Royce O'Neale

Western Notes: O’Neale, Dirk, McLemore, Baynes

Royce O’Neale, who is the Jazz‘s most trusted perimeter defender, is aiming this season to improve the accuracy and volume of his three-point shot on the other end of the court.

As Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com details, O’Neale three-point percentage is up to a career-best 47.9% this season, but he’s attempting just 3.1 per 36 minutes, the lowest rate of his career. That’s prompting his teammates and Jazz coaches to encourage him to look more for his shot.

“You have to shoot it,” Jazz point guard Mike Conley said. “I’m trying my best to tell him to shoot it every time. I get mad [when he doesn’t].”

It’s a big year for O’Neale, who will be eligible for restricted free agency during the summer of 2020. If he can continue to prove that he’s a reliable, consistent three-and-D option, the 26-year-old should be in line for a nice payday when his minimum-salary deal expires, whether or not he remains with the Jazz.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Just in case there was any doubt, longtime Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki confirmed that he won’t be following in the footsteps of fellow Dallas athlete Jason Witten by coming out of retirement after a year (Twitter link via Mark Medina of USA Today). Oh man. I wish,” said Nowitzki, who attended the Mavs’ Sunday win over the Lakers. “But my foot is not great. My health is not there anymore where it needs to be to compete and go up and down every day.
  • Ben McLemore, one of three Rockets players without a fully guaranteed 2019/20 salary, has taken on a crucial rotation role as of late, starting five of the club’s last nine games. While McLemore has been significantly better as a starter, he’s confident that his numbers as a reserve will come around if he returns to a full-time bench role. “It’s about keeping my game simple, especially with this team,” McLemore said, per Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “I’m trying to do the best I can each and every night and be consistent. Things will shake out for me soon.”
  • Offseason acquisition Aron Baynes, who returned to the Suns‘ lineup on Friday after missing five games due to a hip injury, has quickly become a veteran leader and a major on-court contributor for his new team, writes Duane Rankin of The Arizona Republic.

Northwest Notes: Porter Jr., Craig, Culver, O’Neale

Amid the news that the team has picked up his option for the 2020/21 season, forward Michael Porter Jr. is eager to take the court for the first time with the Nuggets, Mike Singer of the Denver Post reports. Porter will make his preseason debut against Portland on Tuesday. He missed all of last season with a back injury after being drafted No. 14 overall and didn’t play any summer league games due to a knee injury.

“I feel like I’ve prepared my whole life to be an NBA player,” the Nuggets’ forward said. “It’s crazy because I watch these players growing up and now we’re on the same court. I kind of had to have a mindset change. These are my opponents. I can’t be a fan of these dudes anymore.”

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • Torrey Craig will open the season as the Nuggets’ starting small forward, Nick Kosmider of The Athletic predicts. He’s the best defensive option at that spot and has made improvements to his offensive game. “Torrey shot lights out in September and he’s shot it very well in camp,” coach Michael Malone told Kosmider. “If he shoots it the way he did in the playoffs, he’s going to be a guy who is hard to keep off the floor.” Craig made 47.2% of his three-point attempts in 14 playoff games, compared to his 32.4% showing in the regular season.
  • Lottery pick Jarrett Culver has wasted no time making a strong impression at Timberwolves camp, the team’s play-by-play announcer Alan Horton tweets. Coach Ryan Saunders said Culver has been the early standout in the preseason. “He’s definitely made some plays that make you look around and say wow,” Saunders said. “Now those might be normal plays for someone who’s been in the league, but for a rookie in his first couple of days, it was impressive.”
  • With the departures of Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, forward Royce O’Neale could play an even bigger role with the Jazz this season, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune reports. O’Neale appeared in every regular-season game last season, averaging 20.4 MPG.  Coach Quin Snyder is experimenting with the 6’6” O’Neale playing power forward in small ball lineups. “[I’m] just trying to be a leader, [trying to] step up, helping out on defense, helping new guys any way I can,” O’Neale said.

Northwest Notes: O’Neale, Jazz, Nuggets, Wolves

While the Jazz‘ 2019 playoff run was short-lived, Royce O’Neale‘s performance in the team’s five-game series vs. Houston was encouraging. A role player who averaged 20.4 minutes per game during the regular season, O’Neale increased his averages across the board against the Rockets, recording 10.6 PPG and 4.6 RPG in 27.4 MPG.

The 25-year-old forward was also frequently tasked with the defensive assignment of guarding James Harden, and said that the MVP candidate gave him words of “encouragement and motivation” at the end of the series, as Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com details.

“Just goes to show all the hard work that I’ve put in isn’t taken for granted,” O’Neale said. “A lot of people are showing respect when it’s due. Earning that respect from him was one of the good moments. It made me feel like I’m becoming somebody in this league.”

The Jazz enter the offseason prepared to make some changes to a roster that hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs over the last two years. However, it’s unlikely that they’ll part ways with O’Neale, despite the fact that his 2019/20 salary is non-guaranteed — at a rate of $1,618,520, he’ll likely be one of the league’s better bargains next season.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

Northwest Notes: O’Neale, Thibodeau, Collison, Murray

After two years of trying to earn an NBA job, Royce O’Neale broke through in a big way with the Jazz last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. After unexpectedly making the roster in training camp, O’Neale played in 69 games and was part of the rotation right through the playoffs. As he prepares for his second NBA season, O’Neale hasn’t changed his mindset of fighting to prove he belongs on the team.

“I can’t rest,” O’Neale said. “I still have to come out here and play with a chip on my shoulder.”

O’Neale has dedicated the summer to working on ball-handling and 3-point shooting, as well as spending time in the weight room. He heads into this year’s camp with a contract in hand, even though both seasons are non-guaranteed. O’Neale will receive $1,378,242 this season and $1,618,520 in 2019/20 if he remains on the roster.

There’s more tonight from the Northwest Division:

  • Coming off a difficult season with the Timberwolves, coach/executive Tom Thibodeau feels refreshed after a summer away from the team, relays Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Minnesota entered the season with high expectations after trading for Jimmy Butler and signing Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, but the pieces didn’t always fit together well and the Wolves had to win on the final night of the regular season to reach the playoffs. “I know I have to recharge,” said Thibodeau, who spent much of the summer traveling. “Now that I’m back here, I walk around the lake quite a bit. It’s beautiful here in the summer.”
  • The Thunder should honor Nick Collison‘s years of service to the organization by retiring his number, contends an article in The Oklahoman (subscription only.) Collison was the 12th pick in the 2003 draft by the SuperSonics and remained with the team for a full decade after its move to Okahoma City. He announced his retirement in May.
  • Nuggets point guard Jamal Murray has proven he can excel on offense, but he still needs to improve at the other end of the court, contends Joel Rush of Forbes. Rush runs the numbers and shows that Murray’s ineffectiveness on defense negates much of what he contributes on offense.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Nurkic, O’Neale

While making a decision on Nikola Jokic‘s team option – and possible subsequent free agency – will be the Nuggets‘ top priority this offseason, the club will face several challenges in the coming weeks and months, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.com (Insider link).

As Marks outlines, one of those challenges will be finding a way to bring back Will Barton next season, since it looks on paper like the Nuggets won’t be able to afford him. Still, with Wilson Chandler, Kenneth Faried, and Darrell Arthur all expected to be on expiring contracts in 2018/19, Denver shouldn’t worry too much about going over the tax line, according to Marks, who points out that the team should be able to cut costs when those veteran contracts expire in the summer of 2019. That would mean avoiding multiple years in tax territory.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Six prospects participated in the Nuggets‘ latest pre-draft group workout, according to Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com, who provides the list (via Twitter): Tyler Cook (Iowa), Jon Elmore (Marshall), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Mustapha Heron (Auburn), Charles Matthews (Michigan), and Shamorie Ponds (St. John’s).
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines four potential landing spots for restricted free agent Jusuf Nurkic, identifying the Mavericks, Hawks, Wizards as possible suitors. However, Urbina writes that a return to the Trail Blazers is the most likely outcome for Nurkic.
  • Dakari Johnson didn’t play a whole lot in his rookie season, but he’s still just 22 years old and may still have a place in the Thunder‘s long-term plans, writes Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman.
  • After spending the 2017/18 season with the Jazz as an undrafted free agent, Royce O’Neale called his rookie year a “dream come true,” as Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News details. While O’Neale wasn’t a lock to stick with Utah for multiple years coming into the season, his $1.38MM non-guaranteed salary for 2018/19 looks like a bargain now, McDonald observes.

Northwest Notes: Gibson, T. Jones, O’Neale, Lillard

Taj Gibson is justifying the Timberwolves‘ decision to give him a two-year, $28MM contract this summer, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Many questioned committing that much to Gibson when Minnesota had obvious needs at the wing and Gorgui Dieng already in place at power forward. Through the first month of the season, Gibson is logging a career high in minutes at 30.7 per game, while Dieng’s playing time has been cut to 15.4 per night from 32.4 a year ago.

“I talk to Gorgui every day. That’s my guy,” Gibson said. “He understands it too that you want to take care of yourself and be in this league a long time. It’s not about the minutes, it is about the production with the minutes you get. I tell him that you want that option where teams know you can start or come off the bench; that’s how you are a great teammate.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Tyus Jones is also finding minutes hard to come by off the Wolves‘ bench, but he is compensating by developing chemistry with center Karl-Anthony Towns, relays Kent Youngblood of The Star-Tribune. Jones, who recently had his fourth-year option picked up, has developed an effective two-man game with Towns. “We’ve known each other since high school,’’ Towns said. “We’ve had a great chemistry. And we play the same style of basketball.”
  • Injuries have presented Jazz small forward Royce O’Neale with an unexpected chance for playing time, notes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. Undrafted out of Baylor in 2015, O’Neale spent one season in Germany and another in Spain before getting a shot with Utah’s summer league team. He played a career-high 21 minutes in Friday’s loss to the Nets. “It felt good to play real minutes,” he said. “You never know when your name is going to be called, so I have to take advantage of the playing time when I get the chance. It’s just about going out and executing the work I put into practice every day.”
  • Damian Lillard is coming to the defense of Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, who is under fire for the team’s sluggish start, writes Mike Richman of The Oregonian. The heat was turned up after Friday’s loss to Sacramento, which prompted Lillard to respond to fans on Instagram. “Late game turnovers and not getting stops has nothing to do with a coach,” Lillard wrote. “Blame me then. This the NBA … we play 82 games and we’ve played 15 and won more than we’ve lost. Relax family.”

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/9/17

Here are the G League transactions for Thursday:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/7/17

Here are Tuesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

5:23pm:

3:32pm:

  • The Spurs have recalled Tony Parker from the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Parker has been bouncing back and forth between San Antonio and the Austin Spurs as he recovers from surgery on his quadriceps.

1:33pm:

  • The Raptors have assigned Bruno Caboclo to the G League, the team announced today (via Twitter). Because this is Caboclo’s fourth NBA season, the move required his approval.
  • Second-year forward Derrick Jones has been sent to the Northern Arizona Suns, according to a press release issued today by Phoenix. The Suns’ affiliate doesn’t play its next game until Thursday, so we’ll see if Jones’ assignment lasts that long.
  • The Jazz have assigned a pair of rookies, Tony Bradley and Royce O’Neale, to their G League affiliate, according to a press release.
  • A day after sending him to the G League, the Rockets have recalled rookie big man Zhou Qi, the team announced (via Twitter). Zhou scored 15 points on Monday for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
  • The Nets have recalled Isaiah Whitehead from the G League, the club announced in a press release. Whitehead last played for the Long Island Nets on Saturday, when he racked up 26 points and grabbed seven boards.

Western Notes: Exum, Kerr, Ball, Aldridge

Jazz point guard Dante Exum has opted for surgery on his separated left shoulder, the team announced in a press release. The surgery, which will take place on October 24th, will stabilize the AC joint of his left shoulder. The team did not announce a timetable for Exum’s return but he’s likely to miss most or all of the season, Kyle Goon of the Salt Lake Tribune speculates.

Exum, 22, missed the 2015/16 season with an ACL tear. He returned last season and played in 66 games, averaging a career-high 6.2 PPG and 1.8 APG. The Jazz acquired Ricky Rubio during the offseason to start at the point. Raul Neto and Donovan Mitchell will back him up in Exum’s absence.

In other developments around the Western Conference:

  • The Warriors have not discussed a contract extension with coach Steve Kerr because of his health issues, Monte Poole of NBCSports.com reports. Neither side has prioritized an extension because Kerr is focused on finding ways to eliminate the headaches and dizziness he’s suffered after undergoing back surgeries, Poole continues. Kerr is in the fourth season of a five-year deal worth $25MM. “I’m just not ready to look that far ahead,” Kerr told Poole and other media members.
  • Wing Royce O’Neale got the nod over big man Joel Bolomboy for the Jazz’s final roster spot based on need, according to Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News. O’Neale, who spent the last two seasons in Spain, provides coach Quin Snyder with a defender who can guard multiple spots. “I think positionally, he’s a fit for our group right now,” Snyder told McDonald and other media members. “He’s got instincts defensively. Coupled with the toughness, it makes him a good wing defender.”
  • Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball says he’s good to go for the team’s season opener on Thursday, he told Law Murray of ESPN and the assembled media. Ball injured his ankle during camp and missed the last four preseason games. He practiced in full on Monday.
  • The final year of LaMarcus Aldridge‘s three-year, $72.3MM extension with the Spurs has a $7MM guarantee, Zach Lowe of ESPN tweets. San Antonio came to an agreement with Aldridge on Monday.

Jazz Waive Joel Bolomboy

The Jazz have set their roster for the regular season by waiving Joel Bolomboy, the team announced today in a press release. The move reduces Utah’s roster count to 17 players — 15 on NBA deals and two on two-way contracts.

Bolomboy, the 52nd overall pick in the 2016 draft out of Weber State, appeared in just 12 games for the Jazz last season. While he didn’t earn a regular role with the NBA club, the 23-year-old power forward did see plenty of action for Utah’s G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. In 24 G League games, Bolomboy averaged 16.6 PPG and an impressive 13.3 RPG.

A report out of Utah last week had suggested that the battle for the final spot on the Jazz’s roster was coming down to Bolomboy vs. Royce O’Neale. It’s possible Utah could make another move before today’s deadline, but for now it appears that O’Neale has made the team.

As for Bolomboy, he’ll clear waivers and become a free agent on Wednesday, assuming he isn’t claimed. His 2017/18 salary was fully guaranteed, so the Jazz will remain on the hook for his $1,312,611 cap hit.