Jazz notes: Veteran Richard Jefferson comfortable on young Utah team
By Aaron Falk
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Oct 20 2013 04:05PM
Oklahoma City • Ice packs on both knees protruded from under Richard Jefferson’s sweats as he sat court side at Chesapeake Energy Arena, following shootaround Sunday morning.
But the 33-year-old Utah Jazz forward insists his knees "are great."
"This ice thing is a new thing for me," Jefferson said. "We’ve been having some longer practices than vets are accustomed to."
It’s a sign of where Utah is as a team right now.
"What we’re doing is expected," he said. "You have a young team, whose roles are expanding. When you have a veteran rearm that’s used to playing in May and June, you come in with a different mindset. You come in with: ‘Hey. Let’s get in shape. Let’s get healthy. Let’s get ready for that long haul.’ This team is more: ‘Let’s set the tone. Let’s start establishing great habits as we move into the future.’"
After being hampered by injuries last year, Jefferson said he feels "as strong as I’ve felt in a long time." He weighs 230, which "probably the lightest I’ve ever started a season," and he’s been doing new exercises that have helped his back.
"Last year for me was a very difficult year," said Jefferson, who — playing for Golden State — averaged career lows in minutes played and points scored. "So I look forward to the opportunity to play someplace else and kind of re-establish myself as a quality player."
So far, Jazz coach Ty Corbin has used Jefferson both in the starting five and off the bench.
Asked which role he prefers, Jefferson offered up another veteran response.
"I love everything coach does," he said with a smile. "I think we have a mutual understanding and respect. If he asks me to do something, he knows I’m going to give 100 percent effort, without ego. … Whatever he wants my role to be I’m going to embrace it."
Deal or no deal
The Jazz front office continues to have talks with fourth-year forward Gordon Hayward about a possible contract extension. But even after the team announced Saturday it had agreed to a multi-year deal with forward Derrick Favors, worth a reported $49 million over four seasons, Hayward said he is not concerned about getting a deal done.
"Not at all," he said. "Extremely happy for him. It’s great for the organization, for [Favors]. Couldn’t be happier for him. I’m just playing basketball. I don’t worry about that."
The gang’s all here — almost
Eighteen of the 19 guys on Utah’s preseason roster made the trip to Oklahoma. Only rookie Trey Burke, who is out at least three weeks with a fractured finger, stayed behind.
Brandon Rush (knee) and Marvin Williams (achilles) still haven’t been cleared for contact, but Corbin said the two wing players can benefit by staying with the team on the road.
"As we have time to get guys on the floor, they are actually on the floor and can do things," Corbin said as Williams worked on jumpers during shootaround. "They’re limited in what they can do, but they’re around their teammates and they’re able to do some therapy with [trainer Gary Briggs] and those guys."