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Utah Jazz sure of destination, unsure how they’ll get there

Franchise wants to be a bona fide winner, but it’s still working on the road map.



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Corbin was quick to point out shooting when asked for specific areas the team needed to address in the offseason. The Jazz were bottom 10 in both field goal percentage and 3-point shooting this season, and prone to prolonged droughts.

But whether the Jazz address that entirely through the draft or not remains to be seen.

At a glance

— Jazz player contract status

Under contract

» Derrick Favors

» Trey Burke

» Rudy Gobert

» Jeremy Evans

» Erik Murphy

Eligible for extensions

» Enes Kanter

» Alec Burks

Nonguaranteed contracts

» Malcolm Thomas

» Ian Clark

» Diante Garrett

» John Lucas III

Unrestricted free agents

» Richard Jefferson

» Marvin Williams

» Brandon Rush

» Andris Biedrins

Restricted free agent

» Gordon Hayward

Utah Jazz 2013-14 season

Record » 25-57

Offensive ranking » 25th

Defensive ranking » 30th

Scoring leader »  Gordon Hayward (right), 16.2 ppg

Assists leader » Trey Burke (far left), 5.7 apg

Rebounding leader » Derrick Favors (left), 8.7 rpg

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Defense, an emphasis all year long, was also an issue.

"We ranked 30th [defensively] and we all have to own that," Lindsey said.

The Jazz wouldn’t have to go far to find proof that drastic turnarounds in that department can occur. Charlotte jumped from 30th last year to sixth this season, with the hire of Steve Clifford.

Free agency

The Jazz will no longer be saddled with the bloated contracts of Richard Jefferson ($11 million) or Andris Biedrins ($9 million). Free agent Brandon Rush ($4 million) is likely gone, after falling completely out of the rotation this season. And even if Marvin Williams returns, he’s in line for a pay cut from the $7.5 million he made this year.

Utah could give extensions to Enes Kanter and Alec Burks as they head into their fourth years.

Meanwhile, Derrick Favors already has a big raise coming. And Hayward stands to see one too. The swingman is a restricted free agent, but barring something drastic, it appears the team’s leading scorer will be back next season.


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Said Lindsey: "The Miller family is fully committed to funding the team all the way up to the luxury tax. We have the ability to offer Gordon a significant contract and still have a maximum contract. And if the right guy wants to say yes to us, we’ll speed this thing up. If it’s slow growth and we add vets in support of the young guys … we’re clearly preparing for that alternative as well."

Lindsey said it is not his preference to use this offseason to collect more draft picks, but did not rule out the possibility that the offseason could turn into one of "aggressive asset accumulation."

Foundation

Despite a frustrating season, the Jazz maintain that their plan’s foundation already exists. But internal growth will be key.

"We need to have all the young players, but at least a couple, outperform expectations relative to their current career arc," Lindsey said. The GM pointed at Favors as a player who could make another step next season by improving his conditioning.

"I think there are a couple more steps that he can take," Lindsey said. "So that could be our franchise piece if there’s internal growth."

Hayward, Burks, Kanter and Favors all logged career highs in minutes this season. Point guard Trey Burke averaged 32 minutes a game, the second most among rookies. That those five players didn’t start together until the 79th game of the season, prompting Kanter to question his coach’s decision this week, doesn’t mean no progress was made.

"Everybody will be better for this experience," Corbin said. "Whatever happens happens. But I think this group of guys will be better because they went through this."

afalk@sltrib.com



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