Jarred Vanderbilt

Jazz Notes: Olynyk, Trade Talks, Sexton, Agbaji

Jazz center Kelly Olynyk, who has missed the team’s last six games due to a left ankle sprain, was a partial participant in practice on Thursday after beginning on-court work on Wednesday, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Olynyk still has a little ways to go before he’s cleared to return to action though — Larsen said on Friday night that the big man isn’t expected to play for the next week.

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Although the Hawks turned down a Jazz trade proposal that would have sent Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Atlanta for John Collins and a first-round pick, the expectation is that those two teams will resume their conversations closer to the trade deadline, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah is expected to engage in plenty of trade discussions with teams around the league and will consider any deal that would be good for the franchise, whether that means buying or selling, Jones adds.
  • In case you missed it, Marc Stein reported earlier today that the Jazz will likely be open to listening to inquiries on anyone except Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler. In her own trade deadline primer, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News expresses a belief that Collin Sexton belongs with Markkanen and Kessler in that group of players who are highly unlikely to be dealt this season.
  • In a separate story for The Deseret News, Todd explores the developmental process that the Jazz rookies have been going through in their first NBA season, noting that No. 14 overall pick Ochai Agbaji has been earning more playing time as of late. Agbaji has put up more than four points just once in his last five outings, but the Jazz have outscored opponents by 41 points in his 111 minutes during that stretch.

Northwest Notes: Gobert Trade, Malone, Porter Jr., Anderson

The Timberwolves’ acquisition of Rudy Gobert could eventually go down as the most lopsided trade in NBA history with the Jazz as the beneficiary, Andy Larsen of Salt Lake Tribune opines.

Jazz rookie center Walker Kessler has played as well or better than Gobert has this season, in Larsen’s view. Utah also received Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley, who could potentially be flipped for first-round picks, plus the Timberwolves’ first-rounder this year as well as first-rounders in 2025, 2027 and 2029 and a pick swap in 2026.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Michael Malone did not coach the Nuggets’ game against Portland on Tuesday because he entered the league’s health and safety protocols, Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets. Assistant David Adelman filled in for Malone.
  • Michael Porter Jr. is feeling healthier and it’s reflected in his increasing dunk total, Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com notes. Porter had 13 dunks this season entering Tuesday’s contest with four coming in the last three games. Porter was sidelined for 13 games last month with a heel injury. “I think my foot’s getting better and I just think my nerve is healing from my back surgery and stuff like that,” Porter said. “I feel like I’m getting my legs back under me a little bit. I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near where I will be toward the end of the season, but I feel like I’m in a good place overall.”
  • The Timberwolves used their mid-level exception last summer to sign forward Kyle Anderson to a two-year deal. He’s proving to be a very valuable addition, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Anderson, who is averaging a career-best 3.9 assists, had a triple-double in Monday’s loss to the Jazz. “He’s just such a solid basketball player that when he’s out there, he’s always keeping things steady,” guard Austin Rivers said.

Trade Candidate Watch: Popular Forward Targets

Leading up to the February 9 trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA. We’re starting today with a handful of popular targets who share positional overlap.

John Collins, F, Hawks

Collins is only 25 years old, but he’s been in trade rumors for at least three years now. He’s a good player, he just doesn’t fit very well on Atlanta’s roster anymore.

The reason his scoring has declined so precipitously – from 21.6 PPG in 2019/20 to 13.1 PPG in ’22/23 – is because the team no longer caters to his strengths. The Hawks rarely run plays for him, which makes it seem like he’s less effective. I don’t believe that’s the case.

Collins’ best attribute as a player is that he’s an excellent dive man on pick-and-rolls, where he’s adept at both setting and slipping screens and is a terrific lob finisher. The problem is that’s basically all centers Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu do on offense besides getting offensive rebounds, so their strengths are somewhat redundant on that end, and Collins doesn’t have the size or strength to play center full time on defense.

He has been a solid shooter in the past – 37.6% from deep on 2.5 attempts per night over his first five seasons – but is only converting 22.8% this season. That seems more like an anomaly than a worrisome trend.

It’s clear that it would be in both parties’ best interests if he was moved to a new team. There are two main complications.

Including his player option in ‘25/26, Collins will earn $102MM over the next four years – not unreasonable, but not exactly easy to move either. His best fit would be alongside a center who can protect the paint and shoot from outside, but that’s a small list. Keep an eye on the Pacers and Jazz, two teams that don’t have long-term cap concerns.

Bojan Bogdanovic, F, Pistons

Most players find their efficiency diminished with an increased offensive role — being targeted by opposing teams’ game plans makes scoring more difficult. Not so with Bogdanovic, who is averaging career highs in points (21.2), assists (2.8), and free throw attempts (5.2) per game, as well as true shooting percentage (.629), in his first year with Detroit.

Bogdanovic can score from all over the court and his contract is reasonable ($39MM over two years following this season), but he turns 34 in April, is a below-average rebounder (3.6 per game), and is best suited to defending bigger forwards. The Pistons are said to be looking for an unprotected first-round pick for the veteran, and he has a long list of teams interested in his services.

I highly doubt that asking price will be met unless it’s from a team outside the lottery or a pick years down the line. I understand why they’re maintaining that position right now – not many sellers have emerged yet and he’s one of the top players available. But I think that will change ahead of the deadline, and the Pistons will have to decide whether to take the best offer available or just hold onto him.

Jae Crowder, F, Suns

Crowder has been a solid role player for a long time, mostly due to his toughness, defense and ability to make quick reads on offense. He’s 32 now and definitely best suited to play power forward, as he struggles staying in front of quicker players, but there’s a reason his teams consistently make the playoffs.

His ability to space the floor is a bit overrated – he’s more of a willing shooter than a good one, converting 34.6% of his career looks behind the arc, including 33.9% in the playoffs. That said, he’s good enough that you can’t just leave him open, especially if he gets hot.

Crowder’s season-long holdout with the Suns is one of the strangest NBA situations I’ve seen in my years following the league. He’s on a $10.2MM expiring contract, so you’d think he would be incentivized to play to maximize his future earnings, yet he’s done the opposite.

There has to be more to the story here, but whatever the reason is, it hasn’t helped his value or the Suns’ ability to move him. Who knows what type of shape he’ll be in when he returns? Whichever team acquires him will be taking a risk if it gives up assets.

The Suns’ ownership situation also complicates matters — outgoing suspended owner Robert Sarver reportedly has to sign off on a potential deal, even though the team is being bought by Mat Ishbia. The Bucks and Hawks have been the two teams most consistently linked to Crowder.

Jarred Vanderbilt, F, Jazz

The No. 41 overall pick of the 2018 draft, Vanderbilt has worked his way up from the bottom – he barely played at all his first two seasons (28 total games and 115 minutes), but he’s turned himself into a valuable role player on competitive teams.

Vanderbilt’s playing style is the most unique out of the players on this list. He’s the closest to what some might call a “traditional” power forward — an energizer who is a very strong rebounder, but is still rounding out his game in other areas.

He has expanded his game with Utah, attempting more threes (1.0 per game at 32.6%), more than doubling his assists (from 1.3 to 2.8) and improving his free throw percentage (a career-high 69.8%). Interestingly, although his offensive game has improved, I think his defense has actually declined a little – he was always prone to some over-aggressive fouls, and the team’s defense is certainly worse, but he hasn’t looked as solid on that end to my eyes.

That said, Vanderbilt won’t turn 24 until April, is still improving, and he’s on a very team-friendly contract ($4.3MM this season, and his $4.6MM deal for next season is only guaranteed for $300K). The Jazz are said to be looking for a first-round pick for Vanderbilt. There haven’t been any rumors regarding protections on the potential pick, but I think there’s a good chance he gets moved in the next few weeks.

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Suns, McDaniels, Sixers, Holmes

League personnel expect the Jazz to become a seller ahead of the February 9 trade deadline, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who reports that Utah has received a lot of interest in Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. The Jazz are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for either player, sources tell Fischer.

A couple weeks ago, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported about three-team trade talks between the Jazz, Suns and Hawks that involved Beasley, Vanderbilt, John Collins and Jae Crowder. Fischer hears from sources that the Jazz and Hawks also discussed a more straightforward deal, with Beasley and Vanderbilt heading to Atlanta in exchange for Collins, but suggests that the deal may have fallen apart when Utah asked for a first-rounder as well.

Echoing a report from Marc Stein, Fischer says Jordan Clarkson “is not considered a trade candidate at this time.” The Jazz want to keep the veteran guard, but are currently limited in what they can offer him in an extension, so he is expected to hit free agency.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • Fischer suggests that a three-team deal is the most likely pathway for Crowder to eventually be dealt from the Suns. The Bucks are known to be very interested in Crowder, with Fischer reiterating that Milwaukee has been dangling Grayson Allen to rival teams. Charania reported a couple days ago that the Suns are interested in Hornets forward Jalen McDaniels, but sources tell Fischer that the fourth-year forward is a favorite of GM Mitch Kupchak, so Allen and second-round picks is unlikely to be enough for Charlotte.
  • Rival teams have gotten the impression that the Suns are looking for another ball-handler at guard, potentially a long-term replacement for point guard Chris Paul, Fischer adds.
  • Like Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, Fischer says the Wizards aren’t currently open to trading Kyle Kuzma, as the team hopes to re-sign him in free agency.
  • Unsurprisingly, Fischer writes that the Sixers will be actively looking for roster upgrades ahead of a playoff push. However, if that doesn’t come to fruition, Fischer suggests Philadelphia might dump a smaller salary to dip below the luxury tax threshold, pointing to Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle and Jaden Springer as potential contracts that could be moved.
  • Kings backup center Richaun Holmes is available on the trade market, sources tell Fischer. The 29-year-old is in the second year of a four-year, $46MM deal, but has fallen out of Sacramento’s rotation under new head coach Mike Brown, averaging just 2.7 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 26 games (9.0 MPG). He averaged 14.2 PPG, 8.3 RPG and 1.6 BPG in 2020/21, so it’s possible a rival team might view him as a bounce-back candidate, but there’s no question that his value has declined.

Jazz, Hawks, Suns Discussed Possible Three-Team Trade

The Jazz, Hawks, and Suns discussed a possible three-team trade that would have sent John Collins to Utah and Jae Crowder to Atlanta, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium reported during an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link).

As Charania outlines, Phoenix would have acquired swingman Malik Beasley and forward Jarred Vanderbilt from the Jazz in the proposed deal, while Utah would have received Collins and other assets and Atlanta would have gotten Crowder and at least one other player.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reports that Suns guard Landry Shamet was also included in those trade talks and would have been sent to the Hawks along with Crowder in at least one proposed framework.

According to Charania, the trade failed to gain serious traction because Utah was seeking multiple first-round picks along with Collins.

That Jazz asking price is both an indication of how they view Collins’ long-term contract (he’s owed $78.5MM for three years after this season) and how they value Beasley and Vanderbilt. Scotto has heard from rival executives that the Jazz consider Vanderbilt to be worth a first-round pick based on his production, age (23), and contract ($4.7MM team option for 2023/24).

While Charania’s report doesn’t make it 100% clear, it sounds as if Utah may have been seeking one first-round pick from Atlanta and one from Phoenix in the proposed swap. However, the Hawks don’t consider Collins a player they want to salary-dump, according to Charania, so they’d probably be reluctant to attach a first-round selection to him for a non-star, especially after having already surrendered multiple future first-rounders for Dejounte Murray over the summer.

Both Collins and Crowder have spent much of the season on the trade block, so we’ll likely hear their names pop up repeatedly leading up to the February 9 deadline. The Jazz are another team expected to be active in trade discussions, though their unexpectedly solid first half has created some uncertainty about whether they’ll be more inclined to buy or sell.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Conley, Russell, Thunder

Rudy Gobert got a warm reception in his return to Utah Friday night, but things turned hostile after he dropped in a late layup with the game already decided, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The Timberwolves held an eight-point lead with 12 seconds left to play as the Jazz decided to trap on defense. Minnesota passed the ball to Gobert, who scored with 2.4 seconds left.

After the final buzzer, Malik Beasley, who was sent to Utah in the Gobert trade, began yelling at Gobert and accused him of violating “one of the unwritten rules of basketball,” according to Walden. Jarred Vanderbilt, who was also in the deal, walked up to Gobert and shoved him.

Gobert was upset that the skirmish marred his night, which included a tribute video commemorating his nine seasons with the Jazz.

“I don’t know what it was. But I’ve been taught to play basketball until the last second,” Gobert told reporters. “For me, there was never any intent to disrespect anybody. So these guys that stepped in front of me — you’re not going to do anything anyway. I didn’t get to shake hands with my guys, so it kind of killed my moment a little bit. But it is what it is — some guys just want attention.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz guard Mike Conley can understand what Gobert was feeling heading into Friday’s game because he went through the same experience when he returned to Memphis, Walden adds. “You just gotta try your best to do your job, but at the same time enjoy this moment,” Conley said, “because you only get to do this situation one time, where you get to come back and play against your team that you did so much for.”
  • A hot-shooting night in Cleveland about a month ago helped Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell turn his season around, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Russell said that before that game, in which he made 11-of-13 shots from the field, he was taking “the wrong approach” to his duties with the team. “I was trying to be too focused on being a point guard instead of a basketball player,” he said. “… I kind of just play basketball freely and have fun. I pass the ball, so I’m labeled as a point guard. But just being a full, all-around basketball player, [I was] switching my approach to that.”
  • Asked about Darius Bazley possibly re-entering the rotation, Thunder coach Mark Daigneault responded with a general answer, tweets Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. “We’re trying to help every guy understand their individual style of play that maximizes their strength and maximizes their ability to impact the team,” Daigneault said. “I would say that’s basically the template, the blueprint for every guy.”

Northwest Notes: Vanderbilt, Blazers, Wolves, Holmgren, Nuggets

Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt had one of his best games of the season vs. Portland on Saturday, registering 16 points, seven rebounds, four assists, and a pair of steals while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

As Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune notes, the performance was well-timed, given that Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard previously singled out Vanderbilt as someone he’d like to play with. On Saturday, Lillard responded to a tweet about Vanderbilt’s possible trade value with an eyes emoji, though he has since deleted that one.

Vanderbilt is on a team-friendly contract and is under team control for another season beyond this one, so the Jazz may not be motivated to move him at this season’s deadline. But if they do make him available, it seems safe to assume the Blazers will be among the teams inquiring, given Lillard’s influence within the organization.

Here are a few more items from around the Northwest:

  • Patrick Beverley is having a down year on the court in Los Angeles this season, but the Timberwolves have missed his locker room leadership, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. Head coach Chris Finch said on Monday that the team is still seeking its identity and looking for leaders. “Everything about winning requires leadership. It’s something that we’ve not been great at,” Finch said. “We’re trying to find a voice collectively, trying to find a personality as a team. Those are things that we’ve got to keep working on, trying to cultivate as a team. That’s my job.”
  • As expected – and as long planned – Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren underwent a successful “secondary” procedure on his foot on Tuesday to remove hardware from his initial Lisfranc surgery in August, the team announced. According to the Thunder, the timeline for Holmgren’s recovery hasn’t changed, and he remains on track to return for the 2023/24 season.
  • Nuggets head coach Michael Malone is willing to take the blame for the club’s inconsistent bench play so far this season, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “That unit has struggled most of the year, and I take responsibility for that,” Malone said. “Not finding a way to get those guys to play together, to play the right way, and most importantly, just to have some success.” Denver’s bench players have a net rating of minus-5.3, the third-worst mark in the NBA.

Jazz Rumors: Conley, Markkanen, Vanderbilt, Beasley, Collins, More

The severity of Mike Conley‘s knee injury could have an impact on which direction the Jazz go in their various trade talks, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that a significant drop-off in Utah’s play with Conley unavailable may make the team more inclined to sell — especially if the veteran point guard ends up sidelined for multiple weeks, as was originally rumored.

For the time being, Fischer says, the Jazz appear intent on keeping forward Lauri Markkanen, who is enjoying a breakout season, and guard Jordan Clarkson, who is believed to be a better candidate for an extension than a trade. The club has also established a “high” asking price for forward Jarred Vanderbilt, Fischer adds.

That would leave Conley, swingman Malik Beasley, and center Kelly Olynyk as the most likely veteran trade candidates in Utah, according to Fischer, though he acknowledges that Olynyk is a favorite of Jazz CEO Danny Ainge.

Here’s more on the Jazz from Fischer:

  • League sources tell Yahoo Sports that Utah’s interest in Hawks big man John Collins is legitimate. However, Atlanta didn’t gain any traction after inquiring about a Markkanen/Collins swap, and it seems unlikely that Collins will end up with the Jazz, Fischer writes.
  • While Conley’s $22.68MM cap hit would be the best straight-up match for Collins’ $23.5MM figure, Fischer doesn’t expect the Hawks to have much interest in Conley, given that they already have two star point guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Beasley would be a more logical candidate to be included in any Jazz deal for Collins, per Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Jazz have been looking to move Rudy Gay, who is averaging career worsts so far this season in points per game (4.5), minutes per game (15.8), and field goal percentage (36.2%), among many other categories. Gay is earning $6.18MM in 2022/23 and is considered highly likely to pick up his $6.48MM player option for ’23/24, so he’ll have negative trade value.

Jazz Notes: Horton-Tucker, Clarkson, Alexander-Walker, Vanderbilt

This year’s Lakers Night at Dodger Stadium included an unexpected surprise for Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Horton-Tucker was at the ballpark for the August promotion when news broke that he was being sent to the Jazz as part of a trade for Patrick Beverley. The deal ended his time in L.A. just one season after re-signing as a restricted free agent.

A second-round pick in 2019, Horton-Tucker spent three seasons with the Lakers and earned rotation minutes during the last two. He won a championship ring in 2020 and said he learned a lot by breaking into the NBA on a team with so many established veterans.

“Just being able to be around great players, just coming into the league with an understanding of how to work hard, how to become a star in the NBA,” Horton-Tucker said. “Being able to be around them guys, I appreciate it. I appreciate (the Lakers), too. Just welcoming me with open arms, even (LeBron James) texts me to this day, wishing me luck and stuff like that.”

Unlike the Lakers, Utah isn’t built around stars, especially after parting with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in offseason trades. Horton-Tucker believes part of the explanation for the team’s 7-3 start is that so many players are eager to show what they can do.

“I feel like guys are hungry to prove they’re good,” he said. “And I feel like we know that we’re good. We got NBA players. So we feel like we can compete with pretty much anybody. So being able to have a team like that, to have an attitude coming into games adds to everything else.”

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • After seeing Gobert and Mitchell moved, Jordan Clarkson thought he might be next to go, per Mark Medina of NBA.com. Clarkson prefers to stay in Utah, but adds that he doesn’t get fazed by trade rumors. “I don’t really care about that stuff,” he said. “I just come out and hoop. If I have another jersey on tomorrow, I’ll still try to impact the game and try to win.”
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker played fewer than eight minutes in Friday’s win over the Lakers, but he scored five important points and helped stave off an L.A. run, notes Tony Jones of The Athletic. In a season where he already has four DNPs, Alexander-Walker is learning the importance of taking advantage of whatever opportunities arise. The Jazz traded for him in February, but didn’t give him an extension on his rookie contract, so he’ll be a free agent in July. “I can’t worry about next summer until it gets here,” he said. “Nobody is promised tomorrow, so I think we all have to try and stay in the moment. I’m confident in myself and what I can do. I try to have a Kobe mentality on always being focused mentally. I have great agents that I put my trust in. So, I just want to come out and play hard whenever I have the chance.”
  • Teammates say Jarred Vanderbilt is a “maniac” in his approach to rebounding and compare him to Dennis Rodman, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

Northwest Notes: Grant, Blazers, Jokic, Murray, Vanderbilt

New Trail Blazers starting power forward Jerami Grant is working on his chemistry with center Jusuf Nurkic and the rest of his new Portland compatriots, writes Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Fentress writes that the team’s 2022 training camp tipped off on Tuesday in Santa Barbara.

“His length is incredible,” Nurkic raved of the 6’8″ forward. “Layups. Dunks. It’s so effortless.”

“I’m still learning the way he passes,” Grant said of the 6’11” center. “I’m figuring out when to cut, where to cut and kind of reading him.”

As Fentress notes, the Blazers could look to play Grant some minutes at small forward and even as a small-ball center. Like Nurkic, other teammates are also impressed with Grant’s two-way play and athleticism.

“Looking at Jerami, and the size, the athleticism and versatility sticks out,” star point guard Damian Lillard said of watching Grant from afar. “But then being able to see his skill set up close, he has been impressive.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • With four of the team’s starting positions set, three Trail Blazers players will compete in training camp for the remaining opening: the starting small forward gig. In a separate piece, Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian examines the pros and cons of swingman Josh Hart, Nassir Little and Justise Winslow. “I think as a competitor we all want to start, we all want raises,” Winslow said of the process. “But at the same time, you understand that you’re part of a bigger team.”
  • Nuggets MVP center Nikola Jokic and guard Jamal Murray are hoping to pick up right where the dynamic duo left off before Murray’s ACL tear in April 2021, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post“It was fun,” Jokic said of a recent training camp practice together. “Like I said, it feels really natural, it feels easy. I think we’re gonna be back really soon.” Head coach Michael Malone registered his excitement for the return of the pairing this season. “It looks good, but I know it’s going to look better once Jamal gets back into game shape where he completely has no concerns about his knee.”
  • The Jazz view recently-added 6’9″ big man Jarred Vanderbilt as primarily a power forward, and intend to only play him as a center in spot minutes, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Jones cites that thinking as one of the incentives behind the club’s trade for former Pistons center Kelly Olynyk.