Juan Hernangomez

And-Ones: Hernangomez, Brazdeikis, Take Fouls, Mitrou-Long

Juancho Hernangomez told Daniel Arribas of El Pais (hat tip to HoopsHype) that he “can’t picture himself” returning to Europe next season, despite speculation about that possibility. “I have spoken to nobody or signed any offer,” he said.

While the Celtics are three wins away from the championship, Hernangomez said his 18-game stint with Boston wasn’t a pleasant experience. “I wasn’t happy there, it was very hard. There was no communication,” he said. “I didn’t know what was expected of me. There were many super selfish players, no team building. I lost my love for basketball a bit.”

Hernangomez finished the season with the Jazz and is technically under contract through 2022/23, but his $7.42MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed. Utah is expected to make him a free agent before the guarantee deadline at the end of the month.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Magic forward Ignas Brazdeikis will play for Lithuania in FIBA World Cup qualifiers this summer, according to BasketNews.com. “I want to play, and I will play for Lithuania,” Brazdeikis said. Brazdeikis was born in Lithuania but grew up in Canada, and has a Canadian passport. It took nearly two years for the Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LKF) to complete all the paperwork required to receive official FIBA confirmation he could play for their national team.
  • NBA coaches and players frustrated by transition take fouls will see a rules change next season, according to commissioner Adam Silver, Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press writes. The fouls, committed to prevent fast-break baskets, will include stiffer penalties next season. The G League rule awards teams one free throw and possession, while international rules have a penalty of two free throws plus possession.
  • Fenerbahce is currently leading the race for former NBA guard Naz Mitrou-Long, according to Italian newspaper La Prealpina (hat tip to Sportando). Mitrou-Long is also being pursued by Olimpia Milano after a strong season with Germani Brescia. He appeared in 20 NBA games, most recently with Indiana in 2019/20.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Russell, Jazz, Hernangomez

The Timberwolves are coming off a thrilling season — one that featured their second playoff appearance in the last 17 years — but the road ahead will only be harder for the team, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. 

Minnesota finished the regular season with a 46-36 record. The team showed flashes of potential in its first-round series against the No. 2 Grizzlies, but ultimately lost in six games.

“We’ve got to take two steps forward while other teams take one step forward,” executive vice president of basketball operations Sachin Gupta said.

In addition to the Grizzlies, the West also has several other competitive teams. The Suns, Warriors, Nuggets and Mavericks will all likely be competing for a championship again next season. Minnesota fans may have enjoyed this season, but more work must be done before advancing in the playoffs.

Here are some other notes from the Northwest Division:

  • Trading D’Angelo Russell may be best for the Timberwolves, Michael Rand of the Star Tribune opines. Rand believes that Russell, who’s set to make $31.4MM next season, can’t be part of a championship core on his current salary. Russell is set to enter unrestricted free agency in 2023, so Minnesota could try to get something in return for him before then or risk losing him on the open market. The team still doesn’t have an established presence at point guard behind Russell. In 65 starts this season, he averaged 18.1 points and 7.1 assists per game, shooting 41%.
  • Sarah Todd of the Deseret News examines whether the Jazz will stay competitive in the West beyond this season. Utah lost its first-round series against Dallas in six games, raising questions about whether the team will keep Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert together. The Jazz have made the playoffs six straight seasons, but didn’t reach the conference finals once during that time.
  • In a separate story for the Deseret News, Todd explores what the future may hold for Jazz forward Juancho Hernangomez. The 26-year-old was productive in his 17 regular-season games with Utah, averaging 6.2 points on 51% shooting from the floor and 44% shooting from deep. His minutes were limited in the playoffs, however. He scored a total of 14 points in 56 minutes against Dallas, shooting 5-of-18 (28%) from the floor.

Jazz Notes: Slump, Mitchell, Gobert, Forrest, Hernangomez

Last Wednesday night, following a blowout loss to the Celtics, Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert attempted to diagnose the team’s issues and consider how to fix them, with Gobert stressing the need to “sacrifice for each other,” while Mitchell called out the Utah’s execution and energy level. As Sarah Todd of The Deseret News relayed at the time, Gobert expressed confidence that enduring some adversity would make the team better.

One week later, it seems as though the Jazz have yet to apply those lessons and turn their adversity into something positive. Defeats at the hands of the Hornets, Mavericks, and Clippers have extended their losing streak to five games, and Tuesday’s outcome in Los Angeles was especially dispiriting. In a repeat of Game 6 of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals, Utah blew a 25-point lead en route to an improbable loss.

Asked by Todd about the similarities between last year’s game and last night’s, Mitchell expressed exasperation: “I don’t know, Sarah. I don’t know. It’s the same s–t. I mean, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing. This is literally the same thing.”

Gobert offered more specific critiques of the Jazz, suggesting to reporters that the team’s ball movement, defense, and lack of physicality are among the problems he has noticed.

“Nobody hits nobody,” Gobert said, per Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. “We don’t get our hands dirty. We never get our hands dirty. We’re a very good basketball team, but I get f— up every night, and guys are literally beating me up every night, as they should. It’s basketball, it’s a physical game. But we have to get to the point where we do that to the other team too. But teams don’t really expect that from us.

“We’re a really good basketball team, I think we have great basketball players on both ends. We just, need to figure out a way to get that mindset, to do things for each other more and do it for 48 minutes, and do it even more. And when it gets hard, we need to do it even more.”

Utah will have a good opportunity to right the ship on Thursday when the reeling Lakers – likely missing both LeBron James and Anthony Davis – come to town.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • The good vibes that used to float around the Jazz are gone, Todd writes in an opinion piece for The Deseret News, noting that the team’s body language has been “just awful.”
  • Jazz guard Trent Forrest, who left Tuesday’s game with concussion-like symptoms, has indeed been diagnosed with a concussion, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. The Jazz were determining late Tuesday night whether Forrest would be able to fly home with the team or if he’d require an overnight hospital stay. There was a bit of added concern because it’s Forrest’s second concussion, Jones explains.
  • Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune explores the odds of Rudy Gobert winning his fourth Defensive Player of the Year award this season.
  • Juan Hernangomez has been traded four times in the last year and hasn’t played much this season, but he has gotten the opportunity to start for the Jazz recently with Bojan Bogdanovic sidelined and has responded well, including on Tuesday when he scored 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting. “It’s just the business,” Hernangomez said following the loss in Charlotte last Friday, according to Walden. “As a player, you’ve got to be ready, keep working on your game. I’ve been through a lot of changes — emotionally, changing all the teams, changing all my teammates, coaches, but you’re still the same player. You’ve got to keep working on your game because if you can stay ready, the NBA’s about opportunity. And when the opportunity comes, just enjoy it and do your best.”

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, 2023 ASG, Hernangomez

The Jazz have made the playoffs in each of the four years since Donovan Mitchell entered the NBA and are on track to do so again in 2022. However, Mitchell has yet to make it beyond the second round of the postseason and is feeling more urgency to make a deeper run this spring, as he tells Tony Jones of The Athletic.

“I think I’m really at a point now where we’ve made the second round, and we want more,” Mitchell said. “We crave it. I watched Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp in the Super Bowl; they just found ways to win. So, for me, that’s the biggest thing. The ultimate goal is for us to be the last team standing. That’s the sign of the ultimate winner.”

In addition to voicing his desire for the Jazz to “take another leap,” Mitchell once again brushed off the notion that there’s any tension between him and teammate Rudy Gobert, echoing comments he made to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports earlier this month.

“I’m at a point now where it’s the NBA, this is what it is,” Mitchell told Jones. “People are going to write things. If I have to respond every five minutes to a story, then I’m taking away from my teammates, and I’m taking away from my happiness. I love this team, and we want to find a way to win as a group. I’m focused on my team. As long as my teammates and my coaches know my intentions, then that’s what it is. But I’m not going to allow articles to deter me from my main goal. I love this group. So, let’s find a way to do it.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Rudy Gobert, who watched 19-year veteran LeBron James hit the game-winning shot against his team in Sunday’s All-Star Game, said he’d love to be able to replicate LeBron’s longevity, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes. “I’m taking great care of myself, just to trying to see how far I can go,” said Gobert, who is in his ninth season. “Whenever I feel like I either can’t play anymore or I lose that competitive edge, then I’ll probably stop it, but for sure I would love to play for 19 years.”
  • In the wake of 2022 All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune looks ahead to the 2023 event, which will be hosted by the Jazz, and considers what it will mean for the Salt Lake City market. It’s the first time the All-Star Game will be played in Utah since 1993.
  • Juan Hernangomez, acquired by the Jazz at the trade deadline, is under contract through 2022/23, but his salary for next season is non-guaranteed, so he’ll likely become a free agent this summer, if not sooner. As Antigoni Zachari of Eurohoops relays, Hernangomez would like to finish this season in the NBA and could remain stateside beyond that, but he’s also expected to draw significant interest from teams in Spain, including Barcelona, according to international reports. Hernangomez played in his home country for Estudiantes for two seasons from 2014-16 before entering the NBA.

Northwest Notes: Ja. Green, Beasley, Jazz, Muscala

Nuggets forward JaMychal Green, one of the team’s top remaining trade candidates, showed his value on Tuesday night, pouring in 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting in just 17 minutes, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Green and his $8.2MM cap hit could be necessary if Denver makes a move for a small forward, but the veteran suggested after Tuesday’s game that he’s not worried about being the subject of trade rumors.

“I’m still getting paid, man, first and the 15th,” Green said with a laugh, according to Singer.

Of course, Green has reason not to be concerned. The contract he signed in the offseason gives him the ability to veto a trade, and Singer has reported that the 31-year-old likely wouldn’t approve a move to a non-contender. That will increase the level of difficulty for the Nuggets as they consider their options today.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Timberwolves wing Malik Beasley, the subject of trade rumors in recent weeks, said this week that his preference would be to stay in Minnesota. I’m just working hard and doing what I gotta do, whether I’m here or anywhere else,” Beasley said (Twitter link via Dane Moore). “I’d rather be here, but it’s a business, so you can never know what can happen.”
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic takes a look at how Nickeil Alexander-Walker will fit in with the Jazz, writing that the third-year guard represents a low-risk, high-reward addition to the roster. Utah isn’t necessarily done dealing, but has been reluctant to add a first-round pick to its trade offers, according to Jones, who adds that it remains to be seen whether newly-acquired forward Juan Hernangomez will remain on the roster for the rest of the season.
  • Thunder big man Mike Muscala will be sidelined through the All-Star break due to a right ankle injury, per head coach Mark Daigneault (Twitter link via Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman). Muscala is knocking down 42.9% of his threes this year and could theoretically be a trade candidate, but his ankle issue will hurt his value and Oklahoma City seems to like having him around anyway. Muscala has been in OKC since 2019.

Jazz Acquire Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Juan Hernangomez In Three-Team Trade

7:54pm: The three-team trade is now official, the Jazz, Blazers and Spurs announced.

2:24pm: The Jazz are sending Memphis’ 2022 second-round pick to Portland in the trade and will send a 2027 second-rounder to San Antonio, reports Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

Utah has already traded away its own 2027 second-rounder, so the pick going to San Antonio will likely be the least favorable of Oklahoma City’s, Houston’s, Indiana’s, and Miami’s ’27 second-rounders. The Jazz previously acquired that pick from the Thunder in the 2021 offseason.

1:13pm: The Jazz, Spurs, and Trail Blazers have reached an agreement on a three-team trade, sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

According to Wojnarowski, Utah will acquire Nickeil Alexander-Walker from Portland and Juan Hernangomez from San Antonio. The Spurs will receive Tomas Satoransky and a second-round pick, while the Blazers will get Joe Ingles, Elijah Hughes, and a second-round pick. Both second-rounders will be coming from the Jazz, Woj adds (via Twitter).

Even before Ingles went down with a season-ending ACL tear, the Jazz had been exploring the market to see if they could find an upgrade on the wing using his expiring contract and a draft pick. Following the injury, Ingles’ value dipped, and Utah apparently decided none of the options available for the forward’s expiring deal and a first-round pick were worth moving forward on.

Instead, the Jazz will make a move that sees them sacrifice a pair of future second-round selections – rather than a first-rounder – for two healthy players, while reducing their projected tax bill in the process. Bobby Marks of ESPN (Twitter link) estimates $11MM in tax savings. Utah should also create a new trade exception worth nearly $10MM by taking Hernangomez into an existing TPE.

Alexander-Walker, a third-year guard, had a promising sophomore season in 2020/21, but has struggled to score efficiently this season, averaging 12.8 PPG on .375/.311/.722 shooting in 50 games (26.3 MPG). He has spent most of the season in New Orleans, having been sent to Portland on Monday in the CJ McCollum trade. The 23-year-old has a $3.3MM salary this season and will make $5MM next season before becoming eligible for restricted free agency.

Hernangomez has had some success in the past as a stretch four, but has played poorly in limited minutes this season, putting up 1.1 PPG and 1.7 RPG on 21.2% shooting in 23 games (6.4 MPG). He was traded from Boston to San Antonio in last month’s three-team Bryn Forbes deal. Hernangomez is essentially on an expiring contract, since his $7.4MM salary for next season is non-guaranteed.

From San Antonio’s perspective, the deal is about picking up an extra draft asset. Neither Hernangomez nor Satoransky is in the team’s long-term plans, so the Spurs were rewarded for their willingness to add to this season’s payroll by taking on a slightly bigger contract (Satoransky has a $10MM expiring salary).

The Blazers, meanwhile, continue to wheel and deal, agreeing to their third trade in the last week. It appears they weren’t particularly high on Alexander-Walker, choosing to flip him right away in a deal that clears another $5MM off their books for 2022/23 and nets them another second-round pick.

Both Ingles and Hughes will be free agents this offseason. Ingles spoke last week about remaining in Utah to rehab his knee injury even if he were traded and said he’d be interested in eventually re-signing with the Jazz (Twitter links via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).

[RELATED: Joe Ingles Has “No Doubt” He’ll Come Back From ACL Tear]

Despite the fact that Satoransky, Alexander-Walker, and Hernangomez were recently traded, the NBA’s rules don’t prevent them from being moved again right away, since they’re not being aggregated with a second player for salary-matching purposes in this deal.

From Portland’s perspective, Satoransky’s salary is being used to match Ingles’ $13MM cap charge, with Alexander-Walker’s salary not required for matching purposes (the Blazers will create a trade exception worth his $3.3MM cap hit), since Hughes can be acquired using a minimum salary exception. San Antonio is trading Hernangomez on his own for Satoransky.

Juan Hernangomez On Being Traded To Spurs, Time In Boston

New Spurs forward Juancho Hernangomez was one of the last to find out on Tuesday night that he was being included in a three-team trade sending him from Boston to San Antonio. As Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News writes, Hernangomez’s phone was stolen last week, so he didn’t learn until he got home from a late dinner that he’d be changing teams.

“My brother (Pelicans center Willy Hernangomez) had tried to reach me,” Hernangomez said. “He was like, ‘Oh, good luck on your new team. It’s going to be awesome.’ I told him like, ‘What? Where am I going?’ He said San Antonio, and I was really happy. It’s a great opportunity for me.”

Hernangomez says he was looking forward to playing for the Celtics this season, but there “wasn’t space” for him in the lineup. He appeared in 18 of a possible 45 games with Boston for a total of 96 minutes — just 5.3 minutes per contest, after averaging 17.3 last season with Minnesota.

It was a tough time,” Hernangomez said. “I feel like I could have helped the team. I was ready for the opportunity, I was really excited to play for Boston, but it didn’t work out like everybody thought. But no regrets. It is what it is. I tried to help with the young guys.

They have a lot of talent, I tried to be a good teammate there and do everything I could. It was a great experience. Great group of guys, great talent, but it wasn’t the right time for me. There wasn’t space for me.”

As we previously relayed, Celtics coach Ime Udoka said that Hernangomez handled the situation professionally and “it was…nothing that he didn’t do.”

As Orsborn observes, Hernangomez has multiple ties to the Spurs organization. He had a pre-draft workout in San Antonio prior to the 2016 draft, when he was selected 15th overall by Denver. The 26-year-old has known Jakob Poeltl for approximately 10 years, having met him during Poeltl’s tryout with his former Spanish club, Estudiantes Madrid. Hernangomez also knows the Spurs’ director of player performance and wellness, Xavi Schelling, whom he met during their time with the Spanish National Team.

Hernangomez is eager to play for his new team and believes it’s a good fit for his hard-working style.

I love the way San Antonio competes every time,” he said. “They beat us (the Celtics) two times this year. I know they are trying to rebuild and they have young guys and they are working really, really hard and they compete every time. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be fun learning from (his new teammates) and hopefully they can learn from me.”

Celtics Notes: Bol, Hernangomez, Richardson, Hayward

Bol Bol might not play for the Celtics this season, but the newly-acquired power forward could have a future with the team, writes Souichi Terada of MassLive. The three-team trade that sent Bol and PJ Dozier from Denver to Boston was finalized today just before coach Ime Udoka’s pre-game meeting with reporters, giving him a chance to discuss how the organization views Bol.

“He’s an intriguing young player,” Udoka said. “I’ve seen him quite a bit at Oregon before he got hurt there playing with Payton (Pritchard). Know about him, intriguing guy who can do a lot of things obviously and he’s a guy that’s a restricted free agent, so we can retain his rights and get a good look at him over the next few months.”

The Nuggets were seeking a taker for the 7’2″ Bol, who seemed headed to Detroit last week before the Pistons reneged on a trade due to medical reasons. Bol had surgery on his right foot Tuesday and is expected to miss eight-to-12 weeks weeks, so the best-case scenario would have him return during the final month of the regular season.

There’s more from Boston:

  • The Celtics parted with Juancho Hernangomez in the trade, mainly for financial reasons as the team tries to get below the luxury tax threshold. Although Hernangomez wasn’t able to earn a spot in the rotation after being acquired in an offseason deal, Udoka said he handled the situation professionally, Terada adds. “I love his approach, the work he continued to put in and him being professional in cheering on the guys,” Udoka said. “I think it’s a tough situation and one of the toughest as coaches is finding minutes for everybody and honestly, it was … nothing that he didn’t do.”
  • Brad Stevens will approach his first trade deadline as president of basketball operations with several team-friendly contracts that should be easy to move, notes Mark Murphy of The Boston Herald. With the Celtics expected to be among the most active teams at the deadline, there may be some uneasiness in the locker room over the next three weeks, but Josh Richardson tells his younger teammates that it’s nothing to worry about. “I’ve been traded a few times, so you just kind of learn how to live with it at that point,” he said. “It might be scary for some guys who have never been through it, but for us veterans who have been moved we know it’s a business and just try to keep the other guys engaged on what’s important and that’s winning games.”
  • With tonight marking his first game in Boston since signing with the Hornets, Gordon Hayward talks to Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated about his memories of the city and why he decided to move on.

Bryn Forbes Traded To Nuggets In Three-Team Deal

JANUARY 19: The trade is official, according to a tweet from the Nuggets. As we relayed earlier today, the 2028 second-round pick acquired by the Spurs is top-33 protected, and San Antonio also received cash from both Boston ($2.15MM) and Denver ($200K).

JANUARY 18: Shooting guard Bryn Forbes is headed from the Spurs to the Nuggets as the headliner of a three-team deal that also involves the Celtics, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Forbes will once again join a playoff team, while Boston power forward Juancho Hernangomez and Denver’s 2028 second-round pick are heading to San Antonio. Two injured players, Nuggets power forward Bol Bol and guard PJ Dozier, will be sent to the Celtics.

As Woj details, the Nuggets, who at 22-20 are currently the sixth seed in the Western Conference, had been looking to acquire a wing to improve their bench scoring. Forbes, averaging 9.1 PPG on .432/.417/.898 shooting, fits the bill. The Nuggets had been linked to the veteran sharpshooter as a trade target as recently as yesterday.

Denver has been hit hard by injuries this season, so moving a pair of players who are expected to be sidelined for most or all of the season will help improve the team’s depth and will open up a spot on the team’s 15-man roster. A report over a week ago stated that the Nuggets were expected to add free agent center DeMarcus Cousins on a 10-day contract. That deal has yet to materialize, but Mike Singer of the Denver Post tweets that there’s still mutual interest between the two sides.

The Nuggets tried to trade Bol to the Pistons last week, only to see the deal rescinded when he failed his team physical. Bol subsequently went under the knife for a foot surgery this week and is expected to miss at least eight-to-12 weeks of game action. Dozier will be out for the rest of the 2021/22 NBA season as he continues to recover from a surgery of his own to repair a torn ACL.

Wojnarowski reports that, at least at present, the Celtics intend to retain both Dozier and Bol through this season’s trade deadline. Bol could return by March or April and the C’s would have both players’ Bird rights in the offseason — Bol will be eligible for restricted free agency and Dozier will be unrestricted. Those plans could change if Boston needs to open up a roster spot in the coming weeks or months.

Hernangomez failed to crack the 23-22 Celtics’ rotation this season, averaging 1.1 PPG and 1.4 RPG across 5.3 MPG in just 18 contests. As Woj writes, by getting off Hernangomez’s $7MM salary and taking back Bol ($2.2MM) and Dozier ($1.9MM), Boston gets that much closer to ducking the NBA’s punitive luxury tax.

The Celtics won’t need to waive a player to accommodate their one-for-two trade, since they already had an open spot on their 15-man roster.

San Antonio’s decision to acquire a future draft pick and Hernangomez’s pseudo-expiring contract (next season’s salary is non-guaranteed) in exchange for Forbes, a role player on the 2021 championship-winning Bucks, could signal that the team has accepted it should be in asset-accrual mode in the weeks leading up to the league’s trade deadline.

The return for Forbes is modest, but that’s not a major surprise. While he’s a terrific shooter, Forbes is limited on the defensive end and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. He also fell out of Milwaukee’s rotation during the NBA Finals last spring.

Celtics Rumors: J. Green, Schröder, Nesmith, J. Smith, Hernangomez

The Celtics have expressed interest in reacquiring forward Jeff Green, Michael Scotto said on the latest episode of the HoopsHype Podcast. Green was a Celtic from 2010-15 and was coached by Brad Stevens from 2013-15. Stevens is now Boston’s president of basketball operations.

It’s unclear how motivated the Nuggets would be to trade Green after signing him in free agency this past offseason. He has started 24 games and averaged 24.7 minutes per contest in Denver this season while playing primarily at power forward and center. Still, the Nuggets have other options at power forward – including Aaron Gordon, JaMychal Green, and Zeke Nnaji – and are reportedly in the market for a backup center with more size, so it’s possible Jeff Green could be had.

Here are a few more notes on the Celtics:

  • In addition to reiterating that Boston would be open to moving Dennis Schröder, Scotto said on the HoopsHype Podcast that he’s heard Aaron Nesmith is also available. Nesmith, 2020’s No. 14 overall pick, had a decent rookie year but has seen his playing time and production decline this season.
  • The Celtics have made several trade calls out of due diligence, including inquiring on Suns center Jalen Smith, according to Scotto. Smith had his third-year option for 2022/23 turned down by Phoenix, so he’ll be an unrestricted free agent this offseason, but whichever team has his Bird rights won’t be able to offer a starting salary higher than $4,670,160, the amount of that declined option.
  • Scotto suggests Oklahoma City is a team to watch if and when the Celtics look to trade Juan Hernangomez to sneak below the luxury tax line. The Thunder are more than $20MM below the NBA’s minimum salary floor, so any team looking to dump a contract will likely call them first.