- The Nuggets will continue to be without three rotation players when they face the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports tweets. Starting point guard Jamal Murray will miss his sixth straight game due to an ankle sprain while power forward Paul Millsap will sit out for the 11th consecutive game due to a knee injury. Backup big man Mason Plumlee will miss his fourth straight game due to a foot ailment.
A trio of guards — Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and North Carolina’s Cole Anthony — top The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie’s latest draft board. Another guard, 18-year-old Killian Hayes, made the biggest move among the top 20 prospects. Hayes, who is playing in Europe, jumped from No. 16 to No. 7.
We have more from around the basketball world:
- The Nuggets’ Malik Beasley, the Spurs’ Lonnie Walker and the Celtics’ Robert Williams are among five buy-low trade targets for teams seeking to fortify their benches, according to ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
- Dwight Powell‘s season-ending Achilles injury was not only a major setback for the Mavericks but also Team Canada, Michael Grange of SportsNet Canada notes. Powell was expected to be a foundation piece for Canada’s Olympic push and his size, smarts, and athleticism will be hard to replace, according to Grange.
- Veteran center Willie Reed has signed with the G League and returned to the Salt Lake City Stars, Hoops Rumors’ JD Shaw tweets. Reed, 29, was playing in Greece but parted ways with Olympiacos earlier this month.
Plumlee will be out 2-4 weeks with a foot injury. Vanderbilt, a 2018 second-round pick, had played in 13 G League games and four with the NBA club this season. Cancar had appeared in seven Nuggets games entering Wednesday’s action.
“Just find ways, that’s our biggest challenge right now,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said of Plumlee’s injury. “Don’t waste an ounce of energy on the guys that can’t play, let’s figure out who can play and go out there, fight and give ourselves a chance.”
Pistons guard Reggie Jackson hopes to play tonight after being sidelined since the second game of the season with a back injury, tweets Rod Beard of The Detroit News. Jackson is officially listed as questionable for the game against the Kings. He’ll be on a minutes restriction and isn’t sure if he’ll be used as a starter or a reserve (Twitter link).
“I don’t know how well I’m going to feel. Adrenaline is a different thing so I imagine I’ll probably be winded a little early,” Jackson said (Twitter link).
There’s more injury news to pass along:
- Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura has been cleared for all basketball activities, head coach Scott Brooks told reporters, including Candace Buckner of The Washington Post (Twitter link). Hachimura hasn’t played since suffering a groin injury December 16. “It’ll be great to have him back before the All-Star break, but you never know,” Brooks said (Twitter link).
- The Wizards also got good news on Moritz Wagner, who has been cleared for non-contact activities after a check-up in New York City, Buckner tweets. Wagner has missed the past month with a sprained left ankle.
- Injured Celtics center Robert Williams was able to do some running Tuesday and is set for another scan and evaluation February 4, the team tweeted. Team doctors expect to have a more concrete idea of when he can start playing again after that session. Williams has a bone edema in his left hip and won’t return until after the All-Star break.
- Cavaliers center Ante Zizic is out indefinitely, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. He has been diagnosed with a vestibular condition that has forced him to miss the past five games.
- Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters that among his injured rotation players, Gary Harris is the closest to returning, relays Mike Singer of The Denver Post (Twitter link). “When I say closest, I don’t know how close that is,” Malone explained. “Paul (Millsap) and Jamal (Murray) are still a ways off.”
Plumlee has been diagnosed with a cuboid injury, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post. He rolled the right foot after landing on a Timberwolves player during the first half of Monday’s game, but later returned to action. He said after the game that he received treatment from the training staff and X-rays didn’t reveal any damage.
“I just came down on someone’s foot,” he said. “X-rays were good.”
Through 43 games, Plumlee is averaging 7.4 points and 5.6 rebounds in about 17 minutes per night.
- With Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Paul Millsap all banged up and the Nuggets not looking to rush them back, the team’s depth is coming in handy, according to Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. Players who have been in and out of the rotation – such as Juan Hernangomez, Malik Beasley, and Torrey Craig – have all seen regular action with those starters sidelined.
- Intriguing rookie Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has shown enough defensive improvement to lock in rotation minutes for coach Michael Malone, according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post. Since Christmas, Porter has been averaging nearly 11 PPG on a team-high 65.4% field goal percentage, including 48.3% from long distance. But Malone had special praise for his defense. “You see the improvement,” Malone said. “Understanding what our game plan is, what our rules are.”
Here are Friday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:
- The Pacers assigned Alize Johnson and Edmond Sumner to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team’s PR department tweets. Sumner did not play in the last two Indiana games, while Johnson has appeared in just one NBA game this month.
- The Spurs recalled forwards Chimezie Metu, Luka Samanic and Keldon Johnson from the Austin Spurs, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. With Rudy Gay sidelined on Friday, the NBA team was looking for added depth. Metu, second-round pick in 2018, has appeared in 11 NBA games this season.
- The Nuggets recalled forward Jarred Vanderbilt from the Windy City Bulls, the team’s PR department tweets. Vanderbilt, a 2018 second-rounder, has appeared in four NBA contests this season.
- The Clippers assigned Derrick Walton Jr. and Terance Mann to the Agua Caliente Clippers, according to the team’s PR department. Both guards received garbage-time minutes against Orlando on Thursday and did not score.
- The Warriors assigned rookie forward Alen Smailagic to their Santa Cruz affiliate, the team’s PR department tweets. The second round pick has appeared in nine Warriors games.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone credits reserve guard Malik Beasley for not sulking during a difficult season, Mike Singer of the Denver Post relays. Beasley, who can be a restricted free agent this summer if the Nuggets extend a qualifying offer, got extended minutes on Thursday with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris sidelined and took advantage. He scored a season-high 27 points in an overtime win over Golden State. Beasley hasn’t received steady playing time but Malone says Beasley has handled it professionally.
“You have a choice, as a man, you have a choice,” Malone said. “‘Am I gonna feel sorry for myself or am I gonna stay ready?’ And to his credit he’s continued to stay ready.”
We have more on the Nuggets:
- Malone vows to keep rookie Michael Porter Jr. in the rotation going forward, Singer tweets. “Earlier in the season, he wasn’t sure when he was going to be playing, is he going to be playing? So now, that’s out the window,” he said. “Michael Porter is a huge part of our future, he’s going to play every night.” Porter has reached double figures in each of his last three games, including an 18-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist performance against the Warriors.
- Trading forward Juan Hernangomez would negatively impact the locker room, Singer opines in his latest mailbag. Hernangomez has a major influence on team chemistry and is close friends with Nikola Jokic, Singer notes, adding that Jokic, Murray and Porter are the team’s untouchables in trade discussions.
- Malone is glad to be coaching a playoff contender that didn’t take shortcuts to success, as he explained to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Malone notes that Denver hasn’t gone for the quick fix. “For me, this being my fifth year, that’s maybe one of the more enjoyable things about our journey, is how we’ve been able to build this from the ground up and build it from within, organically,” he said. “We haven’t gone out and traded for the marquee player. We haven’t mortgaged our future by sending these two young assets to here, to rent a player for a year or two, to have instant success, but not long-term success. It speaks to our front office, our ownership that we can continue to communicate and collaborate and challenge each other.”
Nuggets guard Jamal Murray underwent testing on his injured left ankle and while the results came back clean, he is expected to miss multiple games as a result of the ailment, Nick Kosmider and Shams Charania of The Athletic report (Twitter link).
Murray exited the Nuggets’ game against the Hornets after coming down awkwardly on his ankle, and the injury has since been diagnosed as a sprain. PJ Dozier stepped up in his place and Denver was able to win the contest.
Murray, who signed a $170M extension prior to the season, is averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 assists per game so far during the 2019/20 campaign. He’ll miss Denver’s game against Golden State tonight, the contest vs. the Pacers on Sunday, and the trip to Minnesota on Monday. After those games, Denver has the a pair of matchups against the Rockets and a tilt with the Pelicans on deck.