Dante Exum

2018 Free Agent Stock Watch: Utah Jazz

The Jazz have done an admirable job turning what appeared to be a lost season into a competitive campaign. Thanks in no small part to the emergence of super rookie Donovan Mitchell, the future is as bright if not brighter than it was in Utah prior to Gordon Hayward‘s departure.

The Jazz sit within reach of the Western Conference playoff picture and just added one of the league’s best bargain small forwards for good measure. Given that the club’s books are in good shape for a potential playoff squad – they have just $89MM committed for next season – a smart offseason could get them close to where they left off in 2016/17.

Dante Exum, PG, 22 (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $16.3MM deal in 2014
It’s hard not to be bearish on the former lottery pick considering that he’s missed all or most of two of his four professional seasons with injuries. Still just 22 years old, however, it’s likely that the restricted free agent will intrigue at least one other team around the Association. The Jazz don’t have much reason to match a lofty deal if he lands one but they may be receptive to an affordable, short-term reunion to see if they can get a better idea of what his actual ceiling is. Much of Exum’s value will be shaped by how he looks when he comes back from his shoulder injury in mid-to-late March.

Derrick Favors, C, 26 (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $47MM deal in 2014Derrick Favors vertical (Getty -- no attribution required)
Favors went from being one of the game’s intriguing young big men to a bit player on a Jazz team that emerged as a surprise contender in the Western Conference. This season, the club has seen more out of the 26-year-old than it has in years, thanks largely in part to Rudy Gobert‘s two long-term absences. It may be inevitable that Favors isn’t a good fit next to Gobert but until head coach Quin Snyder exhausts each and every possibility for incorporating both, Favors could actually be a bargain this summer considering how drastically the narrative around him has changed. Favors isn’t a franchise cornerstone as the contract extension he inked in 2013 implied but he’s an above average starter that, in today’s climate, deserves eight digits.

Raul Neto, PG, 26 (Up) – Signed to a three-year, $3.4MM deal in 2015
The Jazz have incorporated Neto into their rotation this season and gotten modest production in return. While it’s hard to imagine they’ll face much competition from other teams when he hits restricted free agency, it’s conceivable to picture him back in Utah as a cheap third stringer. Don’t expect the club to compromise its roster or cap flexibility in order to retain him but he’s a solid option with which to round out the roster.

Derrick Rose, PG, 29 (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2.1MM deal in 2017
The Jazz are expected to give Rose a buyout after acquiring him in the Rodney Hood deal at the trade deadline. Even if the club had no intention of buying him out though, it’s slim to none that he’d land back in Utah given their depth at the point and the culture already in place within the organization. Can the banged up husk of a former MVP attract attention on the open market? Yes, of course, but the guard’s inconsistent motivation to even continue playing at all will be the limiting factor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Sefolosha, Exum

The Jazz have been charged with the task of growing and developing their way into the postseason all over again, Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. All things considered, they’re off to a decent start.

The scribe offers up a scathing critique of how Gordon Hayward handled his exit from Utah, suggesting that Hayward left the team out in the cold, unlike ex-Pacers star Paul George, who at least gave Indiana’s front office a clear heads up that he had an interest in leaving.

While Monson sheds light on a handful of the assets on board in Utah, from trade candidate Derrick Favors to underwhelming fourth-year forward Rodney Hood, he also places some blame on general manager Dennis Lindsey for not having a better read on the Hayward situation prior to last offseason.

Of course the best thing going for the Jazz is their core duo of Rudy Gobert and rookie Donovan Mitchell. Everything will revolve around those two players, Monson says — that’s a particularly intriguing thought for Utah, considering that Gobert is just 25 years old while Mitchell is 21.

There’s more from the Jazz today:

  • As the trade deadline draws closer, Derrick Favors is hearing his name pop up in more and more speculation. The 26-year-old has managed to successfully tune out the conversation thus far, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News writes.
  • In the same feature for The Deseret News, Woodyard reports that forward Thabo Sefolosha‘s knee surgery went successfully on Wednesday.
  • After being cleared for non-contact basketball activities, Jazz guard Dante Exum has set his sights on returning to action after the All-Star Break, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. Exum damaged ligaments in his shoulder during preseason.

Jazz Notes: Sefolosha, Exum, Gobert, Stone

As expected, Thabo Sefolosha has elected to undergo right knee surgery and the procedure is happening today, the Jazz confirmed in a press release this week. A weekend report indicated that Sefolosha would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2017/18 season after going under the knife. While the club’s announcement didn’t explicitly confirm that the injury is season-ending, that remains the expectation.

According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), Sefolosha’s diagnosis prompted the Jazz to apply for a disabled player exception in advance of Monday’s deadline. If it’s granted, the club would receive a salary cap exception worth $2.625MM – half of Sefolosha’s salary – that could be used to sign or trade for a player for the rest of the season. Our glossary entry on the disabled player exception goes into more detail on exactly how DPEs work.

Here’s more from out of Utah:

  • Jazz point guard Dante Exum, who has missed the entire 2017/18 season so far due to a shoulder injury, has been cleared for non-contact basketball activities, tweets Jones. Although Exum is making progress toward a potential second-half return, it’s unclear whether the former fifth overall pick will be able to carve out a role in the rotation with Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell handling most of the point guard minutes for Utah.
  • There will certainly be room in the Jazz’s lineup for another player on the mend — Rudy Gobert returned to participate in the non-contact portion of Utah’s practices this weekend, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. The standout center may be back on the court for the club within the next week or so.
  • Utah’s G League affiliate acquired former Clippers center Diamond Stone in a trade this week. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News has the details on the move by the Salt Lake City Stars, which saw the team add the 40th overall pick from the 2016 draft.

Jazz Notes: Udoh, Exum, Ingles

The Jazz have been impressed with the production they’ve seen out of backup big man Ekpe Udoh, Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News writes. The 30-year-old returned to the NBA this offseason after spending the last two campaigns abroad.

It’s great, when I’m on the bench, I’m able to relax,” Rudy Gobert, the man ahead of Udoh in the depth chart, said. “When you have someone who plays defense like he does, you know the team is in good hands. He makes us better as a team.

Through five games this season, Udoh has blocked an impressive 2.4 shots per. Gobert, perhaps the league’s most vaunted defensive big man, has averaged just 2.2 despite playing nearly 20 more minutes per contest.

It’s not just the gaudy per-36 statline that has the Jazz organization impressed. Head coach Quin Snyder sees Udoh’s length and competitiveness as valued intangibles as well.

There’s more news out of Utah:

Northwest Notes: Baldwin, Exum, Bolomboy, George

The Timberwolves‘ G League affiliate has expressed interest in point guard Wade Baldwin, who cleared waivers earlier today, tweets Darren Wolfson of Eyewitness 5 News. Baldwin would obviously prefer to land another NBA opportunity, but he may have to consider the G League if that doesn’t happen.

The 17th pick in the 2016 draft, Baldwin was waived Monday after just one year in Memphis. The Rockets, Knicks and Pelicans have reportedly expressed interest in the 21-year-old guard, but of those three teams only Houston has an open roster spot. The Wolves have both a roster opening and a two-way slot available if they decide to make an offer to Baldwin.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz guard Dante Exum explained his decision to have surgery on his separated left shoulder in a video tweeted by the team. Exum had been exploring non-surgical options, but after consulting with team doctors, he opted to have the operation, which is scheduled for Tuesday. “They were saying when I was getting back there could be some strength issues, even still pain as I was returning to play,” Exum said. “I’m only 22 at the moment, and I think whether it be now or later, I think it’d be something I’d want to get fixed.”
  • Former Jazz power forward Joel Bolomboy became an unrestricted free agent after clearing waivers today, according to the RealGM transactions page. The 52nd pick in the 2016 draft, Bolomboy spent most of last season in the G League and played just 12 games for Utah.
  • Thunder forward Paul George said he felt “nauseous” watching the injury to the Celtics’ Gordon Hayward Tuesday night, relays Royce Young of ESPN. George went through a similar experience in 2014, fracturing the tibia and fibula in his right leg while playing for Team USA in an exhibition game. “It just brought me back to Vegas and when it happened to me, my incident,” George said. “Immediately I felt devastated. I was like nauseous watching it, just going back to that place. Immediately after it happened I texted Gordon. We talked last night. I just tried to give him words of encouragement, just tried to be there for him.” George missed almost an entire season after his injury, returning for the final six games.

Western Notes: Exum, Kerr, Ball, Aldridge

Jazz point guard Dante Exum has opted for surgery on his separated left shoulder, the team announced in a press release. The surgery, which will take place on October 24th, will stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The team did not announce a timetable for Exum’s return but he’s likely to miss most or all of the season, Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune speculates.

Exum, 22, missed the 2015/16 season with an ACL tear. He returned last season and played in 66 games, averaging a career-high 6.2 PPG and 1.8 APG. The Jazz acquired Ricky Rubio during the offseason to start at the point. Raul Neto and Donovan Mitchell will back him up in Exum’s absence.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors have not discussed a contract extension with coach Steve Kerr because of his health issues, Monte Poole of NBCSports.com reports. Neither side has prioritized an extension because Kerr is focused on finding ways to eliminate the headaches and dizziness he’s suffered after undergoing back surgeries, Poole continues. Kerr is in the fourth season of a five-year deal worth $25MM. “I’m just not ready to look that far ahead,” Kerr told Poole and other media members.
  • Wing Royce O’Neale got the nod over big man Joel Bolomboy for the Jazz’s final roster spot based on need, according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. O’Neale, who spent the last two seasons in Spain, provides coach Quin Snyder with a defender who can guard multiple spots. “I think positionally, he’s a fit for our group right now,” Snyder told McDonald and other media members. “He’s got instincts defensively. Coupled with the toughness, it makes him a good wing defender.”
  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball says he’s good to go for the team’s season opener on Thursday, he told Law Murray of ESPN and the assembled media. Ball injured his ankle during camp and missed the last four preseason games. He practiced in full on Monday.
  • The final year of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s three-year, $72.3MM extension with the Spurs has a $7MM guarantee, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. San Antonio came to an agreement with Aldridge on Monday.

Western Notes: Leonard, Exum, Hood, Nurkic

Kawhi Leonard won’t be ready when the season opens because of a lingering quad injury, relays the Associated Press. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich confirmed the news to reporters Friday night, saying the team will be cautious with its star forward, who didn’t play in any preseason games or participate in camp. ”He’s still rehabbing and when he’s ready, he’ll be ready,’‘ Popovich said.

Leonard is in a rehab program for quadriceps tendinopathy, and Popovich admitted last month that recovery is taking longer than anticipated. Leonard began experiencing the condition last season, and it is not related to an ankle injury in the Western Conference finals that knocked him out of the playoffs.

There’s more from the Western Conference:

  • Leonard, who finished third in the MVP voting last season, is this year’s favorite for the award, according to Tom Haberstroh and Titus Smith of ESPN. The writers examine the criteria used in MVP balloting and believe Leonard has the strongest case. He averaged a career-best 25.5 points per game last year while helping the Spurs win 61 games.
  • Jazz guard Dante Exum is exploring alternatives to season-ending surgery on his left shoulder, writes Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Exum suffered a separated shoulder with ligament damage in a preseason game last week. The fifth pick in the 2014 draft already missed the 2015/16 season with a torn ACL. Exum has a Monday deadline to work out an extension with Utah or he will become a restricted free agent next summer.
  • Also facing a Monday extension deadline is Rodney Hood, who anticipates a larger role in the Jazz offense this season, relays Jody Gennessy of The Deseret News. The fourth-year shooting guard believes Utah, which went unbeaten in the preseason, will be able to replace the contributions of free agent losses Gordon Hayward and George Hill. “It won’t necessarily be easy, but it will be easier than people think because we’ve got guys who can pass the ball and play without the ball,” Hood said.
  • The Trail Blazers won’t work out an extension with center Jusuf Nurkic before Monday, but that doesn’t mean his future won’t be in Portland, according to Mike Richman of The Oregonian. The Blazers traded for Nurkic in February, and the organization would prefer to watch him for a full season before committing to a long-term contract. Nurkic helped propel the team into the playoffs after being acquired from Denver and makes no secret of his affection for Portland. “I love this team,” Nurkic said Friday. “I love this city. I love these teammates. I enjoy it here.”

Dante Exum To Miss Significant Time With Shoulder Injury

Dante Exum left the Jazz‘s preseason game against the Suns on Friday with a shoulder injury that overshadowed the team’s eventual 112-101 victory. The non-televised game did not provide visuals of Exum’s injury but Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said it was serious.

“If you saw his shoulder it didn’t look good,” Snyder told reporters, including Jazz radio host David Locke (Twitter link).

Snyder’s initial prognosis was accurate as Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Exum separated his left shoulder and suffered ligament damage. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) reports that Exum could miss the entire season but there is no current timetable for a recovery.
Season-shortening injuries are not unknown to the 22-year-old Exum as he missed the entire 2015/16 season due to a torn ACL. The Melbourne, Australia, native returned last season to play in 66 games (26 starts) where he averaged 6.2 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 18.6 minutes.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks notes that Exum’s injury puts the Jazz roster in a tough situation. Backup point guard Raul Neto would need Jazz to waive or trade one of its 15 guaranteed contracts to make room for him. However, the Jazz could also rely on rookie Donovan Mitchell if Neto does not make the team.

Jazz, Rodney Hood Begin Discussing Extension

The Jazz and Rodney Hood have opened negotiations on a possible contract extension for the fourth-year shooting guard, reports Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. According to Jones, the two sides have only had preliminary conversations so far, but another meeting is expected to take place within the next few weeks.

Hood and teammate Dante Exum are two of 21 players entering the final year of their respective rookie contracts who are eligible for a rookie scale extension this offseason. Although there’s some internal hope within the organization that Exum is on the verge of a breakout, the Jazz are expected to let him play out his final year and enter restricted free agency, says Jones.

[RELATED: Players eligible for rookie scale extensions in 2017]

However, the Jazz are interested in getting something done with Hood before the 2017/18 regular season begins, and as we heard earlier this week, Hood and his camp are “very open” to that idea. The Duke alum, who will turn 25 next month, has started 155 games during his first three NBA seasons, but will be poised to take on an even larger role in Utah with Gordon Hayward gone.

Sources tell Jones that Hood has been in Salt Lake City for most of the summer working closely with Utah’s coaching staff, and the Jazz are confident that Hood can make a significant leap forward in 2017/18. Still, there have been questions in the past about Hood’s consistency and durability, so it will be interesting to see if the two sides can find a price point that everyone likes.

In 2016/17, Hood averaged 12.7 PPG and 3.4 RPG with a shooting line of .408/.371/.783 in 59 regular season contests (27.0 MPG). He struggled in the postseason, scoring just 8.9 PPG with a .352/.260/.611 shooting line.

Jazz Notes: Exum, Mitchell, Lindsey, Hill

Dante Exum is responding well to challenges he was given in his exit interview, writes Jody Genessy of The Deseret News. Exum was in and out of the rotation this season after knee surgery forced him to miss all of 2015/16. The offseason focus in the backcourt has been on re-signing George Hill and the draft-night trade that allowed the team to add Donovan Mitchell, but Jazz officials say Exum is making progress outside the spotlight. “[Coach] Quin [Snyder] and I challenged him in the exit interview and gave him some truth,” said Utah GM Dennis Lindsey. “He’s responded in a big way.” Exum is expected to play in the Utah Jazz summer league July 3-6.

There’s more news tonight out of Utah:

  • Lindsey plans an early meeting with Hill’s representatives when free agency begins July 1st, Genessy adds in the same story. Keeping Gordon Hayward will be the priority, but the Jazz would also like to hold onto Hill, who averaged 16.9 points in 49 games during his only season in Utah. The Jazz have been linked to deals involving the Rockets’ Patrick Beverley and the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio. They have about $16MM in available cap space to use in a trade, but that will expire once free agency begins. “It’s no secret,” Lindsey said, “that somewhere in our lineup we’re going to have a veteran point guard.”
  • The organization sent a message to Exum by maneuvering to get Mitchell, states Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah was so eager to find a possible replacement for Exum that it gave up Trey Lyles, a former lottery pick, to acquire the No. 13 selection from Denver. Exum wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunities that Snyder gave him last season and is facing the most important four months of his NBA career, according to Monson.
  • Hill is a key part of the team, but he’s not a superstar who the Jazz have to re-sign, contends Brad Rock of The Deseret News. The Jazz reportedly offered Hill an extension over the winter starting at three times his $8MM salary, but no agreement was reached. There is a feeling that Hill’s next contract could start at $30MM annually, and Utah is reluctant to pay the luxury tax.
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