Ty Jerome

Thunder’s Dort, Muscala, Jerome Done For Season Following Surgeries

Thunder players Luguentz Dort, Mike Muscala and Ty Jerome will all be out for the rest of the 2021/22 season following surgeries to address various ailments, per a team press release.

Dort had an operation to treat a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Muscala had a scope and lateral ligament repair on his right ankle. Jerome, who has been dealing with a hip injury, went under the knife for what the Thunder term to be a sports hernia, and could return in just eight weeks. Oklahoma City anticipates that Dort and Muscala will be ready to play in time for the beginning of the 2022/23 NBA season.

Muscala had reportedly been considering an offseason surgery to address the ankle injury — it appears he opted to accelerate that timeline. The news of Dort and Jerome requiring surgeries comes as more of a surprise.

At 20-44, the rebuilding Thunder are currently the No. 14 seed in the Western Conference. The extended absences of Dort, Muscala and Jerome – all rotation players – for the rest of the year should help Oklahoma City’s tanking efforts.

According to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman (via Twitter), Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said that the country’s top sports doctors were occupied with NFL Combine obligations over the last week, which led to all these surgeries all transpiring on the same day.

Dort, still just 22, has emerged as one of the Thunder’s best players. In 51 games this year, the defensive-oriented swingman averaged 17.2 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 1.7 APG and 0.9 SPG. “It’s gotta be pretty significant for a specialist to recommend surgery,” Daigneault said of the labrum tear, per Mussatto (Twitter link).

As Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets, the Thunder hold a $1.9MM team option for Dort for 2022/23. Should Oklahoma City pick up the option, the team could then offer him a four-year, $58MM contract extension before he reaches unrestricted free agency in 2023. The club could also turn down that team option to make him a restricted free agent this offseason.

The other two sidelined Thunder players have not been as essential for Oklahoma City this season. Jerome, a 24-year-old shooting guard, logged 7.1 PPG, 2.3 APG and 1.6 in 48 games (16.7 MPG) during his third NBA season. Muscala averaged 8.0 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 13.8 MPG across 43 contests for the Thunder, who have a $3.5MM team option on the 30-year-old big man for the 2022/23 season.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Set To Return For Thunder

Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will return to action on Thursday after missing the team’s last 10 games due to a right ankle sprain, head coach Mark Daigneault said today (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Gilgeous-Alexander suffered the injury on January 28.

The 18-40 Thunder are 6.5 games back of the No. 10 seed and aren’t expected to prioritize making the playoffs this season, so it’s safe to assume they wouldn’t be bringing back Gilgeous-Alexander if he weren’t feeling 100% healthy.

The star point guard had been averaging 22.7 PPG, 5.5 APG, and 4.7 RPG shooting in 43 games (34.6 MPG) before going down with his ankle injury. He has struggled to score efficiently this season, however, posting career-low shooting percentages of 42.4% from the floor and 27.8% on threes.

Rookie guard Josh Giddey has been thriving with Gilgeous-Alexander out of the lineup, having recorded three consecutive triple-doubles in the games leading up to the All-Star break. He likely won’t have the ball in his hands as much with SGA on the court, so Daigneault may have to get creative with his lineups and his rotation to ensure Giddey doesn’t lose that momentum.

According to Daigneault, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (foot), Mike Muscala (ankle), Ty Jerome (hip), Luguentz Dort (shoulder), and Kenrich Williams (knee) are still sidelined. Daigneault didn’t offer any guarantees when asked if Muscala, who is considering offseason ankle surgery, will be back this season (Twitter links via Mussatto).

Northwest Notes: Ingles, Thunder, Beasley, Hyland

If Joe Ingles‘ left knee injury sidelines him for an extended period, it won’t be easy for the Jazz to replace his presence on the court and in the locker room, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. While Ingles still has to undergo an MRI to confirm the severity of the injury, team doctors – who conducted an initial examination on Sunday – fear that it’s significant, according to Jones.

“It’s not even about the basketball at this point,” Jazz forward Rudy Gay said. “Just having him in the locker room is good for us. That’s our guy.”

“Seeing Joe at halftime, that took a lot out of guys,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. “Seeing him in pain. Seeing him in tears that was tough. We knew how much this meant to him. All we could do was tell him that we loved him and tell him to keep his head up.”

Ingles, who is on an expiring contract, was already considered a potential trade candidate for a Jazz team seeking a defensive upgrade on the wing. If the 34-year-old is ruled out for several months – or possibly the rest of the season – as a result of his knee injury, the Jazz will be under even more pressure to acquire another forward or wing if they want to have a chance to seriously contend for a title this season.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman considers what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s right ankle injury means for the Thunder in both the short- and long-term. The team will get an extended look at rookie Josh Giddey as the primary creator on offense, with Ty Jerome, Theo Maledon, and Tre Mann playing increased roles. Oklahoma City also could see its lottery odds increase, given how poorly the club has played without Gilgeous-Alexander this season.
  • Malik Beasley‘s last five games have been a microcosm of his season as a whole — the Timberwolves wing scored 26 points on 9-of-18 shooting in Phoenix on Friday, but put up a total of 17 points on 7-of-31 shooting in the other four contests. As Chris Hine of The Star Tribune writes, Minnesota badly needs to see Friday’s version of Beasley more often. “It’s on him now,” head coach Chris Finch said. “He’s got to have the right approach. He’s got to stay confident and it’s on him. Opportunity is never going to be the issue. Never going to be the issue.”
  • The Nuggets have been impressed with the growth they’ve seen from rookie Bones Hyland, who has been given more ball-handling responsibilities on the team’s second unit, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “I’m proud of Bones,” head coach Michael Malone said. “Going out there, playing with great pace, making plays for his teammates, taking the open shot, guarding, competing, and that’s what you want to see from a young player like that who’s got so much potential in front of him.” Hyland’s play has helped Denver remain in contention while Jamal Murray recovers from ACL surgery.

Thunder Exercise Options On Bazley, Pokusevski, Jerome

The Thunder exercised their 2022/23 contract options for forwards Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski and guard Ty Jerome, the team announced in a press release.

There was nothing surprising about the rebuilding club with a good cap situation securing the rights to three young players through next season.

Bazley has appeared in 119 career games, including 67 starts, and was fourth on the team in scoring (13.7 PPG) and second in rebounding (7.2 RPG) last season. He’s due to make approximately $4.265MM next season.

In 48 games with Oklahoma City last season, Pokusevski averaged 7.9 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 2.1 APG in 23.5 MPG. He’ll take in approximately $3.26MM in 2022/23.

In 33 games with the Thunder last season after being acquired from the Suns, Jerome averaged 10.7 PPG and 3.6 APG. He’ll received $4.22MM in guaranteed money next season.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Brown, Jerome, Russell

Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has become a much different player in his second NBA season, writes Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. A year ago, there were concerns about Porter’s effort, especially on defense, as well as his tendency to rely too much on the three-point shot. But now his game is flourishing and he has won the full trust of the coaching staff. The concerns about his back that made him available with the 14th pick in the 2018 draft appear to be gone as well.

“(Porter) is getting so much more comfortable,” Nuggets guard Will Barton said. “He knows that he’s going to play and he knows that we count on him. You’ve seen him grow on the other side of the ball. It’s a nice thing to see, especially for a guy with his talent. When he’s stepping up and playing defense, it’s only going to open up his game more and open up our team’s game. He’s just becoming a heck of a player. You can just see his IQ growing with each game and each possession. It’s a pleasure to see, man. I’m very excited for him and his future.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Moses Brown has been one of this season’s most pleasant surprises, writes Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com. After earning First Team and All-Defensive Team honors in the G League, the 21-year-old center has continued that level of play with the Thunder, averaging 11.5 points and 11.8 rebounds since being added to the rotation after the All-Star break. “I’m just a player that plays hard and does everything that is asked of me to do. I’m very into the game,” Brown said. “This is what I love to do. I can’t really see myself doing anything else. Not saying that I can’t, but I just don’t want to.”
  • Teams are starting to notice how dangerous Thunder guard Ty Jerome is as a three-point shooter, states Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Jerome has been limited to 16 games after suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason, but he’s shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc.
  • The Timberwolves haven’t set a timetable for D’Angelo Russell to return from knee surgery, but there are indications it might happen this week, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Russell underwent an arthroscopic procedure in mid-February and was projected to miss four to six weeks. Minnesota may need him to replace Malik Beasley, who strained a hamstring Friday night. “It’s more minor than it is significant,” coach Chris Finch said, “but these things are tricky with hamstrings.”

Northwest Notes: Finch, Horford, Jerome, Lindsey

Taking over in midstream puts new Timberwolves coach Chris Finch in a difficult spot, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. Not only does he have to forge relationships with his players on the fly, Finch doesn’t have two of his best players available. Malik Beasley is serving a 12-game, league-imposed suspension and D’Angelo Russell is sidelined indefinitely with a knee injury. The fact that the front office passed over assistant David Vanterpool to hire Finch away from the Raptors adds to the awkwardness of the situation.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder big man Al Horford is well aware that he could be dealt again to a contender, as he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. Horford’s contract runs through the 2022/23 season, though the final year is only partially guaranteed. “I think anything is possible,” Horford said of getting moved again. “But I’m not going to dwell on [any trade talk] too much.” Oklahoma City is in no hurry to deal Horford and sees value in keeping the veteran around, Mannix adds.
  • The Thunder recalled guard Ty Jerome from the G League’s Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. Oklahoma City needed more depth in the backcourt due to a groin injury that will keep Hamidou Diallo sidelined through the weekend, coach Mark Daigneault said, per The Oklahoman’s Joe Mussatto (Twitter link). Jerome, a 2019 first-rounder, made an immediate impact, contributing nine points and seven assists in 22 minutes during the team’s victory over Atlanta on Friday.
  • Former Jazz forward Elijah Millsap has expressed doubt about an NBA investigation concerning his allegation that executive Dennis Lindsey made a racially-charged comment to him during an end-of-season meeting in 2015, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press reports. Millsap said Friday that he has not yet heard from any investigators and wonders if it will be carried out fairly. “I don’t feel he is a racist, but I do know what he said to me,” Millsap said. The investigation will include the sharing of detailed notes taken in the April 2015 meeting that was attended by Millsap and three Jazz officials, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Lindsey has denied the allegation.

G League Assignments: Pokusevski, Oturu, Magnay, Azubuike, Forrest

Thunder rookie big man Aleksej Pokusevski has averaged 17.4 minutes per game in 17 appearances but he’s headed to Orlando to join the G League’s Oklahoma City Blue, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 17th overall pick, who played 20 minutes in a blowout loss to Houston on Monday, is shooting just 24.7% from the field and the team wants him to develop his offensive game.

Guard Ty Jerome and two-way players Moses Brown and Josh Hall are also going to Orlando. “A lot of time and effort has gone into deciding who to send and when to send them,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “We felt like sending the four of them together, all for different reasons developmentally, was the best decision.”

We have more G League transactions from Western Conference clubs:

  • The Clippers assigned rookie big man Daniel Oturu to the Agua Caliente Clippers, according the RealGM transactions log. Oturu has appeared in 10 NBA games this season but has only averaged 4.2 MPG. He’s only gotten on the court once since January 22 and the organization wants Oturu to get some extended playing time during the bubble season in Orlando.
  • The Pelicans have transferred two-way player Will Magnay to the Erie BayHawks, the Pelicans’ PR department tweets. The 22-year-old rookie power forward out of Tulsa, who played in Australia last season, has not appeared in a game this season.
  • The Jazz duo of rookie center Udoka Azubuike and Trent Forrest are joining the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League team tweets. Azubuike, the team’s first-round pick out of Kansas, has made 12 limited appearances this season. Forrest, an undrafted guard out of Florida State, has played in two NBA games.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Horford, Jerome, Krejci, Saunders

Michael Porter Jr. missed his 10th consecutive game on Tuesday due to the league’s health and safety protocols but he could join the Nuggets on their five-game road trip that begins Friday in Phoenix, according to an Associated Press report. Porter hasn’t played since he racked up 30 points and 10 rebounds against Sacramento on December 29. “He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here,”  coach Michael Malone said. “When we do get him back, he will be a welcome sight.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Al Horford and Ty Jerome did not travel with the Thunder at the start of their road trip this week, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. Horford’s wife just gave birth to their fourth child and it’s uncertain if Horford will rejoin the team during the trip. Jerome, who was acquired from Phoenix as a throw-in to the Chris Paul deal, has yet to make his Oklahoma City debut. He’s rehabbing from a left ankle sprain.
  • The Thunder’s second-round pick, Vit Krejci, will be stashed on the roster of their G League affiliate, the Oklahoma City Blue, Mussatto tweets. Krejci is rehabbing from an ACL injury that he suffered in September.
  • Ryan Saunders deserves more time to get the Timberwolves righted, Jim Souhan of The Minneapolis Star Tribune opines. The current roster doesn’t seem capable of competing without a healthy Karl-Anthony Towns and the young coach should be given a chance to show what he can do when Towns returns after testing positive for COVID-19. Towns had a wrist injury earlier in the season and has only appeared in four games.

Northwest Notes: Russell, Jerome, Hartenstein, Pokuševski

With Timberwolves star center Karl-Anthony Towns still out of commission due to a dislocated wrist, starting guard D’Angelo Russell has struggled as the new focus of the club’s offense, writes The Athletic’s Jon Krawcyznski. The Wolves have lost three straight games in which they have been down by at least 30 points.

Russell has recently been moved by Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders to the shooting guard position to play in tandem with distributor Ricky Rubio at the point. “It can’t be different every night. It’s going to be something we’re running with and we’re sticking with and we build from it,” Russell said.

There’s more out of the NBA’s Northwest Division:

  • Second-year Thunder guard Ty Jerome continues to recover from an ankle injury he incurred in training camp this season, Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman tweets“I think [it happened] in the first practice,” head coach Mark Daigneault. said. “He’s back in OKC on a return-to-play, getting his work in.”
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post details how the Nuggets signed Isaiah Hartenstein to a two-year, veteran’s minimum deal in free agency this offseason. Hartenstein discusses his frustration with a lack of consistent chances on his prior squad in Houston. “With the Rockets, every time they gave me an opportunity I performed,” Hartenstein said.
  • Rookie Thunder power forward Aleksej Pokuševski has been placed in the league’s concussion protocol after suffering a concussion in a team practice today, according to a team press release. He has appeared in all five of the Thunder’s outings so far, and is averaging 16.0 MPG.

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.