Jordan Clarkson

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, Snyder, Offseason

Following the Game 6 loss to Dallas that ended their season on Thursday night, the Jazz face an offseason of potential change. Asked after the game about what the future looks like, center Rudy Gobert and guard Jordan Clarkson both expressed a desire to remain in Utah, but acknowledged that decision could be out of their control, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links).

While forward Royce O’Neale asserted that “this group wants to stay together,” Gobert expressed uncertainty when he was asked whether the current roster has reached its ceiling (Twitter links via Walden).

“I don’t know,” Gobert said. “We have a lot of talent. This year we faced more adversity. I feel like we could be so much better. … You try to ask yourself why we can’t be consistent.”

As for star guard Donovan Mitchell, he said yes when he was asked after the game whether he wants to stick with the Jazz, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. When he was later asked to address speculation about the possibility of him eventually asking for a trade, Mitchell was less equivocal, but gave no indication that such a request is on his mind in the short term.

“My mindset is to win,” he said. “Right now, I’m not really looking at that. I answered (the first) question, and you could take that. But for me, I just want to win, yo. Like, this hurts. And like I said, I’ll think about it in a week and go from there. But right now, I’m not thinking at all about that.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Tony Jones of The Athletic expects significant roster changes in Utah this summer, writing that at least one starter will likely be playing elsewhere next season. However, he hears from sources that the Jazz are committed to building around Mitchell and don’t plan to fully blow up the roster. If the team is open to trading Gobert, there are multiple teams that would be interested, but sources tell Jones that the three-time Defensive player of the Year remains “all in” on the Jazz and would like to spend the rest of his career with the organization.
  • Within the same story, Jones says that Quin Snyder‘s future will be determined one way or the other in “the coming days and weeks.” Sources tell The Athletic that Utah’s front office has been happy with the job Snyder has done and that he hasn’t lost the locker room, so if a coaching change occurs, Snyder may be the one instigating it.
  • In his offseason preview for the Jazz, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) argues that the team should remain focused on building around Mitchell and Gobert rather than breaking them up. While Utah has been hurt by small-ball lineups in playoff series in recent years, Marks says that’s more an indictment of the club’s perimeter defense than of Gobert.
  • Even before Utah’s Game 6 loss on Thursday, Zach Kram of The Ringer contended that it was time for the franchise to admit its roster shortcomings and prepare to shake things up this summer. Kram explores whether it would be in the Jazz’s best interests to consider trading Gobert or Mitchell — or even both.

Kings Notes: Sabonis, Vogel, Catanella, Ranadive, Clarkson, Bagley, McNair

Domantas Sabonis said he’d like to give his input during the Kings’ coaching search, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee. Sacramento opted not to retain Alvin Gentry as the team’s head coach.

“I would like to be part of it and talk to everyone,” Sabonis said. “Give them my input, what I think, what I’ve seen, what could work, what could help.”

Sabonis did not play after March 20 due to a knee injury he termed “a severe bone bruise,” James Ham of ESPN 1320 tweets. Sabonis says he has fully recovered from the injury.

We have more on the Kings:

  • Mike D’Antoni, Terry StottsMike Brown, Steve CliffordKenny AtkinsonMark Jackson and Bucks assistants Charles Lee and Darvin Ham have been mentioned as possible replacements for Gentry. Anderson tosses another name into the ring: now-former Lakers head coach Frank Vogel.
  • Kings assistant GM Ken Catanella will not have his contract renewed, Sean Cunningham of KXTV tweets. He had been with the organization for six seasons.
  • An anonymous former member of the team’s basketball operations staff told Anderson that Kings owner and chairman Vivek Ranadive has wielded his influence in roster moves, which has damaged the franchise. “It’s one thing to be a fan and want to be involved from afar, but I think when you are meddling in decisions, I think the problem is you have an owner who’s too involved,” the source said. That source said the constant shuffling of players, coaches and executives created a culture of chaos, which left the franchise direction-less. The power within the front office often shifted, depending upon who shared Ranadive’s views regarding personnel decisions.
  • In the same piece, Anderson’s source indicated that Ranadive and former executive Brandon Williams were “driving forces” behind the decision to draft Marvin Bagley III with the No. 2 pick in 2018 over Luka Doncic, though there was a consensus within the organization because Bagley was a “modern-day big who could run the floor with De’Aaron Fox.”
  • Jordan Clarkson was nearly acquired in 2019/20 from the Cavaliers in a trade involving Yogi Ferrell, but the Kings procrastinated due to Ranadive’s involvement. Clarkson wound up getting dealt to Utah.
  • Current GM Monte McNair has wielded more authority than previous execs, with another source telling Anderson, “I don’t believe Vivek is micromanaging Monte.”

Northwest Notes: Gordon, Jokic, Conley, Clarkson

Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon has been an excellent fit in Denver over the last year, writes Matt Isa of Basketball News. The 6’8″ power forward, 26, is thriving during his first full season with the Nuggets after arriving from Orlando in a deadline trade during the 2020/21 season. Across 62 contests with the Nuggets, Gordon is averaging 14.5 PPG, 5.7 RPG and 2.5 APG. He is also connecting on 51% of his field goal attempts and 73.7% of his free-throw looks.

At 40-28, the ailing Nuggets presently occupy the sixth seed in the East, 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Timberwolves. Though Gordon never emerged as a bona fide star in Orlando, due in part to a lack of three-point shooting or ball-handling, he has found a home as a key role player for Denver. Gordon has been unlocked as a finisher alongside All-NBA center Nikola Jokic in the team’s frontcourt, opines Isa.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Nuggets MVP candidate Nikola Jokic is excited to play against one of the other leading candidates for that end-of-year award, Sixers center Joel Embiid, on a national TV contest Monday night, writes Mike Singer of the Denver Post. “He’s a great player, great,” Jokic said. “He can do everything on the floor, who is controlling the game, who is in conversation for MVP and the best player in the league. He’s so dominant. He’s skilled, but he’s so big and strong that he uses that. He’s really tough coverage for every single team in the NBA.” The 6’11” Jokic, who won the MVP award in 2021, is averaging 26.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG and 8.1 APG for Denver. He has a slash line of .573/.349/.806. Embiid is averaging 29.7 PPG, 11.2 RPG and 4.3 APG for the 40-25 Philadelphia, along with shooting splits of .489/.355/.819.
  • Sidelined Jazz point guard Mike Conley pushed reserve guard Jordan Clarkson into a career-best night on offense, according to Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. The 2021 Sixth Man of the Year scored 45 points on Saturday in a 134-125 win over the Kings on the second night of a back-to-back. Clarkson went 15-of-21 from the floor, including 7-for-13 from long range. “A big part of it was Mike,” Clarkson said. “When I walked in today, he was like: ‘You know what I ain’t seen you do all year? Get 40.’ And it just pinged in my head.” The 6’4″ vet has had a slightly underwhelming shooting season this year from the floor, connecting on 41.6% of his 14 field goal looks, including just 32% of his 7.7 three-point attempts.
  • Clarkson seems to be comfortable playing through his shooting slumps, per Jazz.com. After a slow start to the season, Clarkson has seen a significant uptick in his play over the past month and a half. “I’m not changing anything, I’m not really thinking about stuff too much,” he said of his recent improvement. “Just coming into work.” Head coach Quin Snyder praised Clarkson’s commitment. “He’s not gonna be on the all-defensive first team, and I think he’d admit that, but he cares,” Snyder said. “The last month or so, he’s been very deliberate in his work.”

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Mitchell, Clarkson, Vivint Arena

Following his return to the Jazz from a left calf strain, All-Star center Rudy Gobert suggested that the mood around the team seems improved, according to Jazz.com. Prior to Utah’s dominant 135-101 Rockets win on Monday, Gobert had missed the team’s previous nine games.

“Our energy is different,” Gobert said. “I feel like something happened within our team. … That slump really sparked something. I feel like we’re a team that’s trying to accomplish something.”

The Jazz have won six straight games since losing 11 of 13 in January, and appear to be focused collectively on improving their hustle and defensive intensity. Their offensive efficiency has also improved of late.

There’s more out of Utah:

  • Jazz All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell discussed his relationship with Gobert in a wide-ranging conversation with Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports in Haynes’ podcast Posted Up With Chris Haynes. “First of all, we’re good. I just want to go on record with saying that,” Mitchell told Haynes. “I think it’s interesting that stuff happens, and he and I have never played at this high of a level together since we’ve been here. So I make the joke, ‘For a group that hates each other, man, we’re playing pretty well.’”
  • In his conversation with Haynes, Mitchell also addressed speculation that he might not want to stay in Utah long-term, dismissing that idea. “I think I’ve reached a point where you’re happy with yourself, first off,” Mitchell said. “… But as far as myself with the franchise, I see the articles, but I really address it with my teammates. I’ve seen it. I’m not too stressed about it. I’m not thinking about it. … There’s going to be talk whether I say something, whether I don’t say something because that’s how I’ve always been. I’ve always been someone that’s like, ‘OK, they’re saying stuff. Let’s go ahead and lock in.’ I haven’t really thought too much about it. I’m happy right now and just continuing to find ways to win.”
  • Jazz reserve guard Jordan Clarkson, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, has now entered all-time territory with a recent achievement. Upon nailing his 439th three-pointer during Utah’s lopsided victory over the Rockets, Clarkson has the 10th-most made triples in the team’s history, per Jazz.com“I feel like I’ve been saying it for a long time, but his care factor, his will, and he’s got a lot of pride, he wants to win,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “He can really score but he wants to win more than he wants to score.”
  • The Jazz’s home court, Vivint Arena, is scheduled to roll back most of its coronavirus precautions for Jazz games on February 25, according to Joe Coles of The Deseret News. Vivint Arena currently requires all attendees to either display proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within 72 hours of tipoff. Masks will still be a requirement for certain areas close to the court. 3,128 new coronavirus cases were recorded in the state yesterday, per The New York Times.

Jazz Notes: Conley, Mitchell, Gobert, Clarkson

Mike Conley is listed as questionable for Saturday’s Game 3 of the Jazz’s second-round series against the Clippers, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Conley suffered a right hamstring strain in the series finale against the Grizzlies on June 2nd. The Jazz have used a three-guard rotation of Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson in his absence while winning the first two games of the series.

We have more on the Jazz:

  • Mitchell tweaked his right ankle in the closing seconds of Game 2 but he says he’ll be ready to go on Saturday, Tim MacMahon of ESPN writes. Mitchell missed Utah’s playoff opener with a right ankle sprain, the only game the Jazz have lost in this postseason. “I got hit and it hurt, but I’m fine now,” Mitchell said. “I walked in here (to the interview room). If you want me to sprint for you, I can. I’m good.”
  • Rudy Gobert won his third Defensive Player of the Year award and he says that being an elite defender requires plenty of dedication, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. “It takes relentless dedication every day,” Gobert said. “In this league, we have so many games, being able to stay healthy and being able to stay strong, being able to try to bring it every single night for my team, it’s a challenge. It’s a lot of hard work and dedication and things that people don’t see.”
  • Clarkson is averaging 21 points in the series and he’s victimizing his former mentor, Joe Vardon of The Athletic notes. Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was Clarkson’s coach in Cleveland during the 2017/18 season. “He talked to me about all of this, how to carry yourself in the playoffs, how to move in the playoffs, what to do, finding a routine,” Clarkson said of Lue. “It’s strictly competing, but seeing him over there, that’s somebody you care about before he was doing that. Ty Lue has always been talking to me, texting me, he’s been in my ear even before he was in Cleveland.”

Northwest Notes: Rubio, Micic, Clarkson, Nuggets

When Ricky Rubio was acquired by the Timberwolves during the 2020 offseason, it was billed as a homecoming for a veteran point guard who began his NBA career in Minnesota. However, speaking to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, Rubio admitted that the unusual circumstances surrounding the 2020/21 season prevented him from really reconnecting with Wolves fans.

“It didn’t feel like I came back to Minnesota,” Rubio said. “That’s one of the things that hurts the most, being at Target Center and not being able to see real fans and feel the love they have had for me. It’s something that I missed.”

While Rubio should get the opportunity to be around fans in Minnesota next season, he’s entering a contract year and could be a candidate to be traded again this offseason if the Wolves want to shake up their roster. For his part, the Spaniard told Krawczynski that he’d love to remain with the team — as long as it keeps taking positive steps toward contention.

“I don’t want to be on a team where there is no direction, there is no hope we can really take the next step,” he said. “I believe we can take the next step and really be a solid playoff team. That’s why when I got traded to Minnesota I was excited. I thought this was the year. We wasted a year, but there is no more years to waste. If not, the rebuilding process is gonna start over again and I don’t think that’s a fun part to be a part of.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Thunder draft-and-stash prospect Vasilije Micic has been voted the EuroLeague’s 2020/21 Most Valuable Player, the league announced on Wednesday. Micic, who averaged 16.3 PPG and 4.8 APG in 38 EuroLeague games for Anadolu Efes is a candidate to come stateside for the 2021/22 season.
  • As Sarah Todd of The Deseret News details, Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson was always reluctant to accept a bench role earlier in his NBA career, viewing it as a slight when he was removed from the starting lineup during his days with the Lakers. However, Clarkson has embraced his reserve role over the years and it paid off in a big way in 2020/21 with a Sixth Man of the Year award.
  • The Nuggets are increasing the capacity at Ball Arena to 10,500 fans, the team announced in a press release. Denver had previously been allowing an attendance of up to 7,750.

Jordan Clarkson Captures Sixth Man Award

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson has won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, according to a league press release.

This is the first time Clarkson has won the award. He’s also the first Jazz player to be given the honor.

Clarkson, who re-signed with Utah last offseason for four years and $51MM, received 65 first-place votes and earned 407 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. His teammate, forward Joe Ingles, finished in second place with 272 points (34 first-place votes). Knicks guard Derrick Rose finished third with 77 points (one first-place vote).

Clarkson averaged a career-high 18.4 PPG, 4.0 RPG and 2.5 APG in 26.7 MPG while appearing in 68 games. Playing his first full season with Utah and seventh in the NBA, Clarkson recorded two games with at least 40 points, five games with at least 30 points and 23 games with at least 20 points off the bench.

Montrezl Harrell, then with the Clippers, won the award last season. Lou Williams captured the honor with the Clippers the previous two seasons.

Mavericks teammates Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway rounded out the top five vote-getters for this year’s Sixth Man award. The full voting results can be found here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Finalists For Major 2020/21 NBA Awards Announced

During a TNT broadcast ahead of tonight’s Wizards-Pacers play-in matchup, the finalists for six big end-of-season 2020/21 awards were announced. Here is the full list, as voted on by reporters.

NBA Most Valuable Player:

NBA Defensive Player of the Year:

NBA Rookie of the Year:

NBA Most Improved Player:

NBA Sixth Man of the Year:

NBA Coach of the Year:

  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Tom Thibodeau (Knicks)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Some of these current contenders are familiar with the hardware they’re up for again. Curry is a two-time MVP, having won the award previously in 2015 and 2016. Gobert and Green have both previously won Defensive Player of the Year awards — Green in 2017 and Gobert in 2018 and 2019. Thibodeau was voted Coach of the Year a decade ago while with the Bulls.

The winners for the awards will be announced during the 2020/21 NBA playoffs.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Clarkson, Jokic, Rivers

Asked this week during an appearance on The Star Tribune’s Daily Delivery podcast about the trade that sent Andrew Wiggins and a lightly-protected first-round pick to Golden State in exchange for D’Angelo Russell at the 2020 trade deadline, Timberwolves president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas expressed no regrets, writes Michael Rand of The Star Tribune.

Even if Rosas – with the Timberwolves in position to give up a possible top-five pick to the Warriors – was having second thoughts about the trade, it’s not as if he’d be inclined to admit as much during a podcast appearance. But Rand said he felt as if the Wolves’ president was being honest and forthright in his assessment of the deal.

“As of now, I think our resurgence has happened with D’Angelo’s return, so that’s paying dividends now,” Rosas said. “We put the protection in the pick that we felt like was critical to keeping the pick. At some point you’re going to give the pick up whether it’s this year or next year. We’re firm believers. We did it for a purpose. We’re seeing the return on that deal now.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • After bouncing from Los Angeles to Cleveland to Utah during his first few NBA seasons, Jordan Clarkson has found an ideal fit with the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes in an extensive look at the Sixth Man of the Year candidate. “The organization has let me be myself, and that’s meant a lot,” Clarkson said.
  • When the Nuggets clinched a spot in the first round of the postseason this week, it secured a $500K bonus for Nikola Jokic, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Since that bonus had already been deemed likely entering the season, it’ll have no impact on Denver’s cap.
  • After scoring 25 points on Wednesday against his old team (the Knicks), Austin Rivers had nothing but praise for his new team, the Nuggets, per Sean Keeler of The Denver Post. “This has been a life-saver and (life)-changer for me, coming (to Denver),” Rivers said. “I’ve never experienced a team, an organization, like this, (where it’s) so about ‘we’ instead of ‘me’ …. They just build everybody up here. That’s why (Michael Porter Jr.) plays the way he plays and Jokic and all these guys. They just build everybody up here. So I just feel kind of lucky. Honestly, I’m just lucky to be here and thankful to be here.”

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Nuggets, Wolves, Jazz

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, who recently missed three games due to right hamstring tendiopathy, hasn’t looked like his usual self in the three games since his return, all Portland losses, writes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Lillard has made just 25-of-72 shot attempts in those games, good for 34.7% from the floor.

As Quick details, Lillard said on Sunday that this is the “worst year physically” he has had in his nine-year playing career, but the All-Star guard said he doesn’t intend to sit out any more games as the Trail Blazers fight for a favorable playoff position. They’ve slipped to seventh, one game back of the sixth-seeded Mavs.

While the Blazers want to avoid being relegated to in a play-in tournament to secure their postseason berth – like they were a year ago – Quick wonders if it might make sense to rest Lillard for a few games before the season ends to make sure he’s in top form. As Quick observes, Portland is 3-2 this season without its leading scorer and has the backcourt depth to get by without him for a few games if a break would benefit Lillard.

Here’s more from around the Northwest: