Will Barton

Will Barton Unlikely To Return During Western Finals

Despite having previously expressed hope that he was nearing a return, Nuggets wing Will Barton is expected to remain sidelined for the rest of the Western Conference Finals, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

After initially accompanying his teammates on the Walt Disney World campus, Barton left Orlando in mid-August to rehab a nagging right knee injury in Miami. A report early in Denver’s second-round series vs. the Clippers indicated that Barton was doing “everything in his power” to make it back and hadn’t ruled out playing before the end of the Western Semifinals.

However, Barton remains on the shelf, with Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly admitting last week that there’s still no timetable for the 29-year-old’s return. With Denver once again just a couple losses away from elimination, the door may be closing on the possibility of a Barton comeback this summer, though the club has shown in previous rounds that it’s capable of fighting back from a two-game deficit.

While the Nuggets have gotten by without Barton so far this summer, he was a valuable part of the team’s rotation during the regular season, averaging 15.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 3.7 APG on .450/.375/.767 shooting in 58 starts (33.0 MPG). Jerami Grant is currently occupying Barton’s spot in the starting lineup.

Nuggets Notes: Millsap, Harris, Barton, Playoff Bonuses

Not only does Nuggets forward Paul Millsap want to reach the NBA Finals, he’d like to know what it feels like to defeat LeBron James in a playoff game, writes Kendra Andrews of The Athletic. When he was with the Hawks, Millsap faced James twice in the postseason and got swept both times. James is in Millsap’s way again as L.A. and Denver get ready to open the Western Conference Finals tonight.

“I told him, ‘Man, I tried to get away from you in the East,’” Millsap said about James’ move to the Lakers last season. “‘Then you came to the West.’ But finally, we’re at this juncture in the Western Conference Finals fighting to get to the championship game. He’s got several championships and I’m trying to get my first and I feel like this is my time to do that.”

Along with their shared playoff history, something else Millsap and James share is the ability to remain productive at age 35. James was an MVP finalist this year, while Denver coach Michael Malone said Millsap was the team’s “best player” during the regular season.

“You always have to have people like that, who set good examples, that you look up to,” Millsap said. “(LeBron) understands it. He wants to be the best. He wants to go out there and try to be the best every time he goes out there. So why not look at a guy like that who’s the same age and who’s doing really well in his career and in his life and take some of that with you?”

There’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Gary Harris, who will be among the players responsible for slowing James down, gets his defensive skills from his mother, notes Nick Kosmider of The Athletic. Joy Holmes Harris was a star player at Purdue three decades ago and her influence can be seen in her son, who has been a difference maker since returning from an injured hip late in the first round. “We had all missed ‘G’ out there a lot, and so when he came back it was no surprise the boost he gave us on both ends of the court,” Michael Porter Jr. said. “We’re just glad he’s feeling good and is with us right now.”
  • The Nuggets aren’t optimistic that injured wing Will Barton will be able to join them for their playoff run, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Barton left the Disney World campus August 19 to get a second opinion on a lingering knee issue, and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said there’s still “no timetable” for his return. “We’re not here without Will,” Connelly said. “He’s such a huge part of our team. He’s working his tail off to try to get right. We thought the resources that were available outside the bubble would be better suited to get him there. There’s no timetable, but even though he’s not here physically, he’s certainly here in spirit.”
  • Millsap and Harris picked up bonuses for reaching the conference finals, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. Millsap received $200K and Harris got $100K.

Nuggets’ Will Barton Hasn’t Ruled Out Return

Nuggets wing Will Barton has been sidelined for the entire summer restart so far due to a right knee injury, but he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of returning before the end of Denver’s season, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported on TNT on Monday night (video link).

After initially accompanying his teammates on the Walt Disney World campus, Barton left Orlando in mid-August to rehab his nagging knee injury in Miami. At that point, it seemed as if his season might be over, but Haynes says the 29-year-old has been getting tested daily for COVID-19 so that he’ll have a brief quarantine period if and when he’s able to return.

With the Nuggets now trailing the Clippers 2-1 in their second-round series, the door may be closing on a potential Barton return. Despite receiving daily coronavirus testing while he’s away, Barton would still have to quarantine for four days once he’s back at Disney World, so Denver will likely need to extend the series to six or seven games to give him a realistic chance of suiting up. Even then, there are no guarantees, but he’s doing “everything in his power” to make it back, according to Haynes.

While the Nuggets have gotten by without Barton so far this summer, he was a valuable part of the team’s rotation during the regular season, averaging 15.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 3.7 APG on .450/.375/.767 shooting in 58 starts (33.0 MPG). Jerami Grant is currently occupying Barton’s spot in the starting lineup.

Will Barton Leaving Disney Campus To Rehab Knee

Nuggets forward Will Barton, who has been dealing with an injured right knee for several weeks, will leave the Disney World complex for rehab work, a source tells Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

The problems with Barton’s knee have been causing soreness in other part of his body, Singer adds. He will get a second opinion to try to find relief from the pain.

Barton is listed as out indefinitely with “right knee soreness,” and his condition hasn’t changed since he appeared in a scrimmage July 27. He has been very frustrated by the lack of progress, tweets Katy Winge of Altitude TV. Rookie Michael Porter Jr. has been filling his spot in the starting lineup.

Barton averaged 15.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in 58 games before the hiatus.

Northwest Notes: Porter, Harris, Barton, Bryant, Little

The first round of the playoffs is an educational experience for young Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr., as Mike Singer of the Denver Post details. Porter had 13 points and eight rebounds in 31 minutes in the team’s postseason opener against Utah on Monday but was also targeted on defense and saw extra attention offensively.

“Just being out there, learning, going through it, you can’t put a dollar sign on that,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the best teacher that Michael is going to have. We can tell him, we can prepare him, but he has to go out there and feel it for himself and learn from it, which I know he will.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets will once again be down two starters in Game 2 of their first-round series on Wednesday, Kendra Andrews of The Athletic tweets. Wings Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee), both of whom missed the opener, will sit out. Porter and Torrey Craig started in their place, though Jerami Grant and Monte Morris played heavy minutes off the bench.
  • Johnnie Bryant will remain on the Jazz’s coaching staff through the playoffs, Steve Popper of Newsday tweets. Bryant has reportedly reached an agreement with the Knicks to become the club’s associate head coach.
  • Trail Blazers rookie forward Nassir Little experienced a syncopal episode (fainting) on August 12 while attending an optional practice in Orlando, the team tweets. He was diagnosed with dehydration and further tests have been negative. He will remain with the team and undergo precautionary health monitoring for two weeks. Little has appeared in 48 games, but none during the restart.

Northwest Notes: Dort, Nuggets, Lillard, Jazz

Thunder wing Luguentz Dort, who suffered a right knee sprain this week, will miss Friday’s regular season finale against the Clippers, according to Royce Young of ESPN (Twitter link). Dort will be listed as day-to-day going forward, so his availability for the start of the postseason next week remains unknown. Oklahoma City’s first-round series vs. Houston gets underway on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, as Young adds, Thunder guard Chris Paul will also miss Friday’s seeding game due to a left hand sprain. That injury isn’t believed to be an issue that will compromise Paul’s postseason availability at all — he’s simply getting a rest before the playoffs get underway.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Will Barton (knee) and Gary Harris (hip) will remain sidelined for the Nuggets‘ final seeding game on Friday, tweets Mike Singer of The Denver Post. There had previously been some optimism that Barton and Harris – who haven’t played yet this summer – might be available for today’s contest. Their playoff availability remains up in the air.
  • In an appearance on TNT, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports (video link) reported that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard and Clippers forward Paul George touched base to clarify that there were no hard feelings on other side in the wake of their recent war of words.
  • Following the departure of G League Coach of the Year Martin Schiller, the Salt Lake City Stars – the Jazz’s G League affiliate – have promoted assistant Nathan Peavy to become their new head coach. Andy Larsen and Julie Jag of The Salt Lake Tribune have the story and the details on Peavy’s ascension.
  • As a result of the seeding games in Orlando, the 2020 first-round pick that the Timberwolves will receive from the Nets will land at No. 17 overall. Minnesota was assured of receiving that lottery-protected pick once Brooklyn clinched its playoff spot.

Injury Updates: Porzingis, Jazz, Warren, Clippers, More

The results of the four seeding games today involving the Grizzlies, Trail Blazers, Spurs, and Suns will determine which teams participate in the play-in tournament for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot this weekend. And no absence from those games looms larger than Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s — as we relayed on Wednesday, the Bucks star has been suspended for the team’s showdown against Memphis on Thursday, which should improve the Grizzlies’ chance of earning a win and a play-in spot.

Antetokounmpo isn’t the only notable player who will be sitting out one of those four games though. According to the NBA’s official injury report, the Mavericks are listing Kristaps Porzingis (left heel contusion) as doubtful for the team’s afternoon contests against the Suns. Meanwhile, the Jazz will be without Mike Conley (right knee soreness) and Rudy Gobert (lower back soreness) against the Spurs this evening.

None of those ailments are expected to compromise those players’ availability for the postseason, but they could help influence which team ends up qualifying for that final playoff spot in the West.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Pacers forward T.J. Warren sat out Wednesday with what head coach Nate McMillan referred to after the game as plantar fasciitis, the same injury that has sidelined teammate Domantas Sabonis. However, according to J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star (Twitter link), McMillan clarified that Warren has been able to play through the issue throughout the season, and a source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link) that it isn’t expected to prevent Warren from being ready for the postseason, so it sounds as if it’s not as severe as Sabonis’ injury.
  • Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said on Wednesday that he’s hopeful Patrick Beverley (calf) and Landry Shamet (foot) will be in position to return for the start of the playoffs (Twitter link via Jovan Buha of The Athletic). Beverley has been out for the club’s last four games, while Shamet sat on Wednesday.
  • Despite a report indicating that the Nuggets are hoping Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) can play on Friday, head coach Michael Malone hasn’t projected much optimism about either player’s availability, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post.
  • Suns center Aron Baynes, who hasn’t played yet during the restart, will be available on Thursday, tweets John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7. However, Baynes likely won’t play much – if at all – based on how hot the team has been without him, Gambadoro notes.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Thunder, Booker, Bazley, Jazz

When the Nuggets rested all five of their starters for the entire fourth quarter in a close loss to the Lakers on Monday night, it was clear that the team was prioritizing health over its playoff seed, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Having been shorthanded throughout the restart, Denver will want to make sure it keeps key players like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Paul Millsap off the injured list with the playoffs around the corner.

Fortunately for the Nuggets, two of their missing rotation players may be nearing a return. As Singer relays (via Twitter), TNT’s Jared Greenberg said on Monday night’s broadcast that the club is hoping to have Gary Harris and Will Barton available on Friday for the last of eight seeding games. Neither player has suited up so far this summer.

Meanwhile, rookie Vlatko Cancar, who is recovering from a foot fracture, has arrived at the Walt Disney World campus and is in quarantine, according to Singer (Twitter link). Although Cancar isn’t expected to play, the Nuggets can now say their entire team is in Orlando, Singer notes.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Northwest…

  • Former Suns GM Ryan McDonough, who drafted Devin Booker with the No. 13 pick in 2015, tells Chris Mannix of SI.com that the Thunder tried to trade up one spot from No. 14 in what he believes was an effort to nab Booker themselves. “You could kind of hear or sense the air come out of the (OKC) room,” McDonough said of the moment when he told the Thunder he was drafting Booker. “You could tell they wanted him.”
  • Although he has been part of the Thunder‘s rotation for most of his rookie season, Darius Bazley has received a bump in minutes this summer and has responded well, with his first career double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds) on Monday. Nick Gallo of OKCThunder.com notes that Bazley’s play in the restart bodes well for his long-term potential, while Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman points to the 20-year-old’s shot selection as a key reason for his breakout.
  • Like Denver, the Jazz are prioritizing staying healthy and developing their bench players as the postseason nears, says Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Miye Oni, Jarrell Brantley, and Rayjon Tucker are among the beneficiaries, playing at least 23 minutes apiece on Monday vs. Dallas.

Injury Notes: Beverley, Dragic, MCW, Nuggets, More

Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley left Tuesday’s game against Phoenix in the first quarter with a left calf injury and didn’t return, as Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN details. The injury isn’t considered serious, but Doc Rivers suggested after the game that the team will play it safe, with the postseason not scheduled to begin until August 17.

“I don’t think it’s bad,” the Clippers’ head coach said. “We’re going to be very cautious, I can tell you that.”

Beverley’s injury occurred just as Lou Williams returned to action for the Clippers following his 10-day quarantine period. If Beverley is able to get back on the court soon and Montrezl Harrell reports to the team within the next week or so, L.A. should be back at full strength before the playoffs get underway.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Heat guard Goran Dragic suffered a slight ankle sprain near the end of Tuesday’s win over Boston, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who tweets that X-rays on the ankle came back negative.
  • Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams, who left Tuesday’s game with a sore left foot, has been diagnosed with a tendon strain after undergoing an MRI, tweets Josh Robbins of The Athletic. Carter-Williams is doubtful to play on Wednesday vs. Toronto.
  • The Nuggets will once again be without Gary Harris (hip) and Will Barton (knee) on Wednesday, but the team has upgraded Jamal Murray (hamstring) to questionable (Twitter link). Denver is in action again on Thursday, so it won’t be a surprise if Murray ends up playing one half of the back-to-back set.
    [UPDATE: Murray was ruled out for Wednesday’s game]
  • Speaking of back-to-backs, the Heat held Jimmy Butler (right ankle soreness) out of the second leg of a back-to-back set on Tuesday, while the Celtics are doing the same with Kemba Walker on Wednesday (Twitter link). Both teams are likely just playing it safe with their All-Stars.

Injury Notes: Embiid, Robinson, Harris, Barton, Mills

Joel Embiid missed the Sixers’ last two scrimmage games due to right calf tightness. However, he’s expected to play on Saturday in the team’s seeding opener against the Pacers, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Embiid suffered the calf injury during a July 24 scrimmage against the Grizzlies and played just 13 minutes. He also battled injuries prior to the stoppage of play in March. He missed nine games with a torn ligament in his right hand, and sat out five others with a left shoulder sprain, Pompey notes.

The Sixers can improve their playoff seeding during the next eight games. They are tied for fifth place in the East with Indiana at 39-26.

We have more injury-related news:

  • Sixers forward Glenn Robinson III is doubtful to play on Saturday, Pompey notes in the same story. He has a left hip pointer, which he suffered during a scrimmage against the Thunder on Sunday.
  • The Nuggets will go without at least two key players in their seeding opener on Saturday, the team’s PR department tweets. Guard Gary Harris has a right hip muscle strain while Will Barton is dealing with right knee soreness. Reserve big man Vlatko Cancar (left foot fracture) will also miss the game. Starting point guard Jamal Murray is questionable duo to left hamstring tightness.
  • Spurs veteran guard Patty Mills didn’t play in the team’s first game in Orlando but it wasn’t injury-related, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk tweets. Coach Gregg Popovich simply wanted to use his younger guards more extensively. Shooting guard Bryn Forbes‘ absence was injury-related — he’s dealing with a sore right quad.