Jaylen Hoard

Northwest Notes: Towns/D-Lo, Thunder, Gordon, Wolves

Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell made his long-awaited return to the floor in a 116-106 win against the Kings on Monday night after missing 26 games due to a left knee surgery. It marked just the sixth contest in which Russell appeared alongside his friend Karl-Anthony Towns for Minnesota.

Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes that Russell’s return has to encourage Timberwolves fans, as it perhaps can be seen as a preview of the interplay that could lift the club out of the depths next season.

“As long as we continue to work, work the way we want it, we can do something special,” Towns said of himself and his Timberwolves teammate. “We just got to work. Obviously, first, we got to be healthy enough to stay on the court with each other.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault discussed the team’s latest additions, Justin Robinson and two-way player Jaylen Hoard, according to Joe Mussatto of the Oklahoman. “Robinson gives us a little extra ball handling,” Daigneault said, adding that Hoard “[p]lays hard, [is a] defender, somebody that understands how to play in a system on offense.”
  • Dan Devine of The Ringer wonders if Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon is allowing his new team to maximize its ceiling — and if being in Denver is doing the same for Gordon. Because he can cut off the ball, handle the rock, and roll to the rim, in addition to being a multifaceted defender, Gordon thus far has proven to be a more-than-serviceable facsimile of what Jerami Grant was in Denver last season. As of this writing, the Nuggets are poised to win their fifth straight game since adding Gordon.
  • The Timberwolves have announced (via Twitter) that Minnesota’s players and staff have received their COVID-19 vaccines.

Thunder Sign Jaylen Hoard To Two-Way Contract

A busy day of transactions in Oklahoma City continued this afternoon, as the Thunder announced in a press release that they’ve signed free agent forward Jaylen Hoard to a two-way contract.

Undrafted out of Wake Forest in 2019, Hoard spent his rookie season on a two-way deal with Portland, logging limited minutes in 13 games for the Trail Blazers. After reaching free agency in the fall, Hoard signed an Exhibit 10 contract with the Thunder, who released him after gaining his NBA G League rights.

Hoard, who turned 22 last week, subsequently suited up for the Oklahoma City Blue at the Walt Disney World bubble in February and March, averaging 9.7 PPG and 4.9 RPG in 15 games (22.0 MPG) off the bench for the Thunder’s NBAGL affiliate.

The Thunder had an open two-way contract slot after promoting Moses Brown to the 15-man roster — Hoard will fill that opening, joining Josh Hall as Oklahoma City’s second two-way player.

The Thunder also made a change to their standard roster earlier today, waiving Justin Jackson and signing Justin Robinson to a 10-day deal.

Thunder Sign, Waive Jaylen Hoard

Former Trail Blazers forward Jaylen Hoard had a brief stint on the Thunder‘s training camp roster, but has since been released. While photos tweeted by the Thunder on Sunday showed Hoard participating in camp, the NBA’s official transactions log indicates that the team waived him on Sunday.

Hoard, 21, signed a two-way contract with Portland in July 2019 after going undrafted out of Wake Forest. He spent the entire 2019/20 season with the club, though he didn’t see much action at the NBA level, logging just 103 minutes in 13 games.

The Blazers don’t have their own G League affiliate, so Hoard spent time as a rookie with the Texas Legends. He averaged 16.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 1.8 APG in 24 games (27.6 MPG) for Dallas’ NBAGL affiliate.

The Thunder have been turning over the spots at the back of their 20-man roster during the last week, having also released Antonius Cleveland and Melvin Frazier shortly after signing them. The moves are presumably being made with G League rights and/or Exhibit 10 bonuses in mind.

A report from French outlet L’Equipe first indicated last week that Hoard would sign an Exhibit 10 deal with the Thunder. Interestingly, that L’Equipe report also suggested that big man Vincent Poirier will be heading to the Sixers in the still-not-official deal involving Al Horford, Danny Green, and Terrance Ferguson.

Poirier’s inclusion in that deal has been speculated by cap expert Albert Nahmad, among others, since his contract is a perfect fit for salary-matching purposes and would allow the Thunder to keep their recently-created $27.5MM trade exception. The trade will likely be completed this week once the salary aggregation restrictions on Green and Poirier lift.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Dort, Jazz, Wolves

The Trail Blazers, who already had one open spot on their 15-man roster, will now have the opportunity to sign two players if they want to, since Trevor Ariza‘s decision to opt out of the summer restart makes him eligible to be replaced by a substitute player.

Despite their roster flexibility, it’s not a lock that the Trail Blazers will add a rotation player before heading to Orlando, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. As Quick explains, Gary Trent Jr. appears to be the most likely candidate to replace Ariza in the starting lineup, and rookies Nassir Little and Jaylen Hoard could be wild cards.

Quick also speculates that Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts could get creative with his lineups to cover for the fact that the team will be without its top two small forwards (Ariza and Rodney Hood). Quick suggests we could see three-guard lineups featuring Anfernee Simons alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, or bigger five-man units that utilize Zach Collins at the four and Carmelo Anthony at the three.

Here’s more from out of the Northwest:

  • With the NBA’s transaction window now open, it’s decision time for the Thunder and two-way player Luguentz Dort. Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman takes a closer look at the club’s options as it weighs whether to move Dort to the 15-man roster.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic discusses whether the Jazz might make any changes to their 15-man roster for the summer restart and explores how two-way players Jarrell Brantley and Justin Wright-Foreman fit into the team’s plans.
  • After wearing a Fitbit patch on their jerseys since 2017/18, the Timberwolves are seeking a new sponsor for next season that will help “create impact in our community” and “be a champion for social advancement,” COO Ryan Tanke told Jabari Young of CNBC.

Northwest Notes: Towns, Blazers, Bazemore, Thunder

For Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves, any barriers that have kept him from leading the team are now removed this year, Chris Hine of the Star Tribune writes.

Towns, a perennial All-Star who’s averaged 36.5 points and 14.5 rebounds in his first two games of the season, is set to lead Minnesota as the club seeks its second postseason berth in the last 16 years.

“I’m in a spot right now where I got to lead these guys,” Towns said. “I’ve got to lead them. And no matter what I go through in life or whatever I went through, I got to make sure I take those experiences, teach the guys, especially young guys, how to go from boys to men, no pun intended.”

Behind Towns’ strong play, the Timberwolves could wind up contending for a spot in the postseason. Their major concern, however, is the glut of other West teams that are also expected to make concerted efforts for a late seed: Dallas, Phoenix, Sacramento and San Antonio.

There’s more from the Northwest Division tonight:

  • Since the Trail Blazers don’t have a G League affiliate of their own, their two-way players – Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard – will join the Texas Legends, G League affiliate of the Mavericks, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
  • Trail Blazers forward Kent Bazemore is here to disrupt, Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com writes. Bazemore, an accomplished defender who’s spent eight seasons in the NBA, was acquired by the team this past summer in a deal with Atlanta. “It’s good to kind of see the ball go in, but that’ll come,” he said. “Just find your rhythm as you kind of get used to things, get the jitters out. My defense is going to be the constant thing for me regardless of if the shot’s falling for me or not. I just want to find other ways to impact the game. We’ve got two of the best scorers at their position in the league and Hassan down low, Ant Simons did a great job for us off the bench. My job is to go out there and disrupt.”
  • The Thunder’s rivalry with the Warriors has dissolved without the likes of Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, contends Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman. Nevertheless, Oklahoma City delivered a crushing defeat to Golden State on Sunday, winning 120-92 at home.

Trail Blazers Sign Jaylen Hoard To Two-Way Deal

JULY 1: The Trail Blazers have officially signed Hoard to a two-way contract, the team announced today in a press release.

JUNE 21: The Trail Blazers have reached agreement on a two-way contract with Jaylen Hoard of Wake Forest, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowksi.

The 6’8″ forward out of France had a strong freshman season with the Demon Deacons, averaging 13.1 points and 7.6 rebounds in 31 games. He has been playing internationally since 2015.

Portland didn’t issue any two-way deals last season. The Blazers are one of just two teams without a G League affiliate, so Hoard will get much of his training with another organization.

Southeast Draft Notes: Hornets, Heat, Magic, Hawks

The Hornets have looked into the possibility of moving up in the draft from their current spot in the lottery at No. 12, tweets Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer. Bonnell acknowledges that it may be difficult for Charlotte to put together the sort of trade capital necessary to make a deal happen, but says GM Mitch Kupchak is active.

Meanwhile, the Hornets will continue to explore their draft options by bringing in six more prospects for workouts tomorrow, according to the team. Marques Bolden (Duke), Tacko Fall (UCF), Jaylen Hoard (Wake Forest), Jalen Hudson (Florida), and Luka Asceric (Mega Bemax) are among the players set to participate.

Here are a few more draft-related items from around the Southeast:

Sixers Notes: Marjanovic, Butler, Harris, Workouts

Boban Marjanovic only spent a half season with the Sixers, but it was enough to make him want to stay. In an interview with the Serbian website Zurnal (translated by Stefan Djordjevic of EuroHoops), Marjanovic said his preference in free agency is to remain in Philadelphia.

“ I don’t know what will happen. … I should, almost 90 percent, stay in Philadelphia but that’s not known yet, just speculation,” he said. “It was nice for me there, so why not.”

The Sixers became Marjanovic’s fourth team in four NBA seasons when the Clippers traded him there in February. He averaged career highs of 8.2 points and 5.1 rebounds in 22 games after the deal.

“The team is great, the players are talented,” Marjanovic added. “I think we had a chance to be the team playing the Finals this year but we had that bad luck of conceding the last-second basket. The city lives for basketball and sports in general. They have hockey, baseball, football, they follow everything, everything is organized until the very end and everybody knows who and what you are. Wherever you appear, everybody recognizes you because they follow all of it. A very nice experience.”

There’s more news from Philadelphia:

Draft Notes: Magic, K. Johnson, Bazley, Fall, Mann

The Magic had a full day of pre-draft workouts today, bringing in two separate groups featuring six prospects apiece. As Josh Robbins of The Athletic details (via Twitter), Orlando’s first group this morning was made up of Darius Bazley (Princeton HS), Jaylen Hoard (Wake Forest), Keldon Johnson (Kentucky), Terance Mann (Florida State), KZ Okpala (Stanford), and Miye Oni (Yale).

Later in the day, the Magic auditioned Barry Brown (Kansas State), Tacko Fall (UCF), Kyle Guy (Virginia), Kaleb Johnson (Georgetown), John Konchar (IPFW), and Cameron Lard (Iowa State), according to Robbins (via Twitter).

Several of the prospects who worked out today for Orlando shared additional details on their respective workout schedules, so we’ll round up some of those updates…

  • Keldon Johnson, the No. 19 overall prospect on ESPN’s big board, said he has worked out for the Celtics and also has sessions on tap with the Heat, Hornets, and Timberwolves, per Robbins (via Twitter).
  • Potential first-round pick Darius Bazley said today that he has worked out for the Spurs and has a workout lined up with the Pistons, tweets Robbins.
  • Big man Tacko Fall has workouts scheduled with the Pacers, Knicks, Lakers, Cavaliers, and Hornets, according to Robbins (via Twitter). He may add more teams to that list if his schedule allows for it.
  • The Nets, Knicks, Bulls, and Cavaliers will work out FSU’s Terance Mann prior to the draft, tweets Robbins.

Trail Blazers Notes: Kanter, Aminu, Workout, Durant

Enes Kanter received a hero’s welcome Saturday as he returned to Oklahoma City for his annual youth basketball camp, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The former Thunder center remains popular with local fans, many of whom encouraged him to return to OKC in free agency. While Kanter might be too pricey for the Thunder to consider, he can count on receiving a lot of offers after rebuilding his stock in Portland following his release by the Knicks.

The Trail Blazers were aggressive in recruiting Kanter, who also received interest from the Thunder and Lakers. Repeated calls and texts from coach Terry Stotts, GM Neil Olshey and Damian Lillard were enough to tip the scales in Portland’s favor, which became fortunate when starting center Jusuf Nurkic was lost for the season with a broken leg.

“I’m glad that Portland happened,” Kanter said. “I love Portland, I love the people there, I love the fans there. I just want to go – and Portland counts, too – somewhere I can win games. I’m going into my ninth year. I just want to go somewhere where I have a good situation, have some playing time and just win.”

There’s more Trail Blazers news to pass along:

  • Al-Farouq Aminu‘s agent is open to negotiating an extension with Portland before his client hits free agency, but the Blazers may not be able to afford a substantial raise, relays Jason Quick of The Athletic. “He wants to be there,” Raymond Brothers said. “He’s still committed to the Blazers. He likes the city, the team, the coach, he likes Neil. He’s happy. He just wants to win.” Any extension would be limited to $48MM over four years. Aminu made $6.96MM this season.
  • The Trail Blazers brought in six players Friday for their first pre-draft workout, notes Casey Holdahl of NBA.com. The session featured Wake Forest’s Jaylen Hoard, Memphis’ Jeremiah Martin, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort, Wichita State’s Markis McDuffie, St. John’s Shamorie Ponds and Shaw University’s Amir Hinton. Portland enters the draft with just one pick, its first-rounder at No. 25.
  • Lillard is asking an Oakland-based rapper to help convince Kevin Durant to come to Portland, relays Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area. Mistah F.A.B. joined Lillard on Instagram Live following Game 1 of the NBA Finals and asked him which free agent the Blazers should pursue. “Just go in there and tell KD, say ‘KD, just go to Portland, bruh. I’m a Portland fan,'” Lillard responded. “You a Portland fan now, so just be like, ‘Bruh they left Oakland anyways, so just go to Portland.'”