Five Key Stories: 1/19/19 – 1/26/19

If you missed any of this past week’s biggest headlines from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days:

The Pacers were hit with a devastating loss Wednesday when star guard Victor Oladipo suffered a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee. The injury will require surgery that will keep Oladipo out of action for the rest of the season and perhaps longer. Indiana was third in the East at the time of the injury and has until the February 7 trade deadline to try to remake the team before the playoffs.

The Rockets finally found a taker for Carmelo Anthony, but the deal won’t revive his NBA career. Houston sent Anthony to Chicago in exchange for some cash and a swap of draft-and-stash players, but the Bulls don’t plan to use him. They will either trade Anthony somewhere else before the deadline or waive him so he can search for another opportunity.

The Mavericks’ standoff with Dennis Smith Jr. appears to be over, at least for now. Smith returned to the team after missing more than two weeks and was re-inserted into the rotation. There had been rumors that Dallas was seeking to trade Smith, but those seem to have quieted.

There are fresh rumors that LeBron James wants to see Luke Walton replaced as Lakers’ head coach. Talk of a possible coaching change emerged early in the season as L.A. got off to a slow start, but seemed to subside as the team became more successful. With James missing more than a month because of injury, the Lakers have dropped into ninth place in the West.

The Knicks have made Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee available for trades. Both veteran guards have contracts that run beyond this season, and New York wants to maximize cap space for free agency. Enes Kanter expressed a desire to be traded after receiving a DNP in Wednesday’s loss.

Here are 10 more notable NBA headlines from the past week:

International Notes: Kilpatrick, M. Williams, China, Pitino

Sean Kilpatrick received an offer to play for Panathinaikos is Greece, but turned it down as he waits for another NBA opportunity, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando. The news was first reported by George Zakkas of SDNA.

Saturday marked the first day that NBA teams could offer 10-day contracts, and Kilpatrick, who has gone that route with four organizations, is hoping it will be his way back into the league. He played for four teams last season, starting the year with the Nets before being waived in December. He signed a two-way deal with the Bucks later that month and was converted to a regular NBA contract before being waived in March. He signed a pair of 10-day deals with the Clippers, then finished the season with the Bulls before they waived him over the summer.

The 29-year-old averaged 6.3 points per game last season, including 15.4 PPG in nine games with Chicago.

There’s more international news to pass along:

  • Matt Williams, who started last season as a two-way player with the Heat, has reached an agreement with GS Kymis in Greece, Lupo notes in a separate story. Williams began this  season with KTP Basket in Finland. He got into just three games with Miami before being waived in December of 2017.
  • The Lakers and Nets will play a pair of preseason games in China, according to an ESPN report. The contests are set for October 10 in Shanghai and October 12 in Shenzhen. It will be the third appearance in China for LeBron James and possibly the fourth for Lance Stephenson, who will set a record if he remains on the roster.
  • In the wake of Steve Alford’s firing at UCLA, a group of boosters is targeting Panathinaikos coach Rick Pitino, writes Adam Zagoria for Forbes. Pitino made his debut with the Greek team late last month and is under contract for the rest of the season, so the move couldn’t take effect until the 2019/20 season. A source tells Zagoria that Pitino is “very interested” in taking over the Bruins. Approval from the UC Board of Regents is seen as the main obstacle in light of Pitino’s dismissal from Louisville amid his alleged role in an NCAA scandal. Murray Bartow is serving as interim coach at UCLA.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/4/18

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Jazz have recalled Grayson Allen and Georges Niang from the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s Twitter feed. It was each player’s only G League assignment of the season.
  • Jevon Carter and Ivan Rabb had an eventful day. The Grizzlies assigned the pair to their G League affiliate, the Memphis Hustle for morning shootaround, per the team’s Twitter feed. The two were then recalled for the Grizzlies’ mid-day practice before being re-assigned to the Hustle to play in their night game.
  • The Pelicans have assigned Frank Jackson to the G League, according to a team press release. New Orleans doesn’t yet have its own affiliate, so Jackson will play for the Texas Legends, pursuant to the flexible assignment system.
  • The Pacers have recalled Alize Johnson from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, per the team’s website. Johnson has been with the G League affiliate since November 7.
  • The Nets have assigned Dzanan Musa to their G League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, according to the team’s Twitter feed.

Knicks Notes: Ntilikina, Knox, Robinson, Vonleh

Frank Ntilikina is the latest victim of coach David Fizdale’s changing rotation, never leaving the bench in Saturday night’s win over the Bucks, writes Steve Popper of Newsday. The Knicks were down a guard after Trey Burke sprained his right knee in the first minute of the game, but Fizdale never turned to Ntilikina, making it the first DNP-CD of his brief NBA career.

“It’s not frustration,” Ntilikina said after the game. “I think it’s motivation because as a competitor, you want to be out there on the court to help your team. My job and my mindset is to keep working harder to be able to get back on the court.”

Ntilikina has started 14 games this season, but has seen his playing time reduced while suffering through a shooting slump. Fizdale has remained supportive and issued a reminder that other players have found themselves in the same situation.

“As you could see with these guys, none of them are ever in the dungeon,” Fizdale said. “He was the example of my postgame speech because if you watch our bench tonight, he was the most energetic, the first one up, the first one rooting guys on, the one making sure people knew what they were supposed to do coming out of timeouts. And that’s not easy when you’re getting a DNP. But as you know and as they know, I will come back to him in no time. [Damyean Dotson] is a perfect testament of that.”

There’s more this morning from New York:

  • Kevin Knox responded to league-wide questions about his ability with a career-best performance Saturday, notes Kevin Kernan of The New York Post. Knox scored 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as New York knocked off one of the league’s best teams. “Fiz is always going to have confidence in me,” the rookie forward said. “He just wants me to keep playing hard. He talked to me about that the other day. It shows how much confidence in me to keep me out there the whole game.”
  • Fizdale is willing to endure the growing pains for Knox and Mitchell Robinson and won’t consider a trip to the G League for either one, Popper relays in a separate story“I’ve got a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old trying to figure out the NBA, the league that’s full of the absolute best players in the world, the best coaches in the world, doing it in the absolute toughest market in America,” Fizdale said. “Give them a break. These guys are learning on the fly.”
  • In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, Noah Vonleh explains why he chose the Knicks in free agency.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/15/18

Here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor Talks Butler Trade

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is more hands-on than many of his fellow NBA team owners, which was on display throughout the team’s recent saga with Jimmy Butler.

Reports early in the process indicated that some teams were contacting Taylor directly to discuss potential trades for Butler, since Minnesota’s management team of Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden seemed less inclined to make a move. When Butler was finally dealt over the weekend, a report suggested that the team owners on both sides were “heavily involved” in negotiations.

With that in mind, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune each spoke to Taylor about the deal the Wolves ultimately made, getting the owner’s thoughts on the package Minnesota received from the Sixers and the drama leading up to that trade agreement.

Here are a few of the highlights from Taylor, via Krawcznyski’s interview unless otherwise noted:

On Tom Thibodeau’s future with the Timberwolves:

“Like most coaches, he’ll be measured on the success of the team. Not one game, but what we can do overall, or just the improvement. If we can see improvement every day, that would be a very positive thing. Those are his expectations and that would be mine too. … Now it’s the (looking toward the) future. We’re looking forward. He’s supposed to be a coach with veteran knowledge. Hopefully he can bring that experience to this group of players and we win a lot more than we lose.”

On how Thibodeau’s close relationship with Butler affected the situation:

“It was hard for the coach to see an end to this relationship. I think he felt responsible that he should work hard to try to get Jimmy to change his mind, to stay with us, to meet the goals that we all agreed upon and that was to have a successful year this year and he would coach it, Jimmy would help in the leadership needs of the team and get us deep in the playoffs. I don’t fault the coach at all for having those desires and hopes.

“But of course as you saw, that strung out the timetable because a lot of effort on his part was put into trying to work with Jimmy. It’s probably from my viewpoint as being a step away from it, I felt that this was probably not going to work out.”

On how Butler handled the situation:

“I certainly wished that he would follow what I would call his behavior of being a leader on the team and doing positive things in the locker room, doing positive things out on the floor. I know in a number of cases he did do that, and I appreciate that. But my expectations of Jimmy were quite high. When we had these disruptions, rightly or wrongly, it appeared to have affected the team in a negative way.”

On whether Butler’s trade request was impacting the Wolves’ play (via Hine):

“It just appeared that they weren’t working together as a team or as a unit the way that they should’ve. I can’t exactly answer why. The only thing that was different that we had was Jimmy’s position of leaving the team. Maybe that was affecting guys more than they even knew themselves.”

On the trade package the Wolves received:

“I think in this case we were able to do two things that are very important. No. 1, we brought in some guys that could help us immediately, and I think that’s important. Secondly, we don’t have to look at it as just this year. I think because of their age and because of their contracts we can look at them as some fellows that can help us into the future. And that to me is very important.”

Five Key Stories: 11/4/18 – 11/10/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s biggest stories from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

The Sixers acquired Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade with the Timberwolves. In a ground-shaking move to make the Eastern Conference Finals this season and beyond, Philadelphia added another All-Star level talent to team up with the dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Sixers also acquired Justin Patton in the deal while giving up two starters — Robert Covington and Dario Saric — along with Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick. The Sixers now look like the Celtics’ biggest threat in the conference and put themselves in position to sign the impending free agent to a long-term contract. Meanwhile, Minnesota rids itself of the Butler drama and gets two solid players in return.

The Sixers lost rookie guard Zhaire Smith for the remainder of the season. Complications due to an allergic reaction have sidelined Smith indefinitely. He underwent surgery during the summer to repair a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and was originally scheduled to return sometime next month. Smith suffered the allergic reaction while recovering from the surgery. Philadelphia first-round picks have been snakebit in recent years. Simmons and Embiid had their first season delayed by injuries and Markelle Fultz‘s rookie season was marred by a shoulder injury and shooting issues.

The Lakers signed veteran center Tyson Chandler after he reached a buyout with the Suns and cleared waivers. The Lakers were seeking a solid backup to JaVale McGee and added another veteran free agent in Chandler, whose playing time diminished with the Suns after they drafted Deandre Ayton. Chandler, 36, played 23 minutes and grabbed eight rebounds in his first game with his latest team.

The Cavaliers worked out a new contract with coach Larry DrewDrew wanted some security after replacing Tyronn Lue and the front office obliged. Drew will coach the team for the remainder of the season and will receive a buyout if the organization decides to go in another direction next season.

Lakers president Magic Johnson declared that he has no plans to fire head coach Luke WaltonAfter word leaked that Johnson had admonished his head coach over a variety of issues, the Hall of Famer made a point of saying he wasn’t looking to make a coaching change. Expectations have naturally risen since LeBron James decided to join the franchise and Walton will remain on shaky ground, regardless of Johnson’s vote of confidence, as long as the team struggles to develop into a playoff contender.

Here are 10 more notable NBA headlines from the last week:

Five Key Stories: 10/27/18 – 11/3/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s biggest stories from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

The Lakers’ disappointing start is turning up the heat on coach Luke Walton. Team president Magic Johnson “admonished” Walton for the team’s poor performance and delivered a message that improvement is necessary. The front office is counting on a trip to the playoffs after signing LeBron James and a group of veterans over the summer.

The Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue became the first coach to be fired this season. He was dismissed for the team’s 0-6 start and a dispute with GM Koby Altman about who should be getting playing time. Larry Drew has taken over, but he describes himself as the “voice of the team,” rather than an interim coach as he tries to work out a more permanent arrangement.

Cleveland lost star forward Kevin Love for at least six weeks after surgery on his left foot. Love had missed four straight games with a toe injury before the decision was made to operate. Sam Dekker has taken over his starting spot.

The news wasn’t all bad this week in Cleveland, which learned it will be the host city for the 2022 All-Star Game. It will mark the first time the Cavs have hosted the game since 1997.

Jimmy Butler made headlines again when he opted to sit out Wednesday’s game because of “general soreness.” There was speculation that he might be planning an extended absence to force the Timberwolves’ hands on his trade request, but he was back in the lineup Friday in Golden State.

Here are 10 more notable headlines from last week:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Notes: Butler, Jones, Rose

Appearing today on Darren Wolfson’s podcast The Scoop, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor didn’t guarantee that Jimmy Butler would be traded before February’s deadline, but said his best guess was that it would happen. In Taylor’s view, teams may not have put their best offers on the table yet, since they’re still trying to take advantage of Minnesota’s diminished leverage created by Butler’s strong desire to leave.

Taylor, who confirmed that GM Scott Layden is the point man on trade negotiations, with Tom Thibodeau focusing on coaching, said that about half the teams in the league have made inquiries on Butler. Asked by Wolfson if the Timberwolves are feeling pressure to pull the trigger on a deal soon, Taylor said that he knows his team won’t necessarily get a “perfect” deal, but added that he owes it to fans to get the best return possible, which means being patient.

Here’s more from out of Minnesota:

  • In a column for The Star Tribune, Jim Souhan argues that the Timberwolves should resolve the Butler situation sooner rather than later, writing that the saga has hurt the team’s culture and cost Thibodeau credibility in the locker room.
  • Before he went off for 50 points against the Jazz on Wednesday night, Derrick Rose spoke to Shams Charania of The Athletic about the opportunity he has been given in Minnesota to be a key contributor again without necessarily having to regain his old MVP form. Charania also explores the respect that stars around the NBA still have for Rose.
  • An MRI on Tyus Jones‘ injured right foot came back negative, with inflammation in the foot, sources tell Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones is considered day-to-day, having apparently avoided a more serious injury.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Knox, O’Quinn, Durant

David Fizdale enjoyed working as a television commentator and might have stayed in that role longer if not for the opportunity with the Knicks, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Fizdale called TV work a  “comfortable” job without “the stress of coaching,” but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to build a winner in New York. He had interviews with several teams and turned down a four-year offer from the Suns to take the Knicks’ job.

Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his first year as a head coach, but injuries slowed the team last season and he was fired after 17 games in the midst of a well-publicized clash with Marc Gasol. That led to his job as an ESPN analyst.

“I went in there just force-feeding culture down everyone’s throat,” Fizdale said of his time in Memphis. “I had a small window, I felt, with those guys. So I really tried to fast-track everything. And there’s just some things you can’t rush. You can’t rush relationships, you can’t rush trust, you can’t rush the culture.”

There’s more out of New York:

  • The Knicks are hoping to get injured rookie Kevin Knox back in the lineup soon, possibly by Friday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox suffered a sprained ankle in the third game of the season, and his father says he could be ready to return sometime between Friday and November 10. A tweet from the Knicks yesterday relays that Knox is making “good progress” and has “advanced to participating in shooting drills and non-contact court activity.”
  • Former Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn tells Berman it wasn’t an easy decision to leave New York and sign with the Pacers over the summer (Twitter link). “It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever made as far as making a choice in my career,” O’Quinn said. “I slept on it, prayed on it. I made the decision and I’m sticking with it. It’s no secret I would’ve loved to play for Fizdale or be here. It’s tougher than telling a girl you’re moving on.’’
  • The close relationship between Knicks assistant coach Royal Ivey and Warriors star Kevin Durant may give New York an edge in free agency next summer, Berman suggests in another story. They both went to college at Texas and Durant is the godfather of Ivey’s daughter.