Every day after school, the coach’s son would be dropped off at the high school gym. The older boys of Brown Deer, Wis., practiced on one half of the floor, and the boy would shoot on the other.
Stop jacking up 3s, the coach would tell his son. You’re going to be playing underneath the basket.
“Steve just shook his head,” Mike Novak recalls, “and went back out and shot 3s.”
Fast forward to now. The Utah Jazz certainly won’t try to stifle that inclination.
The Jazz on Thursday completed a trade that sent point guard Diante Garrett to Toronto in exchange for Steve Novak and a 2017 second-round pick that once belonged to the Knicks.
And the 6-foot-10 Novak, a career 43 percent shooter from behind the arc, knows what his role will be.
“They really do see how my shooting can help,” Novak said in a telephone interview with The Salt Lake Tribune this week. “It can help with Trey [Burke] getting in the paint and giving Derrick [Favors] a lot of room when he’s posting up. Just giving guys space, letting Gordon [Hayward] handle. That’s what they talked about with me. Allowing those guys room to operate.”
Firing from deep is how Novak has made his name and his living.
He was born in June of 1983 and brought home to a crib with a backboard and a hoop hanging above him. There were backyard games with his family and shooting contests on mini-hoops in the basement during long Wisconsin winters.
In the eighth grade, Novak dedicated himself to making 300 shots every day after school. If he wasn’t shooting 70 percent after hitting 300, his father says, Novak would keep going until he hit his mark.
“It’s just something that I’ve always loved to do,” Steve Novak said. “Being a coach’s son, that was my playground.”
Novak chose to play his college ball close to home at Marquette. In 2006, he was drafted by the Houston Rockets. Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey was with the Rockets at the time, and later crossed paths with Novak when the two were in San Antonio.
Last season, the 31-year-old Novak was a role player in Toronto, shooting 42.6 percent from 3 but only playing about 10 minutes a night.
Novak, who has two years and $7.2 million left on his contract, spends his summers working out at Marquette and was in Wisconsin on July 4 when he was informed of the trade.
The news came as a shock; his exit interviews with the Raptors had not given him the impression he was likely to be dealt.
But Novak believes he is heading to a good situation.
And for a young Jazz team that had just one player shoot better than 40 percent from 3 last year (free agent Richard Jefferson), Novak will provide firepower and veteran leadership, Lindsey said.
“On the court, his accuracy, his range along with his shot quickness provides very unique spacing,” Lindsey said. “Off the court, his intelligence, professionalism, [and] leadership are all things we’re looking for to help grow the young group.”
Steve Novak career stats
Season Team Gms Pts 3%
2006-07 Rockets 35 1.5 .333
2007-08 Rockets 35 3.9 .479
2008-09 Clippers 71 6.9 .416
2009-10 Clippers 54 2.1 .310
2010-11 Mavericks/Spurs 30 3.5 .565
2011-12 Knicks 54 8.8 .472
2012-13 Knicks 81 6.6 .425
2013-14 Raptors 54 3.3 .426
Career 414 5.0 .432