It’s draft workout season for the Utah Jazz and NBA, but this one will be quite different
(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Walt Perrin, who served as the Jazz's VP of Player Personnel and ran the team's predraft workouts, left the organization in May to join the Knicks' front office.
Normally, the weeks following the end of the Utah Jazz’s season would be filled with a seemingly nonstop parade of NBA draft prospects filing into the Zions Bank Basketball Campus for interviews, tests, drills, even some 3-on-3 games just to see how they adapt to playing with unfamiliar teammates.
For obvious reasons, that isn’t the case this year.
With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing, the NBA established myriad new protocols to enable teams to get to know prospects better (and vice versa) while still trying to maintain safety by way of social distancing.
That first began with a virtual NBA Combine
, with players first recording video responses to standardized questions, followed by teams beginning to virtually interview specifically-requested individuals.
Now, though, the league has moved on to the “predraft workouts” component of its schedule, and again, it doesn’t really resemble anything that’s occurred before.
An initial component of the workout process was NBA venues playing host to in-area draft prospects, allowing the players to drive the nearest NBA market facilities to take part in medical testing, measurement-taking, strength and agility tests, and shooting drills. The idea is to further limit travel while giving players the chance to participate in all the usual combine events (except for 5-on-5 games).
And while this was initially thought to be the extent of players' predraft workouts, the league subsequently changed course again.
About two weeks ago, it was announced that teams could now attend up to 10 player workouts, provided that strict criteria are met.
For starters, these workouts entail the team sending a contingent out to the player’s turf, rather than the traditional other way around. Draft prospects this year are able to pick the city and venue where these workouts take place, and also to dictate the terms of the workouts themselves.
In effect, this creates more of a “pro day”-style situation than a typical team-centric workout would.
Further, teams are limited to sending a maximum of three people to each workout, in an attempt to limit the potential transmission and spread of COVID-19.
In the meantime, behind-the-scenes evaluation continues in determining who the Jazz might select
with the No. 23 pick of the first round of the draft, to be held Nov. 18 at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn.
And just in case the circumstances of a global pandemic hadn’t thrown enough of a monkey-wrench into the works, the Jazz are dealing with the additional changes of being without several key voices from previous drafts — longtime Vice President of Player Personnel Walt Perrin, assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, and Salt Lake City Stars coach Martin Schiller.
The Chicago-based Perrin, who was a part of the franchise for 19 years and long ran the Jazz’s predraft workouts, left the team in May to become the Knicks' assistant general manager
. Bryant joined Perrin in New York by becoming the Knicks' associate head coach.
Following Schiller’s departure, Jazz Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations Dennis Lindsey spoke of the role that the Austrian had played in Utah’s draft process.
“Now that we’ve become a playoff team the last four years, our coaches at the Jazz level are quite busy with playoff prep during the draft window in May and June. And then also when they’re done, it’s been a long season, and they’re fatigued,” Lindsey said. “So Martin and his staff … have been able to participate in the draft workouts, the draft interviews, the draft video deliberations.”
While the Jazz have not yet hired a full-time replacement for Perrin, Lindsey has noted there is an organizational focus upon “creating successors.” For instance, after conducting a national search for a new Stars coach, the decision was ultimately made to promote assistant Nathan Peavy
And so, the braintrust entrusted to make the best selection for the Jazz next month now includes Lindsey; general manager Justin Zanik; assistant GM David Morway; Bart Taylor, director of scouting for the Jazz and vice president of basketball operations for the Stars; Peavy; Jazz head coach Quin Snyder; and Snyder’s cadre of assistant coaches on the Jazz.