Jarred Vanderbilt

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.

Suns Pursued Bogdanovic, But Jazz Balked At Including Vanderbilt

The Suns were reportedly pursuing forward Bojan Bogdanovic, but they also wanted Jarred Vanderbilt in the deal and the Jazz balked at including the athletic big man, causing the trade talks to break down, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM (Twitter link). Tony Jones of The Athletic confirmed Gambadoro’s report, tweeting that the Jazz “highly value” the young power forward.

Utah ended up trading Bogdanovic to Detroit for Kelly Olynyk and Saben Lee in a cost-cutting move instead, which was pretty surprising both because of the destination and the return package — many thought Bogdanovic would fetch draft compensation.

Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday that Utah had late first-round pick offers for the veteran sharpshooter, but the proposals also included longer-term salaries, so the team chose to maintain financial flexibility instead. Within her analysis of the trade, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News alluded to the fact that the Jazz had proposals for Bogdanovic that also included young players, but the Jazz “didn’t want to part ways with some of the players that they see as part of their future.”

According to Jones (Twitter link), the draft compensation Phoenix offered wasn’t enticing enough for Utah to give up both Bogdanovic and Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is a unique and solid role player on a reasonable contract, Jones observes. The 23-year-old has a cap hit of $4,374,000 in 2022/23, and next year’s $4,698,000 cap hit is only partially guaranteed at $300K.

The Jazz acquired Vanderbilt from the Wolves in the Rudy Gobert trade. In 74 games with Minnesota last season, including 67 starts (25.4 MPG), he averaged 6.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG and 1.3 SPG while shooting 58.7% from the floor and 65.6% from the line.

Vanderbilt is an excellent rebounder, a strong, versatile defender, and plays with tremendous energy, but is a limited offensive player. Considering his age, production and contract, it’s understandable why the Jazz would be reluctant to part with him.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Giddey, Vanderbilt, Nuggets

Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns doesn’t expect to have any issues shifting from center to power forward when he plays alongside new teammate Rudy Gobert in 2022/23. As Towns tells Colin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports, playing at the four is something he has gotten accustomed to doing over the course of his career.

“The last time I had something like this, obviously I had Gorgui Dieng, I played (power forward) a lot of years in the NBA. Fans forgot that. It’s OK,” he said. “And go back to me in college. This is how I played in college. Willie Cauley-Stein is like 7’2″. I don’t know what they’re missing in that.”

While Towns is far from the league’s most effective perimeter defender, he said he’s looking forward to the challenge of taking on those assignments. The All-NBA big man added that he expects talent to win out as he and Gobert attempt to develop chemistry.

“I think that Rudy’s one of the best defensive players we’ve ever had in the NBA. He has the hardware to prove it,” Towns told Henninger. “I think I’m one of the best offensive players and talents the NBA has ever seen. So putting us together gives us really a whole spectrum of talent to use.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Having appeared in just 54 games as a rookie, Thunder guard Josh Giddey has spent a lot of time in the gym and the weight room this summer preparing his body to withstand the rigors of an 82-game schedule, he told Matthew Sullivan of News.com.au. “It’s a long season so taking care of your body is a really important part of being an NBA player,” Giddey said, adding that he feels “ready to go” after missing the end of last season due to a hip issue.
  • New Jazz forward Jarred Vanderbilt spoke to Spencer Davies of BasketballNews.com about his fresh start in Utah, his impressions of new teammate Collin Sexton, and playing alongside Malik Beasley on a third team, among other topics. Vanderbilt said he’s looking forward to getting the chance to “expand and grow” his game with the Jazz.
  • In a mailbag for The Denver Post (subscription required), Mike Singer considers whether the Nuggets could realistically claim the No. 1 seed in the West, examines what the second unit might look like, and explains why the team re-signed Vlatko Cancar rather than pursuing a free agent like Juancho Hernangomez.

Jazz Continue To Engage In Trade Discussions

The Jazz have traded three starters from last year’s roster so far this offseason, but even after moving Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Royce O’Neale for a boatload of draft picks, the team isn’t necessarily done with its offseason work.

According to Tony Jones of The Athletic, the Jazz continue to engage in trade conversations about a number of their remaining veterans, including Bojan Bogdanovic, Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson.

In the latest episode of his Please Don’t Aggregate This podcast, Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms that Bogdanovic, Conley, and Clarkson are “definitely on the trade block.” Fischer says he has also gotten the impression that the Jazz would “love to move off” Rudy Gay and has heard Leandro Bolmaro‘s name come up in some trade rumors.

Even beyond those five players, Utah would likely be willing to listen to inquiries on many others members of their roster, including Malik Beasley, according to Fischer. Jarred Vanderbilt is another player the club could theoretically move, though Fischer says a team might have to “knock Utah’s socks off” to acquire the young forward.

Based on the deals they’ve made so far this summer, it’s safe to assume the Jazz would be prioritizing draft assets as they continue to gauge the trade market.

Among Utah’s veterans, Bogdanovic might be the one with the most trade value. He’s on a reasonable $19.55MM expiring contract and is a talented frontcourt scorer, having averaged 18.4 PPG over the last three seasons (204 games) with the Jazz. The 33-year-old forward is also a major threat from beyond the arc — he has made at least 38.7% of his three-point tries in each of the last five seasons.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 reported on Thursday that the Suns had inquired on Bogdanovic, but Phoenix is hardly the only team with interest. Gambadoro tweeted late last night that several teams, including the Lakers, are eyeing Bogdanovic.

Any trade sending Bogdanovic to the Lakers would have to involve Russell Westbrook for salary-matching purposes, and would require at least one or two other players to go to Los Angeles — the Jazz would likely try to pry away the Lakers’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks in that scenario, though L.A. has been reluctant to attach more than one first-rounder to Westbrook.

Bogdanovic’s cap hit of nearly $20MM will make it tricky for certain teams to seriously pursue him. For instance, while he might be a good fit in Boston following Danilo Gallinari‘s injury, the Celtics probably can’t make a viable offer for him that doesn’t include at least one key rotation player whose value matches or exceeds Bogdanovic’s.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Westbrook, Randle, Suns, Curry

Now that Kyrie Irving is reportedly off the table for the Lakers, Jovan Buha of The Athletic breaks down the team’s other potential options for dealing Russell Westbrook.

As Buha writes, a trade with the Pacers for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield makes sense for the Lakers, but they’d likely have to include both their 2027 and 2029 first-rounders to make that happen, which hasn’t transpired to this point. Buha wonders if Indiana would be interested in the move if the Lakers put protections on the ’29 pick or perhaps include a pick swap instead.

Turner and Hield would instantly become the Lakers’ “third- and fourth-best players on the roster, upgrading the starting lineup, depth and collective shooting,” Buha states, adding that Turner would complement Anthony Davis in the frontcourt due to his defensive versatility and ability to space the floor (.349 career 3PT%).

The Lakers could also get involved as a third team in a potential Donovan Mitchell trade, or target Jazz veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic, Patrick Beverley, Jordan Clarkson and Jarred Vanderbilt, Buha notes.

Here’s more from the Pacific:

  • Within the same piece, Buha says the Lakers aren’t interested in a potential reunion with Knicks forward Julius Randle, whom L.A. drafted No. 7 overall in 2014, due to his long-term contract and “less-than-ideal fit” with Davis and LeBron James. According to Buha, New York, Charlotte and San Antonio are all unlikely trade partners for Westbrook for various reasons, even though the three teams theoretically make some sense.
  • With Kevin Durant said to be sticking with the Nets, at least for now, a trio of Suns players whose names were floated in trade talks for the star have a big opportunity entering 2022/23, per Greg Moore of The Arizona Republic. Moore thinks Mikal Bridges likely won’t be affected by the rumors, but wonders if Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton should have bigger offensive roles next season to improve the team’s versatility as Phoenix looks to win its first championship.
  • Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area details why Warriors star Stephen Curry, the reigning Finals MVP, is underpaid despite having the largest salary in the league in ’22/23 ($48.1MM). Golden State’s franchise valuation has increased a little more than 12-fold over the past 12 years ($450MM to $5.6 billion), the team is immensely popular both locally and nationally, and the Warriors have won the championship four times in the past eight years largely due to Curry’s impact, making him worth more than double his current contract, according to Poole.

Jazz, Knicks Still Far Apart On Donovan Mitchell Trade

Rumors continue to emerge regarding Donovan Mitchell trade talks involving the Jazz and Knicks, but little progress has been made, according to Tony Jones of the Athletic. Appearing Friday on the HoopsHype podcast with Michael Scotto, Jones was pessimistic that a deal will get done soon.

“I don’t think the two sides are close. I don’t think they have been close,” Jones said. “We’ll see what happens as the urgency of training camp looms. The Jazz want what they want, which is picks out of this deal, and they want young guys on short or rookie contracts.”

Knicks players who fit that definition include Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes and Immanuel Quickley, but New York has been unwilling to part with significant young talent in addition to substantial draft assets. Jones said keeping Grimes is a priority for the Knicks, along with veteran guard Derrick Rose, who is a longtime favorite of coach Tom Thibodeau.

“The sense I get right now is it’s probably not going to happen on an imminent level,” Jones added. “The two sides aren’t close. To me, I think if it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen closer to training camp or the start of the season. If it doesn’t happen then, we’ll see what happens closer to the February trade deadline.”

There are more Jazz-related notes from the podcast:

  • Matching Mitchell’s salary of $30.35MM for next season becomes trickier if Rose’s $14.52MM contract isn’t involved. Scotto notes that Utah doesn’t want to take on long-term money, which eliminates Julius Randle ($23.76MM) and Evan Fournier ($18MM). Jones said the Jazz don’t have any interest in adding Randle and “I’m not sure there’s much of an appetite for (Cam) Reddish ($5.95MM).” He adds that the Jazz would rather keep Mitchell and hold onto a possible $36-$40MM in cap room for next summer than accept unwanted salary.
  • Looking at the rest of the roster, Jones believes Utah can easily find deals for Bojan Bogdanovic, Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley if the team decides to move them before the start of the season. He thinks there’s less of a market for Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Malik Beasley.
  • Udoka Azubuike may have the inside track to be the starting center if Utah trades Mitchell and commits to a youth movement, Jones adds. Sources tell Jones that Azubuike has been working with coaches in Salt Lake City all summer and has been showing improvement. First-round pick Walker Kessler would also be in the mix for the starting job. If the Jazz keep Mitchell and try to make the playoffs, Jones expects them to find a more experienced center in free agency.

Trade Rumors: Lakers, Pacers, Vanderbilt, Durant, Knicks

Talks between the Lakers and Pacers about a trade that would include Russell Westbrook, Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, and other assets are currently dead, a source tells Bob Kravitz of The Athletic (Twitter link). Kravitz adds that those discussions could reignite if the Lakers add another first-round pick to their offer, but he says they’re currently at a standstill.

Kravitz’s wording suggests L.A. is only willing to attach one of its two tradable first-rounders (2027 and 2029) to Westbrook in exchange for Hield and Turner, so it’s not surprising that the Pacers aren’t interested.

As we noted earlier this week, if the Lakers want to try to acquire just one of Hield or Turner, there are ways to construct a deal using Talen Horton-Tucker ($10.26MM) and Kendrick Nunn ($5.25MM) instead of Westbrook’s $47MM expiring deal for outgoing salary purposes. But acquiring both Pacers veterans would mean including Westbrook and would require a substantial package of draft assets.

Here are a few more trade rumors and notes from around the NBA:

  • Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who suggested last week that Jarred Vanderbilt is drawing trade interest, said on the latest episode of his podcast that “a lot of teams” have called the Jazz about the 23-year-old forward. “I don’t know the number. I don’t really have any specific teams that I’ve heard of,” Fischer said, per HoopsHype. “But last I (heard), he was the guy who’s getting the most calls, the most incoming calls of all the (Jazz) players.”
  • Given that no team is willing to meet the Nets‘ sky-high asking price for Kevin Durant, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on NBA Today on Thursday (video link) that he’s waiting for one of two things to happen: Brooklyn to lower that asking price, or Durant to be pulled off the trade market. There has been no indication that either one of those moves is imminent, Windhorst adds.
  • As the Knicks pursue a possible Donovan Mitchell deal, it’s important that they consider what pieces would be left over, writes Fred Katz of The Athletic. Besides not wanting to sacrifice too many players who could play alongside Mitchell, the Knicks will also want to retain enough assets to potentially be able to trade for another star within a couple years, since Mitchell alone wouldn’t make them a title contender, Katz says.

Northwest Notes: Juzang, Vanderbilt, Thunder, KCP

Two-way player Johnny Juzang could be another developmental success story for the Jazz, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes.

Juzang, one of UCLA’s stars during the Final Four run in 2021, should get more of an opportunity than most undrafted rookies with Utah apparently shifting to rebuild mode. There are questions about Juzang’s defensive ability, but he proved to be a steady offensive threat in college. He struggled in Summer League action, shooting 26.1% from the field.

“I feel like I see the floor pretty well right now but I want to continue to become even more of a playmaker,” Juzang said. “I’m also focused on playing on and off the ball. It will all come with time.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Forward Jarred Vanderbilt, one of the players acquired from the Timberwolves in the Rudy Gobert deal, should be a defensive asset for the Jazz. He recognizes that he can be even more of a force if he develops his offensive game, according to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. Vanderbilt started 67 regular season games for Minnesota last season but only averaged 6.9 PPG in 25.4 MPG. “Finishing around the rim, touch; working on my shooting, trying to expand my range; working on ball-handling and counter-moves,” Vanderbilt said of what he needs to work on the most. “I’m still young in my career, where I have a lot of opportunity to still grow and expand my game as well. I’m sticking to the foundation that got me here, but building off that.”
  • What did the Thunder learn about No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren and the rest of their squad at the Vegas Summer League? Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman breaks down their performances.
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s two-year extension with the Nuggets is worth $14.7MM in 2023/24, with a $15.44MM player option for ’24/25, Hoops Rumors has learned. The deal comes in at approximately $30.15MM in total.
  • In case you missed it, Kenrich Williams agreed to a four-year extension with the Thunder. Get all the details here.

Celtics Notes: Gallinari, R. Williams, Horford, Mitchell

Danilo Gallinari‘s first exposure to the NBA came in the form of Larry Bird tapes that he watched while growing up in Italy, so it was an easy decision to join the Celtics in free agency, writes Jared Weiss of The Athletic. At age 33 and after 14 years in the league, Gallinari gets to live out his dream of playing for Bird’s former franchise.

“I think it’s something that is honestly gonna motivate me,” he said. “If I can do and achieve, team-wise, just a little bit of what he achieved in the past for the Celtics, it will be amazing.”

The Bulls would have given Gallinari more money, according to Weiss, but his affection for the Celtics prompted him to take their offer of $13.3MM over the next two seasons. Now that he’s officially in Boston, the forward wants to be part of bringing an 18th NBA championship to the city.

“You walk even in this facility, you look around and see what’s going on around the banners and the history and everything the Celtics were about, it was an easy choice,” Gallinari said.

There’s more from Boston:

  • Center Robert Williams isn’t showing any ill effects from playing in the postseason after undergoing meniscus surgery in March, a source tells Sean Deveney of Heavy. Williams dealt with frequent knee soreness and swelling, but he was still able to be on the court for 17 of Boston’s 24 games in its run to the NBA Finals. He hasn’t experienced any knee issues since then, according to Deveney’s source, and will resume training after a six-week rest period.
  • Al Horford is likely to see a reduction in playing time next season, Brian Robb of MassLive speculates in a mailbag column. He points out that Horford was fresher heading into this season because he was coming off a year in which he played just 28 games for Oklahoma City. The changes the Celtics have made so far this summer have created a deeper bench and provide more opportunity to rest Horford, particularly in back-to-backs.
  • The Celtics aren’t likely to get involved in Donovan Mitchell trade talks, Robb adds in a separate story, citing league sources, but he notes that there are other ways for Boston to benefit. Robb points to Jarred Vanderbilt as a low-cost option that the Jazz might make available.

Jazz Rumors: Mitchell, Sexton, Conley, Vanderbilt, Beverley, More

The Jazz are reportedly open to listening to trade inquiries on Donovan Mitchell, but that doesn’t mean they’re shopping the All-Star guard or that he’s likely to be moved this offseason, according to reports from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report and Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Both Fischer and Jones say the Jazz remain focused on keeping Mitchell and building around him, but would consider changing their stance if they get a significant enough trade offer. Fischer suggests such an offer would have to “rival or even surpass” what Utah got for Rudy Gobert.

The front office has been in constant contact with Mitchell’s representatives, according to Jones, who says those conversations have been positive and the 25-year-old hasn’t asked to be dealt. However, Jones acknowledges that the Jazz will likely take a step back in 2022/23 after moving Gobert, and Mitchell “wants to win at a high level,” so the team’s next moves will be crucial.

Fischer likens the situation to James Harden‘s final year in Houston, when the Rockets rebuffed trade offers for P.J. Tucker and made moves to try to convince Harden to stick around, only to see him eventually request a trade. That doesn’t mean Mitchell will take the same path, but some executives around the league believe he and the Jazz are headed for a break-up, whether it happens this offseason or in a year or two.

Although Jones says several other teams have made “serious overtures,” the Knicks have long been viewed as one of the primary suitors for Mitchell. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said during an appearance on Get Up (video link) that “some people” view it as inevitable that the former lottery pick will ultimately end up in New York.

“New York can offer some combination of multiple picks, RJ Barrett, Obi Toppin and Immanuel Quickley, and that’s probably the benchmark any team is going to have to beat in order to get Donovan Mitchell from the Jazz,” an assistant general manager told Bleacher Report.

The Heat have also been frequently linked to Mitchell, but Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune says Miami made an offer for the former Louisville standout earlier in the offseason and the Jazz found it “insufficient.”

According to Fischer, who polled about two dozen executives in Las Vegas, Barrett has more trade value than Tyler Herro, Miami’s most logical trade centerpiece, though it’s unclear whether Utah has serious interest in either player — both are expected to be seeking maximum-salary (or near-max) extensions that would begin in 2023/24.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • The Jazz have explored a potential sign-and-trade deal for Collin Sexton that would send Mike Conley to Cleveland, sources tell Bleacher Report. However, Fischer admits that Conley may not fit the Cavaliers‘ roster and suggests that if those talks gain serious traction, another Utah player would probably have to be involved. Conley did generate some interest from the Clippers before they signed John Wall, Fischer adds, but it’s trickier to find a logical landing spot for him at this point.
  • Leading up to the June 23 draft, the Jazz were looking for first-round picks in the 15-to-25 range for Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, or Royce O’Neale, Fischer reports. The team ended up moving O’Neale for a 2023 first-rounder.
  • All of the players the Jazz acquired from Minnesota in the Gobert trade are considered available, Fischer says. “They are open to moving everyone,” one assistant GM told Bleacher Report.
  • Jarred Vanderbilt and Patrick Beverley are among the players from that Gobert trade who have drawn interest, per Fischer. Sources tell Bleacher Report that the Lakers and Heat are a couple of the teams with some interest in Beverley.