Utah Jazz Rumors

Western Notes: Thomas, Johnson, Hayward

November 18 at 10:24pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Clippers coach/executive Doc Rivers admits he was mystified when the Suns signed-and-traded for Isaiah Thomas this past offseason, adding that he thought Phoenix was merely insuring itself against the loss of Eric Bledsoe, relays Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. Rivers has gained appreciation for the Suns‘ three point guard strategy since then. “When you think of those three guards they have, it’s amazing,” he said. “It’s hard for everybody to guard. I didn’t see it but now I do.

Here’s the latest from the Western Conference:

  • Tyrus Thomasworkout with the Lakers is scheduled for this Thursday, Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link). Thomas also gave the Grizzlies a look at his skills last week, though he left without receiving a contract offer.
  • The Rockets have assigned guard Nick Johnson to the Rio Grande Vipers, their D-League affiliate, the team announced. The rookie has appeared in three games for Houston this season, totaling two points and a rebound in 11 minutes of action.
  • Gordon Hayward‘s contract with the Jazz is based more on what he’ll become than what he has done thus far in the league, Shaun Powell of NBA.com writes. But with continued improvement and the new TV deal set to kick in, there’s a decent chance the deal will look like a bargain in the near future, Powell adds.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Spurs, Centers, Suns, Jazz

November 13 at 3:00pm CST By Chuck Myron

Kobe Bryant hasn’t been nearly as willing to sacrifice money for the betterment of his team the way Tim Duncan has. Still, with the Lakers raking in $100.1MM in basketball-related revenue last season, an amount that far outstrips any other team in the league, USA Today’s Sam Amick argues that Bryant is simply more valuable to his team, in a financial sense, than Duncan is to the Spurs. San Antonio netted $26.1MM from their basketball operations last season, a source tells Amick. Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Big men still command attention on the market even in an era of small-ball, and next summer’s free agent class figures to see plenty of centers garner top dollar, as Amin Elhassan of ESPN.com examines in an Insider-only piece. The majority of the bigs he spotlights are on Western Conference teams, including Marc Gasol, Omer Asik, Robin Lopez and Tyson Chandler.
  • The Suns have assigned 2014 first-round picks Tyler Ennis and T.J. Warren to the D-League, the team announced (on Twitter). Suns coach Jeff Hornacek indicated that the rookies won’t stay with the Bakersfield Jam for long, and it’s likely they return to the big club in time for an East Coast road trip that begins Monday in Boston, according to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic (Twitter links).
  • Toure’ Murry is headed on D-League assignment from the Jazz, the team announced. Murry has yet to appear in a game for Utah after signing as a free agent this past summer. We’ll be keeping track of D-League assignments and recalls throughout this season in this post.

Western Notes: Leonard, Robinson, Jazz

November 9 at 10:45am CST By Arthur Hill

The SpursKawhi Leonard is battling blurred vision brought on by conjunctivitis, reports Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. “My right eye, the vision’s not all the way back yet,” Leonard said. “Hopefully I can heal up soon. I’ve just got to keep competing so I can get used to it and get my rhythm going.” The MVP of the 2014 NBA Finals, who has been plagued by poor shooting early this season, said his eye goes cloudy at times. He said doctors have told him the condition has to “run its course” and should improve in time.

Also in the Western Conference:

  • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich blames effort, not injuries, for the defending champs’ 2-3 start, tweets Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News. “We need to start playing with (the) same intensity people bring at us who want to kick out butt,” Popovich said after Saturday’s loss to the Pelicans.
  • Pain can be part of the NBA lifestyle, which is why the NuggetsNate Robinson tells Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post he’s not letting knee rehab and a hamstring injury keep him out of the lineup. With starting guard Ty Lawson sidelined by a sore ankle, Robinson played 26 minutes Friday in a loss to Cleveland. “I want to play through injury; I don’t care,” Robinson said. “But I want to be here for the long run, I want to be here for the rest of the season, so I don’t want to tweak anything else. Just take it day by day.” Robinson joined the Nuggets in July, signing a two-year guaranteed deal worth $4.1MM.
  • Former Nuggets coach George Karl says Lawson’s bum ankle explains a lot of Denver’s 1-4 start, Dempsey writes“I don’t see Ty playing at a high level,” Karl said. “I think he’s their engine.” Karl, now an NBA analyst for ESPN, guided the Nuggets for eight years before being let go after winning Coach of the Year honors in 2013. He offered some advice for his successor, Brian Shaw“One thing I think Brian is kind of caught up in a little bit is he’s playing too many players,” Karl said. “I don’t think he can play three centers. I don’t think he can play that many big guys on the court when your team plays well when it’s fast and small.”
  • The Jazz are thinking long-term on lottery reform, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, like many teams, voted against changing the current system because of its small market status. “We looked at the long run, and how this may affect us and teams like us,” GM Dennis Lindsey said. “We think that we have a chance to outperform expectations. But we voted no because we were looking at the next 30 years — not now or in the short term.”

Chris Crouse contributed to this post.

Jazz Waive Jordan Hamilton

November 6 at 11:38am CST By Chuck Myron

The Jazz have waived swingman Jordan Hamilton, the team announced. Hamilton secured a partial guarantee of $25K when he signed his contract with the Raptors in the offseason, and that carried over when the Jazz claimed him off waivers before opening night. However, Hamilton has already earned more than $25K of his minimum salary by virtue of sticking on the roster for more than five days, so the Jazz aren’t eating any additional guaranteed salary with today’s move. Utah drops to 14 players with Hamilton off the roster.

The 24-year-old had been on the inactive list for each of the team’s first five games, so it seemed Utah simply didn’t have room for him on a roster that has no shortage of wing players. Hamilton was the 26th overall pick in 2011, but the Nuggets declined their fourth-year team option on his rookie scale contract last fall, setting him up for free agency this summer. He finished out last season with the Rockets after a deadline trade, and he made a strong push for a roster spot this fall in Toronto, averaging 9.5 points and 3.0 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game across six preseason appearances.

The Heat worked out Hamilton over the summer, and the Timberwolves were among those in attendance for a work out Hamilton staged for multiple teams during the offseason, but it’s unclear if the interest from either Miami or Minnesota lingers. His release saves Utah from continuing to pay a player it wasn’t using and frees up a roster spot, though there’s no immediate indication as to whether or not the Jazz have plans to fill that opening in the near future. Coach Quin Snyder‘s comfort with Joe Ingles, whom the team claimed off waivers at the same time it did so with Hamilton, empowered the Jazz to make today’s move, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports.

Western Notes: Green, Bryant, Rondo

November 5 at 9:25pm CST By Eddie Scarito

Draymond Green‘s representation switch to the Wasserman Media Group could help the Warriors re-sign the forward, who is set to become a restricted free agent next summer, Diamond Leung of the Bay Area News Group writes. GM Bob Myers is a former player agent who worked with and was mentored by Arn Tellem, the head of Wasserman, notes Leung. In an interview with 95.7 The Game, Myers said, “So if Arn says, ‘Hey, I got this much money (from another offer),’ he’s not going to lie to me, so there’s value in that. And here’s the other thing I do know. If it’s a tie, we’ll win. Not only just because he’s restricted, but Arn, we’ve known other a long time, so he’s not going to hurt us. If he can help, that’s great.”

Here’s more from way out west:

  • With the Lakers season seemingly over before it began, talk has turned to the possibility of Kobe Bryant potentially waiving his no-trade clause and being dealt. Chris Mannix of SI.com believes this would be the smart move from a basketball standpoint for both the team and Bryant, but Los Angeles has plenty of business and economic reasons to hold onto their star. Mannix cites the franchise’s high ticket prices and fanbase that isn’t keen on rooting for a team without a marquee attraction as the main reasons the Lakers would keep Bryant.
  • Despite the Lakers‘ potential interest in signing Rajon Rondo, the point guard will likely realize that the Celtics’ outlook seems rosier, Ben Rohrbach of WEEI 93.7 writes. Boston’s roster has more talent the Los Angeles’, and the Lakers are more likely to deal Bryant than to acquire Rondo, Rohrbach opines.
  • Not every player who signs to play in Los Angeles and ends up in Salt Lake City would appreciate the move, but Joe Ingles is content after the Jazz claimed him off waivers from the Clippers and paired him with Dante Exum, his teammate from the Australian national squad. Jody Genessy of the Deseret News has the details. “I don’t regret anything about what happened or what I did or anything,” Ingles said. “I did all I can to make the team and wasn’t what they [the Clippers] wanted or good enough or whatever it was, so it worked out perfectly. I’m very happy here (with Utah). It’s been great.”

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Northwest Notes: Thunder, Jackson, Jazz, Ingles

November 4 at 9:00am CST By Chuck Myron

The league has proposed setting the 2016/17 salary cap between $78MM and $82MM in discussions with the union about phasing in the increases that the league’s new TV revenue will bring about, Grantland’s Zach Lowe reports. Those figures would still be quite a leap from next season’s projected $66.5MM cap, and they’d set up lots of teams with flexibility for the summer of 2016, when Kevin Durant is poised to hit free agency. Some teams are optimistic that Durant will consider a wide array of suitors, while others have heard that he’s already down to the Thunder and the Wizards, according to Lowe. In any case, there’s much on the line on Oklahoma City in the next 19 months or so left before Durant’s contract expires, as Lowe examines. Here’s more on the Thunder and their Northwest Division rivals:

  • The Thunder are confident that they’ll be able to match other clubs’ offer sheets for restricted free agent-to-be Reggie Jackson next summer, sources tell Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Given the roughly $63.57MM of guaranteed salary the Thunder already have on their books for the 2015/16 season, retaining Jackson might require exceeding the luxury tax threshold, something they’ve been reluctant to do in the past.
  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey isn’t planning simply to let his team’s young core grow on its own, and he says he’ll use it as a draw to attract free agents, as he tells Jody Genessy of the Deseret News, promising to be “very aggressive” in free agency next year. Still, Alec Burks tells Genessy that the team’s commitment to youth is one reason why he was eager to sign his extension with Utah.
  • The Clippers weren’t pleased when the Jazz claimed Joe Ingles off waivers, as coach/executive Doc Rivers admits his club had designs on re-signing the 27-year-old rookie, Genessy tweets.
  • Thaddeus Young, who can become a free agent in the summer, sees a bright future ahead for the Timberwolves, as he tells Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders.

Charlie Adams contributed to this post.

International Moves: Motum, Burton, Ware

November 3 at 9:30am CST By Chuck Myron

Many of the dozens of players who recently found themselves on the market after having spent training camp with NBA teams end up in the D-League, but more lucrative deals usually require a trip overseas. International circuits are still reaping the benefits from the deluge of NBA cuts that took place in advance of last week’s deadline for teams to pare their rosters to 15, and here’s the latest on those moving from the Association to more distant outposts:

  • Brock Motum followed up his time in Jazz camp with a deal to play for the Adelaide 36ers in his native Australia, the team announced (hat tip to Sporando’s Emiliano Carchia). The deal runs through 2015/16, but it allows the 24-year-old to leave for an NBA deal, according to Roy Ward of The Sydney Morning Herald. It’s unclear how much Motum will make, but he opted for Australia over the D-League because of better money and the belief that the competition is superior, Ward writes.
  • Kings camp cut Deonte Burton has signed with Germany’s Ratiopharm Ulm on a pact that covers the rest of the season, the team announced (translation via Carchia).
  • Former Sixers guard Casper Ware is also off to Germany, having signed with EWE Baskets Oldenburg, the team announced (translation via Carchia). The contract covers the balance of 2014/15, according to the club. Ware was briefly a member of the Nets after a trade sent him to Brooklyn 10 days ago, but he wound up on waivers the day after that.

Western Notes: Warriors, Thompson, Rubio

November 2 at 11:28am CST By Chris Crouse

Golden State knows what Klay Thompson means to their team and didn’t want to risk ruining their relationship with the shooting guard by waiting until the offseason to make a reasonable offer, writes Antonio Gonzalez of the Associated Press. Gonzalez notes that before the $70MM extension was agreed to, players on the Warriors would look at GM Bob Myers, rub their fingers together and say; “Pay the man,” in reference to Thompson. “I’ve never see a team rally around a player so much to get him paid,” Myers said. “It says a lot about Klay and what he means to this franchise.” With the league’s television contract set to expire and the new deal expected to increase the salary cap, the Warriors are expecting Thompson’s performance to exceed the value of this deal.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Even though negotiations went to the deadline, Myers said giving Thompson a contract extension was an easy decision, according to Diamond Leung of The San Jose Mercury-News. Thompson received a four-year max deal that makes him the first Golden State player signed through the 2018/19 season. “This contract is well deserved, and I think that’s the best compliment I can give Klay,” Myers said, giving a nod to Thompson’s work ethic. “He earned it.”
  • Wolves owner Glen Taylor’s relationships with Ricky Rubio made the decision to open up his checkbook easier, writes Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “[Taylor's] a great guy who really stepped up in this situation,” Rubio said. “Me and him talking, just man to man, clears things up.” When Rubio’s extension kicks in, he will be the team’s highest paid player, earning about $14MM per year.
  • Alec Burks had no intention of leaving Utah and is excited to be part of the Jazz’s bright future, writes Jody Genessy of the Deseret News. “I had him tell the Jazz I wanted to be here. I want to be a part of the future,” Burks said of his discussions with agent Andy Miller. “I see something bright in the future.” Utah and Burks signed an extension worth $42MM over four years, with “reachable” incentives that could bring the value of the deal to $45MM.

 Arthur Hill contributed to this post

Jazz Sign Alec Burks To Extension

October 31 at 3:22pm CST By Chuck Myron

3:22pm: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.

“We have great regard for Alec’s work ethic and dynamic athletic ability as well as his growth potential,” Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said.  “Alec is a young player with a unique skillset and true passion for basketball who consistently finds the gym and has displayed the characteristics and desire to continue to improve his game. He is a high-character individual who, throughout his time with the Jazz, has expressed his love for Salt Lake City and Jazz fans, so we are thrilled to know that he will be a core piece of our future as we continue to grow.”

12:42pm: There is no team or player option in the deal, according to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News (Twitter links). Genessy indicates the extension has been finalized, though the Jazz have yet to make any formal announcement.

10:50am: Alec Burks and the Jazz have agreed to a four-year, $42MM extension, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The arrangement includes “reachable” incentives that could push the value to $45MM, Wojnarowski writes, but it’s unclear if those incentives will be deemed likely ones that will count in initial cap calculations. Enes Kanter‘s agent said earlier this week that he, his client and the Jazz had made a mutual decision to call off talks on an extension for the Swiss-born center, but Utah had continued talks with Burks and agent Andy Miller in advance of tonight’s 11:00pm Central deadline. The deal for Burks must become official before that time.

NBA: Preseason-Utah Jazz at Portland Trail BlazersGM Dennis Lindsey indicated a desire about a month ago to keep both Burks and Kanter long-term, whether via extension or in restricted free agency next summer. Today’s deal assures the team of keeping at least one of its 2011 lottery picks. Burks, the 12th overall selection that year, becomes the team’s second swingman on a lucrative long-term deal, joining Gordon Hayward, who signed a four-year max offer sheet with the Hornets this past summer that the Jazz matched.

Burks saw an increased role for the Jazz last year, averaging 28.1 minutes per game, but he still made only 12 starts. He was nonetheless more efficient in his playing time than he had been in the past and continued playing effective defense, as I outlined when I examined the 23-year-old’s extension candidacy. Still, I figured the Jazz would only hand out an extension that wasn’t worth much more than the four-year, $14MM deal that the Grizzlies gave Quincy Pondexter last fall, given Utah’s depth at the wing and guard positions.

It’s unclear whether the salaries for Burks will be evenly distributed across the four years, but adding the deal’s average annual value of $10.5MM gives the team roughly $51MM in commitments for 2015/16, the first season the extension will take effect. That doesn’t account for any new deal with Kanter or most of Trevor Booker‘s $4.775MM salary, which is partially guaranteed for only $250K.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz, Enes Kanter Break Off Extension Talks

October 29 at 12:49pm CST By Chuck Myron

12:49pm: Ergul cited Kanter’s potential for growth this season with new Jazz coach Quin Snyder as well as the influx of TV money into the league as reasons why he and his client walked away from negotiations, as Ergul told Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links). Ergul praised Lindsey and Snyder and pointed to Kanter’s satisfaction with the franchise’s direction, Falk notes, which suggests strong interest in a deal next summer.

12:11pm: The Jazz and Enes Kanter have decided against signing an extension by Friday’s deadline, agent Max Ergul tells Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. That sets the forward/center up to become a restricted free agent next summer. The Jazz continue talks with fellow extension-eligible Alec Burks, according to Wojnarowski.

“We have mutually agreed with Utah to concentrate on the season and look at our options again in the summer,” Ergul told Wojnarowski. “Enes likes Utah and the organization very much, and now he can concentrate on continuing to grow as a player and helping them win.”

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey acknowledged extension talks with both Kanter and Burks a month ago and spoke of his desire for a long-term commitment to the two of them, suggesting that he’d continue to pursue that even if they weren’t able to close on extensions. Still, neither has the sort of star potential that’s usually associated with players who sign rookie scale extensions, as I noted when I examined the extension candidacies of both Kanter and Burks.

Fellow big men Derrick Favors, who signed a four-year, $48MM extension a year ago, and Rudy Gobert, who’s entering the second season of his rookie scale contract, complicate the notion of Kanter’s future in Utah, since there’s only so much playing time to go around. The Jazz have about $40.3MM on the books for 2015/16, and while deals for both Kanter and Burks would probably leave the team with significant leftover cap room, Utah has several other former first-round picks who’ll become extension-eligible in the years ahead, which threatens to put a squeeze on the club’s flexibility.