The Jazz are struggling quite a bit to start the season, but George Karl seems to think the Bucks will finish in the cellar and have the best odds at the top pick, writes Bob Wolfey of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Milwaukee keeps coming to me. They just don’t have enough talent right now. Injuries have taken their best players off the court. They could get into a position that they dig the hole so deep that, philosophically, it might be in their best interests for a poor season,” said the one-time Milwaukee coach. Here’s more out of the Northwest Division..
- In today’s mailbag, a reader asks Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post why the Nuggets would consider trading Kenneth Faried given the production that he has given Denver. Dempsey says that Faried isn’t going anywhere, though it won’t stop other teams from calling.
- Nuggets forward Danilo Gallinari, who has been sidelined for quite some time, gets homesick occasionally, but he told Italian outlet Il Corriere della Sera that he wants to play in the NBA for as long as possible, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.
- Justin Holiday signed to play with Hungary’s Szolnoki Olajbanyasz, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Holiday, who was in training camp with the Jazz this summer, spent last season with Idaho Stampede and averaged 17.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.4 steals per game.
While there have been conflicting reports on how close the Clippers and Lamar Odom are to reuniting, it sounds like Clippers players are expecting the two sides to get something done. Asked by Sam Amick of USA Today whether he foresees Odom joining the Clips, Jared Dudley replied, “Oh, 100%.”
While Odom continues to work his way back into playing shape and the Clippers prepare for tomorrow night’s game in Minnesota, let’s check out a few odds and ends from around the Association….
- The Nets are still trying to get healthy and to get all their offseason additions working together, but one offseason addition – coach Jason Kidd – hasn’t been impressive so far, a veteran scout tells Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. “He doesn’t do anything,” said the scout. “John Welch does all the offense. Lawrence [Frank] does all the defense…. I don’t know what Kidd does. I don’t think you can grade him and say he’s bad. You can give him an incomplete.”
- In free agency, players typically like to secure longer-term deals, but that’s not beneficial when later seasons are non-guaranteed, writes Mark Deeks at The Score. As Deeks observes, a player like Omri Casspi could be stuck in no-man’s land next summer, since the Rockets will have until August to decide whether or not to guarantee the second year of his contract.
- Deeks also reports (via Twitter) that free agent forward Hakim Warrick is in China, working out for the Sichuan Blue Whales. If the audition goes well, Warrick is expected to replace former Rutgers big man Herve Lamizana, according to Deeks.
- Emiliano Carchia of Sportando passes along an Italian report suggesting that Justin Holiday, Jrue Holiday‘s brother, has turned down an offer from Italy’s VL Pesaro. Holiday was in camp with the Jazz after spending last season with the Sixers, and still appears to be searching for an NBA deal.
The Sixers slipped below .500 with last night’s loss to the Pelicans, but somehow Philadelphia still leads a woeful Atlantic Division. The team’s 5-6 record is the sixth best in the Eastern Conference, so as we ponder whether the mediocrity of their opponents could allow the Sixers to remain in the playoff hunt all season, here’s the latest from Philly:
- Jrue Holiday doesn’t have hard feelings for his old Sixers teammates, but he told reporters Saturday that it took only a “couple minutes” for him to get over his trade to the Pelicans once he realized who his new teammates would be. Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the details.
- Holiday’s older brother is drawing interest from an Italian team. Vuelle Pesaro is eyeing Justin Holiday, though no deal is imminent, according to Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia. Justin Holiday played for the Sixers last season and was in camp with the Jazz last month.
- Another shooting guard who had a cup of coffee with the Sixers is also in the mix overseas. Xavier Silas has signed with Maccabi Ashdod in Israel, tweets Sportando contributor David Pick. Silas played a pair of games for Philly at the end of the 2011/12 season and was in camp this fall with the Wizards.
- Sixers coach Brett Brown has brought the player development chops he honed as a Spurs assistant to Philadelphia, observes Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times.
The Jazz announced that they have cut Brian Cook, Dominic McGuire, Justin Holiday, Lester Hudson and Scott Machado. Utah’s roster is now down to 15, including the injured Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams.
Today’s news means that Mike Harris and Jamaal Tinsley have both made the cut for the Jazz. Tinsley’s signing, necessitated when rookie point guard Trey Burke broke his hand earlier this month, likely cost one of today’s camp cuts a spot on the team. All five were on fully non-guaranteed deals, so the Jazz aren’t on the hook for their salaries.
Everyone the Jazz brought to camp has NBA experience, and that includes Harris, who’ll begin his fourth NBA season on opening night. The power forward has played sparingly, totaling just 34 games across stints with the Rockets and Wizards, but coach Tyrone Corbin values the mobility of his 6’6″, 235-pound frame, as Jody Genessy of the Deseret News points out (on Twitter).
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
With seven preseason games on the schedule for Tuesday night, let’s take a look at some odds and ends from around the NBA:
- Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune spoke to Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin and some of the team’s camp invitees — including Justin Holiday, Scott Machado and Brian Cook — about the roster cuts the team will have to make within the next couple of weeks to get down to 15 players.
- We haven’t heard too much about Lamar Odom since the strange reports about his off-the-court issues surfaced in August. Ramona Shelburne of ESPN LA tweets that the Lakers reached out to Odom recently, but that the contact was strictly for personal reasons.
- With the Magic in town to face the Rockets on Wednesday, Dwight Howard spoke to Orlando-area reporters, including Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, about what has been a whirlwind of a two years for the Houston center. While Howard expressed regret about how things ended in Orlando, he implied that the situation in Los Angeles was different, and that Houston simply represented the best place for him to be.
- Meanwhile in post-Dwight Orlando, 31-year-old Jameer Nelson is happy to play the role of elder statesman on a young and improving Magic team, writes Jeff Caplan of NBA.com. Caplan writes that Nelson, a veteran in the second year of a three-year deal, is aware that he will probably be shopped this winter unless the Magic surprise everyone and contend.
- We heard earlier tonight from Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News that MarShon Brooks had expressed a desire to be traded from the Nets before he was part of the blockbuster with the Celtics. Bondy provides several quotes from Brooks, now in Boston, in his complete story: “I wasn’t really sure with [Jason Kidd becoming coach]. I didn’t know what to expect. Last year obviously we knew what was going on, it was so rocky, I didn’t know if I was playing. There just wasn’t any structure to any of my minutes.. So it was kind of hard for me to perform under those circumstances and obviously I didn’t want to be in that situation next year.”
The Jazz have officially announced the signings of Brian Cook, Justin Holiday and Dwayne Jones. Agreements involving all three had been reported this month. The team has 19 players under contract, though that doesn't include Nick Covington's deal, which we heard about this weekend.
Cook, Holiday and Jones all have NBA experience, though Cook has by far the most among the three, and he ranks in the top 10 among all of this year's NBA camp invitees in games played. Holiday is the only one of the trio to have appeared in a game last season, as he saw action in nine contests for the Sixers, alongside younger brother Jrue Holiday.
The Jazz have only 12 fully guaranteed contracts and Ian Clark's partially guaranteed deal, but with a full contingent of players for camp, none of the players on non-guaranteed deals seem like safe bets for the opening-night roster.
Tyrone Corbin is entering his fourth year as the coach of the Jazz. We mentioned earlier ESPN Insider Amin Elhassan's belief Corbin is on the coaching hot seat this season, with front court nucleus Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson gone in free agency to the Hawks and Bobcats, respectively.
Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune profiles Corbin as he enters the final year of his contract with the Jazz "where an extension is unlikely." Corbin will shepherd an inexperienced group unlikely to cause much of a ruckus in the tough Western Conference. His place as part of the rebuilding Jazz is murky, at best.
Here's what else is happening around the Northwest division on a jam-packed Saturday night as NBA training camps finally open…
- The Deseret News' Jody Genessy details the 20 training camp Jazz invites, including Justin Holiday, the older brother (Twitter) of Pelicans point guard Jrue Holiday.
- Justin Holiday, Genessy adds via Twitter, is one of 7 players who will be in Jazz camp with non-guaranteed deals, as well as the 13 players (Twitter) already with guaranteed deals.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star-Tribune details the five major issues facing the Timberwolves as they enter training camp. The primary issue is health with their nucleus of Nikola Pekovic, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, all missing time last season as the 'Wolves again failed to reach the playoffs.
- Zgoda also goes through the uncertain contract status of power forward Derrick Williams. If the 'Wolves don't exercise their option paying him $6.33MM next season, the former No. 2 overall pick will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
- With the 'Wolves facing a lot of contract unknowns in the near future Williams place with them is uncertain.
- The Timberwolves' Chase Budinger may miss 6-8 weeks as swelling and discomfort continue in the same left knee that sidelined him for all but five games last season, Zgoda reported earlier today. An MRI revealed, according to coach Flip Saunders, "a little something in there." The news comes fresh after Budinger re-signed with the 'Wolves for three years and $15MM this summer.
- Anthony Slater of the Oklahoman asked Thunder players Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka what nicknames they'd put on their jerseys if the NBA allowed the practice.
- Yahoo Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski tweets that the Nuggets have hired Jim Clibanoff as Director of Scouting. Previously, Clibanoff ran a respected private scouting service.
The Jazz are expected to sign Justin Holiday to a make-good contract, a source told Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Holiday was cut loose by the Sixers last month and waited roughly six weeks to hook on with another club.
The 24-year-old saw time in just nine games for Philly after being signed late last season. The University of Washington product, who is the brother of Jrue Holiday, averaged 17.3 PPG in 47 D-League contests.
Holiday picked up significant interest from Italy after being released by the Sixers, but it's not clear if he was ever giving that serious consideration. The guard also auditioned for the Heat, but he likely feels that his best chance at a roster spot will come from Utah.
According to Hoopsworld.com's Alex Kennedy, the Heat have recently expressed interest in several free agents, including Von Wafer, Julyan Stone, Justin Holiday, Yakhouba Diawara, and Larry Drew II.
The 28-year-old Wafer last played in the NBA during the 2011/12 season as a member of the Magic. He averaged 5.9 PPG in 33 appearances. Only 24 years old and with two seasons under his belt with the Nuggets, Stone appeared in four games last year, but has reportedly agreed to a training camp deal with the Raptors.
The Heat have 13 players on guaranteed contracts, not including the recently signed Michael Beasley, who is on a non-guaranteed deal.
Guard Sasha Vujacic is working out hard in Los Angeles in hopes of relaunching his NBA career, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). In fact, the 29-year-old is determined to hold out for an NBA deal rather than return to Europe, where he'd surely find a lucrative offer. According to one witness, Vujacic was a hit in the Lakers' gym last week and has been looking sharp in pickup games in the L.A. area after his time in Turkey with Anadolu Efes.
Over parts of seven seasons in the states, mostly with the Lakers, Vujacic averaged 5.6 PPG and 1.3 APG in 15.9 minutes per game. He also showed that he can fill a stat sheet during a run with the Nets in 2010/11 where he put up 11.4 PPG and 3.3 RPG in 28.5 minutes per contest. Here's the rest of today's news from around the globe..
- Italian club Reggio Emilia is looking to make a final roster addition with Lazar Hayward and Justin Holiday as the two main targets, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. If they can't land either player, Cory Higgins is their third option. Hayward, a standout at Marquette, spent last season with the L.A. D-Fenders of the D-League averaging 15.9 PPG and 8.1 RPG. Justin Holiday was with the 76ers for nine games and with the D-League's Idaho Stampede for 47 games, where he put up 17.3 PPG.
- Italian club Sidigas Avellino officially announced that they have signed Jarvis Hayes, according to Emiliano Carchia of Sportando (via Twitter). It was reported last week that the longtime NBA forward struck a deal with the club after spending last season with Israel's Elizur Ashkelon.
- Former Knicks big man Jerome Jordan has officially signed with Italian club Virtus Bologna, according to Carchia (on Twitter).
- As always, you can keep up with all global basketball activity with Hoops Rumors' International Tracker.