1. Locker room frustration
That’s the most frustrated I’ve ever seen a locker room after a regular season game.
Just to give kind of a behind the scenes, what happens is that the media is allowed to enter in the locker room after the Will Hardy interview you see on TV after the game. Then, we kind of linger, waiting for players to finish showering, changing, and then we get the chance to interview them. Some of those interviews happen on camera and get fed to the postgame broadcast, but a lot of them don’t.
Around those more formal interviews, just a lot of chatting happens. After a win, it’s typically about good stuff — cool plays that night, how good a player has been, or even just talking about what’s going on around the league or in college basketball. Sometimes it’s about TV shows, music, or movies. After a loss, players and media are usually less chatty, as players are frustrated. (That’s unless it’s a good loss, or players don’t care if they win or lose anymore. I’ve been in those seasons... my first covering the Jazz in 2013-14 was like that.)
Tonight, players were pretty chatty. But it wasn’t because they don’t care if they win or lose anymore — it’s because they’re frustrated as can possibly be about the state of the team. And they didn’t really care if the media knew about it. In particular, they feel like they were sold a bill of goods.
Jazz CEO Danny Ainge, before this season, was asked about Lauri Markkanen’s desire to be in the playoffs in the 2023-24 season.
Ainge said: “We want to be in the playoffs. Let’s get there. I want to be in the playoffs too, Lauri. Let’s go.”
Then they traded three rotation players without getting any back at this trade deadline, while they had a realistic chance at play-in status. As a result, they feel defeated... as if their efforts this season were for naught. As if the front office has pulled the rug out from underneath them again.
Now, look, I certainly think the Jazz’s moves are defensible, and Jazz GM Justin Zanik made that case in his press conference on Saturday:
“This is the second kind of calibration around our core, and sometimes that takes time. I wish that it was quick and then all of a sudden we have a long and prosperous run right now. We’ll do that in a second. It’s just not available. And I’m not going to compromise the long-term joy and success because we want to avoid short-term pain and short-term disappointment.”
These are the short-term pain and short-term disappointment moments he’s talking about. The question is whether or not they’re going to be worth it in the end... and I can’t answer that right now.
In the mean time, this is the story about this franchise at the moment: the Jazz have a lot of players that aren’t happy about who they’re playing with, and more importantly, who they’re not.
2. Taylor Hendricks’ struggles
The Triple Team is back! But this time, as an emailed newsletter, sent to your inbox after every game. To sign up to read all three of Andy Larsen’s points, put your email address in below: