Kelly Olynyk

World Cup Notes: Quarterfinals, USA, Canada, Fontecchio

Four teams at the 2023 World Cup punched their tickets to the quarterfinals with victories on Friday, as the U.S., Lithuania, Germany, and Slovenia all pushed their records to 4-0 and secured their spots in the eight-team knockout round, eliminating Montenegro, Greece, Australia, and Georgia.

As Armando Caporaso of Sportando tweets, that leaves four win-or-go-home games set for Sunday to determine the other four World Cup quarterfinalists. Those matchups will be Italy vs. Puerto Rico, Brazil vs. Latvia, Serbia vs. the Dominican Republic, and – perhaps most intriguingly – Canada vs. Spain.

Any European team that doesn’t advance to at least the quarterfinals will fail to clinch a spot at the 2024 Olympics in this event and would have to win a qualifying tournament next year in order to try to claim one of the last four Olympic berths.

Puerto Rico, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Canada would keep themselves in the running for an Olympic spot with a win on Sunday. If just one of those four teams makes the quarterfinals, that club would join Team USA as the two Americas clubs that will qualify for the Olympics through the World Cup.

As we wait to see how the second round of the World Cup plays out, here are a few more notes on the tournament:

  • Team USA earned its spot in the quarterfinals by defeating Montenegro in what was its toughest test yet. Montenegro led at halftime and kept the game close until the final minutes, but a closing lineup that included reserve guards Tyrese Haliburton and Austin Reaves helped the U.S. put the game away, writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN. Haliburton and Reaves took the place of starters Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart while Anthony Edwards scored all 17 of his points in the second half to help lock up the victory.
  • Team Canada head coach Jordi Fernandez had harsh words for his players after Friday’s upset loss to Brazil, tweets Oren Weisfeld.Shai (Gilgeous-Alexander) has to score the ball and play-make and he didn’t,” Fernandez said. “And I can go down the line. Kelly (Olynyk) has to play-make, rebound and score efficiently – he didn’t. RJ (Barrett) has to run the floor and score efficiently and defend and he didn’t.”
  • As Blake Murphy of notes (via Twitter), a loss on Sunday for Canada would ensure that Brazil finishes ahead of them in their group standings, regardless of whether the Brazilians win or lose on Sunday. So the Canadians will need a victory if they want to hang onto a chance to clinch an Olympic berth this year.
  • Italian forward Simone Fontecchio played a limited role for the Jazz in his first NBA season in 2022/23, but he showed in Friday’s upset victory over Serbia what he’s capable of. As Cesare Milanti of Eurohoops details, Fontecchio led the charge in Italy’s comeback win over the Serbians, pouring in 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting.

And-Ones: Team Canada, Ownership Stakes, Cap Room, Giles

While a Team USA roster led by Jalen Brunson, Anthony Edwards, Brandon Ingram, and Mikal Bridges will enter the 2023 World Cup as the frontrunner next month, Team Canada’s initial 18-man group features some real star power.

The extended roster, announced this week by Canada Basketball, is headlined by Nuggets guard Jamal Murray, Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder forward Luguentz Dort, Knicks forward RJ Barrett, and Rockets forward Dillon Brooks.

It also features five other players currently on NBA rosters: veteran big men Dwight Powell (Mavericks) and Kelly Olynyk (Jazz), guards Nickeil Alexander-Walker (Timberwolves) and Cory Joseph (Warriors), and forward Oshae Brissett (Celtics). Purdue’s star center Zach Edey is on the roster too.

Team Canada will have to make a few cuts to get down to 12 players for the World Cup, and it’s possible some of the more notable names will drop out in order to focus on the NBA season. However, league sources tell Joe Vardon of The Athletic that Murray has reaffirmed his commitment to the team despite a lengthy postseason run with the Nuggets this spring.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The minimum stake that someone can own in an NBA franchise has been lowered, according to Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic, who says a minority shareholder can now control as little as 0.5% of a team, down from 1%.
  • A total of eight teams operated below the cap this offseason, having entered the league year with $277MM in combined cap room, per Yossi Gozlan of HoopsHype. As Gozlan outlines, over half of that league-wide cap space was used to accommodate trades or contract negotiations rather than free agent signings.
  • Sean Cunningham of FOX40 in Sacramento (video link) caught up with free agent big man Harry Giles to talk about the 25-year-old’s efforts to make it back into the NBA, as well as the new rule related to two-way contracts that will unofficially be named after him.

Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson To Pick Up Player Option

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson intends to exercise his $14.26MM player option for 2023/24, avoiding free agency and keeping him off the open market, league sources tell Sarah Todd of The Deseret News (Twitter link).

As Todd notes, by picking up his option, Clarkson would become extension-eligible immediately. He was eligible for an in-season extension in ’22/23 as well, and multiple reports said that scenario was discussed.

However, Clarkson can earn more money on a potential extension in a couple days due to a change in the new CBA, which allows veterans to receive 140% of their current salary in the first year of an extension instead of 120%. If the Jazz don’t make further roster additions in free agency, it’s possible they could use some of their cap space to renegotiate and extend Clarkson, which would give him a higher base salary in year one with a declining structure in subsequent seasons. That’s what the Pacers and Myles Turner did during the season.

Clarkson, who turned 31 earlier this month, averaged career highs in multiple categories in 2022/23, including points (20.8), assists (4.4), rebounds (4.0; tied with two other seasons) and minutes per game (32.6) in 61 contests, all starts. His overall shooting slash line of .444/.338/.816 was very close to his career averages (.440/.338/.826), but his efficiency was up a tick because he attempted more three-pointers and free throws.

While Clarkson can score on anyone, he’s also a poor defensive player and over 30, which limits his upside. Hoping to reach an extension makes sense if he’s comfortable in Utah, though it’s worth noting that he’ll be trade-eligible after opting in. If he signs an extension that places him under contract for more than three total seasons, includes a raise greater than 5%, or includes a renegotiation, he’ll become ineligible to be dealt for six months.

The Jazz also decided to keep big man Kelly Olynyk, whose $12.2MM contract for ’23/24 was only partially guaranteed at $3MM. Since he wasn’t waived last night, his contract is now fully guaranteed. The news was expected, as GM Justin Zanik said after the season ended that he anticipated having Olynyk back.

The full list of player option decisions for 2023/24 can be found right here.

Jazz Notes: Offseason, Olynyk, Draft, Gay, Clarkson

After trading away longtime franchise cornerstones Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell last offseason, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge is more enthusiastic about the job that lies ahead for the front office during the coming summer, he said on Wednesday.

“Yeah, this is gonna be fun,” Ainge told reporters, including Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “A lot more draft picks, more money to spend — yeah, a shopping spree. Yeah, this will be more fun — much more fun than last year.”

Those trades of Gobert, Mitchell, and other regulars – including Royce O’Neale and Bojan Bogdanovic – could have been the beginning of an extended rebuilding process in Utah, but the revamped squad remained in play-in contention until the final week of the regular season. The Jazz’s draft assets, cap flexibility, and promising young core should create numerous pathways for the team to continue building this offseason.

“(With) the optionality that we’ve created, the possibilities are endless,” general manager Justin Zanik said. “… There could be a lot of change this summer.”

While the Jazz are in position to accelerate their timeline for contention if they so choose, Zanik noted that the team doesn’t have a set goal in mind about where it needs to be a year or two from now. According to Zanik, “the very next thing is always the most important thing” and the front office simply wants to continue making good decisions. However, Ainge pointed to a couple specific areas that the club would like to address this summer.

“We weren’t a very good shooting team at the end of the year — injuries contributed some to that. We need to get better defensively,” Ainge said, per Walden. “Those are the two (areas of) focus.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • Zanik said on Wednesday that he anticipates having Kelly Olynyk back next season, tweets Tony Jones of The Athletic. Only $3MM of Olynyk’s $12.2MM salary for 2023/24 is currently guaranteed, but it sounds like Utah won’t waive him before June 28, when the remainder becomes guaranteed.
  • The Jazz intend to cast a wide net in their draft preparation, writes Walden. They’ll have three first-round picks, which should put them in a good position to bring in a ton of players for pre-draft workouts. “You know, bring people in that we’re looking at for the 28th pick, and we can tell them that we’re looking at ’em for the ninth pick,” Ainge joked.
  • In a separate story for The Tribune, Walden takes a closer look at what’s next this summer for the Jazz, noting that a handful of veterans – Jordan Clarkson, Talen Horton-Tucker, Rudy Gay, and Damian Jones – have player option decisions to make before July. Of those four players, Gay is the best bet to opt in, Walden writes, given that he’s unlikely to exceed his $6.5MM option salary on the open market.
  • Speaking to Sean Deveney of, Clarkson sounded like someone who remains very open to continuing his career in Utah despite his opportunity to reach free agency this summer. “I love Utah. … There is a good future here,” Clarkson said. “We got Lauri (Markkanen), an All-Star on our team, we have some good young players. The best thing for us is keep it going, and, you know, just creating the culture.”

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.

Northwest Notes: Edwards, Wolves, Nuggets, Olynyk

The Timberwolves consider All-Star guard Anthony Edwards to be day-to-day with a sprained right ankle he suffered in Friday’s game, Marc Stein tweets.

In an interview with team broadcaster Alan Horton (Twitter link) coach Chris Finch said Edwards is in a walking boot, but the injury is “not as bad as initially feared.” He sat out tonight’s contest after being listed as questionable. More tests on the ankle will likely be conducted Sunday, tweets Chris Hine of The Star Tribune.

Edwards was injured in the first quarter Friday when he rolled the ankle after making a jump pass. He hadn’t missed a game before tonight and is the team’s leading scorer at 24.7 PPG. With 11 games remaining, a prolonged absence could be devastating for Minnesota’s playoff hopes. The Wolves are eighth in the tight Western Conference race, but are just one game ahead of 11th-place Utah.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Finch admitted the Timberwolves will have to adjust their offense while Edwards is sidelined, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minnesota has a 109.6 offensive rating in its minutes with Edwards on the bench, which would rank last in the league. Rudy Gobert has been scoring more since the Wolves traded for Mike Conley, notes Krawczynski, who adds that Jaden McDaniels and Jordan McLaughlin appear ready to handle a larger role in the offense. “We still have other players who can put the ball in the bucket,” Finch said. “We’ll be less of an iso team. You lose Ant’s dynamic big-shot making. Of course, you lose everything he brings. … We’ll have to rely more on ball movement, more on body movement, pass-pass combinations, those types of things.”
  • The reeling Nuggets held a team meeting this week after Tuesday’s loss at Toronto, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. Denver remains on top of the Western Conference, but is dealing with a late-season slump, dropping five of its last six games. “Who do we want to be?’” Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. “We can’t keep losing like this, we didn’t start off like that. It’s not the time to be losing games that we’re supposed to be winning. It’s crunch time. … It was all about just who we want to be at the end of the season. ‘Do we want to be champions or we just wanna go home?’”
  • Kelly Olynyk is valuable because he does so many underappreciated things, but the Jazz have to consider who will take over that role in the future, notes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Olynyk will turn 32 in April and has just a $3MM guarantee on next season’s contract.

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

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 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.