Josh Jackson

Suns Notes: Warren, Jackson, Ayton, Booker

The Suns are in the midst of an eight-game losing streak and have dropped 11 of their last 12, as their offense struggles immensely without top scorers Devin Booker and T.J. Warren in the lineup. Phoenix has cracked the 100-point mark just once in its last six games and has posted nine-point first quarters twice during that stretch.

However, while Booker’s return still isn’t imminent, the team will get some added firepower this week, with Warren poised to return to the lineup on Monday, as Bob Young of The Athletic details.

“We’re missing him and Book, our two leading scorers,” Jamal Crawford said. “When you have those guys, it kind of settles everybody else down. (Warren) is somebody who helps give the team that swagger, for sure. Offense has been pretty hard to come by, but I think we’ll figure it out.”

Here’s more out of Phoenix:

  • Since entering the NBA in 2017, former fourth overall pick Josh Jackson has played for three different head coaches and two general managers. Speaking to Paolo Uggetti of The Ringer, Jackson said that he thinks the instability in Phoenix has had an effect on his play. “It would definitely be a lot better if we were more stable,” Jackson said recently. “I don’t think any other player in my class has gone through as much change within their team as I have. Since the moment I came into the league, it’s just been all about changes and adjustments, new coach after my second game of the season, like, c’mon now, really? That doesn’t happen.”
  • Addressing a heated postgame exchange with Devin Booker that took place after last Thursday’s loss to Portland, rookie center Deandre Ayton downplayed the incident, saying that he and Booker are “just two guys that want to win,” writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.
  • Earlier today, we relayed a couple other Suns-related news items, passing along word of the Suns’ contract talks with Eric Moreland and writing that at least eight teams have inquired on Trevor Ariza.

Pacific Notes: Bridges, Suns, Mbah a Moute, Warriors

The Suns have been struggling through an extended rebuild for several years now, which has led to them piling up plenty of young players and prospects that have had to compete for playing time. First it was Dragan Bender and Marquese Chriss, now it appears to be Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson. As Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer writes, Bridges appears to have the edge moving forward as a result of the added shooting he can provide.

Bridges has impressed so far this season for the Suns while Jackson has only continued to disappoint, which has led to inconsistent playing time and opportunities for the sophomore wing. With shooting being emphasized all over the league, it’s no surprise that Bridges is getting more opportunities, especially considering that he has been solid on the defensive end for a rookie.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the playing time and opportunities play out on the wing for the Suns, especially as they will likely add another top prospect to the roster for next season.

There’s more from the Pacific division:

  • As the lopsided losses continue to pile up for the Suns, frustration is mounting within the locker room. As Duane Rankin writes for Arizona Central, there have been numerous instances of friction and disconnect throughout the team, especially because the Suns were looking to be more competitive this season.
  • After only appearing in four games early in the season, it appears that Luc Mbah a Moute finally has a timetable for his return, as Mirjam Swanson of The Orange County Register reveals that the Clippers expect him to return in a couple of weeks from his left knee injury.
  • As the Warriors continue to fight through a season full of turmoil and injuries, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes that the team is still looking to find its joy, which is much harder to regain as it isn’t a tangible goal or accomplishment such as a championship ring or trophy.

Pacific Notes: McCaw, Jackson, Clippers, Jones

The Warriors are still interested in signing Patrick McCaw despite the clear rift between the two sides, with the 22-year-old still away from the team one week into the season.

“We have his rights no matter whether he accepts the contract that we’ve offered or not,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, according to E.Jay Zarett of Omnisport. “We’ve been in touch with him occasionally, and he’s going through his own thought process.

“He knows where we stand. We’d love to get him here. There’s still a place for him here. He has to just make up his mind which direction he wants to go.”

McCaw appeared in 57 games last season and 71 games the season before with Golden State. He provides reliable depth in the backcourt, and reportedly denied two options to return to the bay: A qualifying offer worth $1.7 million, and a two-year deal worth $5 million.

Here are some other notes from the Pacific Division:

  • Suns forward Josh Jackson has improved his three-point shooting, altering his overall offensive attack as a result, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic notes. “It feels really good to see the shot go in,” Jackson said. “A lot of times, the defense, they don’t really know if you’ve improved until you prove yourself.”
  • The Clippers are rotating scouts through the Raptors’ games to watch Kawhi Leonard, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Leonard is set to reach free agency next July and has already been connected to the Clippers.
  • The Mercury News’ Mark Medina detailed in a new post how Damian Jones‘ calm demeanor has helped him stick with the Warriors. “Being calm on the court doesn’t leave me too rattled,” Jones said. “A lot of things are being thrown at me. But by being calm, I don’t let it too much into my head. I’m just chilling.”

Suns Exercise 2019/20 Option On Josh Jackson

The Suns have exercised their 2019/20 option on Josh Jackson‘s rookie scale contract, according to RealGM’s official transactions log. Picking up that third-year option, a procedural move, locks in Jackson’s $7,059,480 for the ’19/20 season.

[RELATED: Decisions On 2019/20 Rookie Scale Team Options]

The fourth overall pick in the 2017 draft, Jackson showed promise in his rookie year, averaging 13.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 1.5 SPG in 77 games (25.4 MPG). The Suns figure to lean a little more heavily on the 21-year-old in his second season, as he takes on a more prominent role among a solid group of forwards that also features Trevor Ariza, T.J. Warren, and rookie Mikal Bridges.

Interestingly, RealGM’s log of official NBA transactions doesn’t list a Suns decision on Dragan Bender‘s fourth-year option for 2019/20. Phoenix has until October 31 to make a decision on Bender’s option, worth $5,896,519, and the club still hasn’t announced Jackson’s option pickup. The Suns could exercise Bender’s option later and announce both moves at once.

Still, it’s worth noting that Bender was viewed by at least one Suns reporter as a candidate to be waived this week when the team needed to cut down its roster to the regular season limit. His 2019/20 option isn’t a lock to be exercised.

Pacific Notes: Kuzma, Lakers, Suns, Jackson, Kerr

Lakers coach Luke Walton will use the preseason to sort out his options at center, Joey Ramirez of the Lakers’ website reports. While JaVale McGee and Ivica Zubac are the more conventional centers on the roster, the team is exploring small ball looks with Kyle Kuzma and Michael Beasley at the five spot. Walton was particularly intrigued by what he saw from Kuzma during the team’s preseason game against Denver on Sunday.

“There were a few fundamental breakdowns of how we want to play the defense from that spot, but his effort was there,” said the Lakers’ head coach. “He wants the challenge again, and we’re gonna give it to him again.”

In other developments from around the Pacific Division:

  • LeBron James will play in the Lakers‘ first preseason game at Staples Center on Tuesday but point guard Lonzo Ball will be held out, Ramirez writes in the same story. Ball is participating in full practices but the team is playing it safe in his return from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July, Ramirez adds.
  • The Suns have become the latest NBA team to enter a jersey sponsorship deal with a corporate partner, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, who reports that the club will display PayPal ads on its uniforms going forward. There are now 25 clubs with jersey sponsors.
  • Josh Jackson is the Suns’ X factor this season, Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic writes. The 2017 lottery pick is viewed by new coach Igor Kokoskov as a high-energy player who can make his biggest impact on the defensive end. “In the half court, he’s pretty good, but open court, he’s one of the best,” Kokoskov told Rankin. “So let’s play to his strength and emphasize his defense.”
  • Warriors coach Steve Kerr believes he’s made significant progress from his prior back issues, Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area relays. Kerr spoke of his health during a Tim Kawakami podcast. “I work every day — I do a lot of stuff to make sure I’m staying on the improving path,” he said. “The worst is behind me … when I had to sit out in the (2017) playoffs, that was a brutally difficult time and I wasn’t sure what was gonna happen. I think all of that is behind me and I’m looking at much better days.” Kerr’s interview with Kawakami from The Athletic can be found here.

And-Ones: Sophomores, Future Rankings, Christon

The 2017 NBA Draft class has thus far turned out to be one of the most impressive crops in recent memory. In addition Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum, poised freshmen that played significant roles in the playoffs, there are also a handful of lottery picks with tremendous opportunity for future growth.

ESPN’s Mike Schmitz (Insider) recently profiled a few players from last year’s draft class who showed impressive glimpses during their first year in the pros. Schmitz writes that Lonzo Ball deviated from what made him great at UCLA. If he’s to thrive with the Lakers he’ll need to step up as a spot-up shooter. Last year, the guard spent too much time trying to create in pick-and-roll situations.

Schmitz also discusses Josh Jackson, Dennis Smith and De’Aaron Fox, opting to exclude Markelle Fultz due to the unique circumstances of his rookie year.

There’s more from around the league:

  • Sorry Hornets fans, the Charlotte franchise has been ranked as the team with the bleakest forecast over the next three seasons. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Insider) writes that turnover in the front office, coupled with limited financial flexibility, won’t bode well for the team heading forward.
  • At a time when journalists scrap to be the first media personalities to tweet about player movement in the NBA, Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has broken the news for two recent sportswriter job changes. He, alongside CJ McCollum form the most journalistic backcourt the NBA has ever seen.
  • After playing one season in China and Puerto Rico, former Thunder guard Semaj Christon is open to playing in Europe, Emiliano Carchia of Sportando tweets.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams

The NBA has officially announced its First and Second All-Rookie Teams for the 2017/18 season. Ben Simmons of the Sixers and Donovan Mitchell of the Jazz – widely viewed as the top two contenders for this season’s Rookie of the Year award – were the only two players to be unanimously selected to the First Team. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum received 99 of 100 potential First Team votes.

Listed below are the NBA’s All-Rookie teams for 2017/18, with the player’s vote total in parentheses. Players received two points for a First Team vote and one point for a Second Team vote.

First Team:

  • Ben Simmons, Sixers (200)
  • Donovan Mitchell, Jazz (200)
  • Jayson Tatum, Celtics (199)
  • Kyle Kuzma, Lakers (193)
  • Lauri Markkanen, Bulls (173)

Second Team:

Jackson, who received one First Team vote to go along with 43 Second Team votes, narrowly beat out Bam Adebayo of the Heat for the final spot on the Second Team — Adebayo finished with 44 points.

Outside of Adebayo and the 10 players who earned spots on the All-Rookie teams, 14 other players received votes, with De’Aaron Fox (Kings), OG Anunoby (Raptors), and Jarrett Allen (Nets) leading the way among that group.

Draft Notes: Ayton, Pinson, Spalding, Amius, Eubanks

DeAndre Ayton is the top pick in ESPN Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft heading into the draft lottery on Tuesday. Givony has the Arizona center going to the Suns, Euro guard Luka Doncic being snapped up by the Grizzlies at No. 2 and Duke big man Marvin Bagley III heading to the Mavericks at No. 3. Naturally, the deck could be shuffled after Tuesday’s results. Michigan State big man Jaren Jackson Jr. (Hawks) and Texas center Mohamed Bamba (Magic) round out the Top 5.

In other draft-related developments:

  • North Carolina combo guard Theo Pinson will participate in the draft combine in Chicago, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports tweets. Pinson is ranked the No. 89 prospect on Givony’s latest Top 100. Louisville’s power forward Ray Spalding has also been invited, Charania reports in a separate tweet. Spalding is currently ranked No. 58 by Givony.
  • Western Carolina junior forward Mike Amius has hired an agent and will remain in the draft, Jeff Goodman of ESPN tweets. He averaged 12.7 PPG and 5.6 RPG last season. He is not among Givony’s Top 100 prospects.
  • Oregon State forward Drew Eubanks has signed with agent James Dunleavy and ISE Worldwide, Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal tweets. The junior averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG for the Beavers last season.
  • The Suns will send Josh Jackson and the Kings will be represented by De’Aaron Fox at the draft lottery on Tuesday, Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report relays. The Nuggets’ Jamal Murray and the Pistons’ Luke Kennard are the other current players who will represent their teams in Chicago. The full list of representatives can be found in Conway’s story.

Pacific Notes: George, James, Jackson, Warriors

It has been evident for the past few years that there is mutual interest between the Lakers and hometown All-Star Paul George. The Pacers and Lakers discussed George in a trade this past offseason and L.A. was even fined for openly discussing its interest in the All-Star forward.

This is just the latest chapter in the Lakers coveting not just top free agents but native free agents, Bill Oram of the Orange County Register writes.

Just two summers ago, DeMar DeRozan – a Compton product – was linked to the Lakers before he re-signed with the Raptors. Two summers from now, Klay Thompson, a Los Angeles native, is expected to hit free agency and the Lakers will almost certainly be in the mix. Kevin Lovewho played at UCLA, was expected to be a Lakers target in 2015 before the Cavaliers acquired him a year earlier. There is a noticeable pattern with the Lakers: pursue big names and if they happen to be from the area, pursue them even harder.

“I think that’s just the media,” George said about his impending free agency. “They see a headline and immediately they jump to conclusions. It’s funny but at the end of the day I know where my decision lands, or what my decision is, and that’s all that matters.”

Check out other Pacific Division news below:

  • Tonight’s All-Star Game takes place in Los Angeles and the Lakers‘ free agency targets — in addition to George — have been a major talking point, Sam Amick of USA TODAY Sports writes. The Lakers cleared considerable cap space by trading away Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. at the deadline with eyes toward George and possibly LeBron James. Russell Westbrook, a California native himself, already shot down the notion of George wanting to jump ship over the summer. “That’s out! Paul ain’t going nowhere,” Westbrook told reporters as Lakers fans chanted for George. “It’s over for that.” As for James, his decision is still up in the air.
  • Josh Jackson‘s defense has always been strong but his recent surge on offense could make him a major threat for the Suns, Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype writes. Since January, Jackson has averaged 16.1 PPG for the Suns.
  • Michael Lee of Yahoo Sports examines the Warriors‘ success and how it has become a part of the team’s identity in both wins and losses.

Pacific Notes: Lakers, Thompson, Jackson

There’s no denying that the Lakers are set on making a push for Paul George and LeBron James this summer, but what if things don’t go according to plan? Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus recently broke down the club’s alternative options if one or both of those stars decide against a move to Los Angeles.

If James decides not to sign with the Lakers, it’s expected that the franchise will continue to make a push for George. What the team would do with its second max slot in that scenario remains to be seen, however. Given that the next-best reasonably available options could be an injured DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan, the Lakers may opt hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 in that situation.

If neither of the two sign in L.A., the Lakers would almost inevitably have to hold onto their cap space until the summer of 2019 when players like Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker hit the market.

If the latter happens, the Lakers will need to be tactful in how they manage players like Isaiah Thomas, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez, all set to have their contracts expire at the end of June.

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • Although he won’t hit free agency until the summer of 2019, Warriors guard Klay Thompson has every intention of remaining with Golden State, Mark Medina of the Mercury News writes. “Anything I can do to stay with the Warriors is first and foremost. God willing, it happens. If not, I don’t even think about that,” Thompson said.
  • If a player needs to be convinced to play for the franchise and carry on the Lakers legacy, they’re not the right person for the job, Kobe Bryant said. The Hall of Fame-bound shooting guard discussed his role in recruiting free agents for the only franchise he ever played for with ESPN’s Jalen Rose.
  • Since the new year, Suns rookie Josh Jackson has averaged 16.1 points per game. That’s a notable increase from the 9.0 he averaged through the first three months of his NBA career. Bryan Kalbrosky of HoopsHype recently shed light on the Kansas product’s in-season improvement.