Jaxson Hayes

Southwest Notes: Pelicans, Louzada, Rockets, Porzingis

Pelicans 2019 draft selections Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes have disappointed during their NBA tenures thus far, opines Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Clark argues that reduced roles for Alexander-Walker and Hayes have been a factor in the team’s 11-10 record across its last 21 contests. Alexander-Walker is no longer starting for New Orleans, and Hayes is effectively out of the team’s rotation.

Clark writes that 6’6″ shooting guard Alexander-Walker, drafted with the No. 17 pick out of Virginia Tech, struggles to make the proper choices with the ball, while consistent motivation appears to be an issue for 6’11” center Hayes, the eighth pick out of Texas. The Pelicans could theoretically offer both players contract extensions during the summer of 2022, but that appears unlikely given their play.

There’s more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans small forward Didi Louzada has officially been available to play since earlier this week for New Orleans after returning from a 25-game suspension, per Andrew Lopez of ESPN (Twitter link). Louzada was suspended in November for violating the NBA anti-drug policy. Louzada has yet to play since being reactivated.
  • The rebuilding Rockets offer plenty of promise, but have yet to string together much consistency on the court and have a 12-32 record so far. Kelly Iko and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic take stock of the team’s player development this season. Young point guard Kevin Porter Jr. has struggled to mesh with rookie shooting guard Jalen Green, as both Vecenie considers both to be score-first players. The floor spacing provided by shooting guards Garrison Mathews and Armoni Brooks helped the team during an injury absence for Green.
  • The solid return of Mavericks big man Kristaps Porzingis from a stint in the COVID-19 protocols should encourage Dallas fans, writes Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. The big man notched 19 points and seven boards during a 108-92 Dallas victory over the Magic on Saturday night. “I didn’t want to force anything too much,” Porzingis said of his return to game action. “First game back, lungs are going to feel it a little bit.”

Southwest Notes: Hayes, Mathews, Mavs, Grizzlies

Third-year center Jaxson Hayes, a lottery pick in 2019, has yet to carve out a role as a reliable part of the Pelicans‘ rotation. Hayes, who has spent some time in the G League this year and has seen his name surface in trade rumors, admitted to Will Guillory of The Athletic that the season has been a “frustrating” one. However, he said he believes his time in the NBAGL was good for him and that he remains confident he can take his game to another level.

“I don’t think I’m there yet, but I think I know what it looks like for the most part,” Hayes said. “I can be an elite pick-and-roll player. I can spread the floor by knocking down shots from farther out. I can bring the energy and the scoring. I can control the paint with my defense. I know what I bring to the table. I think a lot of teams know what I can bring to the table.”

Hayes will be extension-eligible during the summer of 2022 and would be a free agent in 2023 if he doesn’t get a new deal before then. An eventual change of scenery could be in the cards, but he’s still hopeful he can break through in New Orleans.

“If I get the chance, I will. You never know. Right now, I’m not getting the chance,” Hayes told Guillory. “I hope so. I love it here. This has been my home for three years. I’d much rather it happen here than anywhere else. But if it’s not in God’s plan, then it’s not in God’s plan. I’m just staying ready and focusing on myself. I’ll deal with whatever God gives me.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Garrison Mathews‘ new four-year contract with the Rockets is worth $8.2MM, with a $2MM guaranteed salary in 2021/22, sources tell Alykhan Bijani and Kelly Iko of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to Tim MacMahon of ESPN (Twitter link), Mathews will have non-guaranteed salaries with trigger dates in years two and three, plus a fourth-year team option.
  • A pair of Mavericks assistant coaches have entered the health and safety protocols, per head coach Jason Kidd, who said the team will be without Jared Dudley and Darrell Armstrong for the short term (Twitter link via Callie Caplan of The Dallas Morning News).
  • In his latest ESPN.com mailbag (Insider link), Kevin Pelton explores how the Grizzlies are winning without Ja Morant and whether the Mavericks can count on regression to the mean for several slumping shooters.

Western Trade Rumors: Westbrook, Pelicans, Nuggets, Blazers, More

The Lakers have had internal conversations about the possibility of trading Russell Westbrook, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report. Westbrook hasn’t fit in as well with LeBron James and Anthony Davis this season as the team had hoped.

However, Fischer suggests that any deal involving Westbrook is unlikely. He’s earning $44.2MM, with a $47.1MM player option for 2022/23, and there simply aren’t many players around the NBA who are available and could be used for salary-matching that sort of figure.

Fischer notes that a Cavaliers package centered around Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio would work, but such a deal probably wouldn’t appeal to Cleveland and hasn’t been discussed by the two teams. The Lakers, meanwhile, likely wouldn’t have much interest in acquiring Rockets guard John Wall, whose salary is nearly identical to Westbrook’s.

As Fischer writes, Sixers star Ben Simmons is one player whose salary could make him a candidate to be moved in a trade for Westbrook, and a Monday report indicated the Lakers have interest in Simmons. But Westbrook isn’t on Philadelphia’s wish list and conversations between the 76ers and Lakers haven’t gotten very far, says Fischer.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the Western Conference, via Fischer:

  • Despite their slow start, the Pelicans haven’t given up on the idea of vying for a spot in the play-in tournament and could be buyers at the trade deadline, according to Fischer, who says former lottery pick Jaxson Hayes is considered to be available via trade.
  • The Nuggets are seeking wing upgrades and may put JaMychal Green on the trade block, sources tell Bleacher Report.
  • Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, who are both on expiring contracts, are viewed as perhaps the most obvious trade candidates for the Trail Blazers, but Larry Nance Jr. may also be a prime target for rival front offices, says Fischer.
  • The Rockets would like to create an opening on their 15-man roster to promote two-way player Garrison Mathews, Fischer writes. Houston has a number of veteran trade candidates on its squad, including Eric Gordon, Danuel House, D.J. Augustin, and Daniel Theis.
  • The Spurs have been “frequently linked” to Suns center Jalen Smith, who is on the trade block, according to Fischer. Phoenix has previously been reported to have interest in San Antonio forward Thaddeus Young.

Southwest Notes: M. Brown, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Wall

Mavericks fans have been clamoring for Moses Brown to get a longer look at center, but head coach Jason Kidd appears in no rush to insert the 22-year-old into the rotation, writes Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News.

Dwight Powell and Willie Cauley-Stein remain ahead of Brown on the depth chart, Boban Marjanovic is still in the mix, and Kidd also sounds interested in experimenting more with Maxi Kleber in the starting lineup, shifting Kristaps Porzingis to the five. As a result, the Mavericks’ head coach isn’t making any promises to the fans who want to see more of Brown.

“He could get a chance,” Kidd said, per Townsend. “I think for fans, or for anybody, if they look at our roster we have quite a few centers. So there’s a committee of centers. And at some point, maybe he [Brown] has an opportunity to play.”

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal takes a look at what’s next for the Grizzlies with Ja Morant sidelined due to a sprained knee. Morant has the league’s third-highest usage rate among point guards, so Memphis will try to replace him using a committee, with Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, De’Anthony Melton, and Kyle Anderson all taking on added ball-handling responsibilities.
  • Jaxson Hayes opened the season as the Pelicans‘ primary backup center, but Willy Hernangomez has taken over that role in New Orleans’ last four games. Scott Kushner of NOLA.com writes that Hayes was handed his minutes, while Hernangomez – who re-signed with the team over the summer – has fought to earn his.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic is confused about why John Wall and the Rockets are at an impasse over whether or not he starts. Hollinger thinks Houston should be open to putting Wall in the starting lineup, where he could make life easier for Jalen Green, but also believes Wall shouldn’t be too hung up on starting, since potential suitors aren’t going to view him any differently if he’s coming off the bench.

Pelicans Notes: Zion, Alexander-Walker, Hayes, Jones

Zion Williamson‘s weight and conditioning are receiving increased scrutiny as his recovery from offseason foot surgery drags on, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com, who notes that multiple members of the national media have focused on the issue this week.

In a Substack article about the Pelicans star, veteran reporter Marc Stein suggested that Williamson has to be a “more active participant in his own recovery” and must find a way to better manage his weight. Former teammate J.J. Redick, now an analyst for ESPN, stated that Zion “has to be in better shape.” TNT’s television studio analysts also weighed in on the subject on Tuesday, with Charles Barkley joking that recent video of Williamson working out “looked like me and Shaq had a baby.”

Pelicans fans can’t be thrilled that Williamson continues to battle health problems as Ja Morant continues to emerge as one of the league’s brightest young stars in Memphis, but it’s revision history to suggest New Orleans should’ve drafted Morant over Zion with the No. 1 overall pick in 2019, Stein notes. According to Stein, he recently asked executives from 10 different teams about that choice and only one said he might’ve been willing to take Morant first overall two years ago — and even that exec acknowledged that team ownership probably wouldn’t have signed off.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • The 1-8 Pelicans can reasonably expect to be better once Williamson and Brandon Ingram (hip) are back on the court, but it’s a discouraging sign that other young breakout candidates – such as Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jaxson Hayes – are off to underwhelming starts this season, writes William Guillory of The Athletic.
  • Hayes, who is typically the backup center behind Jonas Valanciunas, was replaced on the depth chart by Willy Hernangomez in Wednesday’s game, Clark writes for NOLA.com. Hayes only logged four minutes and didn’t play in the second half. It’s unclear if that was just a one-game change or if Hernangomez could see more action going forward, says Clark.
  • Pelicans rookie Herb Jones was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol on Wednesday after sustaining a concussion in Tuesday’s game vs. Phoenix, the team announced in a press release. He’ll have to show he’s symptom-free before being cleared to return.

Pelicans Exercise Options For Williamson, Alexander-Walker, Hayes, Lewis

The Pelicans have picked up rookie-scale options on four players, including Zion Williamson, the top overall pick in 2019, the team announced in a press release. New Orleans exercised the fourth-year option for Williamson, guaranteeing his $13.5MM salary for the 2022/23 season.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2022/23 Rookie Scale Options]

It’s a routine move that sets the stage for next summer, when Williamson will be eligible for an extension that could tie him to the franchise for an additional five seasons. Although those offers are nearly always accepted, there have been rumblings that Williamson might consider turning it down because of pressure from family members to play elsewhere and an uneasy relationship with head of basketball operations David Griffin.

The Pelicans also exercised fourth-year options on guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($5MM) and center Jaxson Hayes ($6.8MM). Point guard Kira Lewis had his third-season option picked up, which will pay him $4MM for 2022/23.

Pelicans Notes: Hayes, Alexander-Walker, Valanciunas, Rotation Battles

Pelicans coach Willie Green seems to envision an expanded role for third-year center Jaxson Hayes.

I think Jaxson is going to be huge for us this season,” Green said, according to Christian Clark of NOLA.com.

Hayes has been in and out of the Pelicans’ rotation the past two seasons, showcasing rare athleticism for a big man, but questionable decision making. Clark notes that Hayes added muscle over the offseason, bulking up to 235 pounds from his listed weight of 220 last season. He’s also been working on his jump shot, and Clark says teammate Nickeil Alexander-Walker has taken notice.

It’s amazing how fast he is and how fast he gets up and down the floor,” Alexander-Walker said of Hayes. “Athletic. Shooting the ball really well. Added that to his game.

Clark adds that in an effort to put his legal troubles behind him, Hayes has been spending more time with family. His father, Jonathan, an ex-NFL player and coach, has temporarily moved in with Jaxson to provide stability and guidance.

Here’s more on the Pelicans:

  • Alexander-Walker has matured his game in multiple ways this offseason, writes William Guillory of The Athletic in an excellent interview feature. Alexander-Walker says he’s changed his mental approach to cope with the ups and downs of life in the NBA: “You have to take everything and break it down. You’ve got to take it day-by-day. I got in trouble when I was trying to fast-forward my way through the process. It’s easy to get caught in that tornado, and you don’t know where it’s going to take you. But I had to learn about staying in the moment. Not getting caught up in anything that’s not about where are we right now. Beating yourself up over a bad shooting night isn’t how you get better. It’s about staying consistent in your process regardless of what comes at you.
  • Likely starting center Jonas Valanciunas has looked engaged thus far in the preseason, Clark writes in another piece. Clark notes the Pelicans lacked a mean streak and veteran leadership last season, and believes Valanciunas could help fill that void.
  • Guillory explored the team’s depth chart battles in another recent article. He believes that a supersized starting lineup of Alexander-Walker, Trey Murphy, Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Valanciunas could be the team’s best bet for a combination of offense and defense, but thinks that offseason addition Devonte’ Graham will ultimately start alongside Alexander-Walker. He also thinks that Kira Lewis should have the upper hand over Tomas Satoransky for backup point guard duty, although admits that it could change from game to game. Hayes suffered a sprained ankle on Monday, according to Guillory, who believes that if Hayes is unavailable for the regular season opener, rookie Herb Jones will act as backup center due to his strong defensive play.

Southwest Notes: Tate, Hernangomez, Hayes, Pelicans

Jae’Sean Tate wants to reward the Rockets‘ faith in him after they decided to guarantee his contract for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Berman of Fox 26. Tate, who played two years overseas before coming to the NBA, will make about $1.52MM.

Tate was an All-Rookie First Team selection, averaging 11.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 70 games. He quickly established himself as a starter and was one of the few bright spots in a difficult season for Houston. The Rockets will have a $1.78MM team option on Tate for 2022/23.

“I’ve been working really hard this summer and my whole goal is just to prove (general manager) Rafael (Stone), (executive) Patrick and (owner) Tillman (Fertitta) right,” Tate said. “That they did the right thing guaranteeing those contracts. I think that’ll show this year.” (Twitter link)

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • It doesn’t appear that Juan Hernangomez, who was acquired from the Timberwolves this week, will have a future with the Grizzlies. ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweeted on Saturday that Hernangomez wasn’t asked to report to the team or take a physical, just like Rajon Rondo, who is now a free agent after reaching a buyout agreement with Memphis. Hernangomez has two years and $14.3MM left on his contract, although the final year doesn’t become guaranteed until June 20, 2022, notes Evan Barnes of The Memphis Commercial Appeal.
  • Body camera footage has been released from the arrest of Pelicans center Jaxson Hayes in Los Angeles last month, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. Hayes had an altercation with police after the incident, which he said stemmed from a fight with a girlfriend. He was treated at a hospital for minor injuries and charged with resisting arrest.
  • The Pelicans received $1.2MM in the sign-and-trade deal that sent Lonzo Ball to the Bulls, tweets Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report.

Southwest Notes: Silas, Stone, Williams, Moore, Hayes

Rockets coach Stephen Silas didn’t attend Friday’s introductory news conference for the team’s draft picks because he’s been placed under the NBA’s health and safety protocols, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports. Silas has “very minor” coronavirus symptoms and is fully vaccinated. He was involved in the team’s draft preparations, including the workout of Jalen Green, whom the Rockets chose with the No. 2 pick.

We have more from the Southwest Division:

  • The Rockets kept their three first-round picks on Thursday and also acquired a fourth pick to select big man Alperen Sengun in the first round. The team’s GM, Rafael Stone, said the rookies now must show they were worthy of the front office’s faith in them, Danielle Lerner of the Houston Chronicle writes. “It’s going to be on Jalen and on us to prove it out, but not just him,” Stone said. “It’s all these guys and the guys on our current roster, we’re all in it together. We got to grow. We’ve got to help each other and we’ve got to get better.”
  • Ziaire Williams was hoping the Grizzlies would use the No. 10 pick on him, Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal writes. “I kept it a secret because I didn’t want to mess it up,” Williams said. “But truthfully, my family will tell you, (VP of basketball affairs) Tayshaun Prince, (GM) Zach (Kleiman), everyone, this is where I really wanted to be.”
  • Ben Moore will play on the Grizzlies’ summer league team, Nicola Lupo of Sportando tweets. Moore, who spent last season in Australia with South East Melbourne, played two games with the Pacers in 2017/18.
  • Jaxson Hayes was shocked twice with a stun gun and may have had force applied to his neck during an altercation with Los Angeles police, Ramon Antonio Vargas of the New Orleans Times-Picayune tweets. An investigation into whether officers’ use of force was appropriate is underway while Hayes faces a count of resisting arrest, Vargas adds. The Pelicans center was arrested early Wednesday following a domestic dispute call. He was charged with a felony.

Pelicans’ Jaxson Hayes Arrested In California

8:56pm: Hayes was booked and charged with a felony, Lopez tweets. He was released on $25K bond at approximately 5:30 PT.


4:40pm: Pelicans big man Jaxson Hayes was arrested in the Los Angeles area after an alleged altercation with police, according to a TMZ report.

The incident occurred after police were called early Wednesday to an unspecified home due to a domestic disturbance. Hayes tried to prevent law enforcement from entering the home, according to the TMZ report, and the confrontation became so heated that a Taser was used on Hayes.

Hayes was taken to a hospital to treat minor injuries and an officer also sought medical treatment.

The Pelicans issued a statement, relayed by ESPN’s Andrew Lopez (Twitter link), which read, “We have been made aware of the incident involving Jaxson Hayes. We are working in conjunction with the NBA and Jaxson’s representatives to gather more information and will have no further comment at this time.”

Hayes, the eighth pick in the 2019 draft, appeared in 60 games this past season. He averaged 7.5 PGG and 4.3 RPG and 16.1 MPG.