Ricky Rubio

Free Agent Rumors: Horford, Nets, Suns, Stokes, Rockets

In a surprising development, Al Horford is expected to leave the Celtics to sign with a new team in free agency, as we relayed on Tuesday night. As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski explains in his story on the situation, the gap between what Boston was willing to offer and what Horford is seeking on a long-term deal was too significant to bridge. The Celtics and Horford’s agent Jason Glushon aren’t expected to re-open talks, Woj adds.

According to Marc Stein of The New York Times (via Twitter), there’s a belief in front office circles that Horford knows there will be a four-year offer worth $100MM+ waiting for him in free agency, which led to talks with the Celtics breaking down.

It will be fascinating to see if that sort of lucrative offer is actually on the table for a 33-year-old who battled nagging injuries last season. According to A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston (via Twitter), a league source says the Nets are a team to keep a close eye on, given their cap room and Horford’s connection to head coach Kenny Atkinson.

However, Kyrie Irving is believed to be headed to Brooklyn as a free agent, and Jeff Goodman of Stadium tweets that he would be “beyond surprised” if Horford teams up with Irving again after a disappointing season in Boston.

Here are a few more notes and rumors on 2019 free agency:

Pacers Eyeing Ricky Rubio, Have Discussed No. 4 Pick

The Pacers have their eye on Ricky Rubio with free agency around the corner, according to Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, who hears from multiple league sources that the veteran point guard will be one of Indiana’s top targets.

Rubio, 28, is headed for the open market this summer after averaging 12.9 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 4.1 RPG on .412/.332/.861 shooting in two seasons with the Jazz. The Spaniard hinted earlier this month that a return to Utah may not be in the cards, as the Jazz are considering other point guard options.

The Pacers may have bigger-name point guards on their offseason wish list as well, having been linked to trade candidate Mike Conley and restricted free agent D’Angelo Russell, among others. But O’Connor suggests that Indiana views Rubio as a good potential fit, since his play-making abilities would complement Victor Oladipo‘s score-first playing style. Rubio would also be a defensive upgrade on point guards Darren Collison and Cory Joseph, both of whom will be free agents this summer.

League sources tell O’Connor that the Pacers have also explored the possibility of making a trade with the Pelicans for the No. 4 overall pick. New Orleans is reportedly open to either a pick-based or player-based package in exchange for that selection, O’Connor notes.

While O’Connor doesn’t provide any additional details on what picks or players the Pelicans and Pacers might have discussed, it wouldn’t surprise me if New Orleans has kicked the tires on one or both of Indiana’s promising young bigs, Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis.

It remains to be seen whether the Pacers are fully committed to having Turner and Sabonis share the frontcourt in the long term. The Pelicans, meanwhile, could be on the lookout for a center to complement presumed No. 1 pick Zion Williamson. Again though, that’s just my speculation.

Northwest Notes: Jazz, Wolves, Forcier, Vanterpool, Thunder

With Ricky Rubio set to become an unrestricted free agent on June 30, the Jazz could be in the market for a new starting point guard moving forward, Kincade Upstill of the Deseret News writes.

Rubio made a rather interesting comment this weekend, sharing that Utah won’t be aggressively trying to re-sign him when he reaches the open market. “Utah has already let me know I’m not a priority for them,” he said, according to Ernest Macia of Catalunya Radio.

The Jazz could pursue other available point guards in free agency such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Malcolm Brogdon, D’Angelo Russell or Derrick Rose if the franchise mutually agrees to part ways with Rubio, who has served as the team’s starting point guard over the last two seasons. However, Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey went on the record to state that Ricky could still re-sign on a new contract.

“He’s got a decision to make on his end and we’ve got a decision to make on our end, but there’s a lot of scenarios I can see Ricky back. … We really appreciate who he is and we think we can get him better from a health perspective and skill standpoint,” Lindsey said, according to Upstill. “We know who he is — he has Jazz DNA. So he’ll have options, we’ll have options and we’ll talk to him and his agent.”

Rubio’s name surfaced in rumors around this season’s February 7 trade deadline, likely causing some trust issues between him and the organization. He holds career-averages of 11.1 points, 7.7 assists and 30.9 minutes across his eight NBA seasons.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division tonight:

Ricky Rubio Not Counting On Return To Jazz

Jazz guard Ricky Rubio doesn’t appear to be counting on a return to the team for another season, with the veteran point guard making some rather interesting comments this week on his upcoming free agency period.

“Utah has already let me know I’m not a priority for them,” Rubio said, according to Ernest Macia of Catalunya Radio (Twitter link).

Rubio appeared in 68 games with the Jazz this season, averaging 12.7 points, 6.1 assists 1.3 steals in 27.9 minutes per contest. He’s set to join a talented free-agent group that includes point guards such as Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, Malcolm Brogdon and more, giving the Jazz several options to consider outside of Rubio.

Rubio, 28, was the No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft. He has served as the team’s starting point guard over the last two seasons, spending six years with the Timberwolves before being traded to Utah in June of 2017.

In addition to Rubio (who made $14.9MM last season), the Jazz also have wing Thabo Sefolosha and center Ekpe Udoh to address in unrestricted free agency this summer. Utah finished with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference at 50-32 during the regular season, but the team lost to Houston 4-1 in the opening round of the playoffs.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Barton, Rubio, Jazz Workouts

Russell Westbrook dealt with significant pain in his left hand for approximately six weeks before the Thunder were eliminated from the postseason, Brett Dawson of The Athletic reports.

Westbrook, who shot 36% from the field during the opening round, and fellow Thunder All-Star Paul George underwent surgical procedures this week. Westbrook had a ligament repaired in his left hand as well as arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. George had a tendon repaired in his right shoulder and will soon undergo surgery to address a small labrum tear in his left shoulder.

It’s difficult to know how the injuries might impact the Thunder next season, though Westbrook should be ready in plenty of time for training camp, Dawson continues. Expected roster changes over the next four months will have a bigger impact, Dawson adds.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Trail Blazers traded Will Barton to the Nuggets four years ago but Barton downplays the significance of trying to eliminate his former team, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Barton is averaging 9.2 PPG and 4.9 RPG this postseason. “I’m past that. That was a long time ago in my career,” Barton said. “They just happen to be the opponent that we’re playing against and I just want to beat them, not because I used to play with them, just because they’re in our way for trying to advance. That’s the only thing I’m thinking about. I can’t try to make it personal or anything like that.”
  • The Pacers, Bulls and Suns are the most likely landing spots for Ricky Rubio if he doesn’t remain with the Jazz, Frank Urbina of Hoops Hype opines. Rubio could come at a lower cost than other point guard options for Indiana, while he could give Chicago and Phoenix a veteran presence while also grooming a younger player at the position, Urbina adds. Rubio will be an unrestricted free agent after making nearly $15MM this season.
  • The Jazz brought in six draft prospects on Wednesday, according to a tweet from the team’s media relations department. Power forwards Mamadi Diakite (Virginia) and Dewan Hernandez (Miami, Fla.), wings Tyus Battle (Syracuse) and Brandon Randolph (Arizona) and guards Matt Mooney (Texas Tech) and T.J. Gibbs (Notre Dame) were the visitors. Big men Neemias Queta (Utah State), Zylan Cheatham (Arizona State), Silvio De Sousa (Kansas) and Australian Harry Froling and guards Payton Pritchard (Oregon) and Devon Dotson (Kansas) are coming in on Saturday, according to another Jazz tweet.

Jazz Planning To Make A Run At Tobias Harris

Tony Jones of The Athletic is the latest reporter to hear that the Jazz plan to pursue Sixers forward Tobias Harris in free agency. In a column looking ahead to important offseason dates, Jones states that Harris will consider coming to Utah if Philadelphia doesn’t offer him a full maximum-salary contract over five years.

Harris would give the Jazz another perimeter scorer to team with Donovan Mitchell after averaging a career-best 20.0 PPG this season in 82 games with the Clippers and Sixers. As a 6’9″ combo forward, he would bring more flexibility to Utah’s frontcourt.

We’ve heard other reports that the Jazz plan to target Harris when July 1 arrives, with the Grizzlies, Mavericks and Nets also expected to get involved. It appears the Sixers are going to need to come up with a max offer to keep Harris in a summer where Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick will also be unrestricted free agents.

There’s more on the Jazz, all courtesy of Jones:

  • Management will address the team’s point guard situation this summer, starting with a decision on whether to re-sign free agent Ricky Rubio. The Jazz could try again to acquire Mike Conley from the Grizzlies, but Jones notes that Utah won’t have the same matching contracts to offer that it had in February. Consideration will also be given to making Mitchell the point guard and possibly moving Royce O’Neale into the starting lineup.
  • The Jazz are willing to trade away their first-round pick if they get an offer they like. This year’s draft is considered top-heavy, and Utah may not be able to find an impact player at No. 23. If they keep the pick, Jones identifies Villanova’s Eric Paschall, Gonzaga’s Brandon Clarke, Belmont’s Dylan Windler and Louisville’s Jordan Nwora as potential picks.
  • Grayson Allen and Tony Bradley have the most at stake in summer league. Allen played sparingly as a rookie, but got more time late in the season. He has a chance for an increased role next year, depending on which free agents return. He has proven he can shoot, but significant questions remain about his defense. Jones believes Bradley may be fighting for a roster spot this summer. A first-round pick in 2017, Bradley has been stuck in the G League, playing just 12 NBA games in two years and only three this season. There’s a chance he’ll be the backup center next year, but he has a lot to prove against summer league competition.

Jazz, Ricky Rubio Facing Critical Point

Ricky Rubio will be an unrestricted free agent and the Jazz have a tough decision to make regarding his future. Although Rubio has been a solid floor general for the franchise, Utah has appeared to hit its ceiling with him playing alongside Donovan Mitchell.

“We want to move the group forward,” GM Dennis Lindsey said at season’s end (via Jody Genessy of the Deseret News). “And while we have a very good team, the results told us that we don’t have a great team.

The Jazz attempted to take a step forward and deal for Mike Conley at the trade deadline, but ultimately didn’t complete the much-rumored move.

“Unfortunately,” Lindsey said, “a team leaked something and it was unethical.”

Rubio landed in Utah during the 2017 offseason and the Jazz have made the postseason in each of his two seasons with the team. They were able to win a playoff series during that stretch, but ran into the Rockets each spring and proved to be a notch below the top tier in the Western Conference.

Rubio tried to stay positive as he heard his name on the rumor mill. The point guard admitted that hearing the team’s trade talks impacted his mindset.

“I play with heart, and you go out there and you want to play with heart, but you don’t know if tomorrow you’re going to be here,” Rubio said. “It’s tough. I’m not going to lie. Luckily, it didn’t happen and I ended the season on a good note and I’m happy.”

Assuming the Jazz look to free agency, finding an upgrade on Rubio won’t be easy. The franchise has no immediate replacement on the roster and players like Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker seem unlikely to consider Utah as a destination.

Pairing Mitchell with a point guard who’s a better shooter than Rubio could be a feasible option. Goran Dragic could opt to hit the market. Malcolm Brogdon is a restricted free agent and perhaps the Jazz can take advantage of Bucks’ potential spending trepidation and snatch the efficient play-maker.

Utah could have upwards of $39MM in salary cap space, though that’s an unlikely figure as it would require the team to renounce the rights to Rubio and let go of Derrick Favors, whose $16.9MM contract for next season is non-guaranteed.

The Jazz believe Rubio can improve on his game and Lindsay said there are “a lot of scenarios” in which he could see the point guard return for his third season with the team.

“We really appreciate who he is and we think we can get him better from a health perspective and skill standpoint. We know who he is,” the executive said.

Pistons To Consider Derrick Rose In Free Agency?

Point guard will be an area of focus for the Pistons in free agency this summer, as backups Ish Smith and Jose Calderon are set to hit the open market. And a source with first-hand knowledge of the team’s thinking tells Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press that Derrick Rose is one potential target who will be “a subject of debate” within the front office.

Rose is unlikely to have to settle for the minimum salary again after enjoying an impressive bounce-back season in Minnesota, averaging 18.0 PPG and 4.3 APG on .482/.370/.856 shooting. However, he was limited to just 51 games due to more injuries, an ongoing issue which will likely keep his price tag in check. That means he could be an option for a team like the Pistons, who won’t have any cap room available this offseason.

Seth Curry is another free-agent-to-be who figures to be of interest to Detroit, according to Ellis, though he notes that there’s a belief head coach Dwane Casey will push for a true point guard. In that case, players like Ricky Rubio and Patrick Beverley may be on the club’s radar. The likes of T.J. McConnell or Isaiah Thomas could also be targets if the club pursues a lower-cost option, Ellis adds.

Of course, re-signing Smith will also be a scenario the Pistons could consider, but there was an “air of finality” to his end-of-season media session, according to Ellis, who writes that the team will explore upgrades at the position.

The 2019/20 mid-level exception is projected to be worth approximately $9.2MM, based on a $109MM cap, while the bi-annual exception would be worth about $3.6MM. Unless the Pistons shed significant salary, those will be the only two exceptions – besides the minimum – available to the team in free agency. Both exceptions can be used on a single player or split up among multiple free agents.

Jazz Notes: Free Agency, Conley, Rubio, Favors

The Jazz enter the offseason with more flexibility than most teams, but will need to decide how much of their roster they want to keep, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake TribuneRicky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh will all be free agents, while five other players – Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Georges Niang, Raul Neto and Royce O’Neale – have either partially guaranteed or non-guaranteed contracts for next season.

Larsen expects O’Neale ($1.618MM for 2019/20) and Niang ($1.645MM) to be brought back because they are bargains at their current price. He adds that if Sefolosha or Udoh returns, it will likely be at a reduced salary.

The Jazz can clear up to $36.8 million in cap room by letting that whole group go, enough to offer a max deal in free agency. No matter how much is available, the priority will be to find more outside shooting.

“Adding a sniper at any position is something we’re going to have to strongly evaluate,” GM Dennis Lindsey said.

There’s more news out of Utah:

  • Another option for the Jazz is to revisit trade talks with the Grizzlies regarding point guard Mike Conley, Larsen adds in the same story. The teams weren’t able to work out a deal before the February deadline, and the Jazz were upset with Memphis’ front office because so much of the rumored trade became public. “Unfortunately, a team leaked something, and it was unethical,” Lindsey said.
  • The Jazz will consider all possibilities at point guard this summer, sources tell Tony Jones of The Athletic. Those include bringing Rubio back, searching for a replacement in free agency or turning the position over to Donovan Mitchell.
  • Management was expecting this to be Favors’ final season with the team, but he played so well that they will consider picking up his $16.9MM deal for next year, Jones adds. A decision will have to be made by July 6.
  • Mitchell tells Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News he was frustrated by how the season turned out and plans to use the summer to get in better shape. “This is going to be huge for me just for my confidence standpoint and just to getting my mind, my body right and looking at guys and competing against guys like James Harden, Chris Paul and all those guys,” Mitchell said. “If I want to be like those guys, I’ve got to work and train like those guys and I think that’s where it starts.”

Jazz Notes: Rubio, Favors, Offseason

After making the Western Conference Semifinals in 2018, the Jazz kept their roster relatively intact and won another 50 games during the 2018/19 regular season. However, a quick first-round exit has the team thinking about potential roster changes this offseason, writes Mike Sorensen of The Deseret News.

“We want to move the group forward,” general manager Dennis Lindsey said on Thursday. “And while we have a very good team, the results told us that we don’t have a great team.”

A handful of Utah’s veterans, including Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, are either headed for unrestricted free agency or have non-guaranteed salaries for next season, meaning there’s no guarantee they’ll be back. While Lindsey praised the “collective character” of the current group, he acknowledged that the roster could look different by the time the 2019/20 season gets underway.

“It’s got to fit the salary structure, it’s got to be a value add that they’re bringing something we don’t have and it has to be a really good fit,” Lindsey said of potential new additions. “We’ll certainly make every attempt to examine every piece of the organization, player personnel included, and try to move this group forward.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Favors, who has a $16MM non-guaranteed salary for next season, expressed a desire to stick with the Jazz, as Sorensen relays: “I prefer to come back here, the grass is not always greener. I’m here with a good organization. It’s been a blessing, I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully it can continue.”
  • While Rubio also said he’d like to return to the Jazz, his comments weren’t quite as unequivocal as Favors’, Sorensen notes. “One thing I’m going to look for sure is going to be the best situation for me with the coach and the team,” Rubio said. “I want to be happy, I’m going to try to find the best situation for me to be me and be happy.”
  • We should expect Utah to target shooters and play-makers in free agency this summer, in an effort to take some pressure off leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, writes John Coon of The Associated Press. Speaking of Mitchell, he believes the Jazz can make a strong pitch to free agent targets due to their collection of “unselfish” players who just want to win (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • Joe Ingles believes the Jazz aren’t far off from being an “unbelievable” team, writes Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • In an Insider-only article, ESPN’s Bobby Marks takes an in-depth look at Utah’s upcoming offseason from a cap perspective.