Utah Jazz trading star center Rudy Gobert

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The Utah Jazz agreed to trade center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster deal that will pair him with fellow All-Star

The Utah Jazz agreed to trade center Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a blockbuster deal that will pair him with fellow All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

The Timberwolves will send Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, No. 22 pick Walker Kessler and four first-round picks to the Jazz, sources said. Utah will acquire unprotected picks in 2023, 2025 and 2027 and a top-five-protected pick in 2029, sources said, in Danny Ainge’s first franchise-altering deal since taking over as the Jazz’s CEO midseason.

The Jazz have now gathered a total of six first-round picks in a 24-hour span and plan to retool the roster around Donovan Mitchell, Utah’s 25-year-old All-Star guard.

Gobert, 30, has spent his entire nine-year career in Utah, developing from a lanky project who was drafted with the No. 27 pick into a perennial All-Star who has been a franchise cornerstone for a team that has six consecutive playoff appearances. The 7-foot Frenchman is one of the most decorated players in Jazz history, with three Defensive Player of the Year awards, three All-Star appearances, four All-NBA selections and six first-team All-Defensive selections.

Gobert is entering the second season of a five-year, $205 million contract. Towns agreed to a four-year, $224 million supermax extension at midnight Friday, the first moment he was eligible, and has a total commitment of $295 million over six years.

Gobert averaged 15.6 points, a league-leading 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game last season, when a tumultuous Jazz season ended with a first-round exit at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks. The Jazz had not advanced past the conference semifinals in this era, and there had been tension between Gobert and Mitchell over the past few years, putting the Ainge-led front office in the position of making major changes this summer.

Head coach Quin Snyder resigned last month, and the Jazz concluded an extensive search before hiring 34-year-old Boston Celtics assistant Will Hardy as Snyder’s replacement. Utah traded starting forward Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets for a 2023 first-round pick on Thursday, a move that signaled the Jazz could be entering a rebuild.

Timberwolves president Tim Connelly, who was recently hired away from the Denver Nuggets after building that franchise into a perennial playoff team, has been determined to acquire a rim-protecting center to play next to Towns.

Minnesota, led by Towns and 2020 No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards, went 46-36 last season and lost to the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. It was only the second playoff appearance of Towns’ seven-year career, and Minnesota has yet to advance past the first round during his tenure.

Rim protection has been Minnesota’s most glaring weakness, as the Timberwolves allowed opponents to shoot 66.9% at the basket last season, ranking 25th in the league, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Gobert has earned a reputation as one of the premier rim protectors in NBA history, joining Dikembe Mutombo, Ben Wallace and Dwight Howard as the only players to win at least three Defensive Player of the Year awards.

Beasley and Beverley, the two most accomplished players heading to Utah in the deal, represent $28.5 million in expiring contracts, although Beasley has a $16.5 million team option for 2023-24. Vanderbilt, 23, has shown promise as a rotation player, and Bolmaro and Kessler are young first-round picks. Beasley wished the Wolves well in a tweet following news of the trade before promising to help take the Jazz to the playoffs.

Minnesota’s odds to win the NBA title moved from 80-1 to 50-1 at Caesars Sportsbook after the trade. Utah’s odds moved from 50-1 to 100-1.

 

Chicago Bulls, Zach LaVine agree to 5-year, $215M max contract extension

The Chicago Bulls and Zach LaVine have agreed to a five-year, $215 million max contract extension, Klutch Sports announced Friday.

LaVine, 27, has blossomed into a two-time All-Star in Chicago, where he arrived in the trade that sent Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017, and — along with DeMar DeRozan — was the cornerstone of Chicago’s return to the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time in five years this past season.

That also marked the first time in LaVine’s career that he had reached the postseason.

Now, he and the Bulls will look to continue that success moving forward, thanks to the two sides sitting down and hammering out a maximum contract extension to keep LaVine in Chicago through his prime.

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Since coming to the Bulls in the Butler trade in 2017, LaVine has become a terrific offensive power at every level. He has averaged at least 23.7 points per game each of the past four seasons while being both a high-volume and quality-percentage 3-point shooter, in addition to his explosiveness going to the rim, steadiness at the free throw line (at least five attempts and over 80% shooting the past four seasons) and ability to create for others (at least four assists per game).

This past season — coming off winning a gold medal with Team USA in Tokyo last summer — LaVine averaged 24.4 points, 4.5 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game, all while shooting 47.6% from the field and 38.9% from 3-point range despite being hampered by a left knee injury that required surgery shortly after the season ended.

LaVine suffered a torn ACL in that same left knee in 2017, before being traded to Chicago later that same year alongside the No. 7 pick in that year’s draft, which became Lauri Markkanen and guard Kris Dunn.

Still, LaVine’s growth since arriving with the Bulls led to him making an All-Star appearance in each of the past two seasons.

Still, LaVine’s growth since arriving with the Bulls led to him making an All-Star appearance in each of the past two seasons.

As a result, the Bulls were busy last spring and summer. They acquired DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball via trades and Alex Caruso in free agency and hired former Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan to coach the team.

The sum total of those moves pushed Chicago to the top of the Eastern Conference for much of last season before a series of injuries — notably to Ball, Caruso and second-year forward Patrick Williams — saw the Bulls fall down the standings. They eventually entered the playoffs as a 6-seed, losing in five games to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the East playoffs.

ESPN’s Jamal Collier contributed to this report.

 

Sources: Indiana Pacers agree to 2-year, $9.6M deal with free-agent center Jalen Smith

Free-agent center Jalen Smith has agreed to a two-year, $9.6 million deal to return to the Indiana Pacers, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Friday.

A former top-10 pick in the 2020 NBA draft by the Suns, Smith’s career in Phoenix ended after just one full season as he was traded to the Pacers in a trade deadline deal for Torrey Craig.

The Suns decided not to pick up Smith’s team option of $4.7 million for 2022-23 after the young forward’s rookie season, which made him a free agent this summer. It was a shocking move; rarely will a team give up control of a top pick that early in his career.

Smith, 22, blossomed with more playing time in Indiana, averaging 13.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1 block while shooting 53% from the field and 37.3% from 3 in 22 games.

The Pacers, who agreed to trade guard Malcolm Brogdon to the Boston Celtics earlier Friday, have spent the past several months realigning their roster around a young core that now includes Smith, Tyrese Haliburton and 2022 first-round pick Bennedict Mathurin.

 

Sources: Atlanta Hawks trade Kevin Huerter to Sacramento Kings for Justin Holiday, Mo Harkless, future first-round pick

The Sacramento Kings reached a deal to acquire Atlanta Hawks guard Kevin Huerter for a 2024 protected first-round pick and two players on Friday, sources told ESPN.

The Kings are sending Justin Holiday, Mo Harkless and a top-14 protected first-round pick in 2024 for Huerter, sources said. That pick can become a top-12 protected pick in 2025 or a top-10 protected pick in 2026, sources added.

The Kings have upgraded with young wings in the draft, free agency and now trades, landing Huerter, free agent Malik Monk and drafting Keegan Murray with the No. 4 pick in the draft.

Huerter and Monk will both be 24 next season, and fit into the timeline with the franchise’s two best players, Domantas Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox.

The Hawks start to replenish their draft stock after sending three future first-round picks in the deal to land Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray.

The Hawks start to replenish their draft stock after sending three future first-round picks in the deal to land Spurs All-Star guard Dejounte Murray.

Holiday played in 25 games for the Kings this past season after landing in Sacramento as part of the Sabonis trade in February.

Harkless averaged just over four points in 47 appearances with the Kings last season.

 

Golden State Warriors keep Kevon Looney, add Donte DiVincenzo, sources say

SAN FRANCISCO — The Golden State Warriors made a pair of key moves on Day 2 of free agency, agreeing to terms with center Kevon Looney and guard Donte DiVincenzo on Friday, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Looney has agreed to stay with the Warriors on a three-year, $25.5 million deal, sources told Wojnarowski. DiVincenzo’s deal is for two years and $9.3 million and includes a player option in the second year, according to sources.

Looney, 27, is coming off a breakout year with the 2022 NBA champion Warriors, who drafted him in the first round in 2015. After an injury-riddled career, Looney was an iron man, playing in all 82 regular-season games and all 22 playoff games.

More important than playing every game, Looney proved to be the kind of center who can thrive in the Warriors’ system, whether he is starting or coming off the bench.

Throughout last season, and especially in the playoffs, Looney proved to be an elite rebounder — a skill set Golden State was desperate for. In the closeout game against the Memphis Grizzlies in the conference semifinals, Looney grabbed a career-high 22 rebounds in a career-high 35 minutes.

Another highlight came in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Dallas Mavericks, when Looney scored 21 points, grabbed 12 boards and held the Mavericks to 1-of-11 shooting from the field as the primary defender.

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Retaining Looney, who averaged a career-high 7.3 rebounds during the regular season, was a top priority for the Warriors heading into free agency, but the recent departures of Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr. and Juan Toscano-Anderson made it that much more important.

Bringing back Looney not only ensures that the Warriors maintain a strong presence on the boards and in the paint, but it also allows Golden State to continue to bring along James Wiseman more slowly as he works his way back from a right knee injury.

DiVincenzo has flashed potential as a starting-caliber 3-and-D wing but has battled injuries through the first four seasons of his career.

A former first-round pick in the 2018 NBA draft, DiVincenzo missed the majority of Milwaukee’s championship run last postseason after injuring his ankle in the first-round. Offseason surgery sidelined him for the start of last season, and he struggled in his return, eventually getting dealt to the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline.

DiVincenzo started to round into form in Sacramento, hitting nearly 37% of his 3-points while adding 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 25 games to close out the season.

 

Boston Celtics acquire Malcolm Brogdon in trade with Indiana Pacers, sources say

Boston Celtics acquire Malcolm Brogdon in trade with Indiana Pacers, sources say
The Pacers are getting a 2023 first-round pick and five players from the Celtics in return, including center Daniel Theis and 2021 first-round pick Aaron Nesmith, sources told Wojnarowski.

Neither team can announce the deal until next week, but Brogdon told ESPN’s Marc Spears that he’s happy to land in Boston.

Neither team can announce the deal until next week, but Brogdon told ESPN’s Marc Spears that he’s happy to land in Boston.

Stevens specifically identified playmaking as an issue in his postseason sit-down with reporters following the Celtics’ loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

“I think we need a little bit more playmaking,” Stevens said earlier this month. “I think that’s real. … We have to make sure that we continue to play with pace. When we are at our best, we play with pace.

“I think we need a little bit more playmaking,” Stevens said earlier this month. “I think that’s real. … We have to make sure that we continue to play with pace. When we are at our best, we play with pace.

“… But there’s no question, in this league, the more guys that can make a play offensively, the better. And the challenge again is making sure whatever you do around the margins of our roster, we have a unique identity and we have uniqueness in our size and our ability to be versatile all across the board, so we have to take that into account when we are adding to our team. But if we can maintain that and add some playmaking, yeah, without a doubt, you want to do that.”

The Celtics certainly added some in landing the 29-year-old Brogdon, who averaged 19.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.9 assists in 33 games last season with Indiana.

Not only does the versatile 6-foot-5 guard help Boston in a variety of ways offensively — both as a passer and career 37.6% 3-point shooter — but he is also another long, rangy defender to add to a stable of big guards for the Celtics that includes reigning Defensive Player of the Year Smart and Derrick White, whom Boston acquired in a different trade at February’s trade deadline.

Boston landed Brogdon without sacrificing any of the top eight players from its playoff rotation. The Celtics could add a second player in the coming days, as sources told Wojnarowski that once the San Antonio Spurs finalize the expected release on forward Danilo Gallinari, his preference is to join the Celtics upon clearing waivers.

“I think we have to walk a fine line a little bit,” Stevens said then. “I think teams are fragile. I think the way teams work together and operate together are fragile. And I think your identity as a team, when you find one that’s successful, which we did this year on the defensive end of the floor and when we were at our best sharing the ball offensively, those things are fragile.

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“So just to add doesn’t mean that you’re not taking something away from the group. And to change significant pieces in the group doesn’t mean that that might not totally take your identity and shift it in a direction that’s not as successful. And so it’s quite a fine line. If you ask me right now what we need, I’d like to have a little bit more scoring — consistent scoring — off the bench. I think we have some short-term needs there.”

Celtics star Marcus Smart took to social media to say he was “REALLY excited” about the team’s moves.

Indiana, meanwhile, continues to realign its roster around its young backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton, whom the Pacers acquired at last season’s trade deadline in a deal for Domantas Sabonis with the Sacramento Kings, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin, the sixth overall selection in last week’s NBA draft.

Theis averaged 8.2 points and 4.9 rebounds in 47 games between Houston and Boston last season, while Nesmith, a first-round pick in 2020, averaged 3.8 points in 52 games.

The contracts of Malik Fitts, Nik Stauskas and Juwan Morgan, who are headed to Indiana, will all need to be guaranteed in order to make the deal work under the rules of the NBA’s salary cap.

Brogdon also was reelected in March to a three-year term as a vice president on the NBA Players Association’s executive committee.

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