Collin Sexton

Collin Sexton Hoping To Earn Jazz’s Point Guard Job

The competition to become the Jazz‘s starting point guard is expected to be wide open entering training camp this fall, with Collin Sexton, Kris Dunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, Jordan Clarkson, and even rookie Keyonte George all considered candidates for the job.

Appearing at the Powder League, a popular pro-am summer league in Utah, Sexton told Tony Jones of The Athletic that he intends to do all he can to prove that he deserves that starting point guard role following an injury-plagued 2022/23 season.

“I want to show that I’m back and healthy and 100 percent,” Sexton said. “Every year for me is important, so I don’t put too much pressure on myself from that standpoint. I’m my biggest critic, so I’m always going to have a lot of expectations for myself.

“I’ve been watching a lot of film this summer. I want to be able to try and take over the point guard role. I want to show them that I can run the show. I’m getting back into the groove of things. I think this season is going to be fun.”

Mike Conley was Utah’s starting point guard last season until the trade deadline, when he was sent to Minnesota in a three-team deal that also included the Lakers. The Jazz acquired Russell Westbrook in that trade, but he was bought out before ever appearing in a game for the team, opening up the point guard spot.

Although Horton-Tucker finished last season as Utah’s starting point guard, he’s not a traditional distributor. Neither are Sexton or Clarkson, who are both score-first combo guards. Dunn is perhaps the most prototypical point guard on the roster, but he’s on a non-guaranteed contract and has only appeared in 40 games over the past three seasons, so it’s not as if he’ll be handed the job.

Sexton has shown off an impressive ability to score over the course of his five-year career, posting 19.0 points per game on .464/.380/.826 shooting. However, he has averaged just 3.2 assists – compared to 2.4 turnovers – in his 266 regular season contests, and is undersized as a defender. Still, he’s confident he can handle the duties required of a point guard.

“When it comes to making the right plays, I know that I’m capable of doing it,” Sexton said. “I just have to go out and do it. But knowing this season is going to be important for me and for us as a team, I’m excited. I think that we have a chance to be really good.”

Sexton was limited to 48 appearances last season and started just 15 of them. While the 24-year-old would like to start more often this season, he’s willing to accept a reserve role if it’s for the good of the team.

“Everyone has to buy in for a common goal this season, and that’s to win,” he told Jones. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. If we win, everything takes care of itself. And if we win, everybody eats. So that’s the way that we all have to look at things going into camp and into the season.”

Jazz Notes: Point Guard, Streaming, Fontecchio

While most of the Jazz‘s starting five is known, there’s still a bit of mystery surrounding who will take the reins of the starting point spot. Tony Jones of The Athletic breaks down five options Utah has at the spot, including Kris Dunn, Talen Horton-Tucker, Jordan Clarkson (if he doesn’t start at shooting guard), Collin Sexton and Keyonte George.

There are pros and cons to every option. Horton-Tucker offers the physicality and athletic tools that Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler and John Collins do, but he’s still raw at playing the point. Clarkson allows Utah to play with its lineup options but gives the team just one ball-handler in its starting lineup and affects their point-of-attack defense. Jones believes that Dunn’s ability to defend and willingness to defer make him the most natural option to start at point guard.

I recommend reading the piece in full, as Jones provides in-depth insight for each option. Regardless of who ends up taking over the 2023/24 starting spot, Jones says that George could very well be the starting point guard of the future.

There’s more Utah:

  • The Jazz announced they have partnered with technology company Kiswe to begin a streaming service that will be available to fans as soon as this upcoming season, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News reports. According to Todd, the price point and release date will be revealed in late September, right around when the product goes on sale. This is the latest in a flurry of moves by Jazz owner Ryan Smith in making games more accessible to fans. For example, the team announced in June that Smith Entertainment Group, the parent company of the Jazz, was partnering with KJZZ to bring games to television again.
  • Jazz forward Simone Fontecchio is suiting up for Italy in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. Italy has gotten off to a hot start in their prep games, with Fontecchio scoring 17 points against Greece. In a recent interview with Eurohoops, Fontecchio spoke about his team’s current success. “We want to do our best and play well,” Fontecchio said, “You need to be lucky, to arrive in the perfect condition and play one game at a time. We have a good group.
  • In case you missed it, the Jazz are projected to have the third-most cap space in the 2024 offseason, with Spotrac contributor Keith Smith projecting Utah to have $41.6MM in space, behind the Spurs and Magic.

Trade Rumors: T. Jones, Hawks, Spurs, Wolves, Jazz, Sexton

The Grizzlies are exploring the possibility of trading reserve point guard Tyus Jones, league sources tell Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

It’s an interesting rumor, given that starting point guard Ja Morant is expected to miss at least the first 25 games of the 2023/24 season due to a suspension. Jones, one of the league’s top backups, would presumably be promoted to the starting five if he remains in Memphis through the offseason, but apparently that’s not a given.

According to Fischer, with Dillon Brooks expected to move on in free agency, the Grizzlies are making it a priority to upgrade their wing depth. Fischer notes that the Spurs talked to Jones last summer before he re-signed with Memphis, but are probably unlikely to pursue him again this offseason after his brother Tre Jones emerged as San Antonio’s starter.

The Raptors (OG Anunoby) and the Clippers (several wings) are among the other teams that could make sense as destinations for Jones, Fischer writes, though Toronto may re-sign Fred VanVleet and has set a high asking price for Anunoby. Eric Gordon, Norman Powell, and Marcus Morris are among the veterans the Clippers could offer in a deal for Jones, according to Fischer, adding that Morris has been viewed as a trade candidate by rival teams since he fell out of the rotation near the end of last season.

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

  • According to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, league sources have linked the Hawks to several teams in trade discussions, including the Celtics, Raptors, and Mavericks. O’Connor reiterates that Pascal Siakam is a player of interest for Atlanta, which Fischer previously reported.
  • There are rumblings that the Spurs are looking to acquire a second lottery selection in addition to their No. 1 pick, according to O’Connor, who wonders if the team might package its second-round picks (Nos. 33 and 44) with a “rising player” to try to move up. For what it’s worth, Spurs GM Brian Wright was asked if the team would consider moving Devin Vassell or Keldon Johnson in a deal for a first-round pick and said no, according to Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News. “With this team we want to see what we have,” Wright said. “We have a group that has worked really hard. Where they were last year may not be what they are in the future. We want to see how things blend together.”
  • The Timberwolves, who currently hold only the No. 53 pick in Thursday’s draft, have been making inquiries to see if they could get into the first round, but haven’t gained traction on a deal, reports Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
  • As ESPN suggested earlier today, the Jazz have contacted the Pistons about the possibility of trading up to No. 5 in the draft using the Nos. 9 and 16 picks, according to Fischer. However, while ESPN’s report indicated that Jarace Walker may be Utah’s target, Fischer suggests rival teams think the Jazz are after Anthony Black.
  • The Jazz have made veteran guard Collin Sexton available in trade talks, sources tell Fischer. Sexton has three years and $54.5MM left on the contract he signed a year ago.

Northwest Notes: Jackson, Watson, Green, Towns, Sexton

Nuggets coach Michael Malone strongly hinted at possible rotation changes for Game 5 against the Suns on Tuesday night. Malone mentioned that he might use Reggie Jackson as an extra ball-handler and Peyton Watson as a defender, Ryan Blackburn of Mile High Sports tweets. Blackburn notes that the Nuggets were -37 when the starters weren’t on the floor together over the past two games.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Veteran forward Jeff Green has a simpler solution for how the Nuggets can win the series, which is currently tied at 2-2. “It’s about pride. It’s about effort,” Green told Harrison Wind of the “And it’s about wanting to take on the challenge.” Denver has allowed 43 fast break points in the last two games.
  • Dealing Karl-Anthony Towns, if the Timberwolves choose to go that path, could be made easier if the Knicks get eliminated by the Heat, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune opines. New York seems like a logical landing spot and rumors are already flying about the Knicks having interest in the Timberwolves big man. Towns will make $36MM next season and the Knicks have a combination of starters with suitable salaries (such as Julius Randle and RJ Barrett) and extra draft picks that could entice the Minnesota front office.
  • Coming back from a serious knee injury, Collin Sexton saw his first season with the Jazz marred by hamstring strains. However, he showed improvement in his overall game compared to his time in Cleveland, particularly with his passing and decision-making, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Sexton shot a career-high 50.6% from the field and made 39.3% of his 3-point attempts. He averaged 14.3 points in 23.9 minutes while appearing in 48 games. Sexton inked a four-year, $71MM contract last summer in a sign-and-trade transaction.

Jazz Notes: Markkanen, Olynyk, Sexton, THT

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen recently sat down for an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype. The Q&A session covered his self belief, his stints in Chicago and Cleveland, Utah’s future, and several other topics.

Markkanen, who plans to compete for Finland’s national team at the World Cup this summer, said he’d be thrilled if he’s named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2022/23, according to Scotto.

I think it would be great,” Markkanen said. “With the regular season about to end and I start hearing that stuff, it would be a pretty cool trophy to have at home. I take a lot of pride in the hard work and, like becoming an All-Star, knowing what I’ve gone through and being able to bounce back from that would mean a lot for me. Hopefully, I get it done. It would be pretty cool.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Veteran big man Kelly Olynyk acknowledges he heard the trade rumor of the Celtics being interested in his services. However, he says he’s happy with the Jazz and he has no plans to ask out in the offseason, he tells Steve Bulpett of “I mean, I love Boston,” said Olynyk, who spent his first four seasons with the Celtics. “I grew up in Boston basically, coming out of college and starting my professional career. I have nothing but great things to say about the city, the organization, everybody involved. It feels like home every time I come back. When you see those kind of rumors, it brings up great memories. It’s a city that has unbelievable people, fans, culture, all that. So you always think, ‘What if? Maybe it could happen.’ But you obviously have to focus on the now and what you’re doing. I’m definitely not trying to get out of anywhere. This is a great situation to be a part of with this team, but your mind can’t help but wander for a second when you hear about things.”
  • Collin Sexton had a solid showing in his first game back from a nagging hamstring injury, recording 15 points and three assists in 16 minutes in the Jazz’s loss to the Lakers on Tuesday. “It feels like he is just all competitiveness. He gives our team such a lift energy-wise. It is infectious, contagious, however you want to describe it,” head coach Will Hardy said, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “The guys love how he plays. … It’s the same Collin that we all know, and it’s the same Collin that we’ve missed for the last 18 games. So it was great to see him out there.”
  • Sarah Todd of The Deseret News examines the pros and cons of Talen Horton-Tucker‘s game and wonders if he’ll be in the team’s long-term plans. Still just 22 years old, the fourth-year guard continues to show flashes of intrigue, but he’s also inconsistent and doesn’t shoot well from behind the arc (28.6% on threes). Todd thinks it’s very likely that Horton-Tucker will pick up his $11MM player option for 2023/24.

Injury Notes: Zion, Luka, Sexton, Markkanen, Avdija, Barrett

As the Pelicans move closer toward securing a place in the postseason, forward Zion Williamson is still pushing to return to action before his team’s season ends. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Williamson – who has been sidelined since January 2 due to a right hamstring strain – has progressed to participating in some “low-intensity” 3-on-3 with coaches, but hasn’t yet been cleared for 5-on-5 scrimmages or full contact.

Sources tell Charania that New Orleans, unsurprisingly, will take a cautious approach with Williamson’s ramp-up process and won’t rush him just because the playoffs are around the corner. Based on Charania’s reporting, it sounds like the Pelicans would have a chance to get Williamson back on the court if they play a full first-round series, but shouldn’t necessarily count on having him available for any play-in games.

Here are a few more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • Despite a report stating that the slumping Mavericks are seriously considering shutting down Luka Doncic for the season, the star guard told reporters that he intends to suit up on Wednesday vs. Sacramento, tweets Tim MacMahon of ESPN. When there’s still a chance (to make the playoffs), I’m going to play,” Doncic said. The Mavs have officially listed both Doncic ((left thigh injury recovery) and Kyrie Irving (right foot injury recovery) as probable for Wednesday (Twitter link).
  • With the Jazz‘s play-in hopes still on life support, guard Collin Sexton (left hamstring strain) will be available on Tuesday for the first time since February 15, according to the team (Twitter link). However, star forward Lauri Markkanen has been ruled out for the game vs. the Lakers due to his left hand contusion.
  • The Wizards‘ injury list continues to grow, with the team announcing today in a press release that forward Deni Avdija will miss at least the next two games due to left elbow bursitis. The team isn’t yet ruling out Avdija for its final two games of the season.
  • Knicks forward RJ Barrett has been cleared to return in Indiana on Wednesday after missing Sunday’s game due to a non-COVID illness, tweets Stefan Bondy of The New York Daily News.

Jazz Notes: Sexton, Clarkson, Smith, Hardy, Horton-Tucker

Neither Collin Sexton nor Jordan Clarkson has been shut down for the season, according to Jazz coach Will Hardy, Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets.

Both played in a 3-on-3 scrimmage after the team’s shootaround on Friday. Sexton hasn’t played in a game since Feb. 15 due to a hamstring strain, while Clarkson has been sidelined since March 5 due to a finger injury.

We have more from the Jazz:

  • Owner Ryan Smith — who also has part ownership in MLS franchise Real Salt Lake — met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman following an NBA Board of Governors meeting in New York, Walden relays via a report from Elliotte Friedman of Canada’s Sportsnet. Smith had been rumored as a potential purchaser of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ franchise when it was up for sale in 2021. Smith may look to bring an NHL franchise to Utah, though a new arena might be necessary. The NHL is unlikely to expand in the near future but the relocation of a current franchise in financial distress could be a possibility.
  • The team got a glimpse of what its future could be when it squared off on Friday against the Celtics, where Hardy was an assistant last season, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. Hardy said the Jazz can carry lessons from how Boston has reemerged as one of the NBA’s elite teams. “Boston is hunting for a championship,” Hardy said. “They are a team that plays at a very high level on both ends of the floor. They are a team that’s very versatile. So, in that way, yeah, that’s the level that we want to be at. And that’s the level that we’re aiming for.”
  • Talen Horton-Tucker, who can become a free agent this summer if he declines an $11MM option, had mixed results in Boston after his 41-point explosion against San Antonio on Wednesday, Jones notes in the same story. He had impressive stats with 28 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. However, he also made four turnovers and took 21 shots in 31 minutes, with his shot selection questionable at times.

Jazz Notes: Sexton, Fontecchio, Injuries, Agbaji

Collin Sexton has been sidelined since before the All-Star break with a strained left hamstring, but the Jazz guard is determined to return before the end of the season, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Sexton, who missed his 13th straight game Friday night, said he’s working through the rehab process and “absolutely” plans to be back.

“I’ve just pretty much been ramping up and just trying to get back out there,” Sexton said. “It’s tough just sitting there on the bench and watching. It’s very tough. But I know that I can help my team (for now) just by being encouraging and being the best cheerleader I can on the bench, and just trying to continue to coach while I’m on the sideline.”

Sexton admits to frustration over being out of action for more than a month, especially after missing most of last season with a torn meniscus. He has experienced several hamstring issues this season and is working with physical therapists to strengthen his legs to ward off those problems in the future.

“I don’t want to have to ever revisit a hamstring issue,” Sexton said. “So now we’re just trying to correct everything and get everything right and moving forward. We know what works for me and works for my body so that we can make sure that we don’t have to miss games moving forward.”

There’s more from Utah:

  • The Jazz got hammered by the Bucks Friday night, but one bright spot was Simone Fontecchio, who scored a career-high 26 points in 26 minutes, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. The rookie forward is known for his quick release coming off screens, and he displayed his shooting touch against Milwaukee. “When we talk about three-point shooting in the NBA and how important it is, some of the best shooters, yes they make shots, but the most impressive thing is how many they can get off,” coach Will Hardy said. “Like Steph Curry is the premier shooter in the league and his greatest skill is his ability to get threes off in tight windows with an array of footwork going both ways. … (Simone’s) done a really good job on the move. He’s very athletic and he’s able to find balance well and he has a good wide base. So it’s a huge luxury for us.”
  • Utah was short-handed Friday with Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Rudy Gay joining Sexton on the sidelines, and all four players will miss Saturday’s game at Sacramento as well, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Ochai Agbaji‘s NBA experience began with a trade as he was sent from Cleveland to Utah in the Donovan Mitchell deal last summer. In an interview with Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, he talks about that experience, the opportunities he’s getting as a rookie and how the Jazz have been able to exceed expectations.

Northwest Notes: Clarkson, Sexton, Lillard, J. Williams, More

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson, who has missed the team’s last four games due to a finger injury, was a partial participant in Thursday’s practice and participated fully in Friday’s practice (Twitter links via Eric Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune). It remains to be seen whether or not Clarkson will be active when Utah hosts the Celtics on Saturday, but it appears he’s nearing a return.

The news isn’t as promising for Collin Sexton, who hasn’t played since February 15 due to a left hamstring strain. According to Walden, Sexton is progressing, but won’t be reevaluated until next week, so he’ll miss at least a few more games.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Chris Haynes said in the latest episode of the #thisleague UNCUT podcast that he believes the Trail Blazers may shut down Damian Lillard for the rest of the season if they don’t make up ground in the standings over the next five or six games (hat tip to RealGM). While that sounds like speculation, Haynes is pretty plugged-in on Lillard-related matters.
  • Thunder wing Jalen Williams has climbed to second place in The Athetic’s rookie rankings and is showing legitimate star potential, according to Sam Vecenie. Williams has helped keep Oklahoma City in the playoff race by averaging 19.9 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, and 2.2 SPG on .563/.467/.873 shooting in his last 15 contests (33.5 MPG).
  • A spokesperson for Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore told Josh Kosman of The New York Post this week that the duo is prepared to buy another 20% of the Timberwolves. “The money is in the bank and ready to be funded today,” the spokesperson said. There were reportedly some concerns in 2022 about A-Rod’s liquidity and some speculation that the plan for Rodriguez and Lore to assume majority control of the Wolves could be in trouble, but it remains on track. When they officially make this month’s payment, Rodriguez and Lore will control 40% of the Wolves — the plan is for them to exercise their option to increase their stake in the franchise to 80% by the end of 2023.
  • Nuggets rookie Christian Braun saw his minutes reduced during a stretch of games in late February and early March, but has been back in the rotation this week. Head coach Michael Malone said it’s been hard to keep Braun off the floor, since he has a knack for making “winning play after winning play,” writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. “He’s playing with confidence,” Malone said. “He’s running the floor, rebounding, making the most of his opportunity, not getting frustrated when he’s out of the game. We need him to continue to do that and be ready for the playoffs.”

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Malone, Anderson, Sexton, Butler

After their loss to Toronto on Tuesday, the Nuggets have now dropped four straight games, and they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row of opponents during that time. In addition to the loss to Toronto, Denver’s recent defeats have been at the hands of Chicago (by 21 points), San Antonio, and Brooklyn, with two of them coming at home.

On Tuesday, head coach Michael Malone suggested the Nuggets seem to be in “chill mode,” adding that the team needs to find a way to get its “swagger” back (story via

“Maybe we’ve gotten a little soft with success,” Malone said. “We’ve been on cruise control for so long, No. 1 in the West since like December 15. I just told our players we’ve gotten away from who we are.”

The Nuggets still control the No. 1 spot in the West by four games with just 13 left to play, but Malone will want to see his team firing on all cylinders entering the postseason, since there will be significant pressure on Denver – and its head coach – to make a deep playoff run, as ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adam Mares of DNVR Sports discussed on the latest episode of The Lowe Post podcast.

“I don’t know if it’s championship or bust, but if this team loses before the conference finals, it’s going to be a disappointment,” Lowe said (hat tip to RealGM). “If they lose in the first round, it’s going to be a catastrophe that I think will push some potential changes.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • While this season hasn’t played out quite how the Timberwolves hoped, their signing of Kyle Anderson has turned into one of the best free agent additions in team history, contends Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski acknowledges, Minnesota doesn’t exactly have a long history of great free agent signings, but Anderson’s impact on this year’s club shouldn’t be understated.
  • Jazz guard Collin Sexton, who has been sidelined since February 15 due to a hamstring strain, is “dying” to get back on the court, head coach Will Hardy said this week. “He’s getting close,” Hardy said, according to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “… It’s frustrating ’cause he’s such a competitor and he wants to be out there. But he finds a way to channel all that energy to let it rip on the bench. I’ve had to tell him to sit down multiple times ’cause of the new rule where you can’t stand in the corner, and I’ve had multiple officials say, ‘Hey, you gotta tell Sexton to sit down.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m trying, but I can’t really control him — that’s how he is.'”
  • After appearing in six G League games with Sacramento’s affiliate, Trail Blazers two-way player John Butler Jr. has been transferred back to Portland, the team announced on Tuesday (via Twitter). The Blazers don’t have an NBAGL team of their own, so Butler was in Stockton, where he averaged 8.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 3.2 BPG in 24.0 MPG.