The Jazz‘s willingness to commit to paying building blocks like Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors has helped the team show signs that it will quickly rebound from its rebuilding project, as Sean Deveney of The Sporting News details. Critical, too, was the deadline-day trade that sent Enes Kanter out, at his request, as the Jazz weren’t interested in paying a premium to keep him in restricted free agency this summer, writes Chris Mannix of SI.com. A greater focus on Favors and Rudy Gobert since then has paid dividends, as Mannix examines.
“[The trade] helped me work on my game a lot,” Favors said. “Enes was the first option in the post. Since the trade, it’s always been me. It’s helped me work on my game and made me better for it.”
Coach Quin Snyder downplays the connection between the Kanter trade and the team’s ascent in the standings, Mannix notes. Still, Utah was 19-34 at the deadline and has gone 12-3 since. There’s more on the Jazz amid the latest from the Western Conference:
- Jazz higher-ups are “positively giddy” about the future of Rodney Hood, as Mannix reports in the same piece. Utah selected Hood 23rd overall in June after the swingman spoke to Zach Links of Hoops Rumors last spring.
- The Clippers aren’t sure they’ll have Jamal Crawford back for the playoffs, according to Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com. Crawford has missed the last eight games because of a bruised right calf that Doc Rivers has deemed a “serious injury” and one that won’t have him back “anytime soon, that’s for sure,” Howard-Cooper notes. L.A. has an open roster spot and Nate Robinson on a 10-day contract.
- The Spurs are keeping a close eye on draft-and-stash prospect Davis Bertans of late, as Lefteris Moutis of Eurohoops.net writes in a slideshow dedicated to the 10 European players who have the best chances of playing in the NBA next season. The power forward has a contract that runs through 2017 with Spain’s Laboral Kuxta (aka Saski Baskonia), as Mark Porcaro shows in our Draft Rights Held Players database, though it apparently contains NBA escape clauses for each year of the deal.
Some around the Warriors think David Lee‘s return from injury in December disrupted the team’s rhythm, as Tim Kawakami of the Bay Area News Group hears, and the team has essentially squeezed him out of the rotation for now. The Warriors were steadfast at the deadline that they didn’t want to simply shed Lee in a salary dump, Kawakami writes, nonetheless adding that he expects Golden State to make a push to trade him this summer.
Here’s more from the Western Conference:
- No one believes that Thunder GM Sam Presti would ever trade Kevin Durant, a league executive told Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Presti dismissed the idea he’d make such a move after ESPN analyst and former team exec Tom Penn suggested that he would.
- Jay Yeomans of the Deseret News reviews how Jazz draft-and-stash picks Ante Tomic, Tibor Pleiss, and Raul Neto are faring overseas this season.
- Jazz rookie Rodney Hood is providing some much needed scoring from the wing for the team, which was a big reason why Utah drafted him last June, Kareem Copeland of NBA.com writes. “He makes shots and has the ability to space the floor. He’s also gets to the rim, too,” coach Quin Snyder said of Hood. “The plan, really in the beginning, Rodney was going to play. Whether he was going to start or how many minutes, you never know. He’s good enough and we need him.“
- Though Enes Kanter is receiving similar playing time with the Thunder as he did with the Jazz, the big man is more content thanks to being on a more successful team, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman relays. “Well, the thing is we are winning here,” Kanter said. “We are playing for something. We are playing for playoffs, we are playing for ring. There [in Utah], I still respect them and I don’t want to say nothing bad about them. But this is just way different than what I’ve been seeing. It’s a whole different level. This is like I realize what NBA is when I came to Oklahoma City.”
Chuck Myron contributed to this post.
The Suns‘ three point guard system was one of the factors that led Isaiah Thomas to agree to a sign-and-trade deal this past summer, the guard said during an interview with Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (hat tip to Matt Petersen of NBA.com). “That’s what I signed here for, was to play with those other two guards and to cause havoc on both ends of the floor playing with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe,” Thomas said. “Everybody’s getting a consistent rotation. Guys know when they’re really going to come in and play, and who they’re going to play with. I think everybody’s just getting comfortable with everybody.”
Here’s more from the West:
- The Spurs are finding their quest to repeat as NBA champions a rather difficult road to travel, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. Because of injuries and the age of his roster, coach Gregg Popovich has already had to use 23 starting lineups through 42 games so far this season, which is tied with Knicks for the most in the NBA, Lee notes. “You just deal with whatever you have and move on,” Popovich said. “I don’t think there are too many coaches who aren’t concerned about something.”
- Rajon Rondo‘s true value to the Mavericks isn’t necessarily reflected in his stat line, but rather in his excellent play during clutch situations, Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com writes. “He’s a big-time player, and big-time players make big plays down the stretch,” Dallas big man Tyson Chandler said. “He’s not going to always put up the huge numbers that are going to wow you, but he’s one of those guys that you want with you in the trenches when you know the game is on the line. He’s just going to do something – something – to make an impact on the game.”
- Jazz rookie Rodney Hood, who injured his left foot during Sunday’s contest against the Spurs, will be out of action through the All-Star break, at which point his status will be reevaluated, the team has announced. The 22-year-old has appeared in 24 games for Utah this season, averaging 5.3 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 18.3 minutes per contest.
6:42pm: The signing is official, the team has announced.
1:20pm: The Jazz have signed No. 23 overall pick Rodney Hood, as Hood reveals on his verified Twitter account. He’ll likely receive slightly more than $1.29MM this coming season, as our chart of salaries for 2014 first-round picks shows.
The 6’8″ former Duke Blue Devil touted his versatility and readiness to play when he spoke to Zach Links of Hoops Rumors before the draft. He averaged 16.1 points per game with 42.0% three-point shooting this past season in his lone year at the school after transferring from Mississippi State.
The Jazz took Hood at the back end of the range into which Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors thought he would fall when he examined the 21-year-old’s prospect profile. That sets Utah up with the potential for strong value from the pick. The Jazz also have the rights to No. 5 overall pick Dante Exum, who remains unsigned but will likely ink soon.
In Jeff Goodman’s latest mock draft for ESPN (Insiders only), Elfrid Payton gets selected by the Timberwolves at No. 13. In response to that projection, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN said that Minnesota doesn’t have any interest in drafting the former Louisiana Lafayette guard with that pick. It probably won’t matter anyway, as Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe hears that Payton has been greatly impressive in workouts and won’t slip past the top 10 on draft night (Twitter links).
With that aside, we’ll keep tabs on this evening’s draft-related news here:
- Add Sweden’s Viktor Gaddefors to the list of players that Memphis is bringing in for a second workout on Wednesday, notes Ronald Tillery of The Commercial Appeal.
- The Hornets appear primed to add at least one big man with either the 24th or 45th pick in this year’s draft, and Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer lists Mitch McGary and Johnny O’Bryant as potential targets.
- Former Florida big man Patric Young is on Phil Jackson’s draft wish list, writes Marc Berman of the New York Post. Berman also points out that the Knicks worked out Jahii Carson recently.
- Following up Andy Katz’s earlier ESPN report that the Kings have three deals in place regarding their No. 8 pick, ESPN’s Marc Stein identified the Celtics, Suns, and 76ers as the potential trading partners.
- The Pelicans are making a concerted effort to acquire a first-round pick, tweets NBA.com’s David Aldridge.
- According to Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress, Joel Embiid is strongly in play for the 76ers at No. 3 and the Magic at No. 4; the worst-case scenario is that Embiid won’t fall past the Kings at No. 8 (Twitter link).
- The Knicks remain confident that they’ll land a first-round pick and/or a second-round pick in Thursday’s draft, tweets Frank Isola of the New York Daily News.
- The Pistons are without a first-round pick this year, but team president/head coach Stan Van Gundy says that one team picking between No. 26 and No. 30 is open to shedding their pick for the best offer. “There’s one team that’s saying “give us your best deal for (our) pick” (Twitter link via Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News).
- The Bucks made an unsuccessful attempt to bring in Cleanthony Early for a workout, tweets Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times.
- In another piece, Woelfel notes that the Spurs, Pacers, and Pistons are among the list of teams that brought second-round hopeful Jamil Wilson in for a workout.
- The Grizzlies are trying to put together a last minute workout for Glenn Robinson III, Jordan Adams, Joe Harris, and Geron Johnson tomorrow, tweets Chad Ford of ESPN.
- Former Duke swingman Rodney Hood participated in a second workout for the Suns, notes Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link).
Bad news for Joel Embiid and Dante Exum. Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry says that it would be “hard to take Embiid” given his foot injury and indicated that it’ll come down to either Jabari Parker or Andrew Wiggins, according to Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel. Here’s the latest draft news from around the league..
- League sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports that the Kings are seriously considering Louisiana-Lafayette product Elfrid Payton Jr. at No. 8 and few expect him to slip past the Magic at No. 12.
- Duke sharpshooter Rodney Hood is back with the Hornets for a second attempt at a workout tomorrow, according to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Hoops Rumors chatted with Hood back in May about the draft process and his NBA goals.
- K.J. McDaniels will also receive a second audition for the Hornets and he’ll be joined by UCLA’s Jordan Adams, Missouri’s Jabari Brown, Jarell Eddie of Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh’s Lamar Patterson (Twitter links).
- Former North Carolina wing P.J. Hairston is working out today for the Bulls, who may end up trading one or both of their first-round picks, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY. Chicago is currently slated to pick at Nos. 16 and 19.
- Former Syracuse forward C.J. Fair will audition for the Thunder today, the Pistons tomorrow, and the Nets on Wednesday, Zagoria tweets.
- The Bulls have Michigan State’s Adreian Payne matching up against Chad Posthumus of Morehead State in a workout today, according to Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops (via Twitter).
- The Wizards will look to take the best player available when they’re called at the podium but J. Michael of CSNWashington.com hears that they’re favoring size.
Joel Embiid‘s foot injury has shaken up the draft, with split opinions around the league regarding the seven-footer’s prospects for the draft and beyond. One league source tells Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe that Embiid’s health concerns place him in legitimate danger of plummeting out of the lottery, while others are confident he will still be selected in the top 10. More draft rumblings:
- Tyler Ennis will have his second audition for the Magic on Monday, tweets Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel (H/T Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic).
- The international teams for Jusuf Nurkic, Nikola Jokic, Nemanja Dangubic, and Vasilije Micic will not put any barriers in place to keep the players from joining the NBA if drafted, per tweets from Yugobasket and Misko Raznatovic (H/T Emiliano Carchia of Sportando).
- Marcus Smart, Noah Vonleh, and Aaron Gordon are the Celtics preferred group of draftees at No. 6, tweets Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
- Boston’s “most likely” scenario for the draft is to keep both of their picks, GM Danny Ainge tells Washburn (Twitter link).
- The Cavs are making efforts to trade down from the top spot to the No. 3-5 range in the draft, where they think Embiid would still be available, tweets Brett Poirier of Sheridan Hoops. The Magic, sitting at No. 4, have not been contacted by Cleveland, a source tells Poirier (Twitter link). The Sixers and Jazz own the third and fifth pick, respectively.
- The Lakers would consider taking Embiid at No. 7 if he fell that far, a source familiar with their thinking tells Mark Medina of Los Angeles Daily News. Unsurprisingly, LA’s choice would hinge on their confidence in the big man’s recovery.
- The Lakers are more likely to hang on to that seventh pick than deal it, despite their ongoing efforts to explore what they could net for it, writes Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The pick was linked to Klay Thompson as part of the Kevin Love discussions earlier today.
- The Suns are willing to trade away the 27th pick for a future first-rounder, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
- Jakarr Sampson, Niels Giffey, Glenn Robinson III, and Chane Behanan will work out for the Celtics today, tweets Holmes.
- As previously reported, the Warriors, Blazers, Pelicans, and Knicks are all looking to acquire first round draft picks, but the price tag is extremely high due to the deep draft pool, reports Alex Kennedy (via Twitter). Kennedy says that teams are asking for future picks that are unprotected or barely protected in return for first-rounders this year.
- The NBA has invited 21 prospects to the green room for the draft broadcast, Chad Ford of ESPN.com reveals in two tweets. The invite is a sign of consensus around these players as first round selections. The players invited were Andrew Wiggins Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Doug McDermott, Dario Saric, Gary Harris, Elfrid Payton, Nik Stauskas, James Young, Zach LaVine, Jusuf Nurkic, Adreian Payne, T.J. Warren, Tyler Ennis, Rodney Hood, and Shabazz Napier.
With the draft only eight days away, we should expect a steady stream of updates leading up to next Thursday night’s festivities in Brooklyn. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders profiles prospects whose stock is on the rise; a list that includes Doug McDermott, Elfrid Payton, Rodney Hood, T.J. Warren, Zach LaVine, Jarnell Stokes, Rodney Hood, Shabazz Napier and Mitch McGary. In addition, here are some more team-specific draft notes from Wednesday:
- Duke’s Andre Dawkins will work out with the Pistons, Mavericks and Magic after Friday’s session with the Wizards, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.
- The Clippers worked out C.J. Fair, Glenn Robinson III, Cleanthony Early and Jakarr Sampson on Wednesday, adds Zagoria via Twitter.
- Zagoria also tweets that the Pacers will work out Ohio guard Nick Kellogg next Monday and the Nets will work out Fair next Wednesday (Twitter links).
- The Jazz got a revealing look at Noah Vonleh in Monday’s six-man workout, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. Many draftniks foresee Vonleh going to Utah at No. 5.
- In an Insider Only piece, ESPN’s David Thorpe outlines a handful of pre-NBA similarities between Syracuse product Jerami Grant and current NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
- Working out for the Cavaliers today, Andrew Wiggins looked “very good” according to Sam Amico of Fox Sports Ohio (via Twitter). Amico adds that Cleveland’s first overall selection remains wide open.
- Baxter Holmes of the Boston Globe profiles Australian backcourt prospect Dante Exum. Meanwhile, NBA.com offers their pre-draft breakdown of Clemson product K.J. McDaniels.
- The Kings, who pick 8th, will work out Hood, LaVine, Sim Bhullar, Nick Johnson, Elijah Pittman and RIchard Solomon on Friday, according to Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee, who adds that LaVine has fans in the Sacramento front office (Twitter links are here).
- With concerns about his right foot in the air, Julius Randle impressed in his workout with the Jazz today, writes Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune. As he has since the original report, Randle maintained today in Utah that he does not need surgery.
- The Bulls will work out Michigan State’s Adreian Payne on Monday, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM. Owners of the 16th and 19th selections, Chicago figures to be in the market for outside shooting, making Payne a realistic possibility.
- The Celtics brought 7-foot-3 prospect Walter Tavares in for a workout on Thursday, reports Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops.com. As Scotto notes, Tavares seems to be making a late push up draft boards.
- The Grizzlies will host Napier, Jordan Clarkson, Jerami Grant, P.J. Hairston, LaQuinton Ross and C.J Wilcox on Thursday, the team announced.
- Michael Cohen of The Commercial Appeal profiles Grant and Hairston along with Payne and Hood in his examination of which players may slip to Memphis at pick 22.
- Thanasis Antetokounmpo will work out for the Spurs, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (via Twitter). As Zillgitt points out, Antetokounmpo’s talent, bloodlines and the fact that he will have worked out for nearly half the league by next Thursday make him an intriguing prospect.
- Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek considers smarts nearly as valuable as athleticism when evaluating draft prospects, writes Matt Petersen of Suns.com, who points to Gerald Green as an elite athlete who thrived in Phoenix after showing signs of basketball I.Q. despite a rocky start to his career.
The Clippers are interested in trading up from pick No. 28, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Shelburne’s piece centers on a profile of former University of Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie, who can’t work out because he’s still recovering from a torn ACL. Dinwiddie’s nonetheless had meetings with the Bucks, Wizards, Bulls and Celtics, and he’s scheduled interviews and physicals with the Clippers, Heat, Hawks and Thunder, according to Shelburne. The ESPN scribe also says that he’ll interview and take a physical for the Jazz, advancing an earlier report that he was set to interview with the team. Here’s more on the draft:
- Julius Randle is set to work out for the Jazz tomorrow, tweets Utah’s radio announcer David Locke.
- Marcus Smart and Elfrid Payton are expected to work out for the Lakers on Friday for the second time, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports Spears advises his readers to “keep an eye” on Payton (via Twitter) in light of the second workout.
- Nik Stauskas is expected in for his first workout with the Lakers, who have struggled to get Stauskas in, tweets Eric Pincus of The Los Angeles Times.
- Rodney Hood had to sit out most of his Hornets workout today due to illness, reports Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer.
- Gary Harris and Zach LaVine will work out for the Hornets tomorrow, tweets Bonnell, who adds Charlotte’s other new workout appointees in a separate tweet: Rion Brown; Ronald Roberts Jr.; and Markel Brown, who missed an earlier workout due to travel issues.
- The Rockets worked out Shabazz Napier, Xavier Thames, Patric Young, Nick Russell, and Kadeem Coleby, tweets Michael Scotto of Sheridan Hoops.
- Sim Bhullar, Earnest Ross, Ian Chiles, Cameron Clark, Philipp Neumann, and Jordan Bachynski will work out for the Wizards tomorrow, tweets J. Michael of CSNWashington.com.
- Noah Vonleh will work out for the Sixers on Thursday, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
- Elfrid Payton, Josh Huestis, James Bell and Jordan Clarkson are the previously unreported prospects performing for the Hornets today, as Chris Littmann of The Sporting News tweets.
- P.J. Hairston will audition for the Hawks, as he tells Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, who also reports that Hairston will show off for the Grizzlies, Lakers and Bulls (Twitter links).
- Kyle Anderson will work out for the Suns, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, as well as the Grizzlies, according to Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv (Twitter links). A previous report indicated that the Suns were set to audition Anderson a week ago, so this appears to be his second workout with Phoenix.
- Anderson will also perform for the Bulls, as will Clint Capela and DeAndre Daniels, Zagoria tweets.
- Jordan Adams, Devyn Marble, Sean Kilpatrick, C.J. Wilcox and Jarnell Stokes are working out for the Raptors today, the team announced. A report from last month indicated that Stokes had already worked out for Toronto, but given that the dispatch came in the middle of the draft combine, I wouldn’t be surprised if that was actually an interview between Stokes and the club, rather than a workout.
- The Wizards are auditioning Semaj Christon, Nick Johnson, Deonte Burton, Alec Brown and Khem Birch today, according to Michael Scotto of SheridanHoops (on Twitter).
Jarnell Stokes‘ representatives are excited about his performance against Adreian Payne in a workout for the Raptors today, with auditions for the Spurs and Clippers still to come, as Zach Links of Hoops Rumors reports (Twitter links). Zach also hears that Rodney Hood has rescheduled workouts with the Wolves and Kings this week after withdrawing from earlier auditions for the teams (Twitter link). Justin Jackson showed off twice for the Hornets last week, with the Hawks, Heat and Suns on his upcoming workout agenda, Zach also tweets. Here’s more from around the league:
- A Western Conference executive who spoke with Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News suggests that teams will be wary of the poor performance that soon-to-be free agent Boris Diaw turned in for Charlotte preceding his tenure with the Spurs. Monroe also hears doubt from an exec about Patty Mills‘ ability to succeed outside of San Antonio.
- The Hornets are interviewing Blazers director of college scouting Chad Buchanan for their assistant GM post, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). The assistant GM will serve under GM Rich Cho, who gained full control of the front office when president of basketball operations Rod Higgins resigned last week.
- The Rockets are aggressively seeking Lionel Hollins to serve as an assistant coach even though they know it will be difficult to land him as he seeks head coaching jobs, according to Marc Stein of ESPN.com. Hollins has interviewed to become the head man for the Cavs and Lakers.
- The Timberwolves named Sam Mitchell an assistant coach today, the team announced (on Twitter). Mitchell interviewed for the head coaching job and was reportedly a favorite of owner Glen Taylor.