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Utah Jazz to start next preseason off in Hawai'i, Free Agent Mini-camps to persist - Downbeat #1629

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Jazz to play two preseason games in Hawai'i. A retro shot of Hot Rod! How poorly did the team shoot from the FT line last season. Free Agent Mini-camp invite is another Aussie mystery player. What to put on the grill, crazy 90s prices, and Karl Malone shooting secrets.

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Ever ready to look forwards to next season (when the Conference Finals haven't even started yet), the Los Angeles Lakers have already released their pre-season schedule for 2015-16. And the good news is that the Utah Jazz will be on their list, and they'll be playing two games at the Stan Sheriff Center, in Honolulu, Hawai'i. (Sorry, #44United members don't get tickets to this.)

Date Team City Stadium
1 OCT 4 vs Utah Jazz Honolulu, HI Stan Sheriff Center
2 OCT 6 vs Utah Jazz Honolulu, HI Stan Sheriff Center
3 OCT 8 vs Toronto Raptors Ontario, CA Citizens Business Bank Arena
4 OCT 11 vs Maccabi Haifa Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center
5 OCT 13 vs Sacramento Kings Las Vegas, NV MGM Grand Garden Arena
6 OCT 17 vs Golden State Warriors San Diego, CA Valley View Casino Center
7 OCT 19 vs Portland Trail Blazers Los Angeles, CA STAPLES Center
8 OCT 22 vs Golden State Warriors Anaheim, CA Honda Center

So, part of me is kinda happy -- we could have lost Enes Kanter in a paradise like that. Only the best teams get to play the Lakers, though, or the teams in Cali . . . so we should be honored to see them twice. Hawai'i is a great place, if you haven't been you are missing out on a slice of heaven. And the preseason really can't come soon enough for us Utah Jazz fans either.

More like this please.

(...also that lineup of Dante Exum, Ian Clark, Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert is just nuts...)

Starting it off in Hawai'i is going to be the start of an awesome season.

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This is a great shot of Hot Rod Hundley! It's a better golf swing than I have!

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Did you know that the Utah Jazz shot poorly from the free throw line last season? They went 1,391 / 1,929, which is only 72.11%. Yes, they did still get there 23.52 times a game (not bad), but if you look at the entire Jazz franchise history it was 3rd worst. While our club is improving, they still left over 500 points at the line. There were a lot of close games they go from losses to wins if the team improves on that.

Later on this week I break open the history books to help point out what the team really is missing out on, when they are missing free throws. Also . . . the people who need to step up aren't the people you think. The team is working on it, and the players themselves know it's a problem. So maybe they need to bring this guy in to be a free throw shooting coach, huh?

Actually, it's not a half-bad idea. I love Karl Malone, but I would want him to bring back those prices too. Less than $2 for a huge burger? Sign me up!

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It's not just about the draft, the Jazz have made a habit of grabbing good players who go undrafted, or play overseas. (Just not drafting guys from overseas.... you feel me Ante Tomic?) Wesley Matthews went undrafted and the Jazz snatched him up, and now he has been a career starter on Western Conference Playoff teams. This last season the Jazz statched up Joe Ingles and Elijah Millsap, amongst their bounty of non-drafted rookies. One of the hall marks of this successful strategy (A blue ocean strategy) has been the extent of their scouting departments. They are just all over the world and don't stop. And that's why they hold a free agent mini camp every year since Dennis Lindsey has been in charge. Some of the players they have brought in have made the team down the road, like Travis Leslie, Toure' Murry, Jack Cooley, Patrick Christopher, Dee Bost (kinda, NBADL Stampede), and Brock Motum (kinda, Vegas).

The team has evaluated over a hundred players this way, and that's how you find these diamond in the roughs. When you need an NBA quality player in a pinch it's usually hit or miss. For the Jazz they're getting way more hits than normal. Thanks based Lindsey.

Anyway, my main man Tom Reed, of the BelieveTheHype.com podcast, is a great NBA reporter from down under. And he first brought it to my attention that the Jazz are going to be a) doing another free agent mini-camp this off-season. And b), one of the guys who they are bringing in is . . . none other than Julian Khazzouh!

Who is this cat? Well, he's another Aussie player, and he's 6'10 but only 220 pounds. He went undrafted in 2008, but did play for the Lakers in Summer League a few years ago (three games, went 4/8 from deep, shot 53% overall, averaged 8 and 4 a game). Is he our potential stretch big? He has shown the ability to hit that shot, but I worry about the level of competition he has played again.

Doing the high school basketball thing in Australia, and then playing pro there is fine. He has also played in the Netherlands, Israel, Poland, and Lebanon. (He's Lebanese-Australian, if we're doing the hyphen thing.) It's not like he's playing in the Spanish ACB league or going up against CSKA Moscow every week. But I do have serious qualms about him playing for the team in Beirut that Rony Seikaly used to play for (after his NBA playing days were up).

Here he is dropping 40 in Lebanon:

Here he is dropping less than 40 in the Summer League:

Two points. I'm not mad. The Jazz know their strengths and weaknesses. It's not like they are deluded. Delusion was very high a few seasons ago. They want a stretch big, it fits the offense, it fits the way the NBA is going right now. And the team is looking to find one and/or develop one. They're not afraid to take long shots. This guy is a long shot. He's not Mehmet Okur. Memo played defense and was tough (getting into near fist fights with Juwan Howard in the playoffs, and against Rafael Araujo in "Friendly" competitions for FIBA). I don't know how tough this kid is. But he was born and raised in Australia, so I am expecting him to be immune to venom or something.

They called "dibs" on Jack Cooley (same height) to see if he could transition into a stretch big, but at the NBA level (albeit only in garbage time) we see him revert to a throwback post up guy with no range. I'm not crazy about The Great Khazzouh, but I love that the Jazz are going there. A stretch big Aussie who isn't Brock Motum? Where do I sign? (Hopefully for the minimum if he is worth it.)

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What's your "go-to move" on the grill? I'm asking because it's grillin' time.