Thunder Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 12/4/19

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from across the NBA:

  • The Bucks assigned power forward Dragan Bender to the Wisconsin Herd, the team’s PR department tweets. The fourth overall pick of the 2016 draft has averaged 21 PPG and 10 RPG in five starts with the Herd.
  • The Knicks assigned rookie forward Ignas Brazdeikis to the Westchester Knicks, the team’s PR department tweets. He’s appeared in six games with the NBA Knicks, averaging 7.0 MPG in those outings.
  • The Cavaliers assigned rookie swingman Dylan Windler to the Canton Charge, the team’s PR department tweets. He has yet to make his NBA debut. The first-rounder is working his way back into basketball shape after recovering from a leg injury.
  • The Pacers recalled Victor Oladipo and Edmond Sumner from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team tweets. They practiced with the Mad Ants as part of their injury rehabs. There is no timetable for their return, the team adds.
  • The Clippers assigned center Mfiondu Kabengele to the Agua Caliente Clippers, the team tweets. The rookie first-rounder out of Florida State has appeared in six NBA games, averaging 3.8 MPG in those outings.
  • The Hawks recalled rookie forward Bruno Fernando and guard Tyrone Wallace from the College Park Skyhawks, the team tweets. Fernando, a second-round pick, is averaging 4.5 PPG and 3.0 RPG in 12.7 MPG while playing 21 games with the NBA team. Wallace has averaged 3.1 PPG in 12.0 MPG in 13 games with Atlanta.
  • The Thunder recalled center Justin Patton from the Oklahoma City Blue, according to a team press release. In eight games with the Blue, Patton is averaging 10.3 PPG and  7.5 RPG in 26.2 MPG.
  • The Hornets recalled Cody Martin from the Greensboro Swarm, according to a team press release. The rookie guard appeared in three games with the Swarm, where he averaged 14.0 PPG, 8.0 RPG and 5.3 APG in 34.3 MPG.

Chris Paul Was “Shocked” By Trade To Thunder

Chris Paul tells Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated that he was “shocked” at the trade that sent him to Oklahoma City this summer and insists Rockets general manager Daryl Morey promised him it wouldn’t happen.

After being knocked out of the playoffs by the Warriors for a second straight year, Houston jumped at the chance to shake up its roster by acquiring Russell Westbrook from the Thunder. That meant shipping out Paul and a parcel of draft picks.

“My initial reaction?” Paul said. “I was shocked. Truth be told, I just talked to Daryl a couple days before the trade and he said he wasn’t going to trade me (to Oklahoma City). That’s funny because that is going to be the alert that pops up on everybody’s phone because nobody knows that. But what the hell, I just said it.”

Morey refused to respond to Paul’s comment, but sources close to the team said the GM informed Paul there was a “slim chance” he might be included in a Westbrook deal. Morey was hoping to make it a three-team trade and send Paul to a playoff contender such as the Heat, but no one else was willing to get involved. He also thanked Paul for his contributions to the franchise.

“Chris got us as close to winning a title as we’ve been since Hakeem Olajuwon,” Morey said. “He was a great Rocket. I wish him the best going forward. I am a big fan of Chris. I have nothing but love for him.”

Paul said his time in Houston marked two of the best seasons of his career. However, they ended in an apparent falling out with James Harden during last season’s playoffs that had many believing a breakup was coming. Paul admits he and Harden “haven’t really talked” since the trade was completed.

“It’s life. It happens,” Paul said. “It is what it is. But I wish him nothing but the best.”

The next question for Paul is how long he will be with the Thunder, who are off to an 8-11 start and appear ready to rebuild after trading Westbrook and Paul George. Although the market will open up December 15 when most of the free agents who signed this summer become eligible to be traded, Paul’s contract remains a major impediment. He makes $38.5MM this season at age 34 and is owed roughly $85.5MM over the next two seasons. Spears notes that many teams are already trying to save cap space for the next loaded free agent class in 2021.

“I try to control what I can control,” Paul said. “And for me, that is preparing to play every night. Doing my workout. Doing my training. Hooping.”

Andre Roberson To Rehab Away From Thunder

  • A Thunder spokesman said on Tuesday that Andre Roberson will continue his injury rehab process in Los Angeles, away from the team, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Billy Donovan said the decision wasn’t related to a setback or another operation, but the head coach’s comments didn’t sound overly promising. “He can’t get himself back to play, and he just wants to try some other avenues to try to get himself back to play,” Donovan said of Roberson. “He’s gotten to a point, and he can’t get past that point.”

Justin Patton Re-Assigned To G League

  • Former first-round center Justin Patton continues to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League, having been sent to the Oklahoma City Blue today by the Thunder, per a team release. It’s the fifth NBAGL assignment this month for Patton.

Western Notes: Murray, Iguodala, Roberson

Dejounte Murray has come off the bench for the Spurs recently and the point guard says that he’s not stressing over his role.

“I am just here to play basketball, man,” Murray said when asked how he’s handling coming off the bench (via Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News). “Try to be a great teammate. And on the basketball end, play as great as I can on both ends of the floor and just compete.”

Murray was set to enter the 2018/19 season as the starting point guard before suffering a knee injury that cost him the season. Derrick White stepped up as the starter last year and coach Gregg Popovich believes that inserting White into the starting lineup this season will help the team improve its game.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

Paul Forms Bond With Young Teammates

  • Thunder guard Chris Paul has developed strong relationships with young players Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman writes. “I think Chris is just a huge kid, and that’s what it is,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “So, he likes hanging out with guys like me and Baze, goof around a lot, make fun of each other, and it’s all fun and games.”

And-Ones: Africa, Pitino, Olympic Qualifiers

Last night’s matchup between the Sixers and Raptors highlighted the growing influence Africa is having on the NBA, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. Joel Embiid and Pascal Siakam both hail from Cameroon and were discovered through Basketball Without Borders.

“Just to have two guys who are on separate teams but at the top of their teams means everything,” Siakam said. “It just shows the amount of talent we have on the continent, and for Cameroon, it’s a blessing and we’re excited about it. To represent our country at such a high level, it’s amazing.”

Zillgitt notes that 12 African players made opening-night rosters and nearly 10% of the league has at least one parent who was born there. The NBA will continue to expand its outreach to the continent, with the Basketball Africa League scheduled to begin in March.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA and NCAA coach Rick Pitino has returned to Panathinaikos on a two-year contract, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Pitino led his team to the Greek Cup title last year as coach and team president, but left this summer in hopes of returning to the NBA.
  • The Olympic Qualifying Draw will take place tomorrow for teams that haven’t already secured a spot in the 2020 games, and Serbia’s Bogdan Bogdanovic knows that his nation’s path will be much smoother if it doesn’t have to face Slovenia with Luka Doncic. “There’s a lot at stake, and obviously it would be easier for us if we don’t play against him,” Bogdanovic said in an interview with Zurnal.rs (translated by Carchia). “But on the other hand we would love to see Doncic playing Olympic qualifiers here.” Belgrade will be among the four host cities for the tournaments, along with Victoria, Canada; Split, Croatia; and Kaunas, Lithuania.
  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks identifies a few under-the-radar moves that have made a difference in the first month of the season, including the Wizards adding Davis Bertans and Moritz Wagner, the Heat keeping Goran Dragic, the Suns getting better-than-expected contributions from Aron Baynes and Jevon Carter, the Thunder landing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and the impressive coaching jobs by Monty Williams in Phoenix and Ryan Saunders in Minnesota.

Northwest Notes: Anthony, Teague, Nader, Thunder

Monday marked Carmelo Anthony‘s best game since returning to the NBA, writes Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic. Anthony led all scorers with 25 points in 31 minutes as the Trail Blazers won in Chicago. He got a nice reception from Bulls fans and drew accolades from players who are happy to see him back in the league.

“I always advocated for him to be in the NBA,” Zach LaVine said. “… He’s better than a lot of people in the NBA, and he’s still getting it done. I think it was just bigger than that, and I’m glad to see him back here. Just not tonight.”

The performance raised questions about whether the Bulls should have given Anthony an opportunity when they had the chance. After the Rockets exiled him last season, they shipped him to Chicago in January in a cost-saving move. The Bulls waived him 10 days later. Anthony might have been able to revive his career sooner in the Windy City, but as he said after last night’s game, “They didn’t ask.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jeff Teague‘s acceptance of a bench role in Minnesota is a rare move for a player in the final year of his contract, notes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Teague met with coach Ryan Saunders over the weekend before the change was finalized, sources tell Krawczynski. Rookie Jarrett Culver started alongside Andrew Wiggins last night and helped the Timberwolves win in Atlanta. Wiggins has taken on more of the playmaking duties this year, leaving Teague without a defined role in the offense. With a $19MM expiring contract, Teague may draw some interest on the trade market before the February 7 deadline.
  • Abdel Nader can expect more playing time for the Thunder with Hamidou Diallo sidelined with an elbow injury, states Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The third-year guard lives 15 minutes away from the team’s practice facility and sometimes works on his game until 3 a.m. “I’m a little bit crazy when it comes to the work I’ve gotta put in,” Nader said. “I wanna make sure my game feels tight — my shot, my handle, everything. That’s how I feel like I get better.”
  • Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who were the Thunder’s stars last year, had their first meeting of the season Friday when the Clippers hosted the Rockets and both have landed in better situations, contends Ben Golliver of The Washington Post.

Thunder’s Hamidou Diallo Out At Least One Month

Thunder swingman Hamidou Diallo will be reevaluated in four-to-six weeks after suffering a hyperextension sprain in his right elbow, Royce Young of ESPN tweets.

Diallo was injured during the fourth quarter of Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

LeBron James drove to the basket and made contact with Diallo. As he was falling, Diallo then collided with teammate Mike Muscala. He quickly retreating to the locker room.

Diallo had just returned after missing three games due to left knee soreness. He underwent a surgical procedure on the same elbow during last year’s playoffs.

The 2018 second-rounder was a regular part of the club’s rotation early last season, but played sparingly after the All-Star break. In 12 games this year, Diallo has averaged 8.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 21.3 MPG. Abdel Nader and Deonte Burton could see an upswing in minutes during his absence.

The shooting guard out of Kentucky has a team-friendly rookie contract – $1.42MM this season with a $1.66MM team option next summer.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/24/19

Here are Sunday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA: