The Jazz took a step back competitively this summer to open up playing time for their younger guys, and GM Dennis Lindsey promises Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune that the team won't reverse course.
"… We are not running away from the decisions we made," Lindsey said. "We are looking to embrace this and we will embrace it — all the challenges of being so young. I believe we have the talent and character to move forward — incrementally. We are very much looking forward to the start of the journey with this young core group."
Lindsey passed along a couple of other noteworthy tidbits in his conversation with Luhm, and we'll round them up here along with an update on a member of last year's Jazz team:
- The GM explained why the team abandoned its hunt for an annual playoff berth. "We were O.K. with being playoff-competitive as long as we had [salary cap] flexibility, too," he said. "But if we had invested in our veteran players, we were going to lose that flexibility, especially with some other [contract] extensions coming up."
- Lindsey emphasizes a collaborative approach in the front office, which also includes VP of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor and newly hired assistant GM Justin Zanik. Coach Tyrone Corbin has a say, too, and his input was critical in swaying the team to trade for Trey Burke on draft night, Lindsey says.
- Travis Leslie was briefly a member of the Jazz last season, though he didn't appear in a game. He signed with JSF Nanterre in France last month, but comments the team's head coach recently made suggest that Leslie could once more make a quick exit, notes Gabriel Pantel-Jouve of Catch & Shoot (translation via HoopsHype).
The international free agent market is still hot, and plenty of players with NBA ties are doing business with clubs from overseas. Here's the latest:
- Sidigas Avellino is close to an agreement with Heat big man Jarvis Varnado, the print edition of the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports, according to Sportando's Enea Trapani. Varnado is on a non-guaranteed contract with Miami, and with rumors that the Heat will only carry 13 players this year, he appears to be on shaky ground.
- Nolan Smith was expected to join the Celtics in training camp, but he's signed to play with Cedevita Zagreb, the Croatian team announced on its website (translation via Sportando's Emiliano Carchia).
- Cartier Martin is mulling the idea of playing in China, agent Andy Miller tells J. Michael of CSNWashington.com. Martin has spent parts of the last four seasons with the Wizards, but it doesn't look like the team plans to re-sign him.
- Former second-round draft pick Travis Leslie has signed with JSF Nanterre of France, the team announced (Twitter link; hat tip to Carchia). Leslie played 10 games with the Clippers in 2011/12. He signed a 10-day contract with the Jazz last season, but he didn't appear in a game for Utah. This week Nanterre also signed Deshaun Thomas, whom the Spurs drafted 58th overall in June).
- One-time Kings and Rockets small forward Tyler Honeycutt has officially signed his deal with Ironi Nes Ziona of Israel, Carchia tweets. Sportando contributor David Pick reported a few days ago that the two sides had agreed to a deal.
Travis Leslie's 10-day contract with the Jazz will expire tonight, and with Utah off today, Leslie's time with the club is essentially over. According to the team's official Twitter account, the Jazz have decided not to re-sign Leslie to a second 10-day deal.
Leslie, 22, didn't see any game action with the Jazz during his brief stint with the team, and hasn't appeared in a regular-season contest since last March with the Clippers. The 6'4" guard spent most of this season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 16.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG while shooting 51.5% from the floor in 28 games for Golden State's D-League affiliate.
The Jazz had been carrying 15 players prior to signing Leslie, releasing Raja Bell to make room. When Leslie's deal expires overnight, Utah will open up that 15th spot again, so an additional roster move won't be necessary if the club decides to add another player in Leslie's place.
SBNation's Tom Ziller looks at Basketball-Reference statistics to examine players who've significantly outperformed their contracts this season. Not surprisingly, Chandler Parsons, in the middle of a four-year, $3.63MM contract that runs through 2015, rates highly. Many of the other players Ziller mentions are either minimum-salary signees or former first-round picks still on their rookie-scale deals. There's more on a few players who could be the next to sign rookie contracts and other news from around the Association, as we share here:
- Jordan Hill was expected to be out for the season with a hip injury, but doctors have told him there's a slim chance he could return in late April or early May, reports Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News. Either way, the Lakers will get to keep the $1.78MM disabled player exception the league granted them, even though they don't intend to use it.
- The Jazz haven't decided whether to re-sign Travis Leslie, whose 10-day contract expires Wednesday night, but coach Tyrone Corbin likes what he's seen so far from the swingman, notes Steve Luhm of The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Stephon Marbury, who played for the Chinese league's Beijing Ducks this season, will serve as an assistant coach for Beijing's entry in the China National Games this year, reports Jon Pastuszek of NiuBBall.com.
- HoopsWorld and Chris Mannix of SI.com examine key NBA draft prospects in the NCAA tournament. Joel Brigham of HoopsWorld checks in with a list of prospects on teams likely to make early tournament exits.
- Coach Lawrence Frank is back with the Pistons after missing the past six games to be with his wife, who's recovering from "major surgery," as MLive's David Mayo details.
- John Mitchell of the Philadelphia Inquirer believes the Sixers should go after Al Jefferson rather than Andrew Bynum in free agency this summer, though it might take an inflated contract to make it happen. Yesterday, I argued a max deal could be in play for Jefferson.
A few notes from around the NBA's Northwest Division:
- The Oregonian's John Canzano gives his take on the Trail Blazers situation compared to that of the Seattle Seahawks. Both franchises are owned by Paul Allen, and in light of yesterday's big news that the football team had made a big splash by trading for wide receiver Percy Harvin, Canzano argues that in order for the basketball team to make similar high-impact moves, Blazers GM Neil Olshey needs to gain Allen's trust.
- Jazz guard Travis Leslie hopes he'll get to stay with the team past his 10-day contract, writes The Salt Lake Tribune's Bill Oram.
- The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry has quotes from Kevin Durant on his poor shooting performance last night against the Spurs.
MONDAY, 7:44am: The Jazz officially finalized Leslie's 10-day deal yesterday after releasing Bell, announcing the signing in a press release.
FRIDAY, 10:56pm: It appears Raja Bell will indeed be waived in order to make room for Leslie, Kennedy tweets, adding that Leslie will join the Jazz tomorrow. Earlier tonight, Bell's agent, Herb Rudoy, told Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune that he has yet to hear anything from the Jazz about his client.
1:49pm: It's already been a busy day for D-League call-ups, with Terrel Harris receiving a 10-day deal from the Hornets, Maalik Wayns signing a 10-day contract with the Clippers, and Malcolm Thomas expected to finalize a 10-day contract of his own with the Warriors. The Jazz will get in on the action as well, according to Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports, who tweets that Utah is expected to sign Travis Leslie to a 10-day deal. Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld first tweeted word of Leslie's agreement.
Leslie, 22, appeared in 10 games for the Clippers last season, but hasn't played in the NBA this year. The 6'4" guard has spent the season with the Santa Cruz Warriors, averaging 16.1 PPG and 7.4 RPG while shooting 51.5% from the floor in 28 games for Golden State's D-League affiliate.
The Jazz currently have a full roster of 15 players, so the club will have to release a player to clear a spot for Leslie. The most likely candidate to go is Raja Bell, who is on an expiring contract and hasn't played for the Jazz this season. If Bell is released, another team could pick him up, but he wouldn't be eligible to play in the postseason with a new club.
Eddie Sefko of SportsDayDFW writes that the Mavericks are now in the market for adding a player after severing ties with guard Dominique Jones. Sefko comprises a list including Mike Bibby, Michael Redd, Earl Boykins, and Gilbert Arenas as available veterans who could be worth a look. Among the D-League hopefuls who could warrant an opportunity, Justin Dentmon, Chris Wright, or Sean Singletary come to mind. Sefko rules out the chances of Delonte West making a return to Dallas, citing that the team wouldn't want to reconnect after how badly things ended with him last year. You can find more of tonight's miscellaneous news and notes below:
The NBA D-League held its annual draft on Friday. Former Celtics forward JaJuan Johnson, traded to the Rockets this summer and waived during training camp, was drafted first overall by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
Other players with NBA experience taken in the first round include former Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock, former Wizards guard Shelvin Mack, and former Clippers guard Travis Leslie.
Be sure to check out the official D-League site for the complete draft recap.
The Clippers have waived guard Travis Leslie, trimming their roster to 14, reports Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link). The team will be on the hook for the one-year veteran's guaranteed minimum salary of $762,195. They could have saved some of that money by waiving him by August 1st, when the deal included only a partial guarantee of $250K for this season, but opted to bring him to training camp instead.
Leslie, whom the Clippers drafted 47th overall in 2011, saw action in just 10 games for the team last season, averaging 1.4 points in 4.5 minutes. The 6'4" University of Georgia product got in just as many games for the Bakersfield Jam, the Clippers' D-League affiliate, putting up 10.2 PPG in 20.4 MPG. He appeared in four of L.A.'s preseason contests this year, putting up 3.0 PPG in 8.2 MPG.
The move frees up a roster spot, though the Clippers can only sign someone to the minimum salary after using their full mid-level exception on Jamal Crawford and their bi-annual exception on Grant Hill over the summer. That would seem to put them out of the running to re-sign Kenyon Martin, who's reportedly seeking a deal around $3MM.
We'll track today's D-League and international news here, with the latest up top:
- The Clippers have recalled Travis Leslie from the Bakersfield Jam, where he has averaged 10.2 PPG and 3.2 RPG in two separate stints this season, reports InsideHoops.com. Leslie, 20, has played in 10 games for the Clippers in which he has produced 1.4 PPG and 0.9 RPG in limited action. The former Georgia star was a 2011 second-round draft pick by the Clippers.