T.J. McConnell

Central Notes: Mathurin, G. Allen, J. Allen, Caruso

The Pacers have yet to supply a concrete timeline for rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin‘s return from his right ankle, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle did reveal that Mathurin will not suit up for the team in Thursday’s game against the mighty Bucks.

“He may travel, but he’s not going to play in the next game,” Carlisle said on Wednesday. “I’m not going to give you a timetable, but he’s not going to play in Milwaukee. He is doing better.”

Dopirak adds in another tweet that both Mathurin and second-year swingman Chris Duarte will be sidelined for today’s game. Starters Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, plus reserve point guard T.J. McConnell, are all questionable to suit up. Haliburton is dealing with a right ankle sprain.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Bucks wing Grayson Allen will also miss Thursday’s bout against the Pacers, his second straight absence, due to right plantar fascia soreness, per Jim Owczarski of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
  • Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen will remain out the team’s next game, Friday against the Wizards, due to a right eye contusion, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (Twitter link).
  • Bulls wing Alex Caruso was held out of a recent team practice due to an unspecified illness, but is currently somewhat on the mend, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link). That said, he is questionable to play on Friday for Chicago, when they will square off against the Timberwolves. Should Caruso sit, it is likely that reserve forward Patrick Williams would returning to the club’s starting five.

Central Notes: Pacers, R. Lopez, Merrill, Livers, Omoruyi

The Pacers‘ decision to hold Tyrese Haliburton (left knee bruise), Myles Turner (sore lower back), and T.J. McConnell (sore back) out of games on Saturday and Monday signaled that the team isn’t exactly going all-out for a spot in the play-in tournament, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star.

While Bennedict Mathurin‘s ankle sprain would have sidelined him in any situation, the other Pacers regulars who sat out those two contests in Detroit likely would’ve been active if Indiana was in win-now mode instead of focusing on player development. As Dopirak notes, the absences of the team’s regulars resulted in big minutes for young players like Andrew Nembhard, Aaron Nesmith, Oshae Brissett, Jalen Smith, Isaiah Jackson, and Jordan Nwora.

“It’s just valuable for our young guys to get this kind of experience,” Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle said. “Drew Nembhard needs this kind of work at the point position. He needs to play 35 minutes a game a few games playing the point position. He played 36 (on Monday). He did a lot of good things in both games. There’s a different rhythm to that position, a different flow.”

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • Robin Lopez hasn’t had much of a role this season after signing with the Cavaliers as a free agent last summer, but his nine minutes in Sunday’s win over Charlotte with Jarrett Allen out were the most he has played in a game since January. Just trying to put some size out there,” head coach J.B. Bickerstaff explained (Twitter link via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com). “With Jarrett being out, we are limited with size. I thought RoLo was good, played hard. Everybody is going to be called upon.”
  • Within his Cleveland.com story on the Cavaliers‘ new multiyear deal for Sam Merrill, Fedor notes that the club views the swingman as more than just a “one-dimensional” sharpshooter. “I think he was leading or near the top of the G League in taking charges, so he’s got a willingness to scrap, a willingness to help on the defensive end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “Can create shots and make shots.”
  • After being limited to 19 games as a rookie for health reasons, Pistons forward Isaiah Livers is trying to establish himself as part of the team’s future plans with his play this season. James L. Edwards III of The Athletic takes a look at how those efforts are going and explores the strides Livers is making in his second NBA season.
  • Eugene Omoruyi, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Pistons on Monday, is making a strong case to earn a rest-of-season deal once those 10 days are up, Edwards writes in another story for The Athletic. “I always say, a guy who has his Ph.D. — poor, hungry, driven — they’re going to make it in this league,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s hungry.”

Injury Notes: Brunson, Wagner, Zeller, Mathurin, Kuminga, Duren

X-rays on Jalen Brunson‘s sore left foot were negative, writes Peter Botte of The New York Post. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters before Saturday’s game that Brunson is feeling “a little better” and is considered day-to-day. He added that the injury has officially been diagnosed as a bruise.

“When he’s healthy enough, he goes,” Thibodeau said. “So just do the rehab, talk to the medical people and when he gets cleared, he’s cleared and then he’ll play.”

Brunson has missed three of the team’s last four games, playing just 19 minutes Thursday in Sacramento. The Knicks have now dropped three in a row, and it’s uncertain if Brunson will be available as their road trip continues Sunday against the Lakers and Tuesday vs. the Trail Blazers.

There’s more injury news to pass along:

  • X-rays on Magic forward Franz Wagner were negative after he left Saturday’s game with a right ankle injury, tweets Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel. Wagner has been diagnosed with an ankle sprain.
  • Heat center Cody Zeller left the same game with a broken nose after a collision with Orlando’s Jalen Suggs in the first quarter, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Miami was already missing Caleb Martin, who sat out the game with knee soreness, and Duncan Robinson, who was placed in health and safety protocols.
  • Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin sat out Saturday after spraining his ankle this week and has already been ruled out of Monday’s game, per Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. Coach Rick Carlisle said Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell will also be held out Monday.
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Jonathan Kuminga is considered day-to-day after spraining his ankle during warmups on Thursday, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Kuminga didn’t play Saturday, but he was on the team’s bench without a walking boot, Slater adds (Twitter link).
  • Pistons rookie center Jalen Duren feels fully recovered from the bilateral ankle soreness that caused him to miss six games, tweets Omari Sankofa II of The Detroit Free Press. “Just being out a couple weeks, I was itching to get back and trying to play and finish out the season strong,” Duren said. “I’ve been working, I don’t know if y’all can tell but I got a little bigger. I feel good.”

Central Notes: DeRozan, Caruso, McConnell, Haliburton, Stewart

With the February 9 trade deadline fast approaching, Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan knows that several teams could look quite different in a few weeks. He isn’t sure what Chicago’s front office will do, but says the current Bulls roster needs to focus on climbing up the standings.

Everybody else in the league is going to do what they feel is best for them,” DeRozan said, according to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I feel like, for us, we’re right there. We have to take advantage of the opportunity that’s in front of us.”

The Bulls are currently 21-24, the No. 10 seed in the East, but have gone 10-6 over their past 16 games, Cowley notes. DeRozan admits the first half of the 2022/23 season was a roller coaster.

We had a helluva first half with a lot of ups and downs,” DeRozan said. “Now it’s time to turn everything we went through into a positive. We’re right there. It’s a great opportunity this week to take it one game at a time and write our own story. That’s all we can worry about.”

Here’s more from the Central:

  • The Bulls have been cautious with Alex Caruso this season in an effort to have him available more often. His minutes have been cut back from 28.0 to 24.4 per game, and the veteran guard says he’s feeling the benefits, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I feel good,” Caruso said. “Anything that’s hurting right now is not out of the ordinary for anybody else in the league. Shoulder feels just about 100 percent from the last time we played Atlanta. Head is good. Knees are good. Feet are good. Hands are a little beat up, but that’s kind of the NBA. Anybody that doesn’t have a couple sprained thumbs or fat finger at this point of the year probably isn’t playing hard enough.” The defensive stalwart was limited to 41 games in ’21/22, but will make his 40th appearance on Monday against the Hawks.
  • Including the game he was hurt, the Pacers have now dropped seven straight games since Tyrese Haliburton went down with elbow and knee injuries. While the team is obviously struggling overall, backup point guard T.J. McConnell has been playing his best basketball of the season during the recent stretch, writes Dustin Dopirak of The Indianapolis Star. The 30-year-old, who is in the second year of a four-year contract, is averaging 15.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 8.3 APG and 1.7 SPG on .625/.750/1.000 shooting over his past seven contests, including a triple-double in Saturday’s loss to Phoenix.
  • Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle says Haliburton is making progress in his recovery, tweets Dopirak. The third-year guard’s elbow is evidently bothering him more than his knee at the moment, but he was able to go through the non-contact portions of Monday’s practice. Haliburton said a few days ago that he was targeting a return at the start of February.
  • Pistons big man Isaiah Stewart will be sidelined for Monday’s game against Milwaukee due to shoulder soreness, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com (Twitter link). It’s something that has been bothering him for a while — Stewart missed three straight games a couple weeks ago with the injury, returned for two contests, and is now out again.

Central Notes: McConnell, Theis, Bogdanovic, Bucks

Pacers guard T.J. McConnell took a hit to his right shoulder on Sunday but an MRI showed the shoulder was “stable” and he was able to practice on Tuesday, Dustin Dopirak of the Indianapolis Star reports.

“I think it was one of those weird plays where I just got hit in a bad spot,” McConnell said. “I was a little worried at the beginning and it was really painful, but our training staff is awesome, they worked on it. They said it was stable and the MRI showed that there was nothing seriously wrong. So it’s just about playing through the pain right now knowing it’s good, it’s stable. I said that I missed enough games last year, I can play through a little bit of pain.”

McConnell is in the second season of a four-year, $33.6MM contract.

We have more from the Central Division:

  • Daniel Theis is showing progress from his latest knee surgery in November and he could make his Pacers debut in the coming weeks, Dopirak notes in the same story. Theis was acquired from the Celtics in July as part of the package Boston gave up for point guard Malcolm Brogdon. “I don’t know that there’s any real set, hard timetable on Theis’ availability to play in a game but he’s weeks, not months away,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s good news.”
  • As if the Pistons didn’t have enough injury issues, leading scorer Bojan Bogdanovic missed Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia due to left calf soreness, Mike Curtis of the Detroit News tweets. Rookie center Jalen Duren missed his second straight game due to right ankle soreness and Isaiah Stewart (shoulder) was a late scratch.
  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Owczarski breaks downs the Bucks’ cap situation, key dates and luxury tax implications of any moves they might make before the trade deadline. He notes that Jordan Nwora and Bobby Portis will be eligible to be traded as of Jan. 15, while Pat Connaughton becomes eligible to be moved on Jan. 18.

Central Notes: Bagley, Mobley, Vildoza, McConnell, Komoroski

Marvin Bagley III is headed to free agency this summer but Pistons coach Dwane Casey hopes the front office re-signs the young power forward, James Edwards III of The Athletic tweets. Detroit can make him a restricted free agent by extending a $7.3MM qualifying offer. Bagley has played well since being traded by Sacramento, averaging 14.6 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 27.2 MPG while appearing in 18 games for the Pistons.

We have more Central Division news:

  • Cavaliers rookie Evan Mobley is questionable to play against Brooklyn on Friday, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic tweets. Mobley hasn’t played since March 28 due to an ankle injury but he was able to do “everything” at practice in Orlando on Thursday, coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. Jarrett Allen is listed as out, although he went through an individual workout.
  • Guard Luca Vildoza signed a two-year, $1.8MM contract with the Bucks, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. His contract for next season is non-guaranteed and includes a $500K trigger date if he’s not waived before Milwaukee’s first regular season game. Vildoza was signed on Wednesday.
  • T.J. McConnell surprised a lot of people by returning to action this week, even though the Pacers are out of the playoff picture. McConnell played 15 minutes on Tuesday after missing 55 games due to a hand injury. McConnell told Joel Lorenzi of the Indianapolis Star he just “wanted to feel like a basketball player again.” “They’ve been talking about coming out here and creating that chemistry, and what better way to get that chemistry started than to come back now?” he said. “You know, I just wanted to feel like a basketball player again. It was hard sitting there.”
  • Cavaliers CEO Len Komoroski is stepping down from his post at the end of the season, according to a team press release. Komoroski’s career with the Cavaliers began in 2003 as a team president. He took on the CEO title in 2013. He will remain affiliated with Rock Entertainment Group.

T.J. McConnell To Return On Tuesday

APRIL 5: McConnell will play against his former club on Tuesday, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. McConnell has missed the past 55 games after having wrist surgery in December.

APRIL 4: In a somewhat surprising development, the Pacers have upgraded guard T.J. McConnell to questionable for Tuesday’s game against Philadelphia, the team tweets.

With the season winding down and Indiana well out of the playoff race, it was generally assumed McConnell’s season was over. McConnell’s season was derailed in early December when he underwent surgery to repair a torn scapholunate ligament in his right wrist.

Prior to the injury, McConnell appeared in 23 games this season and was averaging 8.4 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.3 RPG and 1.0 SPG in 24.2 MPG. McConnell re-signed with Indiana in the offseason, agreeing to a four-year deal worth nearly $34MM. He was a key reserve for the Pacers the previous two seasons after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Sixers.

McConnell could simply be testing out the wrist to see if all is well but getting him back in uniform could have an ulterior motive. With several other guards on the roster, including second-year players Tyrese Haliburton and Chris Duarte, the Pacers could be showcasing McConnell to teams interested in dealing for a veteran guard this summer.

Pacers Notes: Anderson, Turner, McConnell, Jackson, Draft

Swingman Justin Anderson is eager to display his skills after receiving a 10-day contract from the Pacers on Thursday, James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star writes.

“I just want to be out on the court and show my impact, show what I can bring. I’ve been biting at this for a long time,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, injuries have kind of had me in and out of the NBA, but that’s over and done with. I only have two tibias, two legs, and both of those have been operated on, and I’m back stronger than ever.”

Anderson was averaging 27.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG and 4.4 APG in 22 games with the G League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

We have more on the Pacers:

  • T.J. Warren was ruled out for the remainder of the season on Thursday due to his ongoing foot issues. Myles Turner (foot) and T.J. McConnell (wrist) probably won’t see the court for the remaining 12 games as well, Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files tweets. Turner has been out since mid-January, while McConnell hasn’t played since December 1.
  • Isaiah Jackson has entered the NBA’s concussion protocol and will not play Friday at Houston, Boyd writes in a separate story. Coach Rick Carlisle said the rookie big man suffered the injury during the team’s home loss to the Grizzlies on Tuesday when he was hit in the face with the ball.
  • With the Pacers headed for the lottery, Carlisle has kept an eye on potential draft prospects, Boyd tweets“I’ve been watching stuff for the draft since January. … There’s a lot of really good players,” he said.

Pacers Notes: Sykes, Brogdon, Stephenson, Turner, McConnell, Warren

Pacers guard Keifer Sykes, a rookie at age 28, has taken a remarkable path to the NBA, according to James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. It’s an in-depth look at Sykes’ journey — from the harrowing gun violence of his youth in Chicago’s South Side, to starring for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, several stops overseas and much, much more.

Sykes’ mother, Lisa, was thrilled when she learned that his contract had been guaranteed for the remainder of the season.

My heart was just filled with so much joy when he got what he wanted, and that’s to play in the NBA for his dream,” Lisa Sykes said. “When I see him play against his favorite people, seeing him playing against Chris Paul and he went to Chris Paul’s camp, it’s like it’s (full) circle.”

It’s a fascinating story and I recommend checking out the full article.

Here’s more from Indiana:

  • Head coach Rick Carlisle provided injury updates on several players Thursday, including Malcolm Brogdon, who suffered a concussion during Tuesday’s 127-124 loss to Cleveland. Brogdon was struck by an errant elbow from Evan Mobley and will be sidelined for the back-to-back road games this weekend against the Spurs and Hawks, Boyd of The Indianapolis Star tweets.
  • Lance Stephenson aggravated his left ankle sprain during Thursday’s practice and had to leave the court early, Carlisle said. He’s unsure whether Stephenson will be able to play in the upcoming games this weekend, per Boyd (Twitter link). Stephenson has missed four of the team’s last six games, including two straight.
  • Myles Turner and T.J. McConnell are making progress from their foot and wrist injuries, respectively. Carlisle said Turner was able to do 30 minutes of non-contact work during Thursday’s practice and has been gradually ramping up activity, but there’s still no timeline on his return (Twitter link via Boyd). Carlisle called McConnell week-to-week. Given Indiana’s place in the standings (22-45, fifth-worst in the NBA) and the fact that both players are under contract through at least next season, it wouldn’t be surprising if they’re held out for the remainder of the season.
  • In one of the more bizarre and unfortunate storylines of the 2021/22 season, T.J. Warren continues to be sidelined with a stress fracture in his left foot. He hasn’t played at all this season after playing just four games last season, originally suffering the injury in December of 2020. Carlisle said there was “no update on T.J Warren” when asked about his status by James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star (via Twitter). Warren will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Central Notes: DeRozan, Haliburton, McConnell, LeBron

Bulls wing DeMar DeRozan considers his latest All-Star appearance, his fifth overall and first since 2018, to be his favorite All-Star selection thus far, per Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago.

“It’s hard to go against the first time I was here [in 2014 while with the Raptors],” DeRozan said. “But to be here again after everything I went through, it’s sweet.”

DeRozan is in the midst of possibly his best NBA season yet, his 13th in the league. In 55 games for the 38-21 Bulls, the 32-year-old out of USC is averaging 28.1 PPG (his highest scoring average ever, fifth in the NBA this year), 5.2 RPG, and 5.1 APG, with a shooting line of .517/.343/.866.

“Over the span of my career I did a lot of learning, personally, on the court, outside the court,” the 6’6″ Bulls swingman said. “Just trying to understand a lot of dynamics of just being a man first. And a lot of that, looking in the mirror moments and understanding a lot of things is this moment now, of just me being in my complete balance.”

DeRozan also leads the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring with 443 points and counting. Schaefer writes that DeRozan is posting a clutch-time shooting line of .541/.667/.902. The Bulls are currently the second seed in the Eastern Conference, with DeRozan leading the way. He has a strong case to be a top-five MVP candidate this season.

There’s more out of the Central Division:

  • Several current All-Stars heaped praise on new Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, writes James Boyd of the Indianapolis Star. Haliburton, who participated in the All-Star weekend festivities during the Rising Stars contest and the Clutch Challenge this year, hopes to return to a future All-Star weekend for the main event. “That’s the goal,” Haliburton said of playing in the All-Star game. “Don’t know when, but eventually I’ll be back, and I’m looking forward to it.” Bulls All-Star guard Zach LaVine spoke about how Haliburton can benefit from his fresh start in Indiana. “Tyrese is off the charts, and him getting a different opportunity now in Indiana I think is gonna be big for him,” LaVine said. “Obviously getting traded and me being traded young as well [from the Timberwolves to the Bulls], you have to take it one way or another… You’re a little shell-shocked at first, but once you embrace that opportunity and go after it, I think he’s gonna be great.”
  • Pacers backup point guard T.J. McConnell appears likely to miss the rest of of the 2021/22 season, per Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files. Given the original timeline projected for the 6’1″ veteran’s recovery from a December surgery for a torn scapholunate ligament in his right wrist, this news is not entirely unexpected. McConnell has appeared in just 24 contests this year. McConnell, 29, has averaged 8.7 PPG, 5.0 APG and 1.1 SPG while shooting 50.3% from the field and 80% from the free throw line.
  • Provided that the Cavaliers are able to retain their core of power forward Evan Mobley and All-Stars Darius Garland and Jarrett AllenJason Lloyd of The Athletic suggests that Cleveland should do its darnedest to add 11-year Cavaliers veteran LeBron James, who would reach free agency in 2023, at age 38, if he doesn’t sign an extension before then. During an active 2022 All-Star weekend in Cleveland, James went out of his way to praise the team-building work of team president Koby Altman“I think Koby and those guys have done an unbelievable job drafting and making trades,” James told Lloyd. “The door’s not closed on [the prospect of James making yet another Cleveland return].” The Cavaliers could conceivably carve out cap space during the 2023 offseason in part by moving off the $17.3MM salary owed forward Lauri Markkanen and perhaps by picking up and then offloading the $8.9MM team option of wing Isaac Okoro.