Utah Jazz

Jazz Re-Sign Joe Ingles

JULY 25: Three and a half weeks after reaching an agreement with him, the Jazz have officially re-signed Ingles, the team announced today in a press release. The delay was a result of Utah using up its cap room before going over the cap to finalize Ingles’ deal.

JULY 1: Restricted free agent Joe Ingles is finalizing an agreement to stay in Utah, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. The deal will reportedly pay him $52MM over four seasons (Twitter link). There are no options for either side, according to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link).Joe Ingles vertical

Getting Ingles back in the fold could help the Jazz make their case to keep Gordon Hayward, Wojnarowski notes. Ingles and Hayward are close friends and share the same agent, Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports (Twitter link).

[RELATED: 2017 NBA Free Agent Tracker]

Ingles, a 29-year-old small forward, has spent his entire three-year career in Utah. He appeared in all 82 games this season, and while he averaged a modest 7.1 points per night, he showed an impressive ability to make a three-pointer (.441 3PT%) and provided solid defense.

Ingles reportedly had a meeting scheduled with the Nets on Sunday and there was at least one report indicating that the Magic were preparing a significant offer, though a separate report suggested Orlando’s interest was overstated. The Clippers were also planning to meet with Ingles this weekend.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Gordon Hayward Talks Free Agency Decision

Gordon Hayward narrowed his choices down to the Jazz, Celtics, and Heat before deciding to come to Boston. He joined ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on The Woj Pod to discuss some of the factors that went into his decision. Here are the highlights from the interview:

On Miami’s recruiting pitch: 

I think the text I sent to [agent] Mark [Bartelstein] was, ‘Wow, that’s going to be really tough to beat.’ … I asked [my wife] Robyn, and she said something like she could see herself living there and that would be a really great place for us to be. ‘I really liked such and such of the wives and I could have a good relationship with them.’ It was all positive stuff. It was something where it was like ‘OK, now let’s try to just put that aside and go into Boston with a clean slate.’

On the Ricky Rubio trade:

It kind of was a difficult situation because I don’t want to be somebody that says, ‘You go get this player and I’m 100 percent in. If you trade for so and so, you get rid of this guy, you go get him.’ … I didn’t want to make demands because I didn’t know if I was going to end up there. It wasn’t a sure thing. I had told them I wanted to check out these other teams, and that being said, they asked me, ‘How do you feel about these guys?’ and I would tell them and Ricky was a guy that was high on my list.

On his relationship with Brad Stevens:

It’s been seven years since he coached me [at Butler], and immediately, though, he called me July 1, and after that phone call I thought like this isn’t going to be any different. With him, it was one of those things where he made me feel like even if I don’t go to Boston, it’ll be fine and we’ll still have that great relationship and he’ll still be in my corner and he’ll still be rooting for me and supporting me. So I got that feeling, too. We didn’t have a driver. He’s the one that picked me up and the one that drove me to the hotel and we got lost a couple times on the way. All those thoughts were put to bed.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Crawford, Singler, OKC

Russell Westbrook can sign a supermax Designated Veteran Player Exception deal with the Thunder worth over $235MM over six years, which would make him the highest paid player in NBA history. However, money is not the determining factor over Westbrook’s future, Erik Horne of The Oklahoman writes.

For starters, uncertainty surrounding the Thunder’s roster in future seasons makes Westbrook signing a longterm contract uncertain — despite the Thunder being optimistic it will get done. As Horne explains, Westbrook does not have the option to sign another shorter-term pact like he did last year, signing a three-year, $85.7MM extension. As Horne mentions, under the new collective bargaining agreement, Westbrook cannot extend his current deal unless it’s a five-year max: meaning it’s max or nothing.

The reigning Most Valuable Player has set himself up to be paid handsomely — whether it is this offseason or next, when he can hit free agency and pursue other options. Westbrook will earn $28.5MM in 2017/18 but that could prove to be chump change if and when he signs a longterm max deal.

Below are additional notes surrounding the Northwest Division:

  • In separate piece for The Oklahoman, Horne suggests that Kyle Singler may be an optimal candidate for the stretch provision. The 29-year-old has averaged less than four points per game in Oklahoma City in two seasons and is owed $9.66MM over the next two seasons. To save cap space, the stretch provision could stretch out Singler’s salary over seven seasons and open up a roster spot for the Thunder, Horne notes.
  • Once again for the Oklahoman, Horne answers four key questions surrounding the Thunder. Among the burning questions include when 2017 draft pick Terrance Ferguson will sign, if and when the Thunder hires a new assistant coach, if any additional moves will be made, and Westbrook’s aforementioned contract dilemma.
  • Newest member of the Timberwolves, Jamal Crawford, pursued a deal with an up-and-coming contender rather than a perennial championship contender. The 37-year-old briefly spoke to the Star Tribune’s Jerry Zgoda about his decision to sign with Minnesota, stating that it “made sense on every level.”
  • Michael Rand of the Star Tribune looks at five potential free agent signings for Minnesota. On the list are three players who have connections to head coach Tom Thibodeau (C.J. Watson, Mike Dunleavy, and Tony Allen) and two productive veterans (Anthony Morrow and Andrew Bogut).
  • Justin Zanik and David Morway are joining the Jazz as high-ranking front office executives, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (via Twitter). Ryan McDonald of Deseret News breaks down the move and provides information on both men and their ties to Utah.

Ekpe Udoh Returning To NBA, Signs With Jazz

July 20: The signing is official, according to NBA.com.

July 13: Former lottery pick Ekpe Udoh is headed back to the NBA, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who tweets that the big man has agreed to a two-year, $6.5MM deal with the Jazz. Udoh’s agreement with Utah was first reported by international outlet SDNA.

Udoh was the sixth overall pick in the 2010 draft, but failed to develop as hoped in the NBA for the Warriors, Bucks, and Clippers. Appearing in 270 regular season games from 2010 to 2015, the 6’10” center averaged a modest 4.0 PPG, 3.2 RPG, and 1.2 BPG.

In 2015, Udoh headed to Turkey and joined Fenerbahce, with whom he has spent the last two years. The 30-year-old’s play for Fenerbahce helped the club claim back-to-back Turkish League championships. The team was also the EuroLeague champion this year, with Udoh earning All-EuroLeague First Team honors — he was also named 2017’s EuroLeague Final Four MVP.

Upon returning stateside, Udoh will join a Jazz frontcourt that will also be adding Jonas Jerebko, who agreed to terms with the club on Wednesday. They’ll join a rotation currently led by Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors up front.

In addition to reaching deals with Jerebko and Udoh, the Jazz also agreed to sign Thabo Sefolosha this week, so it looks like the team will probably dip under the cap to finalize their new signings. It also appears likely that Boris Diaw will be waived before his salary guarantee date this weekend, though Utah continues to explore trade possibilities.

Jazz Sign Eric Griffin To Two-Way Contract

JULY 20: The deal is now official, with the Jazz issuing a press release to formally announce the signing of Griffin.

JULY 17: The Jazz have agreed to sign forward Eric Griffin to a two-way contract, according to Chris Reichert of Two Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). It’s the first reported two-way deal for Utah.

Griffin, 27, went undrafted in 2012, and has yet to make his NBA debut. However, he has an extensive professional resume that includes stints with teams in Italy, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Israel, and the G League.

This summer, Griffin turned some heads with his performance for the Jazz’ Summer League teams in the Utah and Las Vegas leagues. He averaged 8.7 PPG and 6.0 RPG with a .588 FG% in three games in the Utah league, then recorded 10.8 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.0 BPG, and a .500 FG% in four Vegas contests.

On a two-way contract, Griffin will spend the majority of the 2017/18 season with Utah’s G League affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. However, he’ll be permitted to join the Jazz for up to 45 days as well. For more information on how two-way contracts work, be sure to check out our primer.

Jazz Sign Royce O’Neale

JULY 19, 3:47pm: The Jazz have officially signed O’Neale, per the NBA’s transactions log.

JULY 17, 10:21am: Former Baylor forward Royce O’Neale has opted out of his Euroleague contract with Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas, according to international basketball journalist David Pick (Twitter link). Pick suggests he’s hearing “rumblings” of an NBA contract agreement between O’Neale and the Jazz, while Chema De Lucas of Gigantes Del Basket tweets that O’Neale will get a three-year contract from Utah, with a fully guaranteed first year.

There has been no confirmation out of Utah yet on an agreement between the Jazz and O’Neale, but we heard last week that the 24-year-old was considering multiple NBA offers and had to exercise the opt-out in his Euroleague contract by July 20.

O’Neale, who went undrafted in 2015, played one season in Germany before joining Spanish team Gran Canaria for 2016/17. In 35 Spanish League games with the team, O’Neale averaged 7.5 PPG and a team-high 5.0 RPG. The Texas native played for the Warriors’ Summer League squad in 2016, and was part of the Pelicans’ Summer League team this year.

The Jazz, who have yet to finalize all their free agent signings for the month, should have the cap room necessary to accommodate a three-year deal for O’Neale.

Jazz Sign Thabo Sefolosha To Two-Year Deal

JULY 18: The Jazz have officially signed Sefolosha, the team announced today in a press release. Based on Utah’s other roster moves, it appears the team completed the deal using cap room.Thabo Sefolosha vertical

JULY 12: The Jazz have reached an agreement with free agent wing Thabo Sefolosha, according to Shams Charania of The Vertical, who reports that Sefolosha will sign a two-year, $10.5MM contract with Utah.

Sefolosha, 33, has played for the Bulls, Thunder, and Hawks over the course of his 11-year NBA career. In 2016/17, he appeared in 62 games (42 starts) for Atlanta, averaging 7.2 PPG and 4.4 RPG to go along with a .441/.342/.733 shooting line and solid perimeter defense.

In Utah, Sefolosha will help to fill the gap left on the wing when Gordon Hayward departed for Boston. While he won’t come close to matching Hayward’s scoring, the former lottery pick should help stabilize the defense while players like Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson, and perhaps Alec Burks and Donovan Mitchell take on more of the scoring load.

We’ll have to wait to see how Utah handles its cap situation this year to know how the team is signing Sefolosha. The team’s new deal with Joe Ingles isn’t yet official, and it remains to be seen whether Boris Diaw‘s $7.5MM salary will be kept on the books. Depending on how the Jazz manage their cap, Sefolosha could either be signed using cap room or by using a portion of the club’s mid-level exception.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Renounce Jeff Withey, Tyrone Wallace

The Jazz have renounced their rights to free agent center Jeff Withey and former second-round pick Tyrone Wallace, according to RealGM’s transactions log. The moves coincided with the club starting to make its recent signings official, having formally locked up Jonas Jerebko on Monday.

Withey, who appeared in 51 games for the Jazz last season, doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans for the 2017/18 campaign. Utah selected rookie center Tony Bradley in last month’s draft and has added Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh in free agency, fortifying the club’s depth behind Rudy Gobert. The Jazz could still re-sign Withey if they want to, but they can no longer use his Early Bird rights to do so.

As for Wallace, he was “Mr. Irrelevant” in the 2016 draft, selected with the 60th overall pick a year ago. The 23-year-old point guard spent last season with the Salt Lake City Stars, Utah’s G League affiliate, while the Jazz maintained his NBA rights. Now, however, he’ll be free to sign with any team as an unrestricted free agent.

Removing Withey and Wallace from their books appear to be minor bookkeeping moves for the Jazz. While they won’t have much of an impact on the team’s roster, those moves further signal that Utah is creating as much cap room as possible in order to compete its signings of Jerebko, Udoh, Thabo Sefolosha, and Royce O’Neale. They also signal that the roster is just about full, with no room for players like Wallace to vie for a 15-man spot.

Jazz Sign Jonas Jerebko

Jonas Jerebko verticalJULY 17th, 6:25pm: Jerebko has officially signed per team release.

JULY 12th, 9:25pm: Free agent forward Jonas Jerebko will sign a two-year, $8.2MM deal with the Jazz, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.

The 30-year-old has spent the past two-and-a-half years in Boston. He was part of the Celtics’ rotation throughout last season, averaging 3.8 points and 3.5 rebounds in 78 games.

Jerebko is the second free agent signing of the day for Utah, which reached an agreement with Thabo Sefolosha this morning. The addition of Jerebko is a clear sign that the Jazz intend to part ways with Boris Diaw, whose $7.5MM contract for the upcoming season won’t be guaranteed if he is waived by Saturday.

Utah has multiple options for signing Jerebko, depending whether it chooses to operate over or under the cap. The Jazz are able to fit Sefolosha and Jerebko under the cap and keep their $4.3MM room mid-level exception, tweets Bobby Marks of ESPN.com.

The 6’10” Jerebko, a native of Sweden, made $5MM with the Celtics last season, but seemed destined to go elsewhere as Boston concentrated on freeing up cap space to sign Gordon Hayward. The 39th pick in the 2009 draft, Jerebko spent his first four-and-a-half NBA seasons with the Pistons.

Jazz Notes: Roster, Williams-Goss, Expectations

The Jazz have been busy since Gordon Hayward opted to sign with the Celtics rather than returning to Utah, using their leftover cap room on a handful of smaller acquisitions rather than trying to land a single impact player. Last week, Utah agreed to sign Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, and Jonas Jerebko, and now a reported agreement with Royce O’Neale has also been confirmed by Jazz beat writers.

After finalizing those deals, the Jazz will have 16 players under contract for the 2017/18 season, meaning the club would likely end up having to cut someone who is owed some guaranteed money to get the regular season roster down to 15. That has created some trade speculation in Utah, but according to Jody Genessy of The Deseret News (Twitter link), the club’s recent moves aren’t setting up a potential deal. That doesn’t necessarily mean the Jazz won’t make a trade at some point before the regular season begins, but for now, nothing is on tap.

Here’s more on the Jazz:

  • After reaching an agreement on a two-way contract with Eric Griffin, the Jazz are considering how to use their other two-way slot, and second-round pick Nigel Williams-Goss is a candidate, sources tell Genessy (Twitter link). It appears there will be no room on the 15-man roster for Williams-Goss, so a two-way contract would allow the team to keep a close eye on him while retaining his NBA rights.
  • Despite losing their top scorer in free agency, the post-Hayward Jazz believe they’re capable of surprising in 2017/18, as Genessy details in a piece for The Deseret News. “We have a roster of young, talented and resilient players,” head coach Quin Snyder said. “I am confident that together we will accept this challenge while continuing to strive toward our goal of individual and collective improvement.”
  • Unsurprisingly, the Jazz never considered embarking on a rebuild after losing Hayward, GM Dennis Lindsey tells Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune.
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