Alec Burks

Thunder, Bulls, Others Eyeing Rodney Hood

The Thunder, Bulls, and Pistons are among the teams showing interest in Jazz guard Rodney Hood as Thursday’s trade deadline nears, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. League sources tell Jones that the Nuggets and Magic have also displayed “at least a passing interest” in Hood.

The Jazz have reportedly been exploring the trade market for Hood for at least the last few weeks, and Jones suggests the team is seeking “an asset” in return. While a first-round pick would be ideal, Utah may need to take on a bad contract in order to land a draft pick of that caliber, and it’s not clear whether the club is willing to do that, says Jones.

Hood, 26, is having the best offensive season of his career in 2017/18, averaging 16.4 PPG and shooting 38.7% on three-point attempts — both marks are career highs. However, he has once again been limited by injuries, a recurring issue throughout his NBA career. A fourth-year guard, Hood has only played more than 59 games in a season once so far.

As for Hood’s potential suitors, it’s no surprise that the Thunder, Bulls, and Pistons would have some interest, as all three teams could use another young shooter. However, Oklahoma City’s trade assets are limited, and Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press tweets that Detroit’s interest in Hood was stronger before the Blake Griffin trade. With Griffin’s long-term salary on their books, Ellis notes, the Pistons are less inclined to explore a swap of Stanley Johnson for Hood, since Johnson’s affordable rookie contract runs through 2019, while Hood will get expensive in restricted free agency this summer.

Meanwhile, Alec Burks is also generating some trade interest around the NBA, according to Jones. However, Jones cautions that Burks’ contract, which pays him $11.5MM in 2018/19, is limiting his appeal to some extent.

Jazz, Bulls Engaged In Nikola Mirotic Talks

The Jazz are engaged in discussions with the Bulls about a potential trade involving Nikola Mirotic, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. While nothing is imminent, Jones hears that talks have moved “past the preliminary stage and [are] getting serious.”

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first linked Mirotic to the Jazz on Monday, suggesting that Quin Snyder‘s reputation for maximizing offensive talent had “intrigued” the Bulls’ power forward. While it wasn’t clear at that point if the interest was mutual, Jones confirms that the Jazz are exploring the possibility of acquiring Mirotic. K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune also reported that Utah had expressed interest in the veteran forward.

Mirotic, who is in the first season of a two-year deal that features a $12.5MM team option for 2018/19, will become trade-eligible on January 15. Any deal involving him would require his approval, but that’s not expected to be a major roadblock — the relationship between Mirotic and the Bulls has been shaky, particularly after an altercation between Mirotic and teammate Bobby Portis in the fall. If Mirotic’s ability to veto a deal becomes an issue, the Bulls could always circumvent that by exercising his second-year option, assuming their potential trade partner is on board.

As for Chicago’s potential return in a Mirotic deal, the team has “made it clear” that the asking price is a first-round pick with no long-term contracts attached, per Johnson. Vincent Goodwill of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Bulls – in talks with the Jazz – aren’t interested in taking on Alec Burks, whose $10.85MM salary would match up nicely with Mirotic’s $12.5MM cap hit.

Burks has a guaranteed $11.54MM salary for 2018/19, so Chicago’s willingness to absorb that contract may hinge on the draft compensation attached. The Bulls may push instead for a player like Joe Johnson ($10.5MM) or Derrick Favors ($12MM), both of whom are on expiring contracts.

Woj’s Latest: Pistons, Fournier, Lakers, Hawks

Shooting guards and small forwards are in high demand as the trade deadline approaches, and there simply aren’t that many quality wings expected to be available, Adrian Wojnarowski writes in his latest report for ESPN.com. As Wojnarowski details, the Pistons, Knicks, Pelicans, and Trail Blazers are just a few of the many teams looking for upgrades on the wing.

DeMarre Carroll (Nets), Alec Burks (Jazz), Kent Bazemore (Hawks), and Evan Fournier (Magic) are among the veterans attracting some interest on the trade market, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that the Pistons pursued a deal for Fournier. Such a trade would be hard to pull off without including Reggie Jackson‘s contract, so nothing’s imminent at this point, but the Pistons continue to be aggressive on the trade market, a reflection of Stan Van Gundy‘s desire to win now, says Wojnarowski.

As for the Pelicans, they also remain active in trade talks despite their limited assets, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that Omer Asik and Alexis Ajinca have negative value and won’t be movable without New Orleans attaching a draft pick or two. If the Pelicans can’t trade for a wing, they’ll have to count on getting Solomon Hill back healthy for the home stretch of the season.

Here’s more from Woj:

  • The Lakers have “made it clear” that Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, and Larry Nance Jr. are available in trades, reports Wojnarowski. The club had been planning on waiting until after the season to try to move Clarkson, but there may be a mutual desire to get something done on that front sooner rather than later.
  • Bazemore, Ersan Ilyasova, and Marco Belinelli are expendable in Atlanta, where the Hawks are focused on unloading veterans and stockpiling more young players and draft picks, per Wojnarowski.
  • The Bulls still plan to trade Nikola Mirotic after January 15, assuming he OK’s a deal. According to Wojnarowski, Mirotic is somewhat intrigued by the Jazz and their head coach Quin Snyder, who has a reputation for maximizing offensive talent.
  • It’s possible their outlooks could change by the trade deadline, but the Thunder and Pelicans currently have no plans to trade Paul George or DeMarcus Cousins, respectively. Both players can become unrestricted free agents this July.
  • We passed along more rumors from Woj in full stories earlier today, providing the latest on DeAndre Jordan and examining the Grizzliesasking price for Tyreke Evans.

Northwest Division: George, Morrow, Plumlee, Burks

Russell Westbrook‘s decision to sign an extension with the Thunder is making it easier for Paul George to decide whether to stay put when he becomes a free agent next summer, as he told ESPN’s Royce Young and other media members (Twitter link). George is impressed by the commitment between the reigning Most Valuable Player and the franchise, as Westbrook decided this week to sign a five-year, $205MM extension. George’s overt desire to leave the Pacers after this season, specifically for the Lakers, led Indiana to trade him to Oklahoma City. It appears George is now seriously interested in re-signing. “Not only in us pairing together but just knowing what type of dude Russ is and his values and his beliefs and him being committed to this organization says a lot,” George said. “And I’m one person that’s enjoying it here, so I think when that time comes the decision will be easier to make for myself.”

In other developments around the Northwest Division:

  • Anthony Morrow has apparently taken an early lead in the fight for the Blazers’ 15th roster spot, Joe Freeman of The Oregonian reports. Morrow received a one-year, non-guaranteed contract prior to training camp and is battling Archie Goodwin and Isaiah Briscoe for a spot on the opening-night roster, Freeman continues. After four days of training camp, he’s already impressed coaches and teammates with his shooting, leadership and positive attitude, Freeman adds.
  • Center Mason Plumlee will be Nikola Jokic‘s backup but he’ll have a big role with the Nuggets, coach Michael Malone told Gina Mizell of The Denver Post. Plumlee was re-signed by Denver to a three-year, $41MM deal this summer after being acquired from the Blazers in February. “He brings us a physicality and presence that, really, none of the other guys really have,” Malone said. “He is a lob threat on offense and he’s a rim protector on defense. On top of that, he’s a very skilled and capable playmaker.”
  • Jazz guard Alec Burks believes he’s finally fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in December 2015, according to Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. Burks is looking for a bounce-back season, even though coach Quin Snyder isn’t sure what role Burks will have this season, Sorensen adds. “This summer I felt like I was before I got hurt on that December day two years ago,” Burks told Sorensen. “I felt more explosive, more like myself. As you could tell, last year I wasn’t myself athletically, I wasn’t at all.”

Northwest Notes: Millsap, O’Neale, Burks

The addition of Paul Millsap will give the Nuggets an established defender capable of helping the franchise improve its efforts on that side of the ball, Buddy Grizzard of Basketball Insiders writes. Last season Denver sported the second-worst defense in the NBA.

Grizzard suggests that Millsap’s “humble-yet-forceful” personality could bring out the best in his Nuggets teammates, including Nikola Jokic who already opted out of EuroBasket 2017 to focus on more individual workouts.

Millsap’s efficient low-post game will give Jokic yet more of an opportunity to showcase his playmaking abilities while the versatile Jokic gives Millsap his most skilled frontcourt partner since Al Horford.

He may not be the final piece that the Nuggets need to contend, Grizzard writes, but he certainly fits into the right puzzle.

There’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Thunder elected not to waive Kyle Singler at the stretching deadline yesterday. While that may not mean he’s in for a big role in 2017/18, the veteran forward’s contract could be a valuable asset to include in a mid-season trade, Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes.
  • It’s no sure thing that Royce O’Neale will stick with the Jazz this season – the club currently has 16 guaranteed contracts – but the franchise saw enough in the versatile wing to offer him a three-year contract with the first season guaranteed earlier this summer. Benjamin Mehic of the Deseret News broke down the 24-year-old’s long journey to the NBA.
  • A knee injury sidelined Jazz guard Alec Burks in the middle of last spring’s postseason but the 26-year-old is back at full health. Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets that Burks will be ready to go without restriction at training camp.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Westbrook, Collison

The biggest priority for the Jazz this summer will be retaining their players, an Associated Press report says. General manager Dennis Lindsey is aware of the challenge and accepts it head on.

Player retention would be the next step,” Lindsey said, before expanding with ways that the Jazz can improve upon this year’s success. “Player development. A strategic add that can complement the group where there’s just a really good fit. Whether that fit is mentality, experience or skill-set.

At the top of Lindsey’s list of players to retain will be All-Star forward Gordon Hayward. Though the Butler alum just missed out on an All-NBA selection – and the resulting financial reward – the Jazz can still make a solid case to convince the forward to return to the team that drafted and developed him.

Point guard George Hill is another body that Lindsey will look to keep in town over the offseason. Hill will be an unrestricted free agent after his one season with the Jazz and will likely generate considerable interest coming off a career year.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder will look to extend point guard Russell Westbrook‘s contract this summer and can do so with the Designated Veteran Player Extension. Per Bobby Marks of the Vertical, even though Westbrook renegotiated his existing contract prior to the new CBA, he’s been deemed eligible by the league to ink a five-year deal worth as much as $207MM this summer.
  • Veteran Nick Collison isn’t finished playing in the NBA and will look to come to terms with the Thunder for 2017/18, Fred Katz of the Norman Transcript writes. Despite the big man’s loyalty to the franchise that drafted him 2003, there’s no guarantee that he’ll be back with Oklahoma City if another organization offers a more appealing role.
  • If the Jazz are able to bring Gordon Hayward and George Hill back this summer, two players that may be sacrificed for financial reasons are Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post suggests.

Northwest Notes: Hayward, Jazz, OKC, Gibson

Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward has earned a max contract, according to Randy Hollis of The Deseret News. Hollis admits that he had been wrong about Hayward and hopes that Hayward elects to return to the Jazz in free agency in a fascinating piece that touts the budding star’s basketball brilliance.

Let’s round up a few more notes from around the Northwest…

  • Alec Burks has had a difficult past few years as a result of injury, but he’s poised for a comeback, reports Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. “It’s frustrating,” Burke said to Sorensen. “My (latest) injury was way more serious than I thought. But I’m a soldier and I learned a lot about my body and the game of basketball during the time out.”
  • While Trey Lyles suffered through a disappointing sophomore campaign, Jazz coach Quin Snyder is certainly not giving up on his forward, per Randy Hollis of The Deseret News. “I think, for Trey, like a lot of young players, it’s more about him taking stock and looking at the year, figuring out he can use it to improve,” Snyder said. “Sometimes you have to go through some things like that in order to get a good gauge on where you are. I expect Trey to have a terrific summer and look forward to him leveraging some of that adversity to make himself a better player.”
  • Taj Gibson would love to return to the Thunder, but he will have many suitors, writes Erik Horne of NewsOK.com. Horne’s piece discusses Gibson’s success in Oklahoma City after being traded from Chicago and names the power forward as likely the team’s best option in free agency.
  • Although the Thunder are locked into the 21st overall pick in the draft, Tuesday night’s lottery may very well have implications for the team, as the draft ordering could affect which players are available on the trade market, writes Brett Dawson of NewsOK.com.
  • Marcus Smart, who played his college ball at Oklahoma State, would fit in very well with the Thunder, writes Berry Tramel of NewsOK.com. Smart remains under contract with Boston for one more year.

Burks May Be Shut Down For Postseason

The Jazz could be without the services of Alec Burks for the remainder of the postseason, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Per the paper’s sources, the guard could be shut down for the rest of the playoffs on account of his current knee injury.

Burks saw his role decrease substantially in 2016/17 and he averaged just 6.7 points per game in the opportunities that he did get. Sidelined for the entirety of Utah’s first-round series against the Clippers, Burks hasn’t played meaningful basketball since April 12.

The emergence of Rodney Hood over the course of the past two seasons and the offseason addition of Joe Johnson have limited Burks’ chances to thrive in the Jazz lineup.  The 25-year-old, however, is just two seasons removed from averaging 33.3 minutes per game in an injury shortened 2014/15.

Jones adds that, while it appears as though the shooting guard will be shut down with Utah’s second round slated to begin on Tuesday, no final decision has been formally made.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Oladipo, Gobert, Burks

ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy believes the Thunder should seriously consider playing Russell Westbrook the entire game during the postseason, as he told Mel Bracht of The Oklahoman. The Thunder outscored the Rockets in Game 2 by 11 points in the 41 minutes that Westbrook played. Westbrook’s 51-point, 10-rebound, 13-assist effort was wasted in a 115-111 loss that gave Houston a 2-0 series lead. Oklahoma City is better off with Westbrook staying on the court even if he wears down as the game goes on, Van Gundy told Bracht. “I think he gives them a better chance even if he is diminished somewhat due to fatigue by playing the whole game,” Van Gundy said. “Maybe it will be different at home, but the dropoff is huge.”

In other playoff developments around the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder coach Billy Donovan doesn’t want Victor Oladipo‘s shooting woes to affect his overall game, the Associated Press reports. The shooting guard is averaging 8.5 PPG and shooting 19% from the field through the first two playoff games. Donovan wants Oladipo to realize his defense and rebounding are also important. “Victor’s not a one-dimensional player — he can do a lot of different things,” Donovan said. “Taking his mindset off the ball going in the basket, and him realizing, ‘I’m not going to allow myself to be defined by that because there’s too many other things I can do out there to help this team.'”
  • Forward Doug McDermott was a bright spot for the Thunder in Game 2, as he scored 11 points in 14 minutes. “I knew I could have an impact on this series,” McDermott told Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman. “I know my shot’s always gonna be there, and they have to respect that.”
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert will remain sidelined for Game 3 of the series against the Clippers, according to another AP story. He hyperextended his left knee and suffered a bone contusion in the opening minute of the series. The Jazz were outscored 60-38 in the paint in Game 2 while going with a smaller lineup most of the way.
  • The Jazz will also be without shooting guard Alec Burks for Game 3, the team’s PR department tweets. Burks received a platelet-rich plasma injection into his left knee on Thursday. Burks, who averaged 6.7 PPG in 15.5 MPG over 42 games during the regular season, has not appeared in the series.

Northwest Notes: Timberwolves, Kanter, Burks

The Timberwolves remain on the lookout for a big man, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). That’s not a new revelation — a report in mid-December suggested that Minnesota was interested in adding some frontcourt help to its roster. Still, at that time, the trade deadline was more than two months away. February 23 is inching closer, so if the Wolves do indeed intend to address their frontcourt rotation via the trade market, they’ll have to do so within the next few weeks.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • After breaking his forearm last week when he punched a chair, Enes Kanter told reporters this weekend that he apologized to his Thunder teammates for his mistake, writes Royce Young of ESPN.com. “Of course it’s like a really sad thing because like, I mean because you’re letting your teammates down when you make a mistake like that,” Kanter said. “I mean you’re [letting] coaches down and stuff. But the only thing you can do is just, you know, you learn from it. The one thing you know I wish we could go back [in] time and then I could take it back.”
  • As Erik Horne of The Oklahoman details, player injuries could play a not-insignificant part in determining what kind of deals happen before the deadline. In the case of the Thunder, Cameron Payne missed several months earlier this season after having been mentioned in trade rumors, and Kanter will now be sidelined through February despite being a possible trade candidate.
  • The Jazz have a handful of potential backup point guards available now that the roster is healthy, but it has been Alec Burks who has received a chance to fill that role a couple times lately, says Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News. Unlike Burks, who has a longer-term deal, Utah’s other four point guards are all eligible for free agency in 2017 or 2018.
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