Memphis, Tenn. • With the NBA’s trade deadline less than 24 hours away, there are several members of the Utah Jazz who could be playing their last bit of basketball in a Utah uniform.
To their credit, they aren’t letting it bother them.
Starting forward Derrick Favors has been mentioned in trade talk for a solid month. But he says he will be watching cartoons on Thursday morning. And on Wednesday morning, Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood seemed at ease as they both went through shootaround ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I can’t worry about what I can’t control,” Johnson said. “I’m just worried about trying to help my team win. Everything else, I’ll deal with as it comes.”
Johnson is a buyout candidate, if the trade market doesn’t yield any assets for the Jazz. Hood and Favors are thought to be prime trade options for the Jazz. They would both have reason to be nostalgic.
Favors is Utah’s longest-tenured player, having come to the Jazz in the Deron Williams trade seven years ago. Other than starting his career for the then-New Jersey Nets, Favors has played strictly for the Jazz. He’s been a starter since 2013, and is one of the most liked Jazz players in the locker room and the community.
Hood was drafted by the Jazz and became a starter in his rookie season. He’s in his fourth season and is one of Utah’s most potent scorers. But with both being free agents this summer, their respective futures are murky. Still, for them, it’s about the team, and trying to help the Jazz extend a long winning streak.
“If I’m here after Thursday, I’m going to be happy to be here,” Favors said. “If I get traded, I’m going to embrace that. I know that I’m here now, and that’s the important thing.”
Jazz center Ekpe Udoh missed Wednesday night’s game, after having to leave the team on Tuesday to fly home and deal with a family issue.
There’s no immediate word on when Udoh will return to the Jazz. He’s fluctuated between Utah’s primary backup center and third-string center this season. Udoh’s in his first season with the Jazz.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder said Ricky Rubio is playing better because he’s playing with more pace, getting his team into better offensive sets and finding a rhythm offensively with his jumper.
“It takes awhile to learn the system, and he’s become more comfortable,” Snyder said. “He’s making better decisions and he’s doing a great job of leading.”