Talen Horton-Tucker

Mike Conley Sidelined By Left Knee Strain

5:56pm: Conley could return sooner than two weeks, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. His injury will be reevaluated when the Jazz return to Salt Lake City on Tuesday after the team faces the Clippers on Monday.

4:39pm: Veteran Jazz point guard Mike Conley will miss at least two weeks due to a left knee strain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The franchise is actually relieved the injury isn’t worse. Conley, who underwent an MRI on Sunday, avoided ligament damage during the non-contact injury that occurred after he played nine minutes against Portland on Saturday. Conley said he felt his leg lock up as he tried to get around a screen.

Conley is averaging 10.2 points and 7.9 assists per game for the surprising Jazz this season. He’s battled numerous injuries in recent seasons, though he was able to start 72 regular season games for Utah in 2021/22. During the six previous seasons, four with Memphis and two with Utah, Conley appeared in 70 or more games just once.

Collin Sexton figures to take Conley’s starting spot for the time being, though Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Malik Beasley and even Talen Horton-Tucker could see more backcourt time.

Jazz Notes: Conley Injury, Horton-Tucker, Sexton

The Jazz may have to survive for a while without starting point guard Mike Conley, who left Saturday’s game with a knee injury, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The team is awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the full extent of the damage.

Conley explained to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link) that the injury was non-contact and happened as he tried to get around a screen. Conley said he felt his leg lock up and he did a mental check to determine what was causing the pain. On-court ligament tests were encouraging, Walden adds.

Conley was limping in the locker room after the game, but he told staff members that the media saw him immediately after he was icing the knee. The limp was mostly gone by the time he got on the team plane, according to Larsen.

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • Talen Horton-Tucker finished Saturday’s game at point guard, which Larsen sees as an indication of what coach Will Hardy would prefer to do with his lineup if Conley has an extended absence. Larsen notes that Horton-Tucker has improved his decision-making over the past month, while Collin Sexton can be undisciplined when running the offense. Sexton started the last time that Conley was unavailable and probably expects to fill that role again, so Larsen suggests that he might move into the starting lineup to preserve the team’s “good vibes.”
  • Earlier this week, Conley talked to Mark Medina of NBA.com and admitted that he expected to be traded after Utah moved Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell during the offseason. “Even all the way up to training camp, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Conley said. “I didn’t know who was going to be here, and if I was going to be here or not. Once I knew I was going to be here at least to start the season, I focused on what I needed to focus on and get out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. But while I’m here, I’ll be as good as I can be and help this team as much as I can.”
  • With the best record in the Western Conference at 12-6, the Jazz are no longer in position to consider tanking for a high draft pick, but they may also not be good enough to win a playoff series, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah has enough assets to trade for a star player, but Todd notes that Conley’s contract would almost have to be a part of any major deal and his contributions to team chemistry would be hard to replace.

Jazz Notes: Horton-Tucker, Clarkson, Alexander-Walker, Vanderbilt

This year’s Lakers Night at Dodger Stadium included an unexpected surprise for Talen Horton-Tucker, writes Kyle Goon of The Orange County Register. Horton-Tucker was at the ballpark for the August promotion when news broke that he was being sent to the Jazz as part of a trade for Patrick Beverley. The deal ended his time in L.A. just one season after re-signing as a restricted free agent.

A second-round pick in 2019, Horton-Tucker spent three seasons with the Lakers and earned rotation minutes during the last two. He won a championship ring in 2020 and said he learned a lot by breaking into the NBA on a team with so many established veterans.

“Just being able to be around great players, just coming into the league with an understanding of how to work hard, how to become a star in the NBA,” Horton-Tucker said. “Being able to be around them guys, I appreciate it. I appreciate (the Lakers), too. Just welcoming me with open arms, even (LeBron James) texts me to this day, wishing me luck and stuff like that.”

Unlike the Lakers, Utah isn’t built around stars, especially after parting with Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell in offseason trades. Horton-Tucker believes part of the explanation for the team’s 7-3 start is that so many players are eager to show what they can do.

“I feel like guys are hungry to prove they’re good,” he said. “And I feel like we know that we’re good. We got NBA players. So we feel like we can compete with pretty much anybody. So being able to have a team like that, to have an attitude coming into games adds to everything else.”

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • After seeing Gobert and Mitchell moved, Jordan Clarkson thought he might be next to go, per Mark Medina of NBA.com. Clarkson prefers to stay in Utah, but adds that he doesn’t get fazed by trade rumors. “I don’t really care about that stuff,” he said. “I just come out and hoop. If I have another jersey on tomorrow, I’ll still try to impact the game and try to win.”
  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker played fewer than eight minutes in Friday’s win over the Lakers, but he scored five important points and helped stave off an L.A. run, notes Tony Jones of The Athletic. In a season where he already has four DNPs, Alexander-Walker is learning the importance of taking advantage of whatever opportunities arise. The Jazz traded for him in February, but didn’t give him an extension on his rookie contract, so he’ll be a free agent in July. “I can’t worry about next summer until it gets here,” he said. “Nobody is promised tomorrow, so I think we all have to try and stay in the moment. I’m confident in myself and what I can do. I try to have a Kobe mentality on always being focused mentally. I have great agents that I put my trust in. So, I just want to come out and play hard whenever I have the chance.”
  • Teammates say Jarred Vanderbilt is a “maniac” in his approach to rebounding and compare him to Dennis Rodman, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.

Jazz Notes: Clarkson, THT, Markkanen, Gay, Fontecchio

The rebuilding Jazz have enjoyed a surprising 4-1 start to their 2022/23 NBA season, but still seem likely to trade several of their veteran players prior to February’s deadline. That said, Zach Lowe of ESPN suggested in his podcast The Lowe Post that the team is hesitant to offload 2021 Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson, who has thrived thus far this year.

“I’ve heard the same stuff that other people have reported, that they are just super reluctant to move Clarkson,” Lowe said on the podcast (hat tip to RealGM). ”They’re really fond of him for whatever reason. So, I would peg him as the least likely of all these Jazz guys to get traded.”

The 6’4″ combo guard out of Missouri has stepped into a starting role for the Jazz this season, and is playing well for the team under new head coach Will Hardy. Through five games, Clarkson is averaging 18.8 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.2 RPG and 0.8 BPG. He’s currently posting shooting splits of .452/.429/.769.

There’s more out of Salt Lake City:

  • 21-year-old Jazz reserve guard Talen Horton-Tucker had his first stellar turn for Utah in a 14-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, two-steal performance in a 109-101 win over the Rockets Wednesday. Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune wonders if that game could be the catalyst Horton-Tucker needs to start clicking with his new Utah teammates. “[When] opportunity presents itself, I’ll always be ready,” Horton-Tucker said.
  • Jazz starting small forward Lauri Markkanen has enjoyed a terrific start to his Utah tenure, to which he in part credits a strong EuroBasket performance this past summer, per Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports. Through five games, the seven-footer is averaging 22.0 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 3.0 APG, 0.8 SPG and 0.6 BPG in 35.2 MPG. “I think having that experience this summer, coming in confident, I think I showed, yes, to you guys, but even to myself, that I can do all that stuff,” Markkanen told Fischer. “I was the guy this summer. And carrying that over [to Utah], we’ve got a lineup where everybody can do a little bit of everything. But mind-set wise, I’m trying to have that same approach.”
  • Jazz reserves Rudy Gay and Simone Fontecchio have both been placed in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic (Twitter link). Both will miss the team’s Friday contest against the Nuggets.

Western Notes: Rollins, Horton-Tucker, Valanciunas, Pinson

The Warriors are optimistic that second-round pick Ryan Rollins will be ready for training camp, according to Shams Charania and Anthony Slater of The Athletic.

Rollins, who signed a three-year contract in July, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot shortly after the draft. The Warriors will know more about his status during the next couple of weeks as he ramps up his rehab.

We have more Western Conference info:

  • Talen Horton-Tucker, acquired by the Jazz in the Patrick Beverley deal with the Lakers, failed to develop into a 3-and-D role player for his former club, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune writes. However, the rebuilding Jazz can afford to feature him in more on-ball opportunities and take advantage of his driving ability, where he can create mismatches.
  • Pelicans center and Lithuania national team member Jonas Valanciunas created some concern after a postgame press conference at the EuroBasket tournament but it proved to be a minor ailment, Antonis Stroggylakis of Eurohoops.net reports. He limped his way to the locker room and was visibly in some pain but it turned out to be simply muscle cramps.
  • Theo Pinson was one of the main culprits why the Mavericks were penalized for their lack of bench decorum during the playoffs. Pinson will need more playing time to justify his spot on the roster during the upcoming season, according to Eddie Sefko of Mavs.com. With Jalen Brunson gone, the 6’5” guard could carve out a bench role, as there are signs he could provide a boost with his shooting.

Lakers Rumors: THT, Westbrook, Reaves, Nunn, Carmelo

Before the Lakers traded Talen Horton-Tucker to the Jazz in the Patrick Beverley deal, the Pacers expressed interest in the 21-year-old wing, Michael Scotto said in the latest episode of the HoopsHype podcast.

As Scotto explains, the Pacers were interested in pursuing a deal that sent Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, and Daniel Theis to the Lakers in exchange for Russell Westbrook, Horton-Tucker, and Los Angeles’ 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. However, L.A. has been reluctant to include both of those first-rounders in any deal not involving Kyrie Irving, and wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about swapping Horton-Tucker for Theis.

Although Horton-Tucker is off the table, Indiana remains one of the two most likely landing spots for Westbrook, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic, who says a deal involving the Pacers and Westbrook could involve just one of Hield or Turner — the Pacers still have $30MM+ in cap room and could take on Westbrook’s $47MM+ expiring contract without sending out both players. Still, Buha believes that Utah is a more viable destination for Westbrook than Indiana.

Here’s more on the Lakers from the HoopsHype podcast:

  • Scotto has gotten the impression that Austin Reaves and the Lakers have mutual interest in continuing their relationship beyond the 2022/23 season. Reaves will be a restricted free agent next summer and will be seeking a pay bump on his minimum-salary contract.
  • While Kendrick Nunn has been around the Lakers’ facility and has been working out, his ramp-up process has been slowed than anticipated, according to Buha. Nunn said a month ago that he feels 100% healthy, but the acquisition of Beverley gives the team some extra insurance at point guard.
  • A reunion between Carmelo Anthony and the Lakers remains possible, in Buha’s view, but he believes the veteran forward is more likely to land elsewhere. L.A. still needs more shooting, which Anthony could provide, but also wants to continue to upgrade its perimeter defense, which isn’t one of Carmelo’s strengths.

Lakers Notes: Westbrook, THT, Beverley, Schröder

It remains very possible that the Lakers move Russell Westbrook in a trade before the 2022/23 season begins, but if Rob Pelinka and his front office can’t find a deal they like, new head coach Darvin Ham is determined to “carve out a real role” for Westbrook, Marc Stein writes at Substack.

Sources tell Stein that the Lakers have thus far resisted the idea of taking the John Wall route with Westbrook and having him sit at home while he remains under contract with the team. The Rockets took that approach with Wall last season and spent the season exploring the trade market before eventually reaching a buyout agreement with the veteran point guard this summer, when he had one year left on his contract. Westbrook is entering the final year of his own deal.

As Stein observes, there were indications on social media last week that the Lakers are prepared to incorporate Westbrook if he’s not traded in the coming weeks. LeBron James tweeted that he expects his teammate to “go off” this season, and the Lakers’ official Twitter account included Westbrook in a series of videos and photos of players’ offseason workouts.

Here’s more from Stein on the Lakers:

  • League sources tell Stein that the Lakers initially resisted the idea of trading Talen Horton-Tucker for Patrick Beverley when they started to discuss a potential deal with the Jazz in July, since L.A. wants to get younger and more athletic this season. However, after LeBron signed an extension, the club seemed more willing to shift into win-now mode, Stein writes, which made Beverley a better fit than Horton-Tucker.
  • Stein, who first reported last Tuesday that the Lakers were giving “legit consideration” to the idea of signing Dennis Schröder, says it’s unclear whether the acquisition of Beverley eliminates Schröder as a possibility. The team has a good deal of depth at point guard for the time being, with Westbrook, Beverley, and Kendrick Nunn all in the mix, but if Westbrook is traded, that might re-open the door for Schröder.
  • In case you missed it, we outlined on Friday why it will be challenging for the Lakers to include meaningful protections on their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks if they trade them.

Lakers/Jazz Trade Notes: Beverley, Next Steps, Trade Grades, THT

Veteran point guard Patrick Beverley has had quite the jet-setting summer. He was involved in a second offseason trade today when the Lakers acquired him from the Jazz, who had landed him as part of their return package for Rudy Gobert. Los Angeles sent Utah swingman Talen Horton-Tucker and forward Stanley Johnson in the exchange.

Due to his involvement in that Gobert trade, Beverley couldn’t have be been aggregated with the contract of another player prior to September 6 this year, when his aggregate restriction expires. However, as Bobby Marks of ESPN (YouTube video link) notes, the Jazz didn’t have to wait until September to move Beverley because he was traded on his own in the deal with the Lakers.

Marks opines that the 6’4″ Horton-Tucker – whom Marks considers essentially a small forward more than a shooting guard – and the 6’6″ Johnson, who played mostly at power forward with L.A., are the better players in the deal and says their athletic upside is worth the risk for the Jazz. However, Marks believes that, as long as he is able to stay healthy, Beverley will be a better fit with Los Angeles than Horton-Tucker or Johnson proved to be.

Here’s more news and notes following the deal:

  • In the wake of the Beverley trade, HoopsHype’s Yassi Gozlan considers possible next steps for both the Lakers and Jazz. Gozlan views Russell Westbrook as the next potential trade domino to fall in L.A., and expects Utah to consider offloading other veterans on its roster.
  • Both the Jazz and the Lakers benefited from the deal, per Zach Harper of The Athletic, who grades both clubs on the transaction. He notes that, in Beverley, the Lakers are adding a proven veteran poised to reinvigorate the club with contributions that go beyond the box score. On the Utah side of the equation, Harper writes that the Jazz are essentially banking on the 21-year-old Horton-Tucker’s potential.
  • Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated also weighed in with his own trade-grade column, giving both clubs mediocre, passing scores.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker will get plenty of opportunities to play with the ball in his hands in Utah, which could be the best use of his unique skill set and physical gifts, opines Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Horton-Tucker was a clunky fit in Los Angeles as a below-average three-point shooter who failed to consistently defend at a high level. As an athletic creator, Horton-Tucker has shown flashes of intrigue with his drive-and-kick playmaking. The Jazz will be able to give him more time to develop and improve in his current areas of strength, away from the win-now pressures of L.A.

Jazz Trade Patrick Beverley To Lakers

2:10pm: The trade is now official, the Jazz announced in a press release.

5:39am: The Lakers and Jazz are finalizing a trade that will send guard Patrick Beverley to Los Angeles in exchange for Talen Horton-Tucker and Stanley Johnson, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the deal is on track to be completed on Thursday.

Beverley, 34, is a talented perimeter defender who can be a positive contributor on offense as well. He helped get the Timberwolves back to the playoffs last season, averaging 9.2 points, 4.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per game in 58 appearances (25.4 MPG). He’s also a career 37.8% three-point shooter across 10 NBA seasons.

Beverley, who is on an expiring $13MM contract, was traded from Minnesota to Utah as part of the Rudy Gobert blockbuster last month. However, he was always viewed as a candidate to be flipped to a new team, given that the Jazz are in retooling mode.

According to Wojnarowski, Beverley – who was in Los Angeles as a Clipper from 2017-21 – was enthusiastic about the idea of joining the Lakers in a trade and was “thrilled” to learn of the agreement between L.A. and Utah.

The Lakers had long been viewed as a potential suitor for Nets point guard Kyrie Irving, who was considered the team’s top trade target this offseason. However, once Kevin Durant withdrew his trade request and it became clear that Irving would likely remain in Brooklyn, Los Angeles pivoted to acquiring another point guard without having to include Russell Westbrook and draft compensation in the deal.

Johnson, who is on an expiring minimum-salary contract for 2022/23, is an NBA journeyman, so Horton-Tucker is the centerpiece of the package headed to Utah. The former second-round pick had an up-and-down 2021/22 season for the Lakers, averaging 10.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 2.7 APG in 60 games (25.2 MPG), but struggling to score efficiently, with a modest shooting line of .416/.269/.800.

Horton-Tucker is still only 21 years old, so the Jazz presumably view the athletic wing as a player with some untapped potential. He’s under contract for $10.26MM in 2022/23, with an $11.02MM player option for the ’23/24 season.

Both the Lakers and Jazz are candidates to make additional deals before the season begins.

L.A. still has Westbrook and its 2027 and 2029 first-round picks to dangle in trade discussions, and the idea of making a play for the Pacers duo of Buddy Hield and Myles Turner is even more intriguing now that the club has fortified its backcourt by agreeing to acquire Beverley. For now, the Lakers have $34MM in cap room for the summer of 2023, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link), which will be a factor the team considers as its weighs additional trades.

In Utah, meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell remains a trade candidate, and the Jazz would likely be open to discussing deals involving veterans like Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Malik Beasley, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gay as well.

Lakers Notes: James, Westbrook, Trade Options, Randle, Horton-Tucker, Walker

LeBron James became eligible on Thursday to sign a one- or two-year contract extension. While the Lakers and James have next June 30 — the day before James would become an unrestricted free agent — to reach an agreement, ESPN’s Dave McMenamin indicated on NBA Today that there’s mutual interest in getting an extension done (video link).

“All signs point toward both sides looking to extend their partnership together,” McMenamin said, adding “Overall, both sides recognize they can help one another get to their mutual goal, which is to compete at a high level and stay relevant.”

James and his representative, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, met with Lakers GM Rob Pelinka and head coach Darvin Ham at the team’s practice facility on Thursday. Paul told McMenamin that they were “productive talks” and he “expects them to continue.”

We have more on the Lakers:

  • The start of training camp could be a soft deadline to trade Russell Westbrook, according to Jovan Buha of The Athletic. Buha says both sides would like to avoid the massive off-court distraction of a media circus constantly speculating about Westbrook’s future.
  • In the same mailbag piece, Buha indicates that, for now at least, the Pacers seem more willing to get a Westbrook deal done than the Nets or another other possible suitor.
  • Despite issues of spacing and long-term contract concerns, Julius Randle would still be a better fit with James and Anthony Davis than Westbrook as a third star, Buha argues. However, Westbrook is mainly a fallback option for the Knicks if they’re unable to acquire Donovan Mitchell.
  • Talen Horton-Tucker isn’t likely to be a regular member of the team’s rotation due to his skill set, in Buha’s view. His primary strengths are ballhandling and shot creation and the team already has plenty of players who can provide that.
  • Free agent acquisition Lonnie Walker will fill Malik Monk‘s former role of instant offense off the bench, Buha adds. Walker is a streaky shooter but shot selection and defense are concerns.