Jazz Rumors

Western Notes: Lowry, Covington, Rockets

The Jazz saw Gordon Hayward walk away after the 2016/17 campaign but he wasn’t the only star the team had an eye on that offseason. Utah spoke with Kyle Lowry‘s representatives during the summer of 2017 and the organization felt confident that it could sign Lowry, sources tell Andy Larsen and Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune.

The front office decided to pull out of the Lowry sweepstakes because signing the point guard would have required the team to use the cap space it had planned to use for Hayward. Lowry ended up re-signing with Toronto on a three-year pact.

Here’s more from the Western Conference:

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/13/18

Here are Tuesday’s assignments and recalls from around the NBA:

Mitchell Has Allowed Franchise To Turn Page

Donovan Mitchell‘s emergence as a potential superstar allowed the Jazz to quickly move on from the loss of Gordon Hayward in free agency, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN examines in a post on Hayward’s return to Utah on Friday. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey and coach Quin Snyder felt they could retool the roster and become a playoff contender again but had no idea Mitchell would emerge as a franchise player in his rookie year, Wojnarowski continues. Mitchell provides the Jazz with a selling point to recruit another star in free agency and he’s well on his way to a max contract extension in 2020, Wojnarowski adds.

  • Floor spacing, 3-point shooting and defensive intensity have been areas of concern for the Jazz. The Thunder continue to deal with outside shooting woes. David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders takes a closer look at issues involving each Northwest club.

NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 11/8/18

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

  • The Pistons recalled forward Henry Ellenson and guard Khyri Thomas from the Grand Rapids Drive, the team announced in a press release. Ellenson has averaged 21.3 points in three games for the Drive, while Thomas has averaged 19 points in three games.
  • The Thunder assigned and later recalled forward Abdel Nader from the Oklahoma City Blue, the team’s G League affiliate. Nader has played six minutes in three games with the Thunder this season.
  • The Spurs announced they have assigned forward Chimezie Metu to the Austin Spurs in the G League. Metu was drafted 49th overall in 2018 by San Antonio.
  • The Jazz assigned Tony Bradley to the Salt Lake City Stars (Twitter link). Bradley is in his second season with Utah.

NBA Trade Candidate Watch: Northwest Division

Over the course of the 2018/19 NBA season, up until February’s trade deadline, we’re keeping an eye on potential trade candidates from around the NBA, monitoring their value and exploring the likelihood that they’ll be moved. Each of these looks at possible trade candidates focuses on a specific division, as we zero in on three players from that division.

Entering the 2018/19 season, all five Northwest teams were projected to finish above .500. That scenario would create a dearth of sellers in the division, but that doesn’t mean there are no trade candidates to be found. In fact, the NBA’s most notable current trade candidate, one who has dominated headlines since mid-September, plays in the Northwest.

Here’s our early-season look at a few possible trade candidates from the Northwest…

Jimmy Butler, G/F
Minnesota Timberwolves
$20.45MM cap hit; $19.84MM player option for 2019/20

Since Butler’s trade request went public on September 19, our archive of Butler-related rumors and news items features a staggering 74 additional stories.

The saga has taken a number of twists and turns along the way, and we don’t need to belabor it in this space. Suffice it to say, Butler is very much available and at this point, it seems like just a matter of when – not if – the Timberwolves will move him.

While the Wolves could drag out the process to the trade deadline, Michael Rand of The Star Tribune offers five reasons why it would make sense for Minnesota to find a deal right now. When the club gets serious about moving its All-NBA swingman, the Heat, Rockets, Sixers, and Clippers are among the likeliest trade partners, though a dark horse suitor could always emerge.

Derrick Favors, F/C
Utah Jazz
$16.9MM cap hit; non-guaranteed $16.9MM salary for 2019/20

The Jazz have insisted for years that the Favors/Rudy Gobert frontcourt pairing can work, and at times it has. But Favors is a better fit at center than power forward, and Utah is a better team with a smaller power forward alongside Gobert — so far this season, the four-man duo of Gobert, Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell, and Joe Ingles has a +18.6 net rating with Jae Crowder filling out the lineup, compared to a -7.5 rating with Favors in that last spot.

Sean Deveney of The Sporting News recently wrote that few people around the NBA expects Favors to remain in Utah in 2019/20, when his $16.9MM salary is non-guaranteed. Deveney suggested that if the Jazz could move Favors for a more versatile forward, an in-season trade would be a possibility.

It won’t be easy to find a forward who would improve the Jazz and whose 2018/19 salary is similar to Favors’, without any guaranteed 2019/20 money. DeMarre Carroll, who has a $15.4MM expiring deal, could be one option, but the Nets wouldn’t have much need for Favors.

Malik Beasley, G/F
Denver Nuggets
$1.77MM cap hit; guaranteed $2.73MM salary for 2019/20

Beasley hasn’t been the subject of any trade rumors this season and there’s no indication that Denver wants to move him, so this is merely speculation on my part. However, if and when Will Barton and Isaiah Thomas get healthy, there likely won’t be enough minutes to go around in the backcourt and on the wing for the Nuggets, so someone like Beasley or Torrey Craig could be the odd man out.

If the Nuggets, who currently rank 28th in the NBA in three-point percentage, go shopping for outside shooting help at the deadline, they have three sizeable trade exceptions they could use to acquire a player without sending out any salary, but they’re only about $7.5MM shy of the luxury tax threshold. In certain trade scenarios, they might want to move a small salary like Beasley’s or Craig’s in order to avoid the tax.

Here’s one hypothetical scenario involving a popular trade candidate: If the Nuggets were to send a draft pick to Cleveland for Kyle Korver, they could use one of their trade exceptions to land him, but his $7.56MM salary would nudge the team slightly over the tax line. Attaching Beasley or Craig to that draft pick would improve the package for the Cavs and allow Denver to stay under the tax.


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Thabo Sefolosha Returns Following Five-Game Suspension

  • Jazz guard Thabo Sefolosha will be available to play Sunday against the Mavericks, according to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News. Sefolosha served a five-game suspension this season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy in April, and played just 38 games with the team last year.

Raul Neto Out At Least Two More Weeks

Jazz point guard Raul Neto still isn’t ready to return, according to the team, which announced today (via Twitter) that Neto will be re-evaluated in two weeks. He continues to battle a right hamstring injury.

For Neto, who was expected to add depth to a point guard depth chart that also features Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum, being re-evaluated in two weeks is becoming a common refrain. Utah made similar announcements on September 24 and again on October 10, so there’s certainly no guarantee that the 26-year-old will be ready to return in 14 days.

Neto, who averaged 12.1 minutes per contest in 41 games for the Jazz last season, re-signed with the team over the summer inking a two-year, $4.3MM contract. The second year of that deal is non-guaranteed, so if Neto is nagged by health issues throughout the season and/or fails to reclaim a rotation spot, he’d be a release candidate next summer.

Deveney: Favors' Days In Utah Could Be Numbered

  • Although Derrick Favors signed a new two-year deal with the Jazz during the summer, his $16.9MM salary for 2019/20 is non-guaranteed, and few people around the NBA expect him to still be in Utah at that point, according to Deveney. Favors could be a trade candidate at this season’s deadline if the Jazz are able to move him a more versatile forward.


NBA G League Assignments/Recalls: 10/23/18

Earlier today, it was reported that the Pelicans will become the 28th franchise to launch a G League affiliate. The new franchise will begin next season and play its games in Birmingham, Alabama. Arena renovations aren’t expected to be ready by the time the 2019/20 season starts, so the team intends to begin its history in Erie, Pennsylvania.

With New Orleans adding a G League team, only the Nuggets and Trail Blazers are without an affiliate, and Denver may be next in line — ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported today (via Twitter) that the Nuggets will also attempt to have an affiliate in place for the 2019/20 season, perhaps in the northwest suburbs of Denver.

As for the franchises with G League affiliates this season, only one team made a move today…

  • The Jazz have assigned Tony Bradley to the Salt Lake City Stars, per the team’s Twitter feed. This is Bradley’s first G League assignment this season.