Kris Dunn

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.

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.

Northwest Notes: Holmgren, Thunder, Scott, Dunn

Thunder big man Chet Holmgren admits that spending an entire season rehabbing a foot injury was tough, as he told Sam Yip of Hoops Hype.

“Anything like that is gonna be challenging for anybody, but I feel like I’ve stayed the course really well, and I didn’t let my focus, attention to detail or confidence waver,” he said. “It was a challenging year, but I feel like I made the most out of it.”

Holmgren could battle Victor Wembanyama and the rest of the 2023 rookie class for the Rookie of the Year award, since he sat out last season. However, he’s only interested in team goals.

“My focus is on helping this team win games,” he said. Things like Rookie of the Year, and everything else are not important, so I’m just focused on helping the team. Everything else follows the team’s success.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Despite all the assets that Thunder executive Sam Presti has hoarded in recent years, Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman doubts he’ll cash a bunch of them in to land a star. Mussatto believes OKC will most likely focus on retaining Josh Giddey, Jalen Williams and Holmgren on rookie scale extensions when they’re eligible, as the team did with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • The Timberwolves have named Ernest Scott as head coach of the Iowa Wolves, the team’s G League affiliate, according to a team press release. Nathan Bubes has been named an assistant coach for Iowa, while Michael DiBenedetto will have to dual title of assistant coach and director of operations for the G League team. Scott replaces Jeff Newton, who was previously promoted to assistant coach/quality control coach for the NBA team.
  • Kris Dunn could begin the season in the Jazz‘s starting lineup, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News opines. Todd views Dunn as Utah’s best point guard. However, with Talen Horton-Tucker, Collin Sexton and rookie Keyonte George also in the mix, head coach Will Hardy could go a number of different ways with that key position. Dunn signed a multi-year contract with the Jazz in March.

NBAGL Announces 2022/23 All-League Awards

The NBA G League named the recipients of its All-League, All-Rookie, and All-Defensive teams on Thursday (all Twitter links found here). Many of the honorees are on standard NBA or two-way contracts.

Here’s the full list:

All-NBA G League First Team

All-NBA G League Second Team

All-NBA G League Third Team

NBAGL All-Defensive Team

NBAGL All-Rookie Team

  • Kenneth Lofton
  • Lester Quinones – Santa Cruz Warriors *
    • Note: Quinones placed second in ROY voting.
  • Darius Days
    • Note: Days placed third in ROY voting.
  • Jamaree Bouyea
  • Moussa Diabate

(^ denotes standard NBA contract)

(* denotes two-way contract)

(# Bouyea signed 10-day deals with the Heat and Wizards, but is now an NBA free agent)

Both Dunn and Samanic signed standard contracts with the Jazz, while Harrison signed with the Lakers at the very end of the season after playing with Portland on a 10-day deal. Duke and Lofton recently had their two-way contracts converted into standard deals.

Cooper, Chiozza and Anderson all hold NBA experience as well. Cooper spent 2021/22 — his rookie season — on a two-way deal with the Hawks; Chiozza has played for the Rockets, Nets and Warriors, and recently signed with a Spanish team; Anderson has appeared in 242 NBA games with six teams in as many seasons.

Western Notes: Gobert, Anderson, Irving, Doncic, Dunn

The confrontation between the Timberwolves’ Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson got physical when Anderson profanely told Gobert to shut up during a timeout, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. The argument began with Anderson telling Gobert to block some shots and Gobert replying that Anderson should grab some rebounds.

The duo also had a heated verbal exchange in the locker room at halftime, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Timberwolves guard Mike Conley played a crucial role in calming things down and getting the team refocused.

After being told to leave the building, Gobert sent an apologetic text message to his Timberwolves teammates in a group chat, ESPN’s Andrew Lopez tweets. Anderson said he’ll talk things over with Gobert. “We’ll speak about it and move on. We’re grown men,” Anderson said.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Kyrie Irving is headed to unrestricted free agency. What are his plans? He kept that to himself after the Mavericks’ disappointing season ended on Sunday. He declined to speak to the media, the only Dallas player to do so, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon tweets.
  • As for the Mavericks’ franchise player, he provided some comforting words to the team’s fans. Luka Doncic says he’s happy where he is, MacMahon adds in another tweet, an indication that he won’t be asking for a trade any time soon. “I’m happy here, so there’s nothing to worry (about),” Doncic said.
  • Kris Dunn gave the Jazz a boost in the second half of the season and looks poised to help the team next season as well, Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune opines. Dunn showed improved scoring form, compared to his previous NBA stops, and he remains a quality defender. Dunn signed a multiyear deal with Utah last month, though his veteran’s minimum deal for next season isn’t guaranteed until October 23. Dunn had 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Lakers on Sunday.

Wizards’ Jay Huff Named G League Defensive Player Of The Year

Big man Jay Huff, who is on a two-way contract with the Wizards, has been named the G League’s Defensive Player of the Year, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). Thirty NBAGL head coaches and general manager voted on the award.

Huff, 25, began the G League season playing for the South Bay Lakers before joining the Capital City Go-Go when he signed his two-way deal with Washington in early March.

In 46 total games for South Bay and Capital City across both the Showcase Cup and the NBAGL regular season, Huff blocked an incredible 145 shots, which works out to a league-leading 3.2 per game.

The Go-Go had the G League’s 12th-best defensive rating before adding Huff and had the third-best mark following his arrival. Conversely, South Bay ranked No. 7 in defensive rating following Huff’s last game with the team and were just 14th the rest of the way.

Huff’s two-way contract only covers the 2022/23 season, so he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency this summer. He has only logged 15 total minutes in four appearances at the NBA level for the Wizards this season.

Veteran guard Kris Dunn, who was briefly teammates with Huff on the Go-Go, finished second in G League Defensive Player of the Year voting, while South Bay Lakers guard Shaquille Harrison was third (Twitter link). Dunn is now with the Jazz; Harrison is on a 10-day deal with the Trail Blazers.

Jazz Notes: Agbaji, Kessler, Azubuike, Dunn, Markkanen

The Jazz traded away two stars (Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell) and two full-time starters (Bojan Bogdanovic and Royce O’Neale) last summer, then moved their starting point guard (Mike Conley) and two key rotation players (Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt) prior to February’s trade deadline. However, the team still seems incapable of tanking, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

As Tony Jones of The Athletic points out, Talen Horton-Tucker, Simone Fontecchio, and Ochai Agbaji started alongside Walker Kessler and Kelly Olynyk on Monday night vs. Sacramento, while Kris Dunn, Rudy Gay, Udoka Azubuike, Johnny Juzang, and Juan Toscano-Anderson played rotation minutes off the bench. Somehow, the Jazz still secured a win over one of the Western Conference’s best teams, defeating the Kings 128-120.

Utah’s 35-36 record may look average, but this year’s team has been special, argues Jones. Both he and Larsen liken the Jazz to the Cleveland Indians in the movie ‘Major League,’ noting that both clubs got contributions from unlikely sources and far exceeded expectations.

On Monday, it was Agbaji who stepped up and scored a career-high 27 points, which was a sign of how far he’s come since the first couple months of the season, Jones writes. In his first 17 NBA games, the No. 14 overall pick made just 21.7% of his three-pointers and didn’t have a double-digit scoring night, but he has since knocked down 41.0% of his attempts from beyond the arc and is showing off the potential that made him a lottery pick.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • As Larsen outlines, while rookie center Walker Kessler still has room for improvement, he already ranks among the league’s best rim protectors based on’s data. Only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jaren Jackson Jr. have held opponents to lower field goal percentages on shots within 10 feet of the basket.
  • Monday’s victory exemplified one of head coach Will Hardy‘s favorite traits of this year’s Jazz team, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “The thing I continue to be most proud of with this team is that every night it just seems like different people continue to step up and continue to use the opportunities that are given to them to try to contribute to winning,” Hardy said. That sentiment applied on Monday to a handful of players, including Udoka Azubuike, whose 18 minutes were the most he’s played in a game this season. Azubuike’s 13 points (on 6-of-6 shooting) represented a career high for the third-year center.
  • Former Bulls teammate Lauri Markkanen and Hardy are among those thrilled to see Kris Dunn make good on his 10-day deals with the Jazz and earn a rest-of-season contract, Walden writes for The Salt Lake Tribune. Hardy lauded Dunn for his presence in the locker room and said he has been impressed by the offensive growth the former No. 5 overall pick has shown. “It’s a constant reminder for me that a goal for me as a coach would be to never judge a player too early,” Hardy said. “Kris has shown the ability to get better. And … I think he can continue to get better. Kris is in no way at his ceiling right now.”
  • The back injury that sidelined Markkanen on Monday is one that has been nagging him since he first injured it on March 3 in Oklahoma City, per Hardy (Twitter link via Larsen). Markkanen only missed one game at that time before returning to action. “(It) can flare up, especially playing a lot of minutes and playing against physical teams like Boston,” Hardy said. “Ultimately, it’s on us to make a decision on what’s best for his health.”

Contract Details: Dunn, Merrill, Leonard, Keels

The Jazz dipped into their mid-level exception in order to sign Kris Dunn to his new contract, Hoops Rumors has learned. If Dunn had signed for the veteran’s minimum, he would’ve made $356,646 for the rest of the season, but he instead received more than double that amount ($735,819) via Utah’s MLE.

Dunn’s two-year deal also includes a minimum salary ($2,586,665) for 2023/24, but that figure is entirely non-guaranteed. The veteran Jazz guard would get his full guarantee if he isn’t waived on or before October 23.

Here are more details on contracts recently signed around the NBA:

  • The Cavaliers‘ new contract agreement with Sam Merrill covers three seasons, Hoops Rumors has learned. Cleveland used a portion of its mid-level exception to give Merrill a third year and to pay him $850K for the rest of this season, well above the minimum. The Cavs will control Merrill at the veteran’s minimum rate in 2023/24 and ’24/25, with both of those years non-guaranteed.
  • As expected, Meyers Leonard‘s new deal with the Bucks is worth the veteran’s minimum and covers only the rest of this season, so he’ll return to unrestricted free agency again this summer. As we noted on Wednesday, Leonard’s rest-of-season contract will pay him $409,916, while the Bucks will take on a cap hit of $284,911 (though the actual cost of the signing will exceed $1MM due to tax penalties).
  • Trevor Keels‘ new two-way contract with the Knicks is just a rest-of-season deal, so he’ll be eligible for restricted free agency if he finishes the season with the club.

Kris Dunn Signs Multiyear Deal With Jazz

5:43pm: Dunn has signed a multiyear deal, according to a press release from the Jazz.

1:54pm: The Jazz and guard Kris Dunn have agreed to a new contract that will cover the remainder of the season, according to Shams Charania and Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link).

The news doesn’t come as a surprise, since Dunn had emerged as an important rotation player in Utah during a pair of 10-day contracts with the team. His second 10-day deal expired on Monday night and players aren’t permitted to sign a third 10-day pact with a single team, so the Jazz had to sign him to a standard contract in order to retain him.

The former fifth overall pick, who joined the Capital City Go-Go in the G League this season in an effort to make it back to the NBA, first signed with the Jazz on February 22, then inked his second 10-day contract on March 4.

During his time in Utah so far, Dunn has averaged 11.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in nine appearances (22.2 MPG). A career 42.0% shooter from the floor and 29.9% on three-pointers entering this season, he has scored more efficiently with the Jazz, making 53.1% of his field goal attempts, including 36.8% of his threes.

The Jazz had three openings on their standard 15-man roster, so Dunn will become the team’s 13th man once he officially signs his new deal. The club will soon be required to add at least one more player besides Dunn in order to adhere to the NBA’s minimum roster requirements.

Assuming Dunn just signs a rest-of-season contract that doesn’t extend beyond this season, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent again this summer.

Jazz Notes: Dunn, Prospects, Season, THT, Jones

Jazz guard Kris Dunn has evolved from being a 10-day contract signing to a critical role player, opines Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Dunn is currently averaging 12.6 PPG, 4.3 APG, 4.2 RPG, and 1.7 SPG across his six games with Utah. He is also connecting on career-bests of 54.2% from the floor and 43.8% of his three-pointers. Dunn credits his stint with the Capital City Go-Go, NBAGL affiliate of the Wizards, with helping improve his game ahead of his Utah tenure this season.

“The G League really helped my game this year,” Dunn said. “I had some inconsistency. Now I feel comfortable when I’m playing; I know where my spots are, I’m trying to take good shots … The game is slowing down for me.”

Dunn, the No. 5 pick in 2016 out of Providence, is crossing his fingers that he can earn a long-term contract with the Jazz, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

There’s more out of Utah:

  • The Jazz find themselves at a bit of a crossroads as they head into the final weeks of the 2022/23 NBA season, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. The team could position itself into top-10 lottery pick terrain fairly easily, or it could try to string together some victories for some level of postseason play, be that a play-in tournament or even a playoff appearance.
  • With March Madness set to kick off soon, the Jazz have a variety of intriguing NCAA players worth keeping an eye on, in addition to top prospects Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber-exclusive link).
  • Jazz role players Damian Jones and Talen Horton-Tucker, both of whom have player options for the 2023/24 season, come under the microscope for fresh analysis courtesy of Todd in a separate piece. Todd considers Jones a solid two-way player with some potential as a long-range shooter, and suggests that Horton-Tucker, while still a raw prospect, has exhibited some potential as a point guard.