Jazz Rumors

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.

Jazz Sign David Stockton To 10-Day Deal

MARCH 17: The Jazz have officially signed Stockton to a 10-day contract, the team announced.

MARCH 16: The Jazz will sign point guard David Stockton, the son of Jazz legend John Stockton, to a 10-day deal, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski tweets.

Stockton, 26, has played for the G League’s Reno Bighorns this season, averaging 16.2 PPG and 5.3 APG in 39 games. After four years at Gonzaga, Stockton went undrafted in 2014 before ultimately signing a 10-day contract with the Kings in Feb. 2015. He appeared in just three NBA games in 2014/15, averaging 2.7 PPG and 3.0 APG.

Stockton latched on with a pair of international clubs in 2016 but the rest of his professional time in the states has been in the G League with the Bighorns.

David’s father John is the NBA’s all-time assist leader with 15,806. The 10-time All-Star and Hall of Famer spent all 19 of his NBA seasons with the Jazz.

Raul Neto (fractured left wrist) and Ricky Rubio (left knee contusion) are sidelined with injuries, but 22-year-old Dante Exum made his season debut on Thursday. Exum will likely see the most action as the Jazz deal with injuries with Stockton serving as a depth piece.

Northwest Notes: Wiggins, Stockton, Harkless

Despite reports of whispers this week that Andrew Wiggins is unhappy as the Timberwolves‘ third option, the Minnesota guard and head coach Tom Thibodeau rejected those reports, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes.

Wiggins, 23, is in his fourth season with the Wolves but his numbers are down from the past two seasons. The former first overall pick is averaging 17.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG in 69 games. However, Thibodeau denied that the team’s leading shot-taker is unhappy with his role.

“I know Andrew’s character,” Thibodeau said. “There’s no way in the world Andrew is saying any of that, particularly from a guy who’s taken the most shots on our team.”

Earlier this week, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN (Twitter link) said that Wiggins has “whispered to teammates” that he’s unhappy being a third option behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler — who is sidelined with a torn meniscus. “It’s just someone’s word of mouth. It wasn’t no quote from me,” Wiggins said. “Everyone that knows me knows I don’t talk much, I just go with the flow … I don’t whisper. If I say something, I’m going to say it clearly and loudly.”

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • David Stockton, the son of Jazz legend John Stockton, agreed to a 10-day contract with Utah on Friday. The elder Stockton played with the Jazz for 19 seasons, becoming the NBA’s all-time assists leader and 2008 Hall of Fame inductee. Brad Rock of The Deseret News writes that John and the rest of the Stockton family are excited for the 26-year-old and his newest NBA opportunity. “I’m glad to stay out of that,” John Stockton said of his comparisons between him and his son. “He’s his own player and it wouldn’t do him any good to try to be me. He can just be the best he can be.”
  • Having reached 100 three-point attempts on the season, Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless is now eligible to receive a $500K bonus for his three-point shooting percentage, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Harkless will receive the bonus if his percentage is greater than 35%; he’s shooting 37.6% from the beyond the arc.

Dante Exum Available Thursday For Jazz

  • After missing the first 68 games of the season with a shoulder injury, point guard Dante Exum will be available on Thursday night, the Jazz announced (via Twitter). Exum likely won’t play a major role for Utah, but with Raul Neto sidelined due to a fractured wrist, the former No. 5 overall pick should get a chance to see some action.

Dante Exum Practices With SLC Stars Again

  • For the second consecutive day, the Jazz sent Dante Exum to the G League and then recalled him later in the day, the team announced in a press release. The former fifth overall pick is preparing for his return from a shoulder injury by practicing with the Salt Lake City Stars.

What To Expect From Exum; Jazz View Him As Long-Term Piece

With Dante Exum just about ready to make his 2017/18 debut, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune takes a look at what the Jazz should expect from the former No. 5 pick down the stretch. While Exum’s role will likely hinge on how he plays in his first couple games back, he has looked good in practice, according to head coach Quin Snyder (link via Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News).

As Jones notes, Utah could initially have Exum share ball-handling duties with Donovan Mitchell or Joe Ingles when he’s on the court if he’s not 100% ready to run the team’s offense. However, all indications are that the Jazz have confidence in the fourth-year guard and view him as a piece of their future.

Exum will be eligible for restricted free agency this offseason, and given how injuries have hampered his development, a big-time payday seems unlikely. That could work out well for the Jazz, who “certainly” would like to keep him on the roster long-term, writes Jones.

Jazz Assign Dante Exum To G League

  • After assigning him earlier today (as noted below), the Jazz have recalled Exum from the Salt Lake City Stars, according to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News (Twitter link). Woodyard added that the former No. 5 overall pick could play for Utah at some point this week.
  • The Jazz have assigned point guard Dante Exum to the G League, the team announced today in a press release. Exum, who has missed the entire 2017/18 season due to a shoulder injury, is aiming to return to the court later this week, so he’s participating in a practice with the Salt Lake City Stars as part of his rehab process.

Dante Exum Aiming To Return This Week

Jazz point guard Dante Exum is expected to return to action at some point this week, league sources informed Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link).

It’s been another injury-marred season for Exum, who was viewed as the Jazz’s long-term solution at point guard when they drafted him No. 5 overall in 2014. Exum suffered a separated left shoulder and ligament damage during a preseason game in early October.

Exum underwent surgery later that month and began non-contact basketball activities in mid-January. He’s made steady progress since that point and his expected return comes at a good time. Raul Neto suffered a left wrist fracture over the weekend and will miss multiple weeks. Exum could fill the No. 3 point guard role behind Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell.

Exum appeared in 66 regular-season games a year ago, averaging 6.2 PPG and 1.7 APG in 18.6 MPG. Exum will be a restricted free agent this summer if the team extends a $6.62MM qualifying offer. Otherwise, he’ll be unrestricted.

Exum missed the entire 2015/16 season after tearing his left ACL.

Raul Neto Fractures Wrist, Out At Least Two Weeks

Jazz guard Raul Neto has been diagnosed with a fractured left wrist after undergoing an MRI today, the team announced in a press release. No formal timetable has been set for Neto’s return to the court, but he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks, according to the Jazz.

It’s the latest injury for a player who has been plagued by health problems over the last two seasons. After appearing in just 40 games last season, Neto has played in 39 in 2017/18, having been slowed at various times by a concussion and by ankle and knee issues.

When has has played, Neto has been solid in a part-time role for the Jazz, posting 4.6 PPG and 1.8 APG in 12.3 minutes per contest. Utah has performed well when the 25-year-old has been in the lineup — the club has a 27-12 record in those 39 games, and has won 17 in a row when Neto has played.

With Neto sidelined and fellow point guard Dante Exum still on the shelf too, Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell figure to handle point guard duties in Utah, with Alec Burks as a backup option. The Jazz also have an open roster spot, so they could sign a player to a 10-day contract or rest-of-season deal if they have any depth concerns.

Deadline Looming For Disabled Player Exceptions

Teams that still have disabled player exceptions at their disposal for the 2017/18 season have less than a week to make use of those exceptions. Typically, disabled player exceptions must be used by March 10 of a given league year, but since that date falls on a Saturday this year, the deadline is extended until Monday, March 12. If a team doesn’t use its DPE by that date, it will expire.

As we detailed earlier this season in a glossary entry, a disabled player exception can be granted by the NBA when a team has a player go down with an injury deemed to be season-ending. The exception gives the club some extra cap flexibility to add an injury replacement by signing a player to a one-year contract, trading for a player in the final year of his contract, or placing a waiver claim on a player in the final year of his contract.

The deadline for teams to apply for a disabled player exception was January 15. Seven clubs received DPEs this season, with three of those clubs having used them already. Here’s that list:

That leaves just four teams that still have their disabled player exceptions. These four clubs will see their DPEs disappear if they’re not used by March 12:

While it’s still possible that one or two of these teams will use their disabled player exceptions, those exceptions are less useful at this point in the season. The trade deadline has passed, ruling out the possibility of using the DPE in a trade. And any player placed on waivers at this point wouldn’t be eligible for the postseason, limiting the appeal of using the DPE for a waiver claim.

That leaves free agents, and there simply aren’t there many unsigned players out there who would be worth more than the minimum salary. Veterans like Derrick Rose and Tony Allen remain available, but they started the season on minimum salary deals before being waived, so it’s not as if they’d warrant more lucrative contracts now.

Ultimately, it seems likely that the remaining four disabled player exceptions will expire without being used, but we’ll keep an eye on them through next Monday, just in case.