NBA notebook: LeBron in full-contact drills, but won’t play Sunday

LeBron James participated in full-contact defensive drills for the first time in a month at Los Angeles’ training complex on Saturday, but the four-time NBA MVP still won’t play Sunday when the Lakers host the Phoenix Suns.

FILE PHOTO: Jan 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James watches the game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

“He was a full participant in that, so it was good to see,” coach Luke Walton told reporters. “He looked good. He’s still really good at basketball, in case you guys were wondering.”

Sunday will mark the 16th consecutive game James has missed since he strained his left groin on Christmas Day against the Golden State Warriors. Prior to this season — his 16th in the league – the 34-year old James had never missed more than 13 games in a season. The Lakers are 5-10 without him, including a 120-105 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday.

In his first season with Los Angeles, James is averaging 27.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.1 assists in 34 games.

—Jimmy Butler has been ruled out of Saturday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets due to his injured right wrist, Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters at the team’s midday shoot-around in Denver.

Butler visited a specialist in Los Angeles on Friday and it was determined that he has a sprained wrist. This will be the third game Butler has missed since suffering the injury against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Jan. 19.

Brown told reporters that Butler could return to the lineup for Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

—Brooklyn Nets sixth man Spencer Dinwiddie will have surgery Monday to repair torn ligaments in his right thumb and is expected to miss 3-6 weeks, ESPN reported.

The fifth-year point guard met with two specialists and both recommended surgery, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. On Friday, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson had said Dinwiddie could possibly continue playing and wait until the offseason to have the operation.

Dinwiddie, 25, is averaging a career-high 17.2 points with 5.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game this season.

—Milwaukee Bucks backup center Thon Maker has told the team he wants to be traded somewhere he can get more playing time, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Saturday.

After starting 34 games as a 2016-17 rookie and averaging 16.7 minutes per game in 2017-18, Maker, 21, has averaged just 11.7 minutes in 35 games (zero starts) this year in coach Mike Budenholzer’s first season with Milwaukee.

The 7-foot-1 Maker, the No. 10 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, will be eligible to negotiate a rookie contract extension this offseason. He is averaging 4.7 points and 2.7 rebounds for the Bucks, who have the NBA’s best record at 35-12 entering Sunday’s game at Oklahoma City.

—Memphis guard Garrett Temple will miss one to two weeks with a mild left shoulder strain, the Grizzlies announced.

The injury occurred Friday near the end of the first quarter when he collided with a Sacramento player in the Grizzlies’ 99-96 loss in Memphis. Temple, in his ninth NBA season, did not return, finishing with two points in 12 minutes.

Temple, 32, had started all 49 games this season, his first with the Grizzlies. He is averaging 9.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 31.2 minutes per game. He is second on the team with 74 3-point field goals.

—The Chicago Bulls’ Chandler Hutchison posted the best NBA numbers of his career Friday night, 12 points and 12 rebounds, but any high was short-lived as the rookie forward suffered a right toe injury that could sideline him for an extended period, multiple news outlets reported.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi reported Hutchison will be re-evaluated after two weeks. Hutchison, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft out of Boise State, has averaged 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 44 games.

The 22-year-old had an MRI exam Saturday morning after X-rays taken late Friday raised concern about the injury, according to the Chicago Tribune.

—The NBA has fined Minnesota Timberwolves forward Taj Gibson $25,000 for aggressively pursuing and directing an obscene gesture toward an official during Friday’s loss to the Utah Jazz.

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The incident occurred after Gibson was assessed two technical fouls and ejected with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter in Salt Lake City.

After the Timberwolves’ 106-102 loss, Gibson said he would apologize to the official, James Williams.

—Field Level Media

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