Jerami Grant

Northwest Notes: Bazley, Graham, Gupta, Nuggets

As Thunder forward Darius Bazley continues to acclimate to the NBA, he may be little nervous, as is normal for a rookie. But as Maddie Lee of The Oklahoman writes, Bazley looks more than ready to make an impact this season.

Through two preseason games, Bazley is averaging 10.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists for the Thunder. Bazley, 19, chose to forgo college and work out with personal trainers until he could enter the NBA draft, but his high school coach says Bazley is ready for the NBA.

“I knew he was going to have success in the league,” said Steve Wright, who coached Bazley at Princeton High School in Cincinnati before he became a member of the Thunder. “He’s super talented — I always knew that… I always talked to him about, when he gets to the next level, he’s going to have a lot of space. In the NBA you’ve got illegal defense, so you can’t just guard the paint. With his size, with his ability to put the ball on the floor, being able to pass, being able to shoot, the NBA fits him well.

That said, Bazley will still certainly have ups and downs as a rookie, as head coach Billy Donovan warns. Thunder fans saw the same last year with Hamidou Diallo, who eventually fell out of the rotation toward the end of the season.

“My biggest thing for him is, as he learns and grows and gets better and has some success, he needs to stay really, really humble,” says the Thunder head man. “And he’s got to stay eager to work and eager to learn. He’s got all the challenges, the difficulties, the adversities that come with being a young player. He’s going to have to have the resiliency to work through those things. If he keeps that kind of attitude, he’s going to really improve.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division this afternoon:

Northwest Notes: Grant, Conley, Olson, Gasol

Jerami Grant is expected to start the season as the Nuggets’ backup power forward but he’ll also see time at center, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports. Grant was traded by the Thunder to Denver for a first-round pick.

“I think Jerami Grant can play (center),” Nuggets head coach Michael Malone said. “Jerami’s ability to screen and roll, finish around the basket, catch passes in traffic and make plays from that, he’s really, really good in that regard.”

A small-ball lineup with Grant at center would cut into Mason Plumlee’s minutes in the Nuggets’ frontcourt, Singer notes.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Mike Conley has asserted himself as a team leader in the first week of the Jazz’s camp, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes. Utah is hoping that the longtime Grizzlies point guard will be the player that pushes the franchise to new heights.  Memphis traded Conley to Utah in a multi-player deal. “It’s unusual that you trust a player so quickly, but he’s earned that,” coach Quin Snyder said. “That’s who he is.”
  • The Jazz have named Jim Olson president of the franchise and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment (LHMSE), according to a team press release. Olson, who has been in the organization for 25 years, had been the executive vice president for LHMSE and president of Vivint Smart Home Arena. He’ll oversee the day-to-day business operations of the Jazz.
  • Pau Gasol has embraced a mentoring role with the Trail Blazers, according to an Associated Press report. Gasol, who signed a one-year deal to join Portland, is hopeful to be ready by opening night as he rehabs from foot surgery but he’s asserting himself in camp in other ways. “I hope to add leadership on and off the court, experience and also quality of play,” he said. “I’m excited after a difficult health year, frustrating. I’m excited to just work on my body and be healthy so I can do what I do on the floor and just have fun with the guys and compete, and play as hard as I can.”

Northwest Notes: Layman, Nurkic, Davis, Grant

The Timberwolves‘ sign-and-trade deal for Jake Layman didn’t earn any accolades as one of the summer’s key moves, but Layman’s new team can’t stop raving about him, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski explains, Minnesota loves Layman’s athleticism, his ability to play multiple positions, and the way he can complement star player Karl-Anthony Towns.

“A lot of our offensive creativity is going to be with Karl and the ball in his hands, whether that’s top of the key in a lot of our series or even at the elbows or even out of the post,” Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas said. “Guys that can space the floor, run the floor, cut away from the basket with high IQs are going to be important for us. A guy like Jake Layman can really do that and has done that throughout his career.”

It remains to be seen whether Layman will come off the bench or if he’ll crack the starting lineup alongside Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Robert Covington, and Jeff Teague. Either way, he figures to play a regular role in the Timberwolves’ rotation after being acquired in July from their division rivals in Portland.

Let’s round up a few more Northwest notes…

  • Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who continues to rehab after breaking his leg last season, won’t be available to start the season, but says his leg has been pain-free for several months, per Joe Freeman of The Oregonian. Portland’s head of basketball operations Neil Olshey said this week that he’s being “purposefully vague” about the big man’s recovery timeline, since the team wants to avoid “Nurk Watch 2019.”
  • Ed Davis won’t be able to fully replicate Derrick Favors‘ skill set as the Jazz‘s new backup center, but Davis believes he can provide value to his new team in his own way, as Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune relays. “I’m gonna be myself — I’m not here to replace [Favors], I’m coming here to be myself, I’m gonna do what I do,” Davis said. “Being available, for one; being consistent; toughness; I’m gonna give it all I got. I’m not the most skilled player, but I’d say I’m one of the toughest players in the league, so you’re gonna get that every night.”
  • New Nuggets forward Jerami Grant, who said at Media Day that he’s not worried about what his exact role will be for his new team, acknowledged that he wasn’t too broken up about being traded by the retooling Thunder, according to Kyle Fredrickson of The Denver Post. “I don’t think (the trade) was too difficult,” Grant said. “It was almost good to get out of a sinking ship.”
  • Robert Covington admitted this week that his physical health issues last season affected his mental health, telling reporters – including Kent Youngblood of The Star Tribune – that he saw a therapist to deal with his frustration at being sidelined. Heading into a new season, the Timberwolves forward says he’s feeling good both physically and mentally.

Western Notes: McKinnie, Cauley-Stein, Silva, Grant

Willie Cauley-Stein will likely start at center for the Warriors but Kevon Looney will probably play more crunch-time minutes, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Alfonzo McKinnie may get the nod at small forward with Alec Burks and Glenn Robinson III in reserve, since McKinnie is a high energy player who should mesh well with the backcourt of Stephen Curry and D’Angelo Russell, Slater continues. However, rookie Eric Paschall is a darkhorse candidate to play down the stretch due to his versatility, Slater adds.

We have from the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors preferred Cauley-Stein to DeMarcus Cousins even before Cousins committed to the Lakers, Slater writes in the same mailbag story. Cauley-Stein provided a younger option who better fit their new priorities, according to Slater. However, they never really had a decision to make because they were hard-capped after the sign-and-trade for Russell with the Nets was agreed upon. The hard cap meant the Warriors couldn’t give Cousins a max raise up to $6.4MM, Slater notes. Cauley-Stein agreed to join the Warriors on a two-year contract on July 2 and officially signed on July 8.
  • Pelicans draft-and-stash prospect Marcos Louzada Silva – aka Didi Louzada — has developed a solid perimeter jumper that should translate well to the NBA game, according to a Heavy.com story. The 6’5” guard can also attack the rim and has shown good strides in his development in recent months. Louzada, the 35th overall pick in June who was acquired in a draft-day deal, will play in Australia with the Sydney Kings during the upcoming season.
  • Jerami Grant should be an ideal frontcourt complement to Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic opines. Grant, projected as the top big off the bench, is a nimble perimeter defender who can guard ball-handlers. Grant, acquired from the Thunder for a protected first-round pick, is also a solid help defender who can block shots.
  • Jared Cunningham will work out for the Warriors on Tuesday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. Cunningham, a shooting guard who recently worked out for the Rockets, hasn’t appeared in an NBA game since the 2015/16 season.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Grant, Thunder, Oni

A pair of Nuggets traded player exceptions expired on Monday, one year after the team sent Kenneth Faried and Darrell Arthur to Brooklyn in a salary dump. Denver created trade exceptions worth $13.76MM and $5.92MM in that swap, but ultimately didn’t end up finding a use for them.

While those Nuggets TPEs went unused, the team did take advantage of another trade exception earlier this month — Denver created an exception worth over $12MM last July when the team sent Wilson Chandler to Philadelphia, and subsequently used that exception last week to acquire Jerami Grant from Oklahoma City.

Adding Grant’s $9MM+ salary to their books moved the Nuggets’ team salary close to the luxury tax threshold, reducing the likelihood of the club using those other TPEs.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Speaking of Jerami Grant, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer thinks the Nuggets‘ acquisition of the former Thunder forward was one of the very best moves of the 2019 offseason. As O’Connor outlines, Grant is the sort of quality wing who can complement Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray on offense while helping to cover for them on defense, which is exactly the sort of player Denver was missing last season.
  • David Aldridge of The Athletic takes a look at all the first-round picks the Thunder have acquired since the offseason began, observing that OKC could be in the driver’s seat for virtually any trade candidate in the league if the team decides to flip some of those picks for another star at some point.
  • The Jazz signed No. 58 overall pick Miye Oni to his first NBA contract on Monday, and Jeff Siegel of Early Bird Rights has the details, tweeting that Oni received a three-year, minimum-salary contract with the first year guaranteed. The second and third years on the deal, which was signed using Utah’s leftover cap room, are non-guaranteed, Siegel notes.

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Grant, Gilgeous-Alexander, Jazz

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard believes he can bring out the best of Hassan Whiteside, the enigmatic center acquired from the Heat as part of the multi-team Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade. Lillard has a good friendship with Whiteside and that should help prevent Whiteside from getting over-emotional, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic.

“I said, ‘So this is what this is going to come down to: If in the middle of the game, you are not getting the ball and you mad, and you felt like somebody should have done something, you come and say something to me,” Lillard said. “And if (Trail Blazers) Coach (Terry Stotts) is getting on you, or Coach takes you out and you get mad at Coach, me and you have to be able to communicate. Even if we argue, that’s fine. But we have to be able to get through to each other.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone is thrilled with the acquisition of forward Jerami Grant from the Thunder, as he told Alex Labidou of the team’s website. He believes Grant will mesh well with franchise player Nikola Jokic and significantly improve the team’s defense. “Watching film, he’s guarded Damian Lillard, James Harden, Anthony Davis, the guy can guard anybody,” Malone said. “I think that versatility is exciting.”
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander gives the Thunder a long-term answer at point guard who may have a better future than Paul George, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. Gilgeous-Alexander is nine years younger than George, Tramel notes, and he displayed better defensive and shooting skills than Russell Westbrook did in his rookie year.
  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert shrugs off the Clippers’ acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, confident that the Jazz have done enough this offseason to become serious contenders. “We don’t want to pay too much attention into what the other teams are doing,” Gobert told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “We want to keep working hard, and we want to stay hungry. We know what we have to do. Whenever we step out onto the court, the goal is to win. We know that we have a chance to do some good things this year. But we want to take things one step at a time.”
  • The Timberwolves have brought back Bryan Gates as an assistant coach under Ryan Saunders, according to an Associated Press report. Gates has been on the Kings’ staff the last three seasons but spent the 2015/16 season with Minnesota.

Thunder Trade Jerami Grant To Nuggets

4:33pm: The Nuggets have officially announced the trade, making it official.

12:26pm: The first-round pick going to the Thunder for Grant will be top-10 protected for the next three drafts, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe (Twitter link), who adds that it would convert into two second-rounders in the very unlikely event it doesn’t convey by 2022.

9:37am: The Nuggets and Thunder have agreed to a trade that will send forward Jerami Grant to Denver, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). League sources tell Wojnarowski that Oklahoma City will receive a 2020 first-round pick in exchange for Grant.

Grant, 25, enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2018/19 as the Thunder’s starting power forward, averaging 13.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, and 1.3 BPG with a shooting line of .497/.392/.710. He has one guaranteed year left on his contract, plus a player option for 2020/21.

After surrendering their 2019 first-round pick to shed salary and get out of the tax, the Nuggets will give up next year’s pick in order to add a quality veteran contributor to their frontcourt, which had been their biggest area of need. Denver had been quiet this past week in free agency, with $121MM+ in guaranteed money already on the club’s books.

The Nuggets will retain their mid-level exception, since Grant will be absorbed using one of the team’s sizable trade exceptions from last summer’s salary dumps. However, team salary is now above $130MM and inching close to the tax line, so I wouldn’t expect Denver to make any major signings. The acquisition of Grant may also make RFA power forward Trey Lyles expendable.

The trade will be a cost-cutting move for the Thunder, who are retooling their roster after agreeing to trade Paul George to the Clippers. Wojnarowski projects that sending Grant to Denver will save OKC approximately $39MM in salary and luxury-tax penalties, despite the fact that Grant is only earning about $9.35MM in 2019/20.

Those savings are fluid and will depend on subsequent roster moves made by the Thunder, but that $39MM estimate is a reflection of how punitive the repeater taxpayer penalties would be for the franchise this season. OKC remains above the $132.63MM tax threshold for now, but not by much — the club could conceivably get below that line with another move.

In addition to saving money, the Thunder will generate a trade exception worth Grant’s salary ($9.35MM) and will acquire their sixth future first-round pick of the week, having secured five first-rounders in the George trade. That PG13 deal also landed Oklahoma City its new starting power forward, as Danilo Gallinari projects to take Grant’s place in the club’s starting lineup.

Of course, with George and Grant headed for new homes, trade rumors surrounding Russell Westbrook figure to multiply. We rounded up the latest updates and speculation about a possible Westbrook trade on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Western Notes: Smith Jr., Parsons, Saric, Patterson

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is trying to put a damper on speculation that Dennis Smith Jr. will be dealt. Carlisle said that Smith and rookie sensation Luka Doncic form a ball-handling duo that can coexist and put steady pressure on opposing defenses, Dwain Price of Mavs.com tweets. “We have two point guards out there. Let’s quit looking at it as Dennis is getting relegated to playing off the ball,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got two point guards out there, which is a great advantage, and we’ve just got to take advantage of that and create a balance and cause problems for teams.” A report surfaced earlier this week that Dallas was gauging the market for the second-year guard.

We have more from around the Western Conference:

  • Chandler Parsons has been medically cleared to play and has participated in four 5-on-5 scrimmages but it’s uncertain when the Grizzlies will begin using him again, according to David Cobb of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Parsons, who has been battling knee soreness since being sidelined in late October, has yet to be activated. “He is dying to play,” Parsons’ agent, James Dunleavy, told Cobb. Parsons is making $24.1MM this season and another $25.1MM next season before his contract expires.
  • The duo of Taj Gibson and Dario Saric has provided a comfort level to Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. They have shared the spot since Saric was acquired from the Sixers in the Jimmy Butler deal. “Taj is playing unbelievable, and so is Dario,” Thibodeau told Hine. Gibson, who is making $14MM, will be an unrestricted free agent in July.
  • The backup power forward spot has been problematic for the Thunder, according to an Oklahoman report. Jerami Grant is averaging 12.4 PPG and 4.8 RPG as the starter but there’s a dropoff when he needs a rest. Patrick Patterson, the most likely candidate, has seen his minutes decline. He’s averaging just 3.9 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 15.9 MPG. Patterson holds a $5.7MM option on his contract for next season.

Fallout From Bulls/Thunder Scrum

On Monday night, the Thunder defeated the Bulls in Oklahoma City by 25 points in a game between two teams from different conferences, one with playoff aspirations and the other in the midst of a rebuild.

However, the otherwise relatively meaningless regular season contest took an interesting turn when a scrum broke out late in the third quarter after Bulls’ guard Cameron Payne was called for a foul, followed by a shoving match between Thunder’ guard Russell Westbrook and Bulls’ guard Kris Dunn.

Chaos then broke out as Jerami Grant approached Dunn before being confronted by Robin Lopez, resulting in both Grant and Lopez falling into the lap of some fans sitting in courtside seats.

The NBA announced discipline this afternoon, with non-participants and Thunder guards Raymond Felton and Dennis Schroder both receiving one-game suspensions for leaving the bench. Meanwhile, Dunn was fined $15K for “instigating,” while Grant and Lopez were fined $20K and $25K, respectively, for “escalating.”

Fortunately for the Kings, both Felton and Schroder will miss the Thunder’s game later tonight in Sacramento.

Northwest Notes: Grant, Westbrook, Mitchell

A nice surprise for the Thunder during their recent stretch of strong play has been the development from Jerami Grant, especially as he entered a new role in the starting lineup. As Maddie Lee writes for NewsOK, Grant is thriving as a starter and the team has benefited from his presence in the lineup.

Lee points out that Grant is shooting 52.7% as a starter, as opposed to 26.1% coming off the bench this season, which makes sense considering the offensive talent he is surrounded with in the starting lineup. Grant is having a career year across the board, posting career-highs in scoring (11.6 PPG), rebounding (5.2 RPG) and 3-point shooting (36.8% on three attempts per game).

It will be interesting to see if Grant can keep shooting at this level, especially when Andre Roberson returns, which would further cramp the floor-spacing in the starting lineup.

There’s more from the Northwest division: