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NBA Rumors: CJ McCollum, Lauri Markkanen, LaMelo Ball and Kelly Oubre Jr. Updates

New Orleans point guard CJ McCollum missed his 12th straight game Monday night against the Utah Jazz. However, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, McCollum (collapsed lung) is slated to return this weekend. Charania said that the 32-year-old could return when the Pelicans return home to face Philadelphia (Wednesday) or San Antonio (Friday).

NBA Rumors: CJ McCollum, Lauri Markkanen

Despite being shorthanded all season, New Orleans has kept the ship afloat. However, the Pelicans (9-9) have lost two straight to fall to 5-7 during the 12-game stretch. The Pelicans fell to the Jazz 114-112 last night.

A big reason the Pelicans have remained in contention in the West since McCollum went down is the play of Brandon Ingram. Ingram has played well since McCollum went down. He has scored at least 25 points in the last three games and averages 25.7 points, 5.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds in the previous 12 contests.

Jordan Hawkins, Herb Jones, and Dyson Daniels also have played well during this stretch. In addition, the Pelicans recently got Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado back from injury. Alvarado has played the past five games, and Marshall has made nine appearances.

Lauri Markkanen Misses Second Straight Game, Absence Could Be Longer

Utah Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen was downgraded from questionable to out on Monday. The game against the Pelicans will be the second straight contest the 26-year-old will miss. His injury also has been reclassified as a left hamstring strain rather than left hamstring soreness, according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s Andy Larsson.

So, Markkanen could be out longer.  The 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player has picked up where he left off last season and has nearly identical numbers. He already has four double-doubles.

While any prolonged time that Markkanen misses will affect the Jazz (5-12) negatively, the Jazz did get some good news with the return of Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson missed Utah’s game against New Orleans on Saturday. Clarkson tallied 16 points and doled out 10 assists on Monday for his first double-double.

Brooklyn Nets Notes

Brooklyn Nets center Nic Claxton, who sat out on Saturday as he aggravated a left ankle injury in his previous game, is considered questionable for Tuesday’s tilt against Toronto, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Meanwhile, Cam Thomas, who hasn’t played since Nov. 8 due to a left ankle sprain, is doubtful.

As Lewis indicates, Cam Johnson is probable with leg cramping. Johnson left Sunday’s win over the Bulls due to right leg cramps. He missed the first seven games of the season with a calf injury. While Dennis Smith Jr has been out since November 16, he has been listed as questionable for the first time.  Ben Simmons remains out, but he continues to improve and is slated to be re-evaluated soon.

Charlotte Hornets LaMelo Ball Unlikely

Charlotte Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball is listed as doubtful for tonight’s game versus New York due to a left ankle sprain. Ball had to be helped off the court after injuring his right ankle in Sunday’s loss at Orlando.

According to Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer, Ball was injured when he attempted a left-handed layup shortly before halftime and got tangled up with Paolo Banchero. Ball landed awkwardly and fell to the court in pain before hopping toward the locker room with assistance, unable to put much weight on his right foot. It is the same ankle that Ball had surgery on in March, which led to a long recovery that prevented him from being cleared for full basketball activities until a few weeks before training camp. Boone adds that Ball has been wearing ankle braces since then for extra support.

Other Tidbits

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton is in jeopardy of missing his second straight game as he continues to deal with tendinitis in his left knee, per The Athletic’s Eric Nehm. Middleton, who has already missed four games this year, is questionable for Tuesday’s game versus Miami. If Middleton cannot play, the Bucks will likely give rookie Andre Jackson Jr another start. Jackson has started three games but only averages 13 minutes in those contests.

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson is okay after taking a hard fall Sunday night against the Phoenix Suns after elevating for an offensive rebound in the third quarter. However, Robinson practiced with the team on Monday and is not on the team’s injury report for Tuesday’s slate against Charlotte. Robinson is a big reason the Knicks are considered a challenger in the East, as he is an elite rebounder and terrific defender. He leads the league in offensive rebounds and is in the top 20 in defensive win shares and defensive rating.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Kelly Oubre Jr continues to progress from broken ribs suffered when he was struck by a vehicle while walking in Center City, Philadelphia. According to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Oubre practiced with the Sixers’ on Sunday. He also participated in the team’s shootaround on Monday.


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