There will be no 2018 Orlando Summer League

Summer bball action will change a bit in 2018. The Orlando Magic won’t be holding their usual league, which means the already-dominant main NBA-run league in Vegas will presumably become even bigger. Here’s the Orlando Sentinel reporting:

The Orlando Magic will not hold their annual summer league in Orlando next year and will participate instead in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, team officials told the Orlando Sentinel.

The decision is a radical departure for the Magic, who ran and managed their own summer league in Central Florida 14 times since 2002…

Eight teams participated in the Orlando Pro Summer League this year and played five games apiece. In addition to the Magic, the other teams were the Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Full article

Cavaliers guard Derrick Rose remains out with a sprained left ankle. He received additional imaging and evaluation today at Cleveland Clinic Sports Health by Cavaliers team physician Dr. James Rosneck and Dr. Brian Donley.

Due to continued symptoms, the ankle will be immobilized in a boot for the next week and he will also undergo an extended treatment process over the next two to three weeks.

His status will be updated as appropriate

Delon Wright out with shoulder injury

The Toronto Raptors announced Friday that test results confirmed guard Delon Wright sustained an injury consistent with a dislocated right shoulder. The injury occurred in the second quarter of Toronto’s game November 15 at New Orleans.

Wright had surgery on the same shoulder Aug. 1, 2016 following an NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas.

Wright will travel with the team to New York City next week for further consultation with Dr. Riley Williams at the Hospital for Special Surgery.

President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo announced today that the Philadelphia 76ers have restructured the terms of forward Robert Covington’s contract for the current season and signed Covington to a multi-year contract extension.

According to ESPN.com, it is a four-year, $62 million extension that “will include a $15 million renegotiation bump on Covington’s $1.57 million salary this season, plus an additional four years that will keep Covington under contract through the 2021-22 season.”

“Robert Covington is a prime example of what hard work, dedication and commitment can lead to. Rob’s growth as a player on both ends of the floor makes him one of the most versatile and effective wings in the league, while his contributions of character and professionalism feature prominently in our evolving organizational culture. This extension is both well-deserved, and a really great story,” Colangelo said.

Through 14 games this season, Covington holds averages of 16.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 steals in 31.1 minutes per game. His scoring average, 50 percent mark from the field and 49.5 percent mark from three-point range (eighth in the NBA) all represent career-highs.

The fifth-year forward has converted on 50 three-pointers this season, which ranks fourth in the NBA and he is one of just nine players in the league with at least 20 steals and 10 blocks in 2017-18. After leading the league in deflections per game a season ago, and finishing fourth in the league’s Defensive Player of the Year voting, his average of 3.4 deflections per contest this season places him fourth among NBA players.

Covington is one of 14 NBA players to make at least 500 three-pointers since the start of the 2014-15 season, while his 524 three-pointers in a 76ers uniform rank fourth in franchise history, behind Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, Kyle Korver and Andre Iguodala. He has finished second on the team in steals in each of his seasons in Philadelphia and is one of 17 players league-wide with at least 350 steals in that timeframe. Just five players have both 500 threes and 350 steals in that span.

Covington signed with the Sixers on Nov. 15, 2014 after being waived by Houston. In 217 games (178 starts), he holds averages of 13.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.6 steals in 28.6 minutes per game with Philadelphia. Covington originally was unselected in the 2013 NBA Draft after four seasons at Tennessee State and signed a free-agent contract with the Rockets in July 2013.

The Memphis Grizzlies say that point guard Mike Conley will undergo therapy and treatment to help promote healing and alleviate soreness in his left heel and Achilles following consultations with physicians and the Grizzlies’ medical staff. There is no timetable for his return at this time. Further updates will be provided in approximately two weeks.

Conley (6-1, 175) has appeared and started in 12 of the Grizzlies’ first 14 games this season and has averaged 17.1 points, 2.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.00 steals in 31.1 minutes in his 11th NBA season (all with Memphis).

Mavericks sign Antonius Cleveland, waive Gian Clavell

The Dallas Mavericks have signed guard/forward Antonius Cleveland to a two-way contract. In a related move, the Mavericks requested waivers on guard Gian Clavell.

A native of Memphis, played four seasons at Southeast Missouri State University (2013-17) before going undrafted in 2017. As a senior in 2016-17, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 32.9 minutes in 33 games (all starts) for the Redhawks on his way to being named All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team.

Cleveland played on Portland’s summer league team in 2017 and spent the 2017 preseason with Golden State. He appeared in six games for Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, in 2017-18, averaging 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 25.9 minutes.

He will wear number 44 for the Mavericks.

The 2017-18 season will mark the first year NBA two-way contracts will be implemented. NBA teams are allowed to have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team.

Two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players with four-or-fewer years of NBA experience are able to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

Clavell saw action in seven game for the Mavericks this season averaging 2.9 points and 1.0 rebound in 9.1 minutes per game.

Heat: James Johnson struggling this season

A key member of the Miami Heat, after receiving a relatively huge new contract, has been struggling this season. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting:

Heat forward James Johnson struggling this season

Forward James Johnson continues to struggle. He was 1-for-5 in 27 minutes Wednesday.

Johnson, who signed a four-year, $60 million contract, has been unable to come close to his production of last season, and he is hard-pressed for an answer.

“I’m killing myself every night, every day. It’s just been terrible performances out of me and not just from an offensive standpoint, the defense,” he said. “Our second unit, Tyler and me, we should come in and have that same affect we had last year and we haven’t been able to do that.”

Spoelstra said he is confident Johnson will get back on track: “We believe in James. It’s still early. He cares and he wants to do the right play. He’s a giving player. … I think it will work itself out if we simplify his mind.”

Full article

Lonzo Ball will remain Lakers starting PG

Lonzo Ball is a very promising NBA rookie whose shot is in need of serious improvement. He’s been their starting point guard, and that will apparently continue, at least for now. Not a surprise, but still interesting now that it’s been confirmed by Lakers coach Luke Walton himself. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Lonzo Ball will remain Lakers starting PG

Coach Luke Walton says rookie Lonzo Ball remains the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting point guard and that there is no talk of moving the No. 2 overall draft pick to the bench.

Struggling with his shot, Ball has not played in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ past two games — a win against the Phoenix Suns and a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Walton instead rode with the strong play of sixth man Jordan Clarkson.

“He’s our starting point guard,” Walton said of Ball after practice Thursday. “So there’s no discussion, no talks as of now of moving Lonzo to the bench. Nah. He’s our starting point guard.”

Okaro White undergoes foot surgery

Miami Heat forward Okaro White has undergone surgery to repair a fifth metatarsal fracture in his left foot. The 85-minute procedure was performed by Dr. Thomas San Giovanni and HEAT team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick at Miami Orthopedics & Sports Medicine Institute at Doctors Hospital.

White has appeared in six games (four starts) with the HEAT this season averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes while shooting 43.8 percent from the field.

A timetable for his return has not been set.

The Heat are 6-8 this season and have lost their last two games. They’re led in scoring by Goran Dragic (19.9 ppg), Dion Waiters (16.6 ppg), Hassan Whiteside (15.7 ppg), James Johnson (11.8 ppg) and Tyler Johnson (10.3).

Nets put up good fight vs Celtics

The Celtics came to Brooklyn Tuesday and left town with their NBA-leading 13th win in a row. Boston looked great in the first quarter, but then the Nets stepped up and made a game out of it. Here’s the New York Post with more:

Facing the hottest team in the NBA was going to be an uphill climb for the Nets under the best circumstances. But doing it without their two point guards — and arguably two best players — proved too much to handle.

With D’Angelo Russell out indefinitely with a knee injury and Jeremy Lin already sidelined for the season, also with a knee injury, the Nets were game, but woefully shorthanded against the Celtics. And scalding-hot Boston predictably proved to be too much, with the Nets falling 109-102 in a tightly contested affair Tuesday.

Hearing Boston fans take over the Barclays Center was just salt in the Nets’ various wounds, and listening to them serenade New Jersey-bred Celtics star Kyrie Irving with chants of “MVP!” as he took free throws with two minutes left was an added insult. But to be fair, Irving looked the part, dominating in his return from a facial fracture and then giving his shoes to some troops seated courtside.

Full article

And for more on the “relationship” between these two teams, here’s ESPN Boston:

In the aftermath of that late-game alley-oop, the remaining Nets fans were left to watch Brown and Tatum engage in a celebratory body-bump near midcourt. It was a painful reminder of what could have been.

Both Brown and Tatum, along with Irving, were delivered to Boston by direct result of the draft picks the Nets sent the Celtics as part of the 2013 blockbuster that sent Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Jason Terry to Brooklyn.

This was the first time since 2013 that Boston played a game against Brooklyn that didn’t have implications on a future pick, and Celtics fans had often utilized the hashtag #Netspick while basking in Brooklyn’s recent struggles. On Tuesday, Celtics fans simply enjoyed watching the exploits of their past picks.

Full article

Nic Batum set to return for Hornets

The Hornets are about to get a super versatile piece of their roster back in the form of Nic Batum, who reportedly may return as early as tomorrow. Here is the Charlotte Observer reporting:

Barring a “drastic” and unexpected setback, Nic Batum will play — and start — Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Charlotte Hornets’ nationally-televised home game Wednesday.

That was coach Steve Clifford’s statement, after Batum practiced for a third consecutive day. He has missed the Hornets’ first 11 regular-season games and most of the preseason, after he tore a ligament in his left elbow Oct. 4. Playing Wednesday (8 p.m., ESPN) would mean Batum returns at the minimum of the projected six to eight weeks he’d miss with the injury.

Full article

Joe Johnson out with hand injury

Jazz forward Joe Johnson consulted with a hand specialist on Tuesday and is showing progress to make a return. He will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Now in his 17th season, Johnson (6-7, 240, Arkansas) has appeared in seven games averaging 6.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 19.2 minutes per contest.

The Knicks were in control of the Cavs Monday in New York. And then the 4th quarter happened, and Cleveland came away with a win. As for Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis, here’s the New York Post reporting:

It was a rare off night for Kristaps Porzingis. Maybe it was LeBron James. Maybe it was the new contraption on his elbow.

With James hounding him at times, Porzingis fell short of his now-usual 30 points. And for the first time he wore a long white right elbow sleeve for his bursitis, a condition that may need postseason surgery.

Previously Porzingis, who has admitted to lingering swelling, had only donned the sleeve during practice so it wouldn’t affect his shooting motion. But after shooting just 7-of-21 for 20 points in the 104-101 Knicks’ collapse, he may ditch it. It was only the fourth time in the 12 games he’s played this season he didn’t score at least 30 points.

“It was for extra protection for the elbow,’’ Porzingis said. “It didn’t help as much. If I fell on it, it hits so hard, the little protection didn’t do anything.’’

Full article

Carmelo Anthony misses game with sore back

The Thunder won on Sunday, against a vastly inferior opponent in the Mavericks. OKC did this without the services of center Steven Adams or forward Carmelo Anthony. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Carmelo Anthony’s back had been bothering him, but not enough to miss a game.

That changed on Sunday, suddenly and late.

Less than an hour before the Thunder tipped off a 112-99 win against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City announced Anthony would sit with back soreness. Thunder coach Billy Donovan said he didn’t know until about an hour before tip that Anthony would be out.

“The one thing I really admire about Melo is, he loves to play,” Donovan said after the game. “Even for a guy that’s been in the league in his 15th year, he loves to play. He went through the walk-through. He tried to do everything he could to get himself to play.”

Full article

Rudy Gobert out for weeks with leg injury

Rudy Gobert out at least four weeks with leg injury

Jazz center Rudy Gobert was examined Saturday by the Utah Jazz medical staff and underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) testing. The MRI revealed a right tibia contusion.

The injury took place when Heat guard Dion Waiters, while hustling for a loose ball, dove recklessly into Gobert’s legs.

The 7-1 center will be reevaluated in four weeks.

The 2017 All-NBA Second Team center is currently averaging 13.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and a league-best 2.5 blocks per game in his fifth NBA season. He has totaled eight double-doubles on the year and dating back to last season has totaled 244 blocks, the most in the NBA during that span.

The Jazz are 6-7 this season. They have six players averaging double-digit scoring: Rodney Hood, Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, Gobert, and Derrick Favors. The team faces the Timberwolves tomorrow.

Further updates will be provided when appropriate.

Knicks waive Mindaugas Kuzminskas

The Knicks have waived forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas.

Kuzminskas, 6-9, 215-pounds, averaged 6.3 points over 14.9 minutes in 68 games during his rookie season for the Knicks in 2016-17 after signing as an undrafted free agent on Jul. 9, 2016. The Lithuania-native has appeared in one game this season.

“The respect this franchise has for Mindaugas cannot be overstated,” Knicks General Manager Scott Perry said. “His professionalism and work ethic were greatly appreciated by his teammates, coaches and the entire staff. This decision was extremely tough for us. We wish him nothing but the best moving on with his playing career.”

According to ESPN.com, “Kuzminskas, 28, is in the final season of a two-year contract that was fully guaranteed for $3 million this season. New York needed to open a roster spot to make room for [Joakim] Noah, who will return from a suspension for the use of a banned substance on Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Noah served the final 12 games of the 20-game suspension this season. It was originally issued in late March.”

Pelicans waive Josh Smith

Pelicans waive Josh Smith

The New Orleans Pelicans have waived forward Josh Smith.

Smith, 6-9, 225, was originally signed by New Orleans on October 28.

It’s unclear if Smith will be back in the NBA. He’s only 31 but his game appears to be in serious decline.

The Pelicans roster currently stands at 17, including two two-way players.

Here’s the New York Daily News reporting on some basketball fun in China involving players NBA fans will know:

Stephon Marbury doesn’t look like he’s happy about Jimmer Fredette making waves in the Chinese Basketball Association.

The two ex-Knicks got into an altercation during a game in China between the Beijing Fly Dragons and Shanghai Sharks following a hard foul.

Fredette was driving for a layup late in the third quarter when Marbury tried to stop him from scoring. Marbury made contact with Fredette on his way up, knocking the ball out of his hands, and the forward didn’t appreciate it.

Full article

Chris Paul Rockets return should be soon

The Rockets (9-3) have been one of the best teams in the NBA this season, and they’ll soon have Chris Paul, who has played just one game for them so far, back in the mix. Here’s the Houston Chronicle reporting:

Chris Paul may return for Rockets in near future

Rockets guard Chris Paul remains out for the Rockets, but looked significantly closer to a return as he joined the team for Friday’s light practice.

The practice was not much of a test of his readiness to return, still not projected until next week. Friday’s practice between games and before a back-to-back was more of a walk-through than a full practice and not as much of a test as his workouts have been.

Full article

Joakim Noah suspension will soon end

The Knicks have a frontcourt logjam that is about to be further complicated by the return from suspension of center Joakim Noah. Production-wise, he’s been a disappointment. Salary-wise, he’s too well-paid to keep on the bench. What to do? Here’s the New York Post:

Joakim Noah suspension will soon end

Joakim Noah doesn’t know how much or if he’ll play with the club’s center glut, but he’s delighted his drug suspension is about to end.

Noah will miss his 12th and final game Saturday when the Knicks host the Kings, then be back on the 15-man roster for a Monday home game against the Cavaliers.

The Knicks will then have four centers vying for playing time – unless they trade one of them by Sunday night. The Knicks have gauged backup Kyle O’Quinn’s trade value across the first 11 games and it’s increased because of his solid play as Enes Kanter’s backup. After the Bucks traded center Greg Monroe for Eric Bledsoe, it’s been reported they are looking for another reserve center.

Full article

Basketball blog