Collin Sexton

Northwest Notes: Juzang, Sexton, Gobert, Porter Jr.

Jazz rookie guard Johnny Juzang has a Grade 3 sprain in his right wrist, according to a team press release. An MRI revealed the extent of the injury, which he suffered while playing with the G League Salt Lake City Stars against the Ignite on Friday. Juzang, who is on a two-way contract, will be reevaluated in 10-to-14 days. He’s averaging 13.4 points and 4.4 rebounds in 28.6 minutes with the Stars.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Collin Sexton struggled trying to replace injured Mike Conley in the Jazz’s starting lineup but the team hopes he’ll become more than just a sixth man, Tony Jones of The Athletic notes. Sexton is in the first year of a four-year, $70.95MM contract from the sign-and-trade deal made with Cleveland. The Jazz are hoping he’ll eventually find the right balance between being an aggressive scorer and a floor leader. Sexton had 10 points and just one assist in 28 minutes against the Clippers on Monday.
  • Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert wants to hear more supportive, rather than fickle, fans in the home crowd, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. Minnesota has won four straight games, but has heard plenty of boos from the home crowd, including during Monday’s win over Miami. “I just don’t appreciate people that come in to boo your team,” said Gobert, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition. “When you’re a fan, you’ve got to support your team in the tough or the good moments. There’s no team in NBA history that only had good moments, so if you’re not going to support us in the tough moments, just stay home.”
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has come to the realization that he needs to do the dirty work to live up to his contract, Tim Bontemps of ESPN writes. “Offense for me should be on autopilot,” Porter said. “I should be focused on the intangibles, the defense, the rebounding, the dirty work. Then that just involves you in the game. If you’re struggling on offense and you’re also not rebounding or playing defense, then it’s like, ‘Why is he out there right now?'” Porter signed a five-year, max extension in September 2021.

Mike Conley Sidelined By Left Knee Strain

5:56pm: Conley could return sooner than two weeks, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. His injury will be reevaluated when the Jazz return to Salt Lake City on Tuesday after the team faces the Clippers on Monday.

4:39pm: Veteran Jazz point guard Mike Conley will miss at least two weeks due to a left knee strain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The franchise is actually relieved the injury isn’t worse. Conley, who underwent an MRI on Sunday, avoided ligament damage during the non-contact injury that occurred after he played nine minutes against Portland on Saturday. Conley said he felt his leg lock up as he tried to get around a screen.

Conley is averaging 10.2 points and 7.9 assists per game for the surprising Jazz this season. He’s battled numerous injuries in recent seasons, though he was able to start 72 regular season games for Utah in 2021/22. During the six previous seasons, four with Memphis and two with Utah, Conley appeared in 70 or more games just once.

Collin Sexton figures to take Conley’s starting spot for the time being, though Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Malik Beasley and even Talen Horton-Tucker could see more backcourt time.

Jazz Notes: Conley Injury, Horton-Tucker, Sexton

The Jazz may have to survive for a while without starting point guard Mike Conley, who left Saturday’s game with a knee injury, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The team is awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the full extent of the damage.

Conley explained to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link) that the injury was non-contact and happened as he tried to get around a screen. Conley said he felt his leg lock up and he did a mental check to determine what was causing the pain. On-court ligament tests were encouraging, Walden adds.

Conley was limping in the locker room after the game, but he told staff members that the media saw him immediately after he was icing the knee. The limp was mostly gone by the time he got on the team plane, according to Larsen.

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • Talen Horton-Tucker finished Saturday’s game at point guard, which Larsen sees as an indication of what coach Will Hardy would prefer to do with his lineup if Conley has an extended absence. Larsen notes that Horton-Tucker has improved his decision-making over the past month, while Collin Sexton can be undisciplined when running the offense. Sexton started the last time that Conley was unavailable and probably expects to fill that role again, so Larsen suggests that he might move into the starting lineup to preserve the team’s “good vibes.”
  • Earlier this week, Conley talked to Mark Medina of and admitted that he expected to be traded after Utah moved Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell during the offseason. “Even all the way up to training camp, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Conley said. “I didn’t know who was going to be here, and if I was going to be here or not. Once I knew I was going to be here at least to start the season, I focused on what I needed to focus on and get out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. But while I’m here, I’ll be as good as I can be and help this team as much as I can.”
  • With the best record in the Western Conference at 12-6, the Jazz are no longer in position to consider tanking for a high draft pick, but they may also not be good enough to win a playoff series, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah has enough assets to trade for a star player, but Todd notes that Conley’s contract would almost have to be a part of any major deal and his contributions to team chemistry would be hard to replace.

Jazz Notes: Sexton, Conley, NAW, Bolmaro, Strong Start

Jazz point guard Mike Conley has taken new teammate Collin Sexton under his wing and is helping him see the game in a new way, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. With 16-year veteran Conley held out of the second game of a back-to-back set, Sexton received his first start of the 2022/23 season in Saturday’s win over Memphis, recording 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting and four assists in nearly 32 minutes.

We’ll walk through, and he’ll be like, ‘Alright, what are you doing in this situation?’ And I’ll let him know, and then he’ll be like, ‘Well, in this situation, I think you should do this. Just try it,’” Sexton explained. “During the game, he’ll be like, ‘OK, you got to the basket — now let’s see if you can pitch [the ball] behind two or three times.’ And I’ll do it. And then he’s like, ‘Alright, now the next time, try to see if you can get all the way there [to the rim].’ It’s opening my mind to multiple ways of playing, and also multiple ways of seeing the game, too. I know he sees it from a different angle than I do.”

As Walden writes, the Jazz have been cautious not to overextend Sexton after he only played 11 games last season with a torn meniscus, which required surgery. He’s technically not on a minutes restriction, but that’s partly why he’s only averaging 19.0 MPG.

Sexton is eager to prove his worth after inking a four-year, $71MM deal as part of the Donovan Mitchell sign-and-trade with Cleveland, but he recognizes he’ll have more opportunities as the season goes on, per Walden.

Just giving [it all in] the time that I’m out there and just making an impact. And I might play four-minute spurts, so in those four minutes, giving it all I can, whether it’s pressuring the ball or pushing the ball and changing the pace of the game, whether it’s on the defensive side or offensive side,” Sexton said. “Just trying to use the little time that I’m given just to make sure that they know I’m out there, you know what I mean? Because I know once the season continues to go, more minutes, more time [will come].

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Little-used guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker got an opportunity for extended run with Conley sidelined against the Grizzlies, and he showed that he can be a positive player when given the opportunity, writes Sarah Todd of The Desert News. Alexander-Walker played solid defense against Desmond Bane and Hardy was pleased with his effort, as Todd relays. “He came in with such a fire,” head coach Will Hardy said of Alexander-Walker. “He really got into the ball with Desmond Bane and I think he got two steals on the ball, just taking the dribble. He has really good instincts and really long arms and he did a good job of just trying to speed up their ball handlers, which I thought was great…It’s a difficult situation. He hasn’t played that much and he got thrown into a big game with Mike out, and I thought he handled himself great.”
  • Second-year guard Leandro Bolmaro, who recently had his third-year option declined by Utah, has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols and is out for Monday’s game against Memphis, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Rudy Gay and Simone Fontecchio are still in the protocols. Rookie center Walker Kessler (non-COVID illness) has also been ruled out for the contest, according to Jones (Twitter link).
  • How have the Jazz gotten off to a 5-2 start? Tony Jones tackles that topic for The Athletic, concluding that the team’s depth, offensive pressure, floor spacing, and key adjustments from head coach Will Hardy have been instrumental to the surprising seven-game stretch.

Northwest Notes: Dozier, Murray, McCollum, Lillard, Sexton, Gobert

PJ Dozier will start the season with the Timberwolves’ NBA G League affiliate, the Iowa Wolves, Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweets. Minnesota waived Dozier, who was on an Exhibit 10 contract, on Saturday as the team pared its roster to the 15-man limit. The former Denver wing tore his ACL last December and didn’t appear in any preseason games prior to being waived. Iowa’s opener is in two weeks.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Nuggets lost in their opener and Jamal Murray had only 12 points and one assist in 26 minutes but he was just thrilled to be in action again after missing all of last season while rehabbing an ACL tear, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “I know I’m smiling,” he said. “We lost. I’ve never smiled in a loss before.”
  • Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard signed a two-year, super max extension over the summer and former teammate CJ McCollum believes Lillard wants to establish a lasting legacy in Portland, as he told Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. “I think that’s one of the reasons why he’s been so committed to being in Portland to break all the records, show his loyalty to win, and to continue to try and build a lasting legacy,” McCollum said. “I think he’s done all those things. People will say what they want about him, but he really works on his game, and he really cares about the game of basketball.”
  • Collin Sexton had 20 points in his Jazz debut after his final season in Cleveland was cut short by a knee injury. Utah surprised Denver in the opener and Sexton feels his new teammates will continue to open some eyes, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We’ve heard a lot about what we are supposed to be,” said Sexton, who received a four-year, $72MM contract in the sign-and-trade transaction. “But, we all have a lot to prove and we all want to embrace the role of being the underdog. We want to come out and surprise some people.”
  • Rudy Gobert said it will be “weird” to face his former Jazz teammates on Friday, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. “It’s all love for me,” the Timberwolves center said. “You know, I want to see these guys succeed and I’m sure they want to see me succeed, too.”

Jazz Notes: Sexton, Kessler, Azubuike, Conley, Clarkson, Zeller, Lee

New Jazz guard Collin Sexton has been fully cleared following last year’s knee injury that sidelined him for all but 11 games, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Newly acquired rookie big man Walker Kessler has also received clearance from his toe injury, Walden adds.

While Sexton and Kessler should be good to go for training camp, former Jazz first-rounder Udoka Azubuike isn’t quite there yet. According to Walden, Azubuike continues to progress from the ankle surgery that ended his 2021/22 season early, but has yet to be cleared for 5-on-5 work.

Here are a few more updates on the Jazz:

  • Following an offseason fire sale in Utah, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson look like obvious candidates to be traded at some point in the coming weeks or months. But general manager Justin Zanik said today that there has been “nothing but total buy-in from those guys,” so it doesn’t sound as if either Conley or Clarkson is pushing to be dealt (Twitter link via Walden).
  • Conley told reporters today that he’s “10 toes in” with the Jazz, even as he acknowledged the possibility of a trade. He’s conflicted about the idea of being moved, since he could end up with a contending team but would likely have to finish the season away from his family (Twitter links via Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • After undergoing eight surgeries in nine years, Cody Zeller wants to show in Utah that he’s finally healthy, telling reporters today that he believes he can bring value to a young roster as an experienced veteran (Twitter link via Walden). The Jazz have a roster logjam to clear in the next few weeks, but Zeller should have a shot at a 15-man roster spot due to the team’s lack of veteran frontcourt depth.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic sounds unconvinced that Saben Lee is part of the Jazz’s plans going forward, tweeting that he believes the newly acquired guard will need to have “a hell of a camp” in order to stick.

Collin Sexton “100 Percent” Heading Into Season

Collin Sexton considers himself 100% healthy heading into his first season with the Jazz, Joe Coles of the Deseret News writes.

Sexton agreed to a four-year contract worth $71MM while getting dealt to Utah in the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers.

Sexton, 23, missed all but 11 games in 2021/22 due to torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery. The previous season, he averaged 24.3 PPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 60 games (35.3 MPG).

Sexton was in limbo as a restricted free agent much of the summer, as negotiations between his reps and the Cavaliers dragged on. He tried not to get frustrated by the situation.

“I just know my agent was pretty much just telling me just to stay patient and everything will work out now we be playing whether it was in Cleveland or another team, I will be wearing an NBA jersey,” he said. “So that was pretty much my mindset. I just wanted to just continue to work on the things that I needed to improve on and I let the rest take care of itself.”

Sexton spoke to new coach Will Hardy this week and was excited about his positive energy.

“He’s understanding that we’re going to be young, but he also understands like it’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to just be coached by him just because his energy and how he talks to us and how he’s so uplifted and how he has high spirits each and every day,” Sexton said. “That rubs off on everybody in the building as well.”

Danny Ainge: Jazz Players “Really Didn’t Believe In Each Other”

The Jazz tore down their foundation by trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell this summer, and CEO Danny Ainge and general manager Justin Zanik explained why during a press conference today, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Ainge, who was hired last December, said he was “curious and optimistic” when he joined the organization, but he was surprised by the atmosphere he encountered.

“What I saw during the season was a group of players that really didn’t believe in each other,” he said. “Like the whole group, I think they liked each other even more than what was reported. But I’m not sure there was a belief.”

He later explained, “I think individually they have resolve. I just don’t believe that collectively they did. So we saw a lot of players trying to do it on their own, as the belief in one another wasn’t as great as other teams I’ve been on and around.”

Ainge thought it might have been a result of a veteran team going through the motions of the regular season, so he waited for the playoffs to make any decisions. Once Utah got eliminated by Dallas in the first round, he decided to act.

“It was clear to me that the team did not perform well in the playoffs again,” Ainge said. “That was just me coming in from the outside, but that was a little bit of what the view was internally even before, you know, I made those assessments.”

There’s more from today’s press conference:

  • Remaining veterans, such as Mike ConleyBojan BogdanovicJordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay and Malik Beasley, are reportedly on the market as well, with Utah hoping to add to its collection of first-round picks. The team has 17 players with fully guaranteed contracts, so more moves are likely to happen before the start of the regular season. Age will be a consideration as Gay (36), Conley (34) and Bogdanovic (33) don’t fit the team’s rebuilding timeline. “Those conversations continue to evolve, we’ve continued to be in touch with them directly and their representation,” Zanik said. “Obviously there’s been a lot of change this summer, so it’s natural for us to have those conversations.”
  • Utah had extensive talks with the Knicks before the Cavaliers emerged as a surprise destination for Mitchell. Zanik said the Jazz were intrigued by the chance to acquire Collin Sexton and believed Cleveland’s offer was the best one available. “I think for them, they saw an opportunity to add to their team and open up a window with Donovan and a young group, I think they are going to be very good,” Zanik said. “And, you know, to get a good return, you have to give up something good as well. They certainly gave up a lot.”
  • Ainge said one of the reasons Utah is stockpiling picks is the expected quality of the draft classes in 2023 and 2024. Zanik also suggested the draft assets will be useful if the Jazz want to speed up their rebuilding process. “What those picks represent is not necessarily, oh, you’re going to keep them and just select them,” he said. “It just opens up multiple opportunities and conversations, the flexibility to acquire players, or move them to speed up the process, or to slow it down,” he said. “I look at it as a lot of different cards that you have a chance to play and be involved in these conversations — where if we didn’t have these picks … you’re just not simply part of any of those conversations.”

Jazz Notes: Bogdanovic, Clarkson, Beasley, Sexton, Conley

The Jazz believe Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley are each worth first-round picks in a potential trade, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his podcast, The Lowe Post (hat tip to HoopsHype). Utah acquired Beasley as part of this offseason’s Rudy Gobert trade, while Bogdanovic and Clarkson have spent multiple seasons with the team.

While all three players have value, it’s unclear if Utah will be able to net first-round picks for each. It also remains to be seen whether the Jazz will make another trade before the season starts, but since the team has moved Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, other veterans may eventually be dealt. Utah also has Mike Conley and Rudy Gay under contract.

Here are some other notes from Utah today:

  • Speaking of a potential Jazz fire sale, Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report examines which players may be traded next. As mentioned, Utah has a group of veterans that could be acquired for a slightly cheaper price now that the team is rebuilding, though it’s unknown who may be dealt and when.
  • Sarah Todd of the Deseret News explores why fans should be excited about Collin Sexton. The 23-year-old agreed to a four-year, $71MM deal as part of a sign-and-trade with the Jazz, who added him to a young nucleus of players and draft picks.
  • In a separate article for the Deseret News, Sarah Todd takes a look at whether the team could move forward with Conley remaining on the roster. Conley will turn 35 years old next month and appeared in 72 games last season, averaging 13.7 points and 5.3 assists per outing.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell Trade, Knicks Talks, Conley, Bass

Within their Thursday press release officially confirming the trade that sent Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland, the Jazz‘s top decision-makers explained why they felt it was necessary to move the club’s leading scorer, a three-time All-Star who just turned 26.

“It was clear that in order to optimize our opportunity to create a team that could truly contend and establish sustained success, we needed to transition our roster,” Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said in a statement. “In trading Rudy (Gobert) and now Donovan, it was a rare opportunity to maximize our ability to get quality talent and picks to best position us moving forward. We have a plan in place to help us assemble the championship team our fans deserve. It will take time to craft our roster. We all understand the work ahead and are committed to our vision.”

General manager Justin Zanik, meanwhile, referred to Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, and Ochai Agbaji as three “exciting young players,” suggesting the front office views the trio as part of the Jazz’s long-term plan.

“We believe that they fit the Jazz culture and hard-nosed, competitive brand of basketball we’ve built here in Utah,” Zanik said. “They give us versatility and athleticism on both ends of the floor as we grow toward the future. We look forward to our fans getting to know them.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Previous reports suggested there was some level of “animus” between the Jazz and Knicks, due in part to Knicks executives sitting courtside at Utah’s first playoff game vs. Dallas in the spring, as well as to New York’s decision to extend RJ Barrett while the two teams were negotiating his possible inclusion in a Mitchell trade. However, ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that any hard feelings between the Jazz and the Knicks weren’t the reason why Utah made a deal with Cleveland instead of New York.
  • “Emotions can play into this,” Lowe said, per RealGM. “I’ve been assured by the Utah side that ‘No, look, we’re mature people. Yes, we were upset with particularly the Mavs’ game incident, but we’re not going to make decisions based on those kind of things that now happened four months ago or whatever. We’ve made the best deal possible.'”
  • In a column for The Salt Lake Tribune, Robert Gehrke focuses on the off-court impact of the Mitchell trade, arguing that Utah has lost a “conscience of our community.”
  • Nekias Duncan of considers what Mike Conley can still bring to a contending team and explores which clubs might be realistic trade suitors for the veteran point guard. Meanwhile, Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune weighs where Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Jordan Clarkson could land if they’re traded.
  • The Salt Lake City Stars – Utah’s G League affiliate – acquired the returning rights to Paris Bass and Elijah Cain in a trade with the South Bay Lakers, per a press release. Bass is reportedly signing an Exhibit 10 deal with the Jazz, so the team clearly intends to have him play for the Stars — it remains to be seen whether Cain is also in SLC’s plans for 2022/23.