The Jazz were scheduled to practice twice on Tuesday — once in the morning and once at night.
After the first session, Corbin said, "I thought for the most part the guys were in pretty good shape. The energy was there. The enthusiasm about getting back on the floor was good. I thought they paid attention. ... We did a lot of stuff."
Gordon Hayward noticed the difference between the first practice and ones from his previous three training camps with the Jazz.
"... We’ve got a long week ahead of us," he said. "There’s a lot of learning to do because of the new faces. But it was a good practice."
The Jazz signed Lester Hudson to its training camp roster Tuesday morning, bringing their roster to the league maximum 20 players. Hudson, 29, has played in the D-League and overseason, as well as in stints with the Boston Celtic, Memphis Grizzlies, Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers. He most recently appeared in the NBA with the Grizzlies in 2012, appearing in three games.
The former Tennessee-Martin guard joined Scott Machado, Dwayne Jones, Justin Holliday, Dominic McGuire, Mike Harris and Brian Cook as training camp invitees. The Jazz have 13 players with guaranteed contracts, but can have as many as 15 on their roster on opening night and throughout the season.
What happened to Covington? Hudson should be better anyway. He might be better than Lucas.
But Trey Burke, being new here and trying to be helpful, offered clarification as training camp opened this week as he tried to answer a question about the need to be patient in his development as the next point guard to follow the path carved by a certain No. 12.
"I think that’s a point that John," Burke said, before cutting himself off to make a clarification, "John Stockton, was telling me about as well."
Stockton, the Hall of Famer, watched Burke in summer league, too. He, too, saw Burke make mistake after mistake in Orlando, shoot 1 for 19, and invite the scorn of the sorts of folks who expected the NBA Draft’s No. 9 pick to be more, well, Stocktonesque.
And when Burke joined Jazz shooting guard Alec Burks in Spokane, Wash., last month to learn from the NBA’s all-time assists leader, Stockton told Burke he was rushing and that’s why he looked lost in the offense.
"He said the better passer you are the better scorer you’re going to be," Burke recalled.
After a summer league performance in which he shot 1 of 19 from 3-point range, Burke has been all ears. With that, he’s heard plenty of criticism of the way he debuted.
Two months later, though, the consensus National Player of the Year, who led the the University of Michigan to the NCAA championship game, says the performance doesn’t bother him.
"I think it mattered to me at the time," he said, "because, of course, as a basketball player I wanted to play well. Now I’m past summer league; I watched it, seen what I could have done better."
By June, he was undisputedly the most highly regarded point guard in the draft. The Jazz, meanwhile, were searching for one.
"We traded two picks to get an opportunity to get him, so expectations are high," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "As I told him, just learn the lessons. It’s a different league, it’s an entirely different animal that you’re getting to face."
The Jazz never seemed particularly worried about Burke’s summer showing, cautioning that it was his first opportunity to play against pros and in the Jazz system. A conversation the coaching staff had with John Beilein, Burke’s coach at Michigan, also may have helped with their patience.
"The kid, since he left the tournament, since he left school, was going around the country receiving awards," Corbin said Beilein told the Jazz. "Then the draft, then he signed. He really didn’t have time to put in the work for a new challenge, and NBA basketball was a new challenge for him."
The Jazz have taken special care to help Burke this summer. They sent him to Las Vegas with player development assistant Johnnie Bryant to attend a camp conducted by legendary NBA assistant coach Tim Grgurich. They sent him to spend time with Stockton. Perhaps as important as any of it, though, was the addition of Lucas, noted good guy and veteran point guard, to serve as a backup and mentor.
I'd say the 2 or 3 days with Stock was most important.
The Jazz let all three of the point guards on last year’s roster — Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley — depart in free agency and it was unclear who Burke would learn from in the locker room. Burks played point guard for parts of last season, but the addition of Burke was expected to allow Burks to shift back to his natural two-guard position.
In the weeks the two trained together, before the start of training camp, the veteran developed a strong feeling about the rookie.
"Trey’s going to develop into a wonderful player," Lucas said. "He’s going to be a star in this league. He has the tools, he has the mentality, and he has the heart."
"(Burks) worked his tail off this summer. I thought he made some good strides last year, especially having to put him in the point-guard role some and he started for us at times at the point.
"He's a 2-man naturally, but he's a basketball player," Corbin said. "He's been willing to work this summer, he's worked on his body, his conditioning is up and his IQ basketball-wise has increased, so we're really looking forward to him having a good year."
Over his first two years in the league, there were nights when Burks would find himself buried on the end of Utah's bench and he would barely see the floor. He played sporadically at times and seemed unsure of what his role was.
Then there were those nights when he'd come out and, given an opportunity to display his quickness and athleticism, he'd step into the spotlight and shine brightly.
There were nights like last March in San Antonio, when he scored 14 points in 22 minutes against the Spurs, or that night last season at Milwaukee, when he played a career-high 36 minutes and responded by putting up 19 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
Corbin said Burks' biggest improvement may be the mental side of his game.
"Confidence, positive confidence," the Jazz coach said. "You come out of college and you have a chip on your shoulder. He certainly had a chip on his shoulder because he had a lot to prove. He still has a lot to prove to himself and to everybody in this league.
"But he knows better now what he's getting ready to face. And he's working smarter at getting himself ready on both ends of the floor. His body has gotten better from the standpoint of how he can move and use his hands on the defensive end and get over screens and get small at times and stay wide and big at times on smaller guys. His knowledge of the different things he can use that he has against different opponents is increasing.
"I think, along with his physical play, I think the mental aspect of thinking the game — there's still another level that he has to grow there on — is where he's made strides there," Corbin said.
Burks was taken by Utah with the 12th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft out of the University of Colorado, where the former Missouri high school player of the year spent two seasons, averaging 19 points per game, and was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2010.
He has averaged a little more than 7 points, 2 rebounds and an assist per game in his first two NBA seasons, shooting around 42 percent from the field, 35 percent from 3-point range and 72 percent from the foul line.
But those scoring, rebounding and assist numbers are expected to take a dramatic jump this season with his expanded role and increased playing time.
Most folks figure the young Jazz are going to struggle to find wins this season, but Burks — never one to lack confidence — thinks they could surprise some people if they continue to stay after it and don't get discouraged.
"We're gonna work hard," he said. "It doesn't matter what everybody's talking about us. We're going to work hard and we know what type of team we have, so we're just going to keep getting better every day.
"We're young, of course, young and skilled with athleticism. We're hard workers, we've got great chemistry and we play hard, that's the main thing.
"We just have to play hard every night," Burks said. "If we do that, you know, a lot of things could fall in our favor. … You never know what can happen over the course of a season."
One thing we do know, however, is that Alec Burks is going to play a lot, probably every night, and now that he's going to get this opportunity, he's not backing down from anybody.
Here are a few impressions from the first morning of practice.
Today’s morning session was primarily conditioning with a focus on a defensive conditioning. Coach Corbin and his staff did begin to institute some of the early offensive sets with slight variations from years past. Karl Malone was present working with the other coaches and after practice held a session with the Bigs of the far courts working on various moves and positioning.
The talk after practice was about Gordon Hayword’s increased role as a ball handler this season. Coach Corbin talked about altering some of the offensive and defensive sets this year to better match the personnel.
Coach Corbin was really pushing guys today. You could see a bounce in his step and the excitement to be back out on the floor coaching his guys.
Two highlights stood out from the morning practice. Enes Kanter hit 21 of 23 jumpers from 15 feet during one drill. And in the final conditioning drill of the day Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke had a nice little friendly competition be to see who could get to the line first. Both giving huge effort at the close of the conditioning drill.
"I feel a little bit more comfortable knowing that I got my first practice under my belt, and I'm just ready to move forward from here," he said at the Zions Bank Basketball Center on Tuesday afternoon.
"There was a lot of uncertainty, really, not really knowing what to expect coming into training camp," the Michigan product said. "But once I got comfortable with the staff and got comfortable with my new teammates, they're making it easy for me out there, helping me through my mistakes and, more importantly, they're teaching me."
Head coach Tyrone Corbin recognizes the learning curve that lies ahead of Burke and other young players. He and his coaching staff have taken the time to offer advice to help him adjust to his new surroundings — both on the court and off.
"You can try and make things as simple as you can, but the game is what the game is," the coach said. "(Burke is) going to have to face all those obstacles. We try and put him in situations to get him prepared for what he is getting ready to face, but it’s going to change when he gets in front of it and faces it."
With regard to basketball, Corbin said Burke is in an improved position due to the added time he put in prior to training camp. Burke added that the coach asked him to focus on improving his pace of play and aggression — once he adjusted to the elevation.
Corbin also spoke about his discussions with Burke regarding his new life away from basketball.
"Off the court just making sure he understands the responsibility of being a good citizen," Corbin said. "He understands what he should be doing, now he needs to understand the crowd that’s going to be around him because he is who he is. He’s used to some of that at the college level, it changes at this level. He’s done a good job of making those adjustments thus far."
POSTING CHANGES: A new group of big men moving into primary roles has led to some changes in the Jazz offense.
"Derrick (Favors) and Enes (Kanter) are very capable low-post guys. They’re a little different than what we had in Al (Jefferson) and Paul (Millsap), but (they) are big bodies," Corbin said. "We have to change some things and make sure we’re going to what makes them good on the block."
That includes, for example, putting less of an emphasis on posting up with their "backs to the basket with a guy laying on them," the coach said. "Maybe a guy moving so they can catch it on the move and make quicker moves than Al could."
Yeah! That might have been good with Millsap to but I guess when you revolve everything around what Al does and doesn't do at both ends of the court you can't cater to others at the same time.
On the defensive end, Corbin added, the team is working to improve its man-to-man matchups in one-on-one situations.
Since they won't have to be looking to double Al's guy as well as their own.
UPDATE ON MARVIN: Veteran guard Marvin Williams continues on his road to recovery from offseason surgery to repair a sore right heel and Achilles tendon.
With an anticipated recovery time of at least six months, Williams is not expected to return to the floor until December.
"It’s going to be a little while, from what I understand, but he’s working his butt off to try and get ready," Corbin said. "We’ve just got to wait and see how his body responds."
When it comes to nailing down a specific date, Corbin said he would defer to Williams and the athletic training staff.
"I’m going to listen to Briggs and the doctors and Marvin on that," he said. "He’s coming along. We want to make sure we’re doing the right things by him so when he’s back, he’s back for the long haul and not just coming back and getting hurt again."
Williams, who is entering his second season with the Jazz and his ninth in the league, averaged a career-low 7.2 points per game on 42 percent shooting a year ago.
Still, Corbin appreciates Williams' experience and leadership with such a young incoming roster.
"Who he is, how he conducts himself, the leadership ability that he has, the respect for the game and his teammates that he has," Corbin said. "All those things will help us grow."
For six years the question was whether the Celtics would win the championship. Now Danny Ainge finds himself overseeing a far less promising environment. All of the big names who played for or coached the championship team of 2007-08 are now in Los Angeles or Miami or Brooklyn or (in the case of Rajon Rondo) on indefinite leave. Instead of trying to win, should they now be trying to lose? "As I walk around town, more than anything else there are those that say, 'Hey, don't win too many games,"' said Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations. "There are so many fans that want us to play for the draft." Ainge's measured response is that they should be more careful what they wish for. "That's harder than people recognize," said Ainge of losing as a strategy. "It's a really easy thing to conceptualize, and an easy thing to talk about and philosophize about. But it's a hard thing to live through -- for fans, for coaches, for owners, for sponsors, for our TV partners." SI.com
"If Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was out there to change your franchise forever, or Tim Duncan was going to change your franchise for 15 years? That might be a different story," said Ainge. "I don't see that player out there." SI.com
Thought this was interesting. Not as high on Wiggins as others apparently. Going to be a long season. Buckle up!
O’Connor admits trading Williams in 2011 was "a risk. ... But the All-Star point guard "probably wasn’t" going to sign a long-term extension to stay in Utah.
Still think it had more to do with him driving Sloan out than rather or not he was going to sign an extension. The fact that he took the 2nd offer on the table from the only team that knew he was available is still hard to believe!
O’Connor will be "back-and-forth" between South Carolina and Utah during the coming season.
"I hope we come out," he said "and play our butts off. I hope we silence a few of the people. I know where we are, but I hate the word ‘rebuilding.’
"To me, rebuilding sounds like you accept the fact you aren’t going to win. That’s not what Larry [Miller] ever believed and I think that permeates through the organization."
They obviously aren't trying to win this year no matter how they want to spin it.