The Utah Jazz officially completed a three-way trade on Wednesday.
Headed Utah’s way are Portland’s latest guard acquisition, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, along with San Antonio PF/C Juancho Hernangomez. Portland will receive Joe Ingles’ expiring $13 million contract, young wing Elijah Hughes, and a second-round pick from Utah. Meanwhile, the Spurs will receive Tomas Satoransky from Portland, along with another one of Utah’s second round picks.
Alexander-Walker is a third-year player who was drafted by New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. On Tuesday, he was part of the value that the Blazers received back in sending C.J. McCollum to the Pelicans. On Wednesday — before the Pelicans/Blazers trade could officially be completed — Alexander-Walker was then re-routed to the Jazz.
The 23-year-old guard averaged 12.8 points per game for the Pelicans this season, but on low shooting percentages, making just 37.5% of his field goals and 31% of his 3-point shots. On defense, he shows solid will on-ball, but sometimes makes mistakes off-ball that are common among young players.
“His length and his ability to make a shot, there’s a skill-set there, he has some tools,” coach Quin Snyder said in his pregame comments. “If he can come in and have an impact defensively, that’s something that we’re constantly telling our whole team. He does have the length and the size to be a really committed defender.”
Hernangomez was also part of an earlier trade this season, a three-team deal executed on Jan. 19 between the Celtics, Nuggets and Spurs. He’s been a bit player for both the Celtics and Spurs this season, averaging just 1.1 points per game in the 23 games he has played in 2021-22.
The deal, meanwhile, marks the end of Ingles’ remarkable eight-year run with the Jazz.
He was claimed on waivers by the team on Oct. 27, 2014 to little fanfare after being waived by the Clippers, and slowly developed into an indispensable rotation piece over subsequent seasons.
Owing to his ball-handling, court vision, and 3-point shooting, he wound up playing 590 games with the team, averaging 8.6 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range.
“Today’s a tough day with Joe,” Snyder said. “I can’t really articulate how much he’s meant to the organization, and to me personally.”
Still, owing to his declining production this season, and him being in the final year of his contract, he increasingly became a target of trade speculation. When he tore his ACL in a game in Minnesota at the end of January, he seemed resigned to being dealt.
After all, he could no longer contribute to the team on the court this season, but he could bring back a return from a team looking to get an expiring contract on its books.
That’s exactly what happened, with Alexander-Walker and Hernangomez incoming.
Alexander-Walker is listed at 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds. He is a native of Toronto, played his high school ball in Tennessee, and played collegiately at Virginia Tech. He is a cousin of up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
He is also averaging 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season.
Alexander-Walker remains on his rookie contract, and is making just under $3.3 million this season. His fourth-year team option was exercised this past Oct. 13, and he will make $5 million next season.
The Jazz will hope that he can give them a multi-positional, switchable wing with some size, capable of providing some of the play-making they will miss with Ingles gone, and able to bolster an underwhelming perimeter defense.
Hernangomez is a 26-year-old native of Spain, now in his sixth season in the league (and whose brother, Willy Hernangomez, plays for the Charlotte Hornets). He is a slight-framed, reserve big man (6-9, 214) who was the 15th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Known as an energy and hustle guy, he has career averages of 5.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game.
Though he is shooting just 3 for 21 on 3-pointers this season, he actually has a history of moderate success as a deep shooter, at 34.4% on 2.4 attempts per game for his career. He’s also been a decent rebounder — in the five games he played with the Spurs this season, he brought down 10.6 boards per 36 minutes. He’s at 7.6 boards per 36 for his career.
Hernangomez has a cap figure of about $6.9 million this season in base salary and likely incentives. He is under contract for $7.4 million next season (salary and likely incentives), but that is nonguaranteed if he is waived before June 30.
Snyder said he’d spoken with both players via text message, and was excited to get them into the program to get to know their games better.
Hughes was a second-round pick of the Jazz in 2020, where he was selected 39th overall out of Syracuse. The 6-5, 215-pound scorer never really contended for a spot in the rotation, appearing in just 32 combined games over his two seasons with the Jazz. He was averaging 3.1 points this year, and shooting 35.7% from deep. His best game came this Jan. 7 in Toronto, when he racked up 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals, in a game in which the Jazz sat out seven key rotation players.
This story will be updated.