Welcome to a new week, everyone!
On the menu for this week: more Jazz Basketball!
The Utah Jazz will play the Timberwolves tonight (7/13) at 8:30 PM MT and the Suns tomorrow (7/14) at 5:30 PM MT.
Starting on Wednesday the Las Vegas Summer League playoffs will commence and the Jazz will have to win to progress.
Right now, the Jazz are 0-1 in the Las Vegas Summer League due to losing a close one to the HEAT on Saturday 79-82.
You can check out the highlights and the recap here on SLC Dunk.
But if you want some in-depth analysis from the self-proclaimed leader of the #SayNoToMotumOnTheJazzClub (there are dozens of us! okay maybe not...), then here is my explanation of why we lost: Below is one of the Jazz's top plays of the game and Motum outplayed our lottery pick Lyles...
That just shows what type of night it was, Bryce Cotton was carrying the suddenly talent-desolate roster (due to Hood's and Exum's DNPs) and the rest is history. Cotton just didn't get enough help from the rest of the team (Cotton shot over 50%, the rest of the team....a paltry 33%.
Here's to hoping that more players show up with their A-game, or at least their C+-game tonight against the impressive summer league roster the Wolves will be fielding tonight!
The Jazz made yet another one of their trademark sneaky under-the-radar moves this weekend in signing 7'3" German Tibor Pleiss. Amar's got you covered with the breakdown of the acquisition and how our team's salaries look now.
Amar covered it well, and I want to reiterate the lunacy of the likely scenario of Gobert getting in foul trouble sometime this year. To reward the other team for doing this, we will punish them by swapping out our 7'2" player with a 7'3" PLAYER!!!! Are the Jazz trying to become the hydra monster of the NBA (cut one head, two more shall take its place)?
Honestly I have not seen an overwhelming amount of Pleiss' game and I'm guessing most haven't, so here are some of his highlights from the 2013-14 season:
(Yes, there is a Joe Ingles sighting in there)
I'm glad that Dennis Lindsey is continuing to have himself a shrewd summer filling out his bench for pennies on the dollar in terms of NBA money. I imagine that not many of these players being brought in will be high-impact players this season or make the likely eventual 8-man rotation that the Jazz will use for crucial games and that's just fine. We are getting project players on multi-year contracts on the cheap and if just one or two of them pan out , that can mean all the difference of finding an edge in this league. Case in point: having one of the best defensive players in the league in Gobert for just a couple million per year! Madness!
It's clear that Lindsey is filling this roster with low-risk commodities that could end up looking like steals at some point, not a bad strategy for 3rd stringers, not bad at all.
Aaron Falk of the Salt Lake Tribune has an excellent article up giving some background of Trey Lyles as well as how he may develop with the Jazz: Rookie Trey Lyles a work in progress
Go ahead and read it all if you want to learn more about Lyles.
Here's some parts that stuck out to me:
"We have to keep in mind he's 19," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "I would imagine at 21, he's going to look and feel a lot different regarding his game. We're just going to be patient and not skip steps and coach him hard and give him support."
"He could have went to a different Power 5 conference and arguably been the guy and average 17 and 8," Lindsey said. "But he chose a place where there was an unbelievably talented recruiting class coming in."
Lyles led the Wildcats in minutes played, and coach John Calipari called him the team's X-factor. He averaged a respectable 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. But behind the scenes, he showcased a bigger game.
"You got to see how good people actually are in our practices," said former Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker, who was drafted by the Phoenix Suns one pick after Utah grabbed Lyles. "We're only limited to 20 minutes a game at Kentucky, but when we're in practice, we're going full at each other."
When he worked out for the Jazz before the draft, Lyles impressed team officials with his versatility and skill set. He expertly executed drills and shot surprisingly well from the corners. He ran pick-and-roll after pick-and-roll, both as the ball handler and the screener. In fact, in his summer league debut on Thursday, Lyles initiated one that led to an easy dunk for center Jack Cooley.
In that first quote, there's that phrase that's been repeated over and over by Dennis Lindsey:
"Not skip steps"
I've noticed some have started to get weary of this phrase already and starting to associate a negative connotation with it, but I see it a different way.
The Jazz teams of a few years ago were trying to do everything at once. They were trying to both win and develop their talent while not doing a particular good job at either. We ended up winning exactly 0 playoff games post-Boozer and our lottery picks still felt like enigmas full of potential entering their 2nd contracts.
Not skipping steps is Lindsey shooting straight with us while perhaps unintentionally referring to the shortcomings of the first iteration/first few years of the post-DWill/Boozer rebuild.
The Jazz do not want to be a team whose ceiling is an easy first round appetizer for the real powerhouses of the West; they aspire to be the next Western powerhouse.
With a defensive-focused culture that plays with a pass and fluidity on the offensive end while building genuine camaraderie/chemistry in the locker room, the Jazz are doing their damned best to get this team back on the rails. They are trying to get back to the once-unprecedented stability of excellent teams our fans experienced for the better part of two decades.
I realize our team's offseasons as of late haven't been all that sexy or dramatic, but you're a fool if you're even slightly surprised by this. The Jazz at this point have a long history of boring offseasons. And now, they're even being honest and spoon-feeding us the roster strategy of not skipping steps (AKA not signing veterans that may help the team, but could also disrupt the chemistry/development of the special culture this Jazz team is going all in on).
I mean I'd love for the Jazz to go all in to swipe Mike Conley in free agency next summer, but if the Jazz have calculated the opportunity cost of scenarios like this and decided at this point that their best realistic option right now is to sit on the gold-mine of talent/potential this team currently has, I'm going to trust it until I see an obvious solution present itself.
If last year was the season of hope for the Jazz, I see this year as the season of opportunity--the season where the Jazz rise up the ranks and stake out their claim as a relevant and nightmarish team. I'm going to come out and say it, if the Jazz do not make the playoffs this year then I see this rebuild as a major disappointment thus far. I expect this Jazz team with all of its "potential" to show the results that not skipping steps is meant to show, and that is a successful non-rushed product that will be sustainable for years to come.
Maybe I'm just amped because I got to see the EnergySolutions Arena in person for the first time in 5 years this weekend (gotta love layovers), but I think the Jazz will make the 7th seed this season.
Moving on, Quin Snyder is awesome! I can't wait to see what unforgettable moments he brings next season. He seems to genuinely have the respect/fear of his players, I mean how can you not get pumped up by your leader getting so emotionally involved in the game?
Other news around the league:
The Thunder matched Portland's 4-year $70 Million offer to Enes Kanter. He would be the highest paid player on this Jazz team, kudos to Lindsey on being able to forecast the market and make the decision to make room for the scary frontcourt of the future in Hayward-Favors-Gobert.
Nets signed Bargnani
Clippers signed Austin Rivers to a 2 year deal because Doc Rivers is as good a GM as Austin Rivers is as basketball.
Joel Embiid is likely out for the season...again, yes this is July 2015 news folks, not July 2014. Sam Hinkie's ponzi scheme continues.
The Nets bought out Deron Williams, who then signed a 2 year, $10 Million deal with the Mavs. I sure am glad the Jazz made that trade. I'd take just Derrick Favors over him at this point. Thank you Billy King! I'm beginning to seriously consider that Gordon Hayward sapped Deron Williams' talent space jam style the day before he was traded.
That's the majority of the relevant NBA news I found over the weekend, feel free to add anything I missed in the comments.
Hopefully the Jazz go out and smash their way through the rest of summer league starting tonight, Do it Jazz!!!