Tag: Jeff Withey


Jazz sign J.J. O’Brien to join roster competition

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The Jazz are set to hold one heck of a training-camp battle.

Utah just added its 20th player, the offseason limit, to compete for 15 regular-season roster spots.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed free agent forward J.J. O’Brien.

Utah has 13 players with guaranteed contracts, leaving two potential vacancies on the regular-season roster for the other seven players.

Jeff Withey’s deal is $200,00 guaranteed, and Treveon Graham’s is $75,000. Christopher Johnson, Jack Cooley, Elijah Millsap and Bryce Cotton have unguaranteed contracts. O’Brien’s salary is partially guaranteed, according to Mark Zeigler of The San Diego Union-Tribune.

O’Brien, a 6-foot-7 forward, went undrafted out of San Diego State. He’s well-rounded for a power forward, though undersized. He’s not quite skilled enough to be a small forward.

Most likely, the Jazz waive him and assign his D-League rights to their affiliate, the Idaho Stampede.

Withey, Millsap and Cotton are the favorites to make the regular-season roster. Withey has shown some ability at the NBA level and has the largest guarantee. Millsap looked good defensively last season. Cotton might be needed at point guard with Dante Exum injured, though Utah has Trey Burke and Raul Neto, and Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Joe Ingles and Rodney Hood can handle some point guard duties.

Like Graham’s, O’Brien’s partial guarantee gives him a slight leg up. Its size – but more importantly, how he plays in camp and the preseason – will determine whether he makes the team.

Utah Jazz reach non-guaranteed deal with big man Jeff Withey

Jeff Withey, Luis Scola

Jeff Withey was buried in the New Orleans front court last season, behind Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson, Omer Asik, and Alexis Ajinca. Withey only got on the court in garbage time. That said, Withey’s numbers suggest he might be a solid backup center if given the minutes.

Utah may do that. They are at least going to take a look, having reached a deal with him reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports (Withey has since confirmed the signing).

Free agent 7-footer Jeff Withey has reached agreement to sign a two-year, partially guaranteed contract with the Utah Jazz, league sources told Yahoo Sports… Withey’s deal includes a team option in the second year, a league source told Yahoo.

It is possible Withey makes the Utah roster, but once again it will be difficult for him to get run. Clearly Rudy Gobert is the starter for the Jazz at center, but the minutes behind him are up for grabs. Rookie Tibor Pleiss will be on the roster, as will Trey Lyles, but throw in Derrick Favors and Trevor Booker (at the four) and space is limited along the front line. Jack Cooley has a partially guaranteed deal as well and will be fighting for a roster spot along with Withey.

Withey puts up good shot blocking numbers in the paint, he’s a solid rebounder, although his lack of NBA-level athleticism limits him. But even if he defends well, the question becomes his raw offensive game too much of a drag to make him worth it? Has Withey taken steps forward on the offensive end we have yet to see? Maybe a midrange game?

If Withey can prove that he learned and grew his game the past couple seasons on the bench in New Orleans — that he’s more than just another tall body — he will get some run in Utah. But he’s going to have to prove it, they have options.

67RIEFNS No. 25: Synergy of the Pelicans’ lineup

Omer Asik,Anthony Davis

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

The immediate and widespread reaction to the Pelicans trading a draft pick that could fall in the top 10 for Omer Asik was that New Orleans overpaid.

And that was accurate.

The Pelicans – in a tough Western Conference, where just making the playoffs will take an extremely impressive season – dealt a pick unprotected for picks 4-19. It’s quite likely, that turns out favorably for the Rockets.

But the trade is done. Now, New Orleans just has a really good lineup.

The Pelicans, even if healthy, had a weak spot at starting center. A four-headed monster of Alexis Ajinca, Jason Smith, Greg Stiemsma and Jeff Withey did not cut it last season.

Worse yet, that center rotation left Anthony Davis to handle more pounding down low. Davis is pretty great, a true emerging superstar, but he’s not built to withstand so much physicality. Asik will gladly carry that burden.

Asik is far from perfect, but he fits incredibly well in New Orleans. He’s the missing piece that makes everything come together for a team that went 34-48 last season.

Just look at this lineup

  • Point guard: Jrue Holiday
  • Shooting guard: Eric Gordon
  • Small forward: Tyreke Evans
  • Power forward: Anthony Davis
  • Center: Omer Asik
  • Sixth man: Ryan Anderson

That’s a lineup with talent. That’s a lineup with balanced skills. That’s a lineup that strikes fear in opponents.

Holiday has already turned his impressive physical traits into stout defense, and his offensive game is solid and moving in the right direction. Gordon can space the floor, and Evans can use that spacing to get to the rim. Davis is a versatile offensive weapon, capable of scoring inside and in mid-range, and he has Defensive Player of the Year potential due to his length and agility. Asik is a physical banger who will grab rebounds and control the paint. Anderson, a talented stretch four, scores and rebounds, though his defense is underwhelming.

When combinations of those six play together, the Pelicans should be very good. Very good.

I’m still not sold they’ll make the playoffs in a deep Western Conference, so I wouldn’t have traded such a valuable pick for Asik. Especially with Davis on the roster, the goal should be contending for a championship in a few years, not sneaking into the postseason this year.

But the series is called “Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season,” not “Reasons I’m Wary About Three Years From Now.” So, the Pelicans lineup – with Asik bringing everything together and freeing Davis to soar even higher – easily makes the cut.

Miroslav Raduljica, after being waived by Clippers, not ready to return to Europe

Miroslav Raduljica

Here are the top 25 rookies from last season by win shares:

Player Team Win shares
Mason Plumlee BRK 4.7
Tim Hardaway NYK 3.1
Steven Adams OKC 2.9
Kelly Olynyk BOS 2.9
Cody Zeller CHA 2.6
Gorgui Dieng MIN 2.2
Ryan Kelly LAL 2.2
Matthew Dellavedova CLE 2.1
Hollis Thompson PHI 2
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope DET 1.8
Jeff Withey NOP 1.8
Tony Snell CHI 1.6
Nick Calathes MEM 1.5
Pero Antic ATL 1.4
Michael Carter-Williams PHI 1.3
Victor Oladipo ORL 1.3
Giannis Antetokounmpo MIL 1.2
Nate Wolters MIL 1.2
Robbie Hummel MIN 1.1
Miroslav Raduljica MIL 1.1
Trey Burke UTA 0.9
Ben McLemore SAC 0.8
Andre Roberson OKC 0.8
Dewayne Dedmon GSW/PHI/ORL 0.6
Rudy Gobert UTA 0.4
Solomon Hill IND 0.4
Ray McCallum SAC 0.4

Of those 27 (three tied for 25th), 26 have something in common. They’re under contract for next season.

The exception: Miroslav Raduljica, who was traded by the Bucks and waived by the Clippers.

Raduljica’s contributions in Milwaukee, 3.8 points on 54 percent shooting and 2.3 rebounds in 9.7 minutes per game, were modest. But for a rookie, they were encouraging. The 7-foot center could definitely stick in the NBA a bit longer.

Or he could return to Europe, where he played prior to last season. After a promising year with the Bucks, maybe he could earn more there and avoid the indignity of pitching himself to NBA teams.

But he’s going to try to stick out in America.

John Schumann of NBA.com:

After one season in the league, he said he wants to stay (though it was “a little cold in Milwaukee”). He said he’s only heard rumors about any other teams that may want him and “I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen next.”

Someone should sign Raduljica. Though I might not offer him more than a minimum contract, I’d definitely be happy to have him for that.

Plenty of teams could use a 26-year-old third center on the border of deserving a rotation spot – including the team that just waived him.

Notes from a Summer League Thursday: Patrick Ewing talks Noah Vonleh, P.J. Hairston, Lance Stephenson

Charlotte Hornets v Dallas Mavericks

LAS VEGAS — Things are quieting down in Las Vegas… well, at Summer League. Vegas itself never quiets down. This is the city where once you’ve been here five days and you get to bed at 2 a.m. and think, “good, I got in early tonight and can get some sleep.”

Here is stuff from my Thursday notebook.

• Charlotte Hornets Summer League coach Patrick Ewing spoke with ProBasketballTalk about the development of a couple key guys. One is Noah Vonleh, who has struggled at points finding an offensive groove — he was 3-of-11 shooting Thursday against New Orleans. There have been flashes but Vonleh is a project.

“I like Noah, I think he has a bright future in this league. He’s a rookie, he’s 19 years old, it’s going to take some time…” Charlotte Summer League coach Patrick Ewing told ProBasketballTalk. “The thing I think he needs to do is: rebound. He has to continue to rebound. His second game in here he had 18 rebounds and it’s not been consistent. Do all the things that he can be consistent with until his offense and all the other parts of his game is able to get going. He has to get stronger. But he’s a talented guy and he’s going to be one of the guys who is going to have a bright future for our team and possibly could be a star in this league.”

• Ewing also talked P.J. Hairston, who is ready to shoot the second he walks in the gym — a player on the opposing Pelicans said to press row at the half “How ‘bout how much P.J. shoots?” That said they were falling for him on Thursday.

“P.J., he had a very good game for us tonight. He shot the ball extremely well,” Ewing said of Hairston’s 8-of-16 overall, 4-of-9 from three night from the floor. “I keep telling him, get back and rebound also. Share the ball, because a lot of the shots are going to him and don’t just put your head down and take it. He should be a rotational player in this league, his future is predicated on how much he wants it and how much he wants to put in the work to get it.”

• P.J. Hairston does this thing where if he feels contact while dribbling he throws his head back to exaggerate it and try and get the call.

• While we were at it, I asked Ewing (also a Hornets assistant during the regular season) about the chances for the Hornets next season with the addition of Lance Stephenson.

“They keep saying the East is wide open, you never know,” Ewing said. We feel that we have a pretty good team. Lance definitely is a great addition to our ball club, he’s a guy that can shoot the basketball, he can handle the basketball, distribute the basketball, and he can get in there and play defense and rebound. He’s a great addition. We had one of the top 10 defenses in the league and with his addition it’s going to be even better.”

• Dontas Motiejunas showed what happened when you put a rotation caliber NBA big man in a Summer League game. He had 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, pulled down 11 rebounds, blocked one shot and altered a bunch more. The Cavs simply could not match up on him with this Summer League roster. Anthony Bennett tried but he’s not big enough to stop a skilled big. The guys big enough were too slow.

• Andrew Wiggins had a showcase game Thursday where he just attacked the rim — he had 20 free throw attempts on his way to 21 points (on 3-of-5 shooting). He’s still raw in a lot of ways but he has decent handles already and when he attacks good things happen.

• Here is Cavaliers coach Dave Blatt on Wiggins: “You know what you got to like about a kid like that is that it doesn’t matter if it’s the fourth game of Summer League, or the fourth game in seven days or eight days, or if people are keying on him, or if the crowd has funny things to say to him, he just goes out there and really plays and has a nice calm about him. A real good demeanor.” That includes him ignoring the trade rumors swirling around him.

• After seeing him a few times in Vegas I’m not the biggest fan of Zach LaVine’s game, but man can he dunk.

• Utah Jazz rookie Rodney Hood can flat out shoot the ball, and with the dual point-guard role of Trey Burke and Dante Exum there was room for him to shine as a shooter. He summed up the Jazz offense through Summer League:

“I think we did a a great job moving the ball. Some games we became a little stagnant because of the way people were playing, they were real aggressive. We shared the ball a lot, you rarely ever saw Iso ball or stuff like that for the most part, sometimes we didn’t shoot the ball well….

“It’s fun, especially for role players like my self, on the other end you’re that much more engaged if you’re going to touch the ball, playing with unselfish guys.”

• That said, Exum seemed a little frustrated that he got fewer touches on Thursday (Burke got more).

• Forced to do it because of the roster, Russ Smith showed he can create a little offense, putting up 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting Thursday.

• Cody Zeller is solid backup big. Pretty good defender, works hard on the glass, willing to be physical, actually has some handles, can finish through contact. Outplayed Jeff Withey head-to-head Thursday.

• Speaking of bigs who looked solid — Patric Young. A guy who never developed into the star some hoped still has an NBA body and all week has worked hard on the glass, put in the effort on defense. Should get a training camp invite somewhere at least.

• Some team carrying three point guards really should consider Will Cherry for the third spot. Raw on the edges but a ball of energy.

• The Spurs work the ball into the post in the half court more than any other team in Summer League. (This is a league where guards trying to get noticed like to shoot the rock not pass it.)