Udoka Azubuike

Jazz Rumors: Lindsey, Snyder, Azubuike, Wade, Ainge, Battier

Dennis Lindsey‘s transition from his executive VP of basketball operations position with the Jazz into an advisory role was framed as Lindsey’s call, but it was more of an ownership decision, according to Andy Larsen and Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

As Larsen and Walden explain in an in-depth story, new Jazz owner Ryan Smith is making some changes to the front office — director of pro player personnel David Fredman was also told this week that his contract isn’t being renewed.

One factor in the decision to reassign Lindsey was a “long-running disconnect” between the executive and head coach Quin Snyder, per the Tribune’s report. According to Larsen and Walden, Lindsey and Snyder had numerous disagreements both on and off the court, including not seeing eye to eye on rotation and roster decisions. Snyder – along with many members of the front office – were frustrated by the selection of Udoka Azubuike in the first round of the 2020 draft, per Larsen and Walden.

Given Utah’s success during the 2020/21 season, Lindsey and Snyder were on better terms during the last year, but several people in the organization still felt that this week’s announcement reflected a feud being settled. “Quin won,” one source told The Tribune.

Here’s more on the Jazz’s front office shakeup:

  • While Lindsey is now an advisor in the Jazz’s front office, there’s an expectation that he’ll seek a job with another team, according to Larsen and Walden.
  • Dwyane Wade has “added his voice” to front office discussions, but isn’t taking a day-to-day role in basketball and roster decisions, per Larsen and Walden.
  • If former Celtics executive Danny Ainge joins the Jazz, it will likely be in an advisory role, says Tony Jones of The Athletic.
  • Jones, Larsen, and Walden all say more front office additions are expected. Multiple reporters, including Jones, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald suggest that Wade’s former teammate Shane Battier is one candidate to join the basketball operations department. Battier worked in the Heat’s front office from 2017-21, but recently left that position and is now just a consultant for Miami.

Olympic Notes: Spain, Simmons, Nigeria, Turkey, Garland

Veteran center Pau Gasol, who has represented Spain in four Olympic tournaments so far, remains on track to be part of the team in Tokyo, per an Associated Press report. Gasol was one of 18 players included on Spain’s preliminary roster for the Tokyo games, joining his brother – Lakers center Marc Gasol – and Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio.

Timberwolves forward Juan Hernangomez, Pelicans big man Willy Hernangomez, and projected first-round pick Usman Garuba are among the other notable names on Spain’s preliminary roster, according to The Associated Press.

Here’s more on the Tokyo Olympics:

Western Notes: Porzingis, Spurs, Hollins, Azubuike

Having disputed a Bleacher Report story that indicated the Mavericks have gauged the trade market to get a sense of Kristaps Porzingis‘ value, team owner Mark Cuban also took exception to a specific part of Jake Fischer’s report.

Fischer cited one Western Conference executive who described Porzingis as looking like a “scarecrow” on defense and who added, “I’m not sure the guy can guard anybody.” That quote didn’t sit well with Cuban, who expressed his displeasure to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

“We are not happy that there is a supposed ‘Western Conference exec’ ripping on one of our players,” Cuban said. “There is no trade discussion. I think they just used it as a way to put out there what they think of KP.”

Here’s more from around the West:

  • There’s no exact timeline for the return of the five Spurs players who are sidelined due to the health and safety protocols, head coach Gregg Popovich said on Monday night. “Each one is a little bit different,” Popovich said, per Tom Osborn of The San Antonio Express-News (Twitter link). “It depends on the testing they do. So, I think a few more days, the quarantine period ends, but then there are a couple more days of more tests to see how it has affected them.”
  • Lakers assistant Lionel Hollins missed Monday’s game for personal reasons and isn’t traveling to Utah for Wednesday’s game either, tweets Dave McMenamin of ESPN.
  • The Jazz have recalled Udoka Azubuike from the G League, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The rookie center recently suffered a severe ankle sprain while playing for the Salt Lake City Stars and isn’t expected to be available anytime soon, so it seems he’ll move to the NBA squad while he continues his recovery.

Western Notes: J. Smith, Pelicans, Thomas, Azubuike

With no minutes available for rookie big man Jalen Smith in the Suns‘ rotation, the team has opted to send him to the G League. The Northern Arizona Suns aren’t in action this season, so Smith will join the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario, Los Angeles’ affiliate, via the flexible-assignment rule, as the Clippers announced today.

Smith, who dealt with COVID-19 earlier in the season, has appeared in just eight games for the Suns so far, logging 50 total minutes. While the Clippers’ affiliate won’t necessarily showcase him like Phoenix’s own affiliate would, 2020’s No. 10 overall pick should still see regular playing time during his NBAGL assignment.

Here’s more from around the Western Conference:

  • Following a four-game winning streak, the Pelicans have now dropped three consecutive contests, all to sub-.500 teams. The slump has head coach Stan Van Gundy considering changes to the team’s rotation, per Christian Clark of NOLA.com. “I think now we have to take a look at who we’re playing and how many minutes and what rotations and figure out if there is a way that we can play better defense,” Van Gundy said. “But, I’m being honest with you, I don’t know how many of our guys really have a defensive mentality.”
  • After being waived by the Rockets on Friday, Brodric Thomas has joined Houston’s G League affiliate, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (Twitter link). The Rockets promoted Ray Spalding from the Vipers’ roster to fill Thomas’ two-way contract slot, so the two players essentially swapped places.
  • Jazz rookie Udoka Azubuike suffered a severe right ankle sprain during the first game of the Salt Lake City Stars’ season in the G League bubble last week and will be sidelined indefinitely, as Sarah Todd of The Deseret News writes.

G League Notes: Kuminga, Green, Azubuike, Lin

Projected lottery pick Jonathan Kuminga made a strong impression today in his first professional game, writes Brian Martin of the G League’s website. Playing for the G League Ignite, Kuminga registered 19 points, four assists, two rebounds and two blocks in 33 minutes. The 18-year-old also swatted away a shot in the final seconds to help the Ignite pick up a victory in their first-ever game.

“I wasn’t impressed because I see it every day in practice,” Ignite coach Brian Shaw said. “It’s what I expect; it’s what I see every day. He does a lot for us and you guys are just seeing the beginning of what he can do.”

Kuminga was considered one of the top high school players in the country, but he opted to develop his game in the G League rather than college basketball. He is projected as the fifth overall pick in the latest mock draft from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz.

There’s more from the first day of G League action:

  • Team Ignite’s Jalen Green, who is tabbed as the third selection by ESPN, also had a strong debut after overcoming a slow start, Martin adds in the same story. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds, but most of that came after halftime. “Jalen pressed a bit; he was trying too hard, which is natural,” Shaw said. “In having conversations with him about how other teams are gunning for him based on the attention he’s getting. I expect him to bounce back from this game and have a better game next game.”
  • Center Udoka Azubuike, a first-round pick by the Jazz in November, was carried off the court on a stretcher after suffering a leg injury in today’s Salt Lake City Stars game, according to Brandon Judd of The Deseret News. No immediate details were provided on the severity of his injury. Azubuike appeared in 12 games for Utah before the G League season began.
  • The odds are against Jeremy Lin returning to the NBA, no matter how he performs in the G League, contends Dieter Kurtenbach of The San Jose Mercury News. Lin had 18 points and five assists in his first game with the Santa Cruz Warriors, but he’s 32 and Kurtenbach notes that teams are more likely to take chances on younger players.

G League Assignments: Pokusevski, Oturu, Magnay, Azubuike, Forrest

Thunder rookie big man Aleksej Pokusevski has averaged 17.4 minutes per game in 17 appearances but he’s headed to Orlando to join the G League’s Oklahoma City Blue, according to Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. The 17th overall pick, who played 20 minutes in a blowout loss to Houston on Monday, is shooting just 24.7% from the field and the team wants him to develop his offensive game.

Guard Ty Jerome and two-way players Moses Brown and Josh Hall are also going to Orlando. “A lot of time and effort has gone into deciding who to send and when to send them,” Thunder head coach Mark Daigneault said. “We felt like sending the four of them together, all for different reasons developmentally, was the best decision.”

We have more G League transactions from Western Conference clubs:

  • The Clippers assigned rookie big man Daniel Oturu to the Agua Caliente Clippers, according the RealGM transactions log. Oturu has appeared in 10 NBA games this season but has only averaged 4.2 MPG. He’s only gotten on the court once since January 22 and the organization wants Oturu to get some extended playing time during the bubble season in Orlando.
  • The Pelicans have transferred two-way player Will Magnay to the Erie BayHawks, the Pelicans’ PR department tweets. The 22-year-old rookie power forward out of Tulsa, who played in Australia last season, has not appeared in a game this season.
  • The Jazz duo of rookie center Udoka Azubuike and Trent Forrest are joining the Salt Lake City Stars, the G League team tweets. Azubuike, the team’s first-round pick out of Kansas, has made 12 limited appearances this season. Forrest, an undrafted guard out of Florida State, has played in two NBA games.

Jazz Notes: Gobert, Favors, Bogdanovic, Azubuike

Asked today during a media session about the possibility of signing Rudy Gobert to a contract extension in the coming weeks, Jazz executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey declined to offer any specifics, but suggested the team would be happy to get something done.

We don’t comment on past, present or future negotiations, but we love Rudy,” Lindsey said, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon (Twitter link). “We want Rudy to be here for the rest of his career.”

Tony Jones of The Athletic, who has said repeatedly that Gobert and the Jazz are actively discussing a new contract, reiterated that point today (Twitter link).

Gobert is eligible to sign an extension anytime before he reaches free agency during the summer of 2021, though if the Jazz are willing to give the All-Star center a super-max deal starting at 35% of the cap (which seems unlikely), they’ll have to get it done by December 21.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • Lindsey said today that the Jazz’s decision to bring back Derrick Favors in free agency was motivated by feeling undersized defensively last season against teams with multiple big men, such as the Lakers (Twitter link via Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune).
  • Bojan Bogdanovic‘s recovery from wrist surgery is progressing well, according to Lindsey, who said the team will decide in about a week whether the veteran forward is ready to progress to contact workouts (Twitter link via Walden).
  • Addressing Utah’s decision to use the No. 27 pick in the draft on Udoka Azubuike, Lindsey said the team took the “best player available” route (Twitter link via Walden). The Jazz’s analytics models ranked the former Kansas center as the second-best prospect in the draft, while the club’s scouts ranked him in the top 10, Lindsey added.
  • Tony Jones of The Athletic provides a training camp primer for the Jazz, discussing Gobert’s contract situation, Donovan Mitchell‘s new extension, and the club’s goal of getting back into the top 10 for overall team defense in 2020/21.

Jazz Sign Draft Picks Azubuike, Hughes

NOVEMBER 25: Hughes signed a two-year, minimum-salary deal that will be fully guaranteed, per ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Twitter link).


NOVEMBER 24: The Jazz have signed first-round pick Udoka Azubuike and second-rounder Elijah Hughes, according to a team press release.

Selected 27th overall, the 7-foot Azubuike was a four-year collegiate player at Kansas. He posted averages of 13.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG and 2.6 BPG in 31 games as a senior en route to being named Big 12 Player of the Year.

Assuming Azubuike received 120% of the rookie scale amount, he’ll make $1.977MM in his first season and a total of $10.15MM over four seasons. Hughes will likely get the $898,310 minimum salary for a first-year player.

Hughes, a small forward who played for Syracuse, was drafted with the 39th overall pick that Utah acquired on draft night. He led the ACC in scoring last season at 19.0 PPG to go along with 4.9 RPG, 3.4 APG and 1.2 SPG.

Draft Notes: Ball, Edwards, Maxey, Yurtseven, More

LaMelo Ball, a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, reportedly met virtually with New York and Golden State earlier in the year and had an in-person visit with the Timberwolves this week. He’s also expected to meet with the Hornets, Bulls, and Warriors (again) next week.

While Ball has been getting familiar with the teams at the very top of the draft, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer said during an appearance on Sports Radio WFNZ this week that he has heard from multiple sources that Ball “is not performing very well at job interviews.”

“He is not improving his perception via job interview,” Bonnell said, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports. “There are people drafting later in the top ten who were not preparing for the possibility of Ball still being around. And I’m not saying that he will not be a top-three pick. I am saying that I know for a fact that there are teams later in the top ten who are doing more research on him, because they no longer think it’s a given he will.”

With the 2020 NBA draft less than three weeks away, we’re knee-deep in smokescreen season, so it’s difficult to know how seriously to take reports like these. Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic dug into the “art of subterfuge” in a new article, noting that the Timberwolves and Warriors – both of whom are said to be interested in trading down – are taking different approaches during the pre-draft process.

While Golden State has been rumored to have real interest in over a half-dozen prospects, Minnesota has been very tight-lipped about the No. 1 pick. In each case, teams that might be interested in trading up haven’t been able to get a clear sense of whether or not the Wolves or Warriors will take the player they want.

Here’s more on the draft:

  • NBA scouts and executives weren’t allowed to be in the gym for the televised Pro Day for Anthony Edwards and Tyrese Maxey on Thursday, as Marc Berman of The New York Post writes. A source tells Berman that some agents were unhappy with the setup, feeling as if it was “unwarranted exposure” for Rich Paul‘s clients. The Knicks were among the teams watching the event on TV, Berman adds.
  • Former Georgetown big man Omer Yurtseven has had virtual meetings with 19 teams, he told Keith Smith of RealGM. However, he’s disappointed he hasn’t got a chance to conduct in-person workouts for all those clubs. “It’s been tough to not be able to work out directly for teams,” Yurtseven said. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on my lateral quickness. I know I needed to be quicker to play in the NBA. I worked on that a lot and can’t wait to show teams.”
  • Eamonn Brennan of The Athletic identifies five prospects he thinks are sleepers in the 2020 draft, including Kansas center Udoka Azubuike, Michigan State guard Cassius Winston, and Charleston guard Grant Riller.

LaMelo Ball Headlines List Of Draft Combine Participants

Potential No. 1 overall pick LaMelo Ball will be among the prospects participating in the revamped virtual draft combine this week, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Ball is scheduled to take part in team interviews and a media session this week, but may not participate in any other portion, Jeremy Woo of SI.com cautions (via Twitter).

While Ball’s participation might be limited, many of this year’s other top prospects aren’t taking part in the event at all. As Woo points out (via Twitter), Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, Cole Anthony, Aaron Nesmith, Devin Vassell, and Saddiq Bey are among the players who don’t appear on the list of participants sent out by the NBA.

The list of top prospects besides Ball who will be participating in the event includes Precious Achiuwa, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton, RJ Hampton, Killian Hayes, Theo Maledon, and Isaac Okoro, among others.

Here’s the full list of combine participants, via Charania:

  1. Precious Achiuwa, F, Memphis
  2. Ty-Shon Alexander, G, Creighton
  3. Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)
  4. Udoka Azubuike, C, Kansas
  5. LaMelo Ball, G, Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
  6. Desmond Bane, G, TCU
  7. Tyler Bey, F, Colorado
  8. Vernon Carey Jr., C, Duke
  9. Yoeli Childs, F, BYU
  10. Mamadi Diakite, F, Virginia
  11. Devon Dotson, G, Kansas
  12. Paul Eboua, F, VL Pesaro (Italy)
  13. CJ Elleby, F, Washington State
  14. Malachi Flynn, G, San Diego State
  15. Trent Forrest, G, Florida State
  16. Josh Green, G/F, Arizona
  17. Ashton Hagans, G, Kentucky
  18. Tyrese Haliburton, G, Iowa State
  19. Josh Hall, F, Moravian Prep
  20. RJ Hampton, G, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand)
  21. Jalen Harris, G, Nevada
  22. Killian Hayes, G, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)
  23. Markus Howard, G, Marquette
  24. Elijah Hughes, G/F, Syracuse
  25. Isaiah Joe, G, Arkansas
  26. Mason Jones, G, Arkansas
  27. Tre Jones, G, Duke
  28. Nathan Knight, F/C, William & Mary
  29. Kira Lewis, G, Alabama
  30. Theo Maledon, G, ASVEL (France)
  31. Karim Mane, G, Vanier College (Canada)
  32. Nico Mannion, G, Arizona
  33. Naji Marshall, F, Xavier
  34. Kenyon Martin Jr., F, IMG Academy
  35. Skylar Mays, G, LSU
  36. Jaden McDaniels, F, Washington
  37. Sam Merrill, G, Utah State
  38. Zeke Nnaji, F, Arizona
  39. Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville
  40. Isaac Okoro, F, Auburn
  41. Daniel Oturu, C, Minnesota
  42. Reggie Perry, F, Mississippi State
  43. Myles Powell, G, Seton Hall
  44. Payton Pritchard, G, Oregon
  45. Immanuel Quickley, G, Kentucky
  46. Jahmi’us Ramsey, G, Texas Tech
  47. Paul Reed, F, DePaul
  48. Nick Richards, F/C, Kentucky
  49. Grant Riller, G, Charleston
  50. Jay Scrubb, G, John A. Logan College
  51. Jalen Smith, F, Maryland
  52. Cassius Stanley, G, Duke
  53. Lamar Stevens, F, Penn State
  54. Isaiah Stewart, F/C, Washington
  55. Tyrell Terry, G, Stanford
  56. Xavier Tillman, F/C, Michigan State
  57. Kaleb Wesson, F/C, Ohio State
  58. Kahlil Whitney, F, Kentucky
  59. Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State
  60. Robert Woodard II, F, Mississippi State

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA is unable to hold its typical in-person draft combine this year, but the league has put together an alternative combine that will feature interviews through videoconferencing as well as the making of “pro day” videos, which will include strength and agility testing, anthropometric measurements, and shooting drills. Participants will also undergo medical testing and exams.

For more details on this year’s combine, be sure to check out our full story on the changes.