Will Hardy

Northwest Notes: SGA, Wolves, Hardy, Blazers

A series of reports in recent months have suggested that Toronto and other teams around the NBA are monitoring Shai Gilgeous-Alexander‘s situation in Oklahoma City in case he becomes disgruntled and wants out. But after leading the Thunder to a blowout win over the Raptors on Friday night, the star point guard reaffirmed his commitment to the franchise, as Michael Grange of Sportsnet.ca writes.

“It’s exciting,” Gilgeous-Alexander said of the future in OKC. “And knowing the guys in the locker room personally, makes it more exciting: Guys’ mentalities, guys’ work ethic, it just makes it fun to be around and I’m very excited for the future.”

While the Thunder are still very much in the midst of their rebuilding process, they’ve been relatively competitive so far this season, with a 5-7 record and a -0.8 net rating. That respectable start is due in large part to Gilgeous-Alexander’s All-NBA caliber play — he’s averaging an eye-popping 30.5 points per game to go along with 5.5 APG, 4.4 RPG, and 2.0 SPG.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Timberwolves lack leadership and maturity, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said on The Hoop Collective this week (YouTube link). According to MacMahon, while Minnesota is still trying to figure out “spacing and X’s and O’s,” one coach whose team recently played the Wolves said their biggest issues are “interpersonal.”
  • Rookie head coach Will Hardy is happy to give his players and assistants credit for the Jazz‘s strong start to the season, but Hardy has earned his share of the credit for the impressive job he has done in Utah so far, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. “I think he’s done a great job,” Jazz center Kelly Olynyk said. “He’s been really personable and good with the guys. He’s really kind of put us in situations to help us be successful. He’s given us structure and organization, but not to a point where you feel robotic or you feel like you’re constricted. He’s still letting everybody play free, be themselves and play to their strengths.”
  • In a mailbag for The Athletic, Jason Quick discusses Josh Hart‘s future with the Trail Blazers, how Chauncey Billups‘ coaching style differs from Terry Stotts‘, and the positive impact Jerami Grant has had in the team’s locker room.

Northwest Notes: Favors, Timberwolves, Hardy, Lillard

Derrick Favors‘ future with the Thunder is very much up in the air heading into training camp, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman.

Oklahoma City is three standard contracts over the limit but Favors’ expiring deal may be the most compelling reason he’ll make the 15-man roster. His $10,183,800 cap hit could prove useful in a trade.

He’s still a serviceable center and positive influence in the locker room as well, two other compelling reasons to keep him around, Mussatto adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • While some people wonder how Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert will fit together, the Timberwolves’ biggest issues will likely be a lack of knockdown shooters and lead ball-handlers, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic writes. Minnesota is actually quite deep, despite all the bodies the team swapped to acquire Gobert, and Krawczynski breaks down each position in this in-depth piece.
  • The Jazz are undergoing an extensive rebuild and new head coach Will Hardy will have to earn the confidence of his players to get through it, Sarah Todd of the Deseret News writes. The front office showed its confidence in Hardy by giving him a five-year contract, knowing developmental wins will be more important than actual victories.
  • While Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard had already made tens of millions of dollars playing basketball, the generational wealth he’ll accumulate with the two-year, super-max extension he signed this summer was humbling, he told Marc J. Spears of Andscape.com. “Me and [my wife] talked about it. It’s a big deal. When I talked to [agent Aaron Goodwin] and everybody I talked to about it, it was a big deal. I was like, ‘What am I supposed to do? Post something on Instagram saying something crazy?’ I don’t know what I was supposed to do. It was a big deal.”

Collin Sexton “100 Percent” Heading Into Season

Collin Sexton considers himself 100% healthy heading into his first season with the Jazz, Joe Coles of the Deseret News writes.

Sexton agreed to a four-year contract worth $71MM while getting dealt to Utah in the Donovan Mitchell blockbuster trade with the Cavaliers.

Sexton, 23, missed all but 11 games in 2021/22 due to torn meniscus in his left knee, which required surgery. The previous season, he averaged 24.3 PPG and 4.4 APG on .475/.371/.815 shooting in 60 games (35.3 MPG).

Sexton was in limbo as a restricted free agent much of the summer, as negotiations between his reps and the Cavaliers dragged on. He tried not to get frustrated by the situation.

“I just know my agent was pretty much just telling me just to stay patient and everything will work out now we be playing whether it was in Cleveland or another team, I will be wearing an NBA jersey,” he said. “So that was pretty much my mindset. I just wanted to just continue to work on the things that I needed to improve on and I let the rest take care of itself.”

Sexton spoke to new coach Will Hardy this week and was excited about his positive energy.

“He’s understanding that we’re going to be young, but he also understands like it’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to just be coached by him just because his energy and how he talks to us and how he’s so uplifted and how he has high spirits each and every day,” Sexton said. “That rubs off on everybody in the building as well.”

Western Notes: Liddell, Jordan, Knight, Hardy

Pelicans rookie forward E.J. Liddell has undergone surgery to reconstruct the torn ACL in his right knee, the team announced in a press release. The surgery was performed Monday by Dr. Scott Montgomery and Liddell remains out indefinitely.

Liddell, a second-round pick out of Ohio State, suffered the injury during a Vegas Summer League contest.

The former Ohio State forward averaged 19.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 2.6 BPG over 33.2 MPG last season and was projected as a first-round pick. He remains unsigned and the Pelicans don’t currently have an opening on the 15-man roster, though they have a two-way slot available.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Why did the Nuggets choose DeAndre Jordan as a backup big rather than re-signing DeMarcus Cousins? According to Harrison Wind of TheDNVR.com, there were concerns about Cousins staying healthy for a full season. He battled calf and foot injuries after signing with Denver last season. The Nuggets also wanted more rim protection at backup center and a lob threat for Denver’s current group of guards.
  • Nathan Knight‘s two-year, minimum-salary contract with the Timberwolves includes a $350K partial guarantee in year one and a $380,718 partial guarantee and team option in year two, Hoops Rumors has learned. Knight, who was on a two-way deal with Minnesota last season, signed a standard contract over the weekend. The 6’10” forward appeared in 37 NBA games last season.
  • New Jazz coach Will Hardy has spent a lot of his time this month getting acquainted with the players on the current roster, he told Tony Jones of The Athletic. “The conversations with the players, they have been great,” the former Celtics assistant said. “I’ve talked to all of our guys, and some in person. My expectation is to get to know each other as people before we get to know each other as co-workers. I want us to create and develop trust with each other. We want an environment of honesty with each other.”

Jazz Notes: Butler, Mitchell, Morrison, Summer League

Second-year Jazz shooting guard Jared Butler is facing a pivotal 2022/23 season, writes Tony Jones of The Athletic. Drafted with the No. 40 pick in 2021 out of Baylor, Butler was signed by Utah to a two-year deal. To justify a qualifying offer from Jazz management next summer, Jones writes, Butler will have to earn a rotation spot, which isn’t a given even if All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell is dealt before or during the year.

During his rookie season, Butler averaged just 3.8 PPG, 1.5 APG and 1.1 RPG in 42 games (8.6 MPG), and his 2022 Summer League output was inconsistent. Butler, listed at 6’3″ (though Jones estimates his height as being closer to 6’1″), had trouble in a variety of facets on offense, especially when it came to creating enough space between himself and his defender to effectively score. Jones does note that Butler has improved in the pick-and-roll.

There’s more out of Salt Lake City:

  • As the Jazz continue to contemplate trades centered around Mitchell, Tim MacMahon of ESPN (YouTube video link) posits that the team should move on from its lone remaining All-Star in the near future so that new head coach Will Hardy is free to operate with a team in full rebuild mode. “Let’s be honest, the Jazz don’t want 34-year-old first-time head coach Will Hardy to go into training camp and have the Donovan Mitchell saga, the Donovan Mitchell drama, dominate the storyline on a day-to-day basis,” MacMahon said. Mitchell has four years and $134.9MM remaining on his current contract.
  • The Jazz will be adding a new member to their extended coaching staff. Scott Morrison, who coached NBL squad the Perth Wildcats during the 2021/22 season and was on Boston’s staff alongside Hardy, will serve as the new head coach for Utah’s NBAGL club, the Salt Lake City Stars, tweets Emiliano Carchia of Sportando. Morrison was previously the head coach of the Celtics’ G League club, then known as the Maine Red Claws (now the Maine Celtics of the NBA G League), from 2014-17. He was honored as the NBA G League Coach of the Year in 2015 for his efforts.
  • Several developing Jazz players had intriguing Summer League turns this year. Sarah Todd of the Deseret News unpacks the performances of Utah’s young Summer League competitors, including second-year players Butler and Leandro Bolmaro, new two-way player Johnny Juzang, and veteran 7’6″ center Tacko Fall.

Northwest Notes: Blazers, Watford, Hardy, Jokic, Russell, Finch

The Trail Blazers defeated the Knicks on Sunday to win the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League championship, winning the contest 85-77. Portland was led by Trendon Watford, who finished with 19 points and was named the championship game MVP.

In addition to his 19 points, Watford also recorded seven rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block, shooting 7-of-15 from the floor. The Blazers finished 4-1 during summer league play and also received a strong performance from two-way player Brandon Williams (22 points) in the final game.

There’s more from the Northwest Division this evening:

  • Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe interviewed new Jazz coach Will Hardy, who recently joined Utah after serving as an assistant with the Celtics. Hardy reflected on his experience with Boston, which included a successful trip to the NBA Finals. “It’s not lost on me that what our guys in Boston did on the floor is a huge reason why I had an opportunity to get this job,” Hardy said. “I think sometimes we can get a little bit full of ourselves as coaches thinking we’re the reason, and I think we’re a part of it. We have a role in the team, and the success of last year, I think the coaching staff had a part of that. But the players and what they did in between the lines and their winning … that’s a huge reason I got this job. So I feel very fortunate for the year in Boston for a variety of reasons.”
  • Mike Singer of the Denver Post examines how Nikola Jokic‘s super-max extension become a family reunion this summer. Jokic was joined by Nuggets general manager Calvin Booth and other staff members in his home country of Serbia before signing the extension.
  • The Timberwolves are hoping Rudy Gobert can help unlock the best version of D’Angelo Russell next season, head coach Chris Finch said, as relayed by Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Hine and Finch also discussed a variety of other topics, including what the offense will look like, how Finch wants to see Jaden McDaniels grow, and more.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Hardy, Holmgren, Sharpe

Minnesota fans have been some of Rudy Gobert‘s harshest critics, but that’s going to change now that he’s a member of the Timberwolves, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. With the lifting of the league moratorium, the Wolves officially sent four players and five first-round picks to Utah in exchange for Gobert, who expressed his excitement about joining his new team at a press conference today.

The organization has received criticism for giving up so much to acquire the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, and for pairing him with Karl-Anthony Towns when so many teams are downsizing. New president of basketball operations Tim Connelly dismissed those concerns, insisting that Gobert provides what the Wolves have been lacking.

“He doesn’t inhibit anything we have presently,” Connelly said. “He makes it better. He augments what we have presently. So, when we look at fit, it’s not just about talent. It’s about kind of developing the team … and he’s going to make it better.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • New head coach Will Hardy found he has “a lot of touchpoints” with the Jazz involving players and the front office, tweets Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. “It’s been great to get some feedback from them,” Hardy said, “but I also feel like I’m coming in eyes wide open and want to kind of formulate my own opinions and develop my own relationships.”
  • Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren made an impact in his first Summer League game Tuesday night, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The No. 2 overall pick had 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting and registered seven rebounds, four assists and a league record six blocks in 24 minutes. “Gotta be better,” Holmgren said. “You can never really have a perfect game, but that’s what you strive for.”
  • Shaedon Sharpe‘s teammates with the Trail Blazers‘ Summer League squad have been raving about his performance in practice, according to Aaron Fentress of The Oregonian. Summer League will provide the first major exposure for the No. 7 overall pick, who didn’t play in college. “He’s a freak athlete,” Keon Johnson said. “He can score the ball, but he can also defend. I see why we drafted him. I feel like me and him are very similar in many different ways.”

Jazz Hire Will Hardy As Head Coach

JUNE 29: The Jazz have made it official, announcing in a press release that they’ve hired Hardy as their new head coach.

“Will Hardy is one of the brightest young leaders in the NBA,” Ainge said in a statement. “He understands the importance of setting a vision and creating a culture for players. He places great value on communication, player development and creating the most productive environment for players to succeed. His experience on coaching staffs that have made the NBA Finals and with USA Basketball are invaluable and have helped prepare him for this moment. We couldn’t be more excited for Will to lead the Jazz moving forward.”

JUNE 28: Celtics assistant Will Hardy is closing in on a deal with the Jazz to become the team’s new head coach, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski confirms (via Twitter) that Hardy has been offered the job and is finalizing a deal with Utah.

Hardy, 34, will receive a five-year contract, according to Wojnarowski (Twitter link), who notes that Hardy will become the youngest active head coach in the league.

Hardy joined the Spurs’ video room as an intern in 2010 and remained with the organization for more than a decade, earning a promotion to Gregg Popovich‘s coaching staff in 2015. He made the move to Boston to become an assistant under Ime Udoka a year ago and spent the 2021/22 season as a Celtics assistant before receiving head coaching consideration from the Kings in the spring.

Hardy, who played college ball at Williams College in Massachusetts, also earned some consideration as a head coaching candidate in 2020, having been linked to the Pacers, Knicks, and Thunder when they were conducting coaching searches.

Marc Stein reported last week that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge wanted to hire an up-and-coming first-time head coach to replace Quin Snyder, who stepped down earlier this month after eight seasons with Utah. Stein added that Utah’s front office was impressed by Hardy and Suns assistant Kevin Young.

A couple days after Stein’s report, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that Hardy was a leading candidate for the position, with the Jazz also strongly considering Young. Other finalists included Joe Mazzulla, Adrian Griffin, and Alex Jensen, all of whom met with Jazz ownership this week, sources tell Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Jazz have made the postseason six seasons in a row, with a regular season winning percentage no worse than .585 over that span, but have failed to advance past the second round in the West. Utah lost in the first round to Dallas this past season, even though Mavericks star Luka Doncic was injured and missed the first three games of the series.

Hiring a young coach makes sense for Utah, as the team is in somewhat of a transitional phase. The Jazz obviously want to take the next step and become a legitimate title contender, but if they decide to pivot into a rebuild at some point, they’ll already have a coach who has experience working with young players, as Hardy led the Spurs’ Summer League squad from 2015-18.

Rory Maher contributed to this story.

Will Hardy A Leading Candidate For Jazz Coaching Job

The Jazz view Celtics assistant Will Hardy as a leading candidate for the team’s vacant head coaching job, according to Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake City Tribune. Larsen notes that Utah’s decision-makers reportedly favor a young candidate to replace Quin Snyder.

Snyder left the Jazz earlier this month after an eight-year stint. Utah has interviewed roughly 15 candidates for the position, searching for the right replacement to guide the team back into contention.

Hardy started his NBA career with the Spurs as a video intern in 2010. He was the team’s video coordinator from 2013 to 2015, then became an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich. He was hired by the Celtics when former Spurs assistant Ime Udoka took that head coaching job last year.

In addition to Hardy, the Jazz are also strongly considering Suns assistant Kevin Young, according to Larsen. The 40-year-old was an assistant coach with the Sixers from 2017-20, then was hired by current Suns head coach Monty Williams. Before that, he served as an assistant at Utah Valley University and coached in the G League.

Marc Stein previously identified Hardy and Young as two candidates who impressed the Jazz during the first round of interviews.

Stein’s Latest: Clifford, Hornets, Pistons, Jazz, More

As the Hornets resume their head coaching search following Kenny Atkinson‘s decision to back out of an agreement with the team, Marc Stein suggests in his latest Substack column that a surprising name may be on Charlotte’s radar.

According to Stein, there’s some “serious mounting buzz” that Steve Clifford, who coached the Hornets from 2013-18, has emerged as a candidate to replace James Borrego. Charlotte is reportedly in the market for a candidate with previous head coaching experience and is certainly familiar with Clifford. He took the club to the postseason in 2014 and 2016 — those are the Hornets’ only playoff appearances since 2010.

Mike D’Antoni, who was said to be meeting with Hornets owner Michael Jordan this week, was a finalist during the initial search appears to still be in contention for the job. There have been conflicting reports on whether Terry Stotts was also a finalist before the team reached a deal with Atkinson — Stein writes that D’Antoni was the “only other known finalist” at that point.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Confirming that the Pistons are expected to pursue Suns RFA center Deandre Ayton, Stein says Ayton would embrace the idea of teaming up with Cade Cunningham in Detroit. Stein adds that Miles Bridges and Collin Sexton are believed to be ahead of Jalen Brunson on the Pistons’ list of other potential free agent targets. Both Bridges and Sexton will be restricted free agents, while Brunson will be unrestricted.
  • There’s an increasing belief in coaching circles that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge would like to hire an up-and-coming first-time head coach to replace Quin Snyder, according to Stein, who identifies Celtics assistant Will Hardy and Suns assistant Kevin Young as candidates who have impressed Utah so far.
  • After writing on Wednesday that the Sixers would be the favorites to sign P.J. Tucker if the forward leaves the Heat, Stein says today that Philadelphia’s impending pursuit of Tucker has the “strong backing” of star center Joel Embiid.
  • In addition to OG Anunoby, the Trail Blazers maintain interest in Thunder swingman Luguentz Dort, says Stein. Portland’s interest in Dort was previously reported. Portland’s No. 7 overall pick could be in play as the team seeks an upgrade on the wing.