Jazz Rumors

Should Mitchell Be Primary Ballhandler?

Northwest Notes: Forrest, Jazz Offseason, A-Rod, Wolves

Sarah Todd of The Deseret News wonders what’s next for Jazz guard Trent Forrest. The 23-year-old spent the past two seasons on a two-way deal with Utah after going undrafted out of Florida State, but his contract was converted to a standard deal on the last day of the regular season.

Although that technically made him eligible for the playoffs, Forrest was dealing with a left midfoot sprain, so the conversion was mostly ceremonial. The front office deferred to coach Quin Snyder‘s preference for the 15th roster spot, and Forrest was rewarded after earning the trust of Snyder, sources tell Todd.

As of last week, Forrest was still experiencing pain while rehabbing the injury and had yet to resume on-court work, but it’s not a long-term concern, Todd writes. Forrest will be a restricted free agent this summer if the team tenders him a qualifying offer worth just over $2MM.

Although he’s considered a strong defender, he knows he needs to work on his shot to have lasting success in the NBA.

This summer is going to be a lot of the same thing,” Forrest said. “I don’t need much pick-and-roll or things like that. A lot of (my work) is just gonna be a lot of left hand finishing and working on my shot.”

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • In a mailbag column about how the Jazz should approach their offseason, Tony Jones of The Athletic says he believes Utah should keep both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and surround them with “bigger, longer, more athletic” players who are significantly better defensively. Juancho Hernangomez and Danuel House — two players who were on the verge of being out of the league — both made a big impact on the club due to their length, athleticism and competitive defense, and Jones thinks the Jazz need several more players in that mold. If he were part of the front office, he says he’d try to trade for a second-round pick in the draft and use the taxpayer mid-level exception (projected to be $6.4MM) to acquire players who meet that criteria. Utah does not own a pick at the moment.
  • After recent rumors that Timberwolves minority owner Alex Rodriguez might be interested in purchasing the Miami Marlins, his PR representative denied the claim. “Alex Rodriguez is 100 percent focused on owning the Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Lynx. Any report of him having interest in also buying the Miami Marlins or any other MLB team is entirely false,” said Ron Berkowitz of Berk Communications (via Twitter). A-Rod and co-owner Marc Lore are set to become majority shareholders of the Wolves in 2023/24.
  • Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News reports that the Timberwolves worked out several draft prospects on Thursday and Friday, including UCLA’s Johnny Juzang, Maryland’s Fatts Russell, Alabama’s Keon Ellis, North Carolina’s Kerwin Walton, and Richmond’s Jacob Gilyard (all Twitter links here).

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:

Quin Snyder Vague On Future With Jazz

  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder was vague when discussing his future during his end-of-season press conference on Monday, but both Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune and Tony Jones of The Athletic noticed Snyder’s willingness to look ahead to the future, which could bode well for Utah. There has been speculation that Snyder, whom the Jazz reportedly want to retain, could decide to move on.

Lakers May Be Waiting For Doc Rivers Or Quin Snyder In Coaching Search

The Lakers‘ gradual pace in searching for a new head coach may be a tactic to see if two prominent names become available. In his latest article for Substack, Marc Stein cites sources who say the team is waiting to find out if Sixers coach Doc Rivers or Jazz coach Quin Snyder will reach the open market.

There has been speculation that Philadelphia might part with Rivers if the team can’t get past Miami in its second-round series. Rivers has a checkered playoff history and recently came under fire for leaving Joel Embiid in the close-out game against Toronto with a 29-point lead. The star center was hit with an inadvertent elbow, fracturing his orbital bone and placing him in the concussion protocol, which forced him to miss the first two games against the Heat.

Rivers still has three seasons and $24MM remaining on the five-year deal he was given when he was hired in 2020, but some observers believe the Sixers would consider a change in the wake of a playoff exit. Rivers has a 100-54 regular season record in his two years in Philadelphia, but his team was upset in the second round of last year’s playoffs and he wasn’t hired by current president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

Snyder has one year left on his contract with the Jazz. Utah is expected to be ready for changes after a first-round elimination, though if a coaching change is among them, it may be instigated by Snyder rather than by the team. He has spent eight seasons with the Jazz, compiling a 372-264 record. There have also been rumors that the Hornets would also consider Snyder in their coaching search if he becomes available.

The Lakers have been without a head coach since dismissing Frank Vogel on April 11. Former Warriors coach Mark Jackson, former Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, Bucks assistant Darvin Ham and Raptors assistant Adrian Griffin have all interviewed for the position.

Examining Whether Jazz Will Stay Competitive, Hernangomez' Future

  • Sarah Todd of the Deseret News examines whether the Jazz will stay competitive in the West beyond this season. Utah lost its first-round series against Dallas in six games, raising questions about whether the team will keep Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert together. The Jazz have made the playoffs six straight seasons, but didn’t reach the conference finals once during that time.
  • In a separate story for the Deseret News, Todd explores what the future may hold for Jazz forward Juancho Hernangomez. The 26-year-old was productive in his 17 regular-season games with Utah, averaging 6.2 points on 51% shooting from the floor and 44% shooting from deep. His minutes were limited in the playoffs, however. He scored a total of 14 points in 56 minutes against Dallas, shooting 5-of-18 (28%) from the floor.

Examining The Trade Market For Gobert And Mitchell

At age 30, Derrick Favors may seem out of place on a rebuilding team, but he said spending this season with the Thunder helped him enjoy the game again, writes Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman. Favors, who was acquired from the Jazz in a salary dump trade last summer, only played 39 games and sat out the final month of the season with back soreness, but he still says the experience was important.

Jazz Notes: Mitchell, Butler, Snyder, Paschall

The 2022 offseason will be the most important of Donovan Mitchell‘s career so far, according to Tony Jones of The Athletic. As Jones writes, the Jazz‘s first-round loss to Dallas showed that Mitchell needs to become more stout defensively and must continue to improve his decision-making with the ball in his hands.

While Mitchell had another strong season in 2021/22, the Jazz will need him to take one more leap on both ends of the courts if they want to become true title contenders, says Jones, noting that the 25-year-old himself seems to recognize as much.

“I wasn’t where I wanted to be this year,” Mitchell said after Utah’s season ended. “And there were times this year when the ball rolled out that we didn’t show that we wanted to be a team with championship aspirations. … I’m looking forward to working on my game all summer, and getting into the gym. I’m looking forward to putting the work in.”

Here’s more out of Utah:

  • After helping Baylor win the national championship in 2021, Jared Butler didn’t have much of a role for the Jazz as a rookie, averaging 3.8 PPG and 1.5 APG in 42 games (8.6 MPG). However, Butler left his exit meeting with the team feeling optimistic that he’ll have more opportunities in 2022/23, writes Sarah Todd of The Deseret News.
  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder underwent hip replacement surgery this week, per the team (Twitter link via Tim MacMahon of ESPN). The procedure had originally been set for June, but Snyder decided to get it done sooner rather than later.
  • Ryan Kostecka of UtahJazz.com takes a look at what’s next for some of Utah’s reserves, including Nickeil Alexander-Walker and restricted free agents like Eric Paschall and Trent Forrest. Paschall said his offseason goal is to improve his outside shooting. “I would love to become a 40% three-point shooter,” said the forward, who made 37.0% of his threes in 2021/22 after hitting just 30.1% in his first two NBA seasons.

Gobert Awaiting Meeting With Brass

  • 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.