Jazz Rumors

Zanik, Rosas Receive Second Interviews For Sixers’ Post

Jazz assistant GM Justin Zanik and Rockets VP Gersson Rosas have earned second interviews for the Sixers’ GM opening, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

Philadelphia’s ownership group dined with Zanik on Sunday and will do the same with Rosas on Monday. The ownership group will also hold second interviews with internal candidates on Thursday and Friday, Pompey adds in another tweet. The news was confirmed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (Twitter link).

Warriors assistant GM and director of player personnel Larry Harris was also recently interviewed for the vacancy, though there’s no indication if he’ll receive another interview.

Some of the internal candidates for the job who were reportedly interviewed this month include former Sixers player Elton Brand, Marc Eversley, Ned Cohen and Alex Rucker.

The organization has been operating without a GM since Bryan Colangelo departed in June amid charges of releasing sensitive information on Twitter.

The Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Rockets GM Daryl Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, Mitchell, Plumlee, Roth

Thunder guard and former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee earlier this week. The procedure was described as “maintenance” and he will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Westbrook is expected to miss the preseason but his status for Oklahoma City’s season opener on October 17 is to be determined.

Westbrook is coming off another outstanding season for the Thunder as he averaged a triple-double for the second consecutive season. As The Oklahoman details, Westbrook’s injury already has had ripple effects on the Thunder roster and will continue to do so until his impending return.

Check out more Northwest Division notes below:

  • Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell had an outstanding rookie season for Utah, a season that would’ve earned him Rookie of the Year honors in nearly any other season. Frank Urbina of HoopsHype examines Mitchell skillset and projects how and when Mitchell could make the jump into superstar status.
  • Nuggets‘ big man Mason Plumlee needed offseason surgery after playing another season of at least 70 games. NBA.com previewed Plumlee’s upcoming 2018/19 campaign as he prepares to be Denver’s primary backup at center.
  • Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune looks at the Timberwolves‘ strategy for trying out players for the G League team. “Everybody’s just looking for the diamond in the rough,” Iowa Wolves coach and former Timberwolves player Scott Roth said. “Everybody wants the next Jonathan Simmons to walk into their building. 

Jazz Poised To Be As Good As Last Year

The Jazz didn’t make any major headlines over the course of the summer, electing to stand pat on a roster that shocked the NBA world and emerged as a Western Conference contender. Heading into 2018/19, the club is as dangerous as ever, Chris Herring of FiveThirtyEight writes.

Of course the biggest hurdle for the Jazz will be to win ball games despite the fact that opponents won’t take them for granted. Now that the rest of the league is aware of what they’re capable, they’ll have to bring their best game every night out.

NBA Teams With Full 20-Man Rosters

Training camps are still two and a half weeks away from opening, but a number of NBA teams have already reached their 20-player offseason roster limits, either officially or unofficially.

The Hawks became the latest team to fill their 20-man roster. Atlanta announced the signing of 19th man R.J. Hunter earlier today, and has also reportedly reached an agreement with veteran center Cole Aldrich, who will fill the 20th spot. The Hawks, of course, could make adjustments to their roster before camps begin, signing or releasing various players, but for now it looks like they’ve chosen their 20-man squad.

Here are the other teams besides Atlanta who have full 20-man offseason rosters:

  • Boston Celtics: After signing three players to camp deals earlier this week, the Celtics now officially have 20 players under contract, including 15 on guaranteed salaries and two on two-way contracts.
  • Dallas Mavericks: Not only are the Mavericks carrying 20 players (15 guaranteed contracts, three non-guaranteed, two two-way), but the team has also reportedly reached an agreement to sign undrafted free agent Donte Ingram to a camp contract. Dallas would have to trade or release a player to finalize Ingram’s deal.
  • Milwaukee Bucks: At the moment, the Bucks have 14 players on guaranteed deals, four on non-guaranteed contracts, and a pair on two-way pacts. However, the club also still has a qualifying offer out to two-way player Xavier Munford and has agreed to sign both Shabazz Muhammad and Christian Wood. More roster moves are coming at some point for Milwaukee.
  • Orlando Magic: The Magic seemingly finalized their offseason roster earlier this week when they inked B.J. Johnson and Gabe York to non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contracts. Orlando now has 14 players on guaranteed salaries, one with a partial guarantee, three on non-guaranteed deals, and two on two-way contracts.
  • Utah Jazz: Last week’s signing of Trey Lewis may be the last move for Utah before camps get underway. The Jazz now have 14 players on fully guaranteed salaries, four on non-guaranteed deals, and a pair on two-way contracts.

For more details on how many players each team is carrying, be sure to check out our roster counts page, which is updated daily. As that list shows, there are a number of clubs around the NBA with just one spot open on their 20-man rosters.

Sixers Receive Permission To Interview Three GM Candidates

The Sixers have been granted permission to interview three candidates for their open general manager position, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. According to Wojnarowski, Larry Harris (Warriors), Gersson Rosas (Rockets), and Justin Zanik (Jazz) are among Philadelphia’s potential targets. Team ownership intends to start meeting with candidates next week, league sources tell ESPN.

An assistant GM and director of player personnel for the Warriors, Harris previously spent nearly two decades with the Bucks, serving as Milwaukee’s general manager from 2003 to 2008. He headed to Golden State for the 2008/09 season, initially serving as an assistant coach before moving to the team’s front office.

Rosas has spent the better part of two decades with the Rockets and is currently the executive vice president of basketball operations for the team. A close associate of general manager Daryl Morey, Rosas had a brief stint as the Mavericks’ general manager in 2013 but returned to Houston shortly thereafter. He was reportedly considered for front office openings in Charlotte and Detroit earlier this year.

Zanik, who held an assistant general manager position with the Jazz until 2016, left to join the Bucks at that time. Milwaukee appeared to be grooming Zanik as the eventual replacement for general manager John Hammond, but the club passed over him last summer following an unusual GM search, opting to promote Jon Horst instead. Zanik left the franchise in the wake of that decision, returning to Utah in his old assistant GM role.

Following the dismissal of Bryan Colangelo in Philadelphia, the Sixers initially targeted big-name NBA GMs and presidents like Morey, but have since cast a wider net, focusing more on executives who would view the Philadelphia job as a promotion rather than a lateral move.

Team owner Josh Harris recently said that the 76ers want to make sure they find a perfect fit, and would be content leaving their interim structure in place if necessary. Head coach Brett Brown is currently serving as the club’s interim president of basketball operations, though he has plenty of help in the front office — Ned Cohen, Marc Eversley, and Elton Brand were among those receiving promotions this week.

Jazz Poised To Have Next Big 3?

The Jazz already have one of the better rosters in the Western Conference, but Jordan Hicks of Basketball Insiders believes that they’ll get even better if and when Dante Exum can become the team’s third star behind Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.

Per Hicks, Exum has elite size and length for his position at a height of 6-foot-6 with a wingspan of 6-foot-9. He also has a quick first step, superior acceleration, and top-level speed. Unfortunately for Exum, he has also had a career riddled with injuries. He played in all 82 games his rookie season, but went on to tear his ACL playing for the Australian national team the summer before his second season, causing him to miss the entire year.

Exum’s last two seasons have been promising, but he really flashed his star potential at the end of last year — especially in 10 playoff games, in which he showed his development on the defensive end of the court by guarding 2017/18 MVP James Harden. While guarded by Exum, Harden shot 21.4% from the field with no threes and four turnovers.

On the offensive side of the floor, Exum’s athleticism allows him to be a legitimate threat driving to the rim. If he can improve his jump shot, he should become a nightmare to plan for. Add in the fact that he’s still only 23 years old, and his development may be key for the Jazz’s chances of becoming the NBA’s next super-team.

Jazz Sign Trey Lewis

The Jazz have signed Trey Lewis, according to Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News (via Twitter). The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Lewis played at Louisville with Jazz star Donovan Mitchell. Woodyard has previously written about the duo’s close relationship.

The 6’2″ guard played for Utah’s two Summer League teams this offseason. During his four games in Las Vegas, he averaged 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds. and 2.3 assists per contest.

Lewis went undrafted in 2017 and spent his 2017/18 season playing aboard. He split time between JL Bourg-en-Bresse of the LNB Pro A in France and Ratiopharm Ulm of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany

Royce O'Neale Hopes To Follow Up Breakthrough Season

After two years of trying to earn an NBA job, Royce O’Neale broke through in a big way with the Jazz last season, writes Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune. After unexpectedly making the roster in training camp, O’Neale played in 69 games and was part of the rotation right through the playoffs. As he prepares for his second NBA season, O’Neale hasn’t changed his mindset of fighting to prove he belongs on the team.

Remaining Offseason Questions: Northwest Division

NBA teams have now completed the brunt of their offseason work, with the draft and free agency practically distant memories. Still, with training camps more than a month away, most clubs around the league have at least one or two outstanding issues they’ve yet to address.

We’re in the midst of looking at all 30 NBA teams, separating them by division and checking in on the key outstanding question that each club still needs to answer before the 2018/19 regular season begins.

After focusing on the Atlantic, Central, and Southeast last week, we’ve moved to the Western Conference this week, starting with the Southwest and Pacific. Today, we’re finishing things off by focusing on the Northwest…

Denver Nuggets
Will the Nuggets sign Trey Lyles to a rookie scale extension?

The trade that sent Lyles to Denver won’t exactly go down as one of the great moves in Nuggets history, considering it cost the team the lottery pick that became Donovan Mitchell in last year’s draft. Still, don’t hold that against Lyles, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2017/18, establishing new career bests in PPG (9.9), RPG (4.8), FG% (.491), and 3PT% (.381) as one of the first players off Denver’s bench.

Lyles is eligible for a rookie scale extension up until October 15 this year, and while role players generally aren’t strong candidates for early deals of that nature, it’s a possibility worth considering for the Nuggets. Lyles is still just 22 years old, and if the club views him as one of its long-term building blocks, it could make sense to lock him up now before his role and his numbers increase further.

Unless they plan to exercise Paul Millsap‘s $30MM team option next summer, the Nuggets should have cap flexibility going forward, meaning a Lyles extension wouldn’t hamstring them. With Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris, and Will Barton already secured to long-term deals, the Nuggets will have to decide whether they want Lyles to join that group now, or if they’ll take their chances with him in restricted free agency in 2019.

Minnesota Timberwolves
When will the Timberwolves sign Karl-Anthony Towns to a rookie scale extension, and what will it look like?

In the case of the Timberwolves and Towns, the questions isn’t whether or not an extension is coming — it’s a matter of when it will happen, and what it will look like.

Fourth-year players who get offered maximum-salary rookie scale extensions don’t turn them down, and it sounds like an offer of that caliber is on the table for Towns. There’s no rush to finalize it. Last year, Andrew Wiggins didn’t sign his max deal with the Timberwolves until October 11, just days before the regular season got underway.

There may be a little more room for back-and-forth negotiations with Towns than there was with Wiggins, however. While Wiggins signed a standard 25% maximum-salary extension, Towns would be eligible for a starting salary worth up to 30% of the cap if he earns All-NBA honors again next season. His camp and the Wolves may have to spend some time figuring out whether he’ll receive that full 30% if he qualifies, or if there’s a compromise to be reached between 25-30%.

As our early maximum salary projections for 2019/20 show, the total difference between a five-year, 25% max contract and a five-year, 30% max contract figures to exceed $30MM, so the starting point of Towns’ next deal is an important detail for the two sides to work out.

Oklahoma City Thunder
Will the Thunder release Kyle Singler or attempt to trim additional salary?

The Thunder were able to reduce their team salary and their projected luxury tax bill significantly in the three-way trade that (briefly) sent Carmelo Anthony to Atlanta. Still, Oklahoma City’s total team salary remains just shy of $150MM, creating a potential tax bill of $93MM+. In total, the roster projects to cost nearly $243MM.

Team ownership probably wouldn’t mind cutting costs a little more, and Singler is the most logical release candidate. His $4,996,000 expiring salary can be stretched across three seasons if he’s waived by next Friday. In that scenario, assuming the Thunder leave their 15th roster spot open, stretching Singler would reduce the overall cost of the 2018/19 squad by $20MM, taking into account the reduction in team salary and tax.

Although waiving Singler is the most obvious path to trimming salary, it’s possible the Thunder have another move or two up their sleeves. It’s also possible that they’re satisfied with the cost-cutting moves they’ve already made, and are committed to the current roster. Time will tell.

Portland Trail Blazers
Who will the Trail Blazers sign to their two-way contract slots? Will it matter?

Many teams around the NBA used their new two-way contract slots to great effect last season, relying on those two-way players for significant roles and eventually promoting them to a spot on the 15-man roster. That wasn’t really the case in Portland.

C.J. Wilcox and Wade Baldwin signed two-way deals with the Trail Blazers before the season and barely saw any action all season for the NBA club. Wilcox didn’t play a single minute for the Blazers, while Baldwin appeared in just seven games. All but one of Baldwin’s seven appearances came late in the season after he had been signed to a standard NBA contract.

The Blazers are one of just three NBA teams without a G League affiliate of their own, which is one obstacle in the way of maximizing their two-way contracts. If they need an extra body on a given night, it’s not easy to simply transfer a two-way player from their nearby NBAGL squad to the NBA roster. Last year, for example, Baldwin spent most of his time in the G League with the Texas Legends, whose arena is over 2,000 miles away from the Moda Center in Portland.

Despite the impracticality of shuttling their two-way players back and forth between the NBA and the G League, the Blazers still figure to fill those slots at some point. When they do, it will be interesting to see if they once again favor players with some NBA experience, like Wilcox and Baldwin, rather than developmental prospects that they won’t actually have the opportunity to develop due to their lack of NBAGL affiliate.

Utah Jazz
Do the Jazz need to do… anything before the regular season begins?

It’s fitting that the last of the 30 teams we’ve examined in this series is the one that seemingly has no burning questions to answer before the regular season begins.

The Jazz have their 15-man roster for the regular season virtually set, with Royce O’Neale joining 14 players on guaranteed contracts. They’ve filled their two-way contract slots. They don’t have any extension candidates. They’re not in any trouble from a cap perspective. Their coaching staff and front office is stable. Even their forthcoming rookie scale option decisions for 2019/20 look like simple ones. The Jazz do have one spot on their 20-man offseason roster they could fill, but that’s not exactly a pressing issue.

While there may be some rotation battles to watch during training camp, Utah’s primary focus this fall will be staying healthy — after all, it was Rudy Gobert‘s injury issues that played a significant part in the team’s slow start (19-28) last season. Having finished the regular season on a 29-6 run and won a playoff series, the Jazz will be looking to carry that momentum into the 2018/19 season as they push for a top-three seed in a tough Western Conference.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jazz Sign Isaac Haas

The Jazz have signed center Isaac Haas, according to the team’s website. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it will likely be a minimum salary arrangement.

Haas played for the Jazz in Summer League this past July. During his four Las Vegas games, he had a total of 15 points, 19 rebounds, and three blocks.

The rookie spent four years at Purdue where he earned All-Big Ten Third team honors during his senior season. In 139 collegiate games, Haas scored a total of 1,555 points and grabbed 643 rebounds.

After signing Haas, the Jazz have 19 players under contract, leaving one opening on their 20-man offseason roster.