Bojan Bogdanovic

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.

Injury Notes: Randle, Bucks, Pistons, Jazz, Simmons

Knicks forward Julius Randle, still dealing with a quad injury, has been ruled out for Saturday’s game against Cleveland, according to Fred Katz of The Athletic, who tweets that the team is considering Randle day-to-day. For the time being, there are no plans to shut down Randle for the rest of the season, Katz adds. He missed three games with the same injury last week.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • The Bucks will be without several key players on Friday vs. the Clippers on the second night of a back-to-back set. According to the team (via Twitter), Giannis Antetokounmpo (right knee soreness), Jrue Holiday (left ankle sprain), Khris Middleton (left wrist soreness), and Brook Lopez (return to competition reconditioning) are among the players who will be inactive.
  • Cory Joseph (left lumbar spine strain), Marvin Bagley III (left hip strain), and Kelly Olynyk (rest) won’t play for the Pistons on Friday against Oklahoma City, tweets James Edwards III of The Athletic. The two teams are neck-and-neck in the lottery standings, so neither front office will be particularly motivated to win the game.
  • The Jazz got some reinforcements on Thursday when Bojan Bogdanovic returned from a nine-game absence and Danuel House played after missing eight consecutive games, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Both forwards had positive plus-minus ratings in a win over the Lakers that snapped Utah’s five-game losing streak.
  • Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium (video link) provided another minor update on Ben Simmons, reporting that the Nets guard has resumed “light” on-court workouts and still hopes to return in time for the playoffs. Charania’s colleague at The Athletic, Joe Vardon, reported earlier today that Simmons is unlikely to be ready for the start of the playoffs.

Injury Notes: Lakers, Jazz, Bulls, Heat

Lakers coach Frank Vogel said Anthony Davis is progressing each day as he inches closer to a return to action, as Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet tweets.

Anthony has had a good week … He’s had a productive week,” Vogel said.

Davis continues to do spot shooting, which began on Monday. Davis originally suffered a right foot strain on February 16, so he’s a little more than four weeks into his four-to-six week recovery timetable.

Lakers reserves Carmelo Anthony and Wayne Ellington were both unable to play on Friday at Toronto due to non-COVID illnesses, Trudell relays (via Twitter).

Talen Horton-Tucker missed the game as well, per Blake Murphy of Sportsnet (Twitter link). Horton-Tucker has been battling a Grade 2 ankle sprain.

Here are more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • The Jazz are dealing with a plethora of maladies at the moment. Six players were listed as out for Friday’s game against the Clippers, the team announced (Twitter link): Donovan Mitchell (right calf contusion), Bojan Bogdanovic (left calf strain), Danuel House (left knee bone bruise), Hassan Whiteside (non-COVID illness), Trent Forrest (right wrist sprain), and Udoka Azubuike (right ankle sprain).
  • Bulls coach Billy Donovan says Lonzo Ball has been experiencing discomfort in his rehab, according to K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “He has not responded,” Donovan said. “There’s no setbacks. It’s still the same thing. He has not been able to do anything full speed. And anytime we get him close to that, there’s discomfort. So I think they’re going to probably at least look at, you know, ‘Do you back off and let him rest for a little bit and see if that helps?’” Johnson notes that Friday marked seven weeks since Ball underwent surgery to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, and given his lack of progress, it seems highly unlikely he’ll return in the six-to-eight week recovery timetable Chicago originally provided. Donovan said there’s been no talk of Ball missing the remainder of the season, but the team is still determining the next steps in his recovery process.
  • On a more positive note, Donovan said Patrick Williams has been a full participant in G League practices with the Windy City Bulls, with no setbacks. He also said there was a “very real” possibility that Williams could return to action versus Toronto on Monday or Milwaukee on Tuesday, Johnson tweets. Williams has been targeting a return next week; he’s been out since October due to wrist surgery.
  • Jimmy Butler (sprained right ankle) and Victor Oladipo (back spasms) both missed the Heat‘s 120-108 win over the Thunder on Friday, Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald writes. It’s the third time Butler has sprained his right ankle this season, Chiang notes, which is definitely a concerning trend. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. On the bright side, Caleb Martin (hyperextended left knee) and P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation) were both able to play after being listed as questionable. Martin had missed the past three games for the 47-24 Heat, who hold the No. 1 seed in the East.

Josh Richardson, Josh Okogie Among Players On Jazz’s Radar

Celtics swingman Josh Richardson and Timberwolves swingman Josh Okogie are among the wing options the Jazz have discussed as they weigh their trade options, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported on HoopsHype’s latest podcast.

Utah also continues to keep an eye on Kings forward Harrison Barnes and Trail Blazers forward Robert Covington, according to Scotto. Barnes – whom new Jazz executive Danny Ainge pursued during his time in Boston – and Covington have previously been identified as potential targets for the club.

Barnes and Covington would certainly come at a higher cost in a trade than Richardson or Okogie. Scotto has heard from executives around the NBA that the Kings are seeking at least a first-round pick in any deal involving Barnes. Utah has a future first-rounder to offer along with Joe Ingles‘ expiring contract, but Scotto thinks Sacramento might push for a player like Bojan Bogdanovic, who could contribute right away, over Ingles, who will be sidelined for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL.

If the Jazz are unable to use Ingles and draft assets to land a player like Barnes or Covington, they could shift their focus to a target like Richardson. In his latest roundup of leaguewide trade rumors, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says that Utah has been “consistently mentioned” as a possible destination for Richardson.

A January report indicated Boston has been “surprisingly open” to discussing Richardson after trading for him and signing him to a one-year extension during the 2021 offseason. Richardson’s scoring average has dipped to 9.8 PPG, his lowest mark since his rookie season in 2015/16, but he’s hitting 39.1% of his three-point attempts and is a versatile defender.

Okogie, who is shooting a career-worst 35.6% from the floor in just 12.7 minutes per contest (32 games) in 2021/22, will be a free agent at season’s end and is likely viewed as a fallback option for Utah. The former first-round pick is earning just $4.1MM and is a solid defender, but won’t contribute much on offense and probably can’t be counted on to play a significant role on a contending team. He has been in and out of Minnesota’s rotation this season.

Injury Updates: Payne, Crowder, Ayton, Gobert, Bogdanovic, LaVine

The Suns will be without one of their key rotation players for at least a couple weeks. Cameron Payne will be reevaluated in two weeks after suffering a sprained right wrist, Duane Rankin of the Arizona Republic reports. The reserve guard suffered the injury on Saturday against Indiana.

Payne is averaging 10.5 PPG and 3.6 APG as Chris Paul‘s backup. Elfrid Payton will likely absorb some of his minutes and Devin Booker will see more action at the point.

Jae Crowder (wrist) and Deandre Ayton  (ankle) also missed Monday’s game against Utah but are considered day-to-day. Ayton has missed four consecutive games due to a right ankle sprain suffered at Detroit on January 16.

We have more injury updates:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert suffered a left calf strain in the late going against Golden State on Sunday, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. “I tried to play through it. But I could feel I wasn’t moving right and I didn’t want to make it worse,” he said. Gobert missed Monday’s game against Phoenix but the strain is considered mild and he isn’t expected to be sidelined for an extended period, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets.
  • The Jazz‘s Bojan Bogdanovic has a left finger avulsion fracture but can continue to play with it, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. The injury, which occurred against Houston last week, is a ligament that has been pulled off the bone. He can’t bend it and will require a splint for the next four-to-six weeks. Bogdanovic also didn’t play on Monday.
  • Bulls star guard Zach LaVine returned to action on Monday after a five-game absence, James Collier of ESPN writes. LaVine was sidelined with a left knee injury. He had not played since exiting in the first quarter on January 14 against the Warriors after feeling soreness in his left knee.

Northwest Notes: Hyland, Diakite, Beasley, Bogdanovic

Rookie guard Bones Hyland may be a fixture in the Nuggets‘ rotation when the regular season starts next week, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. The 26th pick in this year’s draft has been impressing teammates throughout camp and the early part of the preseason with his offensive explosiveness and his attitude toward the game.

“Youngin’s fearless, and I love it,” Aaron Gordon said. “His game is nice.”

Hyland filled the stat sheet Friday in a loss to the Timberwolves with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. However, he also had six turnovers and made a costly defensive mistake that allowed Minnesota to send the game to overtime, which coach Michael Malone recognizes as part of the learning process. Hyland staked his case for regular playing time with an impressive shooting night.

“That’s what I do, honestly,” Hyland said. “I was like 2-for-10 on the first two preseason games. I was like, ‘That’s not me at all, that’s not how I shoot the ball.’ … I make it rain from the three.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Mamadi Diakite was part of championship teams last season in both the G League and the NBA, and now he’s trying to trying to earn a roster spot with the Thunder, notes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Oklahoma City claimed Diakite on waivers after the Bucks released him two weeks ago, giving them 16 players with standard NBA contracts. He is due to earn $1.5MM this season and $1.8MM next season, although both years are non-guaranteed. “I’m gonna keep fighting,” Diakite said. “I’ve been fighting since I was little. I know I have some disadvantages, but I’m an underdog. I’ll keep fighting, and I’ll keep proving everyone wrong.” 
  • Timberwolves coach Chris Finch didn’t get much of a chance to work with Malik Beasley after being hired in February, but they know each other from their time in Denver when Beasley was a rookie, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Beasley was suspended by the league for 12 games shortly after Finch arrived in Minnesota, then suffered a season-ending hamstring injury in early April. The coach believes Beasley has matured during his five NBA seasons. “You can tell he’s comfortable with who he is as a player,” Finch said, “what his role and impact on the floor is and just his maturity and overall approach is that of a young vet.”
  • Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic was a full participant in practice Friday and Saturday after dealing with a sore shoulder, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

Injury Notes: Gay, Bogdanovic, Giannis, Robinson, Bryant

Jazz forward Rudy Gay won’t be ready to make his debut for his new team during the preseason or even by the start of the regular season, head coach Quin Snyder told reporters on Friday.

As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune details, Gay underwent surgery on his left heel shortly after the 2020/21 season ended and is still recovering. He has been going through portions of practice with the Jazz, but hasn’t yet been cleared for contact, Walden writes. Gay is expected to remain sidelined through at least opening night.

Meanwhile, another Jazz forward – Bojan Bogdanovic – has also been held out of the full-contact portions of the team’s practices, according to Walden. However, it sounds like Bogdanovic is closer to returning to action than Gay. A team spokesperson said that Bogdanovic is experiencing some shoulder soreness and is being rested out of caution. If the regular season had begun, he’d likely be able to play, says Walden.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo acknowledged on Media Day that the knee he injured during last season’s playoffs still isn’t 100%, per Eric Nehm of The Athletic, and he hasn’t been a full participant in the team’s practices so far this week. Asked if there’s a chance Antetokounmpo won’t be ready to play by opening night, head coach Mike Budenholzer replied, “No, I wouldn’t go there. … I would say he’s in a good place and there’s a lot of confidence he’ll be good — and when exactly that is, we hope it’s sooner rather than later” (Twitter links via Nehm)
  • Knicks center Mitchell Robinson, who is coming back from a fractured foot, said on Thursday that he’s running but isn’t yet sprinting, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv. Head coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters that Robinson – who hasn’t been cleared to practice – still has a few checkpoints to hit, including some related to conditioning, before he’ll be ready to return to action. There’s currently no timetable for his return. Begley adds that the Knicks are unlikely to seriously consider negotiating a new contract for Robinson, who is extension-eligible, until they see him back on the court.
  • Wizards center Thomas Bryant admitted this week that the long recovery from an ACL tear has been a life-changing process for him, as Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington relays. It’s very hard because that’s like the one love that you have in your life right there. It’s the one thing that’s always been there, always intact that you know that you can always go to. When that’s taken away from you, it’s very hard,” Bryant said. “It’s almost depressing in a sort of way. But when you’re mentally strong and you keep talking to yourself and working with yourself mentally, the days don’t get so much harder, they get a little bit easier.” Bryant is expected to return sometime in December.

Western Notes: Ingles, Bogdanovic, O’Neale, Conley, Gay, Adelman, Doncic

The Jazz are well above the luxury tax line after re-signing Mike Conley and adding Rudy Gay in free agency but they don’t plan on dumping any of their mid-salaried players to ease the burden, Zach Lowe of ESPN reports. Lowe names Joe Ingles ($12.4MM), Bojan Bogdanovic ($18.7MM) and Royce O’Neale ($8.8MM) as the type of players that the Jazz could look to dump if they wanted to get below the tax line or reduce the bill. There’s no indication any of them are going anywhere anytime soon.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Conley played a role in convincing Gay to leave the Spurs for the Jazz in free agency, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes. Conley said the front office urged him to recruit his former Memphis teammate. “I’ve done it little bit (before) but not at this capacity,” Conley said. “I was like putting babies down for bed and having to drop them and go take a call because I’m trying to make sure we lock up a guy like Rudy. … I was really locked in on that and it was fun.”
  • David Adelman will be the lead assistant for the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Jordi Fernandez will be the second assistant under Michael Malone while Popeye Jones, whose addition to the staff was previously reported, will be the third assistant on Malone’s bench.
  • Luka Doncic‘s new contract extension includes a 15% trade kicker, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. However, the trade bonus would only kick in if the cap rose significantly in the future, since a trade bonus can’t increase a player’s salary beyond the maximum and the All-NBA guard has already qualified for a higher max salary than he’d typically be eligible for. Doncic’s five-year, $207MM extension with the Mavericks became official on Tuesday.

Fischer’s Latest: Simmons, Beal, J. Richardson, Jazz, Kemba

Having claimed earlier in the week that the Sixers hadn’t really been able to get in touch with Ben Simmons this offseason, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report clarifies in his latest article that the team’s brass has maintained contact with Simmons and his representatives. However, the 76ers have been “unable to collaborate” so far on a summer development plan for the former No. 1 pick.

Although league executives who have spoken to Fischer speculate that the Sixers may try to hang onto Simmons in the hopes that Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard will eventually ask out of Portland, the “overwhelming” expectation is that Simmons will be dealt before the start of the 2021/22 season. Of the early discussions Philadelphia has had about the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, talks with the Raptors are thought to be the most advanced, Fischer adds.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • As Bradley Beal continues to weigh his future with the Wizards, there’s a growing expectation around the league that the All-Star guard might still decide he wants to stay in D.C., says Fischer.
  • The Mavericks have explored trade scenarios involving Josh Richardson, according to Fischer. Richardson still has to make a decision on his $11.6MM player option for 2021/22, but if he opts in, his expiring contract represents a logical trade chip if Dallas wants the flexibility to make a run at a top free agent.
  • After previously identifying Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles, and Royce O’Neale as potential trade candidates if the Jazz look to trim team salary, Fischer now says O’Neale is likely to stick around, but Bogdanovic and/or Ingles could still be moved. Utah has also explored the possibility of trading Derrick Favors along with the No. 30 pick, Fischer adds.
  • The Thunder‘s front office believes it should be able to flip Kemba Walker for assets this summer if his medicals are good, according to Fischer (Twitter link). Walker’s contract, which has two years and $73.7MM left on it, isn’t favorable, so Oklahoma City would likely need to take on an equally bad deal – or multiple unwanted contracts – in order to acquire assets with positive value.

Fischer’s Latest: Simmons, Lillard, Warriors, Ingles, Draft Deals, More

There has been little movement on the Ben Simmons situation, as none of the interested teams are offering an All-Star level player to the Sixers in return, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. He adds that many observers believe president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is waiting for Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard to return from the Olympics to see if he makes a trade request.

The Cavaliers, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings and Raptors have all shown interest in trading for Simmons, sources tell Fischer. Executives from several of those teams said they view him as a play-making forward, rather than a point guard as he has been used in Philadelphia.

Simmons remains under contract for four more seasons, so there’s no urgency for the Sixers to make a move right away. Still, the “overwhelming expectation” across the league is that he will be traded during the offseason after struggling with his shot during the playoffs.

Fischer shares more inside information from around the NBA:

  • The Warriors would like to swap their two lottery picks for veteran help, but president of basketball operations Bob Myers isn’t finding many impact players available on the trade market. The Jazz could emerge as a possibility, Fischer adds, as Utah is hoping to shed some salary before re-signing point guard Mike Conley. Joe Ingles might be moved in such a deal, and Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale are also possibilities.
  • The Kings, who hold the No. 9 pick in Thursday’s draft, may be the highest option for teams hoping to trade into the lottery. Sacramento and the Pelicans, who have the 10th selection, have been active in trade talks involving those picks, sources tell Fischer, as both teams are looking for veterans who will give them a better chance to make the playoffs next season. New Orleans, which is hoping to unload Eric Bledsoe‘s salary, has talked to the Grizzlies about a deal that would send the veteran guard and the No. 10 pick to Memphis in exchange for the 17th choice.
  • The Hornets at No. 11 and the Pacers at No. 13 may also make their picks available. Fischer confirms that Indiana has talked to the Rockets about a deal involving Eric Gordon and the 23rd pick, and Myles Turner is believed to be on the trade market as well.