Rudy Gobert

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 (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.

Jazz Notes: Sefolosha, Exum, Gobert, Stone

As expected, Thabo Sefolosha has elected to undergo right knee surgery and the procedure is happening today, the Jazz confirmed in a press release this week. A weekend report indicated that Sefolosha would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2017/18 season after going under the knife. While the club’s announcement didn’t explicitly confirm that the injury is season-ending, that remains the expectation.

According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), Sefolosha’s diagnosis prompted the Jazz to apply for a disabled player exception in advance of Monday’s deadline. If it’s granted, the club would receive a salary cap exception worth $2.625MM – half of Sefolosha’s salary – that could be used to sign or trade for a player for the rest of the season. Our glossary entry on the disabled player exception goes into more detail on exactly how DPEs work.

Here’s more from out of Utah:

  • Jazz point guard Dante Exum, who has missed the entire 2017/18 season so far due to a shoulder injury, has been cleared for non-contact basketball activities, tweets Jones. Although Exum is making progress toward a potential second-half return, it’s unclear whether the former fifth overall pick will be able to carve out a role in the rotation with Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell handling most of the point guard minutes for Utah.
  • There will certainly be room in the Jazz’s lineup for another player on the mend — Rudy Gobert returned to participate in the non-contact portion of Utah’s practices this weekend, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. The standout center may be back on the court for the club within the next week or so.
  • Utah’s G League affiliate acquired former Clippers center Diamond Stone in a trade this week. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News has the details on the move by the Salt Lake City Stars, which saw the team add the 40th overall pick from the 2016 draft.

Rudy Gobert Diagnosed With Sprained PCL, Bone Bruise

DECEMBER 16, 12:12 pm: Gobert has been diagnosed with a sprained PCL in his left knee and a bone bruise in his tibia, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical (via Twitter). Gobert is expected to miss at least one month.

DECEMBER 15, 8:05pm: The Jazz watched Rudy Gobert fall to another knee injury Friday night, Ryan McDonald of the Deseret News writes. The big man clutched his left leg in pain after tangling up with Derrick Favors and eventually limped to the team locker room ruled out for the remainder of the contest.

The scary moment comes less than two weeks after the big man made his return to the Jazz, having missed 11 contests recovering from a right knee injury.

Although the center hasn’t undergone an MRI, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets that early evaluation suggests it’s a Grade 1 MCL sprain.

Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News tweets that the injury isn’t “too serious” and that it may have just looked worse than it actually was. Woodyard said in another tweet that it certainly isn’t season-ending.

Rudy Gobert Set To Return For Jazz

Jazz center Rudy Gobert is set to make his return to the court, with the team announcing today (via Twitter) that he’ll be available to play in Monday night’s game against the Wizards. Gobert has been sidelined since November 10 with a leg injury.

Gobert, who was diagnosed with a right tibia contusion, is returning to action a little sooner than initially anticipated. On November 12, the Jazz announced that the All-Star big man would be reevaluated in four weeks — that was just over three weeks ago.

It’s fair to wonder if Gobert’s speedy recovery is at least somewhat linked to the incentives in his contract, which ESPN’s Bobby Marks recently detailed. The 25-year-old can earn up to $2MM in bonuses this year, but in order to receive some of that bonus money, he’ll have to appear in at least 67 games. That would mean missing no more than 15 contests over the course of the regular season — Gobert, who was sidelined for 11 games due to his leg injury, would have missed exactly 15 based on his original four-week timetable.

It will be interesting to see how the Jazz manage their frontcourt minutes with Gobert back in the mix. Derrick Favors, who generally starts alongside Gobert when both players are healthy, has seen more action at center lately and has thrived, averaging 16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 1.5 BPG with a .610 FG% during Gobert’s absence. That showcase could help boost Favors’ trade value if Utah decides to shop him before the deadline — the former third overall pick is in a contract year and his long-term future with the Jazz remains up in the air.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Gobert, Favors

While Jazz fans watched Gordon Hayward exit for Boston this summer, rookie Donovan Mitchell is doing everything in his power to help them move on, Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders writes. Mitchell has not only thrived in his first season but stepped up as an immediate core piece capable of making a serious impact on games.

Over the course of the last 11 games, Mitchell has averaged 20.2 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 rebounds. That’s been good enough to help the Jazz win seven of those contests and their last five consecutive.

Scotto writes that Michell’s emergence as a building block for the future will help the franchise turn the page from the Gordon Hayward Era.

There’s more from Utah:

  • There’s a chance that Jazz center Rudy Gobert will be back in action Monday night, Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News reports. Gobert has missed the last 11 games with a knee injury.
  • There’s no denying that the Jazz are built around center Rudy Gobert but Derrick Favors has filled in admirably for his injured teammate over the course of the past month. “I just want to basically come out and show everybody that I’m back. I’m 100 percent now,” Favors told Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. The 26-year-old former third-overall pick (and pending free agent) was once regarded as part of Utah’s future core but he has failed to stay consistently healthy throughout his seven-year career.
  • Several members in the Jazz organization had a feeling that Gordon Hayward wouldn’t be returning to the squad via free agency last summer. As Zach Lowe of ESPN details, center Rudy Gobert took notice when Hayward uncharacteristically stopped responding to text messages prior to his final decision.

Embiid Bonus Could Affect Sixers’ Cap Space

Joel Embiid‘s strong start could lead to a bonus that would affect the Sixers’ ability to compete on the free agent market next summer, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN.

The second-year center signed a five-year extension over the summer that has a base value of $146MM, but could rise as high as $178MM if he reaches certain benchmarks. That includes a hefty bonus if he is named Most Valuable Player or earns first-team All-NBA honors this season. Embiid, who came into tonight averaging 22.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game, is certainly a candidate to make the All-NBA team at center, especially with the injury to Rudy Gobert and the move of Anthony Davis to power forward.

The bonus would raise Embiid’s cap hit from $25.3MM to $30.3MM for 2018/19 and would cost Philadelphia $5MM in cap space for each subsequent year of the contract. The Sixers have nearly $32MM in projected cap room right now, not counting $1.6MM team options for T.J. McConnell and Richaun Holmes, so $5MM could affect their ability to offer a full max contract.

Emiid’s contract also contains a minutes clause that could boost his future earnings. He can make his contract fully guaranteed starting in 2020/21 or 2021/22 if he plays at least 1,650 minutes in three consecutive years or three out of four starting with this season. He has accumulated 532 minutes in 18 games, putting him on pace to reach that figure for this year.

Marks passes on a few other tidbits related to contract incentives:

  • The punch from Bobby Portis that hospitalized Nikola Mirotic has cost the Bulls forward $1MM in bonuses. Mirotic had four benchmarks valued at $250K each, and although each was unlikely, he needed to play 65 games to be eligible and he has already missed 20.
  • Nets guard Jeremy Lin, who played just one game this season before needing knee surgery, missed a chance to earn several bonuses worth $750K.
  • Nuggets forward Paul Millsap has a $500K incentive for making the All-Star team, which is impossible after wrist surgery that will keep him sidelined until after the February 18 game. Millsap had been an All-Star the past four seasons in the East. He also would receive a $150K bonus for playing 65 games and averaging seven rebounds per 36 minutes, but that’s out of reach because of the injury. He can still get $150K if the Nuggets make the playoffs, but for now his cap hit for next season will be cut from $29.7MM to $29.2MM.
  • Gobert took the biggest hit because of injury, which could cost him up to $2MM. The Jazz center, who is not expected back until the middle of the month because of a bone bruise in his right knee, had a pair of $250K incentives based on 67 games played, along with a $500K bonus for being named first team All-Defense and $1MM for making the All-Star game.
  • Hawks center Dewayne Dedmon needs his scoring and rebounding averages to total more than 16 to collect a $900K bonus. He was at 11.1 PPG and 7.8 RPG before his recent injury.
  • The Trail Blazers could see a smaller luxury tax bill if Maurice Harkless continues to struggle with his three-point shot. Currently shooting 24.3% from distance, Harkless needs to reach 35% at the end of the season to get a $500K bonus. If he falls short, Portland’s tax bill will dip from $4.3MM to $3.5MM.

Western Notes: Len, Gobert, Leonard, Rockets

Alex Len has become the odd man out in the Suns’ center rotation and he cannot hide his displeasure, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic reports. Len signed a one-year, $4.2MM qualifying offer with Phoenix after failing to receive an offer sheet that he found acceptable as a restricted free agent over the summer. Len has not played in two of the three last games, as interim coach Jay Triano has decided to ride veterans Tyson Chandler and recently-acquired Greg Monroe“I put in the work hoping to show my skills on the court,” Len told Bordow. “So when you’re not able to help your team, it’s frustrating.” Len’s lack of playing time won’t help his cause when he enters the market again next summer, this time as an unrestricted free agent.

In other news around the Western Conference:

  • Jazz center Rudy Gobert is participating in on-court individual drills at practice, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News tweets. This could be a sign that Gobert, who is recovering from a right knee injury, will return to action sooner than the four- to six-week timetable given on November 12th. Gobert injured the knee in a collision with Heat guard Dion Waiters.
  • Spurs All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard is making significant progress from the right quadriceps tendinopathy that has kept him out of action all season, coach Gregg Popovich told Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express News and other media members. Popovich, who jokingly scoffed at “Doctor” Tony Parker‘s estimation that Leonard could return in two or three weeks, said Leonard would soon participate in 5-on-5 practice drills. “He’s getting very close and making progress,” Popovich said. “He’s having contact now and hopefully we will get him back shortly.”
  • The Rockets are not experiencing chemistry issues because the veterans they acquired know how to blend in, according to Hunter Atkins of The Houston Chronicle. Chris Paul, P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah a Moute know what it takes to work well with others and it shows now that the team is playing at full strength, Atkins adds.