Trey Burke

Western Notes: Durant, Burke, Cauley-Stein

Thunder small forward Kevin Durant maintains that his mind is not on his impending free agency this summer, Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman writes. “I’m just really, to be honest with you, I haven’t sat down and thought about it,” said Durant. “The season moves along so quickly. Every time I get alone, it’s on the plane or in the city thinking about the game the next day. Of course, I can’t say I haven’t totally thought about it at all. But I haven’t sat down and really put a lot of time into what I’m looking for. Just focusing on my teammates, focusing on the season and how I can be better as a player, as a leader. Everything else comes after that.

When asked if his friendship with point guard Russell Westbrook would make him think twice about leaving Oklahoma City, Durant responded, “Like I said, I haven’t really thought about that much. I’m just enjoying every single moment. I told myself that before the year. It’s easy for me to kinda stray off path and think about the future. It’s my ninth season in the league and I can remember my first game in Madison Square Garden like it was yesterday. Just try to stay in the moment and we’ll worry about that stuff when I get there. I know that’s people want to hear, information, want to get it out and talk about everything right now. But to be honest, I’m just trying to stay in the moment and enjoy where I am. I’ll tell you everything you need to know when that time comes.

Here’s more from out West:

  • Trey Burke is settling into his new role with the Jazz as a reserve point guard and he believes that the early results have been positive, Rod Beard of The Detroit News writes. “It’s been great; for me, it’s just been doing whatever the team asks me to do,” Burke said. “Coach told me he wanted me to be a spark coming off the bench and being a team guy, I’ve always just wanted to win. That’s really what it’s all about for me. I’ve grown a lot this year, mentally as a player, going through some adversity, but it’s helped me out.
  • Kings rookie center Willie Cauley-Stein believes that he has found a home in Sacramento and in return the franchise has clearly let him know that he is wanted, Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee writes. “When I came here [for a predraft workout], I sensed they wanted me,” Cauley-Stein said, “and I loved it. I can’t really explain it. It’s just a feel.”

Jazz Exercise Options On Four Players

The Jazz have exercised third-year options on Dante Exum and Rodney Hood and fourth-year options on Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert, the team announced today. All four options are for the 2016/17 season.

The 20-year-old Exum will receive slightly more than $3.94MM. He is expected to miss the upcoming season after damaging the ACL in his left knee while playing for the Australian National Team. He appeared in all 82 games during his rookie season in Utah, averaging 4.8 points, 1.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists. Exum was part of the 2015 Rising Stars Challenge during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend.

Hood, 22, will earn a little over $1.4MM. He averaged 8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists during his rookie campaign and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month during the final month of last season.

The 22-year-old Burke will make nearly $3.39MM. He has started 111 games during his first two NBA seasons and has averages of 12.8 points 2.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists. He was an All-Rookie First Team selection in 2013/14 and has been part of the Rising Stars Challenge the past two seasons.

Gobert, 23, will make more than $2.1MM. He sparked the Jazz to a 22-15 record after moving into the starting lineup in the middle of last season. Gobert finished fifth in the Defensive Player of the Year voting and became the third player in Utah history to top 180 blocked shots in a season. He has career averages of 6.2 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.

Northwest Notes: Jones, Gallinari, Donovan

The Timberwolves will consider sending Tyus Jones to the NBA D-League this season in order to get the rookie more playing time, Marcus R. Fuller of The Pioneer Press writes. The decision will come down to whether or not the team believes it can get Jones enough playing time to properly develop, Fuller adds. “We haven’t really used [the D-League] in the past, and that’s something we’re trying to rectify,” GM Milt Newton said. “If there’s an opportunity for us to use the D-League, we will do that, with Tyus especially. But it can be a position where you send him to the D-League and he plays only 14, 15, 20 minutes a game, which was the situation last year. For us, we wanted to utilize the D-League. But the team we were associated with, they couldn’t guarantee that our guys would get the minutes that we felt they needed to develop, and so we felt it was better to keep our players here and let [them] practice and get developed from our coaching staff. If we can fix that situation, while we’re in the situation without a D-League team, that’s a decision we’ll have to make.” Jones was the No. 24 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Danilo Gallinari, who agreed to a renegotiation and extension of his contract this offseason, wants to remain with the Nuggets for his entire NBA career, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post relays. “I was just glad to stay in Denver,” Gallinari said. “That was my goal. If you see my history with contracts, it’s never been about money because if it was about money I would have made other choices. But I love Denver and I want to stay here as long as I can. I would like to finish my career here. I was glad we were able to sign this contract.
  • New Thunder head coach Billy Donovan says he has been humbled by the reception he has received from the community and fans of the team since being hired back in April, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. “The community has been really remarkable in terms of helping myself, helping my kids, my wife adjust. Very very grateful for all the help that so many lended, reached out, to make this a smooth transition,” said Donovan.
  • This season will likely be the final one for Jazz point guard Trey Burke to establish himself as a starter in the league, writes Brad Rock of The Deseret News. With projected starter Dante Exum undergoing surgery on the ACL in his left knee that may cause him to miss the entire season, Utah will need Burke to step up his game if the team is to have a shot at the playoffs this season.
  • The Trail Blazers elected to exercise their team option for Chris Kaman for the 2015/16 season, a move that pleased the veteran big man despite the franchise entering a rebuilding phase, Casey Holdahl of writes. “First of all, I was happy to have the opportunity to come back here again because obviously that was something in question,” said Kaman. “I’m grateful to be back here. Even if it’s a rebuilding season and we’re able to make the playoffs or skirt at the edge there and be somewhere at the end of the season where we’re having a great opportunity, I’m happy to be here.

Northwest Rumors: Burke, Huestis, Donovan

Trey Burke views the Jazz’s logjam at point guard as a source of motivation, Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. This summer and upcoming season is crucial to Burke’s future with the club, Falk continues. Burke was a lottery pick in 2013 but lost his starting spot to 2014 lottery selection Dante Exum. The Jazz also have point guards Bryce Cotton, Raul Neto and Olivier Hanlan on the roster. Burke shot just 36.8% from the field and 31.8% on 3-point attempts last season while averaging 12.8 points and 4.3 assists in 30.1 minutes. His shooting percentage was the lowest of any player attempting at least 1,000 shots since 1965, Falk adds.  “I just look at it as another test. A stepping stone. You can use it as motivation going into training camp,” Burke said during a conference call. “Right now, I’m really dedicating myself and, come training camp, I know I’ll be prepared, and that’s all that matters.”

In other news around the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder gave Josh Huestis the full 120% bump on his rookie scale contract and thus he will make about $1.1MM this season, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. Huestis made a pre-draft arrangement with Oklahoma City in 2014 to be taken in the first round and then delay signing a rookie contract. He spent last season with the Thunder’s D-League affiliate while making approximately $25,000. Huestis, who signed a four-year deal with a team option after the second season, is glad he took that gamble, according to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman“Obviously I was the first to do it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a more common practice,” Huestis said to Mayberry of the domestic-draft-and-stash route. “Not only does it give you an opportunity to stay close to your organization and stay in America, but you get to play against great competition and learn from great coaches and a great staff.”
  • The focus on the Thunder this offseason has centered on new head coach Billy Donovan, Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman writes.  Donovan has already drawn rave reviews from people around Oklahoma City for his personality and seems to be a good fit with the community, Carlson adds.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Mudiay, Blazers

The Jazz have a logjam at point guard behind Dante Exum that they must sort out prior to next season’s opener, Randy Hollis of the Deseret News reports. The trio of Trey Burke, Bryce Cotton and Raul Neto could be fighting it out for two roster spots during training camp, though GM Dennis Lindsey indicated that it’s possible the team could carry four point guards into next season, Hollis continues. Cotton’s quickness and entertaining style make him a candidate to be the second-stringer and displace Burke, a lottery pick whose shooting issues have pushed him to the bench, Hollis adds. The logjam could be broken by trading Burke, who is rumored to be on the block and doesn’t seem to fit coach Quin Snyder’s system, Hollis concludes.

In other news around the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets’ lottery pick Emmanuel Mudiay will be the starter at point guard, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post opines. While Denver has a safety net in veteran Jameer Nelson, it’s clear that the Nuggets are committed to making Mudiay their floor leader in his rookie season, Dempsey adds. The only concerns are monitoring his workload and allowing him to work through his mistakes, something Nuggets GM Tim Connelly addressed with Dempsey. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” Connelly said. “He’s a 19-year-old kid. We saw some good in summer league and we also saw some bad. I thought that he struggled shooting the ball. We’ve got to improve his free throw line percentage. But I think you see things like positional size, natural playmaking ability, and kind of the will and the approach to be great that excites us.”
  • Blazers coach Terry Stotts spent a sizable portion of the summer league evaluating five players under contract with the team — Allen Crabbe, Noah Vonleh, Luis Montero, Pat Connaughton and Tim Frazier — and was particularly pleased with Crabbe and Vonleh, Mike Richman of The Oregonian writes. The Blazers added nine new players and are entering a transition season after LaMarcus Aldridge‘s departure. Portland does have some young and athletic talent, however, which has Stotts optimistic, Richman adds.

Dana Gauruder contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Burke, Smith, Pelicans

Trey Burke has embraced his new role of coming off of the bench for the Jazz, and the change has benefited both the player and the team, Chad Mobley of writes. “There’s this fixation with the bench and starting and to me what Trey has embraced is not so much the bench. I don’t want him to embrace the bench, I don’t want him to embrace starting, I want him to do what’s best for our team,” coach Quin Snyder said. “He’s embraced becoming a better player. I don’t want it to be about the bench for him. If he starts again I want him to keep getting better.

Here’s more from the West:

  • The Benson family’s legal squabble over the control of the Pelicans and Saints threatens to ruin the clan’s sports legacy in New Orleans, Margaret Cronin Fisk and Laurel Brubaker Calkins of Bloomberg News write.
  • Josh Smith is a big fan of playing for the Rockets, and he views his time in Houston this season as a chance to revitalize his career, Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston tweets. “It [Houston] does have a home feel. I can’t stop smiling because I’m in such a good position with a great opportunity in front of me,” Smith told Berman.
  • Rookie Andrew Wiggins is the Wolves‘ lone ray of hope for a better future, and he is providing Minnesota with an acceptable return for dealing away Kevin Love to the Cavs, Pat Borzi of USA Today writes.
  • Suns center Alex Len is essentially a rookie after missing most of the 2013/14 campaign due to an injury, and the big man is starting to feel the effects of logging heavy minutes, Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic writes. “There is going to be some adjustment for him for playing these big minutes,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “Eighty-two games is a lot of games. You’re traveling and doing all this and you kind of get worn down. You have to get used to playing like that.

Western Notes: Nash, Wolves, Harris

Steve Nash has been away from the Lakers since being ruled out for the rest of the season, but the veteran finally paid the team a brief visit, Arash Markazi of writes. Nash greeted the team at the airport as they prepared to board a flight to Chicago, Markazi notes. “It was great to see him, first of all, and for all the players to see him,” coach Byron Scott said. “It was a great gesture on his part to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. He still has to deal with the fact that his career might be over. That’s still something he’s wrestling with. I’m still inviting him to come around here for practice and to join in and just be a part of the team and part the coaching staff. That’s something that he has to deal with and when he wants to and he feels he’s able to do that, whatever time that might be, he’ll be welcome with open arms.”

Here’s more out of the West:

  •  The improved play this season of Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad is making the 2013 trade of Trey Burke to Utah look like a great deal for the Wolves, Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune writes.
  • Former Lakers guard Manny Harris has inked a deal to play in Turkey with Eskisehir Basket, the team announced via Twitter (translation by Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Harris was with Los Angeles on a pair of 10-day contracts during the 2013/14 campaign, and he spent parts of 2010/11 and 2011/12 with Cleveland.
  • With the Nuggets‘ season all but lost, it is now up to GM Tim Connelly to try and rebuild the franchise through trades, Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post opines. If the Nuggets want to tank for a chance at a higher draft pick, then Ty Lawson is the obvious player to trade, Kiszla notes. After Lawson, there isn’t another player on the roster who can consistently direct Denver’s already unreliable offense, and the result of dealing him could be a top five draft pick, Kiszla adds.

Jazz Opt In With Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert

The Jazz have exercised their third year team options for Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert, the team has officially announced. This doesn’t come as a surprise since both players factor into Utah’s longterm rebuilding plans. Burke is set to make $2,658,240 and Gobert $1,175,880 during the 2015/16 season. By exercising these options the Jazz now have approximately $47.6MM in guaranteed money on the books for that campaign.

Burke is continuing to develop after being selected in 2013 with the ninth overall pick. During his rookie season he appeared in 70 games, including 68 as a starter, averaging 12.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, and 5.7 APG. His slash line was .380/.330/.903. The pressure is on Burke to improve his outside shooting and cut down on his 1.9 turnovers per game. Utah drafted Dante Exum with the No. 4 pick in this year’s NBA Draft, and Exum projects more as a point guard at this stage of development.

The 7’1″ Gobert was also part of the 2013 draft class, being selected 27th overall. During his rookie campaign, Gobert appeared in 45 games, averaging 2.3 PPG and 3.4 RPG, while logging 9.6 minutes a night.

Toure’ Murry Close To Deal With Jazz

WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm: The Jazz are finalizing the deal with Murry, writes Stein, who adds that the Lakers were also interested in the guard’s services.

5:53pm: Murry’s agent, Bernie Lee, said the report of a pending deal with the Jazz is “news to him,” notes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter link).

TUESDAY, 5:31pm: Toure’ Murry is close to signing a two-year, $2MM deal with the Utah Jazz, reports Marc Stein of (Twitter link). Murry had also been pursued by the Heat, and his former team, the Knicks, notes Stein. Murry will be able to provide depth at both guard positions for the Jazz, and will compete for playing time off the bench.

Utah will most likely begin the season with Trey Burke as the starting point guard, and Alec Burks at the two guard position. No. 5 overall pick, Dante Exum, will begin his career at shooting guard, but the franchise hopes he can develop his ball-handling and decision-making skills enough to eventually shift over to the point.

Last year, his first season in the league, Murry appeared in 51 games for the Knicks, and averaged 2.7 PPG, 0.9 RPG, and 1.0 APG, while logging 7.3 minutes a night. His slash line was .434/.417/.590.

Lawrence’s Latest: Boozer, ‘Melo, Grizzlies

There’s genuine fear within the Bulls’ front office that owner Jerry Reinsdorf will refuse to use the amnesty provision on Carlos Boozer this summer, passes along Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News. Chicago will have a hard time creating the cap room necessary to pursue marquee names if they don’t find a way to get Boozer off the books. Here’s more from Lawrence:

  • Carmelo Anthony would be interested in teaming up with LeBron James and Kobe Bryant, says Lawrence, but the Lakers are unlikely to have the cap space to bring in both superstars.
  • It sounds as if the Rockets‘ pursuit of ‘Melo is unlikely to result in a success. “The only reason Carmelo will go to Houston to listen (to the Rockets) is because of Kevin McHale,” a source told Lawrence. “If the coach wasn’t a top-50, all-time player or was a lesser-name coach, then ‘Melo wouldn’t even visit there. But he’ll listen because it’s Kevin McHale.
  • The Grizzlies are interested in bringing aboard former Knicks president Glen Grunwald to come in and serve under Chris Wallace for two years before taking over the reins as GM, Lawrence writes. That echoes an earlier report from Ken Berger of but appears to add an expiration date for Wallace’s time in charge of the front office.
  • One league source told Lawrence that he wasn’t sure if Bruno Caboclo was even worth a second-round selection. The Raptors selected Caboclo with the 20th pick in the draft, and Lawrence writes that it’s virtually impossible to find a GM who agrees with their decision.
  • Utah’s decision to draft Dante Exum isn’t surprising since the the Jazz aren’t sold on Trey Burke as a franchise point guard, reveals Lawrence.
  • Dirk Nowitzki won’t even consider signing with a team other than the Mavs this summer, Lawrence confirms.

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