Talen Horton-Tucker

Jazz, Suns, Pistons Among Possible Miles Bridges Suitors

The Jazz, Suns, and Pistons are among the teams that have called the Hornets to inquire on forward Miles Bridges, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports.

Bridges, 25, is considered a potential trade candidate for a Hornets team that appears lottery-bound and already moved one key player (Terry Rozier) this week in exchange for a first-round pick. Bridges has been productive in his return to the court this season, averaging 20.8 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 2.9 assists in 37.0 minutes per game across 31 appearances, with a shooting line of .455/.355/.866.

However, Bridges’ trade value is complicated by a couple factors. One is his contract situation. Having accepted his qualifying offer as a restricted free agent last summer, Bridges will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He also has the ability to veto a trade and would lose his Bird rights if he’s dealt this season, which could affect what a team is willing to give up to acquire him.

The other factor limiting Bridges’ trade value is his legal situation off the court. The Hornets forward sat out the entire 2022/23 season following accusations of domestic violence and has faced new allegations following the resolution of that case. While the former Michigan State star would be an ideal fit on the court for many teams seeking another wing or forward with size, there may be teams unwilling to pursue him due to the off-court allegations.

According to Fischer, the Jazz are viewed as both a buyer and seller at this season’s trade deadline. While players like Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, and Talen Horton-Tucker are considered available, Utah is also keeping an eye out for possible additions who could help the team win now. One item on the Jazz’s wish list is a veteran who could handle point guard duties while rookie Keyonte George continues to learn the ropes. Hawks guard Dejounte Murray is one player Utah has expressed interest in, says Fischer.

The Suns’ interest in Bridges was reported earlier this week and has since been confirmed by Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic. Unlike Utah and Detroit, Phoenix isn’t in position to open up cap room this summer to potentially re-sign Bridges and would likely have to view him as a rental. However, if the cost is modest enough due to Bridges’ expiring contract and legal issues – perhaps Nassir Little and a couple second-round picks – the Suns would still be interested.

According to Fischer, the Suns are eyeing potential rotation players at various positions who could be acquired using Little as the primary outgoing salary-matching piece. That group includes guards Delon Wright and Monte Morris, forwards Jae’Sean Tate and Royce O’Neale, and center Nick Richards.

As for the Pistons, they project to have significant cap room this summer and appear to be attempting to get a head-start on free agency by acquiring a player to whom they could dedicate a chunk of that room. They were linked to Pascal Siakam before he was sent to Indiana and have reportedly discussed Zach LaVine as well.

In his latest Substack article, Marc Stein says that those talks with the Bulls about LaVine have “by no means gone dormant,” noting that the Pistons maintain interest in the two-time All-Star.

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.”

Injury Notes: Duren, Jazz, Wright, Len, B. Brown

With the Pistons looking to avoid becoming the first team in NBA history to ever lose 27 consecutive games in a single season, starting center Jalen Duren appears poised to make his return from an eight-game absence due to a left ankle sprain. He’s listed as probable to play vs. Brooklyn on Tuesday, tweets James L. Edwards of The Athletic.

While no player on the Pistons has particularly flattering on/off-court numbers this season, the team has played better with Duren available. Detroit’s net rating in the big man’s 404 minutes this season is -7.9; that net rating slips to just -12.8 in the team’s 988 minutes without him on the court.

Here are a few more injury-related updates ahead of Tuesday’s slate of games:

  • The Jazz will get a couple guards back in their rotation on Tuesday, as both Keyonte George (left foot inflammation) and Talen Horton-Tucker (left foot inflammation) have been upgraded from questionable to available, tweets Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. George has missed Utah’s past six games, while Horton-Tucker was unavailable for the last two.
  • The Wizards haven’t listed any injuries for Tuesday’s game against Orlando, according to Josh Robbins of The Athletic (via Twitter), which means veteran guard Delon Wright should be available for the first time since spraining his left knee on November 10.
  • Kings center Alex Len, who last played on November 13, has been upgraded to available and been cleared to return from a high right ankle sprain, per Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee (Twitter link). It’s unclear if Len will actually play at all in Portland on Tuesday, given that he only logged 41 total minutes across six appearances prior to the injury.
  • Pacers wing Bruce Brown has been ruled out of Tuesday’s game in Houston as a result of a right knee bone bruise (Twitter link via Scott Agness of Fieldhouse Files). It’ll be the second consecutive missed game for Brown after he appeared in each of Indiana’s first 27 contests this season.

Jazz Notes: Hendricks, Markkanen, Samanic, Injuries

The Jazz have been patiently developing their No. 9 overall pick in the 2023 draft, Taylor Hendricks, which resulted in a slow start to his career — he only played in one game prior to Dec. 2. However, Hendricks has seen playing time in nine of Utah’s last 10 games, averaging 6.3 points per night.

Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link) spoke to the 20-year-old rookie, whose role has grown due to injuries to Utah’s rotation and his own development through time in the G League.

It was kind of up and down,” Hendricks said of the start to his career. “I’ll just start from the beginning. Obviously, starting with the injury, kind of being behind, and then starting the season off in the G League — that was pretty hard for me mentally. That first week, it was tough; I was trying to tell myself, ‘This is for the best.’ Once I figured it out, that I can use this to my advantage, everything started to work in my favor.

When I got called up, then I was ready because of the mindset I had when I was in the G League. I’m still trying to get better, still trying to improve. I’m not perfect.

Walden speaks to Hendricks about a myriad of topics, including learning Utah’s system, improving both offensively and defensively, and what aspect of his game he’d like to work on most.

The best thing you can feel is you can help a team win,” Hendricks said. “I feel that I do that, I help this team win. That’s all you can ask for.

We have more from the Jazz:

  • Recent rumors indicated that opposing teams have been monitoring what it would take to acquire Jazz star Lauri Markkanen. Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (Subscriber link) reviews the situation and confirms that Markkanen would like to stay with Utah. Larsen also writes that the Jazz have a star player, coaching staff and front office in alignment on a competitive timeline, which is rare and should be savored. “He knows what I believe in. He believes in the same things,” head coach Will Hardy said. “We’re really in lockstep in this whole thing — we both want the same thing for the Utah Jazz.
  • Forward Luka Samanic hasn’t played much for the Jazz this season, appearing in just 13 games. However, he found a way to make an impact in the second half of Utah’s win over the Pistons on Thursday night, drawing unprompted praise from Hardy, who specifically singled him out for staying ready and making the most of his opportunity, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. “His impact on the game was much bigger than his stat line,” Hardy said. “To give us 10 really good minutes in the second half, in an important part of the game, after not playing meaningful minutes for a long time, I think speaks to him and his growth as a young pro.” The 23-year-old forward was the 19th pick in the 2019 draft by the Spurs but bounced around after that before landing with the Jazz. His deal is currently partially guaranteed for $600K, but becomes fully guaranteed for roughly $2.1MM if he’s on the roster beyond January 7.
  • Keyonte George remains out for the Jazz, but Jordan Clarkson and Talen Horton-Tucker are both questionable for Utah’s Saturday night game against the Raptors, Larsen tweets. Clarkson hasn’t played since Dec. 11, while Horton-Tucker missed his first game of the season Thursday against Detroit.

Injury Notes: Jazz, Lakers, Sixers, Leonard, Payton, Clarke

The Jazz will be shorthanded for Thursday’s back-to-back in Detroit, with Lauri Markkanen (left hamstring — injury maintenance), Keyonte George (left foot inflammation) and Talen Horton-Tucker (left foot soreness) among the eight players who will be unavailable, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).

Utah is just 2-13 on the road this season, but the team will be facing the Pistons, who have lost 24 straight games, two shy of the single-season record. If Detroit hopes to snap the skid in the near future, tonight certainly seems like a good opportunity.

Here are a few more injury-related notes from around the NBA:

  • LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) and Gabe Vincent are out for Thursday’s back-to-back in Minnesota, tweets Mike Trudell of Spectrum SportsNet. Lakers center Anthony Davis (left ankle sprain/bone bruise), meanwhile, is questionable for the matchup against the West’s current No. 1 seed.
  • Sixers guard De’Anthony Melton exited Wednesday’s victory with a thigh contusion, but it’s not expected to be a serious injury, tweets Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Melton, Nicolas Batum (hamstring) and Robert Covington (illness) did not practice on Thursday, according to Derek Bodner of PHLY Sports (Twitter link). On the league’s official injury report, Melton is questionable for Friday’s matchup with Toronto, while Covington is probable and Batum has been ruled out.
  • He has yet to miss a game this season, but Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard popped up on the injury report ahead of Thursday’s back-to-back in Oklahoma City. He’s officially questionable with a left hip contusion.
  • Warriors guard Gary Payton II has been “making good progress” from his right calf strain and has been cleared to start “various forms of team practice,” the team announced (via Twitter). Payton, who has missed the past nine games, will be reevaluated again early next week, per the Warriors.
  • Grizzlies forward/center Brandon Clarke tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape he expects to return to action sometime around the All-Star break. A key rotation player for Memphis, Clarke has been sidelined since March 3 of last season after tearing his Achilles tendon.

Northwest Notes: THT, Sexton, Murray, Camara, Sharpe

After an up-and-down start to the season that saw them primarily coming off the bench, Jazz guards Talen Horton-Tucker and Collin Sexton have been inserted into the starting lineup with Keyonte George and Jordan Clarkson injured and are playing their best basketball of the season, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune.

Horton-Tucker has averaged 20.3 points and 6.5 assists in his past four games (three starts), with a shooting line of .484/.389/.824. Sexton, meanwhile, has put up 25.6 PPG and 4.0 APG in his past five, with a scorching-hot shooting line of .506/.406/.900.

The results when the two guards have shared the court have also been more encouraging as of late. In Utah’s first 23 games of the season, the team had a -6.3 net rating in the 267 minutes that Horton-Tucker and Sexton played together. In the past five games, the duo has spent 91 minutes on the court together and the team has a +10.8 net rating in that time.

“I get a kick out of the dynamic between the two,” head coach Will Hardy said, per Larsen. “I mean, they argue like brothers when they’re on the bench. It’s really funny. I come back to the timeouts frequently and hear them going back and forth in a spirited, healthy way about whatever’s going on on the court.”

“It’s actually kind of funny, because everybody, like, my family and my teammates, they’re always thinking me and Collin are arguing. We’re never arguing,” Horton-Tucker clarified. “We’re both trying to help each other. If I see something that he did wrong, he sees something that I could help him with, he’s always going to come tell me. Collin’s whole makeup is, like, intense. You never know if he’s yelling or just having a regular conversation with you.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • With Jamal Murray back in his home country of Canada on Wednesday night to face the Raptors, Eric Koreen of The Athletic takes a look at how the Nuggets guard has established himself as a star without ever earning an All-Star berth, while Josh Lewenberg of TSN.ca notes (via Twitter) that Murray reiterated his desire to play for the Canadian national team at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
  • An overlooked part of the three-team blockbuster that sent Damian Lillard to Milwaukee, Trail Blazers rookie Toumani Camara has emerged as a regular starter and a reliable defender for his new team, according to Jason Quick of The Athletic, who says that Camara’s inclusion in that deal was one of the final sticking points between Portland and Phoenix. The fact that Camara is thriving in Portland is all the more improbable given that he and head coach Chauncey Billups agree that his pre-draft workout with the Blazers wasn’t great.“He didn’t look very good. He really didn’t. … He didn’t stand out,” Billups said. “… I can remember watching summer league, one of the first games, and … the kid is good! He’s really good. Active. Tough as heck. I didn’t really see that in the workout, which is why I always say you can’t put too much into a workout. You have to actually see a guy play (five-on-five).”
  • Trail Blazers guard Shaedon Sharpe, who missed the second half of Tuesday’s game due to a hip issue, has been ruled out for Thursday’s game vs. Washington due to right adductor soreness, according to the team (Twitter link). It’s unclear whether Sharpe will miss additional time beyond tonight’s contest.

Jazz’s John Collins Reportedly On Trade Block

The Jazz are open to trading forward John Collins, a team source tells Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (subscriber link).

The news is somewhat surprising, since Utah just traded for Collins in July. Still, the Jazz only gave up a second-round pick to acquire the 26-year-old, who was essentially salary dumped by the Hawks after being involved in rumors for years.

As Larsen explains, the Jazz have been “frustrated” by Collins’ “slow uptake” on learning the team’s system on both offense and defense. He also has the worst net rating differential on the team (minus-11.8), and hasn’t provided much beyond his solid shooting and rebounding, says Larsen.

However, Collins’ “iffy” performance early in 2023/24 — plus the $77MM he’s owed over the next three years — could make it difficult for the Jazz to find a trade partner, according to Larsen. Utah acquired the seven-year veteran to either have him as long-term piece or to flip him in the future for a positive return. Both of those scenarios seem unlikely at this point.

Here are a few more Jazz notes and rumors from Larsen:

  • Aside from Collins, guards Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton are also in Larsen’s “more likely to be traded” category, and he notes that a previous report from Michael Scotto of HoopsHype indicated that Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk could be on the trade block too. Clarkson, Sexton and Horton-Tucker are all guards who “have had a penchant for over-dribbling, turnovers, and poor shot selection” in ’23/24, Larsen writes. Utah likes Sexton’s intensity and effort, but is looking for long-term backcourt members “who are more natural play-makers or have more defensive size.”
  • Scotto reported that the Jazz could be in the market for a veteran point guard, but Larsen hears they’d only be interested if the price is right. The team’s disappointing start will likely have the front office prioritizing the future over a big win-now splash unless a superstar becomes available, per Larsen.
  • The Jazz are unlikely to trade for Bulls guard Zach LaVine “unless it comes at a bargain-basement price,” the source tells Larsen.
  • As for the players the team wants to keep, that group features Lauri Markkanen, Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji, according to Larsen. Hendricks was selected ninth overall in June’s draft, but has spent most of the season in the G League. However, the Jazz are strong believers in his potential, and declined “an otherwise promising trade opportunity” involving Hendricks over the summer, Larsen reports.

Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson To Miss At Least Two Weeks

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson will be out at least two weeks due to a leg injury, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets via a team release.

According to the team, Clarkston suffered a thigh injury in late November, which led to more issues.

The statement read, “During Utah’s game versus New Orleans on Nov. 27, Jordan Clarkson sustained a right thigh contusion after falling into the stands. Following last night’s game against Oklahoma City, he experienced continued hamstring discomfort. Upon further magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), Clarkson was diagnosed with a right bicep femoris strain. He will be reevaluated in two weeks.”

Clarkson is averaging a career-best 4.9 assists in 19 games played but his overall offensive numbers have dipped compared to last season, when he averaged a career-high 20.8 points per game while shooting 44.4%. He’s down to 16.6 PPG on 39.9% shooting so far this fall.

Clarkson renegotiated and extended his contract in July. He’s making $23.49MM this season, though his salary drops to $14.1MM next season and $14.3MM in 2025/26.

Collin Sexton, Talen Horton-Tucker and Kris Dunn could all get more playing time with Clarkson sidelined.

Utah’s frontcourt of Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, John Collins are all listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Knicks. That trio didn’t play against the Thunder.

Western Rumors: Rockets, Grizzlies, Jazz, Kings, Brogdon

After making several significant changes to their roster during the 2023 offseason, the Rockets figure to remain active on the trade market during the season. League sources tell Michael Scotto of HoopsHype that Houston has interest in pursuing further roster upgrades, with Victor Oladipo, Jock Landale, Jeff Green, and draft picks among the team’s potential trade chips.

None of those three players are owed guaranteed money beyond 2023/24 and all are being paid between $8-10MM this season, making them logical salary-matching pieces. Forward Jae’Sean Tate has also generated exploratory interest from playoff-caliber clubs in recent years, according to Scotto, who adds that Reggie Bullock also had several suitors before signing with Houston, making him a name to watch too.

One player we shouldn’t expect to end up in Houston? Bulls guard Zach LaVine. Scotto says the Rockets aren’t involved in the LaVine sweepstakes.

Scotto has more trade-related items of interest from around the Western Conference. Here are a few:

  • Sharpshooter Luke Kennard and forward John Konchar are among the Grizzlies players who are candidates to be dealt before February’s deadline, Scotto writes, identifying the Celtics, Warriors, and Lakers as some of the teams that have “kept tabs” on Konchar.
  • Rival executives think the Jazz may attempt to stabilize their backcourt by acquiring a veteran point guard, according to Scotto. While rookie Keyonte George has played well, he’s more of a combo guard, Scotto explains, naming Talen Horton-Tucker and Kelly Olynyk as a couple potential trade candidates on Utah’s roster.
  • Keegan Murray is the Kings player whom potential trade partners would covet most, but Sacramento views the young forward as an important part of its core and would be more inclined to move future first-round picks in any deal for an impact player, per Scotto.
  • Three executives who spoke to Scotto believe the Trail Blazers could land a protected 2024 first-round pick – or a similar asset – if they decide to trade Malcolm Brogdon this season.

Western Notes: Booker, Vassell, Jazz Starters, Jackson

The Suns are optimistic that Devin Booker might return for the team’s upcoming homestand, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter video link via The Rally).

As Charania notes, Phoenix has home games on Friday, Sunday and next Wednesday. According to Charania, Friday is a possibility.

Booker has battled three different injuries this fall, with the latest being a right calf strain. He has appeared in just two of the Suns’ eight games thus far in 2023/24.

Fellow guard Bradley Beal made his Suns regular season debut on Wednesday after battling a back injury.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

  • After previously being listed as doubtful, Spurs guard Devin Vassell returned to action on Wednesday in New York, as first reported by Charania (via Twitter) and later confirmed by the team (Twitter link via Jeff McDonald of The San Antonio Express-News). However, Vassell did not return to the starting lineup: second-year guard Malaki Branham will continue in that role for now. Vassell missed the past two games with a left adductor strain.
  • Jazz center Walker Kessler is out at least two weeks with an elbow injury. Instead of replacing him with another big man, head coach Will Hardy decided to make a couple changes to the team’s starting lineup on Wednesday vs. Indiana. Rookie Keyonte George replaced Talen Horton-Tucker at point guard, while second-year wing Ochai Agbaji started at small forward, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News relays. “Keyonte has played really well,” Hardy said. “I think he’s shown a very quick learning curve on both ends of the floor.” Jordan Clarkson remained the starting shooting guard, with Lauri Markkanen (power forward) and John Collins (center) each sliding up a spot in the frontcourt.
  • G.G. Jackson, who is the youngest player in the NBA, likely won’t see many minutes for the Grizzlies. In fact, he’s only played one minute over their first seven games. However, the second-round pick is expected to have an expanded role with the Memphis Hustle, the Grizzlies’ G League club, writes Damichael Cole of The Memphis Commercial Appeal. “I kind of got a little bit more lenience, so I got to become comfortable,” said Jackson, who is on a two-way contract.