Rudy Gobert

Fischer’s Latest: Jazz, Conley, Snyder, Popovich, Graham

Speculation about the potential breakup of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appears to be fueled more by people outside of the Jazz organization than those within it, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report, who says sources from the team and around the NBA believe that CAA has been responsible for many of the whispers involving Mitchell’s future.

According to Fischer, team owner Ryan Smith is willing to spend big on a contender, and Utah has no plans to rebuild. Smith also likes the idea of having multiple players in the 2023 All-Star Game, which the Jazz will host.

Although some rival executives believe a Gobert trade is a possibility and view the Mavericks, Hawks, and Raptors as potential destinations, Fischer says the Jazz are focused on upgrading their defense, so moving a three-time Defensive Player of the Year seems counterintuitive. On the other hand, complementary players like Bojan Bogdanovic, Royce O’Neale, and perhaps even Mike Conley are considered more realistic trade candidates.

Fischer wonders if the Clippers or the Knicks might have interest in Conley, another CAA client. With the Jazz seeking help on the wing, Evan Fournier could theoretically headline a Knicks offer for Conley if they miss out on Jalen Brunson, says Fischer, though he notes that some staffers in New York would prefer to stay in-house and give Immanuel Quickley an expanded role.

As for the Clippers, Fischer is skeptical that a Conley trade offer centered around sharpshooter Luke Kennard would appeal to a Utah team looking to improve its defense and suggests that a more realistic point guard target for L.A. would be John Wall, assuming he and the Rockets work out a buyout. Wall has also been linked to the Heat, but Fischer’s sources believe Miami’s interest predated last year’s acquisition of Kyle Lowry.

Here’s more from Fischer:

  • There’s “little expectation” among people close to the situation that Quin Snyder will leave the Jazz before his contract expires in 2023, says Fischer. Snyder also holds an option for the 2023/24 season.
  • Jazz CEO Danny Ainge doesn’t appear inclined to shake up the team’s basketball operations department. According to Fischer, major changes would likely only occur if former head of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey gets a top front office job elsewhere and wants to bring some Utah executives with him.
  • Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who is traveling and considering his coaching future, plans to visit Belgrade for the EuroLeague Final Four later this month, a source tells Fischer. The general sense is that Popovich seems interested in coaching San Antonio for at least one more season, Fischer adds.
  • The Pelicans are among the teams believed to be considering a possible point guard upgrade this offseason, reports Fischer. Devonte’ Graham saw his role reduced significantly in the playoffs and some people around the league think he could end up on the trade block this offseason, but sources tell Fischer the Pels aren’t motivated to move on from Graham like they were with Eric Bledsoe a year ago.

Hawks Notes: Simmons, Gobert, Hunter, Workouts

The Hawks will be in the mix to acquire a second star if one becomes available this offseason, Chris Kirschner writes in a mailbag for The Athletic. While Atlanta won’t have the cap flexibility to pursue top free agents, Kirschner expects the team to do its homework on a handful of possible trade candidates.

Several people within the Hawks’ organization wanted to acquire Ben Simmons prior to this year’s trade deadline, according to Kirschner, who suggests Simmons could be a player worth monitoring this summer. Given the way the 25-year-old’s season played out and the fact that he’ll be returning from back surgery, his price would presumably be even lower than it was at the deadline. However, there’s no indication at this point that the Nets are looking to move on from the three-time All-Star.

Here’s more on the Hawks:

Atlantic Notes: Embiid, Brunson, Rivers, Gobert

Sixers center Joel Embiid won’t win the Most Valuable Player award, but he’s got a bigger goal to chase, as he told Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

“Winning a championship is the biggest thing,” the Sixers star said. “And I’ll be honest, I never thought I would be at this level. Coming into the league, I was always like, ‘I’ve got to get a Defensive Player of the Year.’ My defense was always my focus. I’m like, ‘Defensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year,’ and then, over the years, I’ve gotten (better) offensively.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Jalen Brunson‘s strong postseason is bad news for the Knicks, Marc Berman of the New York Post writes. Brunson will be headed to unrestricted free agency and it’s unlikely the Knicks can open up cap space to entice Brunson to jump ship. One league source told Berman it would be shocking if Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t re-sign the fourth-year point guard.
  • There’s no reason for the Sixers to fire Doc Rivers if they don’t go deeper into the postseason, Joe Vardon of The Athletic argues. Rivers has three years and $24MM left on his contract. Under Rivers’ tutelage, Tyrese Maxey has become a budding star and Embiid has delivered the two best seasons of his career, Vardon notes. The Sixers kept on winning despite the Ben Simmons drama and needed to give up two key role players as well as Simmons in order to bring in James Harden.
  • Trading for Rudy Gobert and his hefty contract wouldn’t be worth the risk for the Raptors, Doug Smith of the Toronto Star opines. Gobert doesn’t present enough of an offensive threat, and his ability to switch and guard on the perimeter the way Toronto defends is also a legitimate question. His lack of positional versatility doesn’t fit the Raptors’ roster, Smith adds.

Western Notes: Adams, Bane, Gobert, Bullock, Green, Clarke

A day before Game 2 of his team’s second-round series against the Warriors, Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said that center Steven Adams remains in the league’s health and safety protocols, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN tweets. Adams, who was placed in the protocols on Thursday, is listed as out for Tuesday’s game, the team’s PR department tweets. Starting guard Desmond Bane is listed as questionable due to lower back soreness. Bane was limited to nine points in 32 minutes in Game 1 on Sunday.

We have more from the Western Conference:

  • Rudy Gobert and his agent are still awaiting their annual exit meeting with the Jazz, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. That meeting will likely determine how the two sides proceed going forward into the offseason, Jones adds. Utah is expected to shake things up after another early playoff exit. Gobert has four years remaining on his five-year, $205MM contract.
  • Reggie Bullock‘s defensive importance was so profound against the Jazz that the Mavericks played him 254 of a possible 288 minutes in the series. Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News writes an in-depth piece on Bullock and how personal tragedies have shaped his career. Bullock is in the first year of a three-year deal, though the final season isn’t fully guaranteed.
  • The NBA upheld Draymond Green‘s Flagrant Foul 2 ruling in Game 1 of the Warriors’ series against the Grizzlies. The player who was fouled, Brandon Clarke, wasn’t surprised that Green committed such an infraction (ESPN video link). “He’s been known for flagrant fouls in his career. I’ve watched him on TV my whole life, it feels like, so I wasn’t really shocked,” Clarke said.

Warriors May Have Interest In Rudy Gobert

The Warriors are a team to watch if the Jazz decide to trade Rudy Gobert this offseason, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst said on his latest Hoop Collective podcast (hat tip to Real GM).

There have been rumors for several years that Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have an uneasy relationship in Utah. Speculation that they might be broken up has resurfaced after the Jazz were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.

During a discussion about possible trade destinations for Gobert, Tim MacMahon of ESPN, a guest on Windhorst’s show, joked that Gobert and Draymond Green have a great relationship and wondered if the Warriors could be a a potential landing spot for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year. Windhorst replied, “I have heard that rumor out there.”

Gobert has four years and about $170MM left on his contract, including a $46.6MM player option in 2025/26, so it won’t be easy for Utah to move him. Windhorst points out that Golden State has Andrew Wiggins‘ expiring $33.6MM deal for next season to help match salary.

Both Windhorst and MacMahon indicated that it’s more likely Gobert will be traded instead of Mitchell if Utah decides to split them up. There’s a belief that the Jazz want to hold onto Mitchell and rebuild the roster around him.

Jazz Rumors: Snyder, Mitchell, Gobert, Offseason

Although the Jazz were eliminated in the first round for the third time in four years, the team’s ownership and management groups don’t consider head coach Quin Snyder part of the problem in Utah, sources tell Sam Amick of The Athletic. The comments made by general manager Justin Zanik during a media session on Friday certainly back that up.

“Quin Snyder is one of the best coaches in the NBA,” Zanik said, according to Erik Walden and Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. “There is no other partner I would rather have as a coach and as a leader of our players and as a partner in our front office than Quin Snyder.”

According to Amick, Snyder has one guaranteed year left on his contract with the Jazz, then has an option year (the option decision is Snyder’s, not the team’s) for 2023/24. However, sources tell The Athletic that the head coach has been unsure for much of the year what his future holds and plans to assess his options now that the season is over. Staying with the Jazz, going to a new team, or even taking a year off are all options, Amick writes.

Veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein, who first reported on the Snyder situation in March, says today that the Lakers‘ interest in the veteran coach is serious, but adds that there’s skepticism in coaching circles that Snyder would leave Utah for Los Angeles, given the drama that surrounded Frank Vogel during his tenure with the team.

Stein, who reiterates that the Jazz unsuccessfully tried to extend Snyder prior to the 2021/22 season, agrees with Amick that the idea of the 55-year-old taking a year off isn’t out of the question. Snyder is “known to be held in high regard” by the Spurs, according to Stein, who suggests that a one-year hiatus from coaching could put him in position to become Gregg Popovich‘s successor.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • In addition to relaying Zanik’s comments about Snyder, Walden and Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune passed along several more of the most interesting quotes from the general manager’s Friday press conference. Notably, Zanik dismissed the idea that the interpersonal dynamics of Utah’s players – including Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert – are a concern. “They’ve given themselves to each other. And all the outside narratives is just a bunch of noise,” Zanik said. “Internally, I see it every day. These guys care about each other.” The GM also referred to Mitchell and Gobert as “foundational pieces.”
  • In a fascinating story for, Tim MacMahon takes a look at some of the steps the Jazz have taken to make sure Mitchell is comfortable in Utah and explains why multiple teams have been monitoring the situation closely in anticipation of the All-Star guard possibly asking to be traded. Within a story about the Knicks‘ ongoing interest in Mitchell, Marc Berman of The New York Post says league sources have speculated about the Heat being a potential landing spot for the 25-year-old.
  • As MacMahon outlines, Mitchell became the fourth player of 18 (at the time) who signed rookie scale extensions since the 2011 lockout to get a player option in his contract, and the first three (Paul George, Kyrie Irving, and Anthony Davis) all pushed for trades before those deals expired. Some rival executives have also speculated that market size is important to Mitchell, says MacMahon, whose story is worth reading in full.
  • According to John Hollinger of The Athletic, if Danny Ainge and the Jazz want to seriously shake up their roster this summer, trading Gobert would be the most logical way to do it. Hollinger identifies some hypothetical trade partners if Utah decides to go that route, breaking down how a Gobert deal might work for the Hornets, Hawks, Raptors, Knicks, or Grizzlies.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, Snyder, Offseason

Following the Game 6 loss to Dallas that ended their season on Thursday night, the Jazz face an offseason of potential change. Asked after the game about what the future looks like, center Rudy Gobert and guard Jordan Clarkson both expressed a desire to remain in Utah, but acknowledged that decision could be out of their control, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter links).

While forward Royce O’Neale asserted that “this group wants to stay together,” Gobert expressed uncertainty when he was asked whether the current roster has reached its ceiling (Twitter links via Walden).

“I don’t know,” Gobert said. “We have a lot of talent. This year we faced more adversity. I feel like we could be so much better. … You try to ask yourself why we can’t be consistent.”

As for star guard Donovan Mitchell, he said yes when he was asked after the game whether he wants to stick with the Jazz, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. When he was later asked to address speculation about the possibility of him eventually asking for a trade, Mitchell was less equivocal, but gave no indication that such a request is on his mind in the short term.

“My mindset is to win,” he said. “Right now, I’m not really looking at that. I answered (the first) question, and you could take that. But for me, I just want to win, yo. Like, this hurts. And like I said, I’ll think about it in a week and go from there. But right now, I’m not thinking at all about that.”

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Tony Jones of The Athletic expects significant roster changes in Utah this summer, writing that at least one starter will likely be playing elsewhere next season. However, he hears from sources that the Jazz are committed to building around Mitchell and don’t plan to fully blow up the roster. If the team is open to trading Gobert, there are multiple teams that would be interested, but sources tell Jones that the three-time Defensive player of the Year remains “all in” on the Jazz and would like to spend the rest of his career with the organization.
  • Within the same story, Jones says that Quin Snyder‘s future will be determined one way or the other in “the coming days and weeks.” Sources tell The Athletic that Utah’s front office has been happy with the job Snyder has done and that he hasn’t lost the locker room, so if a coaching change occurs, Snyder may be the one instigating it.
  • In his offseason preview for the Jazz, ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) argues that the team should remain focused on building around Mitchell and Gobert rather than breaking them up. While Utah has been hurt by small-ball lineups in playoff series in recent years, Marks says that’s more an indictment of the club’s perimeter defense than of Gobert.
  • Even before Utah’s Game 6 loss on Thursday, Zach Kram of The Ringer contended that it was time for the franchise to admit its roster shortcomings and prepare to shake things up this summer. Kram explores whether it would be in the Jazz’s best interests to consider trading Gobert or Mitchell — or even both.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Mitchell, Gobert, Towns

The Nuggets made two crucial adjustments that allowed them to stave off elimination against the Warriors in Game 4, Kyle Frederickson of the Denver Post writes. Denver got key Warriors players into foul trouble and matched Golden State’s physicality. That gave the team a boost of confidence as it tries to win four straight. “We see they’re beatable,” point guard Monte Morris said.

We have more from the Northwest Division:

  • The relationship between Jazz stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert has improved, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported on his podcast (hat tip to HoopsHype). “I have been told that Donovan and Rudy are in a better place now than they were earlier this year. And that there is a spirit of working together,” Windhorst said. “I know everybody’s counting passes, and that’s not irrelevant. But I have heard going into the playoffs that there was an attempt being made to, ‘Let’s all focus on one goal.'”
  • Not only did Mitchell and Gobert combine for the decisive basket on a lob pass in Game 4, the Jazz also displayed a much improved defensive mindset, Tony Jones of The Athletic writes. “This is who we want to say that we are,” Gobert said. “The challenge for us is to do this every night, every minute. We have to do this with whoever is on the court. We have to play with this kind of intensity.”
  • Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns erupted for 33 points in Game 4 against Memphis and he vows to stay “locked in,” he told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports“I was just determined to force their hand,” Towns said. “I was going to be aggressive and do whatever it took to get the ball. I went about different ways of attacking, different points of attack and different ways of getting the ball in my hands. We all watched tape and we all had to get the job done.”

Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Taylor Jenkins Fined By NBA

12:05pm: Sixers center Joel Embiid has also been fined $15K for publicly criticizing the officiating following a loss on Saturday, according to the NBA. Embiid mockingly applauded the referees as he left the court following a Game 4 loss to Toronto, then sarcastically praised them during his post-game press conference, insinuating they wanted to push the series to a Game 5.

“I’m going to take my own advice and not complain about fouls,” he said, “but like I was doing at the end of the game: They did a great job. I admire the job that they did today. To me, it felt like they had one job coming in here tonight. And they got it done. Congrats to them, tonight.”

11:57am: Jazz center Rudy Gobert was fined $25K by the NBA on Sunday for “using profane language during a live television interview,” the league announced in a press release.

The fine stems from Gobert’s comments in a live, post-game interview following Utah’s Game 4 win over Dallas on Saturday. Asked by Matt Winer of NBA TV about the Jazz’s potential in this postseason, Gobert replied, “Man, f— the talk,” referring to the ongoing speculation about the team being headed for an early playoff exit and a summer roster overhaul (video link).

Meanwhile, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was hit with a $15K fine by the NBA on Monday for his own comments to the media after Memphis lost Game 4 in Minnesota on Saturday. The league said in its statement that Jenkins was penalized for “public criticism of the officiating.”

“In my opinion, one of the most poorly officiated games I’ve ever seen in my NBA career,” Jenkins said on Saturday, noting that many of his starters were in foul trouble from the first quarter onward (video link). “… I’ve never seen a more inconsistent and arrogant officated game.”

Jenkins expected to be fined when he made those comments after the loss, telling reporters that he’d “take whatever hit’s coming my way” in order to protect and advocate for his players.

Marcus Smart Named Defensive Player Of The Year

Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, the league announced today in a press release.

Smart is the first guard to earn the honor since Gary Payton in the 1995/96 season. He’s also the second Celtic to win the award, joining Kevin Garnett (2007/08).

The 100 votes among sportswriters and broadcasters were spread out, reflecting that there was no clear-cut favorite for the award this season. Smart’s candidacy was aided by Boston’s strong finish and status as the league’s top-rated defensive unit. The team allowed the fewest points per game and lowest field-goal percentage.

Smart received 257 points overall and 37 first-place votes. Suns forward Mikal Bridges finished in second place with 202 points (22 first-place votes), while Jazz center and three-time DPOY Rudy Gobert was in third place with 136 points (12 first-place votes).

Overall, seven players received at least one first-place vote, including Bam Adebayo (13), Jaren Jackson Jr. (10), Giannis Antetokounmpo (5), and Robert Williams III (1). Jrue Holiday, Al Horford, Draymond Green, and Matisse Thybulle also earned votes.

The full results can be viewed here.

Smart ranked seventh in the NBA in steals per game (1.68) and tied for sixth in total steals (119). Smart, who signed a four-year, $77MM contract last offseason, ranked among the league leaders in several “hustle” categories, finishing tied for fourth in loose balls recovered (75) and tied for 10th in both deflections (206) and charges drawn (16).