Utah Jazz

Jazz Sign J.J. O’Brien

The Jazz have signed unrestricted free agent forward J.J. O’Brien, the team announced. The length and terms of the deal were not relayed, but it is likely a minimum salary training camp deal that may include a small partial guarantee, though that is merely my speculation.

O’Brien, 23, went undrafted this year out of San Diego State after making 36 appearances as a senior, averaging 10.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. His career NCAA numbers are 8.1 PPG, 4.9 RPG, and 1.6 APG with a slash line of .471/.247/.601.

The 6’7″ forward played summer league ball for Utah in both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. The addition of O’Brien will give the Jazz a roster count of 20, which is the preseason maximum.

And-Ones: Thunder, Batum, 2016 Draft

The ESPN Summer Forecast panel tabs the Thunder as the team most likely to vault in the standings this year, which is no surprise given the return of Kevin Durant and the team’s decision to match the Blazers’ offer sheet for high-scoring big man Enes Kanter . The Heat, who re-signed Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic and get Chris Bosh from his blood clot ailment, and the Jazz, who surged late last season, also appear in the top three.

There’s more on Oklahoma City amid other NBA-related news:

  • The Thunder allowed a trade exception that had been worth $1.25MM to expire when they didn’t make a move by Wednesday’s deadline to use it. It was a vestige of the trade that sent Hasheem Thabeet to Philadelphia. Oklahoma City still has other trade exceptions, the largest of which is worth $2.75MM thanks to the last of this summer’s many deals involving Luke Ridnour.
  • Hornets coach Steve Clifford says that he envisions Nicolas Batum having a more prominent offensive role in Charlotte than he did with the Blazers last season, as Adi Joseph of The Sporting News relays (via Twitter). Charlotte acquired Batum, 26, from the Blazers in June as part of the trade that shipped Noah Vonleh and Gerald Henderson to Portland.
  • ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider subscription required) released his initial mock draft for 2016, and snagging the top spot is LSU freshman small forward Ben Simmons, followed by Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere and California swingman Jaylen Brown.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Western Notes: Waiters, Ezeli, Withey

The Thunder are open to the idea of a rookie scale extension for Dion Waiters, but only if the shooting guard is willing to give them a discount, sources tell Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. That casts doubt on whether the former No. 4 overall pick would sign before the deadline this fall, particularly coming off a career-low scoring average this past season.

Here’s more out of the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors would sign Festus Ezeli to a rookie scale extension if the price is right, Kyler also relays. GM Bob Myers recently indicated to Monte Poole of CSNBayArea.com that the team would consider the idea of doing a deal with the backup center that would keep him out of restricted free agency next summer.
  • The two-year pact that Jeff Withey inked with the Jazz includes a partial guarantee of $200K, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders reports (Twitter link).
  • Mavericks swingman Wesley Matthews told Mavs.com scribe Bobby Karalla (on Twitter) that he will be ready to play come opening night. The shooting guard tore his left Achilles tendon on March 5th, and missed the last 22 games of the 2014/15 season. Matthews inked a four-year max deal with Dallas this offseason.
  • The most likely scenario for the Jazz heading into training camp will be for the team to stand pat and continue to carry just four point guards on its roster, Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Utah, in the wake of the season-ending injury Dante Exum suffered, plans on going with Trey Burke as the starter, and will utilize Raul Neto and Bryce Cotton as the reserves. The Jazz are said to be interested in acquiring Wizards guard Garrett Temple, but Washington reportedly isn’t in any rush to part with the 29-year-old.

Chuck Myron contributed to this post.

Jazz Sign Jeff Withey

4:16pm: The deal is official, the Jazz announced.

2:43pm: The Jazz have agreed to sign former Pelicans center Jeff Withey, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The Darren Matsubara client is getting a two-year, partially guaranteed deal that includes a team option on year two, according to Wojnarowski.

The Pelicans withdrew their qualifying offer, worth $1,147,276, to the former 39th overall pick shortly before news broke that they had struck a deal to re-sign Alexis Ajinca. The Jazz have more than $6MM in cap space, but it’s unclear just how much of that the former Kansas standout will see. He played a limited role with New Orleans, averaging 11.8 minutes per game in 2013/14, his rookie year, and just 7.0 MPG this past season.

Withey has what Wojnarowski deems a strong chance to stick around for opening night, since the Jazz have only 13 fully guaranteed contracts. Still, he’ll compete with Chris Johnson, Elijah Millsap, Bryce Cotton, Jack Cooley and Treveon Graham, all of whom are on the Jazz roster with partially or non-guaranteed salary.

Assuming the Jazz start the season with 15 players, which two players without fully guaranteed deals do you think they’ll keep? Leave a comment to tell us. 

Rockets Re-Sign Jason Terry

3:44pm: The Rockets have finally followed up with an official announcement via press release.

AUGUST 24TH, 2:07pm: Terry says via Twitter that he’s officially signed (hat tip to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle). The team has made no formal announcement, though GM Daryl Morey has acknowledged the signing with a tweet of his own.

AUGUST 19TH, 3:50pm: Terry has confirmed that he’ll be returning to Houston for the 2015/16 campaign, Mark Berman of FOX 26 tweets.

10:46pm: Along with Berman, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle and John Reid of the Times Picayune all hear that Terry has made up his mind to sign with the Rockets for the minimum salary (three Twitter links). Watkins also adds to his earlier report (on Twitter), citing a source who says the Rockets expect Terry to officially sign Wednesday.

9:47pm: Terry will decide between the Rockets and Pelicans on Wednesday morning, Watkins tweets, contradicting Charania’s previous report that Terry has made up his mind to return to Houston next season.

AUGUST 18TH, 9:09pm: Jason Terry has decided to re-sign with the Rockets on a one-year deal, according to Shams Charania of RealGM. The Pelicans made a strong push to ink the veteran guard, as Charania notes and as Mark Berman of FOX 26 passed along in a story last week, but he instead appears poised to re-join Houston for the 2015/16 season. The Jazz were another team that the RealGM scribe reports had strong interest in Terry.

A report shortly after players became eligible to sign new contracts in July indicated that Terry was close to returning to Houston on a one-year deal, but an agreement apparently didn’t come to fruition until recently, just over a week after ESPN’s Calvin Watkins reported the Rockets were unsure if they were still in the mix to land the 37-year-old guard. The move, once official, will give Houston 13 fully guaranteed contracts for the upcoming year, presuming Terry is getting a full guarantee. The Rockets have yet to sign second-round selection Montrezl Harrell.

Charania pegs the value of Terry’s deal to be $1.5MM, although he is potentially rounding up since a minimum-salary contract for a player with 10 or more years of experience is worth slightly less than that at $1,499,187. If the deal is indeed for the minimum salary, it preserves a portion of the mid-level exception for Harrell. Terry’s minimum salary is $1,499,187, but the Rockets would only have to pay $947,276, the equivalent of the two-year veteran’s minimum, since it’s a one-year deal. It’s unclear how much partially guaranteed money Chuck Hayes has, but without him, a fully guaranteed deal for Terry would leave the Rockets about $2.5MM shy of the $88.74MM hard cap they’d trigger if they give Harrell a deal that either runs longer than two years, is worth more than the minimum, or both.

The Rockets renounced Terry’s Bird Rights earlier this month, meaning they couldn’t offer him any more than the approximately $2MM they had remaining on their mid-level exception, although they came to terms on a deal worth the minimum salary. Houston will save more than the difference between the two figures, however, since the Rockets are a taxpaying team.

Although Terry’s most formidable years are behind him, he’s capable of contributing in a limited capacity off the bench. In 77 appearances for Houston last season, Terry averaged 7.0 points and 1.9 assists in 21.3 minutes per contest. He saw an expanded role in the postseason when Patrick Beverley was sidelined with an injury, posting nightly marks of 9.2 points and 2.8 points in 28.6 minutes. With Ty Lawson and Beverley likely atop the depth chart at point guard, Terry seems positioned to play limited minutes and provide another veteran presence for a team hoping to contend for a title in 2015/16.

Northwest Notes: Bennett, Wolves, Jazz

The Wolves would move Anthony Bennett for the right price, but there are no active discussions, Jon Krawczynski of the Associated Press tweets. The Wolves acquired Bennett in the Kevin Love trade that also brought Andrew Wiggins and Thaddeus Young to Minnesota. Chuck Myron of Hoops Rumors re-examined the deal, which occurred one year ago today, and analyzed the status of each piece of the trade, including the draft pick that was sent to Philadelphia.

Here’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Wolves have not spoken to the Blazers about any deals in over a month, Krawczynski adds in a separate tweet. The two teams reportedly had talks regarding “a major deal,” though discussions ended without any deal being struck.
  • Jesse Blancarte of Basketball Insiders believes the Dante Exum injury will give Trey Burke an opportunity to show he is ready and capable of being a starting point guard in the NBA. Blancarte admits that Burke is a downgrade from Exum defensively, but he argues the drop off won’t be as significant as many expect. The scribe believes Utah’s improvement in the second half of last season had more to do with Enes Kanter‘s exit, which allowed Rudy Gobert to take on a bigger role, than Exum’s insertion into the starting lineup.
  • Burke should get the first crack at leading the Jazz this season, but the point guard is just focusing on improving his game, Aaron Falk of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. “My mindset is just keep working, getting better,” Burke said. “Obviously with Dante going down a lot of people think I’m going to start, but I’m not really worried about that, to be honest with you. This is a time for me to really focus on how I can improve this last stretch of the summer. That’s really my biggest focus right now.”

Western Notes: Crawford, Dejean-Jones, Prince

There are reportedly multiple teams, including the Knicks, Heat, and Cavaliers, that are interested in swinging a deal with the Clippers to acquire sixth man Jamal Crawford. But Los Angeles isn’t currently motivated to give up Crawford without garnering a useful return, Dan Woike of The Orange County Register relays in a series of tweets. It wouldn’t be a wise move to deal Crawford, who is extremely valuable as a bench piece, for a backup caliber point guard or center, Woike opines. The Orange County Register scribe believes that the smarter move for the Clippers would be to hold onto Crawford and see how the team’s roster shakes out in training camp to better assess what the team’s needs are before making a decision.

Here’s what else is happening around the Western Conference:

  • The Pelicans dipped into their mid-level exception to sign undrafted shooting guard Bryce Dejean-Jones, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The pact includes a partial guarantee of $50K for the 2015/16 campaign, while the other two seasons of the deal are non-guaranteed, Pincus adds.
  • According to league sources, the Jazz have yet to contact other teams or free agents regarding adding another point guard in the wake of Dante Exum‘s season-ending knee injury, Andy Larsen of KSL.com relays (Twitter links). Utah appears content to begin the season with Trey Burke, Bryce Cotton, and Raul Neto, and will potentially look to acquire additional help later in the season if needed, Larsen adds. There were reports that the Jazz had interest in acquiring Garrett Temple from the Wizards, but Washington reportedly isn’t anxious to to move Temple, and he wouldn’t come cheaply if they were so inclined.
  • Tayshaun Prince‘s minimum salary arrangement with the Timberwolves for the 2015/16 season is fully guaranteed, Pincus tweets. The addition of Prince gives Minnesota 16 fully guaranteed pacts, according to our roster count for the team.

Wizards Notes: Temple, Oubre, Camp Deals

The summer has been relatively quiet for the Wizards, with the trade for Jared Dudley and the Alan Anderson signing perhaps the team’s most significant moves. Washington is hoping it’s a different story a year from now, with native son Kevin Durant poised to hit free agency. While we wait to see how that storyline develops, see the latest from the nation’s capital:

  • Jazz coach Quin Snyder, and not the Utah front office, is the party that expressed interest in Wizards guard Garrett Temple, according to a source who spoke with J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic (Twitter link). The Wizards don’t appear eager to trade Temple, and it seems unlikely he’ll be changing teams, Michael tweets.
  • Kelly Oubre intrigued the Hornets and the Heat, who had this year’s ninth and 10th picks, respectively, and the Celtics and Rockets tried to move up to draft him, reports Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Ulimately, the Wizards came up with the package the Hawks accepted for the No. 15 overall pick, allowing Washington to come away with the small forward from Kansas. Deveney chronicles the struggle Oubre’s family faced in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, which forced them from their home in New Orleans 10 years ago.
  • The Wizards aren’t offering partial guarantees with their training camp invitations, Michael writes in a separate piece, and that was a factor in the decision undrafted Maryland shooting guard Dez Wells made to turn down an offer from the Wizards for a deal with the Thunder instead, Michael adds.

Western Notes: Claver, Lucas, Jazz

Forward Victor Claver, who spent the last three seasons as a member of the Trail Blazers, officially has an offer on the table from the Spanish club Baskonia, the team announced (translation courtesy of Emiliano Carchia of Sportando). Valencia currently owns Claver’s rights in Spain and the team has five days to match the contract offer made by Baskonia to Claver, Carchia notes. Claver has appeared in 80 NBA contests and has averages of 3.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 0.7 assists, and he owns a slash line of .398/.293/.585.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Kalin Lucas, who appeared in one game for the Grizzlies last season, auditioned for the Qingdao Eagles of the Chinese Basketball Association, but was not offered a contract by the team, international journalist David Pick relays (via Twitter).
  • The Jazz announced today that the team promoted Mark McKown to director of sports science/assistant coach and Isaiah Wright to head strength and conditioning coach.
  • The Blazers aren’t quite starting over as a franchise, but the loss of LaMarcus Aldridge in free agency to the Spurs has forced executive Neil Olshey to invest in intriguing but unproven talent this offseason, Michael Lee of The Washington Post writes. “That’s one of things I’m looking forward to, is what this team is going to become,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “The way Neil has constructed the roster, it’s a strong plan with a lot of young players that have a lot of room to grow. I think it’s a plan that is going to be challenging, fun and very rewarding.

Western Rumors: Lawson, Davis, Jazz

New Nuggets coach Michael Malone said the club made a “good move” by dealing troubled point guard Ty Lawson to the Rockets last month, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post reports. The Nuggets received a protected 2016 first-round pick, four players and cash for Lawson in the trade. “We wish Ty well. I mean that sincerely. That’s not just coach talk,” Malone said to Jhabvala. “We all wish him well. But it was a move that we felt was a good move for us. I hope he’s able to get his life in order, and when he does, we all know he’s a special player.” Malone added to Jhabvala that he had input on the deal. Lawson has completed his court-ordered 30-day stint in an alcohol rehabilitation program, according to Mark Berman of FOX26 Sports in Houston. Happy Walters, Lawson’s agent, told Berman via text message that Lawson was released on Monday afternoon. Lawson entered the program after being charged with two DUIs in seven months.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Glen Davis expects to sign a contract by the end of the month, he told SI.com’s Maggie Gray (video link). Davis, one of the remaining unrestricted free agents on the market, said in the interview that he doesn’t want to play for a rebuilding club. “I want to go on a team that’s competing for a championship,” he said. The Clippers have shown interest in re-signing Davis.
  • Treveon Graham’s three-year, minimum-salary contract with the Jazz has a $75K guarantee, Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders tweets. The former VCU shooting guard signed with Utah on Monday.

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