Kris Dunn

Dunn Suspended Two Games, Smith Jr. Gets One-Game Ban For Fight

Jazz guard Kris Dunn has been suspended two games without pay for initiating an altercation and throwing a punch at Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., the NBA announced today in a press release (via Twitter). Smith has been suspended one game for the fight.

The incident, for which both Dunn and Smith Jr. were assessed technical fouls and ejected, occurred with 11:55 remaining in the second quarter of the Rockets’ 147-119 win over the Jazz on Saturday.

Dunn will begin to serve his suspension on Monday, when the Jazz host the Mavericks. Smith will also serve his suspension Monday when the Rockets host the Trail Blazers.

“I think Dunn hit him with a shot, and then, they got wrapped up and threw a few punches,” Houston coach Ime Udoka said of Saturday’s skirmish. “Basically, nothing landed, but as soon as you throw a punch, you’re going to be ejected.”

The suspension will cost Dunn a total of $35,678, while Smith loses $53,601, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Despite only being suspended for a single game and losing a smaller percentage of his salary per game, Smith is earning over $9.3MM this season, dwarfing Dunn’s $2.6MM salary, which is why the penalty costs him more.

Jazz Notes: Bulls’ Scuffle, Collins, Hendricks, Dunn

The Jazz’s 119-117 loss to the Bulls on Wednesday included a scuffle in the closing seconds, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic reports.

With Utah down one and nine seconds left, Collin Sexton fouled DeMar DeRozan next to the Bulls’ bench. Sexton and injured Bulls forward Torrey Craig exchanged words, leading to an escalation. Bulls assistant coach Chris Fleming shoved Utah big man John Collins, who reached for Fleming’s neck before they were separated.

“I ran over. I’m standing there. And the coach comes over and just shoves me for no reason,” Collins said. “Y’all can go watch the film. And I just protected myself. I’m literally just standing there, and the dude puts a forearm in my chest and is pushing me back. So I don’t know. He needs some more self-control. But it’s whatever. I don’t know what to say about that. That was weird.”

A technical foul was called on Craig, while Collins and Fleming were handed double technicals. DeRozan’s free throws proved to be decisive but Bulls coach Billy Donovan was upset with his team and staff.

“We’ve got to be able to do a better job than that all the way around,” he said. “And I’m not just saying the players. On the bench. Everybody. We’ve got to be better in those moments.”

We have more Jazz news:

  • Rookie forward Taylor Hendricks will be reevaluated next week after injuring his left big toe, Sarah Todd of The Deseret News tweets. Hendricks, whose playing time has expanded since the trade deadline, was injured during the second quarter of the Jazz’s game against Washington on Monday. An MRI confirmed a ligament sprain to the toe.
  • Kris Dunn has revived his career with the Jazz after stints in the G League during the 2021/22 and ’22/23 seasons. The 2016 lottery pick never lost faith that he’d return to the NBA, he told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago. “I always knew I was going to get back,” he said. “The main thing with me was the health part. I had to get my body back and then my shooting. I had to clean those two things up.” Dunn will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
  • In case you missed it, Isaiah Thomas has joined the Jazz’s G League, the Salt Lake City Stars, with the aim of getting another NBA contract.

Western Rumors: Suns, Rockets, O’Neale, Tate, Jazz, Grizzlies

The Suns continue to keep an eye on Nets forward Royce O’Neale and Rockets wing Jae’Sean Tate, according to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, who hears from league sources that Phoenix has discussed a package of Nassir Little and second-round picks for one of those two players.

As Scotto details, the Suns are hoping to find a wing and/or a frontcourt piece on the trade market and will likely be aggressive on the buyout market looking for that sort of player if they’re unable to make a deal. Phoenix will be prohibited from signing a player whose pre-waiver salary exceeds $12.4MM, but not every player on the buyout market will fit that bill.

The Rockets, who are among the other teams with interest in O’Neale, have sought either a late first-round pick or multiple second-rounders to part with Tate, league sources tell Scotto. Aaron Holiday is another Houston player who has generated trade interest.

If the Rockets were to acquire draft assets for a player like Tate or Holiday, they could ultimately flip those picks for another rotation player, Scotto writes.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference in advance of today’s trade deadline:

  • Scotto hears from multiple executives who have explored trading for Kelly Olynyk that the Jazz are seeking draft compensation — ideally a first-round pick. Another potential Utah trade candidate, Kris Dunn, appears likely to stick with the team through the deadline unless the team gets an “unexpected” offer it can’t refuse, a league source tells HoopsHype.
  • The Jazz have had some talks with the Hornets about forward P.J. Washington, according to Ian Begley of, who says John Collins came up in those discussions.
  • Rival executives believe that some of the Grizzlies‘ recent first-round picks – Ziaire Williams, David Roddy, and Jake LaRavia – could be trade candidates, given the emergence of cheaper youngsters like Vince Williams and GG Jackson, says Scotto. Memphis is facing a bit of a roster and cap crunch for 2024/25, so creating a bit more flexibility in both areas would help.
  • Suns head coach Frank Vogel said on Wednesday won’t mind if his front office decides to stand pat at the deadline, per Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. “I’m very in the loop with all of those conversations, but as I said (Tuesday), we love where we’re at as a team,” Vogel said. “If we don’t do anything, I’ll be really happy with the group we have, but obviously, you always look at ways to improve your team.”

Trade Rumors: Olynyk, Fontecchio, Celtics, Suns, Sixers, Lakers, More

The Jazz likely won’t be buyers at the trade deadline, league sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic, but the team could very well be active, with Kelly Olynyk, Jordan Clarkson, and Simone Fontecchio among the top candidates to be dealt.

Jones classifies Clarkson as the least likely player in that trio to be on the move by Thursday’s trade deadline, writing that Olynyk has generated widespread interest among playoff contenders due to his expiring contract and offensive versatility. As for Fontecchio, the forward has generated serious interest from the Celtics and Suns, Jones reports. Those two clubs have limited salary-matching pieces, so Fontecchio’s $3MM cap hit makes him an ideal target.

According to Brian Robb of, the Celtics actually have interest in multiple Jazz players. Robb confirms Fontecchio is a target and suggests the club is eyeing Olynyk and Kris Dunn as well. Olynyk is likely a long shot due to his $12.2MM cap hit, which would be impossible for Boston to match without packaging several players; Dunn’s $2.6MM salary represents a better fit.

Adam Himmelsbach of The Boston Globe (Twitter link) is hearing from sources that it would be surprising if the Celtics don’t make a deadline deal. However, it’s most likely to be a relatively minor move for a player who would essentially provide injury insurance, Himmelsbach says.

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

  • Despite the fact that they’ll be without Joel Embiid for at least a month or two as he recovers from knee surgery, the Sixers continue to operate as buyers in advance of the trade deadline, Adrian Wojnarowski said during a Tuesday appearance on NBA Today (Twitter video link). Philadelphia is exploring the market for centers, per Wojnarowski, hoping to find a big man who can fill in for Embiid and help the team maintain its hold on a playoff spot in the East.
  • Sam Amick of The Athletic takes a look at the Lakers‘ ongoing pursuit of guard Dejounte Murray, confirming previous reports stating that Hawks head coach Quin Snyder has advocated for the team to hang onto the former All-Star and that an agreement may ultimately hinge on Atlanta’s ability to flip D’Angelo Russell to a third team.
  • Within that same Athletic story, Amick says a high-ranking Lakers official “scoffed” at the idea that the club would ever consider trading LeBron James and cites team sources who say the franchise would “strongly prefer” for LeBron to ultimately retire as a Laker. With that in mind, Los Angeles’ desire to keep James happy is a factor to consider as the club weighs potential moves at the trade deadline, Amick notes.
  • Although Nic Claxton will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, the Nets would have to be blown away by an offer to consider moving him at this week’s deadline, writes Ian Begley of Sources tell Begley that Brooklyn wants Claxton on its roster going forward and will be aggressive about trying to re-sign him in the offseason.

Northwest Notes: Dunn, George, Wallace, Wolves

The Jazz are 12-3 in their past 15 games, establishing themselves as one of the hottest teams in the league. Since mid-December, they rank top 15 in offensive and defensive rating, and a huge part of their recent surge is the point guard play of Kris Dunn, writes John Coon of the Associated Press.

Utah is 13-4 on the season with Dunn starting, and he’s averaging 4.8 points, 6.1 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks in 21.8 minutes during this recent stretch.

Kris Dunn’s voice is more prominent now because his role is different,” head coach coach Will Hardy said. “Kris has always talked a lot. He’s always been a great presence in our locker room and a great presence at practice with our team. But now that he’s starting, his voice is heard in a different way and at different times.

After being selected with the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft by the Timberwolves, he was part of the deal that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. Dunn struggled with injuries in Chicago and then later Atlanta before he was waived and out of the league. The Jazz signed him to a pair of 10-day deals last season and he impressed. However, he wasn’t immediately given the reins to the point guard position over the offseason and his role fluctuated to begin the year. Now, it’s clear his patience is paying off for both him and the team.

I’ll be doing myself a disservice and the team a disservice if I try to go out there and try to go get 20,” Dunn said. “I got to play my role and I understand my role and I have no problem playing it. Go out there and guard and distribute the ball. The main thing is keeping that energy alive.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Jazz rookie Keyonte George is another major factor in Utah’s recent success, averaging 11.1 points and 4.4 assists on the season. The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor catches up with George, writing that while his flashes have been impressive, the former Baylor guard recognizes he has room to improve, particularly with his finishing. “I’m already adjusted to the speed of the game. The reads are slowing down for me,” George said. “So it’s just about now just getting stronger and continuing to learn, continuing to slow the game down for me. So when I’m in between those lines, it is patterns.
  • Thunder wing Luguentz Dort missed Oklahoma City’s Thursday matchup with Utah due to an illness, and rookie guard Cason Wallace started in his place (Twitter link via Bally Sports Oklahoma’s Nick Gallo). Wallace finished that game with a career-high 16 points, making six of his seven shot attempts in his seventh career start. “He’s not flinching. He’s really been like that from the getgo,” head coach Mark Daigneault said (Twitter link via Oklahoman Sports’ Joel Lorenzi).
  • After Thursday’s victory over the Grizzlies, the Timberwolves are 30-11, atop the Western Conference standings and on pace for what would be the organization’s first-ever 60-win season. The Wolves have the best defensive rating in the league and they’ll need to keep up that tempo if they want to crack the 60-win club, writes Star Tribune’s Chris Hine. Hine explains Minnesota also needs to continue to improve on offense in order to help their chances of emerging as a true contender.

Jazz Notes: Lineup, Preston, George, Confidence

Jazz coach Will Hardy has been doing a lot of tinkering with the starting lineup and rotation and it’s paying off, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Utah has had 12 different players in the starting lineup at some point.

“I think it just shows our depth and that we can win in a lot of different ways,” guard Collin Sexton said. “You’ve just got to be ready when your number is called.”

In their win over Milwaukee on Monday, the Jazz started John Collins, Lauri Markkanen, Simone Fontecchio, Sexton and Kris Dunn.

We have more on the Jazz:

  • Jason Preston received a two-year two-way contract from the Jazz on Monday, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Preston will get the maximum two-way guarantee for next season, which is equivalent to an Exhibit 10 bonus –that figure was worth $75K this season and will increase at the same rate as the salary cap. Utah waived Josh Christopher to make room for Preston, who had been playing for the Memphis Hustle in the G League.
  • Keyonte George admits it’s been a struggle for him since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for six games, he told Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune. The rookie has been relegated to a bench role, though he delivered a 19-point, four-assist performance against Milwaukee on Monday. “Yeah, to be honest, a little difficult for sure. I mean, I’m human,” George said. “It’s gonna take some time to get back to where I was and try to figure out times be aggressive and times where you’re trying to get people involved.”
  • After winning eight of their last 10 games, including road victories over Philadelphia and Milwaukee, the Jazz are feeling better than they have all season, Walden writes. “I like to call it ‘swag,’ and our swag is a little up right now,” Dunn said. “We just keep doing the right things. We have a lot of talent on this team. If we move the ball, if we guard at a high level, good things can happen, as we showed in this three-game road trip.”

Northwest Notes: McLaughlin, Olynyk, Jazz, Thunder

Veteran guard Jordan McLaughlin hasn’t seen much playing time this season for the Timberwolves, but he made an instant impact in his 12 minutes on Monday in New York, per Chris Hine of The Star Tribune, and logged a season-high 17 minutes on Wednesday vs. New Orleans.

Minnesota lost both games, but McLaughlin was a plus-18 in his 29 minutes of action and appears on track to securing a more consistent role in head coach Chris Finch‘s regular rotation, according to Hine.

“Every single time he’s come in and had a super positive impact,” Finch said after the loss to the Knicks. “… We still believe that position (the ninth man) could be situational, but if somebody comes and takes it, then somebody comes and takes it and it looks like J-Mac is on his way to doing that right now.”

As Hine writes, McLaughlin was limited last season due to a calf injury, and a knee issue affected him for several weeks earlier in 2023/24, but he looks like he’s back in form as of late. The 27-year-old is in the final season of a three-year contract with the Wolves and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer if he doesn’t sign an extension before then.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Big man Kelly Olynyk has had the most “robust” trade market so far of the Jazz players presumed to be available, Ben Anderson of KSL Sports says in a mailbag. That doesn’t necessarily mean that an Olynyk trade would result in the most significant return — it’s more likely that his skill set (and expiring contract) appeals to the widest range of teams.
  • After searching for an optimal rotation for much of the season, the Jazz seem to have found it lately, notes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Since Kris Dunn entered the lineup as the starting point guard on December 21, Utah has won six of seven games. A starter earlier in the season, Jordan Clarkson has been thriving in a bench role, recording the Jazz’s first triple-double in 16 years on Monday.
  • In a pair of stories on the ascendant Thunder, Zach Kram of The Ringer takes a look at how impactful Chet Holmgren has been in his first 33 NBA games, while Anthony Slater of The Athletic explores how the team has taken advantage of its versatility and been “open-minded and experimental” in building a top-five offense.
  • Despite the Thunder‘s impressive 23-10 start this season, which includes recent wins over top teams like Boston, Denver, and Minnesota, the young team’s stars aren’t interested in discussing where they fit among the NBA’s contenders, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “We know we have a long ways to go,” Holmgren said after the victory over the Celtics on Tuesday. “We’re at 32 games into the season, so we still have 50 games left. We got a lot of lessons to learn, a lot of lessons we’ve already learned from that we’ve got to kind of keep in the back of our mind.”

Jazz Notes: Horton-Tucker, Sexton, Olynyk, Play-In Tournament

Talen Horton-Tucker didn’t get off the Jazz bench Tuesday night despite being available to play after missing two games with a sore left foot, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Coach Will Hardy explained it was because other guards have been playing well during the team’s three-game winning streak, but Todd believes Horton-Tucker is in danger of being dropped from the rotation.

“There’s only so many people that can play in the game,” Hardy said.Kris (Dunn) and Collin (Sexton) have been in a good groove. Talen has played well. It’s nothing that he’s done wrong, but he is coming off an injury and we had won two games in a row. It didn’t feel right to the team to disrupt that rhythm. I think it would have been the same if it had been somebody else.”

Todd points out that the same standard didn’t apply to rookie Keyonte George, who logged 24 minutes Tuesday after missing six games with a foot injury. Horton-Tucker began the season as a starter in Utah’s backcourt, but George took over that role in the team’s eighth game and held it until his injury.

At that time, it was Dunn who was out of the rotation, Todd adds, but he and Sexton have been meshing well together recently, so Hardy is relying on what has been working. With an $11MM expiring contract, Horton-Tucker may not be part of the team’s future unless something changes.

There’s more from Utah:

  • Sexton has been working with assistant coaches to dissect the pick-and-roll so he can become more of a play-maker, Todd states in a separate story. As he expands his options, Sexton has raised his assists to 3.6 per game after averaging 2.9 last season. “He’s just sort of in a groove right now,” Hardy said. “I think the best thing for me is that he’s had a couple of games where he’s made a lot of good decisions and he’s still scored a lot of points and I think it’s just showing him that though he has a scoring mindset, you don’t have to think ‘score’ on every play to score a lot of points in this league.”
  • Replacing Walker Kessler with Kelly Olynyk in the starting lineup has helped unclog the team’s offense, observes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Although Kessler remains one of the league’s best shot blockers in his second season, he doesn’t put enough pressure on opposing defenses. Jones notes that Hardy can run a five-out approach with Olynyk, which creates room for Sexton and Lauri Markkanen to attack the basket.
  • The Jazz are focused on overcoming their slow start to reach the play-in tournament, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. The recent hot streak has moved Utah to within two-and-a-half games of 10th place. “You’ve got to just keep building,” Olynyk said. What’s happened in the past happened; now you gotta learn from it, grow, keep building, and not let the past dictate the future.”

Lauri Markkanen (Hamstring) To Be Reevaluated Next Week

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen will miss his fifth consecutive game on Saturday vs. Portland due to a left hamstring strain.

According to Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links), Markkanen is set to be reevaluated at some point next week, with Utah saying its leading scorer “continues to make progress” from his injury.

A first-time All-Star in 2022/23, Markkanen had a breakout season with the Jazz, winning the Most Improved Player award in the process. He’s off to a strong start in ’23/24 as well, averaging 23.7 PPG, 8.7 RPG, 1.1 SPG and 0.9 BPG on .484/.383/.840 shooting in 15 games (34.1 MPG).

It’s unclear when Markkanen suffered the injury, but he last played on November 22 against the Trail Blazers. The 26-year-old is on a bargain contract relative to his production, as he’ll earn about $35.3MM over the next two season until he hits free agency again in 2025.

After tomorrow’s game, Utah has multiple days off — the team doesn’t play again until next Wednesday.

Guards Jordan Clarkson (thigh) and Kris Dunn (personal reasons) will also be out on Saturday, per Larsen. It will be Clarkson’s second straight missed game, while Dunn will miss his fourth consecutive contest.

The Jazz are currently 6-13, which is the third-worst record in the Western Conference.

Jazz’s Hardy Makes Statement With Starting Lineup Change

After expressing his displeasure – both before and after Wednesday’s blowout loss to Portland – with his team’s effort level and approach to the game, Jazz head coach Will Hardy made a statement with the new starting lineup he sent out on Saturday vs. New Orleans, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

With Lauri Markkanen (hamstring) and Jordan Clarkson (illness) unavailable and center Walker Kessler playing in his first game back from a seven-game injury absence, Hardy dug deep on his bench and sent out Kris Dunn, Simone Fontecchio, and Omer Yurtseven alongside usual starters John Collins and Keyonte George to open Saturday’s contest.

Dunn, Fontecchio, and Yurtseven have each received multiple DNP-CDs in the past month and aren’t among Utah’s top nine most-used players, but Hardy decided it was the right time to start them for the first time this season. As Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune relays (via Twitter), in explaining the changes before the game, Hardy cited Dunn’s perimeter defense and ball-handling, Fontecchio’s size and length, and Yurtseven’s ability to play physically against Jonas Valanciunas.

Really though, as Larsen points out, the revamped starting lineup represented Hardy putting his money where his mouth is after telling his players earlier this week that a lack of effort would result in a reduction in playing time.

“I go home after every game win or loss and I’m constantly beating myself up about things that I did or didn’t do,” Hardy said on Wednesday. “And I just want them to take the same responsibility and ownership over this program. If you’re gonna wear a Utah Jazz jersey, you have to give a s–t about the Utah Jazz.”

The new-look lineup came through on Saturday, helping to lead the Jazz to a 105-100 upset win over New Orleans that included an impressive fourth-quarter comeback.

“I don’t believe in free minutes,” Hardy said after the game. “I think that some of the guys that were on the floor tonight are showing that they’ve earned some minutes and that they’re willing to make sacrifices for the team.

“… This is for sure the first game this year that we’ve won because of our defense,” he added. “I thought that every player that took the court tonight really, really competed on that end of the floor.”

With neither Markkanen nor Clarkson likely to be out for long, it’s unclear how Hardy will adjust his starting five – and his rotation as a whole – when they return. They’re the team’s top two scorers, and obviously Markkanen won’t be coming off the bench, so they’ll presumably reclaim key roles.

Still, when Utah’s roster healthy, with Markkanen, Clarkson, and Kessler all available, there presumably won’t be enough playing time to go around for Saturday’s new starters and reserves like Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton, Ochai Agbaji, and Kelly Olynyk. Based on his comments earlier this week and his lineup decision vs. New Orleans, Hardy has made it clear how those players can make their cases for regular minutes.