Ekpe Udoh

Jazz Notes: Team Options, Coaching Staff, Williams-Goss

The Jazz will look internally to improve over the course of the upcoming offseason rather than chase major acquisitions via trade of free agency, general manager Dennis Lindsey said. Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News writes that there are plenty of players on board with room to grow.

Not only will Jazz fans wait with anticipation as Donovan Mitchell rounds out his game for his sophomore season but for returning veterans like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio to raise theirs for 2018/19, too.

All told, even without making a major transaction splash, it’s conceivable that the vastly improved Jazz take another leap forward next season. Not bad considering that they won’t have the luxury of picking in the lottery this year given their success.

McDonalds writes that one area that the club should be particularly focused on improving is offensive production off the bench. Outside of oft-injured guard Dante Exum there aren’t many players on the current roster who pack a strong scoring punch off the bench.

There’s more out of Utah tonight:

  • When free agency resumes, the Jazz will have to make decisions on three veteran players. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News writes that all of Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh and Jonas Jerebko have team options in their contracts for 2018/19 and will have to wait until July before they find out whether they’ll be back on board for next season.
  • Despite the loss of assistant coach Igor Kokoskov, who will serve as the head coach of the Suns in 2018/19, the impression for now is that the Jazz will return the same coaching staff next season, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune tweets.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Nigel Williams-Goss, selected by the Jazz with the 55th pick in 2017, has drawn attention from a number of EuroLeague teams for next season, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando writes.

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.

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:

Ekpe Udoh Returning To NBA, Signs With Jazz

July 20: The signing is official, according to NBA.com.

July 13: Former lottery pick Ekpe Udoh is headed back to the NBA, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who tweets that the big man has agreed to a two-year, $6.5MM deal with the Jazz. Udoh’s agreement with Utah was first reported by international outlet SDNA.

Udoh was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, but failed to develop as hoped in the NBA for the Warriors, Bucks, and Clippers. Appearing in 270 regular season games from 2010 to 2015, the 6’10” center averaged a modest 4.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.2 BPG.

In 2015, Udoh headed to Turkey and joined Fenerbahce, with whom he has spent the last two years. The 30-year-old’s play for Fenerbahce helped the club claim back-to-back Turkish League championships. The team was also the EuroLeague champion this year, with Udoh earning All-EuroLeague First Team honors — he was also named 2017’s EuroLeague Final Four MVP.

Upon returning stateside, Udoh will join a Jazz frontcourt that will also be adding Jonas Jerebko, who agreed to terms with the club on Wednesday. They’ll join a rotation currently led by Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors up front.

In addition to reaching deals with Jerebko and Udoh, the Jazz also agreed to sign Thabo Sefolosha this week, so it looks like the team will probably dip under the cap to finalize their new signings. It also appears likely that Boris Diaw will be waived before his salary guarantee date this weekend, though Utah continues to explore trade possibilities.

And-Ones: Udoh, Competitive Balance, Fegan, Barry

Milos Teodosic (CSKA), Ekpe Udoh (Fenerbahce), and Aaron Jackson (CSKA) are among the Euroleague Final Four participants who expect to receive NBA interest and could pursue opportunities stateside this offseason, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter).

Teodosic has been mentioned throughout the year as a Euroleague star who expects to make the leap to the NBA for 2017/18, but Udoh is another interesting name. A former sixth overall pick, Udoh struggled during his initial five-year stint in the NBA, but has blossomed into a more effective player in Turkey, averaging 12.1 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 2.2 BPG in 31 Euroleague contests in 2016/17. Mike Schmitz of DraftExpress took a closer look at Udoh’s game and his stock after his MVP performance at the Euroleague Final Four.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • In an interesting piece for SI.com, Lee Jenkins examines how last summer’s salary cap spike affected the NBA’s desire for competitive balance. “We were all thrilled at first,” one GM said. “It’s like if somebody gives you a $20 bill. That’s great, right? You can go into the free-agent market and bid on players you wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise. And then you realize, Wait a minute, everybody else got this $20 bill too. So while I might be able to use my $20 bill on Ian Mahinmi or Chandler Parsons or Evan f—— Turner, the best team in the league, the team that went 73–9, the team that can guarantee multiple championships, they can use their $20 bill on Kevin Durant. The spike took average teams and made them marginally better. It took one great team and made them historic.”
  • Despite the Warriors‘ and Cavaliers‘ recent dominance, commissioner Adam Silver isn’t concerned about the NBA becoming a two-team league, and says both squads have a long ways to go before they can legitimately be considered dynasties. ESPN.com passes along Silver’s quotes on that subject, along with his thoughts on Lonzo Ball‘s father, LaVar Ball.
  • Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal provides an update on the legal battle between longtime NBA agent Dan Fegan and his former employer, Independent Sports & Entertainment. According to Mullen, a federal judge denied Fegan’s motion to dismiss ISE’s case against him, sending it back to state court. Fegan has been accused of operating a side business when he worked for ISE.
  • Former Florida guard Canyon Barry comes from a prolific basketball family, but if he’s not able to make it to the NBA, Barry has a pretty solid backup plan, which involves finishing his master’s degree in nuclear engineering. Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype, who notes that Barry worked out for the Knicks on Tuesday, spoke to the young prospect about his NBA aspirations.

Ekpe Udoh Weighing Return To NBA

Five years after being selected sixth overall in the 2010 draft, Ekpe Udoh spent the 2015/16 away from the NBA, playing overseas with Fenerbahce Istanbul. However, Udoh is contemplating returning to the NBA for the 2016/17 campaign.

According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Udoh is weighing interest from six NBA teams, and has also received offers from two European powerhouses, Fenerbahce and CSKA Moscow. The 29-year-old big man is expected to make a decision on his next destination early on in the July free agent period.

In 270 career games with the Warriors, Bucks, and Clippers from 2010 to 2015, Udoh averaged just 4.0 points and 3.2 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per contest, battling injuries along the way. With a career .429 FG%, the former No. 6 overall pick was never overly efficient on offense, and wasn’t an elite defender, but he feels as though his season with Fenerbahce was “critical” for allowing him to evolve and grow, as he tells Charania.

“It’s definitely a possibility to come back to the NBA,” Udoh said. “I can see myself fitting back today. I have lowered my weight to 240, so I’m even more mobile. I protect the rim, get out in transition and I’m able to play with any team and guard one through five. That was a big focal point around the NBA this past season, finishing off the pick-and-roll or hitting the open man. I can fit back in the NBA with whatever decision that I make.”

And-Ones: Kalamian, Labissiere, Van Gundy, Udoh

Raptors assistant Rex Kalamian has turned down offers from the Rockets and Wizards and will remain in Toronto, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge. Kalamian just completed his first season with the Raptors after six years in Oklahoma City. A 20-year veteran, he has also been on the bench with the Clippers, Nuggets, Timberwolves and Kings.

There’s more news from around the basketball world:

  • Kentucky big man Skal Labissiere made an impression at the Relativity Sports Pro Day this afternoon at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, tweets Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders. Labissière now has workouts and meetings scheduled with nearly every team that owns a top 10 draft pick.
  • This marks Jeff Van Gundy’s 10th year as a broadcaster for the NBA Finals, and it seems unlikely he will ever return to coaching, writes Brian Mahoney of The Associated Press. Van Gundy was considered as a candidate for the Rockets‘ job that eventually went to Mike D’Antoni, but he and the team never formally discussed the position. After a decade away from coaching, Van Gundy admits a return would be difficult. “You don’t have the same feel for guys that you didn’t coach against or coach yourself. It’s not the same,” he said. “You can watch the games on TV, you can study in that way, but if you’re not competing against people, it’s hard to know as much as you do when you’re coaching.”
  • Isaiah Cousins will work out for the Clippers on Monday and the Lakers on Wednesday, tweets Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv. Zagoria hears the Oklahoma point guard’s “stock is rising.”
  • Iona guard A.J. English has workouts set for this week with the Bulls, Magic and Raptors, Zagoria tweets.
  • Former NBA player Ekpe Udoh is free to leave his Fenerbahce team in Turkey, according to Orazio Cauchi of Sportando. The 29-year-old Udoh’s last NBA experience came in 2014/15 with the Clippers“We will keep the roster intact. Only Udoh is waiting for the NBA,” said Fenerbahce president Aziz Yildirim. “He was afraid because of the attack which happened in Antep. There are 51% chances for him to stay. We will add two more players to that roster and we will keep all others.”

Ekpe Udoh Signs To Play In Turkey

Former No. 6 overall pick Ekpe Udoh has signed with Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce Ulker, the team announced (Twitter link; translation via Sportando’s Emiliano Carchia). It’s a one-year deal for in excess of $1MM with no NBA escape clause, tweets Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. News of NBA interest in the big man was scarce this summer after he saw little action with the Clippers this past season.

Udoh averaged just fractions of a point and a rebound in 3.9 minutes per game across 33 appearances on his one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Clippers. He reportedly picked the Clippers over interest from the Cavs, Bulls and Kings last year in part because he thought he’d see more playing time in L.A., but that didn’t materialize. The now 28-year-old averaged 19.1 minutes per game and made 14 starts for the 2013/14 Bucks.

He’ll have a chance to rehabilitate his NBA career with surely plenty of eyes from the league watching his team, which also includes NBA veterans Pero Antic, Gigi Datome and Jan Vesely as well as Bogdan Bogdanovic, whom the Suns drafted 27th overall last year, notes David Pick of Eurobasket.com (Twitter link). Fenerbahce will play the Nets in a preseason game this year.

Do you think Ekpe Udoh is an NBA-caliber player? Leave a comment to tell us.

Western Notes: Gobert, Faried, Udoh, Pelicans

The Jazz have a group of promising young big men that includes Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker, as well as Enes Kanter, who’s up for a rookie scale extension. Rudy Gobert didn’t see much playing time last season, but he’s put his offseason improvement on display in the FIBA World Cup this week, as Grantland’s Zach Lowe chronicles.

“We have really high hopes for him,” Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey said. “The tools Rudy has from a height and length standpoint are obvious, and he really likes basketball. A motivated seven-footer is a good place to start.”

Gobert is still a long way off, but it’ll be interesting to see how his development plays into the team’s negotiations with Kanter. Here’s more from the West:

  • Kenneth Faried, who’s also extension-eligible, expressed a desire this week to remain with the Nuggets, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com observes (Twitter links). The Thad Foucher client has only helped his stock with Team USA as he’s emerged as a game-changer in the FIBA World Cup.
  • The Cavs, Bulls and Kings all had interest in signing Ekpe Udoh, but the chance to play for Doc Rivers on a winning team that emphasized defense persuaded him to choose the Clippers instead, a source tells Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. Playing time was also a consideration, agent Michael Silverman tells Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
  • Omer Asik‘s arrival in New Orleans sets the Pelicans up for a drastic improvement defensively and figures to help boost the darkhorse MVP candidacy of Anthony Davis, as Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com examines in an Insider-only piece.

Clippers Sign Ekpe Udoh

2:53pm: The deal is official, the team announced.

11:58am: The Clippers and free agent big man Ekpe Udoh have reached agreement on a one-year deal, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link). It’ll be fully guaranteed for the minimum salary, a source tells Shams Charania of RealGM (Twitter link). The four-year veteran’s $981,084 pay will count for the $915,243 two-year veteran’s minimum on the team’s books since the contract will only cover one season, and the league will pick up the rest.

Udoh met with the Clippers last week, as USA Today’s Sam Amick reported. His visit took place the same day the team sent Jared Dudley to Milwaukee for Miroslav Raduljica and Carlos Delfino, whose salaries could be more easily waived and stretched to create room under the hard cap for Udoh and others. The release of Dudley and Raduljica on Friday left the Clippers will 11 players, and Monday they added DeAndre Liggins on what’s presumably a non-guaranteed camp deal. The Clips are also apparently close to deals with Chris Douglas-Roberts and Hedo Turkoglu, and they have just enough cap flexibility and room on the roster to sign them both to guaranteed deals for the minimum. The club also seems to have interest in Ray Allen, but signing him would probably necessitate waiving Liggins, the only Clipper without a fully guaranteed deal, before opening night.

The Clippers appear to be circling back to Udoh after he was reportedly close to a deal with the team in July before Glen Davis re-signed. The Heat were also considering Udoh, a Chris Luchey client, but the Bucks seemed to have little interest in keeping him, declining to make a qualifying offer in June and renouncing his rights the next month. He was in and out of the lineup last season, averaging 19.1 minutes per game despite starting 14 contests. The 6’10” Udoh put up 3.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per appearance.