The Jazz are riding rookie Donovan Mitchell‘s ups and downs, and they’re 3.5 games and two teams out of playoff position.
Where does that leave 36-year-old Joe Johnson?
Marc Stein of The York Times:
Johnson is earning $10,505,000 this season in the final year of his contract. Such a large expiring deal could be useful to facilitate a trade. So, I doubt Utah buys him out until after the trade deadline.
At that point, Johnson will still be owed $3,679,718. How much would he relinquish to become a free agent?
Johnson is having the worst season of his career. He’s no longer getting to the rim or drawing fouls, and he’s bricking far too many 3-pointers. Perhaps, he’s conserving energy for a playoff run. His isolation scoring tends to be more valuable in the postseason, when the game slows down. But the simplest explanation: Johnson has just aged past effectiveness.
Still, in his 17th season, Johnson carries a positive reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised if a good team signs him post-buyout.
Again, his expiring contract could facilitate a trade with teams at every level. If a good team winds up with him, it might just keep him. If he lands on a bad team or stays with a steady or sinking Utah, a buyout would make sense. However, a trade to a bad team – like to the Bulls with a pick for Nikola Mirotic – would mean re-starting buyout negotiations.
Johnson is excellent at finessing buyouts. I’d trust him to manage that more than I’d trust him on the court at this point.
Buddy Hield is quite familiar with frustration amid the Kings’ disappointing season.
Sacramento fans showed theirs Wednesday, booing the Kings during their home loss to the Mavericks.
Buddy Hield, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:
“Everybody is frustrated, it’s not even them, we’re trying to figure it out too,” Buddy Hield said following the loss. “But it’s the home team and we get booed…we don’t agree with it, but they’re going to voice their opinion.
“I understand their frustration, but like I said, I’m going to keep shooting the ball,” Hield continued. “When I make a three they like me, when I don’t, they hate you. That’s how Sacramento fans are, man, so you’ve got to embrace it.”
Hield seemingly isn’t looking to pick a fight with fans. He made a point to empathize with their frustration.
But I don’t think he’s being fair, either.
Kings fans are far more loyal than swinging between love and hate depending whether or not a shot falls. They’re fed up after 13 – going on 14 – straight seasons missing the playoffs. This year has been particularly discouraging, as Sacramento has backtracked from fun and fast to sad and slow. Losing to Luka Doncic – a particular grievance – only adds to the irritation.
The Kings’ problems have spanned multiple owners, executives, coaches and players. So, booing this group isn’t totally fair, either. But this is who’s in front of the fans.
If this Sacramento team plays hard and together, fans will embrace it – and stick with it through thinner times.
The 76ers found one way to solve their spacing issues.
Philadelphia showed good ball movement, finding Furkan Korkmaz for an open corner 3-pointer. The catch? Korkmaz got open, because the 76ers had six players on the floor.
I love Kyle O'Quinn trying to slink off the court. He wanted to get away with it. Tobias Harris, who jogged to the bench, was practically begging to get caught.
Honestly, I’m a little surprised how quickly the Bulls noticed the violation. It’s not as if their defense scrambling is anything new.
Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders called Karl-Anthony Towns “day-to-day” with a left knee sprain.
That was 30 days ago.
Towns finally returned to Minnesota’s lineup, starting against the Pacers tonight.
While out due to his knee, Towns also battled illness. That undoubtedly complicated matters. But the Timberwolves repeatedly calling him “questionable” raises questions about their commitment to transparency. That’s important in an NBA embracing gambling.
Towns’ 17-game absence is a rare dent in his durability. In his first four seasons, Towns missed only five games – two due to a car crash.
Towns is Minnesota’s best player. He could provide a jolt to a team hanging in the playoff race. But, after a strong start, the Timberwolves began to tumble even before Towns went down. They’re probably won’t make the playoffs, though their odds are definitely better with him. At least he returns in time to make an All-Star case.
Marcus Morris loathes the Suns.
Unfortunately for him, his Knicks lost to the Suns, 121-98, yesterday.
Morris, via Kristian Winfield of the New York Daily News:
“Kudos to Phoenix, but at the end of the day, we were a better team,” Marcus Morris said postgame. “We should have got that win tonight.”
The Knicks stink. They’ve lost seven of eight. Morris talked about energy, and New York’s could be better. But this is what happens on losing teams. The Knicks’ roster just isn’t good enough. It’s not more complicated than that.
The Suns aren’t great, either. But they’re much better than New York – no matter how much that grinds Morris.