Jeff Withey

Southwest Notes: Conley, Mejri, Noel, Rondo

The Grizzlies provided an update on injured point guard Mike Conley after Friday’s game, saying treatment and therapy will be used to lessen the pain in his left heel and Achilles tendon, according to an Associated Press story. The team plans to re-examine Conley in two weeks, and coach David Fizdale is optimistic that he will be ready to play by then.

“It’s unfortunate, but watching him play in pain like that and really trying to push through that stuff was worse to watch,” Fizdale said. “For whatever reason, this thing is just not going away on its own.”

While Conley is sidelined, the starting role will go to Mario Chalmers, who signed with Memphis in July after a year out of the league following a torn Achilles tendon. Chalmers is averaging 8.0 points and 3.5 assists through 14 games. Ben McLemore and Wayne Selden may also see increased playing time.

There’s more from the Southwest Division:

  • Moving Dirk Nowitzki to center has worsened the logjam in the middle for the Mavericks, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. The other four centers on the roster, Salah Mejri, Nerlens Noel, Dwight Powell and Jeff Withey have all gone through games where they didn’t get off the bench. The problem will work itself out eventually — Withey’s contract is non-guaranteed, Mejri has a player option for next season and Noel will be an unrestricted free agent next summer — but for now there’s frustration over a lack of playing time. “It’s almost like we went to Costco and got a forklift full of centers,” said coach Rick Carlisle. “They’re all good players, but there are a limited number of minutes and with more teams playing hybrid centers, it makes it even harder.”
  • Mejri is sympathetic toward Noel, who expected a larger role after being acquired from the Sixers in a February trade, relays Kevin Sherrington of The Dallas Morning News. Noel was in a similar situation in Philadelphia, where he was competing for time with Joel Embiid, Jahlil Okafor and Richaun Holmes“I’m trying to tell [Noel] … hey, just go out there and play as hard as you can when you come to practice,” Mejri said. “Practice as hard as you can and then they will see that you’re trying to compete and they have reason to say, “Ah, we didn’t play Nerlens or we didn’t play Salah.’ It goes to everybody, you know?”
  • A healthy Rajon Rondo will turn the Pelicans into a different team, claims Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype. Rondo returned this week from a sports hernia and made an immediate impact with 8 assists in 14 minutes in his first game in the starting lineup.

Texas Notes: Gay, Paul, Harden, Withey

Rudy Gay was back on the court for the first time since January in Friday’s preseason game against the Kings, writes Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio’s top free agent addition of the summer managed just four points in 18 minutes, but was happy that he felt no effects from the left Achilles tendon tear that ended his time with the Kings. “I’ve practiced pretty hard, just knowing I can get up there still, jump and be athletic,” Gay said. “It takes a lot of pressure off me.”

Gay got the start at small forward Friday and may continue in that role as long as Kawhi Leonard is sidelined with a right quadriceps issue. Gay has been a starter throughout his 11-year NBA career, but is expected to step into a reserve role once the team is at full strength.

There’s more today out of Texas:

  • The Spurs‘ latest rookie project comes to the team with a desire to be a great defender, relays Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. Brandon Paul went undrafted out of Illinois in 2013 and has spent most of his career in Europe. The 26-year-old shooting guard signed a two-year deal with the Spurs in July with a one-season guarantee of $815,615. “Anybody can put the ball in the basket,” Paul said. “But in order to stick out, you’ve got to be able to play both ends of the floor.”
  • Rockets star James Harden is engaged in a verbal battle with former coach Kevin McHale through the media. After McHale said on NBA TV this week that Harden is “not a leader,” the MVP runner-up responded today by calling McHale a “clown,” relays Tim MacMahon of ESPN“I did anything and everything he asked me to do,” Harden said. “I’ve tried to lead this team every day since I stepped foot here in Houston. To go on air and just downplay my name, when honestly he’s never taught me anything to be a leader … but I’ve done a great job. The organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys how I’ve worked extremely hard every single day to better [myself], obviously as a basketball player, but be a leader as well.”
  • Mavericks center Jeff Withey has worked on his 3-point shooting to try to fit into coach Rick Carlisle’s system, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. Withey signed a two-year contract worth nearly $3.4MM this summer, but only $350K of that is guaranteed. “We like his length, shot-blocking ability,” Carlisle said. “[Owner] Mark [Cuban] was really a key guy on this. He’d been studying him for a while. And he’s shown that he can knock in some perimeter shots from time to time.”

Southwest Notes: Noel, Withey, Spurs, Rockets

After months of uncertainty, Nerlens Noel agreed to a one-year, $4.1MM qualifying offer with the Mavericks, returning to the team that acquired him at the trade deadline last season. The former first round pick (sixth overall) from the 2013 NBA Draft has seen his stock derailed due to numerous injuries but his return provides Dallas with stability at center, Earl K. Sneed of NBA.com writes.

Noel, still just 23 years old, posted 8.5 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.0 SPG and 1.1 BPG in 22 games with Mavericks after the deal. While a return was far from certain for most of the offseason, Noel can now focus on strengthening the team’s core and building on the experiences that made Dallas an appealing destination for him.

“You know, I learned a lot,” Noel said. “I met a lot of great people and I started a lot of great relationships. And being around all the vets they have around here, it’s definitely something I took in with all the knowledge and all the small habits that help you succeed in this league for the duration of time that you’re in it. It’s been great. I love Dallas. You know, in my short time here, I’ve really enjoyed it. I think it’s been a great time. And with the pieces that we have and the opportunities that will be seen in the near future, I think there’s a lot to be excited for.”

Read below for additional news around the Southwest Division:

  • In addition to Noel, the Mavericks have shored up their depth at center by signing 27-year-old Jeff Withey to a two-year deal, according to Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link). Withey, 27, appeared in 102 games off the bench for the Jazz the last two seasons.
  • With Noel’s return confirmed, Dallas Sports Day has compiled a feature highlighting 10 important facts about the center’s life and career.
  • Jorge Sierra of Hoops Hype previews the Spurs‘ 2017/18 as he examines the team’s additions, subtractions, incumbents, and salaries.
  • Rockets owners Leslie Alexander has increased his donation to aid the recovery from Hurricane Harvey to $10MM, Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes.

Mavericks Sign Jeff Withey

AUGUST 21: The Mavericks have officially signed Withey, the team announced today in a press release. Dallas now has 19 players under contract, with the final spot on the Mavs’ offseason roster likely reserved for Noel.

AUGUST 18: The Mavericks have agreed to a deal with Jeff Withey, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (Twitter link). The scribe adds that the pact will be for one season.

Withey spent the last two seasons backing up Rudy Gobert on the Jazz and Utah renounced the rights to the Kansas product last month after agreeing to terms with Jonas Jerebko.

Withey was accused of domestic violence this past spring, though authorities said that despite the presence of physical contact between him and his ex-fiancee, he was innocent of wrongdoing since they determined that he was simply defending himself. It’s possible that Withey is handed some sort of suspension for the incident. However, no word of any punishment has been reported.

Withey was selected with the No. 39 overall pick in the 2013 draft by the Blazers before being dealt to the Pelicans later that offseason. After two years in New Orleans, where he played just 9.9 minutes per game, he became a free agent and signed with the Jazz.

Dallas currently has a void at the center position, though it’s likely that Nerlens Noel fills that void once the RFA comes to terms with the teams. Withey will likely compete with Salah Mejri for the back-up five spot behind Noel.

Jazz Renounce Jeff Withey, Tyrone Wallace

The Jazz have renounced their rights to free agent center Jeff Withey and former second-round pick Tyrone Wallace, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The moves coincided with the club starting to make its recent signings official, having formally locked up Jonas Jerebko on Monday.

Withey, who appeared in 51 games for the Jazz last season, doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans for the 2017/18 campaign. Utah selected rookie center Tony Bradley in last month’s draft and has added Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh in free agency, fortifying the club’s depth behind Rudy Gobert. The Jazz could still re-sign Withey if they want to, but they can no longer use his Early Bird rights to do so.

As for Wallace, he was “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2016 draft, selected with the 60th overall pick a year ago. The 23-year-old point guard spent last season with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s G League affiliate, while the Jazz maintained his NBA rights. Now, however, he’ll be free to sign with any team as an unrestricted free agent.

Removing Withey and Wallace from their books appear to be minor bookkeeping moves for the Jazz. While they won’t have much of an impact on the team’s roster, those moves further signal that Utah is creating as much cap room as possible in order to compete its signings of Jerebko, Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha, and Royce O’Neale. They also signal that the roster is just about full, with no room for players like Wallace to vie for a 15-man spot.

Free Agent Rumors: Clippers, KCP, Lakers, Casspi

Free agent big man Willie Reed is meeting today with the Clippers, league sources tell Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms the meeting and adds (via Twitter) that Jeff Withey is also sitting down with the club today. Los Angeles doesn’t have a whole lot of financial flexibility left, having used most of its mid-level exception on Milos Teodosic, but the club remains in the market for a backup for DeAndre Jordan, with Marreese Speights having opted out.

Here’s more on free agency:

  • The Pistons‘ best offer to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was worth $80MM over five years, which “wasn’t even close” to what the free agent guard was seeking, a source tells Jake Fischer of SI.com (Twitter link). Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press (Twitter link) also hears the two sides weren’t at all close, though he doesn’t confirm those specific figures. Caldwell-Pope is now an unrestricted free agent.
  • The Lakers have shown some interest in Rodney Stuckey, but have only had preliminary discussions on that front, writes Mark Medina of The Orange County Register. Alex Kennedy (Twitter link) first reported L.A.’s interest in Stuckey.
  • Before he agreed to sign with the Warriors on a minimum salary deal, Omri Casspi turned down a one-year, $4.5MM offer from a probable lottery team, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who notes that Casspi opted for a chance at a title instead of the bigger payday.
  • The Timberwolves are said to be trying harder to unload Cole Aldrich‘s contract in an effort to land C.J. Miles, but the team remains reluctant to attach a first-round pick, tweets Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News.

Jeff Withey Accused Of Domestic Violence

APRIL 21, 8:10am: Withey’s attorney, Alan Jackson, has issued a statement calling the allegations against his client “salacious and patently false,” suggesting that it’s not a coincidence that the accusation came during the playoffs (Twitter link via HoopsHype). Jackson added that he’s confident the “falsity of the claims… will be exposed.”

APRIL 20, 4:06pm: Jeff Withey‘s former fiancee, Kennedy Summers, has filed a police report accusing him of domestic violence, according to TMZ Sports.  Sources tell the publication that the charges, which were filed in California on Tuesday, reference multiple incidents, though one 2016 incident is law enforcement’s focus.

Summers filed the police report this week because the Jazz are traveling to Los Angeles, where she lives, and she’s concerned for her safety, sources tell TMZ. “Given the ongoing circumstances, our client now needs to protect herself and come forward about everything so this doesn’t happen to her or others in the future,” Summers’ lawyers contends. The publication reached out to Withey, but received no response. The 27-year-old has seen extra playing time

The 27-year-old center has seen playing time this postseason with Rudy Gobert sidelined. In 18 minutes over Utah’s first two playoff games, he scored five points on four shot attempts. He also pulled down four rebounds.

Northwest Notes: Eighth Seed, Denver’s Defense, Towns

Jazz coach Quin Snyder is receiving contributions from seldom-used players Jeff Withey and Raul Neto, Jody Genessy of Deseret News writes.

“To be honest, we’ve been in these situations a lot, so there are different guys each night,” Snyder said. “When you have the right spirit, the game rewards you and that’s what happened with those two guys tonight. It’s easy to say, ‘Stay ready,’ and we say that stuff as coaches, but it’s hard to do. For those guys to literally be ready and contribute like they did, it was pretty good.”

The Jazz have won seven of their last 10, enjoying a successful 2016/17 campaign despite occasional injuries to George Hill, Derrick Favors, and Gordon Hayward.

“It’s tough because you never know when your name will be called, so you have to be ready,” Withey said. “On days off, I’m always in the gym running, trying to stay in shape, get shots up and stuff. It’s tough mentally also. It’s part of the business. It’s part of the job.”

More from the Northwest…

  • The Nuggets still hold the eighth seed of the Western Conference, but the team’s defense must improve to sustain a playoff run, Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post writes. Denver’s opponent field goal percentage ranks 28th in the league since the All-Star break, Kosmider writes, and 24th in defensive rating. Coach Michael Malone is well-aware of the problem. “You go back to the start of the regular season, and we were playing good defense the first 10, close to 15 games. Obviously, the wheels have fallen off,” Malone said. Interestingly, Darrell Arthur was hesitant to blame his teammates for the defensive shortcomings: “We’re still learning. We’ve got a young team. It takes a while to go from a mediocre team to a good team to a great team. We’re trying to be great. We’re right there around good, but not so consistent.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has taken charge of the “desperate” TimberwolvesJon Krawczynski of the Associated Press writes. Towns has been the key to Minnesota’s recent playoff push; winning seven of their last 10, climbing to within two games of the eighth seed. Following tonight’s crucial win over the Warriors, hopes are high for the young Wolves. “Desperation makes you do a lot of things you couldn’t normally do,” Towns said. “Being so close to the playoffs, I have a lot of desperation trying to play the best that I can so I can try to help us get to the playoffs and get that eighth spot.”
  • Tom Thibodeau praised his team’s defensive improvements, saying they’ve taken a “quantum leap” in the right direction. “We’re not where we need to be, but when you look at the past couple of years and where we are now, (the point differential) says we’ve made a big jump,” Thibodeau told AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today. “I believe we’re down to 13th now in points allowed (on the season), so that’s a quantum leap, and it’s still not where it needs to be, and we have to understand that.”

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Ford, Pekovic, Nuggets

After initially agreeing to terms with undrafted free agent Quincy Ford in June, the Jazz finally made the deal official this week, and according to Aaron Falk and Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, Ford’s three-year pact includes a modest guarantee of $75K. Despite the guaranteed money though, the Northeastern alum is a long shot for a roster spot.

As Jones writes, the Jazz already have 14 players on guaranteed contracts, and Jeff Withey is the favorite to earn the final opening on the 15-man roster. That means Ford will likely be ticketed for Utah’s D-League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars, to open the season.

Here’s more from out of the Northwest division:

  • In a recent episode of The Scoop podcast (hat tip to Dan Feldman of Pro Basketball Talk), Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities notes that Nikola Pekovic worked out in front of Timberwolves personnel last week, but is “still not ready physically.” Pekovic, who continues to recover from an Achilles issue, has been plagued by health problems in recent years, significantly reducing his role in Minnesota and making him a potential release candidatae.
  • With Joffrey Lauvergne no longer in the mix, the Nuggets will likely have one open spot on their 15-man roster, so Adam Mares of DenverStiffs.com conducts a Q&A with D-League expert Chris Reichert to discuss the six prospects vying for that opening. Former Bucks and Pelicans guard Nate Wolters would be Reichert’s pick for the 15th spot on Denver’s roster.
  • Alex Roig of DailyThunder.com proposes three possible trades for the Thunder that could push the team back into contention in the Western Conference. While Roig’s ideas are probably long shots, with Paul George and Jimmy Butler among the suggested targets, it’s worth keeping in mind that Oklahoma City has a crowded frontcourt and an extra guaranteed salary, making Enes Kanter an intriguing trade chip.

And-Ones: Benson, Scott, Timberwolves

A judge’s ruling last year that Pelicans owner Tom Benson is mentally competent to run the team has been affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Count, reports Katherine Sayre of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The higher court refused to hear an appeal Monday by his estranged family members to have the 88-year-old declared incompetent to run his affairs. Those family members have tried to convince the courts that Benson, who also owns the NFL’s Saints, has been unduly influenced by his third wife, Gayle, and a group of Saints executives.

In other news around the league:

  • Former Lakers coach Byron Scott admitted on Dan Patrick’s radio show that he was “a little blindsided” by their decision to let him go after the season (YouTube link). Scott was under the impression he would have “two or three years” to get the team headed in the right direction but added he didn’t have “any ill-will feelings towards the organization.”
  • The Timberwolves have never enjoyed more reason for optimism in the franchise’s history than now, opines Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. They have hired a top-level coach in Tom Thibodeau, possess a wealth of young talent and practice in a new, state-of-the-art facility, Souhan points out. All those factors provide real hope that the team will soon be a powerhouse in the Western Conference, Souhan concludes.
  • Power forward Trevor Booker, center Jeff Withey and small forward Chris Johnson have a cloudy future with the Jazz, writes Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News. None of those players has guaranteed contracts for next season and GM Dennis Lindsey strongly hinted that he expects Booker to sign with another team, Sorensen continues. Point guard Shelvin Mack is another player without a guaranteed deal, but the Jazz are expected to retain him on his salary of about $2.433MM.
  • Florida State combo guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes has opted to return to school, tweets Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports. Rathan-Mayes, who was not considered a Top 100 prospect by either ESPN Insider Chad Ford or DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, decided to test the draft waters in early April.
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