Rudy Gay

And-Ones: Jerebko, Canaan, China, Teammate Award, Future Rankings

While some former NBA players have left Russian teams following the invasion into Ukraine, Jonas Jerebko is resuming his career there. The ex-NBA big man signed with CSKA Moscow, the team tweets. That didn’t sit well with the Swedish National Team, who suspended him, according to Johnny Askounis of EuroHoops.net“Unfortunately, we are forced to state that there are no conditions for Jonas Jerebko to play for the Sweden basketball national team,” a Swedish Basketball Federation press release stated in part. Jerebko played for four NBA teams.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Another Russian team, Unics Kazan, has mutually parted ways with guard Isaiah Canaan, according to a EuroHoops.net story. Canaan is joining Turkey’s Galatasaray, EuroHoops tweets. Canaan appeared in 235 NBA games, most recently during the 2018/19 campaign.
  • Chinese TV has resumed broadcasts of NBA games, Sopan Deb of the New York Times reports. China had boycotted NBA broadcasts since 2019, when former Houston executive Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong. China Central Television, its state-run TV network, broadcasted Tuesday night’s matchup between the Clippers and Jazz, which kicked off a full return of the league to China’s airwaves.
  • The 12 finalists for the league’s Teammate of the Year award have been announced, the NBA announced (via Twitter). DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Jeff Green , Udonis Haslem, Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Jaren Jackson Jr., Kevin Love, Boban Marjanovic, Chris Paul, Fred VanVleet and Grant Williams are the contenders. The annual honor recognizes the player deemed the best teammate based on selfless play, on- and off-court leadership as a mentor and role model to other NBA players, and commitment and dedication to team.
  • The Grizzlies top the list on ESPN’s Future Power Rankings, according to Kevin Pelton, Bobby Marks, Andre’ Snellings, and Tim Bontemps (Insider link). They’re followed by the Heat and Suns. The Kings sit at the bottom of the pile.

Northwest Notes: Gay, Hart, Towns, McDaniels

Rudy Gay‘s first season with the Jazz has been disappointing, but he believes there’s still time to turn it around, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Gay signed as a free agent over the summer, but offseason heel surgery kept him out of action through the first 14 games of the season. He missed four more games because of soreness in the heel and another six in February due to illness and knee pain. Although the season is winding down, Gay feels like there’s still progress to be made before the playoffs.

“I feel pretty good going into the later part of the season,” he said. “This is good. We went through a lot early. That was good for us. The thing about it is, I’m motivated. Just trying to make a long run in these playoffs. That’s what it’s really about. The real season’s coming. This is all trying to get in a rhythm so we can be our best by then.”

Coach Quin Snyder recognizes that because he’s missed so much time, Gay is still adjusting to his role on the team. Snyder has been extending Gay’s minutes lately, even in games that are out of reach.

“I feel about Rudy the way I do about our team: as he plays more, he’ll continue to be able to give us more,” Snyder said. “… Getting him out there is important to us. Rudy’s obviously someone we feel like can really impact the game for us.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Josh Hart is adapting to his new situation with a Trail Blazers team that is currently more focused on developing young players than winning games, notes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Coach Chauncey Billups said Hart is used to being a complementary player on teams with stars, rather than a primary scorer surrounded by youngsters. “I had to have some conversations with him, because Josh is a very, very competitive dude, and sometimes we’ve been in situations where we haven’t been very competitive,” Billups said. “And that’s tough, especially for a vet. So I’m challenging him right now to just control that, and help our guys. But it’s a tough deal.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ 60-point outburst Monday was accompanied by a joy that was missing when he set the previous team record of 56 in 2018, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After some difficult years with the Timberwolves, Towns is now the leader of a winning team that enjoys playing together. He could be headed for a spot an All-NBA team, which would make him eligible for a four-year super-max extension this offseason.
  • Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels suffered a high ankle sprain, tweets Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Josh Okogie is expected to get extra playing time while McDaniels is sidelined (Twitter link).

Injury Notes: LaVine, White, Harden, Garland, Hayward, More

Bulls All-Star Zach LaVine has been suffering through back spasms recently, Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic relays. LaVine was noticeably wincing during Chicago’s 127-120 overtime defeat to Toronto on Thursday. Center Nikola Vučević says the team appreciates LaVine’s commitment to winning despite not being fully healthy.

It tells us a lot about Zach playing through back spasms,” Vučević said. “It’s not easy. It limits you a lot. You just don’t have that freedom of movement, especially in the back. It’s a big, important part of your body, especially when you play basketball. I’m sure it was bothering him a lot, especially on the offensive end trying to score and be aggressive.

But it speaks a lot about his commitment to winning and to this team trying to still be out there. Even him not being 100 percent helps us a lot, so we appreciate him being out there.”

Coach Billy Donovan told reporters, including K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago (Twitter link), that the Bulls are hopeful LaVine will return Sunday after sitting out Friday on the second game of a back-to-back. However, Donovan also said that LaVine is still battling the knee soreness that sidelined him for a handful of games last month.

Here are some more injury updates from around the NBA:

  • LaVine wasn’t the only Bulls player absent from Friday’s 122-115 win at Indiana, as Coby White also missed the game due to a groin strain, Rob Schaefer of NBC Sports Chicago tweets. Donovan said White has had lingering discomfort in the groin, but it was aggravated against Toronto.
  • Nets coach Steve Nash said James Harden was held out of Brooklyn’s 125-102 blowout loss at Utah on Friday for precautionary reasons, per Nick Friedell of ESPN (via Twitter). The team is giving Harden a couple extra days rest to ensure his hamstring is feeling better. Nash doesn’t think Harden will need an MRI and is hopeful he’ll return to action Sunday at Denver. Rudy Gay exited the game early for the Jazz with right knee soreness and didn’t return to the court, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets.
  • Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, recently named an All-Star for the first time, missed his third consecutive game Friday at Charlotte with lower back soreness, writes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. Gordon Hayward returned to action for the Hornets in the team’s 102-101 loss after missing the past two weeks due to COVID-19, Boone notes.
  • Lakers forward Carmelo Anthony will likely be out Saturday vs. New York, providing extra rest before the team re-evaluates his strained right hamstring next week, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets. LeBron James is also doubtful for the contest against the Knicks with knee swelling, per Marc Berman of The New York Post (Twitter link).
  • Heat center Omer Yurtseven has cleared the health and safety protocols and is available for Saturday’s game at Charlotte, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports (via Twitter).
  • Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2021 draft, missed his second straight game for the Pistons Friday with a hip pointer, Keith Langlois of Pistons.com tweets. Coach Dwane Casey said the injury isn’t considered serious, but the team is being cautious with its rising star. The Pistons fell to the Celtics, 102-93.
  • Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon missed his second consecutive game Friday with hamstring tightness, per Harrison Wind of DNVR Sports (Twitter link). The Nuggets lost to the Pelicans without Gordon, 113-105.

COVID Updates: Gobert, Gay, McDermott, Unseld Jr., Testing Procedures

The Jazz got some very good news on Friday, as center Rudy Gobert has exited the league’s health and safety protocols, Tim MacMahon of ESPN tweets. Utah’s defense has fallen apart without Gobert patrolling the middle. The Jazz’s defensive rating has ballooned to 120.8 in the five games he’s missed and they only won one of those contests. Forward Rudy Gay has also exited the protocols, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. Utah plays its next game on Sunday.

We have more COVID-related news:

  • According to the league’s injury report for this evening’s games, Spurs forward Doug McDermott is no longer in the protocols. McDermott has not played since New Year’s Eve.
  • Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. has entered the protocols, according to a team press release. Pat Delany will assume acting head coaching duties for Saturday’s game against Portland.
  • Hornets big man Kai Jones has cleared the protocols and was eligible to play on Friday, the team tweets.
  • Players who remain unvaccinated or who are eligible for a booster shot will remain under daily surveillance and game day testing through February 17, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. Those who are currently ineligible for a booster due to having been more recently vaccinated won’t be under those restrictions, NBA Communications tweets. Those restrictions also won’t apply to league staff members, since they are all fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Updates: Gay, Hughes, Harrell, Hachimura, Winslow, Waters, Brooks

Jazz forwards Rudy Gay and Elijah Hughes have entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced on social media (Twitter link). They join Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles as players in protocols for Utah.

All four players will miss the team’s game against the Pistons on Monday. Two-way player Malik Fitts will also be sidelined due to a right wrist injury, meaning Utah will be without five players for the contest. According to our tracker, nearly 50 players are currently in the NBA’s protocols.

Here are some other COVID-related notes from around the league:

Northwest Notes: Whiteside, Finch, Edwards, Bol

With Jazz reserve center Hassan Whiteside unavailable while recovering from a concussion, Utah struggled to find much success in its small-ball lineups when All-Star center Rudy Gobert went to the bench, writes Eric Walden of the Salt Lake City Tribune. Walden notes that lineups with 6’8″ reserve forward Rudy Gay playing the five were minus-19 across 19:52 of action.

“It’s different without having a traditional big in Hassan or Rudy [Gobert] back there, because we base our defense solely on forcing everybody to our big,” All-Star point guard Mike Conley said. “Everybody’s kind of activated into more of a help-the-helper situation, as opposed to trying to make it a two-on-two situation with the big and the guard like we’re accustomed to doing.” Gay signed a two-year, $12.1MM contract with the team this summer.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch has earned rave reviews for the way he handled Minnesota’s rotations as the team was impacted by several coronavirus-related absences, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Win or lose, the Wolves have always been prepared and kept contests close. “His [after-timeout plays], his mindset, how he conducts practice, very detailed man,” point guard Patrick Beverley said. “His professionalism, I preach to these guys every day that they’re fortunate to have a coach like that, for sure.”
  • After Finch had a quick hook for Timberwolves wing Anthony Edwards due to what the head coach perceived as lackluster defense in the first quarter of an eventual 122-104 Minnesota victory over the Clippers, Edwards responded with renewed effort, writes Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. Finch inserted Jaylen Nowell in Edwards’s stead early in the first quarter. “I wasn’t a big fan of his approach defensively to start the game, which is why I went that direction early,” Finch said. “He responded to that and was a lot more dialed in.” Edwards conceded that Finch had a point: “I get mad, but he right. At the end of the day I can’t do nothing but take the constructive criticism and come back and show him that I can do it.”
  • 7’2″ Nuggets power forward Bol Bol showed promise in scoring a career-best 11 points across 20 minutes against the Rockets in a 124-111 win this weekend. He has support in high places as a prospect with upside, per Mike Singer of The Denver Post. One big name in his corner is Denver head coach Michael Malone, who sent Bol a congratulatory text after his big night.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Gay, Lillard, Nnaji

The 11-15 Timberwolves‘ current five-game losing streak, which includes three consecutive home blowout defeats, displays Minnesota’s clear need for more frontcourt help, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Adding someone at the level of 6’11” Pacers big man Myles Turner, a solid defender and floor spacer, could be exactly the cure for what ails them.

“We’re not putting the work in,” Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns noted of the club’s recent losing streak. “It’s as simple as that. We gotta put more work in. All of us. Top to bottom.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • New reserve Jazz forward Rudy Gay has proven to be exactly what the doctor ordered for Utah this season, writes Mark Schindler of Basketball News. When he plays alongside All-Star starting Jazz center Rudy Gobert, Gay has been particularly effective. Lineups featuring that tandem have outscored opponents by 24.3 points per 100 possessions. Because the bulky 6’8″, 250-pound Gay can convincingly defend centers on switches, he operates as a helpful release valve for Gobert, who can struggle guarding opponents along the perimeter on switches.
  • Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard has taken umbrage with what he perceives to be the media’s depiction of him as being somewhat wishy-washy in his thinking, per Portland’s official Twitter account (video link)“You can criticize how I play or who I am as a player, that’s one thing,” Lillard said. “But who I am as a person and the things that I say, I mean them. That’s one thing that I stand on and I know people can’t challenge me on that.”
  • Second-year Nuggets forward Zeke Nnaji is doing his darnedest to improve this season, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post. With long-term injuries sidelining forwards Michael Porter Jr. and P.J. Dozier, Nnaji has carved out some legitimate rotation minutes this month, Singer observes. He is averaging 6.6 PPG and 2.4 RPG, across 17.6 MPG this month. Especially notable, Nnaji is shooting 58.6% from long range this year, tops in the league for volume three-point shooting (defined as two or more triples taken a night). Denver head coach Michael Malone is already a fan. “He is self-motivated,” Malone said. “He is a guy that is not allowing his maybe not playing or Summer League failures to identify and define him, and that’s kind of who Zeke is. He’s a guy that does everything hard. You’re never gonna catch Zeke Nnaji cutting corners.”

Northwest Notes: Gilgeous-Alexander, Olshey, Gay, Rivers

After initially arriving in Oklahoma City as a complementary piece on a playoff roster, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has since become the centerpiece of a rebuild for a Thunder team that appears lottery-bound for a second consecutive season. While Gilgeous-Alexander would obviously like to be winning more, he told Joe Vardon of The Athletic that he’s enjoying his role as the focal point of OKC’s offense.

“Yeah, absolutely. It’s something I’ve dreamed about as a kid,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Everyone wants to be that guy, you know what I’m saying? With high pressure comes great rewards.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazersinvestigation into Neil Olshey may be entering its final stages, according to Ian Begley of SNY.tv, who says Olshey was interviewed earlier this week as part of the probe. Sources tell Begley that Olshey is still owed more than $12MM on his current deal, which could become a sticking point if the franchise decides to part ways with the executive, as we outlined on Thursday.
  • Rudy Gay had an impressive first game back from offseason heel surgery, pouring in a team-high 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 18 minutes in his Jazz debut on Thursday. The performance displayed how Gay is capable of helping Utah this season, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.
  • Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said on Thursday that his assistant coach Sam Cassell was the first to suggest that the Nuggets would be a good fit for Doc’s son, Austin Rivers. As Mike Singer of The Denver Post details, Rivers signed with Denver last season, then re-signed with the club in the offseason and is playing regular minutes. “It’s always great when your kid is happy,” Doc said.

Rudy Gay Available To Make Jazz Debut

Veteran forward Rudy Gay, who signed a three-year contract with the Jazz in the offseason, is set to make his debut with the team. Utah announced today (via Twitter) that Gay will be available for Thursday’s contest vs. the Raptors.

Gay, 35, received a deal worth the full taxpayer mid-level exception this summer after spending the last four seasons in San Antonio. He averaged 11.4 PPG and 4.8 RPG on .420/.381/.804 shooting in 63 games (21.6 MPG) last season before undergoing offseason surgery on his right heel. The Jazz were aware of that procedure when they agreed to sign him.

We’ll have to wait to see exactly how Gay fits into Utah’s rotation, but the club envisions him as a player who can create his own shot on offense and match up with bigger opposing forwards on defense. He’ll likely be eased into action in a limited role off the bench.

Injury Notes: Nuggets, Gay, Claxton, Adebayo

Nuggets guard Austin Rivers says forward Michael Porter Jr. was playing through back pain the entire season before being sidelined due to the issue, according to Mike Singer of The Denver Post.

He’s 23 years old,” Rivers said following Monday night’s loss to Dallas. “He’s just gotta take care of himself and get himself right physically and that way mentally he can come to the court playing the way that we know he can play. He’s playing hurt this whole season. It’s hard to do that. Hopefully he comes back soon because he’s a huge part of our team.”

Singer notes that the back problems could explain Porter Jr.’s slow start to the season. The Nuggets have been vague on updating MPJ’s status after saying he’ll be out for the “foreseeable future.”

Here are some more injury notes from around the NBA:

  • In a separate article, Singer writes that Nuggets guard Monte Morris has been playing through a nagging leg injury this season, but Morris says it’s finally starting to improve. “Today was the first time I was able to do (player development) probably since the second Memphis game (on Nov. 3), so I haven’t even been able to do that,” Morris said. “I’ve been getting treatment and just playing in games. I’m starting to feel better. Been able to play without pain and stuff like that.” Singer also notes that Will Barton, who’s been dealing with back soreness, has been improving, but is listed is doubtful for Thursday’s game, while Zeke Nnaji is out with a sprained ankle.
  • Rudy Gay could make his season debut Thursday for the Jazz. The team listed him as probable on its injury report tonight (Twitter link). Gay has been recovering from offseason heel surgery.
  • It doesn’t sound like Nicolas Claxton will be returning to the Nets‘ lineup anytime soon, tweets Brian Lewis of the New York Post. According to Lewis, coach Steve Nash said that, “Nic (Claxton) has a ways to go. He’s really got to work on his conditioning.” Claxton had been dealing with a non-COVID illness.
  • Heat star Bam Adebayo is getting a night off for injury maintenance on a bruised knee, tweets Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Per Chiang, coach Erik Spoelstra says that it will be “really beneficial” for Bam to get rest and treatment in order to reduce swelling in the knee.