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Aaron Falk, Tony Jones and Steve Luhm cover the Utah Jazz and the NBA for The Salt Lake Tribune. The Tribune on Twitter - Aaron Falk: @tribjazz, Steve Luhm: @sluhm, Tony Jones: @Tjonessltrib

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Interview — Gordon Hayward on Utah Jazz's depth, starting role, new season

Midvale — Excerpts from a media interview Saturday with Jazz small forward Gordon Hayward.

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Hayward on how long he's been back in Salt Lake City: I came back on [Sept.] 8th. I went straight to Santa Barbara that same day and was there till the 12th or 13th. And then I've been there ever since.

Who was at P3 in Santa Barbara with him: I guess the team was there the week before. Which, I was supposed to go, but I had class and I had to finish that up before I could go. Big Al was supposed to be out there when I was there and Earl, and I want to say Derrick Favors is out there right now, but I don't know for sure.

Eager for the season to start: Yeah. I mean, like I said, I can't believe it's already almost here. You come back to Salt Lake and it's, like, time to play.

Seeing potential in the Jazz's offseason additions of Randy Foye, Marvin Williams and Mo Williams: Yeah. We've definitely got a lot of talent on the team and we have a lot of depth. If we're going to have a problem, I think that's a good problem to have. So there's going to be competition for minutes, and that's just going to make everyone else better. Those guys are certainly tough, physical guys and they're going to help us out a lot.

Does the depth immediately stand out to him: Yeah. I mean it's — at every position we've got guys who can come in and play and give us good minutes. So I think that's a good thing for us.

Did a non-lockout summer and contact with the Jazz allow him to progress more during the offseason: Honestly, I think it's really kind of the same as far as keeping in contact with them. When we had the lockout, we weren't really able to talk to them that much prior to, what was it, July 1? But I did pretty much the same thing. I still worked out in Indy. They called to check in to see how I was doing. I was able to go to Santa Barbara one more time. But other than that, pretty much the same.

Work out again at St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis: Mmm hmm. Same thing again, yep.

Add more muscle weight again: Same type of thing. I think I added about five more pounds. Last year, I think I came in at 220, but ended up playing at 210, 211. So hopefully I can kind of keep it more this year as a opposed to last year.

At 225 right now: Yeah. I think I was at 223. Hopefully it'll be right around the 220-mark.

Expectations for this season: I expect us to do better than we did last year. As a player you want to improve, both as a team and individually from year to year. I've done that my rookie to sophomore year, and hopefully I'm going to do that again this year, and same goes for the team. We missed the playoffs the first year. Made it —barely — the second year. This year needs to be better than that.

At the point after two seasons he wants as many minutes on the court as he can get: Definitely. I think I've shown that I belong in the league. And it's something that you work for and you work towards, and now I know that I belong and everything, and now you push yourself even further. Try and become an All-Star. That's definitely a goal of mine. But, first and foremost, I think if we were able to win games, that'll help that out. We have a lot of competition in the West. It's going to be fun this year with the moves that were made, and it'll be interesting to see how it all works out.

Gained confidence by being chosen for the U.S. Olympic Select team: Yeah, definitely. It was a good experience for both me and D-Fav. It was cool that, I think, we were one of the only teams that had two guys from the same team represented on that Select team. … I think we both want to eventually make the Olympic team, and that's the first step.

Determined after two seasons whether he prefers to play shooting guard or small forward: You know, I think it'll take [care of itself]. It's one of things especially — and I've said this to you before — especially in our offense, it doesn't really matter. A lot of times, it's going to depend on matchups and defensively you're taking advantage of someone — there's a lot of smaller 2 guards out there that I can definitely take advantage. At the same time, we've got a lot of good guys that are capable of playing the 2. So it doesn't matter to me and it mostly depends defensively who they want me to guard.

Non-basketball highlight of his offseason: Probably Jeremy Evans' wedding. It was funny to see him up there. It was a great wedding.

Can Evans dance: Yeah, he's got some moves. He's got some moves. Anytime you see someone, like one of your friends, step up to the plate and get married —

Did any other Jazz players attend: It was just me as a player, but coach Ty [Corbin] was there and coach Mike [Sanders] was there, too. … It was a smaller wedding. It was a nice one, though.

Was it nice to see Evans sign a contract extension: It was. I think he had a very eventful summer. I think Jazz fans are happy he's back and certainly the guys on the team are happy he's back. He's a tremendous teammate. It's tough, because we've got all these depth problems, so it's tough for us to find minutes for him. But I think he showed last year anytime he gets on the floor he makes stuff happens and brings energy. That's just what he does as a person, too. He brings energy and he creates that chemistry that we all have.

Take it as a positive personal challenge the Jazz added Foye and Marvin Williams: Well, yeah. You want to start for the team and you want to make sure you're the one out there on the court getting as many minutes as you can. So, especially in training camp, there's going to be some competition going on. That'll just further benefit all of our games and make us better as a team.

Did he get married like Evans: I did not. Still a ways for me.

Brian T. Smith

Twitter: @tribjazz



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