While the Jazz‘ 2019 playoff run was short-lived, Royce O’Neale‘s performance in the team’s five-game series vs. Houston was encouraging. A role player who averaged 20.4 minutes per game during the regular season, O’Neale increased his averages across the board against the Rockets, recording 10.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 27.4 MPG.
The 25-year-old forward was also frequently tasked with the defensive assignment of guarding James Harden, and said that the MVP candidate gave him words of “encouragement and motivation” at the end of the series, as Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com details.
“Just goes to show all the hard work that I’ve put in isn’t taken for granted,” O’Neale said. “A lot of people are showing respect when it’s due. Earning that respect from him was one of the good moments. It made me feel like I’m becoming somebody in this league.”
The Jazz enter the offseason prepared to make some changes to a roster that hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs over the last two years. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll part ways with O’Neale, despite the fact that his 2019/20 salary is non-guaranteed — at a rate of $1,618,520, he’ll likely be one of the league’s better bargains next season.
Here’s more from around the Northwest:
- Brandon Clarke (Gonzaga), Admiral Schofield (Tennessee), Jalen Lecque (Brewster Academy), Tyler Herro (Kentucky), and Jordan Nwora (Louisville) were among the prosects at this week’s combine who confirmed they interviewed with the Jazz, writes Eric Woodyard in a Deseret News article and a follow-up tweet. “Hopefully we can get in and get a workout,” Schofield said. “It would be great to be on that team and play with Donovan Mitchell and play in front of that crowd. They’re really energetic, they’ve got a nice core, and they’re on the right track right now.”
- Sean Deveney of Sporting News and Mike Singer of The Denver Post preview the Nuggets‘ upcoming offseason, exploring issues like the $30MM decision on Paul Millsap‘s team option, Michael Porter Jr.‘s potential outlook, and more.
- Mizzou forward Jontay Porter was among the prospects to interview with the Timberwolves at this week’s draft combine, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News. Porter ranks 42nd on ESPN’s big board for 2019, while Minnesota holds the No. 43 pick in the draft.