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Report: Jazz expected to shop No. 12 pick for veteran point guard or wing

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At 78-86, the Jazz have – by far – the best  record over the last two years without making the playoffs either season:

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Utah remains a young team and continue building patiently.

But maybe it’s time to cash in some chips – like the NO. 12 pick – for an immediate boost.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

For the second straight year, rival execs expect Utah to quietly gauge the market for its lottery pick in search of veteran help at point guard or on the wing. And for the second straight year, Utah will have trouble finding a player under the right sort of contract, and in the right age range, to make a deal worthwhile.

This went nowhere last year, so the Jazz drafted Trey Lyles – another young player in their arsenal full of them. I’m not as convinced as Lowe this year will produce similar results.

Utah could still get better in the short term at point guard, with Dante Exum just 20 and robbed by injury of a season of development. Another quality wing behind Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood could be useful.

Missing the playoffs a second time could also add temptation for an immediate upgrade, but the big difference is the salary cap.

Including the No. 12 pick, the Jazz are in line to have 15 players under contract and be about $19 million below the salary floor and $29 million below the the salary cap. That $19 million will get spent one way or another, whether it’s acquiring players in mid-season deals, restructuring contracts or paying the shortfall to players on the team (the only “punishment” for not meeting the floor).

So, why not spend it this summer to upgrade the roster for the entire season? Maybe that means free agency, though Utah isn’t traditionally the most appealing destination. Utah should  also be more open to accepting a highly paid player in a trade. The willingness to accept a less-than-desirable contract plus the No. 12 pick could yield a player who really helps on the floor now.

The Jazz are in a place where winning now must start to matter.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.