Vasilije Micic

Northwest Notes: Jokic, Roby, Micić, Beverley

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic appears to be the favorite as the MVP race enters the home stretch, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN. In its latest straw poll of 100 media members, the network found 62 first-place votes and 860 overall points for Jokic, putting him ahead of the SixersJoel Embiid, who had 29 first-place votes and 719 points, and the Bucks‘ Giannis Antetokounmpo with nine first-place votes and 593 points.

Bontemps notes that the race appears similar to last year’s when Jokic built late momentum to capture his first MVP award. ESPN’s previous poll, taken in mid-February, showed Embiid with a slight advantage.

Jokic’s statistics are nearly identical to last season as he’s averaging 26.3 points and 8.0 assists to go with a career-high 13.6 rebounds per game. He has kept Denver in the playoff race despite injuries to Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, but his candidacy could suffer if the Nuggets fall into the play-in tournament. They’re currently in sixth, two games ahead of seventh-place Minnesota.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder fans may not have wanted to win Monday’s game at Portland, but Isaiah Roby did, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. With Oklahoma City locked in a tight lottery race and having only had eight available players, all of whom started in the G League this season, Roby delivered a career-high 30 points, including a clutch shot that sent the game into overtime. “With the amount of talent that we have out, nobody’s counting on us to win any games,” Roby said. “The fact that we’re going out competing against playoff teams (Denver on Sunday) and we’re winning games like tonight, that’s very encouraging. I’m just proud of the guys. Proud of the eight guys we had out there tonight.” 
  • Vasilije Micić, whose rights are owned by the Thunder, is only interested in coming to the NBA if he believes he’ll get regular playing time, according to Eurohoops. The 28-year-old signed a three-year extension with Anadolu Efes last summer that contains an escape clause after each season. “Honestly, I have a desire to go to the NBA,” he said. “But in a way, and I told that to the people from Oklahoma, to actually play there. I don’t see myself going there to tell my neighborhood friends that I was in the NBA and bring them back an OKC jersey. That doesn’t inspire me. I also came to Efes when they were at the bottom, and I had offers of some, perhaps, better-standing names.”
  • Patrick Beverley has completely changed the culture surrounding the Timberwolves since arriving in an offseason trade, states Cole Huff of The Athletic, who adds that the veteran guard has inspired toughness everywhere he’s been in his NBA career.

Western Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Kings, Lakers, Micić

Appearing on Draymond Green‘s podcast, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard expressed some enthusiasm about the team’s direction, singling out teammates Anfernee Simons, Nassir Little, Jusuf Nurkic, and Josh Hart, and suggesting Portland has “got some pieces to the puzzle” and just needs to keep adding to those pieces.

As Casey Holdahl of relays, Lillard also pushed back against the idea that Portland can’t be an appealing free agent destination, arguing that if the Blazers have a chance to seriously contend, they’ll attract talent.

“No offense, but people (are) going to Oklahoma City, people going to Milwaukee, you know what I mean?” Lillard said. “People are going places and Portland ain’t what people think it is, otherwise I wouldn’t have been living here this long. If you just couldn’t live here, I wouldn’t be living here this long.

“I think that’s part of it, but at the end of the day, people are going places that’s like ‘You went there?’ (Carmelo Anthony) went to OKC when we was trying to get ‘Melo to come here. Ask ‘Melo where he would go first. And I’ll say this: not just because of the living situation.”

Here are a few more notes from around the Western Conference:

  • The Kings‘ trade deadline shake-up create a more positive vibe around the organization, point guard De’Aaron Fox said this week, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee. “I think the mood is definitely a bit better,” Fox said. “It’s definitely different when guys come into new situations, guys coming from Indiana, guys coming from Detroit and Donte [DiVincenzo] coming from Milwaukee … it’s like a breath of fresh air when you have a change of scenery.”
  • Lakers head coach Frank Vogel shared a series of injury-related updates on Thursday, per Dave McMenamin of ESPN (Twitter link). Most notably, Kendrick Nunn (knee) has begun his ramp-up process again following a setback last month, Anthony Davis (foot) is off his crutches, and Carmelo Anthony (hamstring) is probable to return on Friday after missing the team’s last five games.
  • Speaking to Donatas Urbonas of, veteran international agent Misko Raznatovic expressed dissatisfaction with the rules governing draft-and-stash players like his client Vasilije Micić, whose NBA rights are held by the Thunder. “One team gets your rights and then, (even if) you’re the best player in Europe, they don’t want to trade you and they don’t want to give you (a fair contract) offer,” Raznatovic said. “And then you never play in the NBA, (even if) you’re better than 80% of the guys who are there. I don’t believe this is fair.” Raznatovic did note that Micić has an annual NBA escape clause in his contract with Anadolu Efes, so he’ll talk to the Thunder again this summer to see if they can work something out.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Micić, Krejci, Simmons

Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell played through an ankle injury during Utah’s two-round 2021 postseason run. In a new conversation with Sam Amick of The Athletic, Mitchell has indicated that the injury is healing nicely.

“The ankle feels good,” Mitchell said. “I’ll be ready to go. I think last year definitely was shaky. There were just so many different obstacles with the ankle and whatnot, but — like I said — no slight to Phoenix or Milwaukee or the Clippers, you know, (but) I feel like if we were healthy, you know, we… get to the Finals.”

The Jazz fell 4-2 to the Clippers in the second round of the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers were missing their best player, Kawhi Leonard, for the final three contests of the series, while Utah’s starting guards – Mitchell and Mike Conley – were coming off injuries of their own.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Guard Vasilije Micić revealed in a podcast interview with Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews that he was tendered a strong offer to join the Thunder for the 2021/22 season, but ultimately decided to remain in Europe, with the Turkish club Anadolu Efes. Micić cited a few factors behind his decision. A big one was that he wanted to be able to play in the Olympic qualifying games for Serbia in July and wouldn’t be able to sign Oklahoma City until August, so he didn’t want to risk an injury while he was still unsigned. Micić, a draft-and-stash prospect, was named the EuroLeague MVP while helping Anadolu Efes win the 2021 EuroLeague title.
  • Thunder guard Vit Krejci will resume five-on-five workouts this week, reports Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 21-year-old Krejci, selected with the No. 37 pick and flipped to the Thunder on draft night, tore his ACL in September 2020. He recently signed his first NBA contract.
  • As chatter grows surrounding a potential Timberwolves deal for Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic unpacks what a deal could look like, as well as how likely it looks that a deal could happen between these particular franchises, with Minnesota apparently uninterested in including their two most valuable players, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards. Krawczynski notes that a trade appears unlikely before the start of training camp, and that Sixers team president Daryl Morey will do his darnedest to drum up more interest in Simmons around the league. If the market for Simmons remains relatively apathetic, Krawczynski opines that the Timberwolves have a chance to add him.

Thunder Notes: SGA, Presti, Draft Picks, Micic

With the Thunder‘s rebuilding process underway, one definite part of the foundation is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The third-year guard will be eligible for a rookie-scale extension this summer, and Oklahoma City general manager Sam Presti recently spoke about the possibility of getting something done.

“We have a big conversation that we’ll be able to have with Shai coming up in the offseason,” Presti said, per Bobby Marks of ESPN. “We’re really looking forward to that. His impact on the team was pretty obvious, and we think he’s a very, very bright rising player in the NBA. We couldn’t be more excited about the growth he took, both as a player but also as a leader during the year.”

Gilgeous-Alexander was acquired from the Clippers two years ago in the trade that sent Paul George to Los Angeles. He averaged 19.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his first season with the Thunder and was posting a 23.7/4.7/5.9 line through 35 games this year before being sidelined by plantar fasciitis.

“I thought he helped a lot of our guys improve and put them in position to be successful, and that got much tougher when he wasn’t on the court, which is an indicator that he’s a good player,” Presti said. “That’s what you want.”

There’s more from Oklahoma City:

  • The Thunder tied for the fourth-worst record in the league and Presti is willing to be patient with trying to mold the team back into a playoff contender, Marks notes in the same story. Although OKC has plenty of cap space, the team won’t be chasing any of the top names when free agency begins next month. The Thunder have six picks in the upcoming draft, along with trade exceptions worth $27.5MM, $12.8MM, $10.1MM and $9.6MM. “You stick to your principles, you stick to your values, you think in the best interests of the organization long term,” Presti said. “In our case we’re really focused on building a sustainably great team in Oklahoma City. I think good things will happen, and I think we should be optimistic about that and continue to be forward facing with that respect.”
  • Oklahoma City secured a first-round pick by acquiring Kemba Walker from the Celtics, and the Thunder are in position to do it again, Marks adds. He suggests the Nets may be willing to part with the 27th selection to move DeAndre Jordan, who is owed nearly $20MM over the next two seasons.
  • There was talk of Vasilije Micic joining the Thunder next season, but the reigning EuroLeague MVP has agreed to a three-year contract extension with Anadolu Efes, according to Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohooops. The 27-year-old point guard will have an NBA out next summer and in 2023.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Micic, Beasley, Newman-Beck

The Game 3 loss to the Clippers showed that the Jazz will likely need Mike Conley to win the series, writes Christopher Kamrani of The Athletic. Conley hasn’t played since suffering a strained hamstring on June 2 in the first round against Memphis.

Conley has experienced hamstring issues throughout the season, Kamrani adds, and the Jazz avoided playing him on back-to-back nights to minimize the risk of a serious injury. Utah was able to beat L.A. twice at home without its All-Star point guard, but it will be tough to close out the series without him on the court.

Before Game 3 on Saturday night, Jazz coach Quin Snyder dismissed the notion that Conley was being kept on the sidelines because his team had a 2-0 lead.

“It has nothing to do with us feeling any form of accomplishment, having won a couple of games. Mike’s not ready to go yet,” Snyder said. “He’s working hard every day to try to get back. But, in no way are we feeling even some small form of success. Obviously, you’re glad you won a couple of games, but seeing we lost Game 1 against Memphis last series, and the Clippers obviously lost against Dallas and then won the series — we know how difficult a series this is going to be. And when Mike’s ready, he’ll be back.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder own the draft rights to Vasilije Micic, who was named MVP of the EuroLeague last month, but a decision on his NBA future will have to wait a few weeks, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 27-year-old Serbian point guard may be ready to consider the NBA this summer, but Oklahoma City isn’t willing to commit a roster spot until after the July 29 draft, when it could have two picks in the top five. Micic is much older than the Thunder’s core and the team is already set at point guard, so his draft rights could become a valuable trade asset, Mussatto adds.
  • Timberwolves guard Malik Beasley, who is serving a 120-day jail sentence for a gun incident last year, posted a letter to fans on his Instagram account this week, relays Jeff Wald of Fox 9. “I’m not looking for sympathy or anything like that, just to understand I could easily fold and I won’t,” Beasley wrote.
  • The Timberwolves won’t bring back Sam Newman-Beck as head coach of their G League affiliate in Iowa, tweets NBA writer Dane Moore. Newman-Beck was hired at the same time as former Wolves coach Ryan Saunders, but coach Chris Finch wants to build a new coaching staff all the way to the G League.

Agent: No Guarantee Euro Star Micić Will Move To NBA In 2021/22

Serbian guard Vasilije Micić put the finishing touches on a memorable season on Sunday, leading Anadolu Efes to a EuroLeague title with a win over Barcelona in the championship game. Micić, who scored 25 points on Sunday, was named the EuroLeague’s Final Four Most Valuable Player after previously winning the MVP award for the regular season.

Micić, 27, seems poised to make the leap to the NBA, and an April report indicated that he would likely do so for the 2021/22 season. However, agent Misko Raznatovic, who cautioned in April that it was hardly a done deal that Micić would come stateside, reiterated that point this week in the wake of his client’s EuroLeague success.

As Saša Ozmo of Sport Klub relays (via Twitter), Raznatovic suggested that he doesn’t want Micić to make the move to the NBA only to find himself stuck on the bench.

“Micić won’t go until everything is right – maybe this year, maybe not,” Raznatovic said, per Ozmo (Twitter link). “Everything is still open. If the NBA is not good enough and fair enough towards him, they Oklahoma City will have to wait for Vasa for another year.”

Having been drafted 52nd overall in the 2014 draft, Micić wouldn’t be an NBA free agent. Oklahoma City currently holds his draft rights, so he’d have to sign with the Thunder unless they trade his rights to another team.

As a rebuilding franchise, the Thunder appear well positioned to give Micić regular minutes, and should have the cap flexibility to sign him to a contract that works for both sides. Micić wouldn’t be subject to the NBA’s rookie scale, so the team would have to sign him using cap room or an exception like the mid-level.

Holding Micić’s NBA rights will give the Thunder some leverage in negotiations, but the Serbian has some fallback options too — coming off an MVP season, he’d draw interest from multiple top teams in Europe and could continue playing a starring role in the world’s second-best basketball league. We’ll likely have to wait until later this summer to see whether he and Oklahoma City can work something out.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves Sale, Micic, Barton, Porter Jr.

A lawsuit filed by a limited partner regarding the agreement to sell the Timberwolves has revealed that there’s no language in the contract that prevents the team from being moved into a different market, as Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic details. The filing made in district court alleges that team owner Glen Taylor was in breach of contract because limited partner Meyer Orbach, who has a 17% stake in the team, was not given the opportunity to sell his shares before the agreement was completed.

The agreement between Taylor to sell the team to former baseball star Alex Rodriguez and tech entrepreneur Marc Lore was announced earlier this month.

Taylor has repeatedly said he wants the team to stay in Minneapolis. Sources told Krawczynski that Lore and Rodriguez are committed to the Twin Cities market and there haven’t been any discussions about moving the Timberwolves.

According to the The Athletic’s report, Taylor entered a unique arrangement with Lore and Rodriguez, subject to league approval this summer. They’ll initially invest $250MM and will not be majority partners right from the start. The plan is for the duo to purchase shares of the team gradually and gain  controlling interest by December 2023.

Taylor would thus retain control over the team for two more seasons unless Lore and Rodriguez can pay him off earlier than that.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic was named the EuroLeague’s Final Four Most Valuable Player after leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to the championship for the first time in club history, according to He averaged 25.0 points and 5.5 assists in the Final Four. He previously was named the league’s MVP after averaging 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games. He is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.
  • Nuggets swingman Will Barton won’t play against Portland in Game 5 on Tuesday but he could be available for Game 6 and a potential Game 7, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Barton, who has been sidelined by a right hamstring strain, practiced in full on Monday.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. vows to be much more aggressive in Game 5 after a lackluster outing in Game 4, Singer writes. “It’s on us as a team but a lot of it is on me as well,” he said. “If I’m not getting any actions, I’ve got to figure it out in transition, on the glass. I can’t let myself be as small of a factor as I was the last couple of games.”

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Micic, Clarkson, Nuggets

When Ricky Rubio was acquired by the Timberwolves during the 2020 offseason, it was billed as a homecoming for a veteran point guard who began his NBA career in Minnesota. However, speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Rubio admitted that the unusual circumstances surrounding the 2020/21 season prevented him from really reconnecting with Wolves fans.

“It didn’t feel like I came back to Minnesota,” Rubio said. “That’s one of the things that hurts the most, being at Target Center and not being able to see real fans and feel the love they have had for me. It’s something that I missed.”

While Rubio should get the opportunity to be around fans in Minnesota next season, he’s entering a contract year and could be a candidate to be traded again this offseason if the Wolves want to shake up their roster. For his part, the Spaniard told Krawczynski that he’d love to remain with the team — as long as it keeps taking positive steps toward contention.

“I don’t want to be on a team where there is no direction, there is no hope we can really take the next step,” he said. “I believe we can take the next step and really be a solid playoff team. That’s why when I got traded to Minnesota I was excited. I thought this was the year. We wasted a year, but there is no more years to waste. If not, the rebuilding process is gonna start over again and I don’t think that’s a fun part to be a part of.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic has been voted the EuroLeague’s 2020/21 Most Valuable Player, the league announced on Wednesday. Micic, who averaged 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games for Anadolu Efes is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.
  • As Sarah Todd of The Deseret News details, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson was always reluctant to accept a bench role earlier in his NBA career, viewing it as a slight when he was removed from the starting lineup during his days with the Lakers. However, Clarkson has embraced his reserve role over the years and it paid off in a big way in 2020/21 with a Sixth Man of the Year award.
  • The Nuggets are increasing the capacity at Ball Arena to 10,500 fans, the team announced in a press release. Denver had previously been allowing an attendance of up to 7,750.

Vasilije Micić Expected To Join Thunder Next Season?

Draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micić is expected to join the Thunder next season, according to Chema De Lucas (hat tip to Andrew Schlecht). Micić reportedly rejected a renewal offer from Turkey’s Anadolu Efes and an offer from Real Madrid in order to play in the NBA in 2021/22.

The Serbian swingman was originally selected by the 76ers with the No. 52 pick in the 2014 draft. His rights were acquired by Oklahoma City in December as part of a multi-player deal that featured Al Horford going to the Western Conference and Danny Green joining Philadelphia.

Last season, the 6’6” Micić averaged 14.5 PPG and 5.8 APG while shooting 39.7% from distance for his Turkish club. In 32 games this season, he’s averaging 16.4 PPG and 5.0 APG in the EuroLeague.

While at least one report suggests Micić is headed to the NBA, agent Misko Raznatovic says it’s too early to be certain about that, tweeting that any report suggesting Micić has a deal lined up is “completely false.”

Sixers Trading Al Horford, Draft Picks To Thunder For Danny Green

The Sixers and Thunder have agreed to a trade that will send Al Horford and two draft picks to Oklahoma City and Danny Green to Philadelphia, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The two picks headed to Oklahoma City are the Sixers’ 2025 first-round pick – which will be “lightly” protected – and the 34th pick in tonight’s draft, sources tell Wojnarowski (Twitter link). Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer clarifies (via Twitter) that the ’25 first-rounder will be top-six protected.

According to Woj (Twitter link), Philadelphia will also receive wing Terrance Ferguson in the swap, while OKC will acquire the rights to draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic, a 26-year-old who is considered one of the top point guards in Europe.

For the Sixers, the move represents a way to get off the most cumbersome prospect on the team’s books. While Horford (owed $27.5MM in 2020/21) would only have been Philadelphia’s fourth highest-paid player, the other three – Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris – all have clear roles on the team going forward, whereas Horford wasn’t a great fit during his first year as a Sixer.

The 76ers will replace Horford will Green, a three-and-D wing who adds some much-needed outside shooting to their lineup. Although Green struggled for the Lakers late in the postseason, he was a solid starter throughout the regular season, averaging 8.0 PPG with a .367 3PT% in 68 games (24.8 MPG). He has won championships in each of the last two seasons, having been a major part of Toronto’s rotation in 2018/19.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details (via Twitter), the Sixers’ financial savings as a result of the deal should be substantial. Marks estimates it’ll save the team $18MM in tax penalties in 2020/21, as well as $7.7MM in salary. There will also be $42MM in long-term savings, with Green on a $15MM expiring contract and Horford still owed guaranteed money in ’21/22 and ’22/23.

The Thunder, who are acquiring Green in a not-yet-finalized deal with the Lakers, will either fold this deal into that one, making it a three-teamer, or renounce their free agents and use cap room to take on Horford, as Marks notes (via Twitter). If Oklahoma City takes the latter route, it would presumably close the door on the possibility of a Danilo Gallinari sign-and-trade scenario.

The Thunder now hold four picks in tonight’s draft — Nos. 25, 28, 34, and 53. And, of course, the 2025 pick is the latest in a long line of future first-rounders acquired by GM Sam Presti, who continues to stockpile assets for the franchise’s rebuild.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.