Alec Burks wanted no part of a contract extension talk on Thursday afternoon.
"This is something that I’ll let my agent handle," said Utah’s rising shooting guard.
But there’s no doubt that Burks leaves Salt Lake City for the summer as a confident man, as well as a confident player.
In his exit interview with the media at EnergySolutions Arena, Burks spoke of his belief and desire to be the leading man offensively. He spoke of his need to become a better shooter this summer, and of the hunger to be on a winning team next season.
"I think we all wanted more out of this year," Burks said. "I think we’re going to be much better going forward."
Burks began the season as Utah’s sixth man, but ended it in the starting lineup. He’s without question the most improved offensive player on the Jazz roster and one who is just 22 years old and getting better.
Can he continue his upward track?
— Tony Jones
I'd say Favors or Evans is their most improved offensive player. Burks did what he's done all along he just hadn't had as much of a chance to show it. How big of a role he plays next year will be decided by the lottery and G's FA.
University of Kentucky freshman All-Southeastern Conference selection James Young will forego his sophomore season and enter his name in this year's NBA Draft. “My time at Kentucky has been special to me, something I’ll always treasure, but I feel that I’m ready to take the next step to the NBA,” Young said. “I’ve learned more this year, on and off the court, about life from Coach Cal and the staff and appreciate all of their guidance and support. I can’t say enough about my teammates; the journey helped us build a bond that we will always share for the rest of our lives. I would like to thank the best fans in the country, the Big Blue Nation, and I hope you guys will continue to support me as I move on. I will always bleed blue. Succeed and Proceed!” University of Kentucky Official Athletic Site
UCLA men’s basketball sophomore Jordan Adams will remain in Westwood for his junior season in 2014-15 and will not enter the 2014 NBA Draft, it was announced today. Adams earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors in 2013-14, leading the Bruins in scoring with 17.4 points per game. He finished his sophomore campaign as the team’s second-leading rebounder (5.3 rpg) and set the school’s single-season steals record, compiling 95 steals in 36 games. uclabruins.com
His comments prelude a big summer for he and shooting guard Alec Burks. Both are heading into the fourth and final seasons of their respective rookie contracts. Both are eligible for extensions beginning in July. And if that window of opportunity slides through with nothing accomplished, both will be heading into contract years in 2014 — just like Gordon Hayward was this past season. "It’s definitely something we’ll explore," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Whether we get a deal done, I don’t know. But we’ll sit down and talk to both of their representatives when the time comes." Salt Lake Tribune
"It’s tough to sit here today with the record that we have," Lindsey said
Please! You are reason #1 for that record. Do you mean it's tough because they won too many games?
Thursday, following the team’s exit interviews at EnergySolutions Arena, "but with the plan we enacted, I think we’re really on stable ground."
Presumably, this is the bottoming-out portion of the process, geared toward making the Jazz not only respectable again, but championship contenders someday. So these were the natural subjects for Lindsey: How long will this whole thing take? Was he satisfied with 25 wins — or did he want more losses, in the interest of draft positioning? Did the team’s young core get enough playing time?
The timetable question is inevitably asked and never answerable. Lindsey could point to Wednesday’s victory as proof of not tanking
The pg situation is proof of tanking. Was from the moment you signed John Lucas to be anything other than a 3rd stringer. Burke shouldn't have been startin and should have at least had someone pushing him for minutes.
— he wouldn’t even use that word — although he acknowledged a strategy from last summer that applied "seven parts to future and three parts to present." And he distanced himself from Tyrone Corbin’s allotment of minutes, saying that’s the coach’s responsibility, but cited "no disconnect, whatsoever."
Lindsey is a persuasive guy. Some combination of his successful NBA background in Houston and San Antonio and that slight Texas accent makes you trust in his vision. When he speaks of player development, salary cap and draft picks and says, "We have a real opportunity to get it right," Lindsey is believable.
And he’s shrewd. Last summer’s trade with Golden State will deliver another unprotected first-round pick in 2017, so his employment status is assured for another three years — or longer. He just needs to do a better job of cheering against the Warriors, while gradually improving the Jazz.
In that sense, 25 wins is a nice starting point. Last August, the Tribune sports staff named Lindsey the most influential person in Utah sports. That pick was questioned by some who wondered what Lindsey had accomplished. Yet in its own way, this disastrous season validated his degree of power. The Jazz’s ownership authorized his tearing down and rebuilding, likely will endorse the franchise’s first firing of a coach in 32 years and will allow him to execute his plan.
The reality is that no Jazz team ever improved by more than 15 wins, so even a .500 record in 2014-15 would be historic.
Again based on the way they played in the middle of the season there's no reason not to expect that next year and more if everything goes right.
The challenge is for the Jazz’s current players to drive improvement, as much as any new addition.
The team’s lottery pick is "going to be 19 years old," said veteran forward Richard Jefferson. "He’s not going to have an over-the-top impact in this league at 19. It takes two or three years."
The Jazz tied with Boston for the NBA’s fourth-worst record. As of this moment, they could pick anywhere from first to eighth (plus 23rd, via Golden State). That position may or may not validate the strategy of subjecting their fans to a lot of misery
If they do nothing but add another nice piece with that top pick than the tank was a bad choice. They must land a star.
— although many of them seemed to endorse as much losing as possible, especially once the Jazz started 1-14. Those struggles contributed to a fan culture that celebrated the thrill of defeat.
Most I'd say. Really sad losing is acceptable and wanted. The league has to change this bullshit!
If Wednesday’s win was costly, in that context, Lindsey welcomed it. He pointed to big performances by several young players and concluded, "We can live with that alternative."
And eventually, according to Lindsey’s script, winning actually will become acceptable — maybe even the expectation around here.
Burke, the Jazz’s rookie point guard, fractured the finger during a preseason game against the L.A. Clippers in October.
He missed 12 games.
Burke ended up averaging 12.8 points and 5.7 assists in 32.3 minutes per game. But he disclosed during the team’s annual end-of-the-season meeting at EnergySolutions Arena on Thursday that his surgically-repaired finger has been problematic.
"It’s still stiff," he said. "... It healed, but I’m not able to bend it all the way yet. I’m going to work on that a lot."
Burke is already looking forward to next season, when he hopes to improve his outside shooting and ability to finish at the rim. He also wants to become a better defender.
I would hope so!
Referring to Tyrone Corbin, Burke said, "Like coach Ty said, he knows I can defend. He’s seen me defend. ... It’s a mindset for me. I have to be willing to defend all the time. I think a good example of a small guarding defending is Chris Paul. ...
"If a guy scores on me once or twice, that’s when I get mad a try to stop him. But that shouldn’t be my mindset. It should be trying to stop him from the beginning to the end of the game, regardless of what happens."
Enes Kanter was borderline hilarious with the media on Thursday afternoon, cracking jokes, smiling and generally being comfortable in front of a crowd.
But locker room clean-out day for the Jazz yielded a more serious side to Utah’s third-year center. He was clearly miffed at not receiving more playing time this season. He stated that the five younger guys on the roster should’ve played more frequently together, and made it clear that he wants that rectified next season.
"If we aren’t playing for championships, why weren’t the younger guys playing more?" was the question he asked.
A variety of reason. You being one of the main ones.
His comments prelude a big summer for he and shooting guard Alec Burks. Both are heading into the fourth and final seasons of their respective rookie contracts. Both are eligible for extensions beginning in July.
And if that window of opportunity slides through with nothing accomplished, both will be heading into contract years in 2014 — just like Gordon Hayward was this past season.
"It’s definitely something we’ll explore," Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Whether we get a deal done, I don’t know. But we’ll sit down and talk to both of their representatives when the time comes."
Kanter and Burks are two of the bigger names on the roster. But their situations underscore the fact that Lindsey will have a lot of decisions to make on a lot of pending free agents on his team. Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush are all unrestricted. Hayward — much talked about — is a restricted free agent, which means the Jazz have the right to match any offer. A host of other players have non-guaranteed deals heading into next season.
The flexibility is there for this to be a significantly different roster in 2014. But Lindsey acknowledged that stability going forward is needed within the organization.
Same old Jazz!
All of which means, the team could be making decisions on Kanter and Burks in the coming months.
"I have a good agent and I’ll leave a lot of that stuff up to him," Burks said. "I just want to go home and focus on being the best player and the best man that I can be."
Burks turned a corner this season, averaging a career-high 14 points per game and establishing himself as one of the better scoring sixth men in the league. Kanter regressed a bit — especially defensively — but played well in the last six weeks of the year.
He didn't regress offensively for sure.
Lindsey said Kanter had been slowed by his offseason shoulder surgery, but is counting on a big jump this summer.
"I want to be able to work on my body this summer," Kanter said. "I wasn’t able to do that last year because of the shoulder and I would like to fix that."
Jazz are in a better place than most lottery teams. They have better young talent.
Debatable. They have no sure fire star. Doesn't matter how many good young players you have if you have no stars. You want to be the Nuggets?
They have the aforementioned shot to add to that young talent. They are not burdened by heavy, undesirable contracts. They have money to spend.
They really don't. They have to save money for Burks and Kanter so spending past next season is limited.
As for those players they already have, those guys got the W-L record all of us predicted they’d get. No more, no less. Many of the losses came blasting out of the fire hose, not because the youngsters flat-out sucked, rather because they were green. None of them are budding superstars, but a few of them can be pretty darn good.
A few already are.
They need to work on poise, communication and commitment, especially on defense.
But it’ll be OK.
At this point, at the end of this season, that’s enough.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone.
Trey Burke on John Lucas III: "He's meant a lot.... He's been like a big brother to me to be honest with you. I could talk to him about anything. We compete against each other every day....You can't say enough about a guy like John because he sacrificed a lot for the team. He makes sure I do the right things, and I appreciate it."
Trey Burke: "I think that I can take it up another notch of trying to be a leader. I'm no longer a rookie anymore. I think the guys have my respect. I look forward helping this team win more."by Aaron MO 4:18 AM
Trey Burke talking about his exit meeting: "If I want to be the best player I can be, there's certain things I need to do. Working hard, staying focus, staying out of trouble and basically turning my weaknesses into strengths."
Trey Burke on being injured at the beginning of the season: "Obviously getting hurt preseason I set me back. I had to see the game from a different perspective. It was hard because I face my adversity mentally and on the court, but I think that I've grown a lot since the beginning of the season."