finch told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). “He is in the best spirits possible,” Finch said, adding Towns was very disappointed he couldn’t play on Thursday. Towns was placed in the protocols on Thursday, joining six other Minnesota players.
  • Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown has entered the protocols, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets.

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.

Southeast Notes: Wizards Preview, Avdija, Cooper, Hornets Injuries

In his ongoing series of team previews, John Hollinger of The Athletic writes that the Wizards might not be a better overall team this season than they were in 2020/21, but he thinks they’re in a decent position to build around star Bradley Beal going forward.

By moving John Wall for Russell Westbrook, and then trading Westbrook to the Lakers, the Wizards acquired multiple players on smaller deals with less guaranteed money, thus gaining financial flexibility for 2022/23.

Hollinger identifies one area the team should definitely be improved: three-point shooting. The Wizards were dead last in three-point attempts per 100 possessions last season, even with renowned shooters Beal and Davis Bertans. New additions Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (.410 3PT%), Kyle Kuzma (.361), and Aaron Holiday (.368) all shot better than the Wizards’ team mark (.351) last season, and rookie Corey Kispert was considered one of the best pure shooters in the draft.

However, Hollinger thinks the team might regress defensively, as Bertans and Montrezl Harrell are both poor defenders who figure to see a good chunk of minutes together.

Hollinger projects the team to finish 38-44, 10th in the East, but thinks they’ll have their work cut out for them to actually hit that mark.

Here’s more from out of the Southeast:

  • Second-year forward Deni Avdija made his long-awaited return from a fractured ankle in Saturday’s preseason game, writes Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The Wizards are high on Avdija and he’s expected to have more play-making opportunities this season, Hughes adds.
  • Hawks rookie Sharife Cooper is having an impressive preseason, according to Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta-Journal Constitution. Cooper, the 48th pick in the draft, is on a two-way contract, and coach Nate McMillan likes what he’s seen so far, per Spencer. “I love the energy that he’s bringing,” McMillan said of Cooper. “He’s scrappy. He’s playing scrappy basketball out there. He’s trying to make a statement. He’s stepping up, and he’s not pacing himself.”
  • In two separate tweets, the Hornets announced Terry Rozier sprained his ankle and will be re-evaluated later in the week, while Gordon Hayward and Mason Plumlee are both out for tomorrow’s game at Miami due to health and safety protocols.

Southeast Notes: LiAngelo, Haslem, Cooper, Reddish

Multiple members of the Hornets organization have loved what they’ve seen out of guard LiAngelo Ball, a member Charlotte’s Summer League club who is hoping to earn a G League contract, reports Jordan Schultz of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Schultz, Charlotte appreciates the work ethic of Ball, older brother to reigning Hornets Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. The 6’5″ LiAngelo, 22, is the middle brother in a family of basketball pros. His older brother, Lonzo Ball, just inked a lucrative four-year, $80MM deal with the Bulls this summer.

The Hornets are no doubt hoping that LiAngelo, the only member of the three Ball brothers to not be drafted, can prove to be a diamond in the rough. “Great kid,” Hornets assistant coach Jay Triano raved. “He was at the facility practicing every day for two months to play in the Summer League. Shows a ton of character. He can shoot it, great feel, knack for scoring.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • Now that the Heat have re-signed lifer Udonis Haslem to a veteran’s minimum deal for his 19th season in Miami, the rest of the club’s offseason signings can now be completed, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Haslem is the 14th Miami player under a standard contract for the 2021/22 season, meaning the Heat will now be able to ink younger players to Exhibit 10 deals. Those players will compete for two-way deals and could end up playing for the Sioux Falls Skyforce, Miami’s G League affiliate.
  • Hawks rookie point guard Sharife Cooper sat down for an extensive conversation with Chris Kirschner of The Athletic about falling to the middle of the second round in the 2021 NBA draft and his fit on the team behind star point guard Trae Young. The Hawks drafted Cooper with the No. 48 pick out of Auburn. “It’s extremely motivating,” Cooper said of his slide in the draft. “We’ll see in a couple of years who can really play and who can’t play. That’s what I’ll say.” A high-level ball-handler, Cooper has already shown promise as a distributor and a speedy interior finisher at the next level while in Summer League, writes Kirschner. “I can pass,” Cooper said of his attributes as a player. “I can score. I feel like I’m a leader. I like talking on the floor. My biggest weakness — I definitely want to be more efficient. I definitely want to take care of the ball better.”
  • Hawks forward Cam Reddish, eligible for an extension to his rookie contract in 2022, has signed with Klutch Sports Group, per an announcement from the agency (Twitter link). Though Reddish only appeared in 26 games with Atlanta during the 2020/21 season due to an Achilles injury, he showed promise during his brief stint with the Hawks in the 2021 postseason, averaging 12.8 PPG on 52.8% shooting (64.3% on threes) in 23.0 minutes per contest.

Southeast Notes: J. Johnson, Cooper, Westbrook, K. Jones, Jarreau

Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper were both considered risky picks on draft night, but the Hawks‘ rookies appear to be much less of a gamble after strong showings during Summer League, writes Krysten Peek of Yahoo Sports. Johnson slipped to No. 20 after playing just 13 games at Duke and leaving school early to prepare for the draft. Cooper fell to No. 48 after a freshman season at Auburn that was delayed 11 games because of eligibility issues.

Both could be steals based on their early performances in Las Vegas, Peek observes. Johnson has been one of the most versatile players in the league and excels in the open court. Cooper has been a reliable playmaker and has eased concerns about his outside shooting.

“This isn’t just Summer League for me,” Cooper said. “Any game where I put on a jersey and represent something way bigger than me in the Hawks, it’s something I don’t take lightly.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard wasn’t planning to trade Russell Westbrook this summer, but he changed course when the opportunity arose to send him to the Lakers, per Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “I had a heart-to-heart with Russell and it was important to him that I knew and the Wizards knew he wants to play here,” Sheppard said. “If there was ever an opportunity with the Lakers, that would be the one place. I look at his Hall-of-Fame career and all he did for us, certainly, for me, I will try to help a guy as long as it helps the Wizards. In this case, we could do a deal and it did help the Wizards.”
  • Hornets rookie Kai Jones is confident enough to become the first Charlotte player to wear No. 23 since Michael Jordan became owner of the franchise, notes Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer. The 6’11” power forward is getting plenty of his attention in Las Vegas for his athleticism and dunking prowess. “I think until you see him out there with (LaMelo Ball) and the entire group, we won’t have a true sense of what he can be for our program,” coach James Borrego said. “He’s working through our Summer League right now and trying to figure it out along the way, but he’s a tremendous athlete.”
  • The Heat weren’t able to trade for a draft pick to select DeJon Jarreau, but they wound up with the Houston guard anyway and like what they have seen during Summer League, notes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Jarreau, who may be in contention for one of Miami’s two-way contracts, posted 10 assists in a game this week.

Hawks Sign Sharife Cooper To Two-Way Contract

The Hawks have signed second-round pick Sharife Cooper to a two-way contract, according to the official transactions log at NBA.com.

Cooper, the 48th overall pick in last Thursday’s draft, had a brief college career, playing just 12 games in his freshman year for Auburn before a left ankle injury derailed his season. He looked good in his limited action though, averaging 20.2 PPG, 8.1 APG, and 4.3 RPG in 33.1 minutes per contest for the Tigers.

Signing Cooper to a two-way contract means Atlanta won’t have to save a spot for him on the 15-man regular season roster. He’ll occupy one of the team’s two-way slots instead and will be eligible to appear in up to 50 NBA games while on that contract.

It remains to be seen who will join Cooper on that second two-way deal in Atlanta. The team has a qualifying offer out to Skylar Mays, one of its two-way players from 2020/21, but so far he hasn’t accepted it.

Draft Notes: Cooper, Bezhanishvili, Williams, Johnson

Potential late lottery pick Sharife Cooper has been making the rounds. He’s worked out for the Thunder, Rockets, Warriors, Lakers, Clippers and Celtics, Adam Zagoria of the New York Times tweets. As previously noted, Cooper has worked out for the Hornets and has also visited the Pacers. The Auburn point guard is currently ranked No. 17 overall on ESPN’s Best Available list.

We have more draft-related intel:

  • Giorgi Bezhanishvili has recently worked out for the Spurs, Hornets and Bulls, Zagoria reports in another tweet. The junior forward who played for Illinois is a potential second-round selection.
  • Ziaire Williams was brought in for a second workout with the Magic, draft expert Chad Ford tweets. The Stanford freshman wing is ranked No. 24 by ESPN, but Ford views Williams as a potential lottery selection. Orlando owns the No. 5 and 8 picks.
  • Jalen Johnson left Duke in mid-February after losing playing time but he brushes aside questions about his character, Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee writes. “Those really aren’t red flags,” Johnson said. “People say a lot of things about me, but they say those things without knowing me. … I don’t like seeing that stuff and I know my parents see that stuff, and I know it hurts them, because at the end of the day these people are making judgments without knowing me, without speaking to me, without saying a word to me.” Johnson is still expected to go in the lottery.

Draft Notes: Garza, Cooper, Pacers, Mock Drafts

The Sixers, who are in the market for a reserve center, worked out a pair of big men today, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Iowa’s Luka Garza, the two-time national player of the year, was in Philadelphia, along with Utah State’s Neemias Queta.

Garza, who is projected to be taken anywhere from the end of the first round to the middle of the second round, has dropped weight since the college season ended in an effort to become more mobile on defense. Queta was named Player of the Year in the Mountain West Conference and was a finalist for Naismith Defensive Player of the Year honors.

With Dwight Howard entering free agency, Pompey notes that the Sixers don’t have a reliable backup to Joel Embiid. Philadelphia holds the 28th and 50th selections in next week’s draft.

There’s more draft news to pass along:

Draft Workouts: Wizards, Springer, Kuminga, Pacers, Hornets, Bezhanishvili

The Wizards own the No. 15 pick and they’ve been very busy working out players. Guards Chris Duarte of Oregon, Ayo Dosunmu of Illinois and Josh Christopher of Arizona State visited last week, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. They brought in some less heralded prospects on Tuesday, a list that includes Mitchell Ballock (Creighton), D.J. Carton (Marquette), Matt Coleman III (Texas), Ryan Daly (St. Joseph) and Mark Vital (Baylor), according to a team press release.

Potential first-round Jaden Springer (Tennessee) heads the list of prospects who will work out for the club on Thursday, Hughes tweets. They’ll also take a look at Zane Martin (Towson), Asbjorn Midtgaard (Grand Canyon), Eugene Omoruyi (Oregon), Micah Potter (Wisconsin) and Guilherme Santos (Minas-Brazil).

We have more draft workout info: