Morning Shootaround

Shootaround (Oct. 8): Jazz scrambling after Gordon Hayward's injury

Hayward’s injury impact | Lowry planning to opt out | Bayless may miss start of season

No. 1: Hayward’s injury impact — The Utah Jazz spent the last few seasons slowly building for this moment, when their youth moment would mature and they would enter a season as a genuine playoff contender. And then starting swingman Gordon Hayward, who has started the last 233 games for the Jazz, broke a finger yesterday in practice. And while the Jazz haven’t announced a timetable for his absence, the Jazz have some things to figure out during his absence, as Ryan McDonald wrote in the Desert News…

The most immediate change to Quin Snyder’s club brought about by Hayward’s injury will be at small forward, where Hayward has started the last 233 regular season games.The most obvious candidate to replace the seven-year pro is Joe Johnson, a 16-year veteran who the Jazz signed in free agency over the summer. A seven-time All-Star, Johnson has averaged 16.9 points in 36 minutes per game throughout his career, but was expected to take a reduced role in Utah. In two preseason games, Johnson has struggled to find his place in the Jazz’s offense, but Snyder expressed Friday that he’s not worried about the Arkansas product. Should Snyder want to continue bringing Johnson off the bench, he could opt to move Rodney Hood from shooting guard to small forward and insert Dante Exum into the starting backcourt alongside George Hill. While it was thought that Exum would serve primarily in a backup role to Hill this season, Snyder has already played the two together (as well as Exum with Shelvin Mack) during the preseason. When Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey brought in Hill, Johnson and big man Boris Diaw over the summer, the Jazz became one of the deeper teams in the NBA. Combining Hayward’s expected absence with the ongoing rehab of backup shooting guard Alec Burks, Utah is once again quite thin on the wing. Even if Burks does return by the beginning of the regular season as expected, it is likely that Joe Ingles will once again see significant playing time. Depending on what Snyder decides to do with the starting lineup, Ingles will be joined on the second unit by either Johnson or Exum, as well as Diaw and second-year forward Trey Lyles. Not only will the Jazz’s lineup have to be reconfigured during Hayward’s absence, but they’ll have to figure out how to function without their leading scorer. First and foremost, Derrick Favors will likely be counted on to produce even more in the post. On the wing, Johnson has made a career out of being able to score, although it remains to be seen if he’s lost a step. Burks is a question mark but has a rather uncanny ability to get to the basket for easy buckets. Hill came to the Jazz with a reputation of being able to score, as he has averaged 11.3 points per game during his career.


No. 2: Lowry planning to opt out — It happened later in his career than it happens for some other players, but the last few seasons with Toronto, Kyle Lowry has ascended to the NBA’s upper echelon, an All-Star and USA Basketball representative. And according to a report from Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Lowry plans to capitalize next summer by opting out of his contract next summer, although he hopes to stay in Toronto long-term…

Now, Lowry is sitting inside the second-floor restaurant of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and everything has changed for him. Again. Few players have reinvented themselves like Lowry, turned talk of career change into such decisive and dramatic action. Out of the uncertainty of a year ago, Lowry has been voted an All-Star starter for a second straight year, delivered the Raptors within two victories of the NBA Finals and earned Olympic gold with Team USA. Within a year, Lowry had gone deeper into an improbable career transformation: From journeyman malcontent to a franchise guard, from his bags packed for a trade to New York in 2013 to a burgeoning Canadian sporting icon, Lowry has never had so much opportunity, so much leverage. Lowry plans to opt out of the final year of his contract, he told The Vertical, passing on a $12 million salary in 2017-18 to join a point-guard marketplace that will include the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul and Golden State’s Steph Curry, who has already said he plans to re-sign with the Warriors. As an organization, the Raptors have richly rewarded those responsible for the franchise’s unprecedented success: From DeMar DeRozan’s five-year, $139 million extension in July, to the extensions and high-end raises for president Masai Ujiri and coach Dwane Casey, Toronto conducts itself as a legitimate big-market powerhouse. Lowry, 30, loves the life he has there, the contending core, the endorsement opportunities, the manic fanbase and the chance to someday raise his No. 7 into the arena rafters. Somewhere on the summer market – Philadelphia, New York, perhaps the Clippers, should they lose Paul – there will be an offer in the neighborhood of a max deal for him. Nevertheless, Lowry’s preference is a painless, fast, five-year deal to stay in Toronto, to take him into his mid-30s with the Raptors. “If you’re that franchise’s guy, and you’re the guy that they’ve been rolling with, and you’ve given that franchise everything you have, yeah, I think [the talks] should be easy,” Lowry told The Vertical. “I think it should be a situation where a guy shouldn’t have to talk to another team. DeMar didn’t have the chance to talk to another team. … “For me, I think that at 12:01 a.m. on July 1 – something should be close. If not, I’m open to seeing what else is out there.” This is no ultimatum out of Lowry, no threat: It is simply the reality of a robust market, where All-Star players reaching the conference finals are compensated accordingly now. Ujiri makes no negotiating promises in public, but understand: Toronto hasn’t lost a player that it’s been committed to keeping. History’s on Lowry’s side here. “Kyle has been at the forefront of the Raptor movement,” Ujiri told The Vertical. “How he goes, we go. He has helped establish a culture that will grow even more. We really appreciate that. He is a winner, and we want to win.”


No. 3: Bayless may miss start of season — As if the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t had enough bad luck with injuries, today came a report from Philly that starting point guard Jerryd Bayless may miss the start of the regular season while he deals with a wrist injury. In the Philadelphia Inquirer…

It appears that Jerryd Bayless’ left wrist is worse that the 76ers had originally expected. The point guard had an MRI on Wednesday, and the test results weren’t favorable. The Sixers have been hush on the details, saying that it will make announcement in the near future. Bayless said Thursday night that he wasn’t sure what was wrong. But… “It’s not the best right now,” Bayless said. Asked if he would miss the games at the start of the season, he responded “Yeah, I might.”


SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Joel Embiid would like to be known by his new nickname, “The Process” … Carmelo Anthony says Jeremy Lin is the face of the franchise in Brooklyn … The Grizzlies waived Tony Wroten … One report says Cavs are letting Tristan Thompson rest his sore foot …