Troy Brown

Central Notes: York, Middleton, Ball, Brown

An unexpected conversation with Kevin Durant left a huge impression on Pacers guard Gabe York, who finally reached the NBA last month after years of trying, writes James Boyd of The Indianapolis Star. York, 28, signed a two-way contract with Indiana and appeared in two games, including the season finale against the Nets.

“He comes up to me talking about, ‘Yo, I seen the struggle. I seen the journey that you went through to get here, bro, like for real, congrats. I know it’s been work,'” York said. “And just knowing that KD said that (expletive), I’m really like, ‘Wow, bro. People really watched (my journey).'”

After going undrafted out of Arizona in 2016, York spent time in Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy before joining the Pacers’ G League affiliate in Fort Wayne. He admits being nervous before his NBA debut, but that stopped once he got into the game.

“My nerves went away instantly and for whatever reason in my brain, in my mind it told itself, ‘It was like, ‘Nah, you belong here,'” York said. “It felt right. Nothing felt forced. Nothing felt too fast, too nothing. … When you’re in the G League or when you’re overseas, you just keep watching TV, keep watching the NBA and you just see stats and you see players, you think they’re bigger than what they are. And then once you get on the court with them, you’re like, ‘I played basketball for 20 years, bro.’ You need to guard me, (too).”

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Bucks guard Khris Middleton is making progress in his recovery from an MCL sprain in his left knee, but he’s not ready to start playing again, tweets Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Coach Mike Budenholzer, who expressed hope last week that Middleton might be able to return at some point during Milwaukee’s second-round series with the Celtics, told reporters today that Middleton has been able to do “a little” on the court, but there’s nothing significant to update.
  • After playing just 35 games this season, Bulls guard Lonzo Ball is focused on being healthier in the future, says K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Ball suffered a bone bruise, then had surgery for a torn meniscus and didn’t play after January 14.
  • The Bulls are unlikely to bring back Tristan Thompson and Matt Thomas next season, but they face a more difficult decision on  Troy Brown Jr., Johnson states in a mailbag column. They have a June 29 deadline to extend a qualifying offer to Brown to make him a restricted free agent.

Bulls Notes: Williams, Ball, Dosunmu, LaVine, Brown

Coach Billy Donovan remains confident that Patrick Williams will return sometime this month and he plans to slowly work the second-year forward back into the Bulls‘ rotation, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. Williams, who was cleared for “minimal” contact last week, is nearing the five-month anniversary of his wrist surgery, which is approximately when the medical staff projected his return.

“He can play an important role for our team,” Donovan said. “If we were whole (when Williams returns), I think the best thing to do with him would be to ease him in and bring him off the bench. That’s just my opinion right now. I don’t think it would be fair to him, just to throw him — with the number of games he’s missed and the amount of months he’s missed — to say, his first game back: ‘Hey, he’s starting.’”

Williams was an immediate starter as a rookie and was being counted on to provide a strong defensive presence in the front court this season. However, Javonte Green and Derrick Jones Jr. have been effective substitutes at power forward since Williams was injured, and he will likely only play in a handful of games before the regular season ends.

“I think adding Patrick helps our team. But for a guy that’s missed five months, and the first day he comes back, just to unload him into the starting lineup, I don’t know if that would be the best thing for our team and I don’t know if that would necessarily be fair to Patrick,” Donovan said. “I think he is gonna need some time to get his legs under him, to get his rhythm back, to find some kind of routine. And I think as a starter, coming back, to put him in that position, I think would be a big ask for him.”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • Lonzo Ball is making progress after a surgical procedure in late January for a small meniscus tear in his left knee, but an MRI showed a bone bruise in the area that’s causing him pain, per K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. Donovan said Ball is doing some “lateral work,” but isn’t running yet at full speed.
  • With Ball and Alex Caruso injured for much of the season, rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu has seized the opportunity to show he’s ready to contribute right away, writes Jamal Collier of ESPN. The Bulls didn’t expect Dosunmu to play a major role this season, but he’s been productive since moving into the starting lineup on January 15. “It’s been huge,” Caruso said. “You lose ‘Zo, you lose me, two guys that you think are going to be the main point guards, ball handlers on the team. And you throw him in, playing that position is probably the hardest position in the league to play. It’s just really impressive.”
  • Dealing with some knee pain and returning from a one-game absence, Zach LaVine wasn’t pleased with how tentatively he played at the start of Monday’s game against Sacramento, as Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic details. “I’ve got to do a better job with just my mentality,” LaVine said. “I’m going out there and I’m playing through some pain in my knee injury, but I’ve got to have the right mindset. I can’t tiptoe into the game. It’s my first game back. I could put excuses out there, but I put that on myself. I made a mental decision in the second half to go out there and play like me. I’ve got to start off that way.”
  • With Caruso back and LaVine playing on Monday night, Troy Brown was pulled from Donovan’s nine-man rotation, Schafer notes in an NBC Sports Chicago story.

Celtics Rumors: Schröder, Richardson, Smart, Williams

There appears to be “a wave of momentum” toward the Celtics completing a Dennis Schröder trade in advance of the February 10 trade deadline, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic.

In the latest HoopsHype Podcast, Michael Scotto singled out the Bulls as a team to watch for Schröder, noting that Chicago could use some backcourt help with Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso sidelined.

Both Scotto and Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report mentioned a possible package of Troy Brown Jr. and a second-round pick in exchange for Schröder, with Fischer suggesting that framework has been circulating around the league.

Here’s more on the Celtics:

  • The Celtics explored a possible deal that would’ve sent Josh Richardson and either Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith to the Timberwolves in exchange for Malik Beasley, according to Jared Weiss and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota, right up against the tax and hoping to maintain roster flexibility for bigger deadline moves, wasn’t interested at the time, The Athletic’s duo says.
  • Marcus Smart‘s name has come up recently as a possible target for the Timberwolves, especially if they move Patrick Beverley in another deal, writes Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Weiss suggests the Celtics could probably move Smart for an expiring contract and a first-round pick right now if they wanted to, but adds that “there’s a lot more that goes into moving him beyond finding matching value.”
  • Celtics big man Robert Williams is believed to be on the Raptors‘ list of potential targets as they explore the market for a center, per Fischer. According to Weiss, Boston appears to be rebuffing interest in Williams for now, but anyone on the roster outside of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could theoretically be had.
  • As we relayed earlier this morning, Richardson is considered a possible trade target for Utah.

Central Notes: Bickerstaff, White, Bulls, Sykes

The Cavaliers awarded coach J.B. Bickerstaff with a lucrative Christmas present, extending him through the 2026/27 season. Continuity on the coaching staff will allow the team’s young core to grow, Kelsey Russo of The Athletic opines. It also ensures that the positive culture Bickerstaff has built will become a fixture.

“It’s meaningful to know that you’re with an organization and with a group of people that believe in you and believe in what we’re building and what we’re working towards,” the Cavaliers’ head coach said. “When you have that support, it just gives you more confidence to go out and do the job that you see fit.”

We have more from thee Central Division:

  • Bulls guard Coby White admits he’s having a rough season, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago writes. White missed the first 13 games this season while rehabbing a shoulder injury and spent five games in COVID-19 protocols. Now, he’s adjusting to a new off-the-ball role. “It’s been difficult. I ain’t going to lie and say it’s been easy. It hasn’t been easy,” said White, who is in the third year of his rookie deal. Chicago has already exercised its option on his contract for next season.
  • The Bulls have been very aggressive on the trade and free agent markets since last season’s trade deadline. Look for them to make something happen before this year’s Feb. 10 trade deadline, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. Derrick Jones, Troy Brown and White are potential trade candidates and there will be an increasing number of teams with dim playoff hopes willing to make a move.
  • The Pacers signed Keifer Sykes to a new contract on Monday. According to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto (Twitter link), it’s a two-year deal and the second year includes a team option.

Injury/COVID Notes: J. Green, P. Tucker, E. Davis, T. Brown

Rockets rookie Jalen Green is on track to play on Thursday in Indiana, reports Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. Houston has a back-to-back road set on Wednesday and Thursday vs. the Bucks and Pacers, respectively, so the team is eyeing the second game in that back-to-back for Green’s return.

The No. 2 pick in the 2021 draft, Green has been sidelined for nearly a month due to a strained left hamstring, which he suffered on November 24. He averaged 14.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 2.3 APG on .382/.378/.807 shooting in his first 18 NBA games (30.8 MPG) and will be looking to improve upon those numbers when he returns to the court.

Here are a few more updates from around the league related to injuries and COVID-19:

  • Bulls wing Troy Brown has exited the health and safety protocols and is rejoining the team, a source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link). Chicago still has five players in the protocols.
  • The Cavaliers have placed veteran big man Ed Davis in the health and safety protocols, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Cleveland is facing a significant COVID-19 outbreak, with eight players in the protocols, but should have enough players available to continue its schedule, says Wojnarowski.
  • An MRI on P.J. Tucker‘s left knee injury revealed no structural damage, says Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. The Heat have diagnosed Tucker’s injury as lower left leg nerve inflammation and ruled him out for Tuesday’s game vs. Indiana. It’s unclear how much more time he might miss.

Lakers’ Westbrook, Cavs’ Okoro Enter COVID-19 Protocols

Lakers guard Russell Westbrook has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin (Twitter link). Lakers guard Avery Bradley has also been placed in the protocols, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Westbrook and Bradley are the fourth and fifth Lakers to enter the protocols within the last three days, joining teammates Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard, and Malik Monk.

It’s unclear if the two Lakers guards have registered confirmed positive tests for COVID-19, but if they have, they’ll be sidelined for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.

The news of Westbrook and Bradley entering the protocols coincides with reports that the Lakers have agreed to sign Isaiah Thomas to a 10-day contract using a hardship exception. Westbrook’s and Bradley’s absences should open the door for Thomas to get some run at the point guard spot.

Here are a few more COVID-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Cavaliers forward Isaac Okoro has entered the health and safety protocols, sources tell Kelsey Russo of The Athletic (Twitter link). No other Cavs players are currently in the protocols, so we’ll have to wait to see if Okoro is a one-off or if any of his teammates join him in the coming days. If Okoro tested positive for COVID-19, he’ll be in the protocols for at least 10 days or until he returns two consecutive negative tests at least 24 hours apart.
  • Bulls head coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times, that Coby White and Javonte Green are the only two players on the team who have cleared the health and safety protocols and have been conducting individual workouts. That leaves eight players in the protocols, and many of them – including Zach LaVine, Ayo Dosunmu, Alize Johnson, and Troy Brown Jr. – may not be back until after Christmas, according to Donovan.
  • Raptors big man Precious Achiuwa has cleared the health and safety protocols, tweets Eric Koreen of The Athletic. Koreen also provides a few injury updates on Raptors players — Dalano Banton (illness) is good to go, while OG Anunoby (hip) and Khem Birch (knee) will be listed as questionable for the club’s game vs. Golden State on Saturday.

Extension Rumors: Bridges, Huerter, Shamet, A. Holiday

The Hornets have engaged in discussions about a possible rookie scale contract extension for forward Miles Bridges, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. Bridges is one of 18 players who remains eligible for a rookie extension up until the October 18 deadline.

Scotto says that some people around the NBA believe $20MM per year would be the floor for Bridges on a new deal. That’s the same price that has been frequently projected for another Bridges with a similar skill set: Mikal Bridges of the Suns.

Here are a few updates from Scotto on possible rookie scale extensions:

  • The Suns and sharpshooter Landry Shamet have been having ongoing conversations about a possible extension, with one source suggesting that the odds of the two sides reaching a deal are about 50-50, says Scotto. Shamet has yet to appear in a regular season game for his new team, but Phoenix had reportedly coveted him for a while.
  • Scotto suggests that Hawks wing Kevin Huerter could get “Joe Harris type of money,” adding that some people around the league think Huerter’s value is in the neighborhood of $18MM annually. Harris signed a four-year, $72MM contract with Brooklyn during the 2020 offseason.
  • The Wizards and Aaron Holiday aren’t discussing an extension, but Washington likes the 25-year-old and will likely evaluate him over the course of the 2021/22 season, according to Scotto.
  • Extensions for Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons and Bulls swingman Troy Brown appear unlikely, per Scotto.

Central Notes: Gores, Bucks, K. Martin, T. Brown

Speaking to Jabari Young of CNBC, Tom Gores admitted that he made a mistake early in his tenure as the owner of the Pistons by trying to take shortcuts to contention instead of being willing to be patient and endure some losing seasons while building the right way.

“I should’ve been better about the idea that you can’t always win, and you don’t win fast,” Gores said. “I think I’ve grown from that perspective. I’m not sure I understood the magnitude of the responsibility when you own a sports team in a town that is looking to you for inspiration.”

After spending several years in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference, Gores has embraced what general manager Troy Weaver calls a “restoration” of the franchise in the last couple years. The Pistons’ 20-52 record last season was their worst mark since 1993/94, but the team was able to add potential cornerstone Cade Cunningham to a promising young core this offseason, creating optimism for the future.

Here’s more from around the Central:

  • The Bucks are on track to be a taxpayer for the second consecutive season in 2021/22 and could face some tough roster decisions a year from now, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who notes that Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo, and Grayson Allen are all on expiring contracts and will be in line for raises on their next deals.
  • Following the trade of Edmond Sumner, there’s a clearer path to a regular season roster spot for Pacers wing Kelan Martin, but he’s not taking anything for granted, as David Woods of The Indianapolis Star writes. Martin has twice agreed to push his salary guarantee date back in the hopes of making Indiana’s 15-man squad.
  • Former 15th overall pick Troy Brown, who was traded from Washington to Chicago at last season’s deadline, is hoping to claim a bigger role with the Bulls in his first full season with the team, writes Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago. “I feel like me and Coach (Billy Donovan) have a good dynamic in the sense of me being like a Swiss Army Knife,” Brown said. “Whatever he needs on the court, that’s what I go do — whether it’s playmaking, rebounding, playing defense, hitting 3s. I feel like that’s my job on the team, and I just try to accept that role and do it as best as I can.”

Bulls Notes: Starting Lineup, Williams, Vucevic, Markkanen

The Bulls will begin preseason play tonight without Patrick Williams, who is recovering from a severely sprained left ankle. That leaves a hole in their starting lineup, and coach Billy Donovan is considering a number of options to fill it, writes Sam Smith of Bulls.com.

Donovan has expressed a desire to play faster this season, so it doesn’t appear he will turn to a traditional big man to step in for Williams at power forward. He has been experimenting with several players to see who fits best alongside Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic.

“We’ve thrown Derrick (Jones Jr.) in with that (starting) group,” Donovan said. “We’ve thrown Javonte Green in with that group. We’ve put Alex Caruso in there. We’ve put Troy Brown in there with that group. It’s been hard to really evaluate it because as you’re implementing and you’re putting in, there’s things that we have to continue to get better at and improve upon. And then I think the other piece of it is, how well does the group function together?”

There’s more from Chicago:

  • It’s possible that Williams could return before the preseason is over, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Williams injured his ankle on September 15 and was projected to miss four to six weeks. Mayberry notes that he wasn’t limping at media day and may be ahead of schedule in his recovery. “He’s been able to come in here and shoot,” Donovan said. “We haven’t done anything laterally, cutting-wise with him. He’s been coming in at night, getting some shots up, doing as much conditioning as he can be doing. But he’s done well. We feel pretty good about the way he’s progressing. I guess that’s what happens when you’re 20 years old. You heal pretty quickly.”
  • No team has changed its roster more than the Bulls since last season’s trade deadline, and Vucevic believes they’re ready to contend, calling it “definitely the most talented team I’ve been a part of,” Mayberry adds in the same piece. One concern is lack of depth in the frontcourt after the team missed out on Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency.
  • The Cavaliers will be the opponent in the preseason opener, which means a quick return to Chicago for Lauri Markkanen, who suggested in the offseason that he wanted a “fresh start.” Speaking to reporters today, Markkanen refused to criticize his former team, tweets Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times. “I’ve got nothing bad to say about them,” he said. “When I was here, they treated me well and just things didn’t go as planned.”

Eastern Notes: Goodwin, Bulls, Wizards, Knicks

Former Hawks guard Brandon Goodwin worked out for the Celtics this week, Chris Grenham of Forbes Sports tweets. There’s mutual interest in a training camp invite, though no contract has been signed. Goodwin saw action in 47 games with Atlanta last year, averaging 4.9 PPG and 2.0 APG.

He played on a $1.7MM contract last season and became a free agent when the team failed to extend a qualifying offer. He didn’t play in the postseason, partially due to a respiratory condition.

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • While most of the rotation spots are a given, the Bulls will have a number of intriguing training camp battles, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times notes. Marko Simonovic could work his way into the mix at both power forward and center, while Troy Brown Jr. and Derrick Jones Jr. will compete for second-unit minutes at the wing. Free agent signee Alex Caruso and Coby White will fight for backcourt minutes once White fully heals from shoulder surgery.
  • Oddsmakers don’t think much of the Wizards, but they may be underestimating what the front office did this offseason, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. PointsBet has a 34.5-win over/under line for the Wizards, 12th among Eastern Conference teams, and ESPN’s experts peg them as the 11th-best team in the conference. However, Washington improved its depth this summer and project to be an improved defensive unit, Hughes notes.
  • The Knicks get a B-minus from The Athletic’s Zach Harper as their offseason grade. While the backcourt was upgraded with the addition of Kemba Walker, Harper believes the small forward spot didn’t improve all that much by replacing Reggie Bullock with Evan Fournier. They also didn’t improve in the frontcourt spots, in Harper’s estimation.