Chris Johnson

Utah starts Joe Johnson at small forward with Gordon Hayward out

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Who plays where during an NBA preseason game usually matters as much as a Family Guy cutaway, but there was an interesting one Monday night:

What would the Jazz do with Gordon Hayward out? Go with the veteran.

This is not a lock for the regular season, but it also makes the most sense. Joe Johnson gets the start with Chris Johnson and Alec Burks (in small ball lineups) behind him. It’s Utah’s best option.

It’s also a step down. None of those guys are the shot creators and threat that Hayward has become. The Jazz added depth at point guard with George Hill (plus getting Dante Exum back from injury), plus adding veterans like Boris Diaw to the lineup. But it’s going to take a lot more to make up for Hayward, who was the best shot creator on the team.

Utah’s Gordon Hayward breaks finger on left hand, out six weeks

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Gordon Hayward is the most underrated star player in the NBA — at 19.7 points a game and the focal point of the Jazz offense, he is an efficient scorer carrying a heavy load in the Jazz on that end of the floor. He is the go-to guy on everybody’s pick as a breakout team this season (they also were last season until injuries did them in). He could be an All-NBA player this season, he’s on the cusp.

Except, now he’s going to miss some time to start the season due to a dislocated and broken ring finger on his left hand. Chris Haynes of ESPN broke the news, Jody Genessy of the Deseret News added to it, and eventually the Jazz sent out a press release confirming it.

The good news is that is off hand. The Jazz confirmed that it was the ring finger on his hand, and treatment options — including surgery — are being considered. Other reports said Hayward’s hand got caught up in a teammate’s jersey, which led to the fracture.

Six weeks means he will miss at least some of the start of the season (he will be re-evaluated in three weeks).

This is a setback for Utah, they will likely use a combination of Joe Johnson and Chris Johnson to fill in (maybe some small ball lineups with Alec Burks), but neither of those are the shot creators and threat that Hayward has become. The Jazz do have more stability and depth on offense this season after adding George Hill at the point (and getting Dante Exum back from injury), plus veterans such as Johnson who can step in and contribute now. But the Jazz need Gordon to make the entire thing work. He will be missed.

Plus, Gordon is in a contract year, so you know he wants to be out there.

Report: Jazz trade 76ers two second-rounders to take Tibor Pleiss

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You can remove Sam Hinkie from Philadelphia, but you can’t pull the 76ers out of The Process.

Not immediately, at least.

Hinkie slashed payroll so drastically, a spending spree that included Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson and Sergio Rodriguez still left the 76ers with more cap space than they know what to do with. So, Philadelphia is making another Hinkie-esque move – getting draft picks in a salary dump.

The Jazz signed second-rounder Joel Bolomboy, making him their 15th player with a guaranteed 2015-16 salary. Rather than eating Tibor Pleiss‘ salary to make room for Jeff Withey, an NBA-caliber center on an unguaranteed deal, Utah is sending the 76ers draft picks to handle that financial burden.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Kendall Marshall‘s contract is unguaranteed until Sept. 2. Expect the Jazz to waive him before then. Then, they can keep Withey – or maybe Chris Johnson (unguaranteed) or Marcus Paige (partial guarantee). Utah can make a final determination in the preseason.

The 7-foot-3 Pleiss was drafted with lofty expectations in 2010, and he remained overseas until last season. After acquiring his rights from the Thunder in the Enes Kanter trade, Utah signed Pleiss last summer to a three-year contract that’s fully guaranteed at $3 million this season and has $500,000 of $3.1 million guaranteed next season. But he looked completely overwhelmed during his rookie year, and he’s nearly 27.

Philadelphia already has a logjam at center with Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid. Perhaps, the 76ers take a chance on Pleiss, who’s big and has some shooting touch. But they could easily afford to waive him and eat his salary.

At worst, they got a couple draft picks for their trouble – just like old times.

Jazz sign second-rounders Joel Bolomboy, Marcus Paige

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The Jazz expedited their rise this offseason by trading their first-round pick for George Hill, using cap space to acquire Boris Diaw in another deal and signing Joe Johnson.

But Utah still has room for youth.

The Jazz signed two of their three 2016 second-round picks – No. 52 pick Joel Bolomboy and No. 55 pick Marcus Paige.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed 2016 second-round pick forward/center Joel Bolomboy (Ball-um-boy).

He will wear jersey #22 for the Jazz.

Jazz release:

The Utah Jazz announced today that the team has signed 2016 second-round pick guard Marcus Paige.

He will wear jersey #16 for the Jazz.

Bolomboy is an energetic and athletic rebounder, and that should translate to the NBA. Will the rest of his game round into form? If not, will rebounding and hustle be enough to carve out a role? The power forward from Weber State was worth betting on late in the second round. He might not get much playing time behind Derrick Favors, Diaw and Trey Lyles, but it’s probably worth keeping Bolomboy on an NBA contract and monitoring his development.

Paige is in a similar situation, though point guard is even more crowded with George Hill, Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack and Raul Neto. After four years at North Carolina, how much untapped potential remains?

The Jazz have 14 players – one shy of the regular-season roster limit – with guaranteed salaries plus Jeff Withey and Chris Johnson. So, barring something unforeseen, there isn’t room for both Bolomboy and Paige (let alone unsigned No. 60 pick Tyrone Wallace) to stick. Utah could waive either rookie and assign his D-League rights to its affiliate, the Salt Lake City Stars. But that player would become an NBA free agent.

That’s why I’m a little surprised the Jazz signed both. Perhaps, Paige forced their hand by accepting the required tender (a one-year contract, surely unguaranteed at the minimum, teams must extend to retain a player’s draft rights).

Essentially, this sets up a training-camp competition between Bolomboy, Paige, Withey and Johnson with one NBA salary on the line. My money is on Bolomboy.

Gordon Hayward scores 28 as Jazz defeat Rockets 117-114 in overtime

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Gordon Hayward scored 28 points and the Utah Jazz defeated the Houston Rockets 117-114 in overtime Tuesday night in a game with significant playoff implications.

The victory moved the Jazz into the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference playoff race, a half-game ahead of the Rockets.

The first tiebreaker for a two-way tie is head-to-head winning percentage. The Rockets fell to 2-1 against the Jazz this season.

James Harden scored 42 points for Houston, and Jason Terry hit a 3-pointer with 10.8 seconds remaining in regulation to tie it at 106 and force overtime.

It was Harden’s eighth 40-point game, tying him with Stephen Curry.

Rodney Hood made a 3 over Dwight Howard with 51.9 seconds left in OT to give the Jazz a 115-112 lead. Harden followed with a layup, but Derrick Favors‘ putback pushed the margin to 117-114 with 11.8 seconds to go.

Favors finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks. Howard had 13 points and 16 rebounds.

The Rockets rallied in the third quarter behind a spectacular effort from Harden, but Trey Burke hit three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Jazz retook the lead.

Utah jumped out to a 34-23 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to a 15-2 run. The highlight of the half came on Hood’s crossover, step-back 3-pointer over Howard to beat the buzzer.

Turnovers, however, kept the Rockets in it. Utah committed 16 turnovers in the first half that Houston converted into 23 points.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston is 24-22 since J.B. Bickerstaff took over as interim coach. … Trevor Ariza scored 18 points but the Rockets were minus-12 when he was on the court. … Patrick Beverley finished with 14 points. … The Rockets have played six overtime games this season.

Jazz: Utah rallied in the fourth quarter with the lineup of Burke, Hood, Favors, Chris Johnson and Trevor Booker. … The Jazz were outscored 32-23 in the third quarter. … Hood had a career-high five steals. … The Jazz have played eight overtime games this season.

THAT WAS QUICK

The Jazz traded for Shelvin Mack on Thursday and he moved into the starting lineup Tuesday after playing just one game. Raul Neto was the first point guard off the bench after starting 53 games. Burke checked in with 11:25 left in the second quarter. Mack scored a season-high 17 points. Coach Quin Snyder indicated before the game that he’d like to stick to one starting lineup down the stretch. “We’re not at a point now where we need to be making changes all the time and trying to find combinations and things like that,” Snyder said. “We’ve done that.”

SWITCH UP

The Rockets inserted Josh Smith into the starting lineup along with Ariza, Beverley, Howard and Harden for the second consecutive game. It’s just the second time Houston has used that starting lineup as Bickerstaff has decided to go big. “It really had nothing to do with matchups,” Bickerstaff said. “It had more to do with skill set. … We figured we needed a guy in that first group who can be a facilitator. One of Josh’s greatest strengths is moving the ball. He complements Dwight and James really, really well.”