Thabo Sefolosha

Jazz Notes: Team Options, Coaching Staff, Williams-Goss

The Jazz will look internally to improve over the course of the upcoming offseason rather than chase major acquisitions via trade of free agency, general manager Dennis Lindsey said. Ryan McDonald of The Deseret News writes that there are plenty of players on board with room to grow.

Not only will Jazz fans wait with anticipation as Donovan Mitchell rounds out his game for his sophomore season but for returning veterans like Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio to raise theirs for 2018/19, too.

All told, even without making a major transaction splash, it’s conceivable that the vastly improved Jazz take another leap forward next season. Not bad considering that they won’t have the luxury of picking in the lottery this year given their success.

McDonalds writes that one area that the club should be particularly focused on improving is offensive production off the bench. Outside of oft-injured guard Dante Exum there aren’t many players on the current roster who pack a strong scoring punch off the bench.

There’s more out of Utah tonight:

  • When free agency resumes, the Jazz will have to make decisions on three veteran players. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News writes that all of Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh and Jonas Jerebko have team options in their contracts for 2018/19 and will have to wait until July before they find out whether they’ll be back on board for next season.
  • Despite the loss of assistant coach Igor Kokoskov, who will serve as the head coach of the Suns in 2018/19, the impression for now is that the Jazz will return the same coaching staff next season, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune tweets.
  • Draft-and-stash prospect Nigel Williams-Goss, selected by the Jazz with the 55th pick in 2017, has drawn attention from a number of EuroLeague teams for next season, Orazio Cauchi of Sportando writes.

Northwest Notes: George, Mitchell, Patterson

There’s no indication that Paul George has decided what to do as a free agent this season but Brett Dawson of The Oklahoman writes that we’ve already seen a glimpse of what’s possible if he decides to stay with the Thunder and continue to suit up alongside Russell Westbrook.

The scribe writes that the forward’s decision to leave or stay with the Thunder will be seen, fairly or not, as a referendum on playing next to the club’s superstar. George himself lamented that it was a significant adjustment tweaking his game to complement Westbrook’s but the pair would occasionally fall in step and thrive.

George’s first season with the Thunder saw him touch the ball five fewer times per game and also hold possession for less. That’s not all that surprising given that he was necessarily obligated to play off the ball but it could play a role in the decision he makes heading forward.

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Yes, Donovan Mitchell had an impressive rookie campaign, but plenty of other players had solid first years before plateauing. One particularly intriguing perspective that may reassure Jazz fans that they’re not witnessing the next O.J. Mayo is teammate Thabo Sefolosha‘s. “I was a teammate with Derrick Rose when he was a rookie, Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant when they were young in their first two seasons in OKC, and the talent level is right up there with those guys,” the 34-year-old told Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News.
  • There’s no denying that Patrick Patterson is a sharp-shooting veteran presence for the Thunder, exactly what he was expected to be when he signed a three-year, $16MM deal last summer, but declining athleticism limited his ability to contribute off the bench in 2017/18, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes.
  • He may not win the Rookie of the Year award (according to our own staff) but ESPN’s Mike Schmitz believes that Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell has the highest future potential of any of this year’s rookies. Co-writer Kevin Pelton placed him No. 2 behind Ben Simmons but Schmitz raved about the Louisville product’s demonstrated ability to improve upon his weaknesses.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Sefolosha, Jerebko, Udoh

A summer decision on Derrick Favors will shape the Jazz roster going forward, writes Bobby Marks of ESPN. Favors, who has spent more than seven years in Utah, will be an unrestricted free agent after earning $12MM this season. The team received offers for him at the trade deadline, according to Marks, but never came close to pulling the trigger.

Favors played 77 games this year after battling injuries the past two seasons and raised his numbers in points, rebounds and blocks. He was an effective fill-in for Rudy Gobert while the starting center missed 26 games with knee injuries.

The market may work against Favors, Marks cautions, because few teams have significant money to spend and the draft appears to be loaded with big men. He sees a compromise that would keep Favors in Utah for $45MM over three seasons with a 2020/21 player option. Marks notes that would allow the Jazz to use their full mid-level exception on another player – or players – without going over the luxury tax.

There’s more from Utah on the first day of the offseason:

  • The Jazz also face decisions on three non-guaranteed contracts, Marks adds in the same story. After free agent Gordon Hayward left for Boston last summer, Utah signed three veterans — Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh — without the guarantee of a second season. Marks states that their fates will be determined by the free agency pool at their positions, the need to open roster spots and the anticipated cost of keeping Favors. Jerebko and Udoh were barely used in the playoffs, while Sefolosha missed the end of the season with a knee injury and will start next year with a five-game suspension.
  • After becoming a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, “nonstop work” is on Donovan Mitchell‘s agenda for the summer, relays Christopher Kamrani of The Salt Lake Tribune. Mitchell had his left foot in a walking boot during today’s exit interview, a result of an injury that forced him out of Tuesday’s closeout game with the Rockets. “He’s special because he has that look in him that he wants to be the best,” teammate Ricky Rubio said. “You either have it or you don’t have it. He has something. We can enjoy it.”
  • The Jazz plan to use their system as a selling point to free agents this summer, according to Royce Young and Tim MacMahon of ESPN. The pitch will be that players will be put into a role where they can excel, just as Joe Ingles has.
  • Links to today’s exit interviews are available on the Jazz website.

Northwest Notes: Nuggets, G League, Sefolosha

After missing the playoffs by one game for the second consecutive season, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone and president of basketball operations Tim Connelly are tired of going home after the regular season ends. Yet, as reported by Gina Mizell of The Denver Post, there’s reason for optimism, with Connelly declaring that “this is the most confident I’ve felt in our core group since I’ve been here.”

The first order of business for the Nuggets is locking up budding superstar Nikola Jokic to a long-term contract. Jokic actually has a team option worth $1.6MM for next season, but because he was a second-round pick and has been in the league for three or fewer seasons, he becomes a restricted free agent if Denver declines his option, allowing the Nuggets to match any offer from another team.

Both of the Nuggets other young potential stars – Jamal Murray and Gary Harris – are already locked in for next season, meaning the next order of business is re-signing sixth man Will Barton. “We’re hopeful we can get something done,” Connelly said. “(Barton is) our guy. We love him. I think if he’s back in a Denver jersey, it’s good for both him and the team.”

Barton added, “We’re building something real special here.  I love playing with Jok and Jamal and Gary. The guys we have in the locker room, I like being around. The coaching staff has really come a long way with trusting me and me trusting them. Just the whole (Nuggets) organization, I feel like we’re headed in the right direction.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • In more after-season content from the Nuggets, Christopher Dempsey of Nuggets.com relays some of Connelly’s positive thoughts on the Nuggets’ season. “Certainly, when you’re on the outside, looking-in you have to address some needs,” Connelly said. “I think there will be some pretty interesting financial decisions we’ll make this offseason. But standing in front of (the media) now, I finally can say with full confidence that we have a core that can be really good for a long time. They all want to be here, and they are all about the right things.”
  • The Trail Blazers are closing in on setting up a G League team in Beaverton, OR, reports Adam Johnson of Two Ways and 10 Days. There have been suggestions of Seattle as a prime location for a Portland G League team, but it seems the Blazers are looking to bring a potential afilliate closer to home. Nike, the NBA’s new uniform supplier, is headquartered in the Portland suburb.
  • Jazz swingman Thabo Sefolosha may be out of the lineup with injury, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t playing a role against his former team, the Thunder, reports Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. “I try to just help when I see something like offensively, defensively, something that we can do a little differently,” Sefolosha said. “Just whatever I see, I like to communicate, whether it’s with the coaches or with the players, so I try to stay involved as much as I can.”

Nerlens Noel, Thabo Sefolosha Receive Five-Game Suspensions

Mavericks center Nerlens Noel and Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha have each received five-game suspensions for violating the NBA’s anti-drug program, the league announced today. The bans are for marijuana violations, tweets Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

The lottery-bound Mavericks only have five games left in the regular season, so Noel will start serving his suspension immediately and avoid having it carry over to 2018/19. With unrestricted free agency looming for the former lottery pick, it’s possible that Noel has played his last game in Dallas. The suspension will cost him approximately $145K of this season’s salary.

As for Sefolosha, his situation is a little more complicated since he’s expected to miss the rest of this season with a knee injury. The veteran must receive medical clearance before he can begin serving his suspension, so the five-game ban figures to impact his availability at the start of next season.

Sefolosha is under contract for 2018/19, but his $5.25MM salary is non-guaranteed. The Jazz could release him by July 1 and avoid being on the hook for that salary — if they keep him on their roster, they’ll be without him for their first five games in the fall.

Jazz Awarded $2.6MM Disabled Player Exception

The NBA has awarded the Jazz with a $2.62MM disabled player exception for veteran Thabo Sefolosha, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

Sefolosha, who had knee surgery last week, played 38 games for Utah prior to his shelving and has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. In 21.2 minutes, the 33-year-old swingman had posted 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game.

Given Sefolosha’s relatively small $5.3MM contract, 50% of which is allotted through the DPE, the Jazz won’t have a major influx of room to work with. But even a small amount could help facilitate a trade prior to the deadline.

The Jazz currently sit 10th in the Western Conference playoff picture and will be hard-pressed to sneak back into the postseason.

More on the mechanics of the NBA’s Disabled Player Exception.

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.

Thabo Sefolosha To Miss The Rest Of The Season

Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha will have surgery on an MCL injury in his right knee that will sideline him for the rest of the season, tweets Shams Charania of The Vertical.

Preliminary estimates give Sefolosha a recovery time of at least six months, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link), which means he should be ready for training camp next season. A final decision on surgery won’t be made until later this week, adds David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link).

Sefolosha, who suffered the injury in Friday’s game, has been an important rotation player for Utah, averaging 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 38 games. He will have a non-guaranteed $5.25MM salary for next season under the two-year contract he signed with the Jazz last summer.

Northwest Notes: McCollum, Wolves, Sefolosha

In a conversation with TNT’s David Aldridge at NBA.com, Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum discussed his club’s performance so far, his shoe deal with Li Ning, Jusuf Nurkic‘s impact on the Blazers, and several other topics. Among those topics? Portland’s relatively quiet offseason. While McCollum has confidence in the Blazers’ core group, he acknowledged to Aldridge that he did make an effort to recruit Carmelo Anthony when the All-Star forward was on the trade block.

“I mean, I figured why not? Why not recruit someone you think can help your team?” McCollum said. “I just told him the truth. … I told him one time how he could help [the Trail Blazers], and that was basically the end of it. I felt like when someone’s a free agent and you know them and you’re around them, you need to share how you think they can help you and how you think you can help them. They have the right to make their own decision, and I think he’s happy where he’s at, and I wish him the best except when they play us.”

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • After making a series of veteran additions in the offseason, the Timberwolves entered the 2017/18 campaign with the ninth-oldest roster in the NBA. So far, in the view of Jim Souhan of The Star Tribune, that veteran leadership has paid major dividends in Minnesota. Souhan refers to the roster as not only the best in franchise history, but “the most mature.”
  • Speaking of veteran leadership, the Jazz feel like they’re benefiting from the presence of free agent signee Thabo Sefolosha, with coaches and teammates alike referring to the swingman has a strong leader. “Leadership is something that can’t be forced,” head coach Quin Snyder said, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “I think people have to want to follow you. You have to be able to lead them a direction that’s productive and [Sefolosha’s] experience and intelligence allow him to.”
  • After playing just 165 total minutes in his rookie season, Malik Beasley has been a more regular part of the Nuggets‘ rotation early this season. As Gina Mizell of The Denver Post details, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone likes the confidence and aggressiveness he’s seeing from 2016’s 19th overall pick.