Michael Malone Rumors
Malone is planning for Thomas, rehabbing from hip surgery, to play a significant scoring and playmaking role off the Nuggets bench. Malone coached Thomas with the Sacramento Kings in 2013-14 and has been enthusiastic about incorporating him into the Nuggets.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Free agent guard Isaiah Thomas has agreed to a one-year deal with the Denver Nuggets, league sources tell ESPN. Thomas will reunite with Michael Malone, who coached him with the Kings.
When I asked Vlatko Cancar, following his summer league debut last Friday, about the prospects of playing in the NBA next season, Malone stood inches away from the young, 6-8 forward, a mischievous smile on the coach’s face. “I want to take it step by step,” Čančar said. “This is my third year playing professional basketball. It would be great if I’m in the NBA, but I would like to play more minutes in Spain, in the ACB.” Then Malone stepped in. “That’s a good answer right there,” he said. “Smart.”
Since then, the organization has been in lockstep with one another on that message. “We understood the risk-reward situation with Michael Porter, and we felt at 14 he was far too great of a talent to pass up,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said during an in-game interview on NBATV during Denver’s Summer League win over the Celtics Saturday night. “And we’re going to to be patient. We’re not going to rush him back and that’s the luxury we have. “We have a very good team coming back, we have a very deep team so there’s no reason for us to say ‘Michael’s got to play this year.’ We’re going to give him all the time and treatment he needs to get better and hopefully he can get back and help us this year.”
Will he play next season? If so, when? Will he ever truly be healthy? Nuggets president Josh Kroenke told The Undefeated he was uncertain about whether Porter Jr. would play in summer league or during the 2018-19 season. Before his post-draft news conference, Porter Jr. walked around with a slight limp as he took a congratulatory phone call from Kroenke and head coach Michael Malone. Kroenke, an ex-Missouri guard, was ecstatic to land Porter Jr. “Michael is an incredible talent and we were surprised to see him available at No. 14,” Kroenke told The Undefeated via text message. “We know the risks associated with him due to his recent back injury at Missouri, but he’s an incredibly hard worker, is an outstanding young man and we think he will fit in well with our up-and-coming group in Denver.”
The point of emphasis will continue to be the defensive end, where Jokic remains a liability. In a league that features a constant barrage of pick-and-rolls, his limited mobility can cause problems, and he’s unlikely to ever blossom into a stalwart paint protector. Still, there were some obvious areas where Jokic gained traction defensively. Most notably, according to his coach, was the effort he gave on that end. “Compared to last year, I think Nikola Jokic was a much more engaged defender this year,” Michael Malone said. “He cared and gave effort. He took pride in his defense. Whereas, last year, I don’t think that was always the case. That’s part of being a good defensive player and a good defensive team. It’s having the guys who buy into it. … Nikola, it’s something we’ll continue to address as far as how we can help him from a physical standpoint. That’s getting stronger and working on his foot speed, and that’s a good start.”