Utah Jazz

Jazz Need To Land Superstar Via Free Agency

  • The Jazz desperately need to turn their cap flexibility for next season into a superstar player this summer via free agency, writes Doug Robinson of The Deseret News. The scribe does praise the efforts of Gordon Hayward but notes that the small forward is better suited to being a team’s second option.

Gobert Feels Like His Game Has Improved

  • Despite struggling with injuries this season, Jazz big man Rudy Gobert feels like his overall game has improved, as Jody Genessy of The Deseret News relays. “It’s been kind of weird this year with injuries to try to come back and get my rhythm back,” Gobert said. “My teammates got me involved, but it was kind of tough this year. I feel like I still got better. You can’t really see it on stats, but I feel like I got better.

Jazz Hope Missing Playoffs Doesn't Overshadow Positives From Season

  • Despite missing the playoffs, the Jazz have quite a few positives to take away from the 2015/16 season, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. The franchise feels that it is nearing the end of the rebuilding process and the front office’s expectations have changed as a result, the scribe adds. “I hope that the end of this last game doesn’t entirely remove something that I think this group accomplished, which was just competing all the time,” coach Quin Snyder said. “It’s unfortunate that the season ended on this note,” Snyder added, “but this is a group that constantly scratched and clawed and battled in spite of a lot of adversity.”

Jazz Rumors: Mack, Exum, Lindsey, Booker

Shelvin Mack became Utah’s starting point guard immediately after being acquired from Atlanta in February, but there’s no certainly no guarantee he’ll keep that role next season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Mack helped keep the Jazz in the playoff race until the final day of the season by averaging 12.7 points and 5.3 assists per game after the trade. But if Dante Exum recovers as expected from a torn ACL in his left knee, Mack will likely head back to the bench. “It’s not something that I’ve thought that much about,” he said. “I know that Dante’s a great player and the organization has a lot invested in him. I’m ready to compete, but I have to control the things I can control. I want to put myself in the best position I can be to help the team win.” Jones expects Utah to guarantee Mack’s salary, worth more than $2.4MM, for next season. It’s non-guaranteed but becomes fully guaranteed if he doesn’t hit waivers by the end of July 7th.

There’s more news on the Jazz:

  • Exum has started sprinting and is expected to be cleared for contact in June, tweets Jody Genessy of The Deseret News, but he will not be part of Utah’s summer league team. Exum will talk to Jazz officials before considering whether to represent Australia in the Summer Olympics. “I wouldn’t do that unless I’m 100% [healthy] and confident in myself,” he said. (Twitter link).
  • Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey tried to deal a draft pick for veteran help before February’s trade deadline, tweets Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune. Lindsey said he accepted two trade offers, but both deals fell through. “If there’s one criticism you could make that’s fair,” he said, “is that we erred toward chemistry, continuity and continued development (Twitter link).” Lindsey would still be willing to swap draft picks for veterans, Jones relays (Twitter link).
  • Trevor Booker may not be in Utah’s future plans, Jones tweets. The 28-year-old power forward, who collected $4.775MM this season in the final year of his contract, prefers to remain with the Jazz, Genessy tweets. “I would definitely love to stay,” he said. “I know it’s a business. I’m not sure it’s going to happen.”

Kings Eye McMillan, Ewing, McHale, Blatt, Others

1:27pm: McHale appears unlikely to take the Kings job, and Del Negro is the most realistic candidate, Mannix suggests.

THURSDAY, 1:02pm: Nate McMillan is also in the mix, sources told Stein (Twitter link).

10:15pm: The possibility of hiring McHale is gaining traction within the Kings organization, Chris Mannix of The Vertical tweets. Sacramento is intrigued by the possibility of McHale working with DeMarcus Cousins, Mannix adds.

3:09pm: The Kings are also considering Patrick Ewing, league sources tell Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee.

12:40pm: Kevin McHale and Mark Jackson are also under consideration, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Kings do have strong interest in Thibodeau and Brooks but acknowledge they’ll be tough gets, Stein adds. McHale is just a few months removed from having been fired by the Rockets, while Jackson last coached in 2013/14 with the Warriors.

WEDNESDAY, 11:53am: The Kings, poised to fire George Karl, will consider a group of candidates that includes David Blatt, Vinny Del Negro, Jeff Hornacek, Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga and Hawks assistant Kenny Atkinson, sources told Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Jeff Van Gundy, Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks, who frequently draw mention as top NBA coaching candidates, are uninterested in the job, as Wojnarowski hears from league sources.

Blatt, whom the Cavs fired as their head coach in January, is also reportedly under consideration from the Knicks, though he’s reportedly a long shot for that job. The Nets have reportedly been eyeing him as well, and he has ties to the Brooklyn organization, having coached the Russian national team, which received significant financial backing from Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov.

Sacramento reportedly contacted Del Negro about its head coaching job in December 2014, when the team fired Michael Malone. Del Negro, a former Kings player, hasn’t coached in the NBA since the 2012/13 season with the Clippers, but Wojnarowski reported that he interviewed for the Pelicans job last summer.

Chatter about Hornacek has been quiet since the Suns fired him in February, though he earned respect around the league when he led Phoenix to a 48-34 record in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season during his first year as an NBA head coach. The Suns have regressed since then, and Hornacek wound up 101-112 overall in Phoenix. He was an assistant under former Kings coach Tyrone Corbin on the Jazz.

Wojnarowski wrote in February that Larranaga and Atkinson weren’t particularly eager to land the Kings job if it were to open. The assistants both reportedly interviewed for the Sixers job three years ago and have drawn frequent mention as a possible NBA head coaching candidate since. Larranaga was reportedly a contender for the recent opening at Georgia Tech that Josh Pastner ultimately filled.

2015/16 Salary Cap Update: Utah Jazz

The NBA’s salary cap for 2015/16 is set at $70MM, which is good for an 11% increase from last season, and the luxury tax line is fixed at $84.74MM. With the February 18th cutoff date for trades and the de facto deadline of March 1st for buyouts now past, we at Hoops Rumors are in the process of updating the salary cap commitments for each NBA franchise for the 2015/16 campaign. Here’s the cap breakdown for the Utah Jazz, whose regular season roster can be viewed here:

  • 2015/16 Salary Cap= $70,000,000
  • 2015/16 Luxury Tax Line= $84,740,000
  • Fully Guaranteed Salary Commitments= $64,817,873*
  • Remaining Cap Room= $5,182,127
  • Amount Below Luxury Tax Line= $19,922,127

*Note: This amount includes the $75,000 owed to J.J. O’Brien, the $947,276 owed Grant Jerrett, the $75,000 due Treveon Graham, the $50,000 owed to E.J. Singler, the $362,878 due Elijah Millsap, as well as the $11,144 paid to Phil Pressey and the $6,178 paid out to Eric Atkins, all of who were waived by the team.

Cap Exceptions Available:

  • Room Exception: $1,307,682

Cash Available to Send Out In Trades= $3,400,000

Cash Available to Receive Via Trade= $3,400,000

Note: Despite the trade deadline having passed, the NBA season technically doesn’t end until June 30th. Teams are able to again make trades upon the completion of the regular season or when/if they are eliminated from the playoffs, whichever comes later. So these cash limits still apply.

The Basketball Insiders salary pages were used in the creation of this post.

Jazz Plan For Alec Burks To Return Friday

  • The Jazz plan to have Alec Burks back in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Clippers, team sources tell Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. It appeared as though Burks would miss only two months when he broke his left fibula in late December, but he’s remained out, and last week some within the organization raised the possibility of him missing the rest of the season, citing the rationale that so few games remain, according to Sorensen. The team’s thinking has changed as it’s drawn closer to clinching a playoff berth, Sorensen explains.

D-League Affiliate Moving To Salt Lake City

 The Jazz will relocate their D-League affiliate from Boise, Idaho to Salt Lake City next season, as multiple sources told Adam Johnson of the D-League Digest and as the Jazz confirmed today. The team will be called the Salt Lake City Stars, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News tweets. The Jazz wanted to relocate to St. George in southern Utah but were unable to go through with that plan, according to Genessy, while Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey released a statement outlining the benefits of relocating the franchise closer to home (Twitter links).
In other news around the Western Conference:
  • Mavs rookie small forward Justin Anderson has made an impact with his shot-blocking and rebounding since he was inserted into the lineup four games ago, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has also been impressed by Anderson’s hustle, as he told Sefko and the gathered media. “He’s a guy that just goes hard and he never gives up on a play,” Carlisle said. “In a transition situation, he sees it as an opportunity and a challenge and not something like, oh well, I guess he’s going to score. You love that fighting sort of spirit and that’s what we need right now.”
  • Lakers shooting guard Nick Young has lost his mental focus and dropped out of the team’s rotation as a result, according to Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times. Young has kept a low profile since a gossip site leaked the video of rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell secretly taping him talking about his personal life. “Right now he’s not here with us mentally and there’s no need for me to put him out there on the floor as well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott told Bresnahan and other media members. The team shopped Young this season and will continue to do so in the offseason, Bresnahan adds.
  • Suns point guard Brandon Knight has been shut down the remainder of the season because of a sports hernia, Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic reports. Knight will get a second opinion this week to determine if surgery is needed for the injury, which has limited him to 52 games this season, Coro adds.

Lyles Impresses Ex-Teammate; Pleiss Recalled

  • Towns has been impressed by the play of fellow rookie and former Kentucky teammate Trey Lyles, according to Samuel Benson of The Deseret News. Utah made Lyles the 12th overall pick of last year’s draft and eased him into its rotation. He is averaging 5.6 points and 3.6 rebounds a night through 74 games but made an impact with 17 first-half points in Friday’s win over Minnesota. “[Lyles] has been a tremendous player since high school and proved in college how great he was,” Towns said. “… “He’s going to be the future of this [Jazz] team.”
  • The Jazz have recalled center Tibor Pleiss from their Idaho affiliate in the D-League. Pleiss, who has made five D-League trips this season, has appeared in 12 games for Utah, averaging 2.0 points and 1.3 rebounds.

Burks Hopes His Return Happens This Week

Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks hopes to return to the court this week for the first time since December, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Burks, who underwent surgery in early January for a broken fibula, is hoping to be ready Tuesday. Although he will probably be under a minutes limitation, Burks will be a welcome addition for Utah, which is in a battle to make the playoffs. In a sixth-man role, Burks was averaging 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game before the injury. “There’s a jump between being OK and healed and being able to compete at a high level,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said in explaining why the team is being cautious with Burks.

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