Donovan Mitchell

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.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

  • Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)

Second Team:

Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.

Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Northwest Notes: George, Mitchell, Patterson

There’s no indication that Paul George has decided what to do as a free agent this season but Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes that we’ve already seen a glimpse of what’s possible if he decides to stay with the Thunder and continue to suit up alongside Russell Westbrook.

The scribe writes that the forward’s decision to leave or stay with the Thunder will be seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on playing next to the club’s superstar. George himself lamented that it was a significant adjustment tweaking his game to complement Westbrook’s but the pair would occasionally fall in step and thrive.

George’s first season with the Thunder saw him touch the ball five fewer times per game and also hold possession for less. That’s not all that surprising given that he was necessarily obligated to play off the ball but it could play a role in the decision he makes heading forward.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Yes, Donovan Mitchell had an impressive rookie campaign, but plenty of other players had solid first years before plateauing. One particularly intriguing perspective that may reassure Jazz fans that they’re not witnessing the next O.J. Mayo is teammate Thabo Sefolosha‘s. “I was a teammate with Derrick Rose when he was a rookie, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant when they were young in their first two seasons in OKC, and the talent level is right up there with those guys,” the 34-year-old told Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • There’s no denying that Patrick Patterson is a sharp-shooting veteran presence for the Thunder, exactly what he was expected to be when he signed a three-year, $16MM deal last summer, but declining athleticism limited his ability to contribute off the bench in 2017/18, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes.
  • He may not win the Rookie of the Year award (according to our own staff) but ESPN’s Mike Schmitz believes that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has the highest future potential of any of this year’s rookies. Co-writer Kevin Pelton placed him No. 2 behind Ben Simmons but Schmitz raved about the Louisville product’s demonstrated ability to improve upon his weaknesses.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Sefolosha, Jerebko, Udoh

A summer decision on Derrick Favors will shape the Jazz roster going forward, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Favors, who has spent more than seven years in Utah, will be an unrestricted free agent after earning $12MM this season. The team received offers for him at the trade deadline, according to Marks, but never came close to pulling the trigger.

Favors played 77 games this year after battling injuries the past two seasons and raised his numbers in points, rebounds and blocks. He was an effective fill-in for Rudy Gobert while the starting center missed 26 games with knee injuries.

The market may work against Favors, Marks cautions, because few teams have significant money to spend and the draft appears to be loaded with big men. He sees a compromise that would keep Favors in Utah for $45MM over three seasons with a 2020/21 player option. Marks notes that would allow the Jazz to use their full mid-level exception on another player – or players – without going over the luxury tax.

There’s more from Utah on the first day of the offseason:

  • The Jazz also face decisions on three non-guaranteed contracts, Marks adds in the same story. After free agent Gordon Hayward left for Boston last summer, Utah signed three veterans — Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh — without the guarantee of a second season. Marks states that their fates will be determined by the free agency pool at their positions, the need to open roster spots and the anticipated cost of keeping Favors. Jerebko and Udoh were barely used in the playoffs, while Sefolosha missed the end of the season with a knee injury and will start next year with a five-game suspension.
  • After becoming a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, “nonstop work” is on Donovan Mitchell‘s agenda for the summer, relays Christopher Kamrani of The Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell had his left foot in a walking boot during today’s exit interview, a result of an injury that forced him out of Tuesday’s closeout game with the Rockets. “He’s special because he has that look in him that he wants to be the best,” teammate Ricky Rubio said. “You either have it or you don’t have it. He has something. We can enjoy it.”
  • The Jazz plan to use their system as a selling point to free agents this summer, according to Royce Young and Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The pitch will be that players will be put into a role where they can excel, just as Joe Ingles has.
  • Links to today’s exit interviews are available on the Jazz website.

Central Notes: Love, Van Gundy, Pistons, Parker

The Cavaliers lead the Raptors in their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup, 2-0, as the series shifts to Cleveland. Kevin Love helped his case with 31 points in a Game 2 victory after struggling for most of the playoffs. As the postseason progresses, the Cavaliers’ coaching staff will need to monitor Love’s play at the center and power forward position, Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com writes.

“We’ve been very successful with Kev at the 5, but we have to listen to what Kev needs as well,” teammate LeBron James said. “If there’s times throughout the postseason or a game where he’s feeling a little worn down because he’s battling with a lot of bigs, then we’ve got to make the substitution properly. I think Coach Lue has done that, obviously with the start of Game 7, being able to start Double T at the five and allow Kev to play his natural position.”

Check out more Central Division notes:

  • The Pistons would like to bring back Stan Van Gundy, but with an adjusted role. After missing the playoffs for the past several seasons, it may be time for both sides to part amicably, Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News opines.
  • There were 12 teams that had the chance to draft Donovan Mitchell before he fell to the Jazz and had a historically great rookie season. Looking back, the Pistons not selecting Mitchell is right up there with the Darko Milicic blunder from 2003, Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Press writes.
  • After two torn ACLs and a frustrating showing in the postseason, Jabari Parkers value is not at an all-time high heading into the summer. As a restricted free agent, it’s possible Parker’s tenure with the Bucks is over. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype breaks down Parker’s four best choices in free agency.
  • As the Lakers enter the summer with major cap space and an eye on the NBA’s premier free agents, Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago examines the possibility of the Bulls pursuing Brandon Ingram in a trade.