Defense. Young teams are not usually good defensively but as the Jazz build the core of Jazz 4.0 (the Jazz next generation) this will be a group capable of defending. Favors and Kanter can anchor the middle. Burks and Hayward are active on the wings and Rudy Gobert in years could be a major defensive force in the NBA.
I think this is where they could be really special. Young guys that already get after it defensively.
Over the last three seasonís Gordon Hayward has gone from 5 pts a game to 11.8 pts a game to 14 pts a game. Now it is time to see if the member of the USA Elite Team is ready to become a leader of a franchise. Letís get a little geeky, last year Hawyard used 24% of his possessions to shot a three (hitting on 42%) and he got to the line 12.7 of his possessions. The two most efficient ways to score are shooting a three and going to the line. Only 3 other players in the NBA who played more than 10 minutes a night did what Hayward did last year Ė James Harden, Danilo Gallinari and Gerald Wallace and none of them shot the three better than 37%.
More Gordon Hayward. Last year Gordon Hayward averaged per 36 minutes on the floor 17 pts, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The players who have done the same playing on the wing in the last 20 seasons are Le Bron James, Carmelo Anthony, Richard Jefferson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker, Grant Hill, Juwan Howard, Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn. Solid company.
Pretty good company on both counts.
Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Both of these players are still very young but the prospects are very exciting. Favors has a chance to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He will have to learn a lot about how to play entire games. His workouts with Karl Malone has been awesome and hopefully can allow him to develop a basis for an offensive game. Enes Kanter got a two chances to start against lesser teams, Cleveland and Toronto, and he killed it averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds. In the 16 games Kanter played 20 or more minutes he averaged 13 pts and 8 rebs while shooting 59.7%. He has a legitimate chance to be a go to offensive player in the NBA. Neither of these players are completely ready, but now is the time for them to develop and learn how to become better NBA players.
"I thought he did a great job. For having not practiced at all, it tells you a little bit about his mentality," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said of Neto. "He sat over there and watched and listened to everything that was going on in practice, and he was able to come in and run the plays.
"He knew every call. He knew the action. He knew where guys were supposed to be. He knew the timing. That speaks volumes."
Judging Neto's debut in Utah's 98-69 win over Brooklyn's summer squad, you might have thought he was the NCAA player of the year.
He isn't. That well-earned distinction belongs to Burke, who was given the day off by the Jazz coaching staff after shooting 22.2 percent from the field with only seven assists and six turnovers in two previous games.
"It's been a long time since I haven't played in a game," said Burke, who led Michigan to the 2013 NCAA championship game. "It wasn't hard because I knew I wasn't being punished."
Rather, Lowe cited multiple reasons why the Jazz had the ninth-overall pick the organization traded up to obtain sit this one out.
Coaches wanted to give him rest and to allow Neto and Jerel McNeal play.
The staff wanted Burke to watch from the bench so he could see the quicker pace, observe plays develop and get a feel for timing.
They also wanted him to sit next to Jazz assistant Brad Jones and be able to learn throughout the game.
"I think," Lowe said, "it was huge for him to sit back this game."
Burke, who hopes to be an NBA All-Star, let alone a summer league starter, looked a bit fidgety on the bench, even gnawing at his nails at times. But he also engaged in multiple discussions with Jones, cheered when his teammates did well, and said he took the educational opportunity in stride.
"It was good for me," Burke said, "to learn from a different perspective, learning from the bench and talking to the coaches, just trying to pick their brains from the bench. Ö I didn't complain with it."
Despite what onlookers suggest, Burke claimed he hasn't felt frustrated or overwhelmed by his first NBA experience.
"I wouldn't say it's overwhelming because I felt like I'm picking it up pretty good," he said. "I'm just trying to get used to the whole offense, the whole defense, the terminology as well. It's different from college now, playing for the Jazz."
One thing Burke saw while getting some tutor time on the pine was a smooth performance from the guy picked 38 spots after him in the 2013 draft.
Neto, picked 47th by Atlanta before being traded to Utah last month, scored seven points with four rebounds and three assists. His comfort level transcended the stats. The 6-1 playmaker showed a surprisingly strong command of the offense and looked poised under pressure in his 18 minutes.
Part of that comes from his natural talent, which was on display when he followed a tricky crossover dribble with a floater off the glass for his best highlight. It also helped, no doubt, that Neto has played two seasons for Lagun Aro GBC in the ACB Spanish league, which is considered to be on a higher talent level than the NCAA.
"Sometimes, I had to do something you don't practice," he said, trying to explain how he fared so well without working out previously with the Jazz. "You see a guy open, you have to pass. Thatís basketball."
Both point guards spoke highly of each other following the Jazz's third game in this weeklong tournament on the Amway Center's practice court.
"I knew nothing about him before, but he's a very good player, has a nice shot," Neto said of Burke. "I think he has leadership with the team. He's a very good player."
Likewise, Burke complimented Neto, who hit 3 of 4 field goals.
"He played really well today. He's a really a good guard that can shoot the ball, get into the paint and get his teammates involved," Burke said. "We have confidence in him. We knew what he can do on the court."
They do now, at least.
It remains up in the air whether or not Neto will actually play for Utah this season. He still has a year left on his contract in Spain, and Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said the organization will "let nature take its course" before deciding whether to pursue a buyout ahead of fall camp.
"If I have to choose, I want to play NBA ó but it's not my choice," Neto said. "I have to wait. I have to talk with my agent (and see) what's going to be better for me, because I don't want to be here and don't play. I want to play."
"He sat over there and watched and listened to everything that was going on in practice and he was able to come in and run the plays," Jazz assistant Sidney Lowe said, marveling.
While lottery selection Trey Burke was held out Wednesday to watch, assistant Brad Jones talking him through every developing scenario, Neto took over.
"He knew every call," Lowe said. "He knew the action, he knew where guys were supposed to be, he knew the timing. So that speaks volumes."
It also amped up the decibels of cries from fans hoping the Jazz negotiate a buyout of Netoís contract with Lagun Aro GBC, his pro team in Spain, and get him on the roster next season.
On Wednesday, Neto appeared to be soaking it all in. A second-round draft pick who played for Brazil in the 2012 London Olympics, Neto grew up with his father ó a former Brazil national team member himself ó praising the play of his favorite NBA point guard, John Stockton.
"I think they had one of the best point guards in the NBA, all of the years," Neto said. "So I think I have the possibility to be a good point guard on that team. So I feel great."
With Trey Burke being rested for the day, Neto had plenty of opportunities to shine. He played 19 minutes and shot 2 for 3 from the field. It wasnít a star-making performance, but it did leave some Jazz officials wondering just how ready Neto, who has played two years professionally, might actually be.
"I understand that he and the coaches and Kevin [OíConnor] and maybe even the public are excited," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Weíll let nature take its course."
That nature, of course, is actually the Jazz and Netoís agent, Aylton Tesch, determining whether it is best to get Neto into the NBA immediately, or let him incubate in the ACB for another year.
In Spain, he watched NBA games, even though they were televised in the early hours of the morning. He studied and admired Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, Ricky Rubio and Steve Nash.
"I like how they play," he said.
So for him, there is little ambiguity over the question of the NBA.
"Of course, if I have to choose," he said, "I want to play NBA. But itís not my choice; I have to wait, I have to talk to my agent, whatís going to be better for me because I donít want to be here and donít play. I want to play to have some new experiences."
While Burke appeared overwhelmed by the offense and speed of the NBA through two games, Neto reveled in it. He was creative within the Jazz offense, a comfort generally reserved for players who have, well, actually run it before.
"Sometimes," Neto said, "you have to do something that you donít practice. You see a guy open, you have to pass. Thatís basketball. You donít have to practice with the team. Everybody plays the same game."
Jazz forward Jeremy Evans is also playing hurt. He broke his nose at mini-camp last week, and will have it re-evaluated next week. Evans scored 15 points with nine rebounds in the Jazz's 98-69 win over Brooklyn.
ROUGH YEAR: Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey admitted that he and Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz's executive vice president of basketball operations, put Utah coach Tyrone Corbin in a tough spot last season. The 43-39 team missed the playoffs while trying to make a playoff push with seven veterans on expiring contracts and younger players needing but not always getting court time to blossom.
"We were trying to give the veterans their proper respect and opportunity as well as develop," Lindsey said in a phone interview with beat writers.
"On a season basis, Ty did a very good job. With any one game it became difficult at certain points. And times it certainly felt like we were trying to serve two different directions and sometimes going in completely opposite ways."
I think Ty has taken to much flak for sure. I'm not happy with everything he does but you have to look at the whole organization. Now that they have a definite direction you can start judging things a little more fairly.
"We needed size. We needed shooting," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Clearly, what we had on our roster after the draft, we needed some experience. We checked a few boxes there."
While the Jazz press release listed off the five draft picks and cash considerations the Jazz will also receive in the deal, it didn't mention the names Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter or Alec Burks.
It could have.
This transaction was about them.
The deal helps fill up Utah's roster for 2013-14, but it was mostly for the future.
Combine this wheeling and dealing with the fact that Utah is watching all of its 2012-13 free agents drift off elsewhere, and it's clear the Jazz have made a strong commitment to complementing a young core that now also includes enticing point guard Trey Burke.
Let the Jr. Jazz movement begin.
"Difficult decisions need to be made," Lindsey said. "I saw it as a dilemma where we really had several good options as far as signing guys back or going with a youth movement."
So long, grizzled veterans Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Earl Watson and Mo Williams. Good luck, Randy Foye, Jamaal Tinsley and DeMarre Carroll.
Have at it, kids.
"We really appreciate the patience and the trust that Alec and Gordon and Enes and Derrick have shown thus far, but they're ambitious and competitive," Lindsey said. "They wanted more opportunity, and here it is."
Ready or not.
Trading up to get Burke after Minnesota drafted him ninth overall set in motion a flurry of action by the Jazz.
So far, that's resulted in the Jazz acquiring a half-dozen new players ó three on draft night, with Burke, Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto, and the three transplanted Californians in this trade.
In this latest deal, Utah also hauled in unprotected first-round picks from Golden State in 2014 and '17, second-round picks from the Warriors in 2016 and '17, the Nuggets' 2018 second-rounder, and what Lindsey described as "a significant amount of cash."
Ah cash! That'll get the Jazz everytime.
In exchange, the Jazz had to take on $24 million in expiring salaries from the Warriors, do a sign-and-trade with Foye before shipping him to Denver with a three-year, $9 million contract, and throw 2012 second-round pick Kevin Murphy to Golden State (which also gets shooting guard Andre Iguodala from the Nuggets).
That keeps Utah's options open as it negotiates extensions for Hayward and Favors this summer and looks to make a splash in a 2014 offseason that has a bundle of intriguing prospects.
"It also helps us keep our flexibility moving forward," Lindsey said. "We were able to pick up what we think were some key assets and some future picks to allow us to continue to add to the core that we have."
As Utah's roster currently stands, the Jazz have 11 players with guaranteed contracts for 2013-14. The Jazz will almost certainly continue shopping for another veteran point guard (not Mo Williams) to help mentor Burke, while guard Jerel McNeal (non-guaranteed contract) and summer league players hope to fill out the other one to three roster spots.
There it is! Mo is officially gone I guess. They need another veteran big I think as well.
Lindsey said the Jazz will "let the dust settle a little bit" while evaluating the group of players currently playing in the Orlando Pro Summer league. It's possible Utah could engage in more trades to bring in players from teams looking to dump salaries now that the NBA's salary cap has been set at $59.679 million and the luxury tax threshold fixed at $71.748 million for next season.
Utah currently has about $52 million on its payroll next season, so it has room to grow and absorb expiring deals without taking a tax hit.
7 or so million for 2 to 4 spots. Neto, a vet pg and vet big man and maybe another guy to stash in the D-League.
"We've jumped in the deep end of the pool as far as being aggressive in asset accumulation and we'll continue to look at that," Lindsey said. "We're uniquely positioned relative to the market to provide relief to take on contracts and pick up something for doing so."
A lot of wins likely won't be included in the group of something the Jazz might pick up next season. The makeup of this roster and much-ballyhooed flexibility are enticing for the distant future, but fans need to brace themselves for a rough short-term stretch.
Of course, you won't hear anybody from the Jazz admit that outright.
Even if Utah loses, it might win by getting a high lottery pick in the 2014 draft that will include potential game-changers like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Marcus Smart, Julius Randle and so on.
"The Utah Jazz, as you know the history, we're never going to cede anything," Lindsey said. "We're going to compete to the best of our ability."
Right! Replacing Millsap and Demarre with Biedrins and Jefferson is full on tanking. If Lucas is brought in as anything other than the 3rd pg it becomes even more obvious.
The organization, he added, is banking on continuing to keep its historical home-court advantage while fans embrace the young guys and veterans that've been added.
"Instead of getting into win-loss totals, we're going to talk about building a defensive foundation," Lindsey said. "We're going to talk about the continuance of the development of our young players and the players that we've added."
The Jazz remain hopeful Biedrins and Jefferson (even Marvin Williams) reverse the course of their fading careers and that Rush recovers from last fall's ACL surgery to become an effective outside shooter again.
Biedrins I have hope for because of his age. Jefferson should be good in the locker room and could possibly be traded later. Marvin needs to go before he takes time from Burks and Hayward again.
However, what matters most is the continued development of the players they added in this draft, the 2010 draft (Hayward), the 2011 draft (Kanter and Burks) and the Deron Williams trade (Favors).
"We needed to find out what this young group could do," Lindsey said, "and then we can make decisions from there, and we'll live with the results."
Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said Jefferson gives the Bobcats a proven veteran who can mentor young big men Bismack Biyombo and Zeller and take pressure off the teamís shooting guards.
"The toughest thing to do is execute in the half-court offense, but when you have a guy like Al it makes it a lot easier," Clifford said.
The one knock on Jefferson over the years has been his defense, particularly in the pick and roll.
But Clifford doesnít see it as a liability.
"If you watch him I donít think heís nearly as bad as people are saying at all," Clifford said. "His defensive rebounding numbers are pretty good and itís not like heís immobile. There are challenges with everybody, but itís not like Iím watching him on film and saying he canít do it."
Dream on! He's even a bigger problem stalling the offense at the other end.
Jefferson, a nine-year NBA veteran, led the Utah Jazz in scoring in each of the last three seasons, averaging 18.5 points per game. He also averaged 9.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.6 blocks while playing in 221 of 230 possible games.
Despite those numbers, he entered free agency knowing he probably wouldnít be returning to Salt Lake City.
ĎíWe came to an understanding that they wanted to go with their young bigs and that makes a lot of sense," Jefferson said, referring to the Jazzís young frontcourt duo of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. "I think both of them will be superstars in this league. So I couldnít be mad at that."
The Atlanta Hawks made former Jazz forward Paul Millsap their top acquisition priority this offseason, sealing the deal Wednesday.
Hawks general manager Danny Ferry announced Millsap officially signed his new contract Wednesday morning. Atlanta wasted no time, contacting Millsap at 12:01 a.m. by phone to reassure Millsap of the team's interest. Millsap reportedly signed a projected two-year, $19 million deal, although official terms were not disclosed per team policy.
"Paul (Millsap) was one of our top priorities entering the free agency process and we believe he is a great fit with the team and culture that we are trying to build,Ē Ferry said in a news release.
Over his seven-year NBA tenure, Millsap has averaged 12.4 points and 7 rebounds per game. He played all seven years in Utah after being drafted 47th overall by the Jazz in 2006.
Ferry believes Millsap is a perfect fit for the Hawks' front court, praising him for his overall toughness and positive attitude.
"He is a high-character individual and his toughness, high basketball IQ and selflessness will add to our locker room and give us versatility on the court," Ferry said in the release.
Before signing day, Millsap also said his attitude and leadership would bring a positive vibe to his new team.
"First, I bring definitely a winning attitude," Millsap told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Iím a guy who doesnít like to lose, no matter what it is. I have a very competitive nature. Leadership role. Those are the main focal points that I want to bring to the team.Ē
Excited for Paul. He should tear up the Eastern conference!
Late last week, Tyrone Corbin promised prized rookie Trey Burke would play at the Orlando Pro Summer League as long as he could stand.
Three games in, he sat.
The former Michigan star was held out of the Jazzís 98-69 win over the Brooklyn Nets, a move assistant coach Sidney Lowe said was to rest Burke and allow him to observe from a new perspective.
Burke struggled in his first two games, averaging 9.5 points on 6-of-27 shooting. The Jazz acquired the 20-year-old in a draft-day trade from Minnesota, which picked Burke ninth before swapping him for the 14th and 21st picks.
He couldnít remember the last time he sat out a game, but Burke said he understood the coachesí decision.
"I knew it wasnít a punishment," he said. "It was just that they wanted me to rest, recover for tomorrow, learn from the bench."
The Jazz play Indiana Thursday at 9 a.m. MT. The game can be seen on NBA TV.
Burke spent the entire game next to assistant coach Brad Jones, who intently instructed the rookie throughout.
"First thing," Lowe said, "was the pace of the game. We want him to push the ball a little more, use his speed get the ball up the floor. Heís been accustomed to kind of at his pace at Michigan and running pick and rolls and that nature, so with our offense we want to get the ball up the floor."
And with Jefferson gone they won't have anyone slowing them down this year!
Lowe said that watching from the sideline allowed Burke to see the game unfold without being in the middle of the action and better understand the timing of plays.
"Iím still trying to get adjusted," Burke said. "Still trying to get comfortable to the whole offense, the defense, the terminology as well. Itís different from college, now playing for the Jazz. I think Iím doing a good job of picking things up, I think the coaches are doing a good job of letting me play through mistakes and teaching."
The newest Nuggets come via trade (Randy Foye) and free agency (J.J. Hickson). Foye, in particular, was persuaded by Tim Connelly, Nuggets new executive director of basketball operations. "Tim Connelly was one of the first guys that contacted me," Foye said. "I was thinking that (Andre) Iguodala was coming back. Everything played out the way it needed to play out. When Utah didn't call me back I was a little upset, but I got a chance to talk to some of the guys and just realized 'man this is a business.' "The way me and Tim spoke on the phone, it was really cool, just to see him and the way he was working with my agent. Working with us to get me there. There were a lot of things where the deal could have broken down. Tim just stayed in there and made things happen. That was something I appreciated about the whole situation." Boulder Daily Camera
I was worried about him. Sounded like he might be back. Not a good fit for their offense. Hopefully Rush fits better. Would appear to have a better all around game. Is he a spot up shooter? Can he come off screens? Mid-range game?