Rudy Gay

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: 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: Edwards, Gay, Green, Watson

As the Timberwolves deal with injuries and disappointing box scores alike, it has become clear that 21-year-old shooting guard Anthony Edwards should be the one to lead them, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

“All leaders have one thing in common,” head coach Chris Finch said. “People follow them.”

Krawczynski notes that Edwards is not without flaw, citing the swingman’s at-times questionable shot profile and occasional defensive gaffes. But over the past 10 contests, Edwards has emerged as the Wolves’ most reliable healthy player, averaging 28.1 PPG on 54.7% field goal shooting, 8.0 RPG, 5.6 APG, and 1.5 SPG.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Although veteran Jazz power forward Rudy Gay has been putting up modest numbers for Utah, he has been a huge contributor beyond the traditional stats. The 6’8″ forward is helping the club achieve a net rating of +12.9 when he’s on the court, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Todd notes that Gay has a strong connection with first-year Jazz head coach Will Hardy, who counts on the veteran’s leadership to help the team’s younger players.
  • The fractured left hand of Nuggets reserve power forward Jeff Green has been improving, reports Harrison Wind of DNR Sports (Twitter link). According nto Wind, Green has been wearing a protective glove on the hand in recent pregame shootarounds. Wind adds that Green is expected to have his hand reassessed in two weeks.
  • According to Wind (via Twitter), rookie Nuggets shooting guard Peyton Watson will miss the next few weeks with a strained left adductor. Denver has liked what it has seen out of Watson while he’s spent time with the team’s G League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Gold, per Wind.

Western Notes: Wiseman, Conley, Gay, Garza, Davis, Ingram

The Warriors recalled James Wiseman from their G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, according to a press release tweeted by the team’s PR department. Wiseman averaged 15.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in seven starts with Santa Cruz. Wiseman struggled during his 11 NBA appearances this season before the team decided to give him a stint in the G League to boost his confidence. He had a minus-24.4 net rating in his 147 NBA minutes.

The No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft, who was assigned to Santa Cruz in mid-November, could jump right back into the rotation. The Warriors won’t have three of their starters when they face Utah on Wednesday. Stephen Curry (left ankle soreness), Draymond Green (left hip tightness) and Andrew Wiggins (right adductor strain) are all listed as out, Anthony Slater of The Athletic tweets. The defending champion are one game ab0ve .500.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • While the Warriors will be depleted, the Jazz could have their starting point guard back in action. Mike Conley is listed as questionable to play, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. Conley (knee) has not played since Nov. 19. Rudy Gay, who has been sidelined since Nov. 13 due to a hand injury, is not even on the injury report, so he should be available.
  • Second-year big man Luka Garza has been recalled from the Iowa Wolves by the Timberwolves, the team’s PR department tweets. Garza, who is on a two-way contract, leads the G League at 29.8 points per game. He racked up 44 points and 15 rebounds against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants on Monday.
  • Anthony Davis, who left the Lakers’ game on Tuesday early due to flu-like symptoms, has a non-COVID illness, Dave McMenamin of ESPN tweets. Davis battled a fever throughout the day but tried to play through it. No other players are currently sick, according to coach Darvin Ham.
  • Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram won’t play against Detroit on Wednesday, according to a team press release. Ingram will miss his fifth straight game due to a left great toe contusion.

Injury Updates: Harden, Wiggins, Poole, Grizzlies, Jazz

James Harden is on track to return tonight for the Sixers as they face the Rockets in Houston, writes Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. The star guard has been sidelined for a month with a right foot strain, missing 14 games in the process.

As much as I love basketball, I want to be out there to compete, especially for my teammates,” Harden said. “So this month has been patience, putting the work in, making sure I’m ready to come back and help this team get to where we can get to.”

Head coach Doc Rivers indicated on Sunday that Harden would be on a minutes restriction.

Hopeful, he’ll be ready for [Monday],” Rivers said. “And if he is, he’ll be in a limited role. But it’s still better to have him than not, if we can have him.”

After winning four of five, the Sixers have dropped two straight games and currently hold a 12-11 record.

Here are some more injury-related updates from around the NBA:

  • Warriors forward Andrew Wiggins will miss Monday’s contest against the Pacers with right adductor tightness, tweets Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Golden State guard Jordan Poole is questionable with an ankle injury, which he suffered on Saturday.
  • Grizzlies star Ja Morant is doubtful for tonight’s game vs. Miami due to left ankle soreness, Memphis announced (via Twitter). In addition to Morant, injury-replacement starter John Konchar (right toe soreness) and rookie forward Jake LaRavia (left foot soreness) are also doubtful, while All-Defensive big man Jaren Jackson Jr. has been ruled out on the second of a back-to-back for injury management (he had offseason foot surgery and just returned a few weeks ago). On a positive note, second-year wing Ziaire Williams, who has yet to play this season due to right patellar tendinitis, is listed as doubtful instead of out for the first time and was sent to the G League to practice ahead of Monday’s game (Twitter link). Head coach Taylor Jenkins recently said Williams was nearing a return.
  • Jazz veterans Mike Conley (knee) and Rudy Gay (hand) were full participants in Monday’s practice and both hope to play on Wednesday against Golden State, though they’re still experiencing some pain (All Twitter links via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune). If Conley returns Wednesday, he’ll likely be on a minutes restriction, tweets ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. The Jazz have missed Conley’s steadying influence, going just 2-6 over the past two weeks without their starting point guard.

Northwest Notes: Conley, Gay, Murray, Brown

The Jazz‘s five-game losing streak shows how much they miss point guard Mike Conley, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. He’s the only natural point guard on the team and Utah misses his experience and calming presence, particularly in crunch time.

Conley has been out since Nov. 19 due to a knee injury. The Jazz guard in the second year of a three-year contract, though next season’s salary of $24.36MM is only partially guaranteed.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Speaking of Conley, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune passed along an injury update on the point guard (Twitter link). He has progressed to running and has incorporated on-court movements with shooting. He will continue daily rehab and treatment. Another Jazz veteran, forward Rudy Gay, has progressed to on-court ballhandling and shooting, and has participated in parts of practice. He’s been out since Nov. 13 due to a finger sprain on his left hand.
  • On Monday, Jamal Murray looked more like the player he was before suffering a serious knee injury that sidelined him last season. Murray scored 31 points and Nuggets coach Michael Malone says his point guard is capable of even bigger performances, Mike Singer of the Denver Post writes. “I think he’s still got another level,” Malone said.
  • Nuggets swingman Bruce Brown says he’s shown another element to his game this season, Singer tweets. “I’m talking to everyone who thought I couldn’t play a guard. That’s to a lot of GMs in the NBA,” Brown said. Brown, previously with the Nets, is in the first year of two-year contract and holds a $6.8MM option for next season. He has seen some action at the point this season.

Jazz Rumors: Conley, Markkanen, Vanderbilt, Beasley, Collins, More

The severity of Mike Conley‘s knee injury could have an impact on which direction the Jazz go in their various trade talks, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that a significant drop-off in Utah’s play with Conley unavailable may make the team more inclined to sell — especially if the veteran point guard ends up sidelined for multiple weeks, as was originally rumored.

For the time being, Fischer says, the Jazz appear intent on keeping forward Lauri Markkanen, who is enjoying a breakout season, and guard Jordan Clarkson, who is believed to be a better candidate for an extension than a trade. The club has also established a “high” asking price for forward Jarred Vanderbilt, Fischer adds.

That would leave Conley, swingman Malik Beasley, and center Kelly Olynyk as the most likely veteran trade candidates in Utah, according to Fischer, though he acknowledges that Olynyk is a favorite of Jazz CEO Danny Ainge.

Here’s more on the Jazz from Fischer:

  • League sources tell Yahoo Sports that Utah’s interest in Hawks big man John Collins is legitimate. However, Atlanta didn’t gain any traction after inquiring about a Markkanen/Collins swap, and it seems unlikely that Collins will end up with the Jazz, Fischer writes.
  • While Conley’s $22.68MM cap hit would be the best straight-up match for Collins’ $23.5MM figure, Fischer doesn’t expect the Hawks to have much interest in Conley, given that they already have two star point guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Beasley would be a more logical candidate to be included in any Jazz deal for Collins, per Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Jazz have been looking to move Rudy Gay, who is averaging career worsts so far this season in points per game (4.5), minutes per game (15.8), and field goal percentage (36.2%), among many other categories. Gay is earning $6.18MM in 2022/23 and is considered highly likely to pick up his $6.48MM player option for ’23/24, so he’ll have negative trade value.

Northwest Notes: Murray, Nnaji, Pokusevski, Jazz

Nuggets guard Jamal Murray is the team’s second star player to enter the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, reports Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link).

The 6’3″ point guard has been playing solidly since his return from an ACL tear that kept him unavailable throughout the 2021/22 season. Through 13 games, Murray is averaging 16.5 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 3.9 RPG on .429/.355/.767 shooting splits.

Two-time MVP center Nikola Jokic, who entered the league’s coronavirus protocols earlier this week, remains sidelined, and both he and Murray will miss tomorrow’s contest against the Mavericks, Wind adds.

The league’s updated coronavirus policy this season dictates that vaccinated players only need to test for COVID-19 if they exhibit symptoms of the virus. Unvaccinated players are now tested just once a week.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Third-year Nuggets power forward Zeke Nnaji would love more rotation minutes for Denver, and expects to make the most of whatever playing time he gets, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. Given the COVID-19 absence of Jokic, the 6’9″ big man has been able to get a bit more run in the short term. “A lot of the coaches said I had a great camp and made some huge jumps, so I’m just looking to apply that out on the court in an actual game,” Nnaji said. “I have to stay ready. I want to make it hard for them to put me back on the bench… I’m also a relentless rebounder and somebody who plays physical inside as well. I can promise that I will bring energy to the court.” Nnaji is averaging a career-low 6.3 MPG on a deep Denver club this year.
  • Third-year Thunder forward Aleksej Pokusevski seems to be turning a corner in his development this year, writes Ethan Fuller of Basketball News. The 20-year-old is averaging a career-best 9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 1.8 BPG. Fuller adds that Pokusevski has also improved as a more efficient scorer and that the seven-footer seems to noticeably more assertive.
  • Jazz forward Rudy Gay continues to rehabilitate from a third finger MCP joint sprain in his left hand, Utah announced in a press release. The Jazz add that the 6’8″ vet will have his injured finger reevaluated in two weeks. In 12 games this season, Gay is averaging 4.5 PPG and 3.4 RPG across 15.8 MPG.

Jazz Notes: Clarkson, THT, Markkanen, Gay, Fontecchio

The rebuilding Jazz have enjoyed a surprising 4-1 start to their 2022/23 NBA season, but still seem likely to trade several of their veteran players prior to February’s deadline. That said, Zach Lowe of ESPN suggested in his podcast The Lowe Post that the team is hesitant to offload 2021 Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, who has thrived thus far this year.

“I’ve heard the same stuff that other people have reported, that they are just super reluctant to move Clarkson,” Lowe said on the podcast (hat tip to RealGM). ”They’re really fond of him for whatever reason. So, I would peg him as the least likely of all these Jazz guys to get traded.”

The 6’4″ combo guard out of Missouri has stepped into a starting role for the Jazz this season, and is playing well for the team under new head coach Will Hardy. Through five games, Clarkson is averaging 18.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.2 RPG and 0.8 BPG. He’s currently posting shooting splits of .452/.429/.769.

There’s more out of Salt Lake City:

  • 21-year-old Jazz reserve guard Talen Horton-Tucker had his first stellar turn for Utah in a 14-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, two-steal performance in a 109-101 win over the Rockets Wednesday. Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune wonders if that game could be the catalyst Horton-Tucker needs to start clicking with his new Utah teammates. “[When] opportunity presents itself, I’ll always be ready,” Horton-Tucker said.
  • Jazz starting small forward Lauri Markkanen has enjoyed a terrific start to his Utah tenure, to which he in part credits a strong EuroBasket performance this past summer, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Through five games, the seven-footer is averaging 22.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG in 35.2 MPG. “I think having that experience this summer, coming in confident, I think I showed, yes, to you guys, but even to myself, that I can do all that stuff,” Markkanen told Fischer. “I was the guy this summer. And carrying that over [to Utah], we’ve got a lineup where everybody can do a little bit of everything. But mind-set wise, I’m trying to have that same approach.”
  • Jazz reserves Rudy Gay and Simone Fontecchio have both been placed in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Both will miss the team’s Friday contest against the Nuggets.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, Possible Trade Partners, Shooting

Count Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer among the NBA analysts who believe the Lakers should be feeling some urgency to find a trade involving Russell Westbrook sooner rather than later. O’Connor opens his latest article by dubbing the former MVP a “washed-up bricklayer,” contending that the Lakers need to trade him immediately to have any chance of salvaging their season.

[RELATED: Woj: Don’t expect any Lakers trades before Thanksgiving]

While the much-discussed Pacers package of Myles Turner and Buddy Hield could certainly be one the Lakers revisit if and when they reengage in trade talks, O’Connor points to the Jazz a potential trade partner to watch.

League sources tell The Ringer that before Bojan Bogdanovic was traded to Detroit, the Lakers offered Westbrook, a future first-round pick, and second-rounders to Utah in exchange for Bogdanovic and others. O’Connor adds that sources expect the two teams to reopen their trade discussions at some point, since the Jazz still have veterans who could help the Lakers, such as Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, and/or Rudy Gay.

As O’Connor notes, the Hornets were viewed back in the spring as a possible trade partner for the Lakers and Westbrook, but that was when Charlotte was preparing to make a lucrative offer to Miles Bridges and was motivated to move off some multiyear salary. With Bridges’ NBA future up in the air due to domestic violence allegations, dumping long-term salary may no longer be a priority for the Hornets.

Here’s more on the Lakers and Westbrook:

  • The Lakers’ offense lost its rhythm late in Sunday’s loss to Portland when Westbrook checked back into the game, according to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report and Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who both argue that the team needs to seriously consider taking the point guard out of its closing lineup going forward.
  • Westbrook was pulled for the final few possessions on Sunday, shortly after he took an ill-advised jumper early in the shot clock with the Lakers up by a point and just under 30 seconds left in the game. After the game, head coach Darvin Ham said he isn’t worried about how Westbrook will respond to being benched for the game’s final 12 seconds. “We don’t have time for feelings or people being in their feelings. Like, we’re trying to turn this thing around,” Ham said, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “For one person to be in their feelings about when and where and how they should be in the game, I don’t have any time for that.”
  • Anthony Davis was “visibly frustrated” after Sunday’s loss, according to McMenamin. “There’s no way we’re supposed to lose this game,” Davis said. “That’s where my frustration comes from.”
  • The Lakers’ three-point shooting remained an issue on Sunday, as Broderick Turner of The Los Angeles Times writes in his takeaways from the game. The club’s 6-of-33 (18.2%) mark from beyond the arc on Sunday was its worst single-game rate yet. Through three games, the Lakers’ 21.2% three-point percentage is easily the worst in the NBA — Chicago is second-worst at 29.3%.