Utah Jazz

Rodney Hood Could Be On The Move Before Deadline

There’s growing belief around the NBA that the Jazz could move swingman Rodney Hood before the trade deadline, Marc Stein of the New York Times reports. The scribe adds that several teams have already expressed interest.

Hood, the 25-year-old guard initially expected to shoulder more of Utah’s offensive load with Gordon Hayward out of the picture, has been underwhelming in his fourth season. While his 16.7 PPG are commendable, he doesn’t offer the Jazz the all-around package or general upside that standout rookie guard Donovan Mitchell has.

Hood, in the final year of his rookie deal, will hit restricted free agency this summer, so any team acquiring the shooting guard would essentially have several months to trial him as a possible long-term solution.

Hood’s underwhelming 2017/18 season recently boiled over in an incident earlier this month in which he slapped a phone out of a fan’s hand, resulting in a $35K fine.

Rudy Gobert, D’Angelo Russell Set To Return Friday

Two players who have yet to play in 2018 are expected to return to the court on Friday, with one playing in Utah and one in Brooklyn. According to reports, both Jazz center Rudy Gobert and Nets point guard D’Angelo Russell are set to play tonight.

Jazz head coach Quin Snyder confirmed today to reporters that Gobert will be back against the Knicks, as Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News notes (via Twitter). Gobert is expected to be on a minutes restriction for now, as he works his way back to full strength.

Gobert had been on the shelf since December 15 due to a knee injury, having missed Utah’s last 15 games. The Jazz have been using some smaller lineups in Gobert’s absence, with Derrick Favors spending more time at center. With Gobert back, the club will have some additional lineup flexibility, and may start to seriously consider possible Favors trades.

Meanwhile, in Brooklyn, Russell told reporters, including Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com (Twitter link), that he expects to suit up and get back on the court tonight for the Nets, who are hosting the Heat. Russell, the Nets’ major offseason acquisition, hasn’t played since November 11 due to a knee injury of his own.

It will be interesting to see how Russell’s return impacts Spencer Dinwiddie, who has assumed starting point guard duties and has been enjoying a breakout season with both Russell and Jeremy Lin sidelined. Dinwiddie has struggled with his shot lately, but is still posting solid overall numbers — he has averaged 14.4 PPG and 7.2 APG since Russell went down, and figures to continue playing a key role even with the former second overall pick back in the lineup.

Jazz Notes: Favors, Sefolosha, Exum

The Jazz have been charged with the task of growing and developing their way into the postseason all over again, Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. All things considered, they’re off to a decent start.

The scribe offers up a scathing critique of how Gordon Hayward handled his exit from Utah, suggesting that Hayward left the team out in the cold, unlike ex-Pacers star Paul George, who at least gave Indiana’s front office a clear heads up that he had an interest in leaving.

While Monson sheds light on a handful of the assets on board in Utah, from trade candidate Derrick Favors to underwhelming fourth-year forward Rodney Hood, he also places some blame on general manager Dennis Lindsey for not having a better read on the Hayward situation prior to last offseason.

Of course the best thing going for the Jazz is their core duo of Rudy Gobert and rookie Donovan Mitchell. Everything will revolve around those two players, Monson says — that’s a particularly intriguing thought for Utah, considering that Gobert is just 25 years old while Mitchell is 21.

There’s more from the Jazz today:

  • As the trade deadline draws closer, Derrick Favors is hearing his name pop up in more and more speculation. The 26-year-old has managed to successfully tune out the conversation thus far, Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News writes.
  • In the same feature for The Deseret News, Woodyard reports that forward Thabo Sefolosha‘s knee surgery went successfully on Wednesday.
  • After being cleared for non-contact basketball activities, Jazz guard Dante Exum has set his sights on returning to action after the All-Star Break, Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune writes. Exum damaged ligaments in his shoulder during preseason.

Kyler’s Latest: Jordan, Kings, Mirotic, Whiteside

The streaky Clippers, who lost nine straight games back in November, have now won a season-high six consecutive contests, re-inserting themselves in the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Even though DeAndre Jordan has been sidelined with an ankle injury for the Clips’ last three wins, the streak seems to bode well for his chances of sticking in Los Angeles through the trade deadline.

As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders writes, Clippers ownership and management doesn’t seem at all eager to blow up the roster. For now, the club is focused on seeing if it’s capable of competing in the West, preferring to wait until a bit closer to the deadline to evaluate all of its options.

If the Clippers do change course by February 8, the Bucks and Rockets figure to be among the teams with interest in Jordan, whose contract situation is worth monitoring. According to Kyler, there’s a belief that the veteran center won’t be able to top his $24.12MM player option as a free agent, meaning it’s possible he could decide to opt in for 2018/19. That possibility may affect how the Clippers and potential trade partners view Jordan at the deadline.

Here’s more from Kyler:

  • The Kings‘ veteran players are all potential trade candidates at the deadline, though some are more likely to be moved than others. George Hill, for example, won’t have much value, given his contract situation, his injury history, and his underwhelming play this season. Sources close to the situation tell Kyler that Sacramento seems to be trying to help its veterans find better situations as those players fall out of the team’s regular rotation.
  • Kyler hears that Nikola Mirotic‘s camp is pushing for the Bulls to pick up the forward’s $12.5MM team option for 2018/19. Until that team option is exercised, Mirotic has the ability to block a trade, giving him some leverage if Chicago wants to complete a deal. League sources tell Kyler that the Bulls have “gotten pretty far down the road” in talks with the Jazz and Pistons about Mirotic.
  • There’s “growing talk” around the NBA that the Heat would be open to the idea of moving Hassan Whiteside for the right mix of contracts and young players, Kyler writes. The Bucks and Cavaliers, both on the lookout for a center, would be obvious suitors, but it would tough for either team to make a deal, given Whiteside’s large cap hit ($23.78MM). John Henson, Mirza Teletovic, Tristan Thompson, and Iman Shumpert are among the players whose contracts might have to be included for Milwaukee or Cleveland to make a deal work, which doesn’t sound overly appealing for Miami.
  • The Mavericks are “dangling” some expiring contracts and appear to be seeking a promising prospect on a rookie scale deal, along with future picks, says Kyler. Dallas also has cap flexibility to take on a contract or two.

Jazz Notes: Sefolosha, Exum, Gobert, Stone

As expected, Thabo Sefolosha has elected to undergo right knee surgery and the procedure is happening today, the Jazz confirmed in a press release this week. A weekend report indicated that Sefolosha would be sidelined for the remainder of the 2017/18 season after going under the knife. While the club’s announcement didn’t explicitly confirm that the injury is season-ending, that remains the expectation.

According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune (Twitter link), Sefolosha’s diagnosis prompted the Jazz to apply for a disabled player exception in advance of Monday’s deadline. If it’s granted, the club would receive a salary cap exception worth $2.625MM – half of Sefolosha’s salary – that could be used to sign or trade for a player for the rest of the season. Our glossary entry on the disabled player exception goes into more detail on exactly how DPEs work.

Here’s more from out of Utah:

  • Jazz point guard Dante Exum, who has missed the entire 2017/18 season so far due to a shoulder injury, has been cleared for non-contact basketball activities, tweets Jones. Although Exum is making progress toward a potential second-half return, it’s unclear whether the former fifth overall pick will be able to carve out a role in the rotation with Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell handling most of the point guard minutes for Utah.
  • There will certainly be room in the Jazz’s lineup for another player on the mend — Rudy Gobert returned to participate in the non-contact portion of Utah’s practices this weekend, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. The standout center may be back on the court for the club within the next week or so.
  • Utah’s G League affiliate acquired former Clippers center Diamond Stone in a trade this week. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News has the details on the move by the Salt Lake City Stars, which saw the team add the 40th overall pick from the 2016 draft.

Derrick Favors Drawing Interest

  • Wojnarowski provided another trade-related tidbit on Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump. According to Spencer Checketts of 1280 Sports in Utah (Twitter link), Wojnarowski confirmed that the Cavaliers are looking to add size, noting that Jazz big man Derrick Favors might be a fit. Teams are calling Utah to ask about Favors, according to Woj.

Tony Bradley Practices With Salt Lake City Stars

  • The Jazz assigned rookie center Tony Bradley to the G League this morning so he could practice with the Salt Lake City Stars, and have since recalled him to the NBA, per the team (Twitter link).

Nikola Mirotic, 15 Others Become Trade-Eligible

Today is January 15, which means that trade restrictions have lifted for most of the rest of the NBA’s 2017 offseason signees. While the majority of those ’17 free agents became trade-eligible on December 15, there was a small subset of free agent signees whose trade ineligibility lasted for another month.

The 16 players whose trade restrictions lift today meet a specific set of criteria: Not only did they re-sign with their previous teams this offseason, but they received raises of at least 20%, their salaries are worth more than the minimum, and their teams were over the cap, using Bird or Early Bird rights to sign them.

The most notable name in this group is Bulls power forward Nikola Mirotic. He’s not the best player on the list — Blake Griffin and Kyle Lowry would be among those vying for that honor. But Mirotic is the most likely player to be dealt out of the 16 guys becoming trade-eligible today. He has been linked to a handful of teams already, including the Jazz, Pistons, and Trail Blazers.

Here are the 16 players becoming trade-eligible today:

With three and a half weeks left until this season’s February 8 trade deadline, nearly all of the NBA’s players are now eligible to be dealt. The only players still ineligible to be moved are those who signed free agent contracts later than October 15, plus certain players who signed contract extensions in the offseason.

Hawks guard Isaiah Taylor (January 17), Nuggets forward Richard Jefferson (January 19), and Pelicans guard Jameer Nelson (January 22) are now the only remaining players who will become trade-eligible between today and February 8. For the full list of players who won’t become trade-eligible before this year’s deadline, click here.

Jazz Sign Georges Niang To Two-Way Deal

JANUARY 14, 1:30pm: The two-way deal has been made official, per the Jazz’s public relations department (via Twitter).

JANUARY 10, 9:58pm : The Jazz plan to sign Georges Niang to a two-way contract, tweets Adam Johnson of Two Ways and 10 Days.

Niang is currently playing for the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, where he is averaging 18.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in 25 games. Niang was waived by Golden State in the preseason after signing with the organization in August. He appeared in 23 games with the Pacers as a rookie last season.

Utah currently has a full roster with Naz Mitrou-Long and Erik McCree holding the team’s two-way contracts, so a move will have to be made before Niang can be added.

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