Rosters for USA Basketball's intra-squad scrimmage at UNLV on Thursday... USA Blue Team: 46 Harrison Barnes, 36 DeMarcus Cousins, 42 Anthony Davis, 41 DeMar DeRozan, 37 Derrick Favors, 31 Gordon Hayward, 22 Damian Lillard, 62 Greg Monroe, 34 Klay Thompson, 51 Dion Waiters, 26 Kemba Walker, 50 John Wall. Twitter
The Utah Jazz have signed undrafted rookie Ian Clark, his agent, Bill Duffy, told The Salt Lake Tribune.
Clark was named the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League after a 33-point performance in Golden State’s 91-77 win over Phoenix in the tournament’s championship game.
Terms of the deal are unknown, but Duffy described the guarantee to Clark as "significant" and called the Jazz’s offer "very aggressive for a non-drafted player."
Along with five NBA teams, Duffy said many European clubs were interested in signing Clark, but that the Jazz’s offer created the best situation for the shooting guard.
"The opportunity, in my assessment, was this was the best for him," Duffy said.
The Jazz were interested in Clark as far back as draft night, Duffy said, when they acquired point guard Trey Burke, center Rudy Gobert and Brazilian point guard Raul Neto.
Clark appeared in three NCAA Tournaments with Belmont and averaged 18.2 points as a senior. Duffy said he had interest from five other NBA teams, which, according to a USA Today report, included Portland, Golden State, Boston and Miami. He played with the Heat at the Orlando Pro Summer League.
Clark would join Alec Burks and Brandon Rush, acquired from Golden State earlier in July, as shooting guards on the Jazz roster.
Terms of Clark's deal, first reported by USA Today, haven't been announced. But the guard's contract is set up similarly to recent Jazz signee John Lucas III, with the first year being guaranteed and a team option for 2014-15.
Clark, who chose Utah over several other NBA offers, expects to get a chance to play. He is known for his prolific scoring but is also heralded for being a good defender.
"I was so happy to end up with Utah when I got the news," Clark told USA Today. "I'm just a little bit overwhelmed."
The 6-3 Clark went undrafted out of Belmont, a small school in Nashville, Tenn., but he caught the attention of many in the NBA by his breakout play this summer, topped by a 33-point performance in the Warriors' 91-77 win over Phoenix in the Vegas title game Monday. Clark, who also played for Miami's summer squad in Orlando, averaged 12.4 points with the Warriors while earning MVP honors.
NBA teams certainly knew about him before the draft, though.
At Belmont, Clark scored 18.4 points and connected on 45.9 percent of his 3-pointers — third-best in the NCAA — his senior season. This past spring, Clark was named the Ohio Valley Conference co-player of the year with Murray State's Isaiah Canaan along with earning the league's defensive player of the year honor.
In March, Clark scored 21 points in an opening-round loss to Arizona at an NCAA Tournament game played at EnergySolutions Arena.
"I didn't expect to get drafted," Clark said. "I wanted to come into Summer League, and it was my shot to show what I could do. It's good to be here. Hard work pays off. You never want to settle."
Clark scored in double digits in nine of 12 games with summer league teams in Orlando and Las Vegas. He also hit 28 of 61 3-pointers.
Incidentally, Clark shot 5-for-9 from the field and scored 15 points for the Heat in Jazz rookie point guard Trey Burke's rough 1-for-12 debut two weeks ago.
"I'm going to continue to work," Clark said. "The knock on me was playing the point guard position. It's something I've worked on over the summer a lot. I'm not going to be a pure point, but being able to handle the ball and make reads and come off ball screens and make plays is something I'm working on.
"It's been a long process, but you have to keep working."
Clark's signing brings the Jazz roster to the league minimum of 13 players with guaranteed contracts. It's unknown what his addition means to the future of combo guard Jerel McNeal, who finished the 2012-13 season with the Jazz and has a nonguaranteed deal with Utah.
As I suspected Lucas is guaranteed just for this year. Another good defender it sounds like. McNeal is done I'd imagine. Camp fodder at best but who knows since they both are combo guards but different ages and experience. Clark could spend the year in the D-League or the first couple of months before McNeal becomes guaranteed for the season anyway. I'd say they need another veteran big man. Maybe give someone cap relief for a pick as we heard earlier?
Trey Burke’s summer struggles have been well-documented.
The national player of the year went 1 for 12 in his Utah Jazz debut two weeks ago.
The point guard who led Michigan to the 2013 NCAA championship game in April missed 18 of 19 3-point attempts and only shot 24 percent in his first four games with his new team three months later.
The ESPY award finalist for best male college athlete never found an offensive rhythm against guys who were bigger, quicker and more seasoned than most college athletes he outplayed so often.
Derrick Favors’ reaction to all of that?
Blah, blah, blah.
OK, the Jazz power forward, who watched Burke and Utah play in Florida on TV, didn’t exactly say that.
“That don’t worry me, because I had a tough summer league too,” Favors said this week while participating in a Team USA minicamp. “His shot was off, but everybody’s shot will be off.”
Favors has never met Burke or even talked to him, but he saw enough of his new point guard’s play with the Wolverines to be excited for the future pick-and-roll pairing. He’s confident the player Utah traded up to get on draft night will have his confidence restored when the team begins preparing for the 2013-14 season.
“Hopefully, he’s in the gym working on it, getting his mind right,” said Favors, who’s sounding more and more like a team leader. “I think he’ll be ready for the season.”
Favors isn’t the only one who won’t let a rough first Jazz impression dampen enthusiasm for Burke’s potential in Utah.
Gordon Hayward, also participating with USA Basketball, liked the poise he saw from Burke even while his shot was off.
“It didn’t seem like he got rattled too much," he said during a team visit in Orlando, "and that's definitely a good sign.”
“We’ll get him better there,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin added. “He’s going to be a good player in this league for us.”
One player who’s curious to see that development is also a guy whom Burke would be wise to emulate.
Just a year ago, Damian Lillard was in a similar position — first point guard drafted, high expectations after a sensational college career, picked up by a young team in a transitional period and lots of minutes (likely) to be played as a rookie.
“I know that he was big time at Michigan. He could really score the ball in college, nice range on his shot, pretty good playmaker, really good at changing speeds,” Lillard said. “But it’s an adjustment coming to the next level.”
Lillard got off on the right foot with a strong summer showing in 2012, so that helped boost his confidence from the get-go and put him on a path of success that he calls “surreal.”
Not only was the Weber State standout named the NBA Rookie of the Year for 2012-13 after averaging 19.0 points and 6.5 assists with Portland, but Lillard was also invited to participate with USA Basketball alongside talented, young point guards like Kyrie Irving, John Wall and Ty Lawson.
“I knew that I had to make it to the NBA first,” Lillard said after Wednesday’s practice at UNLV’s Mendenhall Center. “Then I knew I had to be good enough to play in the NBA. Then I had to be successful in the NBA to have this opportunity, period. ... It all happened fast.”
Some believe Burke is on the fast track, too.
Not long after the Jazz traded their 14th and 21st picks to Minnesota for the No. 9 selection in the June 27 draft, the 6-footer was listed as an early favorite to be 2013-14 Rookie of the Year by a Vegas oddsmaker and CBS Sports.
Burke has his sights set on something even bigger — becoming an NBA All-Star.
He’s got a long path ahead of him to get to either spot after Orlando.
“Everybody adjusts different,” Lillard said. “He’s really competitive and confident, so it’ll be fun to see how he adjusts to the league.”
Fun is a good word to describe what it’s been like for many people to watch how Lillard thrived in that position. Despite how it appears from the outside, the Blazers’ young star admitted it wasn’t an easy process.
“It’s a challenge to do everything that comes with being an NBA player off the floor,” Lillard said. “That’s pretty tough.”
On top of that, Lillard said it's a balancing act “being responsible for a team” while not giving “the wrong vibe” to veterans and overstepping bounds.
“You don’t want them to think you know everything or think that you’re trying to take over the team, anything like that,” he said. “So you want to gain their trust.”
There’s more to it, he added.
“Then just stuff on the floor,” Lillard said. “You’ve got to tweak your game to where you can be successful being yourself but understanding that it’s tougher because of how the league is, how big guys are, how athletic they are.”
In other words, Favors was probably right about Burke getting to the gym.
USA Basketball Showcase
Thursday, 7 p.m. MT (NBA-TV)
Thomas & Mack Center
Blue Team: Harrison Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, DeMar DeRozan, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Damian Lillard, Greg Monroe, Klay Thompson, Dion Waiters, Kemba Walker, John Wall. Coach: Tom Thibodeau.
White Team: Ryan Anderson, Mike Conley, Andre Drummond, Kenneth Faried, Paul George, Jrue Holiday, Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ty Lawson, Chandler Parsons, Tyler Zeller. Coach: Monty Williams.
Gordon Hayward is making a strong impression on Team USA coaches and teammates.
The 23-year-old Hayward is spending his second straight summer with USA basketball.
“He’s been very impressive,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo. “He’s a very impressive player. He knows how to play. He’s aggressive. He can shoot the ball. He’s made a mark in both camps, last year and this year.”
Hayward has stood out with his all-around play on both ends of the floor.
“That’s what you love about things like this,” said Jazz teammate Derrick Favors. “I know how good he is. I’ve seen him do this stuff in practice every day. But it’s been funny to talk to some of these other guys and see how impressed they are with Gordon this week.”
Via Sekou Smith/NBA.com
He looked good. Depending on who commits next summer he' definitely got a shot at being invited and making the team. His versatility would be big. He started at the 4 today which I thought he might eventually play some with the Jazz. They might want to this year to get their best players on the floor depending on the match-ups.
Gordon Hayward recorded 7 points and 3 rebounds in 24 minutes in Team USA's Blue and White Scrimmate at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. Hayward's Jazz teammate, Derrick Favors, added 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, despite not playing in the second half, as their "blue" team lost 128-106.
Hayward was particularly active early, breaking up passes and distributing the ball. He made his first 3-point attempt and opened the sencond half with a corner jumper.
Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 23 points, while New Orleans' forward Anthony Davis added 22 points and 7 rebounds for the white team. The scrimmage marked the conclusion of a four-day minicamp in Las Vegas, where 28 young players tried to catch the eye of Team USA coach Krzyzewski and earn a spot on the roster for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup and, eventually, on the 2016 Olympic squad.
Hayward and Favors both represented the Jazz last summer when they played on the Team USA "select" team, which practiced against the team that went on to win gold at the London Games. Hayward and Favors were generally listed among players who stood out this week, but their future with Team USA remains uncertain. However, they'll have every opportunity to increase their stock. They will both serve greatly enhanced roles for the rebuilding Jazz.
“We got smashed, but it was just good to be out there competing with ‘USA’ on your chest,” said Hayward, who made a post-Butler name for himself at minicamp. “It’s pretty frustrating (to lose), but what can you do? When I was out there, I played hard.”
Jazz power forward Derrick Favors, on the other hand, had an even more frustrating night because he wasn’t able to be on the Thomas & Mack Center court to play hard for very long with Team Blue.
Favors tweaked his lower back at practice Wednesday — no shocker, he didn’t tell anybody — and then quickly realized Thursday night that his mobility was impacted by the injury.
The 6-10 big man spent the entire second half in the training room, getting treatment on his back while 23 other Team USA hopefuls played an entertaining exhibition game.
“I couldn’t really move, couldn’t really jump, couldn’t run, so I just sat out,” Favors said, hunched over in obvious discomfort. “I was mad. I was mad as hell about it.”
Though ticked about the inconvenient timing of his back issue, Favors isn’t too worried about it keeping him sidelined from his goal of entering training camp in prime physical and mental playing shape.
“You’ve just got to regroup, rest a little bit and get back to it,” Favors said. “It just tightened. It ain’t that serious.”
The lower-back injury certainly explains why Favors looked sluggish in his short stint of just eight minutes (only player with single-digit PT). He didn't get in until the 8:09 mark of the second quarter, and he had a couple of turnovers, including one in which he bobbled away an on-target pass inside the paint from Hayward.
By the time halftime arrived, Favors had a very Vegas-like boxscore line. His statistical straight included one steal, two turnovers, three rebounds, four fouls and five points.
Despite his back and playing struggles, Favors said his second experience with USA Basketball — he and Hayward were on last summer’s Select Team that trained the gold-medal-winning national team — was definitely a positive one.
His takeaway from Vegas?
“Just how to bring it every day in practice, being around a lot of other good basketball players,” he said. “Just working hard and just bringing it every day.”
His two-team teammate, Hayward, is one of the guys who did that this week during three days of training sessions with the bulk of the best young American basketball talent — from Kyrie Irving (game-high 23 points Thursday) to Olympian Anthony Davis (22 points) and Weber State alum Damian Lillard (nine points, three assists).
Hayward made a strong impression in the practices and then continued his two-way solid effort in this intrasquad scrimmage in front of 9,513 patriotic basketball fans.
The versatile 6-8 wing, who started with Lillard, Davis, Dion Waiters and Greg Monroe, began the game with a steal, then pushed the ball upcourt and dished to Lillard for a strong dunk.
A moment later, Hayward swished a 3-pointer as Team Blue took an 11-1 lead.
Hayward finished with seven points, three assists, three steals and one rebound. He hit 2 of 5 shots and had one turnover in 23 minutes, but he seemed to be one of the few players who cared about busting it on the defensive end in this high-scoring highlight-friendly event.
“I gained some confidence, for sure. I gained some respect probably from other people,” Hayward said. “I just tried to get better through this week, and I think I did.”
That’s the word Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin heard as well after arriving in Vegas on Wednesday to observe Hayward and Favors.
"It doesn’t matter who he’s playing with or against,” Corbin said, “he’s showing his talents more — and that’s what we want."
Thursday’s balanced stat line wasn’t enough to trump the sour feelings from his team’s setback, but Hayward enjoyed his time with USA Basketball. This was his third national experience, having led the country to a gold medal in the U-19 World Championships in New Zealand in 2009 and helping prepare the 2012 Olympic winners in Vegas last July.
What did he gain from this particular week going against Paul George, Chandler Parsons, Klay Thompson et al. and being tutored by U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski & Co.?
“The experience … the whole thing,” he said. “Listening to the coaches, hearing what they have to say. Just playing with these guys is good for me.
“Competing with the best and practicing with the best only makes you better,” he added, “so that aspect of it was great.”
Another great part of Thursday’s game?
Nobody wowed the crowd like Air Force's high-flying Nathaniel "Sgt. Slam" Mills, whose windmill dunk in military gear during a timeout break was the talk of the night. After fans and media buzzed about the slam, senior Airman Nathan Mills told USA Basketball media director Craig Miller, "You should see me without fatigues and boots.”
That’s what Favors might say about having a good back.
The remaining 16 NBA teams share three D-League affiliates. While teams with single affiliations hire their coaches, provide support and direct on-court decisions, others like the Jazz have to live with the decisions of their independently owned affiliates.
"There certainly is a breaking point where the system might not work as well for everyone involved," said Dan Reed, the D-League president.
The NBA is moving toward a day when every NBA team has its own affiliate — one D-League executive hopes within five years — but it remains unclear how the Jazz will get there. The Larry H. Miller Group-owned organization attempted to partner with Reno before its alignment with Sacramento. Jazz president Randy Rigby has expressed an interest in putting an expansion team in St. George.
What’s clear at this point, however, is not only that the D-League model is evolving rapidly, but that teams like the Jazz are at a competitive disadvantage.
"The disadvantage," said David Fredman, the Jazz’s director of player personnel, "is you don’t have full control of your players. The coaches cooperate, but now they have all these teams they have to cooperate with. So if you have multiple players at the same position, they have to figure it out."
As an executive with the San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets, Dennis Lindsey saw the benefits of mining the D-League. There, the Rockets and Spurs found players such as Chuck Hayes and Danny Green.
The D-League is not just a training ground for players, but also for coaches, executives and support staff. Since 2002, every new NBA referee has come from the D-League. Three former head coaches of the Austin Toros, the Spurs affiliate, are now assistants on NBA benches, including Jones, who led the Toros to the 2011 D-League championship.
Lindsey has implemented a number of the Spurs’ methods since being hired as the Jazz GM a year ago, including a camp for veteran free agents and, in the fall, an open gym.
"I knew when they were able to work it out and [Lindsey] took the job," Fredman said, "I knew we would eventually have a D-League team. I felt very strongly that we would."
To be true to his philosophy of seeing and working with as many players as possible, it would only make sense that the Jazz would have their own D-League affiliate, and utilize it as the Spurs do with Austin and Oklahoma City and their affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, freely sending players back and forth.
"That’s safe to say," Lindsey said, "but not at any cost."
Cost is where things begin to get tricky.
When it comes to single affiliation, there are two paths. A "hybrid" model, in which the D-League team is locally owned, but operated by the parent organization (Reno and Sacramento is one example). The other model is outright ownership. While ideas within the organization differ, Rigby said the Jazz are less likely to buy a team outright.
"The cost is expensive to buy the ownership of the team right now," he said. "As we’ve seen the models, it’s a break-even to maybe a losing half a million dollars."
He estimates that a hybrid affiliation would cost up to $400,000 a year.
In the big money world of NBA basketball, where luxury is a prerequisite, that’s pocket change.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey says it won't be easy, but he would like to put a D-League franchise in St. George at some point in the next few years.
Fredman puts it this way: "If teams are going to pay $3 million for a draft pick, why wouldn’t you invest ‘X’ amount of dollars to develop that draft pick?"
The Jazz are willing to spend that money. They were active in talks with Reno owner Herb Santos Jr. before he decided Sacramento provided a better geographic fit and more opportunities for cross-promotion. For example, the folks of Sacramento may be more responsive to advertisements of Reno’s skiing and outdoor activities than Utahns, who have the same benefits in their backyard.
Santos is sympathetic, though, to the remaining independent D-League teams that are juggling so many NBA teams.
"Multiple affiliates makes it a little bit more of a puzzle," he said. "There’s only so many players that can be get sent down, it may be a little more difficult for the NBA teams."
Flash in the pan
Any study of the Jazz’s D-League future must consider its past, namely, the Utah Flash. The Orem-based affiliate was part of an ambitious development plan by tech millionaire Brandt Andersen, but suspended play in 2011. The rights to the team were sold this year to Philadelphia, which revitalized the franchise as the Delaware 87ers.
Rigby blames the market for the Flash’s failure, as its proximity to an NBA market and popular college basketball teams pushed it down the list of basketball options for fans.
Beyond that, Andersen had made his money fast, and desperately wanted to be a professional sports team’s owner. Jones, who coached the team its first season, said Andersen thought "everything he touched was going to be great" but that "his business model was not valid."
"He just got a little ahead of himself," he said. "He just though the world was his oyster, he thought he was going to be Mark Cuban."
Fredman, who started his career with the Jazz in New Orleans and had recently been fired in Denver, was hired as the team’s general manager. A longtime advocate of a minor league basketball system, he vowed to run the team like a smaller version of the Jazz.
"I said, ‘If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it like it’s a Triple-A minor league baseball team,’ " Fredman said. " ‘We’re going to do every single thing the Jazz do.’ "
While the Flash were also affiliated with the Boston Celtics, it was the closest the Jazz have come to the preferred D-League model.
Since the team folded, the Jazz have been watching for opportunities. The Idaho Stampede would have been a logical partner, but Portland swooped in last year and "at the time," Rigby said, "we were not ready."
Bakersfield, the Iowa Energy (based in Des Moines) and the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants are the only D-League teams that have multiple affiliates, and if history teaches us anything, they will be very popular candidates for single affiliation.
Chris Alpert, the D-League’s director of basketball operations, mused about the possibility of one of those teams affiliating with one team, leaving seven and eight NBA teams sharing two D-League teams.
Because Alpert said the D-League wouldn’t be likely to put a moratorium on affiliations, there’s only one alternative.
"We’re going to have to seriously consider expanding," he said.
Said his boss, Reed, the D-League president: "We’re terrified of growing too fast and losing all our momentum. But at the same time we’re seeing a lot of demand in the marketplace right now."
All of which feeds Rigby’s dream scenario.
He is careful with his phrasing, and at this point it’s only a nugget of an idea, tucked away for a time when an opportunity may arise: St. George. The city and its surrounding area is home to more than 100,000 people — a half-day’s drive or a short flight from Salt Lake City — and is a place untapped by professional sports.
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey says it won't be easy, but he would like to put a D-League franchise in St. George at some point in the next few years.
"That would be a market that is four hours away," Rigby said. It "has a very good fan base. We maybe would have an interest in doing something like that."
16 teams for 3 D-League teams is ridiculous! What if they all want to send guys down not that the Jazz have taken advantage of it much even when they had a team down the highway in Orem. I assume Lindsey will use it more though like the Spurs do. Needs to be like minor league baseball or at least hockey eventually. The sooner the better.
Tinsley nearly signed with the Brooklyn Nets earlier in the offseason, but the team ultimately decided to go with Shaun Livingston instead, according to sources close to the situation. Now, Tinsley is weighing his options and considering several other teams such as the Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Charlotte Bobcats and Phoenix Suns among others. HoopsWorld
The Suns now will have 16 guaranteed contracts once they sign top draft pick Alex Len, whose rehabilitation on his ankles remain on target for him to participate in training camp. The Suns could add free agents on non-guaranteed deals for camp but the regular-season roster maximum is 15. The health statuses of Malcolm Lee, acquired to get Archie Goodwin on draft night, and Channing Frye are not settled. Frye missed last season for an enlarged heart but expressed optimism to azcentral sports about being cleared to play after seeking top cardiologists’ opinions. “We’re optimistic that he’ll be with us and playing,” McDonough said of Frye. “Channing wants to play and the results he has gotten have been good. Obviously, we just want a consensus.” Arizona Republic
We have a team that may be looking to dump a contract.