Nuggets Rumors

Checking In On Active 10-Day Contracts

For a brief period in late December and early January, there were more than 60 active 10-day contracts around the NBA, as COVID-19 outbreaks resulted in teams completing more 10-day signings in the span of a couple weeks than are usually completed in an entire season.

In the last couple weeks, however, the transaction wire has slowed down. At the moment, there are just nine active 10-day contracts, and no team is carrying multiple 10-day signees.

With the help of our 10-day contract tracker, we’re taking a closer look at those active deals, examining how much longer they’ll run and what might be next for the players on 10-day pacts.

Let’s dive in…

Hardship 10-day contracts:

Harrison, Silva, and Stanley all signed 10-day hardship contracts via the NBA’s COVID-related allowance. Their earnings don’t count against team salary for cap or tax purposes and they can sign more than just two hardship contracts with the same team — Silva and Stanley are both on their third deals with their respective clubs.

However, if a team no longer has any players in the health and safety protocols, that team isn’t permitted to activate any players who are on COVID-related 10-day hardship contracts. That’s the situation Silva finds himself in now that Heat guard Tyler Herro has exited the protocols. Silva will be ineligible for Miami’s next three games unless the club places another player in the protocols.

The Grizzlies and Pistons are the only NBA teams that still have two players currently in the protocols, so Harrison and Stanley can remain active.

Still, assuming those players in the protocols (Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Kyle Anderson, and Tyus Jones) are cleared relatively soon, Memphis and Detroit won’t be able to re-sign Harrison and Stanley to new hardship contracts. And because they both have full 15-man rosters, the Grizzlies and Pistons can’t re-sign Harrison and Stanley to standard 10-day contracts unless they waive or trade someone else.

Standard 10-day contracts:

Some of these players signed hardship 10-day contracts earlier in the season, but they’re on standard 10-day deals now. Their contracts count against team salary and they’re occupying spots on their teams’ 15-man rosters.

Johnson, Arcidiacono, and Stephenson are the key players to watch here, since they’re all on their second standard 10-day contracts with their respective clubs and won’t be able to sign a third. Assuming the Lakers, Knicks, and Pacers don’t become eligible for hardship signings soon, they’ll have decide whether they want to sign Johnson, Arcidiacono, and Stephenson for the rest of the season or let them go.

It may seem obvious that Johnson and Stephenson, in particular, would get rest-of-season offers, but the Lakers and Pacers are two teams expected to be active at the February 10 trade deadline. They may prefer to keep their 15th roster spots open to maximize their flexibility for potential trades. Still, I’d be surprised if Johnson doesn’t sign a rest-of-season deal sooner or later with the Lakers and Stephenson doesn’t do the same with Indiana.

House, Cousins, and Diakite are all on their first standard 10-day contracts with their respective teams, so they could each sign another one before any longer-term decisions must be made.

COVID-19 Updates: Murphy, J. Green, Wigginton

Pelicans rookie wing Trey Murphy III entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols on Monday prior to New Orleans’ win over Indiana, according to the team (via Twitter).

The 17th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Murphy has played a minor role for the Pelicans this season, averaging 3.8 PPG and 2.1 RPG in 36 games (12.8 MPG). The 21-year-old hasn’t logged more than three minutes in a game since December 28, so his absence didn’t affect the club’s rotation on Monday. He’ll remain in the protocols until at least this weekend unless he can exit early by registering two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates from around the league:

  • Nuggets forward JaMychal Green is no longer on the team’s injury report, indicating that he has exited the COVID-19 protocols, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets. Jamal Murray is the only Nugget still in the protocols, and he’s not ready to return from his ACL surgery yet anyway.
  • Bucks two-way player Lindell Wigginton entered the protocols over the weekend, tweets Eric Nehm of The Athletic. Wigginton is the only Milwaukee player currently in the protocols.
  • As our health and safety protocols tracker shows, there are currently 12 players in the protocols. Only the Grizzlies (three players) and Pistons (two players) have more than a single player affected at the moment. We’ll continue to update that tracker going forward, but since the number of players entering and exiting has declined significantly in the last couple weeks, it will likely be updated just once or twice per day, rather than several times.

Nikola Jokic, Trae Young Named Players Of The Week

Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has been named the Western Conference’s Player of the Week, while Hawks guard Trae Young has earned the honor in the Eastern Conference, the league announced today (via Twitter).

It’s the first time this season that Jokic has won the award, which is a little surprising, given his MVP-caliber numbers. During the week of January 17-23, the big man averaged a triple-double in three games, putting up 36.3 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 10.0 APG, and 2.3 SPG on .650/.400/.862 shooting in 39.2 MPG. The Nuggets went 2-1 in those games, with a loss to Memphis on Friday.

Young, meanwhile, led the Hawks to a 4-0 week, pulling the team within 1.5 games of a play-in spot in the East. The 23-year-old averaged 31.3 PPG, 9.0 APG, and 4.0 RPG with a .476 3PT% in 36.6 MPG, earning Player of the Week honors for a second time this season. He poured in eight 3-pointers in Atlanta’s win over Charlotte on Sunday.

Jokic won the West’s Player of the Week award over fellow nominees Luka Doncic, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Dejounte Murray, and Jusuf Nurkic. The other nominees in the East were Joel Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Miles Bridges, Darius Garland, and Khris Middleton (Twitter link).

Nuggets Notes: Rivers, Forbes, Cousins, Bench

Nuggets guard Austin Rivers, a DNP-CD on Friday, returned to the team’s starting lineup on Sunday with several players sidelined and logged 34 minutes in a six-point win over Detroit.

After the game, head coach Michael Malone said he met with Rivers on Saturday to talk to him about the ever-changing rotation, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post tweets. Malone, stressing that his focus is winning games rather than making sure 17 players are happy about their minutes, said that Rivers is “a pro” who can deal with adjustments to his role.

For his part, Rivers said he’s willing to do what the team asks of him, though he believes he’s capable of providing more than he has.

“I know I can help this team win games,” Rivers said when asked what he discussed with Malone (Twitter link via Singer). “… I’m 29, I’m young, I feel great, I’m in my prime. I know I can be better than what I have played, too. You just have an honest conversation.”

Here’s more on the Nuggets:

  • Newly-acquired guard Bryn Forbes could eat into Rivers’ playing time, but Rivers said he “didn’t take it personally” when the Nuggets traded for Forbes, pointing out that they do different things on the court (Twitter link via Singer). Rivers is the more natural ball-handler of the two, while Forbes is the stronger shooter.
  • Malone was surprised that the Nuggets were able to sign big man DeMarcus Cousins in free agency after the way he performed for the Bucks earlier in the season, writes Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “This guy, after playing really well in Milwaukee, was sitting at home waiting for his phone to ring,” Malone said following Cousins’ Denver debut on Sunday. “That’s crazy to me. I don’t know if people are scared of him or what. But I’m not scared of him. I love him.”
  • Rivers said Cousins brings the Nuggets’ second unit a “grit” they need, according to Keeler. “Everybody knows he’s an enforcer,” Rivers said. “… He’s still got to get his legs back, but he’s going to be big for this team. Especially with that second unit. He’s going to be a problem.” Malone agreed that Denver’s bench will benefit from Cousins’ grit: “That’s the mentality that group needs. They’ve got to have toughness. You’re not just going to come out and run your offense and be all pretty. We’ve got to disrupt that, be physical. And if they can do that, (that unit) can help our team a lot.”

Forbes, Cousins Will Bolster Nuggets' Bench

  • The additions of Bryn Forbes and DeMarcus Cousins may solve the Nuggets‘ problem of inconsistent play from their reserves, notes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Forbes, who made his debut on Friday, is already impressed by the passing skills of Nikola Jokic. Cousins, who might play today after missing Friday’s game with a minor injury, will add an extra dimension to the offense, according to coach Michael Malone“When you’re a four-time All-Star, and you’re a guy that can put 28 points a night up, he has talent,” Malone said. “So many times this year we’ve seen second units just switch everything. I think DeMarcus is a guy that it makes it hard for other teams to just say we’re going to switch one through five and live with it.”

Nuggets Notes: Cousins, Trade Deadline, Hyland, Nnaji, Reed, Porter Jr.

After the Nuggets signed veteran center DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract on Friday, head coach Michael Malone hinted that Cousins might stick beyond those 10 days, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets“I anticipate it going well,” Malone said. Cousins didn’t play in the loss to the Grizzlies on Friday.

We have more on the Nuggets:

  • The Nuggets are looking for a bigger wing on the trade market, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Ideally, they’d like to find a 3-and-D player who won’t cost an exorbitant amount. To that aim, Orlando, Indiana, Portland and Sacramento are potential trade partners, Singer adds.
  • Bones Hyland, Zeke Nnaji and Davon Reed have received significant playing time recently due to injuries but only Hyland is likely to remain in the rotation when the team gets healthier, Singer opines in the same mailbag post. That’s due to his ability to ignite and create offense on the second unit.
  • ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said this week there’s growing optimism Michael Porter Jr. will play again this season. Wind posted a video on Twitter showing the forward, who underwent back surgery in early December, warming up prior to Friday’s game. Wind noted that the warmup looked similar to the one Porter typically does before actually playing.

COVID/Injury Notes: Batum, Hawks, J. Murray, Celtics, More

Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters, including Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), that forward Nicolas Batum will be available Friday night at Philadelphia. Batum had been placed in the health and safety protocols as a result of an inconclusive test, missing Wednesday’s 130-128 overtime loss at Denver, but obviously has been cleared by testing negative twice since.

Here are more COVID-19 and injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Hawks head coach Nate McMillan told reporters, including Sarah K. Spencer of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter), that starting center Clint Capela will return to action Friday night against Miami, but will be on a minutes restriction. Capela had missed Atlanta’s last six games with an ankle injury and the team went 2-4 in his absence. Spencer also tweets that the Hawks will be without Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) and Danilo Gallinari (sore Achilles), while Gorgui Dieng will be available (non-COVID illness).
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, who’s still rehabbing from a torn ACL suffered last April, has entered the health and safety protocols, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets.
  • Celtics head coach Ime Udoka told reporters that Marcus Smart and Aaron Nesmith will miss Friday’s game vs. Portland, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps (Twitter link). Smart is still ramping up his conditioning after battling COVID-19, while Nesmith is dealing with a sprained ankle.
  • Wizards forward Kyle Kuzma is out Friday vs. Toronto with a sprained neck, per Marc J. Spears of the Undefeated (via Twitter). Kuzma is having a solid first season with Washington, averaging 15.7 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 43 games, all starts.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant coach Nate Tibbetts have both cleared the protocols and will be coaching Friday’s game against the Lakers, Orlando’s PR department tweets.
  • Grizzlies forward Killian Tillie has been upgraded from questionable to available for Friday’s game at Denver, so he has cleared the health and safety protocols, Memphis’ PR department tweets.

Nuggets Sign DeMarcus Cousins To 10-Day Contract

12:32pm: Cousins’ 10-day contract is now official, the Nuggets announced in a press release. The veteran will earn $151,821 on the deal, which will run through January 30.

8:21am: Nearly two weeks after reports first indicated that the Nuggets were expected to sign DeMarcus Cousins to a 10-day contract, the two sides will finally complete a deal on Friday, says Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

While it took a while for Cousins and the Nuggets to make things official, reports throughout last week confirmed that they still had mutual interest and that a deal would likely get done at some point. When Denver made a two-for-one trade for Bryn Forbes earlier this week, it opened up a spot on the team’s 15-man roster, creating a path for Cousins to join the team without requiring a hardship exception.

Cousins, 31, spent a little over five weeks with the Bucks from late November to early January, averaging 9.1 PPG and 5.8 RPG in 17 games (16.9 MPG) for the defending champs. Milwaukee opted to waive the veteran center before his salary for 2021/22 could become fully guaranteed, making him a free agent. Word of Denver’s interest broke shortly thereafter.

A report around the time of Cousins’ release suggested the Nuggets were in the market for help on the wing and at center. Trading for Forbes gave Denver another option on the wing, and now the team will get a chance to audition Cousins at center for at least 10 days.

As Wojnarowski points out, signing Cousins today will maximize his 10-day stint in Denver, since the club has six games on its schedule between now and January 30. The last of those six games will be in Milwaukee against Cousins’ former team.

Western Notes: Porter Jr., Bane, Jazz, Rockets

Despite undergoing back surgery at the beginning of last month, Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. reportedly could return this season.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski expanded on that possibility (video link), saying that in conversations with team president Tim Connelly and Porter’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, they “love the way he’s coming along.”

“There’s optimism we’re going to see him again this season,” Wojnarowski said.

That would be a huge boost to the Nuggets’ chances during the postseason. Porter signed a five-year max extension in September.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Desmond Bane says he deserves serious consideration for the Most Improved Player award, as he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. “A lot of times, they don’t want to give it to guys like myself or Jerami Grant,” the Grizzlies guard said on Haynes’ podcast. “But your role changes as you get better. As you improve and as you get better, you get more leeway, you get more opportunities. That’s just how the game goes. They’re not going to give an opportunity to a guy that isn’t ready for it. … So I think that I should definitely be in the conversation.” Bane also believes he could take down the 3-point shooting contest on All-Star weekend if he gets the chance. “If I get invited, I plan to do it and I plan to win it,” he said.
  • Amid reports that the Jazz are looking for a wing upgrade, head coach Quin Snyder hinted that the team needs to do something about its defensive slippage. Utah was defeated by Houston 116-111 on Wednesday and Snyder lamented the team’s performance on that end of the court, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “We just had multiple breakdowns over the course of the game, in different capacities, defensively,” he said. “We were helping when we shouldn’t have been helping, not recognizing personnel situations, not focused on the details of what we’re trying to do on the defensive end.”
  • Speaking of the Rockets, they could be very active before the trade deadline as they continue their rebuild. The Athletic’s John Hollinger and Kelly Iko explore which players are most likely to be moved and their trade value. Hollinger sees a potential avenue for moving Eric Gordon to the Lakers and outlines what they could get in return.

Cornelie Signs G League Contract, Rejoins Nuggets' Affiliate