It's been a few years since Matt Harpring traded catch-and-shoots for catchphrases, swapping his jersey and sneakers for a suit and an analyst's mic. I talked with the former Jazzman (who is back in Utah later this month to host his annual youth basketball camp) this morning about broadcasting, nicknames and the Jazz's summer.
Here are a few excerpts from our chat.
Aaron Falk: How has the summer been?
Matt Harpring: Good. My son had some baseball tournaments and stuff and then I went straight into basketball camps here in Georgia. I'll be out in Utah at the end of the month for a camp.
AF: You've been on the broadcast a while now. Do you practice this stuff during the summer? Or is training camp your training camp too?
MH: I actually record a lot of stuff during the season. In the summertime, now I'll go back and it's kind of like a player watching film. I'll look for things I said or things I didn't that I didn't like. I'll evaluate. I've got a little notebook that I carry and I take notes. Things I felt were good. Things I felt were bad. And I'll try for next year to bring something different or a little better.
AF: So tell me about your camp. How long have you been doing these?
MH: I think this is my 13th year. It's something I knew I wanted to do when I was a young player, as soon as I had some time. When you're young and doing summer league, you can't really do anything because of the commitment to the team. But once I had some time I wanted to do the camps. It's fun. I'm there every day, running the camp. What's fun for me is seeing these kids year after year. I've had kids there since they were 8, 9, 10. Now I have some coaches coaching for me that been through my camps. Now they're playing college ball and coming back and coaching during the offseason.
AF: Do you ever have the itch to coach?
MH: This fulfills the itch. I do five weeks of basketball camps every summer. I think any player who has played has a coaching itch. But I have young kids. My itch doesn't get scratched a lot because I need to be here with my kids and my family.
AF: Were you as pleased with the Jazz's draft as everyone else?
MH: I think Exum is going to be a good pick. He's young, but watching his highlights from summer league, he's got some characteristics that you can tell are elite. I think his speed with this ball, his athletic ability, he has the potential to be something really good. Hood, I watched him play. I went to one or two Georgia Tech games last year and once was against Duke. I went to see Jabari Parker. I didn't know who Hood was. After the game, I was like, 'Wow. That kid is really good.'"
AF: Do you have nicknames lined up for them yet?
MH: Nicknames kind of happen suddenly. All of a sudden you see something and you feel it. I don't have one for them yet. I need to put eyes on these guys. You see them from TV and it's so different from seeing them live. I'm sure the nicknames will come. And there have to be some floating out there already.
AF: I think most people say the Jazz overpaid to match Hayward's deal. Is there any way he can live up to that?
MH: The market always tells you what you're worth. It doesn't matter if it's just one team. Obviously there was a team out there that thought he was a max player. And the Jazz didn't want to let an asset go. Hayward has kind of been groomed for the Jazz. Can he be an elite player? Yeah. If he works himself into it. There's a potential he can reach if he wants to keep working to be that guy. Then that contract is going to be worth the money. He's got to make a jump like Paul George made. There are the comparisons there. George all of a sudden came out and made the jump. Let's see if Hayward has his breakout year. He's got the potential.
AF: How many wins will the Jazz have this year?
MH: I don't know. It depends on what they do with the rest of the roster. They're still young and they lost probably their two best shooters from last season, Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams.
AF: With all the player movement — LeBron, etc. — do you have a favorite to win it all?
MH: I'm not shocked. I think the writing was on the wall in Miami after they didn't do it this year. For me, personally, I have gained more respect for him, going back home and trying to do something. I think it's admirable. I'm actually rooting for him now. Before I think I was with a majority that was not rooting for him. But I don't think they'll win it this year.
AF: Would you trade Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love?
MH: I would. I think if you're Cleveland you've got to do it. Wiggins is a couple years away and you just never know. Kevin Love is a known commodity. Will Wiggins be the next LeBron? I don't know. You've got to try to win now.
AF: So if not Cleveland, then who? San Antonio?
MH: I like the Bulls too out of the East, if Rose comes back healthy. Everybody forgets how good he was.
AF: Who's your Rookie of the Year?
MH: It all depends on playing time. If Wiggin s stays in Cleveland, he might not get the minutes. But if he goes to team that's going to play him 35 minutes, he can do it. Jabari Parker will probably put up the most numbers this year. But I think the sleeper pick is Exum. I think he could have a breakout. I'm telling you, I was impressed with his skill set. I think there are going to be a lot of guards that have trouble staying in front of him.
• You think Quin Snyder is sick of being asked whether Exum and Trey Burke can play together.
Here's the new Jazz coach after yesterday's loss to the Spurs summer league squad:
"I was waiting for that Dante-Trey question. It usually comes a little later. I've talked about this every time we've played, every time we've practiced. To me there, there aren't positions in basketball. If you have five guys on the floor that can defend the five guys on the other team, it doesn't matter if you call them ones, twos, threes, fours, fives. Those two guys can match up defensively with other guards. If they can play together, which I think they can, they really present matchup problems. I'm being a little bit facetious. But I do think they can be a unique backcourt. In my minds, I see them as a backcourt as opposed to a one, two, three."
One of the big standouts of the last week in Vegas has been Utah's ball movement.
• By the way, Bovada has some early odds out for the NBA title.
Cleveland is the gambling sites favorite, at 3-to-1. At the bottom of the list, the Sixers, Bucks, Pistons, Kings and, yes, the Jazz sit at 200-to-1.
• The Jazz wrap up their summer league against the Blazers tonight.
The game is at 6:30 MT and will be broadcast on NBA TV.
Who has been the biggest standout for you on this squad?
— Aaron Falk
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