Jared Butler

Jared Butler Joining Nuggets’ G League Affiliate

Former Jazz guard Jared Butler is joining the Grand Rapids Gold, the Nuggets‘ G League affiliate, reports Marc Stein (Twitter link).

Butler didn’t sign with Denver at all after being waived by Utah last month, so the Gold didn’t previously have exclusive G League rights to the former second-round pick — he likely signed an NBAGL contract and then was claimed by Grand Rapids.

Butler was a key member of the national champion Baylor Bears in 2021, averaging 16.7 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.3 RPG and 2.0 SPG while shooting 41.6% from 3-point range as a junior. However, questions about his health hurt his draft stock and he slipped to No. 40 overall in last year’s draft after having been considered a likely first-rounder.

Although the Jazz raved last fall about Butler’s performance in training camp, he appeared sparingly in 42 games as a rookie, averaging 3.8 PPG and 1.5 APG on .404/.318/.688 shooting, and didn’t survive a roster crunch in Utah during the 2022 preseason. The team cut him despite the fact that his $1.56MM salary for this season was guaranteed.

NBA teams who may be in need of backcourt help will be keeping a close eye on Butler with the Gold, according to Stein. As Stein observes, Grand Rapids’ new head coach is longtime NBA point guard Andre Miller, who should be a good mentor for the 22-year-old.

Jazz Waive Cody Zeller, Jared Butler

3:14pm: In addition to waiving Zeller, the Jazz are also cutting Jared Butler, according to Jones and Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). The team has issued a press release confirming that Zeller and Butler have been waived, reducing the roster count to 15 players on standard contracts.

The decision to waive Butler comes as a bit of a surprise, since the team was very high on the former Baylor guard after drafting him 40th overall a year ago.

Butler appeared in 42 games as a rookie, averaging 3.8 PPG and 1.5 APG on .404/.318/.688 shooting. Utah will be on the hook for his guaranteed $1,563,518 salary unless he’s claimed on waivers on Monday.


2:42pm: Cody Zeller won’t make Utah’s regular season roster, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic, who reports (via Twitter) that the Jazz are waiving the veteran center.

Zeller fell victim to the roster crunch in Utah in part due to the nature of his contract. His minimum salary for 2022/23 is fully non-guaranteed, so the team won’t be on the hook for any dead money after cutting him.

The fourth overall pick in the 2013 draft, Zeller spent his first eight NBA seasons in Charlotte, then played for Portland in 2021/22. He played a limited role for the Blazers last season, averaging 5.2 PPG and 4.6 RPG in a career-low 13.1 minutes off the bench in 27 games before a right patellar avulsion fracture ended his season.

Having waived Saben Lee, Stanley Johnson, and Zeller, the Jazz will have one more roster move to make to get down to the regular season limit of 15 players on standard contracts. The club still has 16 players with guaranteed salaries. Udoka Azubuike, Leandro Bolmaro, and Rudy Gay are among the candidates to be the odd man out.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Butler, Coaching Staff

There’s an “overwhelming feeling” among NBA insiders that Donovan Mitchell will leave the Jazz when his contract expires in 2025 if he’s not traded before then, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. That explains why Utah is exploring the trade market for the three-time All-Star even though he has three years plus a player option left on his contract.

Mitchell spent most of this offseason in his native New York City and still considers the area to be home, Larsen adds. The Knicks have been engaged in trade talks involving Mitchell, but those discussions have stalled as New York is unwilling to meet Utah’s hefty asking price of young players and draft assets.

There’s a sense that Mitchell may want to leave Salt Lake City for a larger market that would give him a chance to get more exposure and more money from sponsors, according to Larsen, who cites Miami as another potential destination.

There’s more from Utah:

  • Mitchell is likely to be moved before the start of the season, if only because the “optics” will make that an easier choice for the Jazz than bringing him back, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News opines in a mailbag column. Todd believes the Knicks are the most likely destination, but another team may have to be involved to get the deal completed. She speculates that other roster moves will be determined by whatever the team gets in return for Mitchell.
  • If the Jazz decide to commit fully to rebuilding, the upcoming season will be very important for Jared Butler, Todd adds in the same piece. The 21-year-old shooting guard was taken with the 40th pick in the 2021 draft, but he saw limited playing time as a rookie, averaging just 8.6 minutes per night in 42 games. If Mitchell is traded, Butler should have plenty of opportunity to prove he can succeed at the NBA level.
  • Assistant coach Bryan Bailey is being promoted to the front of the Jazz bench, alongside Alex Jensen and Lamar Skeeter, tweets Tony Jones of the Athletic. All three served on former coach Quin Snyder‘s staff. In addition, Utah will hire former Spurs staffer Sean Sheldon to their coaching staff, according to Jones.

Jazz Notes: Butler, Mitchell, Morrison, Summer League

Second-year Jazz shooting guard Jared Butler is facing a pivotal 2022/23 season, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Drafted with the No. 40 pick in 2021 out of Baylor, Butler was signed by Utah to a two-year deal. To justify a qualifying offer from Jazz management next summer, Jones writes, Butler will have to earn a rotation spot, which isn’t a given even if All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is dealt before or during the year.

During his rookie season, Butler averaged just 3.8 PPG, 1.5 APG and 1.1 RPG in 42 games (8.6 MPG), and his 2022 Summer League output was inconsistent. Butler, listed at 6’3″ (though Jones estimates his height as being closer to 6’1″), had trouble in a variety of facets on offense, especially when it came to creating enough space between himself and his defender to effectively score. Jones does note that Butler has improved in the pick-and-roll.

There’s more out of Salt Lake City:

  • As the Jazz continue to contemplate trades centered around Mitchell, Tim MacMahon of ESPN (YouTube video link) posits that the team should move on from its lone remaining All-Star in the near future so that new head coach Will Hardy is free to operate with a team in full rebuild mode. “Let’s be honest, the Jazz don’t want 34-year-old first-time head coach Will Hardy to go into training camp and have the Donovan Mitchell saga, the Donovan Mitchell drama, dominate the storyline on a day-to-day basis,” MacMahon said. Mitchell has four years and $134.9MM remaining on his current contract.
  • The Jazz will be adding a new member to their extended coaching staff. Scott Morrison, who coached NBL squad the Perth Wildcats during the 2021/22 season and was on Boston’s staff alongside Hardy, will serve as the new head coach for Utah’s NBAGL club, the Salt Lake City Stars, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Morrison was previously the head coach of the Celtics’ G League club, then known as the Maine Red Claws (now the Maine Celtics of the NBA G League), from 2014-17. He was honored as the NBA G League Coach of the Year in 2015 for his efforts.
  • Several developing Jazz players had intriguing Summer League turns this year. Sarah Todd of the Deseret News unpacks the performances of Utah’s young Summer League competitors, including second-year players Butler and Leandro Bolmaro, new two-way player Johnny Juzang, and veteran 7’6″ center Tacko Fall.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, Free Agents, Kessler

Jazz general manager Justin Zanik didn’t label Donovan Mitchell as “untouchable,” but he made it clear that moving Mitchell isn’t part of the team’s current plans, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. In the wake of the Rudy Gobert trade, there has been speculation that Utah might seek to unload Mitchell and launch a full-scale rebuild, but Zanik said the organization still considers Mitchell to be a vital part of its future.

“Change is inevitable in the NBA,” Zanik responded when asked about Mitchell. “I’m not trying to be cryptic or anything else, but Donovan is on our roster and he’s a very, very important part of what we’re trying to do. Things evolve in the NBA, so I couldn’t sit here and say anybody is (untouchable). We’re trying to build a championship team, but there’s no intent there (to trade Mitchell), at all.”

Zanik added that management has been in touch with Mitchell and he “has been supportive” of the team’s offseason moves, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link). Mitchell may see more time as the primary ball-handler during the upcoming season, and CEO Danny Ainge believes he’s capable of becoming a full-time point guard (Twitter link).

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • Zanik also said the team is “in the middle of” reforming its roster and indicated that more moves are coming, Walden tweets. Addressing the Gobert trade, Zanik said the Jazz loved having Gobert to anchor their defense, but decided the offer from Minnesota was “in the best interest of the organization.”
  • The team is still considering re-signing free agents Eric Paschall, Trent Forrest and Juancho Hernangomez, Walden adds (Twitter link). “By no means have we closed the book on any of those guys,” Zanik said.
  • First-round pick Walker Kessler is dealing with a minor toe injury that he suffered during pre-draft workouts and won’t play any more in Summer League, Walden tweets. Kessler has received clearance from the team’s medical staff, but will focus on conditioning.
  • Jared Butler and Bruno Caboclo were Jazz “standouts” at the Salt Lake City Summer League, per Trent Wood of The Deseret News.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Butler, Snyder, Paschall

The 2022 offseason will be the most important of Donovan Mitchell‘s career so far, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic. As Jones writes, the Jazz‘s first-round loss to Dallas showed that Mitchell needs to become more stout defensively and must continue to improve his decision-making with the ball in his hands.

While Mitchell had another strong season in 2021/22, the Jazz will need him to take one more leap on both ends of the courts if they want to become true title contenders, says Jones, noting that the 25-year-old himself seems to recognize as much.

“I wasn’t where I wanted to be this year,” Mitchell said after Utah’s season ended. “And there were times this year when the ball rolled out that we didn’t show that we wanted to be a team with championship aspirations. … I’m looking forward to working on my game all summer, and getting into the gym. I’m looking forward to putting the work in.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • After helping Baylor win the national championship in 2021, Jared Butler didn’t have much of a role for the Jazz as a rookie, averaging 3.8 PPG and 1.5 APG in 42 games (8.6 MPG). However, Butler left his exit meeting with the team feeling optimistic that he’ll have more opportunities in 2022/23, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.
  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder underwent hip replacement surgery this week, per the team (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). The procedure had originally been set for June, but Snyder decided to get it done sooner rather than later.
  • Ryan Kostecka of UtahJazz.com takes a look at what’s next for some of Utah’s reserves, including Nickeil Alexander-Walker and restricted free agents like Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest. Paschall said his offseason goal is to improve his outside shooting. “I would love to become a 40% three-point shooter,” said the forward, who made 37.0% of his threes in 2021/22 after hitting just 30.1% in his first two NBA seasons.

Jazz Notes: Wade, Gobert, Mitchell, Butler

As a part of the Jazz‘s ownership group, Dwyane Wade views it as one of his responsibilities to improve the experience for players and to narrow the “disconnect” between the people in the locker room and the people running the team, Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic writes.

Wade acknowledged that his input into basketball operations decisions is fairly limited for the time being, but he hopes to eventually take on a larger role as he gets more comfortable in his position in the front office.

“My name is probably bigger than the piece I have,” Wade told The Athletic. “As I’m trying to learn this space, I’ll hopefully one day be more involved. But right now I’m sitting back and I’m learning from (general manager) Justin Zanik, I’m learning from (CEO) Danny Ainge, and (team owner) Ryan (Smith) is as well.

“I don’t want that responsibility of trading a guy or signing a guy. That’s not my role. I don’t want anybody thinking that’s my role. My role is to give my perspective if asked. If I feel like, ‘Hey, what are we doing on this and that, these are the players that I see, that I like.’ And things about these players. Just conversations that anybody would have. But I don’t make the decisions. I’m not the decision-maker.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • All-Star center Rudy Gobert thought the referees in Monday’s game in Dallas let the Mavericks‘ bench get away with comments that crossed a line, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News relays. “There were a lot of things being said that wouldn’t be said outside of a basketball court,” Gobert said. “A lot of things that I would never say. I’m not perfect but I don’t say things to guys on the court that I wouldn’t say to their face outside the locker room.” The Jazz and Mavs will play again in Dallas later this month, and could face each other in the postseason — they currently hold the fourth and fifth spots in the West.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic, in considering the Jazz’s long-term future, envisions the team eventually moving Donovan Mitchell to the point guard role on a full-time basis. If and when Mitchell assumes that role, Utah would probably want to complement him with a secondary creator and with a couple long, athletic wings who can shoot, Jones suggests. Mike Conley, the team’s current point guard, is under contract for two more seasons beyond this one, though his 2023/24 salary isn’t fully guaranteed.
  • A Louisiana native, Jazz rookie Jared Butler got his first opportunity to play an NBA game in New Orleans last Friday night, logging seven minutes of mop-up time in Utah’s blowout loss to the Pelicans. Speaking to local media, Butler discussed the challenges he has faced this season during a transition period. “This year has been interesting, because it’s brand-new for me,” Butler said, per Rod Walker of NOLA.com. “The coolest thing is I get to learn right now. That’s been a change of pace for me going from playing 30 minutes a night in college to just sitting and learning. So that’s been an adjustment. But there’s also just been the adjustment to the NBA lifestyle.”

COVID-19 Updates: Grizzlies, Doumbouya, Oubre, Pistons, More

The Grizzlies now have a league-high four players in the NBA’s health and safety protocols. When they updated their injury report on Tuesday for Wednesday’s game vs. Milwaukee, the Grizzlies removed Yves Pons from the protocols, but added key contributors Kyle Anderson and Desmond Bane (Twitter link). Big man Killian Tillie also remains in the protocols for Memphis, and point guard Tyus Jones was added today (Twitter link).

While the Grizzlies shouldn’t have to wait too long to get some of their players back from the protocols, they’ll likely be shorthanded on the wing for their next few games, with Anderson and Bane both unavailable and Dillon Brooks (ankle) still on the shelf too.

Here are a few more protocol-related updates:

  • Lakers two-way forward Sekou Doumbouya entered the COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, according to the team (Twitter link via Kyle Goon of the Southern California News Group). Doumbouya had been in the G League with South Bay, so his absence won’t have a major impact on the NBA club.
  • Hornets forward Kelly Oubre and Pistons guard Frank Jackson are among the players to have exited the protocols this week, according to their respective teams (Twitter links). Jackson missed Tuesday’s game vs. Golden State due to reconditioning, while Oubre is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s contest in Boston.
  • Pistons rookie Luka Garza, who was on a G League assignment, had his status changed to “health and safety protocols” on Tuesday night’s injury report. Meanwhile, this morning’s injury reports no longer list Jazz guard Jared Butler or Kings wing Robert Woodard, an indication that both players have cleared the protocols.
  • Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley and top assistant Nate Tibbetts both entered the protocols on Monday, resulting in assistant Jesse Mermuys taking over on a temporary basis as Orlando’s acting head coach, per the team (Twitter link).

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Blazers, Jazz, J. Green, Wolves

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard isn’t traveling with the team on its upcoming six-game road trip, which will begin on Thursday in Denver, head coach Chauncey Billups said on Sunday. As Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report tweets, the plan is for Lillard to meet with a specialist to determine the next steps to treat his lower abdominal tendinopathy.

In a full article for Bleacher Report, Highkin says not to be surprised if the Trail Blazers decide to shut down Lillard for an extended period, perhaps even the rest of the season.

As Highkin explains, that would be a logical route to take for a 15-24 Portland team that hasn’t met expectations in the first half of the season. Lillard’s long-term health is the most important factor in the Trail Blazers’ future, so taking the time to get him back to 100% makes sense — and could put the Blazers in position to secure a lottery pick in 2022. Portland owes its 2022 first-rounder to Chicago, but only if it lands outside of the top 14.

Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer explores the subject in his latest article as well, contending that it’s time for the Trail Blazers to reset. In O’Connor’s view, it would be in the team’s best interests to hang onto Lillard and youngsters Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little while shopping Jusuf Nurkic, Robert Covington, and even CJ McCollum.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Danuel House, who is on a 10-day contract with the Jazz, made a case on Friday for a longer-term deal with the team, scoring 13 points and handing out four assists, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News details. Utah has two openings on its 15-man roster, so there’s an opportunity for House if he can take advantage of it. He went scoreless in 13 minutes during his second game with Utah on Saturday.
  • The Jazz got forward Joe Ingles back from out of the NBA’s health and safety protocols today, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. However, rookie Jared Butler and big man Udoka Azubuike have both entered the protocols, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links), so Utah now has five players affected.
  • Nuggets forward Jeff Green is thrilled to still be playing in the NBA 10 years after he underwent open-heart surgery in 2012, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “A lot of GMs, a lot of teams told me I wouldn’t even make it past five (years in the NBA),” Green told Singer. “To be here (at) 10, I’m just blessed, man. I’m thankful … and I’m glad they told me that.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has liked what he’s seen from this year’s Timberwolves, who are currently in a play-in spot with a 20-20 record. You’re seeing a maturation of a young team finding their own,” Towns said on Sunday, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune (Twitter link). “I think everyone in the NBA is seeing an identity being built in Minnesota, something I think has been lacking in this organization for a long, long time.”

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Ingles, Mitchell, Whiteside, Butler, Wade

Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pacers center Myles Turner engaged in a skirmish during Thursday’s game in Utah, briefly wrestling with one another after getting tangled up following a Gobert drive (video link).

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune details, the incident resulted in ejections for Gobert and Turner, as well as for Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell. Ingles was ejected for shoving referee Ed Malloy while trying to break up the fight; Mitchell was said to be “acting as an instigator and escalating the situation.” It’s unclear if any players will face suspensions as a result of the incident, but fines, at least, seem likely.

After the game, Mitchell and Gobert were focused more on the way the game was being officiated than concerns about forthcoming penalties. Gobert said referees are “allowing guys to do way too much s–t” this season and Mitchell agreed.

“It’s really at a point now, especially tonight, where the referees are allowing things to get out of hand,” Mitchell said, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “Both teams, we’re competitors and we’ll play through contact and talk s–t and do whatever. But at some point it’s continuing to build and you can sense that.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Hassan Whiteside has been a great fit so far as the Jazz’s second-string center, Todd writes for The Deseret News. According to Todd, the veteran big man – who has been accused in the past of looking to pad his own stats – has embraced the team-first philosophy in Utah. “It’s so cool how close this team is, I haven’t been on a team that’s this close,” Whiteside said. “A lot of people say, ‘Hey we’re close team, hey we do this together.’ Nah. This is really like a close-knit group. It’s great. I love it.”
  • Rookie guard Jared Butler can expect to bounce back and forth between the NBA and the G League this season, as Todd outlines in a separate story for The Deseret News. The veteran-heavy Jazz won’t be making it a top priority to develop their young prospects at the NBA level, so Butler, Udoka Azubuike, and Elijah Hughes could all see reps for the Salt Lake City Stars when they’re not part of Utah’s rotation, says general manager Justin Zanik.
  • Dwyane Wade‘s position as a part-owner of the Jazz hasn’t diminished his Heat fandom, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel. Wade said he still “loves” his old team and would be rooting for them to win a championship if the Jazz don’t. “Miami, from a personal standpoint, I would love to see them win it all,” he said. “But I also would love to see us win it all. So, for me, it’s a win-win.”