Rudy Gobert

Lowe’s Latest: James, Thunder, RFAs

The Lakers may not necessarily need a star in place to lure LeBron James, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes in a massive round-up of free agency notes. If James were to sign in Los Angeles alongside the team’s existing young stars and plethora of cap space they’d immediately become one of the league’s most appealing destinations for the next 12 months.

The comment comes in response to the notion that the Lakers are growing desperate to acquire Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs prior to James’ opt-in deadline tomorrow at 10:59pm CST. As things stand, both the Celtics and Sixers appear poised to offer better packages than what Lowe speculates L.A. might.

The King’s decision will have a ripple effect on the rest of the league, especially the Eastern Conference. If the Raptors, for example, were to watch James head to the West, it would make keeping their current core in place more appealing considering that their path to the Finals would be hypothetically easier.

Here’s a taste of the rest of Lowe’s findings:

  • If the Thunder can convince Paul George to return to Oklahoma City, it will be a monumental victory for general manager Sam Presti. If he leaves, the club would be forced to at least think about blowing the current squad up and trading Russell Westbrook.
  • Only six teams have notable amounts of potential cap space and half of those – the Hawks, Bulls and Kings – are telling teams that they’re interested in using that space to absorb bad contracts and pick up assets.
  • It’s unclear that there will be much of a market for Derrick Favors beyond, potentially the Mavs. It may make more sense for the big man to stay with the Jazz after finally starting to click alongside Rudy Gobert in Quin Snyder‘s offense last season.
  • The two best candidates to sign a qualifying offer this summer and approach next summer as unrestricted free agents are Celtics guard Marcus Smart and Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. Lowe writes that Nurkic turned down a “rich” four-year extension last fall but might have a hard time finding a team willing to offer more than the mid-level exception this summer.
  • It stands to reason that Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Jabari Parker will yield significant offers from the Magic, Bulls and Bucks  respectively but none of those teams have reason to offer a max contract right away.
  • The Pacers could make life harder for the Magic by putting together an offer in the $20MM range for Gordon. Lowe writes that there has been “mild discontent for years” about Gordon’s role in Orlando’s offense.
  • The Nuggets tried “feverishly” to trade for a second first-round pick last Thursday in the hopes of nabbing Zhaire Smith. Denver’s 2019 first-rounder was on the table in those talks.

For more free agency notes, including some potential contract extension candidates and the reasoning behind Nikola Jokic not getting a player option in the fifth year of his new deal with the Nuggets, check out the full feature at ESPN.

Rudy Gobert Named Defensive Player Of Year

Jazz center Rudy Gobert was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year at the NBA’s second annual awards show.

Pelicans superstar Anthony Davis and Sixers center Joel Embiid were the other finalists.

Gobert was a finalist in 2017 but the award went to the Warriors’ Draymond Green. Gobert finished second to Davis in blocks this past season with an average of 2.27 per game but his overall defensive excellence won him the honor.

Jazz Notes: T. Brown, Gobert, Lang, Favors

Utah’s desire to add players who can handle multiple positions could make Oregon’s Troy Brown attractive in the draft, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. The 6’7″ freshman, who worked out for the team Friday, has displayed an ability to play anywhere from point guard to small forward.

“I just wanted to show that I’m more of a playmaker and that I can score the ball and shoot the ball,” Brown said. “I wanted to show that I can play the game the right way. I want to be able to do everything on the floor. I want to be a two-way player. Just being versatile is important to me.”

The Jazz, who own the 21st pick, were happy with the results of Friday’s session, which also included Michigan’s Moritz Wagner, West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, Kansas’ Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman and Georgia’s Yante Maten.

There’s more tonight from Utah:

  • Center Rudy Gobert, one of the finalists for the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, received a similar honor today from the players’ union, relays Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. Gobert was the winner of the Locksmith Award, presented to the league’s best defender as part of the Players’ Voice Awards. “It really means a lot to me knowing that the guys that I compete against every night are showing some love and recognition and I really appreciate it,” Gobert said. Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell was chosen as the NBPA’s Leader of the New School.
  • The Jazz made a coaching move today, promoting assistant Antonio Lang to the front of the bench, Woodyard writes in a separate story. Lang, who was among Quin Snyder’s first hirings in 2014, will replace Igor Kokoskov, who left to become head coach of the Suns. “I’m truly blessed,” said Lang, who played six years in the NBA before turning to coaching. “Hope to continue to improve and help the group.”
  • The Wizards, Bucks and Warriors are all potential destinations for free agent Derrick Favors if he leaves Utah, according to Frank Urbina of HoopsHype. Favors, who started a career-high 77 games this season, has been with the Jazz since arriving from the Nets in a 2011 trade.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its 2017/18 All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with Defensive Player of the Year candidates Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis headlining the First Team.

Gobert led the way in voting, receiving 94 of 100 potential First Team votes. He also received four Second Team votes, and was left off of just two ballots, earning him 192 total points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). It’s his second All-Defensive First Team nod.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the All-Defensive recognition will pay off financially for Gobert, who earns a $500K bonus as a result of his spot on the First Team. Meanwhile, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will receive a more modest $100K bonus for being named to the All-Defensive First Team.

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

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (192)
  • Anthony Davis, F/C, Pelicans (163)
  • Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers (136)
  • Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans (105)
  • Robert Covington, F, Sixers (90)

Second Team

Rockets point guard Chris Paul (74 points) and Thunder forward Paul George (69) narrowly missed earning spots on the All-Defensive Second Team. A total of 29 other players received at least one vote, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Finalists For NBA Awards Announced

The top three finalists for each of this year’s NBA awards are being released on tonight’s TNT pre-game show. The trophies will be presented June 25 at the league’s official awards show.

Here’s an ongoing list that we will update as the candidates are announced, along with links to our staff’s picks for each honor:

Rookie of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Most Improved Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Coach of the Year

  • Dwane Casey (Raptors)
  • Quin Snyder (Jazz)
  • Brad Stevens (Celtics)

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COY


Defensive Player of the Year

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

Contract Notes: Embiid, Davis, Lillard, Lowry

When All-NBA voters decide whether or not to classify Anthony Davis as a forward or center on their ballots this year, they may indirectly impact the value of Joel Embiid‘s new contract by approximately $30MM.

As Bobby Marks of ESPN details, the extension Embiid signed with the Sixers last offseason will be worth 25% of the cap starting in 2018/19. However, the contract includes a clause that states his starting salary would increase to 30% if he’s named to the All-NBA First Team. That salary bump would increase his overall earnings by about $30MM over the life of the five-year deal, but it can probably only happen if Davis receives most of his All-NBA votes at forward. Otherwise, he seems like a good bet to beat out Embiid for the center spot on the First Team.

No player has more at stake as a result of All-NBA voting or various other benchmarks than Embiid. But that contract is just one of many that could be affected by a variety of award results, postseason outcomes, or other criteria.

Marks’ piece is worth checking out in full for all the details, but here’s a quick look at a few noteworthy contract situations:

  • Pelicans star Anthony Davis will become eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension in 2019 if he earns an All-NBA spot this year. However, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is among the players who would need another All-NBA nod in 2019 to qualify for a supermax deal, even if he’s on this year’s All-NBA squad. Those Designated Veteran Extensions are known as supermax contracts because they start at 35% of the salary cap instead of 30%.
  • Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Victor Oladipo (Pacers) would get sizable bonuses if their teams make deep playoff runs. Lowry would receive $500K for reaching the Eastern Finals, another $500K for winning the East, and another $500K for a title. Oladipo would earn $250K if Indiana reaches the NBA Finals.
  • All-Defense honors would pay off for Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday. Gobert will get a $500K bonus if he’s named to the All-Defense First Team, while Holiday would get $100K for a spot on the First Team or Second Team.
  • Among the players who have already earned bonuses: Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon ($900K for incentives related to points, rebounds, and games played), Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless ($500K for his three-point percentage), Bucks center John Henson ($500K for playing 75+ games), and Jazz guard Ricky Rubio ($175K for his field-goal and free-throw percentages).

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Stockton, Nurkic, Brewer

Rudy Gobert missed 26 games due to two knee injuries earlier this season, but has been a focal point in the Jazz‘s recent nine-game winning streak. Gobert has always been praised for his defense and the Utah center said he deserves to be rewarded for it, Eric Woodyard of Desert News writes.

“To me, there’s no question right now,” Gobert said about whether or not he should be Defensive Player of the Year. “Like I said, my goal is to make my teammates better defensively and to make my team better, but yeah, there’s no question.”

Gobert has been a double-double machine for the Jazz, averaging 14.0 PPG and 10.7 RPG. While the team struggled in his absence, Gobert said the team needed to go through it to enjoy its current success.

“The team had to go through this kind of slump, and when I came back the second time, I felt I was better,” Gobert said. “I felt like it made everyone better. Everyone got better by going through this moment.”

Check out more notes from the Northwest Division:
  • David Stockton, who signed a 10-day contract with the Jazz this week, is excited for the opportunity to suit for the team where his father became an NBA legend, Woodyard writes in a separate article. However, he is not putting any pressure on himself. “I try not to think about it,” he said. “The statue has been there, and it’s kind of been the same old story my whole life as far as basketball and playing and having this name, so I try not to think about it, and I don’t think there’s too much pressure.”
  • Jusuf Nurkic has been a solid player for the Trail Blazers since he was traded from the Nuggets. As he prepares to showcase his talent on the postseason stage, restricted free agency looms over him, but he tells Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype he is not worried about it. “I don’t even think about it. I’m really only focused on Portland and the playoffs right now,” he said. “In this league, business is business, but I just try to keep it simple: I’m going to hoop and let everybody else do their job.”
  • Corey Brewer joined the Thunder for the stretch run and he has played a vital role in a short time. His success can be attributed to his family, Brett Dawson of the Oklahoman writes.

Northwest Notes: Gobert, Jazz, Burke, Malone

Health concerns regarding Rudy Gobert will remain with the Jazz for the rest of the season, writes Brad Rock of The Deseret News. Gobert, who has missed 26 games this season, returned to the lineup with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks Friday against the Knicks and followed that with 16 points, seven rebounds and three blocks Saturday against the Clippers. Gobert, who is playing limited minutes, is coming off a sprained PCL in his left knee and a bone bruise in his tibia.

“I just try to stay present and deal with those things as they present themselves,” coach Quin Snyder said about Gobert’s health concerns. Utah is four and a half games out of a playoff spot and will need its Defensive Player of the Year candidate to make a run at the postseason.

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • The Jazz may be in the market for a stretch four before the trade deadline, tweets Spencer Checketts of 1280 Sports in Utah. “I knew when we traded [Trey Lyles] we’d be looking for a 6-10 player who can knock down 40% of his threes,” said GM Dennis Lindsey, “and sure enough, that’s what we are currently looking for right now.”
  • Knicks guard Trey Burke, who was considered a bust in Utah, admits he wasn’t fully focused on basketball early in his career, relays Marc Berman of The New York Post. Burke spent three seasons with the Jazz before being traded for a second-round pick in 2016. “I do feel I did a great job my rookie season,” he said. “Second year, they drafted another point guard [Dante Exum] — which kind of messed with my mind. It played with me a little bit. That’s where it went wrong. My rookie season the coach [Tyrone Corbin] gets fired. Going into the second year, it’s a whole new coaching staff to get used to. Sometimes it don’t work out.’’
  • Nuggets coach Michael Malone promised “changes” after Friday’s loss to Phoenix, and Gina Mizell of The Denver Post offers some ideas of what they could be. Short of a trade, Denver has a few options to shake up a team that has gone 2-6 in its last eight games. She suggests removing Wilson Chandler from the starting lineup, switching Will Barton back to shooting guard, giving Kenneth Faried another shot at the rotation and giving more minutes to Malik Beasley.

Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell Set To Return Friday

Two players who have yet to play in 2018 are expected to return to the court on Friday, with one playing in Utah and one in Brooklyn. According to reports, both Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell are set to play tonight.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder confirmed today to reporters that Gobert will be back against the Knicks, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News notes (via Twitter). Gobert is expected to be on a minutes restriction for now, as he works his way back to full strength.

Gobert had been on the shelf since December 15 due to a knee injury, having missed Utah’s last 15 games. The Jazz have been using some smaller lineups in Gobert’s absence, with Derrick Favors spending more time at center. With Gobert back, the club will have some additional lineup flexibility, and may start to seriously consider possible Favors trades.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Russell told reporters, including Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link), that he expects to suit up and get back on the court tonight for the Nets, who are hosting the Heat. Russell, the Nets’ major offseason acquisition, hasn’t played since November 11 due to a knee injury of his own.

It will be interesting to see how Russell’s return impacts Spencer Dinwiddie, who has assumed starting point guard duties and has been enjoying a breakout season with both Russell and Jeremy Lin sidelined. Dinwiddie has struggled with his shot lately, but is still posting solid overall numbers — he has averaged 14.4 PPG and 7.2 APG since Russell went down, and figures to continue playing a key role even with the former second overall pick back in the lineup.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Sefolosha, Exum

The Jazz have been charged with the task of growing and developing their way into the postseason all over again, Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. All things considered, they’re off to a decent start.

The scribe offers up a scathing critique of how Gordon Hayward handled his exit from Utah, suggesting that Hayward left the team out in the cold, unlike ex-Pacers star Paul George, who at least gave Indiana’s front office a clear heads up that he had an interest in leaving.

While Monson sheds light on a handful of the assets on board in Utah, from trade candidate Derrick Favors to underwhelming fourth-year forward Rodney Hood, he also places some blame on general manager Dennis Lindsey for not having a better read on the Hayward situation prior to last offseason.

Of course the best thing going for the Jazz is their core duo of Rudy Gobert and rookie Donovan Mitchell. Everything will revolve around those two players, Monson says — that’s a particularly intriguing thought for Utah, considering that Gobert is just 25 years old while Mitchell is 21.

There’s more from the Jazz today:

  • As the trade deadline draws closer, Derrick Favors is hearing his name pop up in more and more speculation. The 26-year-old has managed to successfully tune out the conversation thus far, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News writes.
  • In the same feature for The Deseret News, Woodyard reports that forward Thabo Sefolosha‘s knee surgery went successfully on Wednesday.
  • After being cleared for non-contact basketball activities, Jazz guard Dante Exum has set his sights on returning to action after the All-Star Break, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. Exum damaged ligaments in his shoulder during preseason.