First of all: My_Lo gave you a frankly insane amount of content Tuesday on each Utah Jazz player's Media Day comments. I highly recommend you look through his many Downbeats and enjoy his work.
As a result, though, I don't have much to say about Media Day that hasn't already been said. But one story that came out of the interview sessions was Trey Burke's reaction to the leaking of certain selfies that he would rather have kept, um, "private."
Brad Rock wrote a column about the photos, Trey's comments, and especially the remarks from Jazz management, who say they're handling the matter internally but who also say they're not done examining all the facts yet. Rock examines whether this incident will have an effect on Burke's future "leadership" potential with the Jazz:
After all their offseason changes - 10 new faces in training camp - the Jazz still don't have a player to call their conductor.
"Leaders find their level, and certainly Quin's going to need to find a couple of player voices that are supportive in the direction we want to move the team," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "Potentially Trey is one of them. Is this a setback? We'll determine that as we go forward."
It's not only a setback; it's a kick in the teeth.
This seems pretty harsh to me. What does the sight of Trey's nude body have to do with his on-court leadership ability? Has he really lost the "trust" of that many people over this, especially the Jazz players and coaches? I'm not buying it.
Rock isn't wrong when he says the Jazz don't have a single individual player to act as a "leader." But I'm not convinced they need one...or not ONLY one, at any rate. I do believe in "leadership" as a quality, intangible and subjective though it may be. But I don't think you need it to come from just one or two players. (If that were true, then whither the oft-praised "veteran leadership" of players like Richard Jefferson? If that's leadership, I have doubts about its value.)
The potential in this group of Jazz players has always been in its depth and breadth of talent -- the possibility of creating something greater than the sum of its parts. The team finally has a coach in Quin Snyder who might be able to make good on that potential, and they have the freedom on the roster to grow together. Who cares who the "leader" is? It might change from game to game, but I don't see that as a bad thing.
In the business world, this concept is known "flat organization" -- it involves the stripping out of middle management so staff and executives interact more and are cooperatively involved in decision-making processes. I think this year's Jazz roster is uniquely equipped for such a leadership paradigm.
Sixteen of the 19 players in Jazz training camp are between the ages of 21 and 26, so there's little potential for a veteran/youth schism. No one player has proven capable of shouldering a scoring load for an entire season -- we saw Gordon Hayward try last year, to the detriment of his efficiency -- which means the team will have the greatest success by sharing the scoring burden. And with a first-year head coach -- new to the organization and therefore with fewer player biases -- emphasizing ball movement and motion, every player will take on an important, decentralized role.
Later in that Rock column, Quin Snyder is quoted as saying, "If we had 12 leaders, it would be great." I really think that could happen this season. The "leader" everything really hinges on is Snyder himself. Beyond that, it's a team effort.
Man, I hope that made sense, and I'll look forward to your comments on it. (I'm writing this at 12:45am Wednesday morning, so I make no guarantees.) Anyway, let's move on.
Two players who might benefit the most from the new Jazz paradigm are Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, both of whom are up for contract extensions. The word out of Media Day is that Jazz management has begun talks to keep both in Utah long-term. From the Trib's Aaron Falk:
Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey said this week he has begun extension talks with both players. Utah has until the end of October to reach deals, or allow them to become restricted free agents in July.
"They're both valued members and we're really proud of where they're at as people and as players," Lindsey said. "We'll see if we can get something done early ... but we anticipate both of them being with the Jazz for a long time."
I'll be very interested to see whether the Jazz lock up either player before that October deadline. My guess is that Kanter might be extended before then, but Burks is more likely to play out the season and test the market. That's because I think Alec will be starting most of the Jazz's games this season, and I think there's a better-than-even chance that he leads the Jazz in scoring for the season. He could see a big increase in his value and perception around the league by next July.
On the other hand, Kanter could be pushed for playing time by the rapid development of Rudy Gobert. The Frenchman doesn't have anywhere near the offensive game Enes does -- and with Kanter poised to add three-point shooting to his repertoire this year, he could widen that gap even further -- but Gobert waiting in the wings might push Kanter to sign for the security of a contract.
That's all pure speculation on my part, though. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Just one FanPost for you this week, but it's a doozy. Scott Farkus, in his FanPost debut, gives an impassioned treatise on his fandom, the Jazz Way, and the importance of "scrap":
One thing that worries me is that I'm not entirely sure where scrap comes from and I'm not sure that it can be acquired (maybe only lost). Derrick, Gordon and Enes all definitely lost it last season. Enes wasn't a bull on the block, Gordon didn't throw Kobe to the ground for a steal, and Derrick somehow increased his stats while being less of a presence on the floor. At least for myself, I don't wrestle for rebounds, set hard picks, chase down fast breaks, lose no loose ball, give-up no easy basket because of a coach. It is just how I play...for free mind you. I just know people hate to play against me, even if they know they can win. That is my hope for the Jazz this year. That even if opposing players/teams know playing the Jazz is a winnable game, they don't look forward to it, and they walk away glad the next one isn't for a several months.
I encourage you to click through and read it all, and I definitely encourage Scott (and everyone!) to write more. Despite the above GIF (which I really just posted because Damien Sandow is awesome), I really enjoy reading the opinions of the SLC Dunk community. You are the reason this site exists.
Just one day into training camp, we've got our first injury of the season:
Jazz guard Carrick Felix will miss about a month after injuring his shoulder in the first practice of the season. Felix was injured on a collision on a play late in the morning practice. X-Rays were negative, but according to Jazz PR, Felix was diagnosed with a "Grade One AC joint sprain" of his left shoulder.
That Trib report indicates that Felix should be out for a month, putting his return near the first regular-season game. Carrick is under contract, so he isn't going anywhere. But his injury does mean that one of the training camp swingmen -- Toure Murry, Dahntay Jones or Kevin Murphy -- may be able to stick with the Jazz at least through the start of the regular season.
I've been operating under the assumption that Murry would make the team anyway, because of his versatility and ability to play point guard if necessary. So the injury to Felix only solidifies Murry's roster spot, in my opinion. But that would add up to 14 players on the final squad. I'd expect the last spot to either be a big man (Brock Motum) or left open for later acquisitions. We'll have to see.
In any case, I'm bummed that we'll have to wait a little longer to see Carrick Felix in action. Not too long, though. I'm sure the time will fly by.
Alec Burks and Dante Exum have both checked in on the latest #NBArank list, at 162 and 173, respectively. Too high? Too low? Vote in the poll.