Dwyane Wade

Jazz Rumors: Lindsey, Snyder, Azubuike, Wade, Ainge, Battier

Dennis Lindsey‘s transition from his executive VP of basketball operations position with the Jazz into an advisory role was framed as Lindsey’s call, but it was more of an ownership decision, according to Andy Larsen and Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

As Larsen and Walden explain in an in-depth story, new Jazz owner Ryan Smith is making some changes to the front office — director of pro player personnel David Fredman was also told this week that his contract isn’t being renewed.

One factor in the decision to reassign Lindsey was a “long-running disconnect” between the executive and head coach Quin Snyder, per the Tribune’s report. According to Larsen and Walden, Lindsey and Snyder had numerous disagreements both on and off the court, including not seeing eye to eye on rotation and roster decisions. Snyder – along with many members of the front office – were frustrated by the selection of Udoka Azubuike in the first round of the 2020 draft, per Larsen and Walden.

Given Utah’s success during the 2020/21 season, Lindsey and Snyder were on better terms during the last year, but several people in the organization still felt that this week’s announcement reflected a feud being settled. “Quin won,” one source told The Tribune.

Here’s more on the Jazz’s front office shakeup:

  • While Lindsey is now an advisor in the Jazz’s front office, there’s an expectation that he’ll seek a job with another team, according to Larsen and Walden.
  • Dwyane Wade has “added his voice” to front office discussions, but isn’t taking a day-to-day role in basketball and roster decisions, per Larsen and Walden.
  • If former Celtics executive Danny Ainge joins the Jazz, it will likely be in an advisory role, says Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Jones, Larsen, and Walden all say more front office additions are expected. Multiple reporters, including Jones, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald suggest that Wade’s former teammate Shane Battier is one candidate to join the basketball operations department. Battier worked in the Heat’s front office from 2017-21, but recently left that position and is now just a consultant for Miami.

Jazz Notes: Conley, Mitchell, Gobert, Arena Capacity

Jazz guard Mike Conley exited game five of Utah’s series against the Grizzlies due to right hamstring soreness after playing just 12 minutes. But despite being frustrated by the setback, he feels confident he’ll be back in round two, whether against the Clippers or Mavericks, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

It’s playoffs, so my mindset is I’ll be ready to play,” Conley said. “We’re gonna just see what happens in next few days and be smart about how we approach it going into this next series.”

Conley bounced back from a rocky first season in Utah, in which he was dealing with a similar hamstring ailment, and had averaged 20 points and over 10 assists per game in the first four games of the series. With at least four days between the end of the Grizzlies series and the start of round two, the Jazz can afford to be cautious.

The veteran point guard was scheduled to undergo an MRI this morning, per Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • When Donovan Mitchell went down with an ankle injury on April 16, he channeled his frustration by diving back into preparing for the playoffs in the same way he did during the Orlando bubble from last year, reports ESPN’s Jackie McMullan. One person who was crucial to his preparations for this year’s playoffs was new minority owner Dwyane Wade, who has served as a mentor figure for Mitchell for years. “You are trying to attack from so many different angles, but you can attack it from one angle if you are patient,” Wade counseled.
  • Rudy Gobert sits down with Shams Charania of Stadium to discuss being a number one seed, championship expectations, and playing with Mitchell. “Every year we had to earn, and earn, and earn the respect as a team, and earn every single win, and you know, we’re still going to have to earn this championship and you know, the story will be amazing,” Gobert said.
  • The Jazz announced Thursday morning that they’ll be increasing attendance at Vivint Arena to its full 18,306 person capacity for round two of the playoffs, the largest NBA crowd of any game this season, writes Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News. The arena will limit some lower bowl attendance around the team benches, but will make up for it with increased standing room only capacity. Masks will still be mandatory.

Donovan Mitchell Angry At Jazz For Sitting Him In Game 1

As we detailed in a pair of earlier stories, the Jazz made the decision to hold Donovan Mitchell out of Game 1 of the team’s series vs. Memphis on Sunday, despite the fact that the All-Star guard believed he was ready to return from his ankle sprain.

Head coach Quin Snyder acknowledged to reporters before the game that Mitchell didn’t love the decision, but it sounds like Snyder may have been understating the 24-year-old’s feelings on the matter. Sources tell Brian Windhorst and Tim MacMahon of ESPN that Mitchell was “incensed” by the decision and that it “deepened (his) tensions” with the team.

According to Windhorst and MacMahon, after Mitchell made slow progress during the early stages of his recovery, he began to work with his personal training staff – rather than Jazz trainers – on his rehab. Of course, it was the team’s training staff that made the call to hold him out on Sunday, after all signs had pointed toward him returning. ESPN’s duo notes that Utah has a history of being cautious with player injuries.

Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune suggests (via Twitter) that a power struggle of sorts seems to be taking place between the two training staffs – Mitchell’s and the team’s – over who makes the decisions on his recovery and availability.

Some “easing of frustrations” may need to take place this week behind the scenes, according to Windhorst and MacMahon, who say that new Jazz minority stakeholder Dwyane Wade could play a part in that process. Mitchell and Wade are close, and Wade has plenty of personal experience with managing injuries during the postseason.

While the Jazz and Mitchell don’t appear to be in a good spot in the short term, particularly since Utah lost Game 1, it’s unlikely to impact the guard’s long-term future with the franchise. Mitchell was originally on track to become a restricted free agent this summer, but signed a five-year extension last offseason that will keep him under contract with the Jazz through at least 2024/25.

And-Ones: Thabeet, Wade, A. Antetokounmpo, Trial

Former No. 2 pick Hasheem Thabeet is attempting an NBA comeback after spending seven years away from the league, Ben Stinar writes for Sports Illustrated.

Thabeet, a 7-foot-3 center, averaged 18.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game during his latest stint in Taiwan, receiving MVP honors with the Hsinchu Lioneers. He worked out for a handful of NBA teams in 2019 and hopes to eventually complete his comeback at 34 years old.

For his career, Thabeet has played 224 games with four different NBA teams. His last stint in the states came with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants — G League affiliate of the Pacers — during the 2019/20 season.

Here are some other odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Dwyane Wade‘s role with TNT isn’t expected to change despite purchasing an ownership stake in the Jazz, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times (Twitter link). Some league observers expected Wade to relinquish his analyst duties on TNT due to the agreement. League rules require that he can’t partake in Utah’s front-office decisions (including recruiting free agents) so long as he remains on TV, Stein adds.
  • Alex Antetokounmpo made his debut in the Spanish Liga ACB this past week, as relayed by Sportando. The 19-year-old is the youngest of the Antetokounmpo brothers — which includes Giannis (Bucks), Thanasis (Bucks), Kostas (Lakers) and Francis.
  • The NBA has warned its teams to be ready for the results from Derek Chauvin’s trial, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd from last May. The league office is preparing for games to be postponed if need be, Wojnarowski reports.

Dwyane Wade Joins Jazz Ownership Group

Former NBA star Dwyane Wade has purchased a minority ownership stake in the Jazz, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who reports that Wade plans to “take an active role in the franchise and region.” While it’s unclear how sizeable Wade’s share is, Wojnarowski says that NBA rules prevent an ownership stake from being smaller than 1%.

The Jazz confirmed Wade’s investment in a press release.

Wade is joining an ownership group led by Ryan Smith, who purchased a controlling stake in the Jazz from the Miller family in 2020. According to Wojnarowski, Wade met Smith shortly after his retirement as a player in 2019, and the two became fast friends.

“It wasn’t like we wanted more partners; that wasn’t what we were trying to do,” Smith told ESPN. “I want to work with Dwyane on and off the court, on the business side, and so do our partners — because of who he is as a human being and what he’s accomplished. Those are the kinds of people you want around.”

Wade, who won three championships as a member of the Heat, has long talked about his interest in joining an NBA ownership group. While Miami would be an obvious fit, Wade didn’t say whether he and the Heat had serious discussions about the possibility, per Wojnarowski.

Heat owner Micky Arison said in a pair of tweets that he and Wade had previously discussed the idea of having him join the team’s ownership group, but that the veteran guard wasn’t prepared to commit at that time. Arison wished Wade “good luck and much success” with the Jazz, adding that he’ll always consider him a “Heat lifer.”

“The respect that I have for that organization will not go anywhere, the love that I have for the (Heat) fans — that goes nowhere,” Wade said. “But this is about the next phase of my life as an investor, a businessman, an entrepreneur. For me, this is an opportunity to grow.”

Wade envisions having a role in the basketball side of the franchise, according to Wojnarowski, who notes that the former Heat star is good friends with Donovan Mitchell. Participating in free agent meetings or counseling individual players are ways that Wade could become involved with the club, Woj adds. The 39-year-old also hopes to contribute more than just his basketball knowledge.

“Unfortunately, people in my community don’t get this opportunity, and I do not take it lightly to have this opportunity,” Wade said. “To make real change, this is where you have to be — at the top — and Ryan knows that. I’m thankful for him, and I know too that I bring a lot to this partnership outside of just my basketball knowledge and skills.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Heat Notes: Butler, UD, Wade, Riley

Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler has emerged as the leader of a team two games away from the NBA Finals this season. His departures from his prior three teams painted a different picture of his personality.

In a revealing piece, ESPN’s Nick Friedell takes a look at Butler through the eyes of teammates, coaches, front office executives, and team owners past and present, navigating historic quotes that cover Jimmy’s debut in the league all the way through his current standing as one of its premiere players.

There’s more out of South Beach today:

  • Butler’s uniqueness as a team-first All-Star has made scoring a lesser priority for him. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel examines whether Butler can be a dominant scorer for the Heat, especially in the first halves of games, in the rest of the postseason.
  • Veteran Heat power forward Udonis Haslem credits the father of teammate Jae Crowder, Corey, with his 17-season NBA career. After going undrafted in 2002, Haslem headed to France, where he linked up with the elder Crowder as both played for French club Chalon-sur-Saône. After Haslem began dominating team practices, he found encouragement from Crowder to try again at the next level. “That’s when I told him, ‘You’ve got to get to the NBA,’” Corey Crowder said.
  • As Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald recaps, former Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade spoke on 790 The Ticket’s Tobin & Leroy Show about the Heat’s youth movement this season and the future of longtime Heat mastermind Pat Riley, who is 75. “I think [Riley’s] going to be around [well after this season],” Wade said. “His office is going to still be his office. Even if he’s not in that position, he’s still going to come into practice everyday. This is his life. This is what he loves. This is him. I don’t see him going anywhere.”

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra, Rotation

The Heat list reserve forward Andre Iguodala as probable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Iguodala missed the second half of Game 2 on Thursday with tightness in his back. He’s averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 19.1 MPG during the postseason.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Goran Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has sparkled in the playoffs after the club tried to trade him last offseason, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Team president Pat Riley wanted to ship Dragic to Dallas in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade but the Mavericks weren’t interested.
  • Dwyane Wade believes Erik Spoelstra doesn’t receive enough accolades for his coaching accomplishments, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it.”
  • Spoelstra has identified his top six players and is rolling with them, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. While Spoelstra used 10 players on Thursday, six of them played at least 32 minutes. That’s not unusual in the postseason, Winderman declares in his latest mailbag.
  • A fiery halftime locker room got the Heat refocused during halftime of Game 2, Winderman writes in a separate story.

Knicks Notes: Wright, Thibodeau, Rose, Perry

Although the Knicks reportedly have strong interest in Jay Wright, it doesn’t appear as if the Villanova head coach reciprocates that interest, as we outlined earlier this week.

A report on Monday suggested Wright has no plans to leave his post at Villanova, and Ian Begley of SNY.tv hears a similar sentiment from an NCAA source, who says Wright would have to be “overwhelmed by the opportunity” to even consider leaving his current job.

While Wright may not be a realistic target for the Knicks as they seek a permanent head coach this spring, veteran NBA coach Tom Thibodeau – who is expected to receive consideration – sounds much more open to being courted. A Thibodeau “confidant” tells Marc Berman of The New York Post that the former Bulls and Timberwolves head coach would be very interested in the Knicks’ position.

“He really wants the Knick job,” the source told Berman. “He can taste it and he may even be in the lead.”

Considering the Knicks haven’t even yet announced Leon Rose as their new president of basketball operations, it may be premature to declare a frontrunner for the team’s head coaching job, but Thibodeau’s ties with Rose at CAA should help make him a contender.

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • In a separate New York Post article, Berman says that Dwyane Wade‘s three-day retirement celebration with the Heat this weekend is one reason Rose’s hiring by the Knicks has been delayed. As Berman explains, Rose helped plan the event for Wade, a longtime CAA client.
  • Once Rose is officially installed as the Knicks’ new president of basketball operations, he’ll have a handful of pressing items on his to-do list, writes Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News. Besides the head coaching search, Rose will have to plan for the draft and free agency, hire basketball operations staffers, and – perhaps most importantly – set boundaries with team owner James Dolan.
  • In a story about Knicks branding consultant Steve Stoute making an appearance at All-Star weekend, Berman of The New York Post notes that interim head of basketball operations Scott Perry remains “in the dark” about his future – or lack thereof – with the organization.

Latest On The Dunk Contest Controversy

The judges at Saturday’s dunk contest intended for the event to end in a tie, but their plan failed when three of them awarded nines on Aaron Gordon‘s final jam, according to Malika Andrews and Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.

After Derrick Jones Jr. and Gordon both received 50s on their first dunks in the dunk-off, Jones finished his night with a running slam from just inside the foul line that received a 48. Gordon sought to clinch the trophy in dramatic fashion by jumping over 7’5″ Celtics rookie Tacko Fall, but after a long wait the judges awarded him three nines and two 10s for a final score of 47.

“We thought it was going to be tied. We were like, ‘This is a tie!'” said hip-hop artist Common, who served as one of the judges. “But somebody didn’t do it right. I don’t know who it is.”

A second judge, Candace Parker, confirmed Common’s comments, saying the intent was for the dunk-off to end in a tie, which would have meant a poll of the judges to determine a winner.

“I really felt it was an even battle, and we, as judges, felt the scores should be even and they should just have a judge-off,” Common said after a breath-taking series of dunks from both competitors. “We had the cards. Put your card up for who had the best dunks.”

Gordon started the event with perfect scores on his first five dunks. He expected a sixth after dunking over Fall, and he and the crowd at the United Center in Chicago were visibly dismayed when the final results left him a point behind Jones. It was a familiar experience for Gordon, who also lost the 2016 dunk contest to Zach LaVine in a controversial decision.

“We’re here to do four dunks,” Gordon told reporters afterward. “It should be the best of four dunks. I did four straight 50s — five straight 50s. That’s over. It’s a wrap. Let’s go home. Four 50s in a row in an NBA dunk contest, it’s over. But I don’t know. Who’s running the show?”

There’s more on the wild finish to All-Star Saturday Night:

  • Despite the controversy, Jones believes he was the rightful winner and was unhappy with the score he received on his final dunk, relays Andre Fernandez of The Athletic“When I got that 48, it was tough because that was a dunk that I was doing since high school,” Jones said. “I know that’s 50-worthy. There’s no way I should have gotten a 48.”
  • Jones also said he could have kept dunking as long as the contest remained tied (video link from Ben Golliver of The Washington Post). “I just turned 23,” said Jones, who had a birthday cake wheeled onto the court before his first dunk. “I’ve got legs for days, bro.”
  • Fall tells Shelburne that his role in Gordon’s final dunk wasn’t pre-arranged (Twitter link). After a night that saw several dunks over other people, Gordon picked out the tallest man in the building. “I was scared for my life,” Fall admitted.
  • Dwyane Wade, one of the three judges who gave Gordon a nine on his final attempt, denied that the score was a favor to Jones, his former Heat teammate. “I wasn’t the only one who gave him a 9, let’s talk about that!” Wade said in a video tweeted by Complex Sports.
  • Several commentators suggested that the controversy may affect the league’s ability to get elite dunkers in future competitions. After watching the event, Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant, who many wanted to see participate this year, tweeted, “Y’all just made my decision easier,” then later sent out a video of American Idol judge Randy Jackson saying, “Yeah, it’s a no from me dawg.”
  • Dwight Howard offered a tribute to Kobe Bryant with his second dunk, taking off his shirt to reveal a Superman jersey underneath, then taking away the S logo to to show a number 24. He told Tania Ganguli of The Los Angeles Times that Bryant had agreed to be part of the dunk before his tragic death last month (Twitter link).

And-Ones: WNBA, Wade, Two-Way Candidates

The WNBA and its players union have reached a landmark labor deal, announcing the tentative eight-year agreement today, as Doug Feinberg of The Associated Press outlines.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement will increase the average and maximum salaries for players while enhancing standards and benefits related to travel and maternity leave. The deal, which has been approved by players and still must be ratified by owners, includes a 50-50 revenue sharing split beginning in 2021.

“I call it historic,” WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said. “The CBA guarantees substantial (financial) increases. The way we are paying these players is different than the past. … The top couple players are tripling (in pay) where they were. Other players are making $200-300K. The average will be over $130K. Everyone gets an increase here.”

The WNBA is also introducing a mid-season competition called the Commissioner’s Cup, per Mechelle Voepel of ESPNW. The event could be a mini-preview of what’s to come in the NBA, where commissioner Adam Silver has pushed the idea of an in-season tournament.

“We will designate Cup games the first half of the season leading into the Olympic break this year,” Engelbert said. “And then [for] the two teams with the best records, we will have a final in August as our first game back to re-launch the season. In 2020, the cash prizes will be more moderate, but in 2021, we’re going to step them up as we seek sponsors.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world: