Donovan Mitchell

Details On How Porzingis Trade Talks Played Out

In his latest newsletter for The New York Times, Marc Stein takes a deep dive into the trade that sent Kristaps Porzingis from New York to Dallas, sharing several interesting new details on the negotiations leading up to the deal itself.

Here’s a round-up of the highlights from Stein:

  • The Knicks spent a good portion of January canvassing the NBA for possible Porzingis trades, according to Stein, who hears the team was rebuffed when it inquired on potential targets like Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell and Kings guard De’Aaron Fox. After devoting much of the month to possible trade scenarios, the Knicks were convinced that no team besides Dallas would take on the Tim Hardaway Jr. and Courtney Lee contracts while also offering a player like Dennis Smith Jr. along with multiple first-round picks, says Stein.
  • New York’s management group has known for years that the Mavericks were very interested in Porzingis, with one Mavs official joking to Stein that Dallas had approached the Knicks “about a hundred times” before they finally showed a willingness to move the All-Star big man. Conversely, the Knicks had been expressing interest in Smith all season, per Stein.
  • The Knicks and Mavericks had been discussing the framework of a possible Wesley Matthews/Hardaway deal for weeks, and began expanding those talks to include Porzingis on January 28, Stein writes. The two teams then worked in person toward finalizing the framework of a deal last Wednesday when the Mavs played the Knicks in New York. However, the Knicks wanted to wait until after they met with the Porzingis brothers on Thursday to make any decisions.
  • Following that Thursday meeting between Knicks management and the Porzingis brothers, Janis Porzingis (Kristaps’ agent) provided the club with a four-team list of preferred destinations, a source tells Stein. The Nets and Clippers were on that list, but the Mavericks weren’t. The Knicks opted to move quickly on the Mavs deal in part due to concern that Porzingis’ camp would leak that list and threaten to only sign long-term with those clubs, Stein adds.
  • The Knicks were informed that Porzingis was ready to leave the team and continue his injury rehab in Spain if he remained on the roster through the trade deadline, Stein hears.
  • Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with an interesting quote to Stein: “It was my mistake to not keep Dirk [Nowitzki] and Steve [Nash] together longer. I won’t make the same mistake with Luka [Doncic] and KP.”
  • For what it’s worth, Stein reports that the threat of Kevin Durant leaving for the Knicks has “never felt more real” to the Warriors than it does now that New York has cleared two maximum-salary slots for the summer.

Jazz Eyeing Mike Conley, Otto Porter

The Jazz have continued to search for a “dynamic” third piece to add to their star duo of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who hears from sources that Utah has expressed interest in both Mike Conley of the Grizzlies and Otto Porter of the Wizards. Shams Charania of The Athletic wrote on Wednesday about the Jazz’s interest in Porter.

As Jones explains, Utah’s interest doesn’t mean the club will necessarily make an offer for either player. Conley’s and Porter’s contracts will also complicate matters, as both players are owed massive salaries through the 2020/21 season. Still, both players intrigue the Jazz, who may throw their hat into the ring if “circumstances align” and if they feel comfortable with forfeiting future cap room to lock in a productive veteran like Conley or Porter.

Here’s more from Jones on the Jazz:

  • While Conley or Porter would be expensive, their contracts are set to end around the same time Gobert’s deal expires and Mitchell’s second contract will begin, Jones observes. That timeline matches up well with what the Jazz would be looking for — there’s a sense that if they’re going to be aggressive trying to land a pricey impact player, it should happen while Mitchell is still on his rookie contract, says Jones.
  • Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey will continue to monitor the trade market over the next couple weeks in search of opportunities, according to Jones, who points to last year’s acquisition of Jae Crowder and this season’s trade for Kyle Korver as the sort of smaller-scale deals that have really helped the club.
  • Utah’s front office has “dreams” of being active and aggressive on the 2019 free agent market, sources tell Jones. So if they don’t make any major moves that cut into their future cap room before the trade deadline, the Jazz figure to be a team to watch this summer.
  • The Jazz weren’t caught off guard by Mitchell’s shooting struggles during the first couple months of the season, sources tell Jones. The team knew that a toe injury prevented the second-year guard from working out in the offseason and figured he might be a little slow to get going in his sophomore season. Mitchell has been an efficient scorer so far in 2019, shooting 48.1% from the floor in his last 11 games, including 44.3% on three-pointers, after shooting 40.7% (29.1% on threes) in his first 34.

Jazz Notes: Perimeter Needs, Donovan’s Long-Term Outlook

The Jazz had a disappointing start to the season, but there’s a belief in the league that the team will ascend up the Western Conference standings and land a solid seed in the postseason. However, Utah may be one piece away from competing with the top of the conference.

“The one thing about the Jazz is that they’re short an athlete,” an anonymous Eastern Conference scout tells Marc Stein of the New York Times (via his latest newsletter). “They’ve been exposed a little bit there. They’re short a disrupter on the perimeter — someone who gets that deflection, gets that extra ball, creates some easy baskets for them. They’ve been exposed a little bit by athletic teams.”

The team will be without a few contributors over the next few weeks. Ricky Rubio will miss approximately two weeks as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Thabo Sefolosha is expected to miss several games with a hamstring injury of his own and Dante Exum will be out a few weeks with a sprained ankle.

Here’s more from Utah:

  • Donovan Mitchell hasn’t been able to duplicate the success he found during his rookie campaign and it might be because the league has figured him out, as one scout tells Stein (same piece). “He’s not the new kid on the block anymore, so teams are able to guard him a little better,” the scout said. “He’s in a good situation where they have complete trust in him. They’ve given him the keys to the city. And if he has a bad game, they’re going to go to him again the next time. The Jazz are lucky to have him, but he’s lucky to be there, too.”
  • Mitchell will have to work on his game to become a more complete player, the same aforementioned scout tells Stein. “He isn’t a pure shooter like Damian Lillard…And he’s not as crafty in his game like C.J. McCollum,” the scout said. “Donovan is trying to develop that — those Tony Parker floaters, those McCollum shots. I think it’ll happen. The real chapter will be written on him next season. Last year he was the savior. This year it’s, ‘What happened?’ Next year will be the stock market correction of where he really is — and I would guess it’s going to be somewhere in the middle. He’s a good player, but he’s got some work to do.”
  • The Jazz have just 16 road games left while every other Western Conference team has at least 20 remaining, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes. Still, Rock cautions that this team may not kick it up a notch in the second half of the season as it did last year. The 2018/19 version of coach Quin Synder’s squad has yet to win more than three straight games.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2019: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we turn our attention to the Northwest Division:

Isaiah Thomas, Nuggets, 29, PG (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2018
Thomas hoped to revive his career as a high-scoring sixth man for one of the league’s up-and-coming teams. Instead, Thomas has yet to make his Denver debut. Thomas continues to struggle with hip issues and there’s no timetable for his return. Just a couple of years removed from being a candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award, Thomas has a cloudy future. It’s more likely he’ll be forced into early retirement than ever approaching his former level of excellence and that would be a shame.

Derrick Rose, Timberwolves, 30, PG (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2.39MM deal in 2018
Seriously, did anyone think Rose would have another 25-point outing in his career, let alone twice as many points? Rose’s 50-point explosion against Utah on Halloween was a shocker and he’s remained a steady offensive threat since that blast from the past. He’s averaging 22.0 PPG and 4.0 APG over his last eight games. Once thought to be on the verge of retirement, Rose clearly still has a lot left in the tank. He’ll be getting a substantial raise in the open market if he keeps this up.

Abdel Nader, Thunder, 25, SF (Down) – Signed to a three-year, $4.16MM deal in 2017
The Celtics were about to cut Nader loose this summer until the Thunder came calling with a trade offer. The 2016 second-round pick has a non-guaranteed contract and he hasn’t done anything to convince Oklahoma City to keep him around after this season. Nader hasn’t been able to break into the wing rotation, playing a total of just 15 minutes. Nader will probably be looking for another fresh start in July.

Seth Curry, Trail Blazers, 28, PG (Down) — Signed to a one-year, $2.795MM deal in 2018
Curry left Dallas with the hope of reestablishing his value after missing all of last season with stress fracture in his lower left leg. It hasn’t started off the way Curry envisioned. He wasn’t effective in a backup role (6.09 PER) before missing the last four games with a knee injury. There’s still hope for Curry to turn things around and fill the role that Shabazz Napier played last season. The way it’s going now, he’ll be scrounging for another one-year deal next summer.

Ricky Rubio, Jazz, 28, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $55MM deal in 2015
The Jazz have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams during the first quarter of the season. The team’s starting point guard is partly to blame. Rubio, who is making nearly $15MM in his walk year, is shooting 37.3% from the field and over the last six games he’s averaging four assists while making 2.5 turnovers per game. Rubio needed to adjust his game when the team drafted dynamic creator Donovan Mitchell and right now, their backcourt pairing still seems a bit awkward. It’ll interesting to see if the Jazz look to move Rubio before the trade deadline to shake things up.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Northwest Notes: Mitchell, Anthony, Jokic

Donovan Mitchell‘s emergence as a potential superstar allowed the Jazz to quickly move on from the loss of Gordon Hayward in free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN examines in a post on Hayward’s return to Utah on Friday. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and coach Quin Snyder felt they could retool the roster and become a playoff contender again but had no idea Mitchell would emerge as a franchise player in his rookie year, Wojnarowski continues. Mitchell provides the Jazz with a selling point to recruit another star in free agency and he’s well on his way to a max contract extension in 2020, Wojnarowski adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Carmelo Anthony‘s season with the Thunder was a humbling experience, a high-ranking Rockets official told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Anthony bristled at the thought of coming off the bench with OKC but is now at least tolerating a second-unit role with Houston. “Last year, I didn’t know what to expect coming into the situation,” Anthony told MacMahon. “It’s different when you’re clear on what is needed to be done or what you have to do or what’s needed of you. It’s a big difference.”
  • Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was fined $25K for using “derogatory and offensive language” when discussing Bulls rookie center Wendell Carter, Sean Highkin of Dime Magazine tweets. Jokic made the comment after Denver’s 108-107 overtime victory on Wednesday.
  • Floor spacing, 3-point shooting and defensive intensity have been areas of concern for the Jazz. The Thunder continue to deal with outside shooting woes. David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at issues involving each Northwest club.

Jazz Exercise Third-Year Options On Mitchell, Bradley

The Jazz announced today that they have exercised their third-year rookie scale team options for the 2019/20 season on guard Donovan Mitchell (link) and center Tony Bradley (link). The deadline to do so was October 31.

Mitchell, the 2017/18 runner-up for Rookie of the Year, joined David Robinson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Wilt Chamberlain as the only rookies to lead their team in scoring while also winning 45-or-more games. His option decision was the definition of a no-brainer, with his future looking as bright as any young player in the league.

Meanwhile, Bradley, who was acquired by the Jazz on draft night in 2017, only saw action in nine games for the club as a rookie, but started 24 games for the team’s G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. He averaged 15.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.3 blocks in 29.6 minutes per contest.

Mitchell’s 2019/20 cap hit will cost the Jazz a team-friendly $3.6MM, while Bradley will earn just under $2MM that season. Both players also have a fourth-year rookie scale team option for the 2020/21 campaign.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Mitchell, Plumlee, Roth

Thunder guard and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier this week. The procedure was described as “maintenance” and he will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Westbrook is expected to miss the preseason but his status for Oklahoma City’s season opener on October 17 is to be determined.

Westbrook is coming off another outstanding season for the Thunder as he averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season. As The Oklahoman details, Westbrook’s injury already has had ripple effects on the Thunder roster and will continue to do so until his impending return.

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell had an outstanding rookie season for Utah, a season that would’ve earned him Rookie of the Year honors in nearly any other season. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines Mitchell skillset and projects how and when Mitchell could make the jump into superstar status.
  • Nuggets‘ big man Mason Plumlee needed offseason surgery after playing another season of at least 70 games. NBA.com previewed Plumlee’s upcoming 2018/19 campaign as he prepares to be Denver’s primary backup at center.
  • Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune looks at the Timberwolves‘ strategy for trying out players for the G League team. “Everybody’s just looking for the diamond in the rough,” Iowa Wolves coach and former Timberwolves player Scott Roth said. “Everybody wants the next Jonathan Simmons to walk into their building. 

Fellow Rookies Pick Ayton, Sexton As RoY Favorites

For the 10th time in 12 years, John Schuhmann of NBA.com got the opportunity to ask the NBA’s incoming crop of rookies a series of questions related to their fellow draftees.

Historically, the NBA rookies haven’t been particularly clairvoyant when it comes to their predictions — they haven’t accurately identified a Rookie of the Year winner since Kevin Durant in 2007/08. Still, it’s an interesting exercise, and one that occasionally results in a dead-on prediction, like when last year’s rookie class named Donovan Mitchell the steal of the 2017 draft.

Here are a few of the most interesting responses from this year’s rookies about the 2018/19 class:

  • Deandre Ayton (Suns) and Collin Sexton (Cavaliers) are viewed as the co-favorites for the Rookie of the Year award this season, with each player earning 18% of the vote. No other rookie had more than a 9% share of the vote.
  • Opinions were a little more divided on which player would have the best long-term NBA career, with Wendell Carter Jr. (Bulls) narrowly earning that title by receiving 13% of the vote. Interestingly, reigning EuroLeague MVP Luka Doncic (Mavericks) wasn’t picked by a single player for this question.
  • No. 48 overall pick Keita Bates-Diop (Timberwolves) was named the steal of the 2018 NBA draft by his fellow rookies, edging out 14th overall pick Michael Porter Jr. (Nuggets) and 18th overall pick Lonnie Walker (Spurs).
  • Trae Young (Hawks) is widely considered the best shooter and play-maker in this year’s class. Jevon Carter (Grizzlies) earned the most votes for best rookie defender, while Zhaire Smith (Sixers) is viewed as the most athletic rookie.
  • Be sure to check out Schuhmann’s full piece for the rest of the rookie survey results.

Ben Simmons Wins Rookie Of Year

Sixers point guard Ben Simmons beat out a strong field to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award, it was announced during the NBA’s Second Annual Awards show.

Simmons was the top pick of the 2016 draft but his debut was delayed a season by a foot injury. Once he returned, Simmons quickly showed what all the fuss was about. He guided the Sixers to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, where they fell to the Celtics.

The 6’10” Simmons was a triple-double threat every game while posting averages of 15.8 PPG, 8.1 RPG and 8.2 APG. He shot 54.5% from the field by confining himself inside the 3-point arc, as he failed to make a 3-point try.

Donovan Mitchell (Jazz) and Jayson Tatum (Celtics) were the other finalists. Malcolm Brogdon (Bucks) was the 2017 winner.

Jazz Notes: T. Brown, Gobert, Lang, Favors

Utah’s desire to add players who can handle multiple positions could make Oregon’s Troy Brown attractive in the draft, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. The 6’7″ freshman, who worked out for the team Friday, has displayed an ability to play anywhere from point guard to small forward.

“I just wanted to show that I’m more of a playmaker and that I can score the ball and shoot the ball,” Brown said. “I wanted to show that I can play the game the right way. I want to be able to do everything on the floor. I want to be a two-way player. Just being versatile is important to me.”

The Jazz, who own the 21st pick, were happy with the results of Friday’s session, which also included Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, Kansas’ Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman and Georgia’s Yante Maten.

There’s more tonight from Utah:

  • Center Rudy Gobert, one of the finalists for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, received a similar honor today from the players’ union, relays Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Gobert was the winner of the Locksmith Award, presented to the league’s best defender as part of the Players’ Voice Awards. “It really means a lot to me knowing that the guys that I compete against every night are showing some love and recognition and I really appreciate it,” Gobert said. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was chosen as the NBPA’s Leader of the New School.
  • The Jazz made a coaching move today, promoting assistant Antonio Lang to the front of the bench, Woodyard writes in a separate story. Lang, who was among Quin Snyder’s first hirings in 2014, will replace Igor Kokoskov, who left to become head coach of the Suns. “I’m truly blessed,” said Lang, who played six years in the NBA before turning to coaching. “Hope to continue to improve and help the group.”
  • The Wizards, Bucks and Warriors are all potential destinations for free agent Derrick Favors if he leaves Utah, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Favors, who started a career-high 77 games this season, has been with the Jazz since arriving from the Nets in a 2011 trade.