Jazz Rumors

Northwest Notes: Collins, Jazz, Thunder, Timberwolves

Nekias Duncan of Basketball News unpacks Utah’s reported interest in Hawks big man John Collins. Duncan acknowledges that a trade seems unlikely, but believes Collins’ screen-and-roll game would work well in the Jazz‘s offensive system.

While Collins is an upgrade over Kelly Olynyk defensively, Duncan doesn’t view him as a difference-maker on that end, so he probably wouldn’t help improve the team’s defense, which currently ranks 21st in the NBA. Ultimately, Duncan thinks Olynyk would be the primary piece heading back to Atlanta if a deal is completed.

Here’s more from the Northwest:

  • The Jazz‘s players are enjoying being one of the NBA’s biggest overachievers so far this season, writes Tania Ganguli of The New York Times. “Every game people are surprised that we win,” Lauri Markkanen said. “We got a great coaching staff, we got great players on this team, so we can beat anybody when we play our best basketball. We try and have that underdog mentality going into games. People really are not expecting a lot from us. Use that to fuel us — not that you really need that; we obviously go out there and compete every night. Just if we ever need some extra motivation, I guess.” After dropping two straight games, the Jazz currently sit with a 12-8 record, the No. 4 seed in the West.
  • External expectations for the Thunder were low entering 2022/23, particularly after No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren was ruled out for the season with a foot injury over the summer. However, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says Oklahoma City appears to be “on the right path” with the league’s youngest roster, which is led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is averaging 31.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 6.3 APG and 1.8 SPG on .519/.380/.917 shooting through 17 games (36.1 MPG). The Thunder are only 7-11, but they’ve been competitive and the players seem to trust each other, Marks notes.
  • The new-look Timberwolves had their best performance of the season Wednesday at Indiana, defeating a Pacers team that had won five consecutive games heading into the contest, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. “Very, very pleasing,” head coach Chris Finch said. “Hopefully it’s one more step, many more to go, but one more step in the right direction.” The Wolves have now won five straight and hold a 10-8 record.

Pistons Notes: Stewart, Bogdanovic, Hayes

Pistons center Isaiah Stewart was briefly assigned to Detroit’s NBA G League affiliate club, the Motor City Cruise, for a Wednesday practice while rehabilitating his sprained right big toe, per Mike Curtis of The Detroit News. Stewart has been unavailable since initially hurting the toe against the Raptors on November 14.

Curtis notes that the 6’8″ big man out of Washington is averaging career-highs of 12.0 PPG and 9.3 RPG in his third NBA season. Detroit has gone 2-3 without him.

There’s more out of Detroit:

  • Pistons power forward Bojan Bogdanovic discussed his first game against his former team, the Jazz, ahead of Wednesday’s contest, per Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter video link). “I was really happy and honored to be part of this organization,” Bogdanovic said. “I saw a lot of guys being traded [over the summer] so I was just waiting to see what was going to happen to me.” In something of a surprise, Detroit won, 125-116.
  • Pistons point guard Killian Hayes, starting in the stead of the indefinitely sidelined Cade Cunningham, left last night’s win with a calf injury in the third quarter and did not return, per James L. Edwards III of The Athletic (Twitter link).
  • In case you missed it, Cunningham has suffered a possible left shin stress fracture. He may require surgery should the ailment not improve with rest.

Jazz’s Beasley Discusses Trade Rumors, Hardy, Future, More

After being traded from Minnesota to Utah over the summer, Jazz wing Malik Beasley came into the season with aspirations of becoming an All-Star, he tells Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.

While Beasley acknowledges that making the All-Star Game as a reserve probably isn’t happening, he said he was happy to come off the bench and hopes to make a run at the Sixth Man of the Year award.

“As a seven-year veteran, I can (come off the bench) for my team and understand the role,” Beasley said. “I’m at a point in my career where I want to make money, but I also want to win. I’m down for sacrificing the starting position role and doing the best I can to prove to my team that we’re all in this together.”

Beasley, who will turn 26 this Saturday, added that another one of his goals is to earn a spot in this season’s three-point contest — he has made a strong case for consideration so far, knocking down 3.2 three-pointers per game at a 41.4% rate. He tells Scotto that if the Jazz keep winning, he expects the home team to be well represented at All-Star weekend in Utah.

“If we stay in the top three, I feel like we can get two All-Stars in Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson,” Beasley said. “If we finish first or second, we can get me in the three-point contest and Kelly Olynyk in the skills challenge. When we go into the locker room or the plane, we always say us four guys are the most likely to get those nods.”

Here are a few more highlights from Beasley’s conversation with Scotto, which is worth checking out in full for the swingman’s thoughts on the Jazz exceeding their outside expectations, his goals for the rest of his career, and much more:

On being involved in trade rumors once again this season:

“I’ve been in the league for seven years, so I understand there are going to be rumors. If it happens, it happens. I think the main thing I realized is that I can only control what I can control. If something happens, prove to the next team why they chose you and why the other team shouldn’t have traded you.”

On his impressions of first-time head coach Will Hardy:

“He’s a great guy, truly. I’m not just saying that. It makes it even better that he’s young. Sometimes, when we’re in the locker room, he’ll call us ‘bro,’ or we call him ‘bro.’ It’s not just a regular head coach thing. He treats us like we’re family.

“He’s always telling us to have fun. Whenever you make mistakes on the court, for a first-time head coach, you don’t get that a lot. Usually, if a guy messes up, it’s a scream because people want to prove that everybody wants to win so badly. Coach wants to be great. He wants everyone to have fun. If you make a mistake, that’s the game of basketball. He even admits his own mistakes. It shows how great he is as a coach. I believe he should get Coach of the Year.”

On his future in Utah and the team’s $16.52MM option on him for 2023/24:

“I would love for them to pick that option up for me to continue my journey here in Utah. If not, then I’ve got to make the best of it. I’m very thankful for this landing spot since I came here. There are a lot of great people here in Utah and a great fan base. I think it’s the perfect opportunity to show I’m a changed man in Utah. It’s a place where big-name players usually wouldn’t come here, but I don’t know why. Once you come out here, you’ll have a great time.”

Jazz Rumors: Conley, Markkanen, Vanderbilt, Beasley, Collins, More

The severity of Mike Conley‘s knee injury could have an impact on which direction the Jazz go in their various trade talks, according to Jake Fischer of Yahoo Sports, who notes that a significant drop-off in Utah’s play with Conley unavailable may make the team more inclined to sell — especially if the veteran point guard ends up sidelined for multiple weeks, as was originally rumored.

For the time being, Fischer says, the Jazz appear intent on keeping forward Lauri Markkanen, who is enjoying a breakout season, and guard Jordan Clarkson, who is believed to be a better candidate for an extension than a trade. The club has also established a “high” asking price for forward Jarred Vanderbilt, Fischer adds.

That would leave Conley, swingman Malik Beasley, and center Kelly Olynyk as the most likely veteran trade candidates in Utah, according to Fischer, though he acknowledges that Olynyk is a favorite of Jazz CEO Danny Ainge.

Here’s more on the Jazz from Fischer:

  • League sources tell Yahoo Sports that Utah’s interest in Hawks big man John Collins is legitimate. However, Atlanta didn’t gain any traction after inquiring about a Markkanen/Collins swap, and it seems unlikely that Collins will end up with the Jazz, Fischer writes.
  • While Conley’s $22.68MM cap hit would be the best straight-up match for Collins’ $23.5MM figure, Fischer doesn’t expect the Hawks to have much interest in Conley, given that they already have two star point guards in Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. Beasley would be a more logical candidate to be included in any Jazz deal for Collins, per Fischer.
  • Sources tell Fischer that the Jazz have been looking to move Rudy Gay, who is averaging career worsts so far this season in points per game (4.5), minutes per game (15.8), and field goal percentage (36.2%), among many other categories. Gay is earning $6.18MM in 2022/23 and is considered highly likely to pick up his $6.48MM player option for ’23/24, so he’ll have negative trade value.

Juzang Has Right Wrist Sprain

  • Collin Sexton struggled trying to replace injured Mike Conley in the Jazz’s starting lineup but the team hopes he’ll become more than just a sixth man, Tony Jones of The Athletic notes. Sexton is in the first year of a four-year, $70.95MM contract from the sign-and-trade deal made with Cleveland. The Jazz are hoping he’ll eventually find the right balance between being an aggressive scorer and a floor leader. Sexton had 10 points and just one assist in 28 minutes against the Clippers on Monday.

Mike Conley Discusses Leg Injury

  • Jazz guard Mike Conley said on Monday night that “everything came out clean” on his left leg injury, per Mark Medina of NBA.com (Twitter link). Presumably, that means further testing didn’t reveal any significant damage beyond the initially reported knee strain, but Conley is still expected to miss some time. The veteran said on Monday that he has done some individual strength work, but no on-court activities yet.

Trade Rumors: Collins, Jazz, Clarkson, Fournier, Robinson, More

Many around the NBA thought it was a foregone conclusion that John Collins would be moved ahead of the draft this past summer, and Marc Stein writes in his latest Substack article that the Hawks power forward was “very nearly” dealt to the Kings in June.

Sources tell Stein that there’s “momentum building on all sides” for Collins to be traded during the 2022/23 season, so his name should be “right at the top of the list” of players most likely to be dealt before the February 9 deadline.

Stein confirms that the Jazz have shown interest in Collins, and that’s a noteworthy pivot for a team that many believed would be tanking and a frontrunner for a top lottery pick after dealing away Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and other veterans.

Speaking of Utah, a rival executive tells Stein that he thinks the Jazz are more likely to extend Jordan Clarkson‘s contract than trade him. Michael Scotto of HoopsHype hears similarly, saying there’s “palpable buzz” about a potential Clarkson extension.

Here are a few more trade rumors from Scotto, who takes a look at the top trade candidates for each NBA team:

  • The Knicks are reluctant to part with a first-round pick to move off Evan Fournier‘s contract, sources tell Scotto. Fournier has fallen out of New York’s rotation after a prolonged shooting slump and is owed $18MM this season and $18.9MM in 2023/24. In addition to Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley, rival executives also believe that second-year guard Miles McBride is available due to the team’s backcourt logjam, per Scotto.
  • The Heat have made Duncan Robinson available in trade talks, sources tell Scotto. That’s hardly surprising since Robinson, like Fournier, has struggled and fallen out of the rotation at times in ’22/23. The problem is Miami would almost certainly have to attach assets to deal Robinson, who is owed $57.5MM over the next three seasons, and it remains to be seen whether the Heat are willing to do so.
  • Echoing a previous report, Scotto writes that the Lakers were trying to offload Russell Westbrook to the Spurs for Doug McDermott and Josh Richardson before the season started. While LJ Ellis of SpursTalk.com stated that the Lakers were only willing to attach two second-round picks to Westbrook’s enormous expiring contract, Scotto hears the Lakers offered a lottery-protected first-rounder and the Spurs wanted that pick to be unprotected, which caused the talks to stall.
  • Center Nerlens Noel is not expected to finish the ’22/23 season with the Pistons, according to Scotto. It’s unclear if Scotto means he’ll be bought out at some point or moved in a trade, since Noel’s $9.2MM contract doesn’t have positive value given how many injuries he’s dealt with the past couple seasons.

Mike Conley Sidelined By Left Knee Strain

5:56pm: Conley could return sooner than two weeks, Eric Walden of the Salt Lake Tribune tweets. His injury will be reevaluated when the Jazz return to Salt Lake City on Tuesday after the team faces the Clippers on Monday.


4:39pm: Veteran Jazz point guard Mike Conley will miss at least two weeks due to a left knee strain, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets.

The franchise is actually relieved the injury isn’t worse. Conley, who underwent an MRI on Sunday, avoided ligament damage during the non-contact injury that occurred after he played nine minutes against Portland on Saturday. Conley said he felt his leg lock up as he tried to get around a screen.

Conley is averaging 10.2 points and 7.9 assists per game for the surprising Jazz this season. He’s battled numerous injuries in recent seasons, though he was able to start 72 regular season games for Utah in 2021/22. During the six previous seasons, four with Memphis and two with Utah, Conley appeared in 70 or more games just once.

Collin Sexton figures to take Conley’s starting spot for the time being, though Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Malik Beasley and even Talen Horton-Tucker could see more backcourt time.

Jazz Notes: Conley Injury, Horton-Tucker, Sexton

The Jazz may have to survive for a while without starting point guard Mike Conley, who left Saturday’s game with a knee injury, writes Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune. The team is awaiting the results of an MRI to determine the full extent of the damage.

Conley explained to Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link) that the injury was non-contact and happened as he tried to get around a screen. Conley said he felt his leg lock up and he did a mental check to determine what was causing the pain. On-court ligament tests were encouraging, Walden adds.

Conley was limping in the locker room after the game, but he told staff members that the media saw him immediately after he was icing the knee. The limp was mostly gone by the time he got on the team plane, according to Larsen.

There’s more on the Jazz:

  • Talen Horton-Tucker finished Saturday’s game at point guard, which Larsen sees as an indication of what coach Will Hardy would prefer to do with his lineup if Conley has an extended absence. Larsen notes that Horton-Tucker has improved his decision-making over the past month, while Collin Sexton can be undisciplined when running the offense. Sexton started the last time that Conley was unavailable and probably expects to fill that role again, so Larsen suggests that he might move into the starting lineup to preserve the team’s “good vibes.”
  • Earlier this week, Conley talked to Mark Medina of NBA.com and admitted that he expected to be traded after Utah moved Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell during the offseason. “Even all the way up to training camp, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” Conley said. “I didn’t know who was going to be here, and if I was going to be here or not. Once I knew I was going to be here at least to start the season, I focused on what I needed to focus on and get out there and play. Whatever happens, happens. But while I’m here, I’ll be as good as I can be and help this team as much as I can.”
  • With the best record in the Western Conference at 12-6, the Jazz are no longer in position to consider tanking for a high draft pick, but they may also not be good enough to win a playoff series, per Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Utah has enough assets to trade for a star player, but Todd notes that Conley’s contract would almost have to be a part of any major deal and his contributions to team chemistry would be hard to replace.

Hawks Talking John Collins Trades; Suns, Jazz Interested?

7:00pm: The Jazz have also shown recent interest in Collins, Charania said in an appearance on The Rally (Twitter video link).


3:06pm: John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 disputes Charania’s claim that the Suns are a potential suitor for Collins, tweeting that Phoenix doesn’t have interest in the veteran forward.

Gambadoro adds (via Twitter) that the Suns and Kings had a discussion about Barnes over the summer, but with Sacramento playing well and Mike Brown a fan of the veteran forward, the Kings don’t intend to move Barnes.


10:09am: Hawks big man John Collins, who has been the subject of trade rumors multiple times in recent years, is considered available once again this season, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

According to Charania, the Hawks have opened “preliminary” trade talks involving Collins, with the Suns among the teams showing interest in the 25-year-old. Sources tell The Athletic that a Collins trade doesn’t appear imminent, and Charania cites executives who believe it could take weeks or months for the Hawks to find a deal they like — if they move him at all.

Collins was considered a trade candidate during the year leading up to his restricted free agency in 2021, but signed a five-year, $125MM contract to remain in Atlanta. That deal did little to quiet the trade rumors surrounding him though — those rumors popped up again at the 2022 trade deadline and during this past offseason, prompting Hawks general manager Landry Fields to tell reporters on Media Day in September that Collins was “still here for a reason.”

In 15 games so far this season, Collins has struggled to produce consistently. His average of 12.6 points per game is his lowest since his rookie year, and his .493 FG% is a career-worst mark, as is his .227 3PT%. Still, given his track record, the power forward should bounce back and will be an intriguing trade target for any team looking to acquire an impact frontcourt player.

As Charania notes, the Hawks have been one of the primary suitors for Suns forward Jae Crowder and have been engaged with Phoenix in trade talks in recent weeks, so it’s plausible the two teams could come together for a bigger deal involving both Crowder and Collins.

In order to match Collins’ salary, Phoenix would have to include at least one more mid-level type contract besides Crowder’s expiring deal. Dario Saric ($9.24MM expiring contract) and Landry Shamet ($9.5MM in 2022/23, plus $21.25MM across two more guaranteed years) would be the top candidates.

However, the Suns may be averse to the idea of taking on Collins’ long-term contract, according to Charania. He’s owed $23.5MM in 2022/23 and nearly $52MM in the following two seasons, with a $26.6MM player option for ’25/26. With the Suns facing a possible ownership change, it’s unclear how comfortable they are adding more big long-term financial commitments to their books.

In addition to Collins, the Suns have expressed interests in forwards such as Harrison Barnes of the Kings, Kyle Kuzma of the Wizards, and Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Rockets, sources tell Charania. Phoenix has also reportedly engaged in Crowder-related trade talks with the Bucks, with one report suggesting Milwaukee is the frontrunner to land the veteran forward.