Dante Exum

Cavs Notes: Porter, Nance, Love, Exum

Cavaliers rookie Kevin Porter Jr. has been diagnosed with a left knee sprain and will be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks, the team announced today (via Twitter). Porter’s injury occurred during the third quarter of Sunday’s home loss to Minnesota.

While Porter will be sidelined for multiple weeks, the news wasn’t as bad as it could have been for the Cavs. A source told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com before Porter underwent an MRI that the club was “bracing for some real time off.”

As Fedor notes in a separate article at Cleveland.com, the second half of the season figures to be mostly about player development for the lottery-bound Cavaliers, and Porter had emerged this season as one of the organization’s most promising young prospects. If his knee injury had been more severe, it might have cost him most or all of the rest of his rookie season. While it appears that won’t be the case, teammates like John Henson were worried when they saw Porter go down.

“It kind of hurt my heart a little bit,” Henson said. “Young guys, this is the year for them. Especially them just learning the game and he was progressing. At this stage of the season he was looking like the steal of the draft.”

Here’s more out of Cleveland:

  • The Cavaliers are also without big man Larry Nance Jr., having announced on Friday in a press release that he’d be on the shelf for about one or two weeks with left knee soreness.
  • Kevin Love won’t be disciplined by the Cavaliers for his outburst during Saturday’s game vs. Oklahoma City, tweets Kelsey Russo of The Athletic. We described that on-court incident in a Sunday story.
  • As a result of last month’s trade with Utah, John Beilein has the opportunity to coach Dante Exum six years after he tried to recruit the Australian guard to come to Michigan, notes Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald. “It was only a couple of phone calls,” Beilein said of his recruitment efforts. “I never could get the time right, you know, calling Australia. So we kept playing voicemail tag… I don’t think he was ever thinking, ‘NBA or Michigan?’ But we were one of the people that called him. I’m sure North Carolina was recruiting him, as well.” Exum ultimately opted not to play college ball, entering the 2014 NBA draft and going fifth overall.

Utah’s Brass Discusses Jordan Clarkson Trade

The Jazz made the first trade of the NBA season, sending Dante Exum and a pair of second-rounders to the Cavs for Jordan Clarkson. VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said the Jazz needed to make the move to add depth to the team, as Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune relays.

“We could feel that the starters were being stretched. … As the team started to form, we started to see some of the challenges that we had scoring with the second unit,” Lindsey said. “It certainly became a priority.”

The executive added that he thought depth may be an issue when the team lost several veterans, including Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, this offseason. Utah’s bench was a major strength last season, but the franchise went into this year with an improved starting unit at the expense of depth.

Exum’s injury history and Mike Conley’s current hamstring woes also played a role in the deal.

“That timing dictated where we’re at. The one piece of the evaluation that we feel like is incomplete is, obviously, getting Mike integrated in, with now two hamstring injuries,” Lindsey said. “You know, we feel like there was a little bit of a gap in knowing who we really are and our arc for improvement. But we still felt like the bench scoring was so challenged that we needed to address it. … When Mike got hurt, we had to kind of speed up the evaluation and become a little bit urgent.”

While Conley’s injuries created a short-term need for an additional playmaker, GM Justin Zanik emphasized that the team was going to need to be deeper regardless.

“It still doesn’t change the fact that the bench needed to up the production, and we needed to see if there were other avenues to address that,” Zanik said.

Northwest Notes: Clarkson, Tucker, Gallinari

Guard Jordan Clarkson scored nine points in 20 minutes in his Jazz debut and Donovan Mitchell was impressed by how quickly his new teammate picked up the system, as he told Aaron Falk of the team’s website. Clarkson was acquired from Cleveland for Dante Exum and two second-round picks. “He was aggressive. I loved it,” Mitchell said. “He learned on the fly, really fast. For him to understand some of the reads and plays we were running … that’s impressive. Our system, it took me a whole year and a half to learn it. I’m really happy with the way he played. He’s going to be a big piece for us.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Clarkson brings more than just scoring to the second unit, coach Quin Snyder told the Salt Lake Tribune’s Josh Newman. Utah was second-to-last in bench points prior to the trade. “You can tell he wants it, like there’s a hunger about him, and I think he plays with a level of confidence that we need,” Snyder said. “A couple times, he passed the ball and it was a swing-swing, so someone else got the shot. I think he’s unselfish, and he’s also got the ability to create for himself and other guys.”
  • Another Jazz addition this week, Rayjon Tucker, will receive a $340K guarantee on his $1.5MM contract for next season, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Tucker has a guaranteed prorated minimum contract for this season, Marks adds. The Jazz waived veteran forward Jeff Green to create a roster spot for Tucker, a G League standout after going undrafted out of Arkansas-Little Rock.
  • Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari will be out at least through the weekend with a sore ankle, Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman reports. Gallinari is the Thunder’s third-leading scorer this season, averaging 18 PPG. The 31-year-old Gallinari is headed to unrestricted free agency in July.

Cavaliers Trade Jordan Clarkson To Jazz

DECEMBER 24: The trade has been officially completed, according to NBA.com’s transactions log. Clarkson and Exum should be ready to suit up for their new teams when they resume play on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

DECEMBER 23: The Cavaliers have agreed to trade shooting guard Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz for point guard Dante Exum and two second-round picks, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

The second-rounders are picks that were owed to Utah, San Antonio’s in 2022 and Golden State’s in 2023, Brian Windhorst of ESPN tweets.

Assuming the deal becomes official, it will be the first NBA trade since mid-July. The Thunder and Rockets finalized their Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook swap on July 16.

Clarkson is essentially a rental for the disappointing Jazz, who are looking to boost their bench scoring. Clarkson has an expiring $13.4MM contract. The Cavaliers will create a $3.83MM trade exception, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Cleveland also drops $5.1MM under the luxury tax line, Marks adds (Twitter link).

Exum, a former lottery pick whose career has been sidetracked by injuries, still has two years and $19.2MM left on his contract.

The Cavaliers are planning to deal veterans on the roster in order to obtain more draft picks and young assets, according to Wojnarowski. That could mean players such as Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson could also be on the move before February’s trade deadline.

Clarkson is off to a strong start, averaging 14.6 PPG. He erupted for a season-high 33 points against Memphis on Friday.

This is the third time in three years the teams have been involved in swap, Wojnarowski notes. The Jazz acquired Kyle Korver for Alec Burks and two-second round picks in November of 2018. They also were involved in a three-way deal with the Kings at the February 2018 trade deadline that included Cleveland trading Jae Crowder for Utah’s Rodney Hood.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Leftovers Notes From Cavs/Jazz Trade

When the Cavaliers and Jazz make their Jordan Clarkson/Dante Exum swap official, it will end one of the longest trade droughts in NBA history. The Rockets and Thunder formally finalized their Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook deal on July 16, so it has been 161 days since a trade has been completed.

Several weeks ago, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype noted that the league was already in the midst of its longest trade drought since 1968. That year, there was a 159-day gap between trades, so this year’s drought has now exceeded that one. However, it should finally come to an end today.

Here are a few notes and items worth passing along on the NBA’s first trade in more than five months:

  • Clarkson’s Cavaliers teammates learned about the trade just before taking the court for Monday night’s game, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I fell to the ground,” Kevin Love said of finding out about the deal. “This one hurts for me. That is my guy. We just hit it off when he got here a few years ago. He became a really close friend of mine. It’s really tough.”
  • Talks between the Cavaliers and the Jazz began at last week’s G League Showcase, according to Fedor, who hears from sources that Cleveland moved on the deal now because the club wasn’t confident in its ability to land a first-round pick for Clarkson later in the winter.
  • While Clarkson is on an expiring contract, the Jazz don’t view him as a rental, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah will have Clarkson’s Bird rights at season’s end.
  • In his full report on Utah’s Monday roster moves, Jones notes that the team has been unhappy with its bench play, prompting a roster shakeup that also included waiving Jeff Green and signing Rayjon Tucker. Jones also cites sources who say that the Jazz‘s interest in Clarkson dates back to his draft year in 2014 and that the club’s front office felt as if Exum needed a change of scenery.
  • Keith Smith of RealGM (Twitter link), Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights (Twitter link), and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski all note that the Cavaliers‘ projected 2020 cap room will be impacted by this trade. Smith and Siegel have the projected figure in the $25-26MM range, while Woj suggests Cleveland will have $28MM+ to work with.
  • In his breakdown of the trade, Siegel notes that if Exum can provide the Cavaliers with any semblance of on-court value, the deal will be a big win for the franchise.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2019/20 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

The Northwest Division is primed for a potentially eventful 2020 trade deadline. The Thunder have veterans to shop. The Timberwolves want a point guard. The Nuggets have the pieces to put together a package for an impact player. And the Jazz and Trail Blazers may be looking to shake things up after up-and-down starts.

As we wait to see what these teams have in mind, let’s take a closer look at three more potential trade candidates from around the Northwest:

Malik Beasley, SG
Denver Nuggets
$2.7MM cap hit; RFA in 2020

Beasley enjoyed a breakout season in 2018/19, boosting his scoring average from 3.2 PPG to 11.3 PPG and posting an impressive .474/.402/.848 shooting line as a key member of the Nuggets’ rotation. After failing to come to terms on an extension with the club this fall, he has struggled out of the gate in 2019/20 and is no longer receiving consistent minutes on a deep Denver squad.

For teams in need of outside shooting help, Beasley – who is still making 41.1% of his outside attempts this season – may look like a tantalizing buy-low target. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer, so any team that wants to keep him beyond this season should have no problem doing so, assuming he doesn’t receive an exorbitant offer sheet next July.

The Nuggets are in a position where it might make sense to consolidate their depth in a trade package if the right impact player is available. Such a deal, which could also open up some additional playing time for promising young forward Michael Porter Jr., may very well involve Beasley.

Danilo Gallinari, F
Oklahoma City Thunder
$22.6MM cap hit; UFA in 2020

Gallinari is one of the NBA’s most obvious trade candidates this winter, and the only reason he wasn’t included in our initial look at the Northwest last month is because the Thunder have an even more obvious trade candidate in Chris Paul.

Moving Gallinari appears more realistic than dealing CP3, since Gallinari’s cap hit isn’t quite as exorbitant and his contract is expiring. The challenge for Oklahoma City will be finding a trade partner in need of a scoring forward that has the contract(s) necessary to salary-match and a first-round pick – or a promising young prospect – to spare.

Portland, with Kent Bazemore‘s and Hassan Whiteside‘s expiring contracts, initially looked like an ideal fit, but the Trail Blazers have been talking as if they’re looking ahead to future seasons rather than just focusing on this one, so Gallinari might not be near the top of their wish list. If that’s the case, we’ll see if OKC can find another team in position to make a deal work.

Dante Exum, G
Utah Jazz
$9.6MM cap hit; $9.6MM guaranteed salary in 2020/21; UFA in 2021

The Jazz have showed remarkable patience with Exum since selecting him fifth overall in the 2014 draft, but the Australian guard doesn’t really seem any closer to being an impact player than he was five years ago. Utah hasn’t given up on him yet, but at this point a change of scenery might be the best thing for the 24-year-old, especially if another team still believes in his upside.

Because his contract has another guaranteed year beyond 2019/20, Exum probably doesn’t have positive trade value, but he’d make a good salary-matching piece if the Jazz try to make a roster upgrade — the only other mid-level type contract on the team’s books belongs to Joe Ingles, who can’t and won’t be traded this season.

I’d expect Exum to finish the season in Utah, but he’s worth keeping an eye on because of his cap hit.

Revisit the rest of our 2019/20 Trade Candidate series right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/6/19

Here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA G League:

  • With Jeff Teague and Shabazz Napier both dealing with injuries, the Timberwolves recalled rookie point guard Jaylen Nowell from their affiliate in Iowa, the team announced in a press release. Nowell, the 43rd pick in this year’s draft, hasn’t gotten into a game yet.
  • The Jazz recalled Dante Exum and Miye Oni from their Salt Lake City affiliate, according to a tweet from the team. Exum, who is still recovering from knee surgery in March, was assigned and recalled in the same day so he could practice with the G League team. Oni, a second-round pick, was on his third assignment of the season.
  • The Thunder assigned center Justin Patton to their Oklahoma City affiliate, the team announced. The first-round pick in 2017 has gotten into one game this season and played six minutes.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 10/31/19

Every night during the NBA G League season, Hoops Rumors provides the assignments and recalls for each team. With training camps now open, here are Thursday’s assignments and recalls from around the G League:

  • The Mavericks have assigned Isaiah Roby to the Texas Legends, Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News relays (Twitter link). Roby was selected in the second round by Dallas this past summer.
  • The Jazz are sending three players to the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the team’s Twitter feed. Tony Bradley, Dante Exum, and Miye Oni are all headed to the G League.

NBA G League Assignment/Recalls: 10/30/19

Every night during the NBA G League season, Hoops Rumors provides the assignments and recalls for each team. With training camps now open, here are Wednesday’s assignments and recalls from around the G League:

Latest On The Mike Conley Trade

The Jazz had been targeting Mike Conley for months before pulling off today’s trade with Memphis, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah made a strong push to get Conley before the February deadline, offering Ricky Rubio, two first-round picks and other expiring contracts that would have provided the Grizzlies with cap relief this summer.

Jones cites “frustration” among Jazz management, which believed Conley would be a difference maker in the postseason, when the offer wasn’t accepted. Utah finished with the fifth seed and a first-round playoff ouster.

“What we found out this year,” Jazz executive Dennis Lindsey said after the season ended, “is that while we were a good team, we weren’t a great team.”

The organization sees Conley as a path to becoming great, viewing him as one of the best pick-rand-roll guards in the league and a strong leader in the locker room. The Jazz were willing to pay a heavy price in the deal, giving up Jae Crowder, Kyle Korver and Grayson Allen, plus this year’s first-round pick and a future conditional first-rounder. Sources tell Jones the Grizzlies insisted on Allen because they wanted “a young player with upside” and were impressed by how he improved during the season.

There’s more fallout from today’s trade:

  • The Pistons and Pacers were both contenders for Conley, but were unwilling to surrender two first-round picks, reports Zach Lowe of ESPN. Sources tell Lowe that even if the Pistons had agreed to meet that price, they might have insisted that Memphis take back Reggie Jackson and his $18MM contract. The Pacers, meanwhile, refused to give up the picks plus first-year guard Aaron Holiday.
  • The Jazz needed to send enough salary to Memphis to enable them to guarantee Derrick Favors‘ $16.9MM contract for next season without going over the salary cap, Lowe adds. He states that the decision to include Crowder in the deal instead of Dante Exum shows a lot of faith in the 23-year-old guard.
  • Lowe also notes that the trade will have a ripple effect on free agency. Utah no longer has the cap space for a max-level offer, which means one less suitor for the Sixers’ Tobias Harris. Point guards who had been hoping for an offer from Utah will also be disappointed. In addition, the trade increases the likelihood that the pick the Grizzlies owe the Celtics won’t convey until 2021, when it will be unprotected. The selection has top-six protection next year.
  • Donovan Mitchell is thrilled to have Conley as his new backcourt partner, tweets Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “He’s a great player,” Mitchell said. “He’s very underrated in my opinion. He does a lot of getting into the lane and being able to find guys and also I can learn a lot from him so as far as being a point guard.”