Utah Jazz Rumors
Tim Reynolds: Jazz center @Rudy Gobert on the bronze: “It means everything. Obviously it’s not the one we wanted. We all know that. But being able to come back _ we’re the only team that was on the podium five years ago and on the podium now. So it shows our heart.”
Conley spent 12 seasons with the Grizzlies, more than a third of his life, and so “this is still home,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s all I know.” Still, he arrived in Memphis for the first time since being traded to the Utah Jazz in June, and even the flight Thursday night felt strange. He went to the house he still owns here, where half the furniture has already been moved to Utah and thought, “this doesn’t even feel like my home anymore.”
“Not a lot of players get that connection with the team or the organization. Like I really did care about how the team would fare after I left if I got traded, who they got in the trade,” Conley said. “It was almost like I was negotiating the deal for them, like make sure you get this, that and the other because you want to have more picks or more people, and I’m just thrilled to see the guys they got. They got a heck of a future in front of them because of the trades they were able to make for Marc, or myself, or Chandler (Parsons), and just really turned it over well.”
They were talking about his decision to switch to No. 10 with the Jazz, instead of wearing the No. 11 he had throughout his Grizzlies career. That number, like Conley, ultimately belongs to Memphis. “If I ever play (for) Memphis again, that’s the number I’ll wear,” said Conley, whose first game in Memphis with the Jazz will be Nov. 15. “I’m not wearing it anywhere else.”
Tim Reynolds: Donovan Mitchell, world-class good dude, was the last American to leave the court in the pre-warmup period. He took off his sneakers and tossed them into the crowd — making sure a young fan he was pointing to got them.
Turner had a brilliant game Monday against Brazil, and he may have let it get to his head. He compared himself to Gobert and said, “He’s the defensive player of the year, according to some.” Well, the French players saw the quote and showed it to Gobert. “Yeah we saw it and we showed it to him,” said Nicolas Batum, of the Hornets. “We know he’s great on defense, so we’re going to use it to motivate him tonight.”
“To hear Donovan be so passionate about wanting to play (was great),” Ingles said. “I was like, ‘Oh, are you going to pull out because everyone else is?’, and (Mitchell said), ‘No, I’m going to play for my country.’ He’s obviously like really proud to do that. Obviously Rudy is (too). I know in the past with (former Jazz guard) Ricky (Rubio of Spain, who’s now with Phoenix), and playing against Ricky for so long, there’s genuine love (for playing on the national team). “You’ve got to respect, to a certain extent, guys’ decisions (not to play) because there is career (impact). Some guys are in contract years this offseason, and there’s a lot that goes into it. I think for us, for me, it’s – I’m all Australia right now, and as soon as we’re done with that I’ll switch right off and go to Jazz mode.”
The exciting thing, however, is that they beat the USA by being among other things taller. Coach Gregg Popovich had to play small against Rudy Gobert, but the small ball didn’t affect at all the French game plan. “We knew, and we didn’t want to adjust to that,” explained Batum after the game. “We wanted to keep him on the court. Because… he is our best player. He is the back-to-back defensive player of the year. We know what he can bring in defense and offense as well. That’s why the coach kept him on the court. We knew that his defense would help us. And he also help us on offense. He got better, and that will be the next step for him. He has shown some improvement, he moves better, he knows how to get inside, and if he gets to be like we want him to be, it will be the next step.”
Rudy Gobert has now got some “bragging rights” over his Utah Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell following the historic win of France over Team USA in the World Cup quarterfinals. However, the two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will leave trash talk aside for now since he can imagine how much this defeat hurt his teammate. “I don’t think that’s the way I am,” Gobert said. “I like to talk a little trash. But this kind of competition….I just lost to Australia. I love Joe but I wanted to stop him. It hurts. I think this experience is going to make Donovan better. We have to go hard when we go for the national team, but we also have to go that way with Utah. I’m excited for both.”
Utah’s no-headband policy reportedly stemmed from the days of legendary coaches Frank Layden and Jerry Sloan, then continued with Ty Corbin. Although nothing was written in stone, they encouraged players to stand out with their play, and not their on-court style, which is why guys were pushed to keep their jerseys tucked in and play with the same colored socks to keep the focus on team unity for many years.
“We ran the analytics and found he shoots better with a headband,” Snyder said of Conley. “So, I have encouraged him to wear one. … Joe Ingles also thinks he shot better with one last year, so he asked me if he could wear one … if that’s the case I might wear one too!”
It is expected that Eric Woodyard, who has covered the Utah Jazz for the Deseret News, will be moving to Chicago to replace Andrews on the midwestern beat (Bulls, Bucks, Pistons, Pacers), but the deal is not yet finalized. ESPN has hired Andrew Lopez away from the Times-Picayune to cover Zion Williamson and the Pelicans.
One player needed to call on Mitchell’s help to identify China — the third largest country in the world and the one the players are spending almost three weeks in — on the map. Mitchell wouldn’t divulge the identity of the teammate who called that lifeline, but said that it was only for confirmation. “They just didn’t want to be wrong,” he noted. “They wanted to be sure.”
Kane Pitman: Joe Ingles when asked if he knew he fell one assist shy of the first triple-double in @FIBAWC history. “I didn’t know that and even though I do know it now it still doesn’t really bother me. The only goal was to win the game.”
A near triple-double from Joe Ingles has helped the Australian men’s basketball team avoid a major embarrassment, the Boomers edging out Senegal 81-68 to move a step closer to the next round of the World Cup.
Mitch Creek’s athleticism shone once he was injected into the game while Ingles (17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) and Patty Mills (22 points) then found range and their improved defence lifted them 10 clear at the final break.
Rudy Gobert revealed via post on Twitter the he received an early wake up call from FIBA the morning after France’s opening FIBA 2019 FIBA World Cup contest for a doping control. The 27-year-old center of the Utah Jazz was upset underlining that the player’s recovery time should be respected.
Joe Vardon: Thats it from Shanghai. Team USA grinds out an 88-67 win over Czech Republic in #FIBAWC opener. Donovan Mitchell led the Americans with 16 pts
He’s getting some special attention from Popovich, who needs Mitchell to be great for Team USA to win gold. But there’s another reason, and this is what the whole point is. “When you tap somebody that has leadership ability, it’s better to start it sooner,” Popovich explained this week. “The quicker you make them feel responsible that they can do that, the better. Then if that person grabs onto it then you know you chose the right guy.”
Here the old master is working, it’s the 22-year-old Mitchell who he’s entrusting to guide this important enterprise. Popovich seems to see the leadership qualities in Mitchell that Jazz leadership and his Utah teammates have talked about for the last two years. “There’s a lot of learning going on here,” Mitchell said. “This last month has helped me in tremendous ways.”
While Mitchell knows how important a big three weeks would be for his brand, this isn’t about marketing. Popovich wouldn’t tolerate such motivations anyway. Mitchell is serious about this. He’s impressed his Team USA teammates with his intensity in practice and his film study in the run-up to Sunday’s opener. “You wouldn’t think he’s the age he is, he’s ahead of his years,” Walker said. “He a natural-born leader. His skill set is unbelievable. He’s a great player but he knows he has so much room for improvement. He wants to work.”
What about the Jazz aspect of this? This is a huge year for you guys. How do you see the ripple effect here in terms of the positives vs. the negatives and how it all measures out? Quin Snyder: Well, I think on the whole it’s extremely beneficial. I go back to individual players and where they are. And in Donovan’s case, I keep hearing about just reinforcing the importance of defending. That’s something he believes in, but formulating those habits in a competitive environment where there’s something on the line? Those are situations that are hard to replicate, so the leadership opportunities that he’s had, I see those things as being (positive) — the responsibility of making decisions at crucial times in games — I think all those things really help. I think in Joe’s case, there’s a passion for the game that I think this summer Joe is finding. Not that it was lost, but there’s an enthusiasm that I think he has about the upcoming season that this experience will serve to kind of stoke it even more.
Quin Snyder: Well, I think with Donovan, I’ve been in touch with him frequently, just trying to provide him whatever feedback you can after seeing him play, after talking to someone on their (Team USA) staff. The feedback you get, if you can relay that to him and try to help him, that’s something you want to do. As much as anything, it’s reinforcing what he is committed to and giving him feedback on that. Same thing, really, with Rudy and Joe as far as just being in communication with them. It’s less trying to (talk to them too much). You don’t want to try to coach them, because you’re not the coach (at the moment).
After practice Friday, the Americans had another dinner planned, with coaches included. It was to be a Popovich-sponsored event. The players couldn’t wait. “Just being able to laugh and joke, and seeing Pop in a different element that a lot of us really hadn’t seen him, I think that brings life into what we’ve got going on,” Mitchell said. “It makes you really want to play for him.”
“Shaq told me a story. We had a kid named Gordon Giricek on our Suns team, he had gotten there, and Gordon would go in the game, and Gordon was about his buckets. So Gordon would get in, and no matter what we were doing, no matter what the flow or the chemistry was, Gordon would be just, you know, shooting the ball. Gordon was my guy, I played with him in Utah. “But Shaq started saying ‘hey guys, this is the symbol’ (twitches thumbs downward) ‘when I give you this, Gordon doesn’t get the ball anymore.’ And I’m like ‘dude what is the background on that, where’d you come up with that?’ And he was like ‘when Kobe was young, he would be going in and just trying to get ’em, so the rest of us had a universal kind of code that if we looked at each other and went (gives signal) then that meant Kobe didn’t get the ball anymore.'”
Eric Woodyard: The Utah Jazz unveil their purple mountain throwbacks for the 2019-20 season. pic.twitter.com/d4Bp5IRA89
“For me, the biggest thing is just to get back to my roots. The biggest thing is to elevate my defense, to get back to what got me drafted,” Mitchell told The Salt Lake Tribune after defeating Canada in the USA’s final pre-World Cup exhibition game. “I think that’s one thing I’ve prided myself on, and I think (USA head coach Gregg Popovich) has really put that in my head as well.”
Far surpassing his own expectations, he was named as a co-captain of this World Cup squad, and while the role surprised him, he’s tried to take it head on, applying the lessons to his leadership of the Jazz, even as a third-year player. “Whether it’s vocally, off the floor in the hotel room with the guys, or on the floor, I’m just trying to find ways to become a leader,” Mitchell said. “Being a captain of the team, it allows me to try to improve my leadership skills. It’s a big year coming up, and I think those will be really evident in this upcoming year.”
And the Jazz’s big additions this year, in the form of Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, will only help Mitchell’s life on the offensive end, opening him up to 100% effort on defense, too. “I’m excited. The biggest thing is spacing on the floor, guys who can create and knock shots down. Bogey, who shoots damn near 40%, Mike can get into the paint, hits about 36% from 3, that opens up a lot,” Mitchell said. “And being able to play off each other, that’s something that will be really huge for me.”
“I think we have a great team,” Exum said. “And it’s not just on paper; everyone’s good all round. I think everyone’s a good person, and is gonna gel well together. I’ve already worked out with Mike Conley and Mudiay, and it’s all guys that wanna work and get better, and we’re all team guys. As long as we’re winning, everyone’s happy. I think, whenever you have that type of mentality on an NBA team, it’s the best thing.”
“Coming in, I was adamant about being a point guard, and I still am, I still want to be, but I’m fighting for minutes,” Exum said. “I want minutes. I think, for me going forward, the best thing is just being on the court. Our offence has developed into a, whoever gets the rebound or outlet, just run. I’m really good in transition, running the floor and with the ball, so wherever I can get it, it works for me.”
“I actually have a great relationship with Quin,” Exum said. “He hates when I call him Quin; coach. In the first couple of years, he was definitely the hardest on me. There’s a story me and Joe like to tell: it was, one time Joe made a mistake in practice and coach just ripped me for it, and even Joe went to coach and said ‘hey, it was my fault’, but coach still just ripped me. I’ve kind of learned how he coaches, and what he expects. He’s just a coach that wants the best for all his players, and wants to get the best out of me. I want that, too, so I respect it.”
With just a few days to go until action tips off in China, an exciting Nigeria team and head coach Alex Nwora announced their final roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019. The 12 players that were selected include team captain Ike Diogu and Al-Farouq Aminu leading Nigeria’s charge alongside other stars Ekpe Udoh (Utah Jazz), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chimezie Metu (San Antonio Spurs).
Australian basketball star Dante Exum is tentatively eyeing off a Boomers return at the 2020 Olympics. As Andrej Lemanis’ side prepare for their World Cup opener against Canada on Sunday, the Utah Jazz guard is pushing for a return to full fitness for the start of the NBA season.
The 24-year-old says he’s spoken to the Jazz about his desire to continue playing for the national team and he has hatched early plans to be part of the Boomers’ Olympic campaign in Tokyo. “I just want to get a healthy season, that’s my main focus for now,” Exum told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday. “But granted, if I’m 100 per cent healthy, I’ll definitely put my hand up.”
Exum admits it’s been a “long summer” of rehabilitation but he’s ready to reward the Jazz’s patience. “I feel like I’ve had the ability to make an impact on this team,” he said. “The Jazz wouldn’t keep me around if they didn’t think so. They know my abilities and they’ve seen it when I practice and in my work ethic. It’s just about getting back on the court.”
Alex Kennedy: These are the highest-rated teams in NBA 2K20: 1. Los Angeles Clippers (78.69) 2. Los Angeles Lakers (78.27) 3. Utah Jazz (78.17) 4. Denver Nuggets (78.08) 5. Golden State Warriors (77.71)
Marc Stein: Team USA has assigned @FIBAWC numbers now that the roster is down to 12: 4. Derrick White 5. Donovan Mitchell 6. Joe Harris 7. Marcus Smart 8. Harrison Barnes 9. Jaylen Brown 10. Jayson Tatum 11. Mason Plumlee 12. Myles Turner 13. Brook Lopez 14. Khris Middleton 15, Kemba Walker
Bobby Marks: The $17.5M per year average ranks only behind Rudy Gobert ($22.5M) for a player who was selected in the 20’s of the NBA Draft and signed a rookie extension. LeVert will become an unrestricted FA in 2023 when he is still in the prime of his career at 28-years old.
Olgun Uluc: Here’s what Donovan Mitchell had to say at Team USA’s practice in Sydney, today. Once again, he downplayed the exhibition loss to Australia: “To be honest, I think everyone else makes more of a big deal of it than we are.” pic.twitter.com/oakJKKpthw
France came back from a 16-point deficit to beat New Zealand 95 – 81 in its first preparation game in China, ahead of the World Cup. Nando De Colo scored 19 points while Frank Ntilikina and Rudy Gobert added 12 points apiece for the French side. Corey Webster contributed 11 points, Tohi Smith-Milner 11 and Tom Abercrombie 10 to New Zealand.
For Ingles and his wife, Renae, who learned in January that their then-2-year-old son, Jacob, was autistic and chose to share that meaningful message with the world, this was the sort of bigger-than-basketball moment they cherish these days. Inside Marvel Stadium where the two teams are facing off, the couple launched Melbourne’s first sensory room. A what, you ask? Yeah, I did too. And that alone tells you that there’s not enough awareness for this disorder that affected one out of every 59 kids worldwide in 2018. A sensory room is, in essence, a safe space for autistic kids to spend time when the outside world is proving to be too stressful. It’s customized for their needs, with all the activities and offerings inside intended to calm their minds and soothe their souls.
The goal, as they see it, is to have these sorts of events and facilities be the norm rather than the exception. And as Joe explained to The Athletic in a phone interview this week, the Marvel Stadium sensory room represents the latest evidence that they’re making meaningful change. “That was a really cool accomplishment that we didn’t really ever think we’d get, and I guess it’s just a lot of that stuff now, of helping other people,” Joe said. “Our whole mindset behind it is, ‘Why shouldn’t Jacob or his family feel comfortable going to these events (rather than) not being able to enjoy it? If me, Renae and the twins go, and Jacob’s not having a good time, I can take him into the sensory room and I can still watch the basketball and football on the screen that we’ve put in there, but Jacob is also (ok). The anxiety and the noise and the colors, whatever it is that he’s not enjoying – he can go to a very safe space where he can really enjoy the event that’s on.”
“Jacob is killing it,” Joe said. “He’s done about six or seven months of therapy now. He started in the States, then we came back to Melbourne and he’s really – over the last two months over here – been unreal with kind of learning and seeing his little different way of thinking. The way that the clinic he goes to is helping him prepare for life is pretty cool to see. “He’s progressing pretty rapidly, and it’s the small little milestones that are the wins for us right now. And we’re seeing a lot of them. I guess in saying that, it’s still a long process. It’s not going to change overnight, but for the next few years that will be our life.”
Eric Woodyard: Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller on passing of former coach Tom Nissalke. pic.twitter.com/O3cVRDrSl8
Tom Nissalke, the Jazz’s first head coach after the team moved from New Orleans to Utah, died Thursday at his home in Salt Lake City. The 87-year-old Madison, Wis., native was a rarity, having won Coach of the Year awards in both the American Basketball Association and the National Basketball Association.
In 1979, the struggling Jazz franchise relocated to Salt Lake and selected Nissalke, who had already been a head coach in two NBA cities (Seattle, Houston) and three ABA cities (including Salt Lake) to guide the team. His teams went 60-124 in two-plus seasons in Utah, but set a foundation for the franchise to remain. He later became head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for two seasons.
But where does that leave Team USA this summer? Who is left to build around? Well, there’s Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton and Donovan Mitchell. Those five are probably the most talented players left on the USA’s roster. On paper, that group represents a dynamic and talented core that can compete with virtually anyone. But that doesn’t guarantee success. First of all, there is a significant drop off in talent from previous years. During the most recent Olympics, Team USA had nine reigning All-Stars, but this current collection only has two – the lowest total since 1998, a lockout year for the NBA in which the professionals mostly opted out. And the competition in the 2019 FIBA World Cup isn’t just anyone.
Marc Stein: Point of clarification: There was a report in Australia this week that Gregg Popovich had formally named Kemba Walker, Donovan Mitchell and Marcus Smart as Team USA captains. But I am told it is NOT an official thing — Pop merely meant he is leaning on those guys for leadership
“We have guys that are just starting to play with each other,” said U.S. guard Donovan Mitchell, who had 13 points. “We got off to a little bit of a rough start in the first half, but the third quarter, we really picked it up defensively.”
Ingles detailed his shambolic meeting with Adelaide’s former management, which he’s spoken of only sparingly, on The Howie Games podcast. He was 17 at the time and the 36ers’ bid effectively amounted to an insult. “There’s a few rumours and stuff out there of what happened,” Ingles said. “I went into a meeting with them … I had my agent, my dad. And this was – to the 36ers’ credit now – old management, old general manager. They’ve moved on from that. “But I got offered a contract that was below the minimum. Whatever (minimum wage) was, 20 grand or whatever, it was way below the minimum.
“As (my) agent and (my) dad (were) looking over the contract, I was like, ‘That’s a bit weird’. My name was spelt wrong on the contract and I was like, ‘Ah … maybe it’s not as thought-out as you thought’. We thought they really wanted to have me. “(They misspelt) my last name, so it was like I-N-L-G-E-S or something. Which is maybe just a (typo), everyone does it, we’ve all done it. But if you’re trying to recruit someone that’s from your hometown …
“It’s an honour to be joining the investment group of the South East Melbourne Phoenix,” Exum said. “Melbourne has played a key role in my basketball journey and the chance to be involved in the ownership group of the SEM Phoenix is a perfect way to further that strong connection with the city. I look forward to seeing the continued growth of the NBL and much success and excitement for the team and the city of Melbourne.”
Utah Jazz star Joe Ingles and his wife, Melbourne Vixens star Renae Ingles are thrilled to have partnered with Marvel Stadium in the launch of Melbourne’s first in-stadium sensory room. After their son Jacob was diagnosed with autism in January, the pair found it increasingly hard to attend each other’s games due to the impact of the noise and lighting inside the arenas on their son, but a trip to Utah’s Vivint Smart Home Arena’s sensory room changed it all.
Ingles, who will be a part of Australia’s squad that takes on Team USA at Marvel Stadium this week, described Marvel’s sensory room as the “be-all and end-all”. “For us to have that option is amazing, because the flip side of it is a pretty crazy meltdown and probably a trip home at quarter time. It’s the be-all and end-all,” he said. “Just to know that I can focus on the game and know that the kids, if they’re great, I’ll be able to see them wherever they’re sitting. If not, I’ll know where they are and I’ll know that they’re in a safe space. Just to have that comfort level is amazing.”
The USA World Cup finalists roster currently includes 13 players — Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets), Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
Donovan Mitchell scored 13 points, Khris Middleton added 12 and the U.S. topped Spain 90-81 on Friday night in a warmup exhibition in advance of the FIBA World Cup that starts in China on Aug. 31. The Americans shot 55 percent from the field, 58 percent from 3-point range and held a commanding 42-20 edge in rebounds. “It was a good chance to jump in the fray and see what this is all about,” U.S. coach Gregg Popovich said after his official debut as Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement with the national team. “It was like a baptism for us. New group, players, coaches, all that sort of thing. It was a real experience.”
So for Pop-watchers of a certain age, it’s hard to resist rewinding to the height of his reverence for the Jazz every time Popovich huddles with the budding Utah star Donovan Mitchell these days — a frequent occurrence on the U.S.A. Basketball practice floor. A picture of coach and player after a recent intrasquad scrimmage in Las Vegas, side by side and backs to the camera, slammed home the point: Mitchell has begun a six-week course of higher learning under Popovich.
“I hope so,” Jazz Coach Quin Snyder said in a telephone interview. “Both Donovan and I have been excited for this opportunity, not just the chance to compete for his country but to play for Pop. I think he has an appreciation for the fact that he’s playing for the greatest coach that’s ever coached.”
Popovich still isn’t sure what he has roster-wise, but he can point to at least one luxury as he finally settles into his dream job as Mike Krzyzewski’s successor: Mitchell’s rise alongside the All-Star guard Kemba Walker will enable the United States to field an elite starting backcourt at the FIBA World Cup in China from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15. “Just try to throw yourself completely into it,” Snyder said he told Mitchell. “And try to communicate with Coach as much as you can. Be a sponge.”
After practice with Team USA at the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo on Wednesday, Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell told Allen Sliwa of ESPN’s “Lakers Talk” that he’s been impressed with the effort Kuzma has shown on defense during practices and scrimmages with USA Basketball: “He’s doing well. He’s picked it up on the defensive end. Everybody knows what he can do on the offensive end but defensively, he’s taken it to another level. He’s talking, communicating … finding other ways to improve whether it’s communication, whether it’s stepping in and taking charges, being willing to guard the best forward on the other team. That’s what I’ve noticed about him, for sure.”
Mike Trudell: A collection of G-League/overseas players beat Team USA (closing line up of K. Walker, D. Mitchell, H. Barnes, PJ Tucker and B. Lopez handily in a scrimmage just now to close USA practice. Great effort from the unheralded group.
Mitchell is prepared for plenty of Ingles’ legendary trash talk and cheeky play. “He’s always grabbing at you, pulling your shorts and stuff,” said Mitchell, recounting his experience on the Jazz practice court with Ingles. “He’s a fierce competitor and I’m looking forward to it.”
When the Jazz guard first accepted his invitation to train with the national squad, he was simply hoping to do enough to earn a spot on the roster. But after several high-profile NBA stars withdrew from the national team’s talent pool, Mitchell has found himself in an unexpected, but welcomed, position as a possible starter for his country. “A lot of the guys dropped out. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But my approach is the same. My biggest thing is to come out here and compete. Be the best defender, the best competitor, whatever I need to do to be on the floor.” Mitchell, for his part, had planned to honor his commitment to Team USA regardless. “It’s an honor,” he said, wearing his blue No. 53 practice jersey. “I was never able to be a part of USA Basketball in high school or college. So for me, it’s a privilege.”
Tommy Beer: Top NBA Teams by record over the last 20 years: 1. Spurs: 1,135-489 (.699 winning percentage), 2. Mavs: 958-656 (.596), 3. Rockets: 928-696 (.571), 4. Heat: 898-726 (.553), 5. Lakers: 893-731 (.550), 6. Thunder/Sonics: 887-737 (.546), 7. Celtics: 886-737 (.546), 8. Jazz: 884-740 (.544)
You are the Grizzlies’ all-time leading scorer, the fans in Memphis love you and you’re one of the best players in franchise history. When you look back on your time with the Grizzlies, what are you some highlights and is it bittersweet moving on? Mike Conley: Memphis made me. I always say that. The experiences I had in that city and with those fans made me. Accolades aside, the things that we accomplished aside, we grew up there. We were kids. We were 19 years old and we had to learn so much. That city helped groom us into who we are, especially myself, and I love all of the memories that we created. It was never easy. Nothing was ever easy in Memphis and I think that’s why the fans were drawn to our team so much. It’s because the way we played and the way we got overlooked and the respect that we didn’t get most of the time was very similar to how the city felt and how the locals felt about life in general. It was an easy bond. It was a family-type atmosphere. Man, it was just [special].
Mike Conley: Well, after talking to Coach Quin, we all realize what the ultimate goal is – and it’s everyone’s ultimate goal – and that’s winning a championship. We know that. Are we going to achieve the daily goals to become a champion? Whether that be getting the most out of each other every practice and shootaround, making sure we’re 100 percent locked in before games, making sure we’re always on time with nobody wandering in late, sacrificing different things in between the lines… Are we doing those things every day? That’s what it boils down to. I think we’re at the stage where we’re just working and trying to stay humble and stay focused and respect the game. At the end of the day, if we do all of the things I said, we have a good enough team, a good enough organization and good enough coaches to give ourselves a chance.
The Jazz will reportedly play against the Grizzlies in Memphis on November 15. How weird will it be to use the visiting locker room and wear a different jersey in that arena? Mike Conley: Man, whenever that day comes, I honestly don’t know how I’ll feel. I don’t even know where the visiting locker room is! I’ve really never been over there! I’ll have a lot of emotions, I’m sure. I’m not a guy who shows a lot of emotion on the court – good or bad – but it’ll probably be one of the tougher moments of my career.
Following four days of training and Friday night’s USA Blue-USA White intrasquad exhibition game in Las Vegas, USA Basketball announced 17 finalists for the 2019 USA Basketball Men’s World Cup Team. The 17 include 13 athletes from the USA National Team roster and four players from the USA Select Team. Finalists include 2016 Olympic gold medalist Harrison Barnes (Sacramento Kings); Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento Kings); Jaylen Brown (Boston Celtics); De’Aaron Fox (Sacramento Kings); Joe Harris (Brooklyn Nets); Kyle Kuzma (Los Angeles Lakers); Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks); Kyle Lowry (Toronto Raptors); Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks); Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz); 2014 World Cup gold medalist Mason Plumlee (Denver Nuggets); Marcus Smart (Boston Celtics); Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics); P.J. Tucker (Houston Rockets); Myles Turner (Indiana Pacers); Kemba Walker (Boston Celtics); and Derrick White (San Antonio Spurs).
They were oh-so-close just three summers ago at the Olympics in Rio de Janerio, when they reached the Semi-Finals and looked like the team to beat. But they lost the next two games and finished fourth, leaving a bad taste in Ingles’ mouth. “Losing the (Third Place Game) sucked. But we’ve never been that close, in years. Now it’s about putting it all together,” the 31-year-old said entering another summer with the national team. “It’s going to be exciting. We’ll have a lot of support there, and hopefully we can be the first team to bring a medal back to Australia.”
With 11 years of international basketball in Australia, Spain, Israel and the USA behind him, he will be the calming presence in the locker room. And he will know what to say if his teammates need any kind of motivation, because even for a seen-it-all guy like Ingles, there is no greater feeling than playing for Australia. “Wearing the colors, the name…it’s just something that you can’t get anywhere else. I love playing the NBA, I loved playing in Europe, but putting on the colors and the name on the jersey, there’s just really nothing that compares to that.”
But O’Neale has been a rock the past two years for the Jazz, and he’ll be one of the most important cogs in a wheel that hopes to still be rolling once next June comes around. At the very least, he’ll be in Quin Snyder’s top seven. There’s a chance he’s a starter, depending on what the Jazz decide to do with Ingles at the beginning of games. He’s for sure Utah’s best and most consistent perimeter defender. LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard. James Harden. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and Steph Curry. At some point, the Jazz will trust O’Neale to try to slow all of those guys down. “The thing we love about Royce is his capacity for work,” Jazz executive vice president Dennis Lindsey told The Athletic. “He loves the gym, and he loves the grind. And he has a body that doesn’t wear down.”
He’s worked tirelessly on his skills, attempting to develop from the 3-point line, which has given him the option as a floor spacer offensively. Those attributes are reasons he may find himself anointed a starter for the first time in his career. “He’s very strong, he has great feet and balance,” Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell said. “He doesn’t reach and he’s composed. His physicality and mentality is great. He understands what’s expected of him. “His preparation and instincts separate him. He could be one of the best defenders in the league, he really has those tools.”
Despite Thomas Heurtel leaving the team due to injury and Nando De Colo, Mathias Lessort and Axel Toupane still recovering from injuries of their own, France continued its World Cup preparations with a 94-56 win over Tunisia. Evan Fournier stepped up and led the way with 17 points while Theo Maledon – who joined the squad due to above-metntioned absences – followed with 14 while missing only one shot from the field (4-5). Rudy Gobert added 12 points.
Joining Bolden and Cooks as fresh faces in the team is Jock Landale, who made his Boomers debut in February during the final FIBA World Cup qualifying window. Landale is currently signed to Lithuanian club Žalgiris Kaunas, while he also starred for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Summer League. Six members of the 2016 Olympic team will return, with Aron Baynes, Andrew Bogut, Matthew Dellavedova, Chris Goulding, Joe Ingles and Patrick Mills taking their places in the Boomers team. With five NBL players in the team, Rio Olympians Bogut and Goulding will suit up alongside Cameron Gliddon, Nicholas Kay and Nathan Sobey. The latter three will all play in their first major international tournament after playing key roles in helping the Boomers qualify for the World Cup.
NBA players Patty Mills, Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Ingles have been included in Australia’s 12-man squad for the FIBA World Cup next month in China. Three players were picked in the squad announced Wednesday to make their international debuts, including Jonah Bolden of the Philadelphia 76ers and Xavier Cooks, who played in Germany for Oliver Wurzburg before playing in the NBA Summer League with the Phoenix Suns. Jock Landale, who plays for Lithuanian club Zalgiris Kaunas and the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Summer League, also will make his debut for the Boomers.
If the United States finds itself matched against France in the latter stages of the FIBA World Cup in China, Donovan Mitchell will inevitably have to deal with the formidable obstacle of Rudy Gobert on one of his drives to the bucket. Gobert, as you can imagine, is eagerly awaiting this potential matchup within a matchup, and has some advice for Mitchell, his Utah Jazz teammate. “Pass the ball,” Gobert said, “or shoot a really high floater.”