After a draft night in which they first donned the hats of three different teams, three players from three countries regrouped Friday as the newest members of the Utah Jazz.
The unit, highlighted by national college player of the year Trey Burke, arrived in Salt Lake City on an early afternoon flight from New York, each burdened by different levels of expectation, but collectively representing a promising step forward for a rebuilding franchise.
The newest of the Jazz
Trey Burke, point guard
How acquired » Picked ninth by Minnesota and traded to Jazz for the 14th and 21st picks.
Age » 20
Notable » Led Michigan to 2013 NCAA championship game.
Rudy Gobert, center
How acquired » Picked 27th by Denver and traded to Jazz for 46th pick and cash considerations.
Age » 21
Notable » Is 7-foot-2, has standing reach of 9-foot-7 and a wingspan of 7-foot-9.
Raul Neto, point guard
How acquired » Picked 47th by Atlanta and traded to Jazz for a 2015 second-round draft pick.
Age » 21
Notable » Brazilian national teammate of San Antonio center Tiago Splitter.
In addition to Burke, the Jazz introduced 7-foot-2 French center Rudy Gobert, and Brazilian point guard Raul Neto, who said even before the draft that his father, a John Stockton fan, told his son he hoped he went to the Jazz.
"I think they’re really of Jazz fiber," general manager Dennis Lindsey said. "They’re serious professionals already, very competitive. Each of the guys, they play the game with a pure heart."
The Jazz traded picks 14 and 21 on Thursday to Minnesota to acquire Burke, who was drafted ninth. Later in the night, they sent the 46th pick and cash to Denver for the rights to Gobert, the 27th pick, and they completed the night by trading a 2015 second-round pick to Atlanta for the rights to Neto.
Burke gives the Jazz a fifth member of a core lineup of young players, which also consists of Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. The addition of a marquee young point guard sets the tone for free agency, which starts Monday when teams and players can begin negotiations.
Burke will join the Jazz immediately and travel to Orlando on Tuesday for the mini-camp preceding the Orlando Pro Summer League, where he will team for the first time with the third-year Burks. Gobert and Neto are both under professional contracts, Gobert in France and Neto in Spain. The Jazz would need to buy each player out before he could join the team.
Gobert said he intends to play for the Jazz this season, while Lindsey described Neto’s situation as "more open-ended."
There is little question of what is expected of Burke, however. The 6-foot point guard is already carrying the burden of being the next great point guard in a decades-long history of them.
Lindsey described both Burke and Neto as "pure point guards."
"If there’s a market where that’s very important," he said, "it’s here."
While the Jazz vowed to bring Burke along slowly, he revealed his own plan Friday after a news conference at the Jazz practice facility.
"I think my plan is to pick up on things much quicker than they expect me to pick up on things," he said. "That’s something that happened at the University of Michigan — the coaches were very surprised at how fast I picked up on the offense and things like that, so I think it’s my job away from the coaches off the court, to do my homework."
Burke rose in the minds of pro scouts with impressive play in the NCAA Tournament, which included a 30-foot shot to tie Kansas in the final second of a Sweet 16 game the Wolverines eventually won in overtime.
"I think it was just a really good shot," Burke said. "A memorable shot, and a memorable game as well. But at the same time, I bring much more to the game than 30-foot shots and I definitely feel like I’m a really good playmaker, really smart point guard that can lead his team and win. That’s more important to me."
When he was originally drafted by Minnesota, Burke said, he worried about an "awkward" situation due to the presence of young point guard Ricky Rubio. But he quickly realized that he would be on the move.
"Once I found out I got traded," he said, "I was thrilled to know that I was going to be in a city where I would be able to really focus off the court. There’s not too much distractions."
Learning "how to be a professional off the court," he added, "affects you on the court in a positive way."
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