Rudy Gobert To Return For Game 4

After being upgraded to questionable earlier in the day, it now appears as though Rudy Gobert is healthy enough to return to action tonight, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets.

Gobert had been sidelined since banging his knee on the first play of Game 1. Shortly after the injury was sustained, the big man underwent X-rays and an MRI which both revealed that there was no structural damage.

With Gobert in the lineup, the Jazz will get the opportunity to exact revenge on a Clippers team that has hopped out to a 2-1 lead over their shorthanded opponents. In Game 3, of course, Clips forward Blake Griffin went down with a toe injury that will cost him the remainder of the postseason.

In 81 games for the Jazz this season, Gobert emerged as a Defensive Player of the Year candidate with an improved offensive game. His 14.0 points and 12.8 rebounds per game, coupled with the sheer length that he possesses around the rim, will serve the visiting Utah squad well.

Northwest Notes: Nurkic, Gobert, Garnett

After playing sparingly in Game 3, Jusuf Nurkic and the Trail Blazers have decided to shelve the big man once again. Per Mike Richman of the Oregonian, the Bosnian Beast will not play at all in Game 4.

He didn’t do any further damage,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said of Nurkic playing through a fractured leg. “There was soreness, tenderness and it just wouldn’t be wise to have him play through that.

Limited to shifts of 3-5 minutes, Nurkic didn’t catch much of a rhythm on offense. Though he pulled down 11 rebounds, he only scored two points in his 17 minutes on the court.

There’s more from the Northwest:

  • When the Jazz tip off for Game 4 of their first-round series later tonight there’s a 50% chance that they’ll see Rudy Gobert return to action, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. The big man was formally updated to questionable earlier today.
  • The Jazz failed to capitalize when Clippers forward Blake Griffin left Game 3 injured but the fact that fans can ruminate on the team’s inability to slow Chris Paul simply means that they’re playing meaningful games again, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes, and that’s something that they can be excited for.
  • For the second time in a week, former Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett spoke about his relationship with franchise owner Glen Taylor. A report on ESPN details the conversation KG had with the Associated Press, including how he felt Flip Saunders‘ passing was handled.

Eastern Notes: George, Williams, Lowry

It’s time for the Pacers to deal Paul George since he can become a free agent next summer, Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders contends. Hamilton compares the Pacers’ situation to the Jazz’s back in 2011. Utah sent Deron Williams to the Nets when the point guard still had over a year left on his contract. Brooklyn gave up quite a haul for Williams and the Jazz were able to easily rebuild. Hamilton names the Lakers as a potential trade partner.

Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:

  • The Cavaliers won Game 4 against the Pacers today and Williams played a key role in the win, as Chris Fedor of The Northeast Ohio Media group details. Williams can to Cleveland via the buyout market this season. It was previously reported that the waiver and buyout process could be altered this offseason.
  • Coach Brad Stevens surprisingly started Gerald Green in Game 3 of the Celtics’ series against the Bulls and Green will get the nod again in Game 4, Jared Weiss of SB Nation relays. Green is on a one-year, minimum salary deal and he’ll be a free agent this offseason.
  • Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post wonders if the Raptors are going to pay Kyle Lowry a max contract if they lose in the first round. Bontemps believes rival teams, like the Sixers, will be willing to pay him the max for his services regardless of Toronto’s playoff success. Lowry can become a free agent this summer.

League Dishes Out Pair Of $25K Fines

The NBA handed out two $25K fines, one to Rajon Rondo and one to Patrick Beverley for separate incidents over the weekend.

Beverley got into a verbal altercation with Stuart Scaramucci, who’s the son of Thunder minority owner Jay Scaramucci, after  Game 3 of the Rockets-Thunder playoff series, as Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com details. Beverley fell near the younger Scaramucci during the game and immediately got up and started to complain about him to officials. The point guard said that Scaramucci was screaming obscenities and waved a clapper in his face while he was on the ground.

“If the NBA won’t or help protect players in situations with fans, I’m okay with the hazing, I’m okay with the boos, I’m okay with the other fans rooting for their team but I’m not okay with the blatant disrespect,” Beverley said (via ESPN’s Calvin Walkins). “…I’m not comfortable with that.

“So if the NBA won’t protect the players in that manner, I feel the need as a man, as a grown man who has children, who has morals, stand up for the right thing. I have to protect myself and I felt like I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. I felt like I addressed him and (said), ‘At the end of the day this is a basketball game this is a game, I’m a grown man, your a grown man, let’s keep it professional.’ Just like that. There’s no need for plant disrespect, and that’s all.”

Rajon Rondo was fined for something completely different. He wasn’t able to play in the Bulls’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics, but he was sitting courtside with his team. During the game, Rondo extended his leg and it appeared that he was attempting to trip Jae Crowder. After the game, he said he was not trying to trip anyone.

“When you tear an ACL, your legs get stiff on you every once in a while,” Rondo said (via ESPN’s Nick Friedell). “I stretched my leg out. I also do that throughout the game. I guess he was so deep into our bench, it looked maybe whatever may have happened.

Crowder’s teammate, Gerald Green wouldn’t completely discount Rondo’s excuse.

“He may have had to stretch his leg out. I don’t know,” Green said. “I ain’t no snitch, so I don’t know. That’s not something I grew up being a part of. Where I’m from, they know snitches get stitches. So I don’t know.”

As a reminder, the money which the league generates from fines goes to charities chosen by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.  The NBPA has its own foundation and half of the money goes to that charity, while the NBA’s half goes to it NBA Cares community partners. Some of those partners included the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UNICEF and Share Our Strength, according to Ahiza Garcia of CNN Money.

Frank Jackson Declares For Draft

Frank Jackson has declared for the draft but has not hired an agent, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The point guard will wait until after the pre-draft process before making a final decision on whether to stay in the draft or return to Duke.

Jackson’s father, Al, told Jones that had his son’s experience at the school was the only reason Jackson hasn’t hired an agent yet. “If he had gone anywhere else, we wouldn’t have had to struggle with this decision. Frank would’ve been a one-and-done player with no doubt,” Al Jackson said.

He added that he had a positive conversation coach Mike Krzyzewski about his son’s decision to test the waters. “The door is definitely open for Frank to return,” Al Jackson said. “Frank still may very well go back.”

The elder Jackson said he has received feedback from sources within the NBA, many of which have expressed interest in his son. “It’s clear to us enough teams consider Frank an NBA player,” Al Jackson said. “He has superior athleticism, he has high character and he has a high basketball IQ.”

The 19-year-old Jackson is the 45th best prospect in the upcoming draft, according to Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. He averaged 10.9 points and 1.7 assists in 24.9 minutes per game during his lone season at Duke.

Jones adds that the prospect is a native of Utah and has long been a fan of the Jazz. Jackson is hoping for a pre-draft workout with the organization and he also hopes to be invited to the pre-draft combine, which takes place in Chicago in May.

Southeast Notes: Magic, Green, Millsap, Hornets

If the Magic can’t land one of the candidates they want for team president, they will try to get a big name to fill the GM role, tweets Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders. Interim GM Matt Lloyd remains a candidate to keep his job either way, but would probably be more secure if Orlando can get a high-profile president. The Magic are reportedly interested in Cavaliers GM David Griffin, whose contract expires at the end of the season. Former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie probably won’t be a candidate, as a source told Kyler that Hinkie is looking for an “ideal situation” and isn’t ready to return to the NBA. (Twitter link).

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic won’t try to keep free agent forward Jeff Green, writes Kevin P. Smith of Real GM in his offseason preview. Green spent a year in Orlando after signing with the team last July. He averaged 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds in 69 games, mostly as a reserve. Smith thinks there’s a better chance that Orlando could try to keep fellow free agent Jodie Meeks if he agrees to an affordable price. In the draft, the Magic may take advantage of a field rich in point guards to find a replacement for Elfrid Payton.
  • Re-signing free agent forward Paul Millsap will be an offseason priority for the Hawks, tweets Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. The 31-year-old has been with Atlanta for the past four seasons, making the All-Star team in each one. He’s coming off a career-best scoring year at 18.1 points per game, along with 7.7 rebounds and a career-high 3.7 assists. “We are going to make every effort imaginable to keep him,” said Hawks owner Tony Ressler.
  • The Hornets face a tough offseason with no available cap room and probably the 11th pick in the draft, writes Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders. Charlotte’s best option to improve is through trades, with Greene mentioning Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marvin Williams and Miles Plumlee as options because they all have deals that average less than $15MM annually. The Hornets also have a $1.7MM exception from the Troy Daniels deal that expires in mid-July.

Weekly Mailbag: 4/17/17 – 4/23/17

We have an opportunity for you to hit us up with your questions in this, our weekly mailbag feature. Have a question regarding player movement, the salary cap or the NBA draft? Drop us a line at HoopsRumorsMailbag@Gmail.com. Here are this week’s inquiries:

Do the Pacers have any interest in adding Carmelo Anthony to help Paul George stay in Indiana? I will trade Thaddeus Young, Monta Ellis and a future first-round pick for Carmelo. — Jason Tom

The Knicks haven’t gotten any better offers that we’ve heard about, so let’s examine your proposal. Ellis’ trade value is down after a subpar year. Plus, he’s signed for $11.23MM for next season and has a player option worth $11.7MM for 2018/19. Young will make nearly $14.8MM next year and has an option worth nearly $13.8MM for the following season. But he’s only 28 and wouldn’t be a bad fit next to Kristaps Porzingis. The future first-rounder could carry some value if George leaves in free agency after next season. Substitute C.J. Miles (if he opts in) or Lavoy Allen for Ellis, and the Knicks might have some interest. Of course, the bigger question is whether Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to go to Indiana, and the answer is probably not, unless he becomes desperate to get out of New York.

If the Sixers get the Lakers’ pick at No. 4, which player would you go for? — Babyboy, via Twitter
This would be the worst-case scenario for the Lakers, and the best for the Sixers, who own L.A.’s pick if it falls out of the top three. It will also be an indication of how much Philadelphia believes in Ben Simmons running the point. Both Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress and Chad Ford of ESPN.com have Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball and Josh Jackson as their top three picks. That leaves De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith, both highly regarded point guards, along with international prospect Frank Ntilikina. The Sixers will also have their own pick later in the lottery, so it’s likely they would take the best player available at No. 4. Jayson Tatum is a possibility, but Malik Monk would fill a long-time need in the backcourt.

Is NBA expansion happening? Are the SuperSonics set to return? — Scott, via Twitter

The latest news on the Sonics is that the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group has a $564MM plan for renovations to KeyArena, the team’s former home. The project could be completed by October of 2020, in time to host an NBA or NHL team for the 2020/21 season. The 55-year-old arena is expected to be named a historic landmark this year, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, which means its unique roof and other elements would have to be retained in any renovation. A committee will make a recommendation in June whether to renovate the arena or throw its support behind a new facility. The city is willing to invest to bring the SuperSoncis back, and NBA commissioner Adam Silver recognizes the value of the Seattle market. The only obstacle is that the league has no immediate or long-term plans for expansion. But when it happens, Seattle is almost guaranteed to get its team back.

Heat Notes: J. Johnson, Waiters, Cap Space, Whiteside

Using their cap space to keep their own free agents is a better option for the Heat than chasing Gordon Hayward or Blake Griffin, argues Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Miami will have about $37MM to spend this summer if it declines a $6.3MM option on Wayne Ellington. Issuing a max contract of more than $30MM would severely cut into that total and make it impossible for the team to re-sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters. The Heat may try to trade Josh McRoberts, who is expected to exercise a player option worth a little more than $6MM, but Winderman doesn’t expect them to find any takers. He recommends using that $37MM to keep Johnson, Waiters, Ellington and Willie Reed.

There’s more news out of Miami

  • The Heat’s decisions this summer will shape their roster for the next few years, Winderman writes in a separate piece. If Johnson and Waiters both sign three- or four-year deals, they will join Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson, who are all under contract through 2019/20. Those three already take up $62.7MM of Miami’s cap room for 2018/19, when the cap is projected at $102MM. Even assuming team-friendly contracts for James Johnson and Waiters at a combined $28MM, the Heat would be at $90.7MM, without considering $5.2MM cap holds for Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. Miami’s front office will have to decide soon if that core is worth locking up the salary cap for the next three seasons.
  • Despite recent comments from team president Pat Riley expressing loyalty to his players, the Heat would be willing to trade anyone on the roster, Winderman states in another column. The writer adds that Riley handled his press conference much better than Knicks president Phil Jackson did, but notes that if Dwyane Wade was allowed to leave last summer, then anyone is expendable.
  • After giving Whiteside a four-year, $98MM deal a year ago, the Heat want him to become a better low-post scorer, Winderman relays in another story. Whiteside continues to be among the league’s best rebounders and shot blockers, but the organization wants him to expand his offensive game and become a “championship” center. “Once you feed him that, he may be able to go there,” Riley said, “but you have to put him in that position. I think he has the ability to put up bigger numbers.”

Steve Kerr May Miss The Rest Of First-Round Series

The team hired Mike Brown as its lead assistant over the offseason because of his extensive experience as an NBA head coach. Thompson notes that the Warriors passed over younger candidates such as Stephen Silas because of fears that Kerr might not be able to coach the entire season.

Kerr was able to gameplan with Brown before Saturday’s game, but it remains uncertain when he might coach again. Kerr will undoubtedly want to return as soon as possible, but GM Bob Myers may insist that his friend get healthier first.

Northwest Notes: Gibson, Roberson, Favors

Taj Gibson helped the Thunder with both his offense and defense since arriving in Oklahoma City and he’s already earned the respect of his teammates, Cliff Brunt of USA Today writes.

“They see I’m in here late nights, early mornings, just constantly working with my teammates, constantly putting work in,” Gibson said. “The confidence is going to be there because they understand you do the work, but I’m just trying to do whatever I can to help my team.”

Gibson will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He’s making $8.95MM this season in the last year of a four year deal.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • Andre Roberson has done a great job on the defensive end in the Thunder’s first three playoff games, as Erik Horne of The Oklahoman details. Roberson will be a restricted free agent this summer.
  • Derrick Favors, who has one season and $12MM left on his contract after this season, is seeing extended playing time for the Jazz while Rudy Gobert recovers from a knee injury. Favors didn’t play particularly well on the defensive end, but coach Quin Synder understands that the struggles are a result of playing too many minutes, as Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News relays. “You don’t have to look any further than the guy played 38 minutes and he hasn’t played that many minutes all year,” Snyder said. “He’s battling. He’s competing, playing hard, and we’re asking a lot of him right now. We’re going to keep doing that, and he’s going to give us everything he has.”
  • Improving on the defensive end will be a top priority for the Nuggets and the team may look to the free agent market this summer to find upgrades, Nick Kosmider of The Denver Post speculates in his latest mailbag. The scribe names Gibson, Blake Griffin, and Serge Ibaka among the players who could help the team improve on that end of the floor.
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