Hayward, Evans in state of limbo
Milwaukee, Wis. • Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward was inactive and wearing street clothes. Rookie teammate Jeremy Evans was available for action, proudly wearing a Utah uniform.
But despite the duo changing roster roles Saturday during the Jazz's 95-86 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks, Utah coach Jerry Sloan cautioned that there was nothing to read in between the lines.
Evans was inactive Friday during the Jazz's blowout loss to New Orleans, while Hayward scored seven points and grabbed three rebounds.
However, Sloan said that he has not made a decision about either player's long-term status, nor has he had a conversation about sending Evans or Hayward to the Development League following the return of veteran center Mehmet Okur.
Sloan said that if Okur is reinjured, a Jazz team that has 13 players and can only dress 12 is "back to square one."
Moreover, Sloan is sensitive to the subject of whether Hayward or Evans will be inactive on a nightly basis, since he understands just how fragile a young player's confidence and ego can be.
"They don't like it, I'm sure. And I don't particularly like it either," Sloan said. "But it's part of the growth process."
Sloan acknowledged that he is an overall fan of the D-League, stating that it can aid an athlete's growth process. Still, Utah's coach knows that balancing playing time for the young forwards who represent the organization's two 2010 NBA draft picks will not be easy in the near future.
"Sometimes I guess you can look at it and think it's kind of personal," Sloan said. "I don't feel that way, and I tried to tell them it's not anything personal. â¦ We have to make decisions based on some things."
As for Hayward, the ninth overall pick of the 2010 draft continues to balance optimism and gradual progress with the humility that often comes with being a rookie on a winning team.
"It's a humbling experience," Hayward said. "I know that I have a lot to work on; a lot to improve on. Just watching from the sidelines, you can learn and pick up things. So that's what I try to do. And I'll hopefully get better tomorrow."