Keyonte George

Northwest Notes: George, Reath, Murray, Stojakovic

Baylor coach Scott Drew tells Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscription required) that Jazz rookie Keyonte George can become an effective point guard in the NBA. George is viewed as a natural scorer, but Drew said he showed during his lone college season that he has potential as a distributor as well.

“With us, right away we learned he likes to share the basketball with his teammates, he gets excited and cheers them on when they do well, but he’s more than capable to make the right reads and right plays, and he can see stuff that we had no idea he could,” Drew said. “So that was a surprise to us, just how good he was at handling the ball and playing the point. It’s not something he’s done a lot because he’s such an efficient scorer off the ball; most people put him off the ball and when he got it, they just wanted him to get buckets. But with us, he was able to do both.”

Point guard appears to be the easiest path to playing time for the No. 16 overall pick. There’s not a definitive favorite to win the starting job heading into camp as Collin SextonKris DunnTalen Horton-Tucker and Jordan Clarkson are all expected to see time at the position.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Duop Reath traveled around the world before landing an NBA opportunity with the Trail Blazers, notes Ayush G of The Pick and Roll. The 27-year-old center played in Serbia, Lebanon, China and Australia before impressing Portland in this year’s Summer League. Reath, who started for Australia in the World Cup, is expected to sign a one-year contract with the Blazers before the start of training camp.
  • Nuggets guard Jamal Murray may be the best player not affected by the NBA’s new player participation policy, per Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. The policy applies to “stars,” who are defined as players who have been All-Stars or voted to an All-NBA team over the past three seasons. Largely because of the torn ACL he suffered in 2021, Murray doesn’t meet those criteria, leaving the defending champs with Nikola Jokic as their only player affected by the PPP. Durando observes that earning All-NBA honors this season will qualify Murray to sign a super-max extension next summer.
  • Nuggets assistant Ognjen Stojakovic said being involved with Serbia’s coaching staff at the World Cup was the highlight of his career, Durando adds in a separate story. “It was a childhood dream to be part of the national team with Serbia,” Stojakovic said. “Basketball is a religion. When I started to coach, I was thinking about that (goal).”

Northwest Notes: Lillard, Hagans, Jazz, Snyder

Damian Lillard is staying focused on business as he waits to learn where he’ll be reporting to training camp in six weeks, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. It’s been nearly two months since Lillard asked the Trail Blazers for a trade, preferably to Miami, but the market has remained quiet throughout the summer.

“Mentally, I’m strong,” Lillard said Friday at his Formula Zero elite basketball camp in Phoenix. “I think the last year and some change in my life overall, it’s not even just sports, it’s been a tough time, but right now, I’m in a strong place. Anytime I can come be in this environment. Like I said, it’s a lot of my loved ones that are here doing what we do at this camp, pouring into people, that brings me joy. That’s something that lifts me up so to be here is helpful.”

Lillard is coming off his best statistical year, averaging 32.2 PPG in 58 games before being shut down late in the season. He’s devoted much of the summer to traveling and family time, but he’s also preparing to help the Blazers, Heat or any other team he winds up with.

“I’ve had a great summer of training,” Lillard said. “I do a lot of things now to pour into myself and lift myself up and it’s been really helpful. So I would say I’m in a very strong place. My process has been the same going into the season that it’s been any other time except I’m just getting better as a man. I think that really helps me as far as my career goes. Anytime I can be improving myself as a man, it’s going to be positive for me.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Ashton Hagansagreement with the Trail Blazers will be an Exhibit 10 deal, tweets Chris Haynes of TNT and Bleacher Report. Haynes reported on Friday that the 24-year-old point guard is expected to join Portland for training camp.
  • The Jazz may not have a set rotation at point guard until well into the season, suggests Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker and Keyonte George will all compete for time at the position, and Jordan Clarkson and Ochai Agbaji may run the offense occasionally as well. Todd suggests that Dunn may be the favorite to start if he plays as well as he did last season, but the trade market could factor into playing time decisions.
  • In a separate story, Todd looks at highlights of the Jazz schedule, including Hawks head coach Quin Snyder returning to Utah for the first time on March 15.

Northwest Notes: George, Edwards, Reid, Braun

Jazz rookie Keyonte George has been cleared to resume all on-court activities, Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets via a team statement.

George was named to the Las Vegas Summer League First Team despite suffering a right ankle sprain. The Baylor product, who was drafted with the No. 16 pick, could be in the mix for the Jazz’s starting point guard job.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Anthony Edwards is one of the top options for Team USA this summer heading into the World Cup. Timberwolves point guard Mike Conley expects Edwards to be better than ever during the upcoming NBA season, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. “He’s working on all facets of his game. He’s hungry, he’s angry, he’s all that at the same time,” Conley said. “It’s going to be really fun to see his development and how he comes back this season.”
  • Timberwolves center Naz Reid is no longer under the radar after signing a three-year, $42MM extension. He told Krawczynski that he’s fine with the added pressure that comes with the contract. “Bigger role, bigger expectations,” Reid said. “So I’m definitely going to show I’ve improved, in every facet of the game, maturity, basketball or whatever the case may be. Higher pay comes higher responsibility. This is what comes with it. So I’m ready for it.”
  • What player needs to step up the most for the Nuggets to repeat as champions? Harrison Wind of DNVR Nuggets believes Christian Braun fits that description with the anticipation that Braun can expand his offensive contributions.

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.

And-Ones: Towns, Smith, George, Moneke

The President of the Dominican Basketball Federation, Rafael Uribe, says there’s a “90 percent” chance that Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns will play in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, Hoops Hype relays. The Dominican team also has several other NBA performers. Lester Quinones, Justin Minaya and Chris Duarte will be part of the Dominican squad that will play a warm-up match against the University of Memphis on August 2, Diamante Deportivo tweets.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Jabari Smith‘s scoring explosion was one of the notable developments in the Summer League, The Athletic’s John Hollinger writes in a recap of this month’s action. The Rockets’ second-year forward scored 71 points in his 64 summer minutes, signaling that he could be a breakout performer next season after struggling through his rookie campaign.
  • In a similar story, ESPN’s Insiders take a closer look at the Summer League’s surprises and disappointments. Kendra Andrews and Tim Bontemps both note that Jazz rookie Keyonte George, the 16th overall pick, was a standout.
  • Former NBA forward Chima Moneke has finalized a two-year agreement with Spain’s Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, according to Moneke played with AC Monaco last season after a stint with the Kings. Moneke appeared in two NBA games before Sacramento waived him in January.

Rockets’ Cam Whitmore Named Summer League MVP

Rockets forward Cam Whitmore has been named the Las Vegas Summer League Most Valuable Player, the NBA announced (via Twitter).

The NBA also announced its All-Summer League First and Second Teams, which are as follows (Twitter links):

First Team

Second Team

According to the NBA (Twitter link), Christie and Moon received the same amount of votes, which is why there is an additional backcourt player on the second team.

Whitmore, a projected lottery pick in last month’s draft who fell to Houston at No. 20, averaged 20.4 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.2 APG and 3.0 SPG on .465/.293/.625 shooting in his five Vegas Summer League games, per

Houston faces Cleveland at 8 p.m. CT tonight in the Summer League championship game. Both teams are undefeated, holding identical 5-0 records.

Northwest Notes: George, Nuggets, Lillard, Holmgren

Rookie Jazz shooting guard Keyonte George, the No. 16 pick in this summer’s draft out of Baylor, injured his ankle midway through a Wednesday Summer League contest against the Nuggets, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

There is no official diagnosis of the ailment as of this writing, but there’s also no indication to suggest it will adversely impact his status for training camp in the fall.

“It’s a gut punch for us, but the absolute biggest gut punch for him, especially with how well he was playing,” Utah’s Summer League team head coach Evan Bradds said. “It’s terrible, it sucks. Whenever you see somebody go down it sucks no matter where you’re at, what you’re doing.”

Sources have informed Todd that George won’t be available for the rest of Summer League.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • The reigning champion Nuggets‘ Summer League run has been a bit of mixed bag. The team has gone 0-3 thus far in Las Vegas, but the performance of Peyton Watson in particular has given president Calvin Booth hope that he can help replace the output of Bruce Brown, who left Denver in free agency, per Parker Gabriel of The Denver Post. “Really excited about Peyton Watson,” Booth said. “I think we have some guys that can come in and try to replace some of what Bruce did.”
  • As Damian Lillard trade chatter continues, Pelicans executive David Griffin weighed in on how the Trail Blazers can take advantage of their All-Star’s demand to be moved, as Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald relays. The Heat are known to be Lillard’s preferred destination. “I want people to invent as many different scenarios as they can and put them out into the universe because it gives you leverage,” Griffin told Amin Elhassan and Justin Termine of SiriusXM NBA Radio (Twitter video link). “If there’s actually a chance that you would trade him somewhere other than Miami, you get a much better deal.”
  • A right foot surgery postponed Thunder lottery pick Chet Holmgren‘s NBA debut for an entire season. Ahead of 2023/24, the 7’1″ big man seems to be gearing up for an impactful rookie run, says Mark Medina of Sportsnaut.

Northwest Notes: Henderson, Wallace, George, Juzang

After suffering a shoulder injury in his Summer League debut, Trail Blazers rookie Scoot Henderson will sit out Sunday’s game, tweets Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report and TNT. Although he will miss a marquee matchup with Victor Wembanyama and the Spurs, Henderson is listed as day-to-day and still may return before the end of Summer League.

The dynamic guard told Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian that he strained his shoulder on a dunk attempt in Friday’s game against the Rockets. Overall, he was satisfied with his first performance against NBA players, which included 15 points, six assists and five rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I think I played pretty smooth,” Henderson said. “I know there are areas I definitely need to improve on. Just little things in my game where I think I can really perfect and master.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Thunder got to see their two draft picks in action for the first time on Saturday, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Cason Wallace wasn’t able to play in the Salt Lake City Summer League because his draft-night trade from the Mavericks hadn’t been processed, and Keyontae Johnson was sidelined with a strained hamstring. Both played well in a win over Dallas, and Wallace particularly impressed his teammates with a 20-point outing. “Great defender, great all-around player,” Chet Holmgren said. “I think he’s gonna fit in well with the other guys we have on this team. Great character, great kid, too. I’m glad we drafted him. It’s a good spot for him.” 
  • Jazz guard Keyonte George is one of the early stars in Las Vegas with 33 points and 10 assists in his debut, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. The rookie out of Baylor has a lock screen on his phone with a graphic listing the concerns that scouts had about him as an NBA prospect. “I wake up every morning with this on my phone,” he said. “Each time I’m going into a game or I’m going into workout, that’s my main focus, each and every day, each and every game. Let’s take care of all this — take good shots, even if they’re not falling, just make sure we take great shots, play with the basketball … and that’s what I feel like I did tonight.”
  • The Jazz have withdrawn their qualifying offer to Johnny Juzang, making him an unrestricted free agent, according to RealGM’s transactions log.

Jazz Sign All Three First-Round Picks

The Jazz have signed their three first-round picks — forward Taylor Hendricks, guard Keyonte George, and forward Brice Sensabaugh — to rookie scale contracts, according to a team press release.

Hendricks, the No. 9 overall pick, will make $5,569,920 in his first season. He’ll bank $25,351,580 over the life of the four-year contract. The UCF product averaged 15.2 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 34.7 minutes during his only college season.

George will receive $3,889,800 in his first season. The four-year contract is worth $18,816,885.

The No. 16 pick started 33 games for Baylor in his lone collegiate season and averaged 15.3 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals in 28.7 minutes per game. He was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

Sensabaugh, taken with the 28th pick out of Ohio State, will bring in $2,448,600 as a rookie. The four-year deal is worth $12,576,077. He appeared in 33 games last season and averaged 16.3 points. 5.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists in 24.5 minutes per game.

First-round picks virtually always sign contracts worth 120% of their rookie scale amount and the above figures represent those amounts. Rookie scale contracts are guaranteed for the first two years, with team options on the third and fourth years.

Northwest Notes: Reid, Timberwolves, Johnson, Jazz Rookies

Naz Reid will have a player option in the final year of the three-year extension he agreed to sign with the Timberwolves, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. The cap hits on his new deal will be $12.95MM next season, $13.98MM for the 2024/25 season and $15.02MM in 2025/26, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • While many Timberwolves fans may be frustrated by the way this past season unfolded and some of the moves the team made, Joe Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune lists 10 reasons why the franchise is better off than it was a year ago. The addition of Mike Conley and subtraction of D’Angelo Russell are two of the positive developments that made Souhan’s list.
  • The Thunder were comfortable drafting Keyontae Johnson with the No. 50 pick in the second round on Thursday despite a prior sexual assault allegation, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman reports. A woman accused Johnson of sexual assault at an off-campus party in 2022 when he played for Florida. Four months later, charges against Johnson were dismissed. “We reviewed the dismissal of the charges from 2022 as part of our normal due diligence process applied to all prospects,” a Thunder spokesperson said.
  • The Jazz’s first-round selections — Taylor Hendricks, Keyonte George and Brice Sensabaugh — were also connected in some way prior to the draft, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News notes. Florida natives Hendricks and Sensabaugh played AAU ball together. As seniors in high school, they faced each other in the state semifinals with Hendricks’ school winning by two points. Sensabaugh and George have been working out together for the past month and chose to be represented by the same agency, Wasserman.