NBA Rumor: Rayjon Tucker Free Agency

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In the hour before the Heat defeated Utah 107-104 at AmericanAirlines Arena, the Jazz traded point guard Dante Exum to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jordan Clarkson. In the moments following that defeat, the Jazz waived forward Jeff Green, sources told The Athletic. And in the moments following that, the Jazz signed shooting guard Rayjon Tucker to a guaranteed deal for the remainder of the season. The flurry of moves can be traced to one constant, according to league sources: The Jazz have not been happy with their bench play.

Tucker’s deal is guaranteed for the rest of this season, sources said. Several teams were in pursuit of Tucker in the wake of his G League season and a recent terrific performance at the G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas. “Utah is getting a fantastic young man with a great work ethic and passion for the game,” Herd coach Chase Buford told ESPN. “Rayjon is an elite athlete who competes at a ridiculously high level every night. He’s a human highlight reel and a very exciting prospect for now and the future.”
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June 1, 2023 | 10:36 am EDT Update

Payton Pritchard has made it clear he hopes to be traded this offseason

With the new onerous CBA rules looming after next season, the front office will likely have to decide in the next 12 months whether it can afford its expensive veteran depth. Payton Pritchard has made it clear he hopes to be traded this summer, according to multiple team sources, so will the Celtics move him if they trade one of their core guards? Then there is the coaching staff, which is widely expected to add a veteran with head coaching experience at the very least. Some of Udoka’s hires, such as Ben Sullivan and Miles, will likely be recruited by Udoka and the Houston Rockets, but sources told The Athletic it’s too early in the process to know what will happen.
After the All-Star Game, one Celtics source believed some of the team’s best players “just lost focus.” While going 7-6 coming out of the break, Tatum, Marcus Smart and Horford all had negative net ratings, meaning the team was outscored when each of them were on the court. The Celtics’ defense was ripped apart with the starters in the lineup, a revealing development for a team so capable of shutting down opponents.
With the season on the line following a 128-102 Game 3 loss to the eighth-seed Heat, Grousbeck came in hot. After Grant Williams asked everyone to clear the room so the players could have some space, Grousbeck went off. His message to the effect that he has been building this franchise for over 20 years and the players need to play with some balls left the locker room stunned, several team sources who were in the room told The Athletic. The sources were granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record. “(Grousbeck) was right, but we shouldn’t need that,” Blake Griffin told The Athletic. “As soon as we got to the locker room, we were just so frustrated.”
In addition to the players who credited Udoka for their drastic turnaround and Finals berth one season ago, several Celtics assistants considered Udoka a close friend and joined the staff specifically to work for him. When Boston elevated Mazzulla, not even a front-row assistant last season, sources around the team said it could have created a divide between him and the other coaches with more experience and loyalty to Udoka. There was initially an “awkwardness” according to several members of the coaching staff, but Mazzulla worked to establish a culture of open communication and trust.
Beyond Udoka, the Celtics staff faced a depletion of talent that raised the difficulty of Mazzulla’s job. Will Hardy took over as Utah Jazz head coach in June and turned them into one of the NBA’s biggest surprises. Multiple team sources both on the roster and the staff said Stoudamire’s departure to lead Georgia Tech in March left a significant void in the team’s leadership structure. He was known for having a good feel for when and how to talk to players, understand their motivations, and pull from his own experiences when making recommendations for how the team should operate.