Jazz Rumors

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/23/20

Here are today’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Warriors have assigned Jacob Evans to the Santa Cruz Warriors, the team announced on Twitter. Evans has appeared in 22 NBA contests this season.
  • The Jazz have recalled Juwan Morgan from the Salt Lake City Stars, per the G League’s assignment log. Morgan signed with Utah in late November and is not eligible to be traded before the deadline, as I mentioned in the franchise’s Trade Deadline Primer for SLAM Magazine Newswire.
  • Keldon Johnson has been recalled by the Spurs. Johnson was selected with the No. 29 overall pick in this year’s draft.
  • The Heat have sent Chris Silva to the G League, the team announced on its website. He’s expected to be back with the NBA club before Miami’s contest against Orlando on January 27.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/22/20

Here are Wednesday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the league:

  • The Pacers recalled guard Victor Oladipo from the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the team’s PR department tweets. Oladipo practiced with the Mad Ants as part of his rehab. He’s expected to make his season debut with Indiana next week.
  • The Spurs recalled rookie swingman Keldon Johnson and forward Chimezie Metu from their Austin affiliate, Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News tweets. Johnson has made two cameos with the NBA club this season while Metu, a 2018 second-round pick, has played in 11 games.
  • The Jazz assigned rookie guard Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars, according to the G League transactions log. Oni has appeared in three games with Utah.

O'Neale Has Partial Guarantee In Extension

The fourth and final year of Royce O’Neale‘s extension is partially guaranteed, Tony Jones of The Athletic tweets. The Jazz signed the forward to a four-year, $36MM extension on Sunday. O’Neale’s first three years during the extension, which kicks in next season, are fully guaranteed. He’ll receive $8.5MM in 2020/21, $8.8MM in 2021/22 and $9.2MM in 2022/23, according to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, who notes that the partially guarantee on O’Neale’s $9.5MM salary in 2023/24 will be $2.5MM.

  • O’Neale’s ability to guard four positions makes the extension a worthwhile investment for the Jazz, Ben Dowsett of Forbes.com opines. O’Neale is the fastest player on the team and also the best rebounder other than the team’s centers, Dowsett continues. The forward might have received offers at or above the four-year, $51MM maximum extension Utah could have offered him if the team had allowed him to enter restricted free agency, Dowsett adds.

Jazz Front Office Speaks To Import Of O'Neale Extension

  • After Jazz forward Royce O’Neale inked a four-year, $36MM extension today, Utah GM Justin Zanik and executive VP of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey spoke with reporters, including Aaron Falk of Jazz.com, about the deal. Lindsey spoke to the import of complementary role players like O’Neale as the team builds a contender around centerpieces Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. “It goes beyond Donovan and Rudy,” Lindsey said. “As Donovan’s and Rudy’s decisions come up, they can see a core they can win with and see that we’re serious.”

Royce O’Neale Signs Four-Year Extension With Jazz

12:32pm: The extension is official, the Jazz announced on Twitter.

11:43am: Royce O’Neale has agreed to a four-year, $36MM extension with the Jazz, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The news was confirmed by O’Neale’s agents, Ty Sullivan and Steven Heumann of CAA Sports, who say their client plans to sign the deal today.

The third-year forward is making $1.6MM this season and was headed for restricted free agency this summer. He became a full-time starter this season and is averaging career highs with 6.2 points, 5.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 44.3% from 3-point range. He’s also a defensive specialist who often takes on the opponent’s toughest matchup.

O’Neale went undrafted out of Baylor and played two seasons in Europe before signing with the Jazz in 2017. Wojnarowski notes that he’s the latest success story for a Utah franchise that puts heavy emphasis on player development.

The extension gives the Jazz 14 players under contract for the 2020/21 season, including their first-round pick, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN. The team is $18MM under the projected tax line and still has a $9.8MM mid-level and a $3.9MM biannual exception to work with. Upcoming free agents are Jordan Clarkson, whom the team has Bird rights on, and Emmanuel Mudiay.

After Lengthy Absence, Conley “Ready To Go” For Jazz

After a left hamstring injury caused Jazz point guard Mike Conley to miss 19 of the team’s last 20 contests, the 32-year-old is probable to return to action in a home tilt against the Kings tonight, according to Aaron Falk of UtahJazz.com.

“I’ve been waiting a long time,” Conley told gathered reporters following a Saturday morning Jazz shootaround. “I’m ready to go.”

The Jazz thrived in Conley’s absence, going 16-4 without him, including a recently-snapped 10-game win streak. They are 12-9 with Conley in the lineup.

Expected to be the missing piece that could vault the Jazz into championship contention after the team had been a recent also-ran in the crowded West, Conley has been a disappointment thus far in Utah. He is averaging just 13.6 PPG, his lowest scoring mark since 2011/12, shooting a career-low 36.5% from the field.

“I try to play defense and be an unselfish teammate,” Conley said of his fit when he returns to the floor for the Jazz. “I think it will be easy to conform to what we’ve got going and try to elevate it as much as I can.”

Conley is in the fourth year of a five-year, $153MM contract he inked with the Grizzlies in 2016. He has a $34.5MM early termination option for the 2020/21 season. Given his recent decline with the Jazz, it is probable that he will opt in for the final year.

Checking In On 2020’s Protected First-Round Picks

We’re nearly at the halfway mark of the 2019/20 NBA regular season, with several teams having already played their 41st game. As such, it’s a good time to check in on the traded 2020 first-round picks that have protections on them to get a sense of whether or not those protections will be applied this year.

Of this year’s 30 first-round selections, 10 have been traded, and all 10 have some form of protection on them. In other words, the ’19/20 standings will dictate whether or not those first-rounders actually change hands in 2020.

Here’s our latest look at which of those picks are safe bets to move, which ones will likely be retained, and which ones are still up in the air:

Likely to change hands:

  • Bucks acquiring Pacers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Celtics acquiring Bucks‘ pick (top-7 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Sixers‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Thunder acquiring Nuggets‘ pick (top-10 protected)

It’s safe to say at this point that the Pacers (25-15), Bucks (35-6), Sixers (25-16), and Nuggets (27-12) aren’t missing the playoffs this season, which means their traded first-round picks, which range from lottery-protected to top-7 protected, will be on the move.

Currently, the Milwaukee and Denver picks project to fall near the end of the first round, while the Philadelphia and Indiana selections could end up in the late-teens or early-20s, as our Reverse Standings show.

Unlikely to change hands:

  • Grizzlies acquiring Jazz‘ pick (1-7, 15-30 protected)
  • Nets acquiring Warriors‘ pick (top-20 protected)

The Warriors (9-32) keeping their first-round pick is the safest bet on the board. Not only will that first-rounder land within the top 20, but it appears likely to be a top-five selection. Brooklyn will see the value of that asset decline significantly when it’s officially protected this year, receiving a 2025 second-round pick in place of that first-rounder.

Meanwhile, the Jazz (27-12) would have to finish out of the playoffs for the Grizzlies to get their first-rounder this year. That was always unlikely to happen, even before Utah’s recent hot streak. The protections on that pick will roll over to 2021 and will be identical next year (1-7 and 15-30).

Still up in the air:

  • Celtics acquiring Grizzlies‘ pick (top-6 protected)
  • Hawks acquiring Nets‘ pick (top-14 protected)
  • Pelicans acquiring Cavaliers‘ pick (top-10 protected)
  • Sixers acquiring Thunder‘s pick (top-20 protected)

Usually by this point in the season, we have a reasonably clear idea of which draft picks will be protected, but these four first-rounders are still very much up in the air.

The Thunder (23-17) weren’t considered a probable playoff team entering the season, but they’re comfortably holding the seventh seed in the West for now and project to have the No. 18 pick. Another winning streak or two could move that pick outside the top 20, which would be good news for the Sixers. If the pick is protected this year and Oklahoma City keeps it, Philadelphia would instead receive second-rounders in 2022 and 2023.

Like OKC, the Grizzlies (18-22) are defying modest expectations and hold one of the final playoff spots in the West. If they keep playing like this, there’s no chance their pick will end up in the top six, so it would be sent to the Celtics. But if Memphis doesn’t make the playoffs, there’s always a chance the lottery could push that selection into the top four, where the Grizzlies would keep it. In that scenario, Memphis would owe Boston its unprotected 2021 first-round pick.

The Nets (18-20) are the eighth seed in the East for the time being, and would send their lottery-protected to Atlanta as long as they hang onto a playoff spot. The Hawks would be happy for the Nets to stay where they are, resulting in the No. 16 overall pick. If Brooklyn slips out of the playoff picture and hangs onto its protected first-rounder, Atlanta would almost certainly receive a less valuable pick in 2021 when Kevin Durant returns and makes the Nets a more dangerous team.

Finally, it may seem safe to assume that the Cavaliers (12-28) will keep their top-10 protected pick, but we’re not writing that in pen yet. Even though the Cavs currently have the NBA’s fourth-worst record, only 3.5 games separate them from the 15-24 Timberwolves, who are the league’s 11th-worst team. I expect Cleveland to continue losing as the team shops its veterans, but there are enough bad teams in the NBA that hanging onto their pick can’t quite be considered a lock.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 1/9/20

Here are Thursday’s G League assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

  • The Pacers assigned Victor Oladipo to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for practice as part of his injury rehab, per the team (Twitter link). Oladipo is targeting a January 29 return to action.
  • The Magic assigned swingman Melvin Frazier to the G League, according to the team (Twitter link). Frazier has bounced back and forth between the NBA and NBAGL this season, with 11 appearances for Orlando and three for Lakeland.
  • After re-signing him to a 10-day contract today, the Cavaliers sent Tyler Cook to the Canton Charge, the team noted in a press release. We have more on Cook’s new deal right here.
  • The Clippers assigned rookies Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann to the G League, the club announced today. The Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario are in action on Thursday night and both Kabengele and Mann are in the starting lineup for L.A.’s affiliate.
  • According to the G League’s assignment log, the Sixers sent Zhaire Smith to the Delaware Blue Coats today, while the Jazz assigned Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars.

Free Agent Stock Watch 2020: Northwest Division

Every week, Hoops Rumors takes a closer look at players who will be free agents or could become free agents next offseason. We examine if their stock is rising or falling due to performance and other factors. This week, we take a look at players from the Northwest Division:

Malik Beasley, Nuggets, 23, PG (Down) – Signed to a four-year, $7.8MM deal in 2016
Beasley reportedly declined a three-year extension offer worth at least $30MM prior to the season. Oops. Beasley’s playing time has significantly dropped this season and so has his production. He’s averaging 6.9 PPG and just 1.0 APG in 16.0 MPG. Beasley has been a bigger factor on offense recently, reaching double figures in four of the last six appearances, but he never left the bench against Indiana on Thursday. The prime trade candidate probably needs a change of scenery to restore his value. Denver can make him a restricted free agent but that’s an increasingly unlikely scenario.

Noah Vonleh, Timberwolves, 24, PF (Down) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Vonleh entices NBA teams with his physique and potential but no one has been able to tap into it. At age 24, the 2014 lottery pick has already played for five teams. The way things are going in Minnesota, he’ll probably be looking for a sixth team to take a chance on him. He’ll get you some rebounds but defenses don’t have to respect him on the offensive end. He hasn’t developed a three-point shot, which is a no-no for a young ‘four man’ these days. Injuries led to increased playing time for Vonleh the past two weeks before he sat out Thursday’ game with a back injury. It’s unlikely he’ll remain in the rotation when the T-Wolves get healthier.

Nerlens Noel, Thunder, 25, PF (Up) – Signed to a one-year, $2MM deal in 2019
Seems like Noel has been around for quite awhile but he’s still just 25. He’ll never live up to his draft status (No. 6 pick of 2013) but in shorter bursts, Noel can be quite effective. Noel has been a force off the bench at both ends of the floor, averaging 7.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.4 BPG and 1.1 SPG in 18.7 MPG. He’s even making his free throws this season (79.7%). Noel knows his strengths and finds ways to contribute. He can have a long career in the league as a backup big.

Hassan Whiteside, Trail Blazers, 30, C (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $98.4MM deal in 2016
Going strictly by the numbers, Whiteside is having a bounce-back season after a couple of uneasy years with Miami. During 14 games in December, Whiteside posted a stat line of 16.2 PPG on 63.2% shooting, 15.1 RPG, 1.8 APG and 3.4 BPG in 31.6 MPG. The flip side is that the Blazers have nosedived in the standings with Whiteside as their starting center. As a traditional post man who doesn’t shoot threes, Whiteside will have to take a significant pay cut next season. But his rebounding and shot-blocking prowess can’t be totally ignored.

Jordan Clarkson, Jazz, 27, SG (Up) – Signed to a four-year, $50MM deal in 2016
The NBA went five-plus months without a trade until Utah, seeking more bench scoring, acquired Clarkson from Cleveland for Dante Exum and two second-round picks. Utah is thrilled with the early returns. In his first four games in a Jazz uniform, Clarkson has averaged 15.0 PPG in 23.8 MPG. That lifted Utah to victories over Portland, the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit. Represented by super agent Rich Paul, Clarkson should draw plenty of interest as teams look to fortify their benches in a weak market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Assign Nigel Williams-Goss and Miye Oni

  • The NBA G League website notes that the Jazz have assigned rookie guards Nigel Williams-Goss and Miye Oni to the Salt Lake City Stars, their G League affiliate. Williams-Goss has appeared in eight games for the major league club, Oni has logged time in three.