The Portland Trail Blazers could have their leading returning scorer back for the first time since their season opener as Anferenee Simons (thumb)is listed as questionable for tonight’s clash against the Golden State Warriors, per Sean Highkin of Rose Garden Report.
Anfernee Simons has been upgraded to “questionable” for tomorrow’s game at Golden State, meaning there’s a chance he could play for the first time since opening night. Jerami Grant (concussion protocol) is out. Deandre Ayton is doubtful with right knee soreness.
— Sean Highkin (@highkin) December 6, 2023
Simons went through a full practice on Monday, and presumably Tuesday, and looked great, according to Malcolm Brogdon.
Simons suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb in the season-opening loss at the Los Angeles Clippers. He then underwent surgery on Oct. 31 with a general timetable of six weeks, so he’s a little bit ahead of schedule.
Simons is in the second season of a four-year, $100MM contract. The 24-year-old guard is an explosive scorer who produced career-highs in points (21.1) and assists (4.1) — both stats were second on the team behind only Damian Lillard. He scored 18 points on 6 of 14 shooting from the field, including 2 of 6 from the 3-point line, and doled out four assists against the Clippers. However, injuries have been a problem for the youngster, as he has not appeared in more than 70 games since his second season.
— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 6, 2023
Jerami Grant and Deandre Ayton
If Simons can return tonight, it will be a huge boom for the Trail Blazers (6-13). Jerami Grant (concussion) has already been ruled out. Deandre Ayton (right knee soreness) will also not play, as he is doubtful.
On Monday, the Blazers announced Grant was placed into concussion protocol. Grant sustained the injury during the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against Utah and did not return, per the team. If Ayton can’t go, it will be the second game he has missed this year, as he sat out one game due to a back injury.
With the injuries, seeing what lineup the Trail Blazers run out will be interesting. Simons will likely return to the starting lineup, but perhaps not tonight, as he could be on a minutes restriction. Duop Reath, who started the previous game Ayton sat out, will likely start at center. Meanwhile Matisse Thybulle could start at small forward, moving rookie Toumani Camari to power forward.
Bradley Beal Could Return Soon
Bradley Beal missed his 11th straight game due to back issues and 18th overall last night in the Phoenix Suns 106-103 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. However, Shams Charania of The Athletic said on The Rally that there is hope that he won’t be sidelined for too much longer.
“I’m told (Bradley) Beal has started his ramp-up process.”
— The Rally (@TheRally) December 5, 2023
“I’m told Beal has started his ramp-up process, and he’s continuing to progress in that ramp-up. The goal is to track toward a return soon, potentially over the next 10 days, as long as the progress continues. But we know it’s been a fluid process with this back (issue). The back can be something that you have to be cautious with.”
Phoenix (12-9) has been playing well lately, with their loss to the Lakers just their third in the last 11 games.
Utah Jazz Will Be Without 3 Players
Utah (7-13) will face the Dallas Mavericks (11-8) tonight extremely shorthanded. Jordan Clarkson will miss his third straight game due to a right thigh contusion. Meanwhile, Kelly Olymyk has been ruled out for a second consecutive contest with a right shoulder strain, and Lauri Markkanen (left hamstring strain) is slated to miss his sixth straight contest. Markkanen is slated to be re-evaluated sometime this week. That’s then there should be a better sense of when the 26-year-old forward could return.
Meanwhile, Dallas will be without Maxi Kleber (dislocated toe) and Josh Green (elbow). Kleber, who has been out since November 9, has yet to be cleared to start running. Green, who missed his first game against OKC on Saturday, is expected to miss multiple weeks due to a sprain in his right elbow, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports.
“I’m told (Josh Green) will be sidelined for at least the next couple weeks.”
— The Rally (@TheRally) December 5, 2023
Grant Williams, who didn’t practice on Monday due to knee soreness, is listed as questionable. However, Kyrie Irving, who missed Saturday’s game due to a foot injury, and Tim Hardaway Jr, who has been out since Nov. 29 with a back injury, are available tonight.
Denver Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray, who has missed the last three games with a right ankle injury, is considered questionable to return to action tonight vs. the Clippers, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post.
“Hamstring’s fine. I’ve worked enough to get it back to strength,” Murray said. “Now it’s just another thing.”
Denver (14-7) has struggled without Murray this season, winning just seven of their last 13 games that he has missed. Speaking of missed games, Murray who would be eligible for a super-max extension if he earns All-NBA honors this season. However, he would fall short of the required 65 games if he misses five more contests.
Orlando Magic guard Markelle Fultz will miss the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, marking his 13th absence of the season due to left knee tendinitis. Fultz is “progressing slowly” and is not doing full contract work during practices, Magic coach Jahmahl Moseley said yesterday, per Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel.
Orlando will also be without Wendell Carter Jr. (finger) for the 16th straight game. Carter recently had his cast removed and has been ramping up his individual work, although it’s still unclear when he’ll take the floor. Meanwhile, Jonathan Isaac has been limited to just seven minutes over the last four games due to ankle issues and is listed as questionable for tonight.
Minnesota Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards is still dealing with a hip pointer and is considered questionable for tonight’s contest against San Antonio.