The Jazz roster is designed to be three deep at every position. Injuries inadvertently destroy team architecture. With a fractured finger, Burke is an obvious gap, but he's not the only one. Brandon Rush’s rehabilitation makes perimeter play rough.
Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey writes, “(Rush’s) career three-point percentage is 41.3, and he developed a reputation as a solid, physical perimeter defender with Golden State.”
The Jazz lack depth at power forward, perimeter play and point guard. These weaknesses resolve themselves once Williams, Evans, Rush and Burke return and the Jazz add facial hair as beards are healthier, according to Yahoo Shine's Mother Nature Network.
3 deep when healthy? They might not even be one deep at pg.
Rush pointed out that he'll be limited to five-minute playing stretches, hopefully to be increased by the game.
"I’m happy to just get out there just to get some running up and down against some real opponents," Rush said. "(I'll) just try to build some confidence back in my knee. Hopefully, it goes good."
The addition is more than welcome by Corbin.
“It’s difficult. We see where we’re making progress and where we miss the guys we have out,” Corbin admitted. “The guys that are in uniform have done a great job for us. We’re shorthanded. We don’t have a lot of options in a lot of what we’re doing because of the guys that we have out. The guys are doing a good job, the ones that are in uniform.”
Rush, acquired in the offseason trade with Golden State, recently began fully participating in practice. After Tuesday's shootaround, he posted on Twitter, "Might see some action n the game tonight.”
Rush hasn’t played in more than a year, having injured his knee in the second game with the Warriors last Nov. 2. He had surgery in January, and it’s been a slow recovery progress since then.
In 2007, Rush suffered the same ACL injury to his right knee while in college.
"I kind of look back at that because I've already been through it before and I knew what it’d take to come back from an injury like this. It’s hard work," Rush said. "I put in the hard work and now it’s just time for me to get back out on the court."
Rush is expected to become a valuable member of the Jazz bench, providing an outside scoring threat and perimeter defense.
So, how is that shot?
"It’s feeling good. I don’t think you can lose the touch," Rush said. "That’s all I’ve been doing for the last nine, 10 months — working on shooting and dribbling."
“Losing hurts,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “It should hurt.”
Everyone should be happy. The tank is going as planned though the past game and a half they looked like shit. At least played well the first 2 1/2 games.
By opening up with four consecutive losses, the Jazz matched the worst start in the Utah portion of franchise history. The 1979-80 team also lost its first four games before reaching the win column.
“We’ve just got to be mentally strong about it,” Favors said after only totaling six points and five rebounds against his first NBA team. “We’ve just got to move on to the next game and keep playing.”
The Jazz have their best chance of this road trip to pick up a victory Wednesday when they visit the 0-4 Boston Celtics.
A back to back doesn't necessarily make it their best chance.
“We’ve got to come fight and keep working and try to get better and win a game and feel good about ourselves so we can move from there,” Corbin said. “But it’s not just going to happen. We’ve got to make it happen.”
The Jazz didn’t show that desire and effort Tuesday.
Utah fell behind by as many as 26 points with a discombobulated offense while getting shredded apart on the interior by Nets big man Robin Lopez (27 points).
Not a good combo for a Utah team that had at least been competitive in its first three losses this season.
“It’s four losses for us in the first four games,” Corbin said. “But, you know what, nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
Least of all Williams, who was traded to the Nets in 2011 when the Jazz began this ongoing reconstruction process by acquiring Favors, two first-round picks (Enes Kanter and one that helped them trade for Trey Burke), Devin Harris and $3 million.
"It's good to finally beat them," Williams said. "It's a rebuilding year for them, but I'm happy to beat them."
Hampered this year by a nagging ankle injury, the two-time All-Star point guard reached double figures in scoring for the first time this season against the Jazz, who only have two players (Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans) remaining from the team he was on.
D-Will finished with 10 points and eight assists for the Nets, who improved to 2-2.
Another old Utah guy, Andrei Kirilenko, added six points and five rebounds.
But this game felt like it was already over when AK-47 was subbed in just eight minutes in.
Brooklyn, now featuring Grumpy Old Man Kevin Garnett, all-around standout Paul Pierce and a cast of other talented players, scored the first seven points. The Nets had a double-digit lead less than five minutes into the contest and took a 54-38 lead into the locker room.
“They locked in on the strong side. We struggled to get the ball on the weak side in the first half,” Corbin said. “Eventually … it caught up to us.”
The Jazz’s first seven possessions offered an indication that the visitors were in for a miserable outing. That clunker of a start: four missed jump shots, including a flat 3-point attempt by Jamaal Tinsley, two turnovers and a shot-clock violation.
Another example of the rough night by Utah: A three-quarters-court heave by Mike Harris at the end of the first half that barely hit the backboard wasn’t necessarily the Jazz’s worst shot of the night.
The Jazz shot 37.8 percent from the field, only hit 4 of 18 3-pointers and turned the ball over 20 times. On a positive note, Utah did improve in scoring, with 18, 20, 23 and 27 points in each progressive quarter.
Hayward led Utah in scoring with 22 points, while Kanter had 21 points, eight rebounds and seven turnovers. Rookie center Rudy Gobert had a career-best 11 boards and two blocked shots before fouling out in less than 16 minutes.
The biggest positive for short-handed Utah, which only had 10 players available to begin the season, was the fact that Brandon Rush played. The shooting guard hadn’t seen action since tearing the ACL in his left knee with the Warriors on Nov. 2, 2012.
Rush, who had surgery in January, ended with two fouls, two turnovers and one assist in 10 minutes. He didn’t experience immediate swelling and his hopeful he’ll be able to play Wednesday in Boston, perhaps getting even more than his limitation of five-minute stints.
Asked about his shot before the game, Rush smiled and said, “I don’t think you can lose the touch.” But he didn’t attempt a shot in his return, admitting that he was hesitant and passed up a couple of open looks.
“Rusty. Real rusty. I was real nervous out there,” Rush said. “Once I get the feel for the game, practicing and playing more and catching the rhythm, I think I’ll be a lot better.”
The Jazz hope the same goes for them — all the better if the rhythm is found against winless Boston.
“They (are) looking for a win, too,” Favors said. “They’re going to come out ready, so we’ve got to come out ready and prepared to fight.”
Shooting guard Brandon Rush did not play after logging 10 minutes Tuesday in Brooklyn. He said his knee felt fine and experienced no swelling, but Corbin said the team wanted to limit his play on the second night of a back-to-back. Rush hadn’t played in a year after tearing the ACL in his left knee on Nov. 2, 2012 and having surgery in January. … Utah will not practice Thursday
Trey Burke cannot return soon enough. The rookie point guard was one of the main reasons for Jazz fans’ excitement, and his injury was a disappointing setback. Now the on-court production from the point guard position, or lack thereof, is increasing the anticipation for Burke’s return. Veterans Jamaal Tinsley and John Lucas III are trying but have struggled.
The duo combined for just four points and four assists in 33 minutes versus Boston, while committing four turnovers. While Tinsley helped orchestrate the quick start, the offense stagnated severely during the middle quarters. When Utah made its comeback, neither of them were in the game as head coach Tyrone Corbin opted for a three-guard line-up of Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Ian Clark. The result was a motion offense where the ball moved quickly and crisply, getting the Jazz back in contention.
Those Jazz fans haven't seen Burke play apparently. Hayward,Clark and someone that can shoot and defend makes the most sense. Clark is supposed to be able to do those things. Hudson too. Lucas is supposed t be able to shoot anyway.
With eventual starting point guard Trey Burke still sidelined with his finger injury, Corbin admitted he might look for alternative playmaker options.
In Wednesday’s comeback attempt, Hayward, Burks and Clark each took turns handling the ball and/or defending the C’s point guards. Veteran point guards John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley are both off to rough starts to the season.
This is a surprise? They are 3rd pgs. Tinsley didn't even have training camp.
“Maybe,” Corbin said when asked if he’d consider using Hayward or Burks at the point as an alternative quick fix. “Because I thought we had a little bit more offensive punch in the group.”
The Jazz coach is hesitant, though, because he doesn’t prefer to use the players out of their natural positions.
They should have the ball in their hands. Ideally you have someone that can hit shots and play D in with them which Clark and Lucas are supposed to be able to do.
Overall, Corbin is taking an all-hands-on deck approach, with Burke, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans and Andris Biedrins being out and Brandon Rush not quite ready to play daily.
“We’ve got to make sure we use everything that we have,” Corbin said. “We’re short-handed. We need everybody to be ready to go.”
In the meantime, the Jazz will continue to play this season with an eye toward the future. This year is more about helping the five foundation players develop than anything else.
What about Gobert, Clark and Evans?
The hard part about that, though, is trying to keep players fully interested and motivated while they’re piling up losses. Part of the learning process, of course, is learning how to win, not just how to fill up the stat sheet or getting minutes.
That's why you need a mix of vets and why guys should have to earn their way and not be thrown out there just because like Burke will be.
“It’s a year of learning. We want to make sure we’re growing every night we step out there,” Corbin said. “I think they’re getting used to it. Derrick and Enes (are) in starting roles for the first time. Gordon (is) starting primarily after being off the bench. … Alec’s increasing his minutes on the floor.
“They’re closing games for us. It’s a learning process. It can be frustrating just not getting any reward for all the work you’re putting in, but we have to stay in it to make it happen.”
Hayward echoed his coach, using the word “frustrating” multiple times in the visitors locker room at TD Garden on Wednesday night.
“It’s the little things that we aren’t doing, and that’s why we’re losing basketball games. We’ve got to pay a lot more attention to detail,” Hayward said. “We have the talent. That’s not a question. We have the talent to win basketball games. We’re just not doing the little things, the details. Our focus is not there for the full 48 minutes.”
Actually it's a big question until they prove it.
When that happens, Hayward said that other NBA teams “punish that," as has happened five times in a week.
“I think it is a little bit part of the learning process,” he said. “But that’s just on us as professionals to get it together and figure this out or else it’s going to be a long season.”
Historically, minimum salary (or near-min) guys hardly ever get moved unless it’s as a throw-in to make numbers work. The only reason these four are listed as less likely than the group above them is because this group getting traded probably depends on someone else getting traded, too.
13. Jamaal Tinsley. When the Jazz called JT into service, he was working out solo waiting for a call from other teams. It would probably take a stellar year to create interest among teams who later in the year are looking for a similar veteran fill-in as they approach the playoffs. Even if that interest is there, there is a wrinkle that makes Tinsley the least likely of this group: since he’s on a one-year deal and he’ll be Bird Rights-eligible at the end of it, his sign-off is required in any trade.
Minnesota wanted him a couple years ago supposedly. He could be a good pick up at some point for someone needing a veteran 3rd pg.
12. Mike Harris. Harris surprised everybody by earning a roster spot and continued surprising when the regular season began. But I can’t imagine a huge market for a 30-year-old minimum salary ‘tweener forward with 35 games of experience and who probably doesn’t survive October cuts if not for frontcourt injuries.
11. John Lucas III. When he returns to the bench unit, Lucas’ warts as a playmaker may be less visible and he may get nominated as a sweetener in a larger deal. His 2014-15 salary, per various sources, is non-guaranteed, so he represents low risk and is more likely to be traded than JT only because he doesn’t have trade veto power.
10. Ian Clark. Tops this group mostly because there is apparently already some level of interest in the reigning Vegas League MVP. There were enough bidders for Clark that Utah had to offer a partial guarantee to get him into camp, so somewhere there’s a team or two that wouldn’t mind giving the Belmont product a shot.
Scenarios: These four are more likely to leave via waivers than via trade (and even then, only if Utah needs to free up a roster spot for some reason). If a trade were to happen, they’ll probably be the second or third name listed on the Jazz’s end.
Expiring and non guaranteed contracts are desirable.
8. Enes Kanter. Big Turkey has a lot more value than Burke, and at some point the Jazz will decide if he’s part of a championship core or if they need to sell high. But I don’t think they’ll make that determination after seeing just 2,000 NBA minutes from him, especially given his apparent growth and the way the fans have taken to him.
He probably has the most value on the team I'd think by far.
7. Rudy Gobert. The Stifle Tower (have we settled on that for a nickname?) will be a well-known commodity soon if he keeps the crazy defense up. But the Jazz have very little motivation to trade him given how well he fits into the current focal points (youth & defense) and how little they’d get in return given his salary range.
There are some crazy things I can dream up here, but few are very realistic. For example, maybe a team has a guy on the end of a similarly-priced rookie deal that they know they’re not going to extend and they are nervous about the market price. If Sacramento were shopping a soon-to-be-expensive Greivis Vasquez and wanted Gobert and a protected pick, wouldn’t the Jazz have to consider? Problem is, deals of that nature are hard to make because both sides are negotiating on potential, which is a difficult and subjective thing to commoditize.
If they wanted Vasquez they could have maybe had him in the off-season though. Not good for a tank.