Ekpe Udoh shouted across the locker room as the newest addition to the Jazz organization was trying to find his way through Vivint Smart Home Arena.
“To the right,” Udoh said. “The gym is to the right!”
Jae Crowder stutter-stepped before turning in the right direction.
The 6-foot-6 wing defender, netted by Utah in a three-team trade, did not play on Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets. The NBA was still awaiting full physical results from all six players involved in the trade, preventing Crowder from suiting up.
But, nevertheless, Crowder was in Salt Lake City, hanging out in the locker room that will be his new workspace. And there was a locker (with a jersey with his name on it) waiting for when the trade finally gets done.
Crowder wasn’t available to speak to the media, pending the trade’s completion. But his former teammate in Boston, Jonas Jerebko, was more than happy to speak for him.
“I was happy when I had seen Jae came here,” Jerebko said. “For three years, we had some great times together. One of my all-time favorite teammates. It was great.”
In Crowder, the Jazz traded for a defense-first player they’ve liked for a while. While he stagnated in Cleveland (8.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Utah hopes that he can recapture the 40-percent 3-point shooting he enjoyed as a Celtic, as well as his ability to create points at the rim.
Crowder’s future with the team is a prospect that animates and excites coach Quin Snyder, who envisions Crowder’s versatility blending in well with the Jazz. His best success came in his years in Boston, where he was part of a defense-first, ball-movement scheme — in the Jazz system, Snyder thinks he could rediscover those strengths.
“One of the things he does well is defend,” Snyder said. “He’s able to guard multiple positions, which as we’ve seen in this league as certain teams gravitate to more positionless basketball, those defensive matchups are important. We feel like offensively he’s a guy who can make plays for people, and a multiple position guy as well.”
The other big talking point at Friday morning shootaround was the Jazzmen who left town in the trade: Rodney Hood and Joe Johnson. Like general manager Dennis Lindsey, the rest of the Jazz were complimentary of their former teammates.
Snyder didn’t want to compare and contrast Hood and Crowder in particular, choosing instead to celebrate Hood on his own merits.
“I’m looking forward to see him continue to get better and have opportunities elsewhere,” Snyder said. “So excited for his development, as I said, and appreciate everything he’s done for the program.”
The Jazz honored Jon Huntsman Sr. prior to Friday’s game with cheers in his honor, followed by a moment of silence. The Jazz left his four courtside seats near midcourt empty with Huntsman Cancer Institute shirts draped over them. … With his first dunk of the game in the first quarter, Derrick Favors became the 15th-leading scorer in franchise history, passing Bryon Russell.