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If you’re of a certain age (like, say, mine), you grew up not being able to avoid that Boyz II Men song, “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” I hadn’t thought about that song in years and years, but it popped in my head as the Jazz were hosting their postseason media availability last week. It was no random occurrence.
Almost every single player sitting behind the microphone uttered some variation on the theme of “This team has unique chemistry which is an asset we should maintain.” And we all get it — having players that get along is half the battle sometimes. Only half, though. Chemistry counts, but it only goes so far — something center Rudy Gobert acknowledged in his time on the dais.
“We all love each other — it’s not every year I can say that,” he said. “But at the same time, every team that wants to win has to make tough decisions. We’re all kind of prepared for that.”
None of them was going to say, “These guys are great, but frankly a few of them just aren’t talented enough,” nor would we expect them to. But after this team struggled to hit open shots against Houston and was sent packing from the playoffs after five games vs. the Rockets for a second consecutive season, there are some hard truths coming. If this team has bigger ambitions — and the Frenchman made it clear that they do — then some changes will have to be made.
“We all need to have a championship on our minds,” Gobert said. “Not in the playoffs — it starts right now.”
In case you missed it …
For starters, Andy Larsen and I have a new episode of the Weekly Run podcast up! In this one, we do a quick postmortem on the season that was, then quickly pivot to discussing how the Jazz might accelerate their evolution.
As for our written words, rather than our spoken ones, well, there are plenty of those, too! For starters, there’s Joe Ingles vowing to come back from his most trying season a better player. Meanwhile, Jazz assistant coach Alex Jensen has interviewed for the top jobs in Memphis and Cleveland. Jae Crowder has promised to go to work recruiting talent to SLC this summer. Donovan Mitchell said he’ll do the same. Ricky Rubio, however, seems like maybe he’ll be departing Utah soon. And Kyle Korver is considering retirement.
Given their cap situation, the Jazz will have plenty of options to shake things up. And honestly, they expect change to happen to some degree, given how the season ended. There are at least two ways we know this team will try to improve: adding more shooting, and Donovan having a full summer to develop his game.
Other people’s stuff
• Sean Deveney of The Sporting News writes that it’s time for Utah to start taking some chances this summer: “The Jazz are not likely to get beyond their 50-ish win, second-round plateau without adding another star-caliber offensive piece and better shooting.”
• In a guest spot for KSL.com, though, Ben Anderson notes that getting aggressive seems to go against the Jazz’s nature.
• Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News wrote about Georges Niang, and how the former G League standout turned NBA rotation piece isn’t satisfied with a few good performances against the Rockets.
• Andy Bailey wrote a piece for Forbes sports examining the progress that Rudy Gobert made in his sixth season.
• Andy Larsen, meanwhile, appeared on the Blue Notes podcast with Ben Dowsett to review the 2018-19 season and preview the coming summer.
• Tony Jones of The Athletic also took a big-picture look at what went wrong and how the team might fix it going forward.