Can Jazz low-post big men Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter play together and be effective?
Going forward, that question is one of the most important Utah management must answer in their quest to move beyond this season’s 25-57 record.
One word of caution: Don’t count Kanter as one of the doubters.
“I think it’s crazy that people think we cannot play together,” he said Thursday afternoon at EnergySolutions Arena. “I read all these articles and it’s crazy some people think we can’t play together. …
“This is my third year with him. I feel so much more comfortable with him on the court. Offensively, defensively, both sides of the court. I know what he’s going to do and he knows what I’m going to do.”
Statistically, Kanter enjoyed a breakout season in 2013-14.
He averaged 12.3 points and 7.5 rebounds. He played a total of 2,138 minutes, or nearly 200 more than he did in his first two seasons combined.
— Steve Luhm
Buks wants a bigger role next season
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
Gobert says he’ll be stronger next season
Rudy Gobert’s No. 1 priority in the offseason?
“Getting stronger, my legs and all my body. Getting stronger, quicker. … You got to be tough, especially me. I’m a center.”
The rookie will go back to France to train, then return to U.S. at the end of May to go to P3 in Santa Barbara. He’ll participate in the Jazz’s summer league schedule in July.
Gobert finished the season strong with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks in 14 minutes last night in Minnesota. Waiting for his turn to play has been difficult.
“Just sitting on the bench, keep working and waiting for time, that was the hardest part,” he said.
— Aaron Falk
Hayward cites ‘mental fatigue’ in Jazz collapse
The Jazz’s 2013-14 season can be split into three distinct phases — the 1-14 start, the 20-22 middle and the 4-21 finish, even with counting Wednesday’s double-overtime win at Minnesota.
Explanations? The start is partly attributable to injuries to rookie guard Trey Burke and veteran forward Marvin Williams. That makes the stretch in the middle a function of health, in addition to a softer schedule. The team’s struggles in the closing portion had to do with facing more playoff-bound opponents in the Western Conference. Clearly, though, the team hit some kind of wall around March 1.
Gordon Hayward cited “mental fatigue” as the cause, besides giving credit to the other teams.
“A lot of guys haven’t been in this role for this many minutes for this many games,” Hayward said, citing in-game lapses that continually hurt the Jazz.
— Kurt Kragthorpe
Corbin dismisses questions about his future
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin dismissed questions about his future Thursday, when the team held its annual end-of-the-season meetings at EnergySolutions Arena.
“We’ll sit down in the future,” Corbin said, when asked if he has met with general manager Dennis Lindsey. “We’ve got to talk to the guys [today]. We’ll have a schedule going forward.”
Asked if he felt he would be offered a new contract for next season and beyond, Corbin said, “I always feel I’m going to be where I am.”
On Thursday morning, The Salt Lake Tribune learned that Corbin’s future could be decided by this weekend.
The Jazz finished 25-57 this season, which began with a gutting of the roster and commitment to playing Utah’s young foundation — a group that includes Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and rookie point guard Trey Burke.
“Anything can happen in this league,” Corbin said. “I’ve been in it a long time. You want to have a fair shake and you want the best opportunity to win.
“The organization just decided to go in a different direction from the guys we had before. I knew it would be difficult. No way when you change the roster like we did it is good for the coaching staff, especially in the last year of your contract.”
Like any coach of a lottery team — rebuilding or otherwise — Corbin received outside criticism for the job he did in his third full season as Utah’s head coach.
He shrugged it off, saying, “Misery loves company. There are a lot of miserable people out there — people that just like to focus on the negative.”
— Steve Luhm
Williams ‘can’t imagine being anywhere else’ next season
For most of the year, Jazz forward Marvin Williams has talked of his happiness and his desire to stay in Utah as a veteran in the rebuilding process.
The former star out of North Carolina didn’t back away from that stance on Thursday morning.
“I’ve said all year long that I would like to return,” Williams said. “The way the Jazz and the community have treated me, I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I know that this is a business and that things happen, but I’ve made it clear all year long that I want to be here.”
Williams spent most of the season as a stretch power forward in Ty Corbin’s system, providing shooting and spacing on the floor. And the Jazz were a good team when he was in the lineup, and not so good when he wasn’t.
Through it all, Williams spent the season mentoring the younger players. He was singled out by Corbin — along with Richard Jefferson — as two of the better leaders in the locker room. And even if Utah didn’t have a successful season in the win column, Williams said that he saw growth from his less seasoned teammates.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Williams said. “I’ve been in that position before, being a young guy and trying to step in and make a mark. So this year has just been a consistent learning experience.”
— Tony Jones
Lucas has “faith” everything will work out
John Lucas III saw his playing time dry up as the season wore on.
The journeyman point guard said he understands the Jazz wanted to go young. Could the Jazz cut ties with him altogether?
“To me, I never look at it like that,” he said. “I’m always going to be OK. I know what I can do. I know what I can do on the court. I know what I can do off the court. At the end of the season, I don’t worry if I have a job next year. I’m fine. I walk by faith.”
— Aaron Falk
Hayward’s summer plans revealed — sans free agency
Gordon Hayward has plans to run a youth basketball camp next week in the Philippines. His wedding date has been set, too. It’s sometime “soon,” though the Jazz swingman wouldn’t give any other details.
As he waited for his exit interview Thursday, Hayward was also vague on what might await him this summer as an unrestricted free agent.
At least one teammate believes he’ll be back.
“I don’t think he’s going anywhere,” point guard John Lucas III said. “He’s the key. He’s the future here.”
— Aaron Falk
Jefferson says not to count on big impact from rookie
NBA veteran Richard Jefferson is unlikely to be back with the Jazz next season, because he’s seeking a playoff opportunity.
And while he believes “significant improvement” ahead for the franchise, it won’t be because of a first-round draft pick’s immediate contribution.
“Even if you draft a kid, he’s going to be 19 years old,” Jefferson said. “He’s not going to have an over-the-top impact at 19. It takes two or three years.”
The Jazz’s development is “a difficult process that you go through at times,” Jefferson said. “But even great franchises, lots of franchises, go through this. But guys got better, guys worked extremely hard, and good things will come from them in the future.”
Asked how far away the Jazz are, Jefferson said, “I don’t know. I don’t know. It takes time. You’ll find out next year.”
Whatever progress the Jazz make, Jefferson said, mostly will come from “the guys within this locker room.”
— Kurt Kragthorpe
Hayward says Corbin did ‘a tremendous job’
Gordon Hayward wasn’t the only member of the Jazz who worked this season without a contract for 2014-15.
Like Hayward, coach Tyrone Corbin did not receive an extension last summer. Like Hayward, he does not know where he will be working next year.
Given the circumstances, Hayward believes Corbin did a good job.
“He was in a tough spot — a ‘free agent’ asked to develop younger guys,” Hayward said. “When you do that, a lot of times, the wins and losses aren’t going to be in your favor.”
The Jazz finished 25-57 after Wednesday night’s 136-103 double-overtime win at Minnesota.
“I thought he did a tremendous job,” Hayward said. “He didn’t give up on us. He worked hard. Kept us working hard. So hats off to him, even though I’m sure it was frustrating because nobody likes losing.”
Corbin’s status, of course, is more tenuous than Hayward’s. As a restricted free agent, the Jazz can match any offer their leading scorer receives this summer.
— Steve Luhm