Kelly Olynyk

Jazz Notes: Vanderbilt, Beasley, Conley, Trade Talks

The Jazz are facing a “robust” trade market with plenty of interest in Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley and Mike Conley, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic.

Sources tell Jones that Utah has been involved in trade calls with every team and has received multiple offers for more than one of its players. He cites “general interest” in Jordan Clarkson as well, although some clubs don’t want to commit to an impending free agent, and states that teams have also called about Kelly Olynyk.

The front office started reviewing all the offers over the weekend, according to Jones’ sources, and will decide soon if any are worth pursuing. He hears that the Jazz won’t approach the trade deadline as a fire sale and will only move forward with deals if they are in the best interest of the team’s future.

Jones was informed that a Western Conference team has offered multiple second-round picks in exchange for Vanderbilt. He’s not sure if Utah will accept that or hold out in hopes of landing a first-rounder as Thursday’s deadline draws closer.

Jones views Vanderbilt as the player most likely to be moved this week. He has been a starter for much of the season, but the emergence of rookie center Walker Kessler has limited the need to keep Vanderbilt on the roster. Utah has received multiple offers for Vanderbilt and must decide whether his age and favorable contract make him more valuable as a keeper or a trade asset.

Jones offers more insight from Utah:

  • A Western Conference team offered the Jazz a “significant expiring contract” in exchange for Conley earlier this season, but they turned down the deal. Jones hears that Conley, who is under contract for one more season with a partial guarantee, is happy to remain in Utah and serve as a veteran leader and will only be sent to a contender if he is traded.
  • The Jazz have talked to the Lakers about taking on Russell Westbrook‘s contract, but nothing appeared substantial Sunday night, according to Jones. L.A. has been reluctant to part with its first-round picks in 2027 and 2029 to get rid of Westbrook’s expiring $47.1MM deal.
  • Utah has also discussed deals involving John Collins, but multiple league sources tell Jones that the Hawks won’t part with him unless they’re confident that the return would significantly boost their playoff chances.
  • The Jazz also asked the Mavericks about Dorian Finney-Smith before Dallas included him in the deal with Brooklyn for Kyrie Irving.
  • Inquiring teams have been told that Lauri Markkanen, Kessler and fellow rookie Ochai Agbaji aren’t being made available, Jones confirms.

Trade Rumors: Raptors, Ayton, Russell, Olynyk, Heat, Celtics

The NBA is still waiting to see what the Raptors will decide to do ahead of next week’s trade deadline, but it’s seeming more likely that they’ll be active.

I would be shocked if they didn’t do anything,” one high-ranking league executive told Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca.

The Raptors are open to offers for everyone on the roster except for second-year forward Scottie Barnes, sources tell Lewenberg. Just because they’re listening doesn’t mean they’re going to totally overhaul the team in the next week though, with Lewenberg pointing out that more options could be available in the offseason.

Here are a few more trade-related rumors from around the NBA:

  • The Raptors came close to landing Deandre Ayton from the Suns via sign-and-trade over the summer, a source tells Lewenberg, who notes that Phoenix is reportedly interested in OG Anunoby.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on his Lowe Post podcast that trade chatter involving Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell has died down a little with his strong play of late. “He has been a good offensive player for them,” said Lowe (hat tip to RealGM). “That noise, to me, has kind of quieted. I know there are deals out there that they would do. I don’t think any teams have met those deal points yet.” Russell is making $31.4MM in the final year of his contract.
  • Both the Heat and Celtics are interested in a reunion with Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk, sources tell Steve Bulpett of Heavy.com. Boston is still trying to figure out what Utah might seek in return for Olynyk, but a source from a team looking for frontcourt help expressed skepticism that the Celtics or Heat will be able to meet the Jazz’s asking price, per Bulpett.
  • A front office source from a rival team doesn’t expect the Celtics to do anything drastic on the wings at the deadline, suggesting that even if they sign someone in a buyout, that player is likely to be a deep-bench reserve who is buried on the depth chart. “I’m not saying they wouldn’t upgrade their end of the bench wings, but there’s really no room in the rotation,” the source told Bulpett.

Northwest Notes: KAT, Kessler, MPJ, Hart

Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns has been away from the bench during the team’s recent games. According to head coach Chris Finch, that’s because the 6’11” big man is striving to follow “recovery protocols and keeping his leg in the right position,” per Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Towns has not played for Minnesota since suffering a right calf strain. Though he was originally projected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury, he has been unavailable for two months. Krawczynski added that, for now, there’s still no timeline for Towns to rejoin the 27-25 club.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz head coach Will Hardy indicated that rookie center Walker Kessler is likely to stay the team’s long-term starter, per Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (via Twitter). Kessler had been filling in for previous incumbent five Kelly Olynyk over the past few weeks, but upon Olynyk’s return, Hardy opted to shift the vet to the starting power forward spot, meaning Jarred Vanderbilt has been moved to the bench for now. Kessler is averaging 7.7 PPG on 71.5% shooting from the floor, along with 7.3 RPG and 2.0 BPG.
  • Nuggets small forward Michael Porter Jr. is excited to be back with the club after missing three games due to personal reasons, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “For all players, being on the court, being with your team is a sanctuary,” head coach Michael Malone said. “That’s the one opportunity you can get away from everything going on in your life and be in your happy place. It was great for our guys to have their brother back. It was also really important for Michael to be back with his team.” Malone also told Porter it’s a blessing that he’s got the foundation he has around him.
  • Trail Blazers small forward Josh Hart is reportedly attracting the interesting of several clubs as the February trade deadline nears and is thought to be “very available,” reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports on a new edition of his podcast Please Don’t Aggregate This (hat tip to HoopsHype for the transcription). The 6’5″ swingman is averaging 9.3 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.1 SPG in a starting role with the 23-26 Blazers.

Northwest Notes: Reid, Anderson, Murray, Olynyk

Naz Reid‘s role entering 2022/23 was uncertain, but the fourth-year center has once again proven to be a valuable bench piece for the Timberwolves. The 23-year-old is set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer, and at least three teams — the Clippers, Nuggets and Nets — have reportedly inquired about him on the trade market.

Head coach Chris Finch says Reid’s game has drawn praise around the NBA, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

He’s got a lot of skill offensively. Underrated rim protector with his shot blocking,” Finch said. “He’s a heck of a story, having been an undrafted guy, remade his body, developed confidence, excellent system fit. Really a modern center now, a modern big.

As for the specifics or any of the chatter, I don’t know, but I can tell you he has won a lot of fans around the league and a lot of other coaches and people I’ve talked to really like him.”

Reid says he’s focused on basketball and hasn’t been bothered by the trade rumors, Hine adds.

Whatever happens is going to happen for the better,” Reid said. “I just try to play basketball, focus my mind on basketball and not so much what’s going on outside of basketball. I mean, hopefully everything goes full circle and comes the right way.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves signed forward Kyle Anderson to a two-year, $18MM deal in free agency, and his addition “has been nothing short of season-saving,” writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski notes, Anderson’s versatility on both ends of the court and terrific game-sense have been critical for a team that has often lacked “poise and patience.” Through 40 games (25 starts, 26.5 MPG), the 29-year-old is averaging 8.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.3 SPG and 0.9 BPG on .498/.439/.775 shooting. He is typically a low-volume outside shooter (1.4 threes attempted per game), but the assists and 3PT% represent career highs.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray has rounded into his old form after a slow start, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscription required). Murray, who missed all of last season with a torn ACL, has averaged 20.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 6.4 APG and 1.0 SPG on .471/.405/.863 shooting over his past 21 games (34.6 MPG), a stretch in which the Nuggets have gone 20-5 (2-2 without Murray). Renowned for his inspired play in the Orlando Bubble in 2020, the 25-year-old says he wants to exceed that level to quiet questions about whether he’s fully “back,” Singer writes. “I can’t control (the comparisons),” he said. “That wasn’t even the best. That’s just the best I’ve shown. I know that there are more levels to my game than that.”
  • Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk will be available for Saturday’s matchup with Dallas, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Olynyk missed four games with a left ankle sprain last month, returned for seven games, and then re-injured the same ankle on January 8. He has missed the past eight games with the injury.

Several Contenders Pursuing Malik Beasley

Malik Beasley is a popular target heading into this year’s trade deadline, with several contenders expected to make a play for the Jazz guard, writes Sean Deveney of Heavy.

The desire around the league for more shooting, combined with a shortage of sellers, could produce an “overheated” market for Beasley, an Eastern Conference executive tells Deveney. The 26-year-old is averaging 13.7 PPG for Utah while connecting at 39.9% from the field and 35.8% from three-point range. His contract is relatively affordable, with a $16.5MM team option for 2023/24.

“It is a thin market,” the executive said. “You are going to have to overpay because there are not a ton of guys you can go out and get. … A lot of playoff teams are trying to figure out what it is going to take to get him.”

The Jazz are asking for a first-round pick in return for Beasley, along with a young player and whatever it takes to match salaries, according to Deveney, who hears that Utah is willing to take on salary beyond this season if it believes the players if acquires can eventually be moved for another first-rounder.

Deveney cites the Heat as among the top contenders for Beasley, possibly as part of a larger deal that would also bring Kelly Olynyk back to Miami for a package that includes Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin along with picks and other young players. Miami prefers to hold onto 2022 first-round pick Nikola Jovic, according to Deveney, who believes that stance could change as the deadline nears.

Deveney also mentions the Cavaliers in a rumor first floated last week by Marc Stein. The proposed three-team deal would send Beasley to Cleveland, Caris LeVert‘s expiring contract to the Hawks and John Collins to Utah.

The Bucks and Nets are also interested in Beasley, Deveney adds, but both teams are limited in the draft assets they can offer. Milwaukee doesn’t have a first-round pick to trade until 2029, while Brooklyn would like to deal Seth Curry or Joe Harris for Beasley, but can’t trade a first-rounder until 2028.

The Celtics, who nearly traded for Beasley last season before acquiring Derrick White, probably won’t be involved in the pursuit this year, Deveney states. He expects them to seek a less expensive wing if they’re active in the market at all, possibly offering Danilo Gallinari and Payton Pritchard in return.

Deveney identifies the Pelicans and Warriors as “dark horses” in the Beasley chase, with New Orleans having the combination of draft capital, young players and salary fillers that Utah is seeking, and Golden State able to get involved if management decides to part with either James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga or Moses Moody.

Jazz Notes: Olynyk, Trade Talks, Sexton, Agbaji

Jazz center Kelly Olynyk, who has missed the team’s last six games due to a left ankle sprain, was a partial participant in practice on Thursday after beginning on-court work on Wednesday, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. Olynyk still has a little ways to go before he’s cleared to return to action though — Larsen said on Friday night that the big man isn’t expected to play for the next week.

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Although the Hawks turned down a Jazz trade proposal that would have sent Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt to Atlanta for John Collins and a first-round pick, the expectation is that those two teams will resume their conversations closer to the trade deadline, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Utah is expected to engage in plenty of trade discussions with teams around the league and will consider any deal that would be good for the franchise, whether that means buying or selling, Jones adds.
  • In case you missed it, Marc Stein reported earlier today that the Jazz will likely be open to listening to inquiries on anyone except Lauri Markkanen and Walker Kessler. In her own trade deadline primer, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News expresses a belief that Collin Sexton belongs with Markkanen and Kessler in that group of players who are highly unlikely to be dealt this season.
  • In a separate story for The Deseret News, Todd explores the developmental process that the Jazz rookies have been going through in their first NBA season, noting that No. 14 overall pick Ochai Agbaji has been earning more playing time as of late. Agbaji has put up more than four points just once in his last five outings, but the Jazz have outscored opponents by 41 points in his 111 minutes during that stretch.

Jazz Notes: Olynyk, Sexton, Mitchell, Trade Deadline

Jazz big man Kelly Olynyk will be sidelined for at least one week due to a left ankle sprain, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Olynyk will receive treatment on his injured ankle and will be reevaluated next Wednesday.

After missing four games as a result of a sprained left ankle last month, Olynyk had been back for seven contests before re-injuring the same ankle on Sunday. He sat out Utah’s win over Cleveland on Tuesday and the timeline announced by the team means he’ll also be unavailable for games on Friday (vs. Orlando), Saturday (vs. Philadelphia), and Monday (at Minnesota) before being reassessed.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • A hamstring issue has kept reserve guard Collin Sexton on the shelf for Utah’s last five games, but he appears to be nearing a return. According to Walden (Twitter link), Sexton is set to participate fully in Thursday’s practice before the team determines his status for Friday’s game.
  • Donovan Mitchell‘s 46 points weren’t enough to get the Cavaliers a win in Utah on Tuesday, but the former Jazz star still enjoyed his return to Salt Lake City, where he spent the first five years of his NBA career. Mitchell said it “was great to be back” and expressed relief to hear cheers instead of jeers from the fans in Utah, per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. “I was prepared for both,” said Mitchell said, who made comments in a recent interview about the racial dynamic in Utah. “I had plenty of time to think about it. But when you get that, that’s what made it feel comfortable. When you hear your name introduced, you hear the fans screaming it, you see everybody courtside, wearing your jerseys, screaming your name, that’s what allows you to feel comfortable and it is a sigh of relief.”
  • The Jazz have slipped in the standings following a hot start, but their 21-23 record still puts them in a play-in spot. How the next few weeks play out will likely go a long way toward determining how their trade deadline plays out, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News, who notes that it would be harder to justify selling off assets if the club has another hot streak before February 9.

Jazz Notes: Markkanen, Olynyk, Fizdale, Kessler

Lauri Markkanen is having an outstanding season for the Jazz and is a prime candidate to make his first All-Star appearance. In a Q&A session with Mark Medina of NBA.com, the Finnish forward says that a strong performance at EuroBasket and being in top physical condition have contributed to his improved play, noting that he expected the team to be successful in 2022/23.

I had high expectations, especially after this summer,” Markkanen said. “I got my confidence going with the national team. There were a lot of NBA guys [in EuroBasket]. Physically, I’m in the best shape of my life. So, I had high expectations from the beginning. We have a lot of good players on this team. So, I had high expectations with the team even coming into the year, especially after training camp started.

We have a good team. We just have to stay on the same page and build off our chemistry. We have a lot of new guys. But that was the same thing last season when I was in Cleveland. Everyone was doubting you at the beginning of the year. Then we started out well. Having that experience and then going into training camp, I knew we had a good team. We just have to keep going and keep getting better with knowing each other and staying on the same page.”

Markkanen also says he was limited to highlights and recaps growing up in Finland due to games being on in the middle of the night, and didn’t actually start watching NBA games until he came stateside to play college ball at Arizona. It’s an interesting interview from Medina and worth checking out in full.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Big man Kelly Olynyk, who recently missed four straight games with a left ankle sprain, was able to return to the lineup in Wednesday’s loss at Golden State, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The 31-year-old Canadian is having a solid season for Utah, averaging 12.8 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.1 SPG on .520/.431/.835 shooting through 33 games (28.5 MPG).
  • Marc J. Spears of Andscape details how David Fizdale went from coaching to an assistant general manager position with the Jazz. Fizdale was an assistant coach with the Lakers last season, but Darvin Ham decided to go in a different direction. Fizdale had a job offer to be an assistant coach under Nate McMillan with the Hawks, but he ultimately declined it when he was offered the Jazz’s front office position. According to Spears, Fizdale told friend and Jazz part-owner Dwyane Wade that “being a more present husband and dad” played a big factor in his desire for a new role, with Wade later informing president Danny Ainge of Fizdale’s interest.
  • On the How ‘Bout This Jazz podcast, Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune explored the reported rumor of Utah discussing a three-team trade, rookie Walker Kessler being a pleasant surprise, potential lineup changes, and other topics.

Northwest Notes: Collins, Jazz, Thunder, Timberwolves

Nekias Duncan of Basketball News unpacks Utah’s reported interest in Hawks big man John Collins. Duncan acknowledges that a trade seems unlikely, but believes Collins’ screen-and-roll game would work well in the Jazz‘s offensive system.

While Collins is an upgrade over Kelly Olynyk defensively, Duncan doesn’t view him as a difference-maker on that end, so he probably wouldn’t help improve the team’s defense, which currently ranks 21st in the NBA. Ultimately, Duncan thinks Olynyk would be the primary piece heading back to Atlanta if a deal is completed.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Jazz‘s players are enjoying being one of the NBA’s biggest overachievers so far this season, writes Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “Every game people are surprised that we win,” Lauri Markkanen said. “We got a great coaching staff, we got great players on this team, so we can beat anybody when we play our best basketball. We try and have that underdog mentality going into games. People really are not expecting a lot from us. Use that to fuel us — not that you really need that; we obviously go out there and compete every night. Just if we ever need some extra motivation, I guess.” After dropping two straight games, the Jazz currently sit with a 12-8 record, the No. 4 seed in the West.
  • External expectations for the Thunder were low entering 2022/23, particularly after No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren was ruled out for the season with a foot injury over the summer. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says Oklahoma City appears to be “on the right path” with the league’s youngest roster, which is led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging 31.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.3 APG and 1.8 SPG on .519/.380/.917 shooting through 17 games (36.1 MPG). The Thunder are only 7-11, but they’ve been competitive and the players seem to trust each other, Marks notes.
  • The new-look Timberwolves had their best performance of the season Wednesday at Indiana, defeating a Pacers team that had won five consecutive games heading into the contest, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “Very, very pleasing,” head coach Chris Finch said. “Hopefully it’s one more step, many more to go, but one more step in the right direction.” The Wolves have now won five straight and hold a 10-8 record.

Jazz’s Beasley Discusses Trade Rumors, Hardy, Future, More

After being traded from Minnesota to Utah over the summer, Jazz wing Malik Beasley came into the season with aspirations of becoming an All-Star, he tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

While Beasley acknowledges that making the All-Star Game as a reserve probably isn’t happening, he said he was happy to come off the bench and hopes to make a run at the Sixth Man of the Year award.

“As a seven-year veteran, I can (come off the bench) for my team and understand the role,” Beasley said. “I’m at a point in my career where I want to make money, but I also want to win. I’m down for sacrificing the starting position role and doing the best I can to prove to my team that we’re all in this together.”

Beasley, who will turn 26 this Saturday, added that another one of his goals is to earn a spot in this season’s three-point contest — he has made a strong case for consideration so far, knocking down 3.2 three-pointers per game at a 41.4% rate. He tells Scotto that if the Jazz keep winning, he expects the home team to be well represented at All-Star weekend in Utah.

“If we stay in the top three, I feel like we can get two All-Stars in Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson,” Beasley said. “If we finish first or second, we can get me in the three-point contest and Kelly Olynyk in the skills challenge. When we go into the locker room or the plane, we always say us four guys are the most likely to get those nods.”

Here are a few more highlights from Beasley’s conversation with Scotto, which is worth checking out in full for the swingman’s thoughts on the Jazz exceeding their outside expectations, his goals for the rest of his career, and much more:

On being involved in trade rumors once again this season:

“I’ve been in the league for seven years, so I understand there are going to be rumors. If it happens, it happens. I think the main thing I realized is that I can only control what I can control. If something happens, prove to the next team why they chose you and why the other team shouldn’t have traded you.”

On his impressions of first-time head coach Will Hardy:

“He’s a great guy, truly. I’m not just saying that. It makes it even better that he’s young. Sometimes, when we’re in the locker room, he’ll call us ‘bro,’ or we call him ‘bro.’ It’s not just a regular head coach thing. He treats us like we’re family.

“He’s always telling us to have fun. Whenever you make mistakes on the court, for a first-time head coach, you don’t get that a lot. Usually, if a guy messes up, it’s a scream because people want to prove that everybody wants to win so badly. Coach wants to be great. He wants everyone to have fun. If you make a mistake, that’s the game of basketball. He even admits his own mistakes. It shows how great he is as a coach. I believe he should get Coach of the Year.”

On his future in Utah and the team’s $16.52MM option on him for 2023/24:

“I would love for them to pick that option up for me to continue my journey here in Utah. If not, then I’ve got to make the best of it. I’m very thankful for this landing spot since I came here. There are a lot of great people here in Utah and a great fan base. I think it’s the perfect opportunity to show I’m a changed man in Utah. It’s a place where big-name players usually wouldn’t come here, but I don’t know why. Once you come out here, you’ll have a great time.”