Rudy Gobert

Western Notes: Melton, Gobert, Wiggins, Oubre

Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton is the latest player to miss game action due to the coronavirus pandemic. He won’t play against Atlanta on Saturday due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the team’s PR department tweets. Melton played 25 minutes in Memphis’ season-opening loss to San Antonio on Wednesday.

We have more Western Conference news:

  • Despite the emphasis on the 3-point shot, Rudy Gobert remains a big part of the Jazz’s offense, according to Sarah Todd of the Deseret News. Gobert made 8-of-10 field-goal attempts in the team’s season-opening victory over Portland while scoring 20 points. “When we move the ball that way it doesn’t really matter who gets the shot,” Gobert said. “I’m able to get my teammates open by just setting the screen or running the floor, or by catching the ball and then swinging to the open shooter. It’s fun.” Gobert signed a five-year, $205MM extension on Sunday.
  • Warriors wings Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre Jr. are off to very slow starts, Nick Friedell of ESPN notes. Wiggins, who was acquired by Golden State in February, and Oubre, who was added in the offseason, shot a combined 14-for-58 from the field and 2-for-21 from the 3-point line in the first two games this season. Coach Steve Kerr isn’t pushing the panic button. “Kelly’s going to be fine. Andrew will be fine,” Kerr said. “Those guys are proven players in this league. I’ve got to do a better job of putting them in positions to get comfortable, too.”
  • Big man JaMychal Green left the Clippers and signed with the Nuggets on a two-year, $15MM contract. Nuggets coach Michael Malone saw that as an example of Denver’s reputation around the league, Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes. “The fact that he decided to join us, I think, was a sign of respect,” Malone said. “He wanted to be a part of the team he saw in the Western Conference semifinals when we played head to head.”

Northwest Notes: Barton, Boylen, Blazers, Thunder, Gobert

Nuggets wing Will Barton made it clear multiple times earlier this month that he believes he deserves to be a starter. However, after coming off the bench in Wednesday’s opener, Barton said he’s happy for Michael Porter Jr. – who has been promoted to the starting lineup – and is prepared to accept his new sixth man role, as Mike Singer of The Denver Post writes.

“My concern is not about (starting) anymore once I channel my energy to where it has to be,” Barton said. “That’s where I am, so I’m locked in right now, I’m coming off the bench. I’m not trying to worry about if I’m gonna start again. Right now I’ve got a job to do, and that’s my focus is to come off the bench and try to change the game for us and still help us win games.”

While Barton may not have started the Nuggets’ opener, he got the opportunity to finish it, playing all five minutes of overtime in Denver’s loss to Sacramento.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • The Trail Blazers brought in former Bulls head coach Jim Boylen for a three-week consultation to help Portland’s coaching staff implement a more aggressive defense, says Jason Quick of The Athletic. “I was intrigued with his ideas and what he did in Chicago,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said of Boylen. “And we will be using some of the things he talked about and augmenting some of his other things with what we already do.”
  • Even after stockpiling future draft picks for a second consecutive offseason, the Thunder may not be done, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, who points out that the team could continue to extract draft assets in deals for Al Horford, George Hill, and Trevor Ariza, or by using a pair of giant trade exceptions to accommodate salary dumps.
  • ESPN’s Lisa Salters conducted an in-depth interview with Jazz center Rudy Gobert, discussing his path to the NBA, how it felt to become the league’s “patient zero” for COVID-19, and his relationship with Donovan Mitchell, among other topics. “We had conversations as grown men, and we told each other what we had on our minds,” Gobert said of mending his relationship with Mitchell. “And the end of the conversation was that our goal was to win a championship together and, you know, I thought it was really mature from both of us to come out of the conversation like that.”

Rudy Gobert Signs Five-Year Extension With Jazz

11:00am: Gobert’s extension is official, the Jazz announced in a press release.

“Rudy is such a special player,” new team owner Ryan Smith said in a statement. “He makes everyone on the court better. We couldn’t be more excited about his commitment to this team, to Utah, and most importantly, to keeping this unique culture together.”

9:13am: Rudy Gobert has reached an agreement on a five-year, $205MM extension with the Jazz, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The final year of the deal will be a player option, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

“It means that they believe in me,” Gobert told MacMahon, confirming the agreement. “They believe in what we’ve been building over the years with this whole organization, with coach (Quin Snyder) and all the guys. For me, it’s an incredible blessing. It’s a very motivating feeling to know that we all share the same vision and we all share this goal for this state and for this franchise.”

The 28-year-old center was eligible to receive a super-max deal that would have been worth up to $228MM. He opted to take a little less so that Utah could have some financial flexibility to build the team around him and Donovan Mitchell, who also signed a five-year extension last month. There were reports of tension between Gobert and Mitchell after both players contracted COVID-19 in March, but they have now committed to a long-term future with the franchise.

Gobert’s new deal is the third-largest in NBA history, MacMahon notes. The only bigger contracts are the new $228MM super-max deal for Giannis Antetokounmpo and the five-year, $206.8MM super-max that the Thunder gave Russell Westbrook in 2017.

Gobert is currently in the final season of a four-year, $102MM arrangement, and Utah has some flexibility with the parameters of his new contract, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The Jazz could start the deal at $35.3MM for 2020/21, which is $4MM below 35% of the salary cap, with 8% raises each year. They could also opt to give him the full 35% at the beginning, which translates to a $39.3MM salary with 2.2% annual raises.

Gobert, who faced a Monday deadline to get a five-year extension finalized, has become one of the best centers in the league during his seven seasons in Utah. He won Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2017/18 and 2018/19 and has been an All-NBA selection in three of the past four years. The only thing missing from his resume is a long playoff run, which he believes the Jazz can accomplish soon.

“I want to win, and I feel like leaving this money on the table for the team just to be able to have better talent around me and Donovan was really important,” Gobert said. “I want to win, and I believe in this group and I believe in this organization, and I was willing to leave that money on the table for them.”

Gobert’s new contract is the latest in a long line of lucrative extensions signed since the new league year began last month. Only three players – Anthony Davis, Brandon Ingram, and Gordon Hayward – signed free agent contracts worth more than $100MM this offseason, but Gobert is the seventh player to finalize an extension worth $160MM or more, as our tracker shows.

The deal also takes another marquee free agent off the market for 2021. Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, and Paul George are among the other stars who will no longer reach free agency next summer after signing extensions this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jazz center Rudy Gobert is eligible to sign a five-year, super-max extension by December 21. However, despite the fact that Gobert and the Jazz are discussing a new deal, a super-max extension doesn’t appear to be a realistic outcome.

“I have been told that he did not ask for the full super-max,” ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said of Gobert during an appearance on Brian Windhorst’s Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to RealGM). “I know there has been some reporting in Utah that he did. I’ve been told that is not true. That he did not ask for the full super-max.

“I don’t know what neighborhood the Jazz are in. There’s a gulf there. We will see if that gap is closed before the super-max extension deadline. He can also do a lesser extension during the season.”

Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune (audio link) and Porter Larsen of Utah’s ESPN 700 (Twitter link) have both suggested that Gobert’s camp has sought a super-max extension (starting at 35% of the 2021/22 cap), while the Jazz countered with something in the range of his “normal” max (120% of his current $27.5MM salary).

However, it’s not entirely clear where that report originated. Porter Larsen appeared today to credit Andy Larsen (Twitter links), while Andy added an “if reports are accurate” caveat when discussing those figures (Twitter link). MacMahon’s comments on Windhorst’s podcast cast further doubt on whether Gobert’s asking price was ever that high.

In any case, it seems safe to assume that the two sides are attempting to reach an agreement on a potential extension and that the Jazz are likely unwilling to commit to a full super-max contract for Gobert. Such a deal would be worth over $228MM, which is more appropriate for a two-time MVP like Antetokounmpo than a player like Gobert, who is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year but isn’t a perennial MVP candidate.

An extension worth Gobert’s standard max (rather than the super-max) would be worth approximately $148MM over four years, which seems more palatable for the Jazz. It’s less than what Gobert could get from Utah if he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, but it would top what a rival team could offer him at that point ($145MM for four years).

If the Jazz are serious about getting a deal done sooner rather than later, they’ll likely need to offer something in that range, since the expectation is that there will be other clubs willing to make Gobert that sort of offer in free agency in 2021, Windhorst said today on the Hoop Collective podcast.

“I think if he doesn’t get extended, there will be a handful of teams that will line up ready to pay him the max,” Windhorst said. “So the Jazz should know that and they should operate that way. If they want to haggle on certain aspects of the contract (they can), but– it’s not the super-max, but I don’t think they’re getting away without giving him the max.”

As MacMahon noted, while December 21 is the super-max extension deadline, Gobert and the Jazz could continue discussing a standard extension into the regular season.

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Favors, Bogdanovic, Azubuike

Asked today during a media session about the possibility of signing Rudy Gobert to a contract extension in the coming weeks, Jazz executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey declined to offer any specifics, but suggested the team would be happy to get something done.

We don’t comment on past, present or future negotiations, but we love Rudy,” Lindsey said, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). “We want Rudy to be here for the rest of his career.”

Tony Jones of The Athletic, who has said repeatedly that Gobert and the Jazz are actively discussing a new contract, reiterated that point today (Twitter link).

Gobert is eligible to sign an extension anytime before he reaches free agency during the summer of 2021, though if the Jazz are willing to give the All-Star center a super-max deal starting at 35% of the cap (which seems unlikely), they’ll have to get it done by December 21.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Lindsey said today that the Jazz’s decision to bring back Derrick Favors in free agency was motivated by feeling undersized defensively last season against teams with multiple big men, such as the Lakers (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • Bojan Bogdanovic‘s recovery from wrist surgery is progressing well, according to Lindsey, who said the team will decide in about a week whether the veteran forward is ready to progress to contact workouts (Twitter link via Walden).
  • Addressing Utah’s decision to use the No. 27 pick in the draft on Udoka Azubuike, Lindsey said the team took the “best player available” route (Twitter link via Walden). The Jazz’s analytics models ranked the former Kansas center as the second-best prospect in the draft, while the club’s scouts ranked him in the top 10, Lindsey added.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic provides a training camp primer for the Jazz, discussing Gobert’s contract situation, Donovan Mitchell‘s new extension, and the club’s goal of getting back into the top 10 for overall team defense in 2020/21.

Free Agent Rumors: Lakers, Gasol, KCP, Hawks, More

Having lost Dwight Howard in free agency, the Lakers may be eyeing another former Defensive Player of the Year. Marc Stein of The New York Times reports (via Twitter) that Marc Gasol has emerged as a free agent target for the Lakers. Gasol was drafted by L.A. way back in 2007 but was traded to Memphis in a package for his brother Pau Gasol and never appeared in a game for the Lakers.

As we wait to see if the two sides attempt to work toward a deal, let’s round up a few more free agency rumors…

Lowe’s Latest: Beal, Celtics, Culver, Heat, Gordon, More

Teams with interest in Bradley Beal haven’t given up hope that the Wizards will consider trading him this fall, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN, who notes that multiple “strong playoff teams” have looked into what it would take to acquire a top-10 pick and may be seeking extra assets to swing a big trade for someone like Beal.

However, the Wizards have shown zero interest in trading Beal, even for the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, sources tell ESPN. The Timberwolves (No. 1) and Warriors (No. 2) are both known to be hoping to trade their selections for an All-NBA caliber player like Beal (or Ben Simmons or Devin Booker), but it seems unlikely that such a deal will materialize, says Lowe.

For the Wizards to really consider the idea of moving Beal, he may have to tell the team he would prefer to play elsewhere, per Lowe. Perhaps that will happen down the road if Washington doesn’t bounce back from a second consecutive lottery finish, but it hasn’t to this point.

Here’s much more from Lowe:

  • Lowe confirms the Celtics have explored using their three first-round picks to trade up in the draft, but says Boston is considering a number of options with those picks, including trying to trade for a “solid veteran.” Since so many teams are in win-now mode, there aren’t many of those players available, according to Lowe, who says that Larry Nance Jr. and Dennis Schröder are among the players who could be under-the-radar targets for teams looking to upgrade their rotations.
  • Jarrett Culver‘s name has popped up in trade rumors, but Lowe thinks the Timberwolves would only move him in a package for a star, or for a draft pick that would help acquire a star. Lowe adds that he thinks Minnesota will dangle the No. 17 pick and James Johnson‘s expiring contract in search of a veteran contributor.
  • While Lowe thinks the Heat should be able to re-sign Goran Dragic on a big one-year deal, he expects it to be tougher for Miami to take the same approach with Jae Crowder, who will likely receive multiyear offers in the mid-level range.
  • Rival executives have pitched the idea of the Mavericks acquiring Rudy Gobert from the Jazz, but Lowe is skeptical there will be a match there and believes Dallas will have a tough time acquiring a third star via trade this offseason.
  • It’s unclear what sort of leaguewide interest there is in Magic forward Aaron Gordon. Lowe points to the Trail Blazers as a potential match, but says the two teams have never seriously discussed a swap involving Gordon and CJ McCollum and isn’t sure whether lesser assets like Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons would appeal to Orlando.
  • Lowe’s offseason preview is jam-packed with many more notes and is worth checking out in full. We relayed a number of Lowe’s other most intriguing tidbits in our stories earlier today, including items on the Bucks, Pistons, and Knicks.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-NBA teams for the 2019/20 season. Voting was completed prior to the league’s restart in July and was based on results through March 11.

Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lakers forward LeBron James, widely considered the two frontrunners for this year’s MVP award, were the only two players to be unanimously voted to the All-NBA First Team this season. Rockets guard James Harden, Lakers big man Anthony Davis, and Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rounded out the First Team.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Giannis and LeBron scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

All-NBA First Team

All-NBA Second Team

All-NBA Third Team

Among the players who just missed the cut were Bucks forward Khris Middleton (82 points), Sixers center Joel Embiid (79), Wizards guard Bradley Beal (32), and Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (26). A total of 11 other players also received at least one All-NBA vote — the full results can be found right here.

Today’s announcement is great news from a financial perspective for Siakam and Simmons. As a result of Siakam’s Second Team nod and Simmons’ Third Team spot, both players will earn starting salaries worth 28% of the 2020/21 salary cap, rather than 25%. Players who sign rookie scale extensions can earn maximum salaries up to 30% of the cap if they negotiate Rose Rule language into their deals.

The exact value of those new contracts will depend on where exactly the ’20/21 cap lands. Assuming it stays the same as in 2019/20 ($109.141MM), Siakam’s four-year extension would be worth $136.9MM instead of the $122.2MM it’d be worth if it started at 25% of the cap. Simmons’ five-year pact would be worth $177.2MM rather than $158.3MM.

While it’s also worth noting that All-NBA berths are of great importance to players seeking super-max contracts, there aren’t any real developments to report on that front as a result of this year’s votes. Antetokounmpo and Gobert remain eligible for super-max extensions, but they’d already qualified based on their previous accolades.

Embiid would have become super-max eligible in 2021 if he had earned an All-NBA spot, but he’ll need to make an All-NBA team next season to gain eligibility now, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks tweets.

Hoops Rumors readers accurately picked 12 of this season’s 15 All-NBA players in our spring poll. Beal, Embiid, and Devin Booker were your picks who didn’t make the official list. Of the 12 who made it, 11 made the exact team you projected, with Paul (who made Second Team instead of Third Team) representing the only exception.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Notes: Offseason, Gobert, Mitchell, Oturu

As the Jazz mull possible roster upgrades this offseason, they’ll be keeping an eye out for defensive-minded players, executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey said on Wednesday, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

“Anybody who has defensive integrity at their position, (who) can be an active, athletic defender will be someone that would be of interest to us,” Lindsey said. “Especially if they don’t compromise the spacing.”

While Utah’s roster features a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Rudy Gobert, the team only ranked in the middle of the pack this season in overall defensive rating, and struggled to slow down Jamal Murray and the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Citing NBA rules, Lindsey declined to get into specifics on Wednesday when asked about possible offseason extensions for Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. However, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes, he insinuated that the Jazz will look to lock up both Gobert and Mitchell long-term, stressing that the franchise is “extremely pleased” with the character of its two All-Stars. “As I’ve mentioned before, we’re working to add players of Rudy and Donovan’s physical talent and competitive makeup and so by definition we’re going to want to keep those type of players moving forward,” Lindsey said.
  • Former University of Minnesota center Daniel Oturu interviewed with the Jazz on Wednesday, according to Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (Twitter link). Oturu, the No. 36 prospect on ESPN’s big board, may be an option for Utah at No. 23.
  • While it wasn’t specifically related to the Jazz, Lindsey made another notable comment during his end-of-season presser on Wednesday, contending that the lack of travel this summer improved the quality of NBA games and suggesting that the league should do what it can to reduce travel going forward. “If we ever get to a situation like baseball where you play a team more than one time in the market — obviously, there’s some business concerns there — but that reduced travel, I definitely think the product is more compelling because of that,” Lindsey said. A previous report indicated that the NBA is mulling this idea.

NBA Announces 2019/20 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its All-Defensive teams for the 2019/20 season. Unsurprisingly, Defensive Player of the Year (and possible repeat MVP) Giannis Antetokounmpo was the leading vote-getter with 195 total points. Players receive two points per First Team vote and one point per Second Team vote.

This is the Bucks forward’s second consecutive appearance on the All-NBA First Team. Antetokounmpo was listed on 98 of 100 ballots from the 100 broadcasters and writers who comprised this year’s voting panel. 97 of those voters awarded him a First Team vote.

Lakers forward Anthony Davis was featured on every ballot and received a total tally of 187 points (including 87 First Team votes). Sixers guard Ben Simmons tallied 185 points with the third-most votes this year. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, the 2018 and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, was fourth with 95 total votes (85 First Team), for 180 total points. Celtics guard Marcus Smart rounded out the All-Defensive First Team with 152 points, including 57 First Team votes.

Gobert’s inclusion on the All-Defensive First Team has earned him a $500K bonus, Bobby Marks of ESPN tweets. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks teammates Brook Lopez (67 points) and Eric Bledsoe (59 points) each made the All-Defensive Second Team.

[RELATED: Giannis Antetokounmpo Named Defensive Player Of The Year]

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team:

Second Team:

You can find the full voting results right here.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.