Have season ticket renewals met your expectations?
We have had very good success…We’ve had very good renewals. We’ve had over, I think it’s, we’re right now at about 78 percent renewal on our season tickets, which is very good. We’ve had very strong new season ticket renewals, which is saying, our fan base is saying, “You know what? We’re excited about this new team. We’re excited to wanna, now, be a part of it.”
And that’s the one thing I’ve been encouraging fans to do, saying you know what? Now’s an exciting time to be with this and say, “I was part of a, I got on with this team as it started up with this new, now, group of players and hopefully our future Stocktons and Malones and Hornaceks.”
** Rigby on partaking in a barbecue event with Hans Olsen, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine: Well, I, you know, when I was told, I’d asked if I would do it. I was told that Hans would be doing it, and that’s why I said I want, I said, if Hans is doing it, I’m on. I wanna be there if Hans is doing it, I’m there. I’m a good, you know, side for Hans. And so, I’m not worried about him, ’cause I know he’s there to protect me.
You are a man of prominence in Utah. What were some of the worst jobs you’ve ever had?
Well, the worst job for me was, literally, I was, you know, I’m a farmboy from Farmington, Utah. So you know what, growing up from literally when I was six years old, I remember driving the tractor. I was taught at a very young age, before I could buck the hay, dad and brother were out on the hay wagon. So I got to just drive the tractor until I was old enough.
And then I became kinda, my brother always said I had the more brains and he had the brawn. So I always did the stacking on, I had to stack the wagons so that, you know, you made sure that the hay didn’t fall off. So, I was the geometry guy that knew how to really stack good hay, and so probably the g–the hardest thing for me starting out as a young man, working on a farm, and doing that hard work.
And then I worked for a wholesale florist, and we did work there.
** Rigby on his experience in blue-collar work, UDQM: It also made me realize, you know what, I’m gonna go get an education so hopefully I can use more my brain and less of my body.
What are your early impressions of Quin Snyder?
Well, I’ll tell you, Quin has, he not only said yes on, to Dennis [Lindsey] and myself, and Greg Miller, on a Friday, he was there on Saturday, and literally, he hasn’t stopped working since. He’s jumped right in and done a remarkable job.
He’s constantly not only working with the players, but he’s working mentally, and thinking and preparing and has a great game plan. Has a very bright mind, and a very, and really analytical mind of the game of basketball and how to maximize the most out of his team and looking at the talent.
He was down this weekend, down with Dennis, and again, back in Las Vegas watching Gordon [Hayward], and he’s been out seeing some of the players, talking to players, working with our coaching staff. I’ve loved his work ethic. I love how his mind works and his commitment to players, in helping them in their development of their game. And we’ve had great responses from our players, as they’ve talked about their interaction, early interactions with Quin, of their excitement to go to work for him.
When he was down in Vegas, as an example, he ran into Paul Millsap, of which, he, of course, worked for only one year with Paul in Atlanta. And Paul couldn’t stop ranting and raving about what a great guy Quin was and [that] we stole his guy, and the relationship that they have developed in less, in just a year’s time. And that’s a pretty darn good endorsement. And I know that DeMarre Carroll felt the same way when we hired him, and you know, expressed his congratulations to Quin, and to the, to Utah for getting him.
So, I think, you go-guys, we’ve got a really, a real gem in Quin Snyder that we’re gonna be really excited about, what he’s doing and what he’s bringing, to the Utah Jazz.
Not arguing that Hayward’s not worth $63 million, but what were your thoughts when you saw that number come across?
Well, $63 million is still $63 million, and we’ve still gotta, you’ve gotta, you have to have a respect for money, and a respect, ’cause that money is made up of the hard work of not only the Millers, but also of our sponsors, of our ticket holders, of our strategy, of the work we’ve done with our TV contracts.
And so, we have to make sure that we’re covering those dollars and covering the total. But we do have to step back and look at it in total and not only micro-cosmically is that individual player. And the one positive thing is we’ve looked at the Gor–at Gordon’s contract. Would we have liked to…maybe pay a little less? Yes, but we’ve probably liked to do that with all 15 of our players.
But we’ve also looked at it and said, “You know what, in the total perspective of where dollars are going, and what the investment we have in this young, in Gordon Hayward and his potential,” you know what, it was still, we wouldn’t have made that, we wouldn’t have pulled the trigger if we didn’t feel it was still a value that was well worth it. And we really feel that it is, that, you know what, we’re gonna make that investment work. …
We feel we’ve got a very good asset in Gordon Hayward, and, but again, we have to watch, financially, our investments and treat our money very safer in what we’re doing. But we feel very good about where we’re at right now. (1280)
On retired life
It’s wonderful. Barbara and I are blessed. Since retirement, we’ve had our health. We have the means to be able to travel a little bit. We have good friends around the country, and we’re having a ball. It couldn’t be better. …
People kinda looked at me as a one-dimensional person. They thought it was basketball, basketball, basketball. It was quite the opposite. Basketball’s third on a list of things I like to do. I enjoy baseball, more than I enjoy basketball. I was better at it; I like it; I come from Brooklyn, the Dodgers. However, our real love–and I’m talking about Barbara and I–is the theater.
So we decided to investigate and learn more about the theater than being just patrons…We took acting class at the university, but we traveled doing “Love Letters.” It’s a two-person play, and made some money for some very worthy causes.
What about the Jazz now? As someone that took the Jazz and nurtured and grew it, what’s it like to watch the program now?
You said it very well. “Nurtured.” We came here, we were a joke. We were, frankly, we were a joke among professional sports, not just the NBA. And to see it reach the point to where we were number one, [and] we were the most respected, we were way ahead of Moneyball.
And one time we had a couple years there where we won more games per dollar spent than any team in any sport. Teams called us, you know, asking how we did it, and a lot became models and used the Jazz as a model for the way an organization should be run.
So what does it feel like when you see the franchise now? Do you feel like they’ve taken good care of it?
They’re back at Day One. I don’t know. Something went wrong. I don’t know. I can’t really comment on it because I haven’t been there. I haven’t been in the meetings…I want them to succeed, because, after all, you know, I spent so many years there. So many years of building and working with that organization. And so, they’re in entirely different hands now.
And if you look at it, it’s very interesting. I used to say to Larry Miller, “Players are temporary. We’re permanent.” Okay? So we have to put a brand on ourselves that says, “This is how the Jazz do it. This is the Jazz way.” All right? And for years, that worked, all right? We hired from within. You know, when I quit, they hired Jerry [Sloan], and Jerry, and after Jerry, Ty Corbin, and e–all of a sudden, that stopped, and they went outside.
They passed over Scott Layden, [who had] many years of experience in this franchise. And they passed over, they let Ty Corbin go. The thing that was always, to me, the strength of the Jazz, was what the Yankees had, what the Dodgers had, what the Cowboys had, and I pick those teams because they, their longevity of success was so important. And they got away from that.
You know, suddenly it broke down. And they went away, and they started to look outside. So not only have they changed the team, which is natural–the players get older, there’s anything, they get hurt, they this that–but also in the front office. They’ve evolved, and they made some changes. And the future remains to be seen. Maybe it’s gonna be fine. Maybe it’s gonna be great. But, it was only a couple years ago that this team was playing for the world’s championship.
So I don’t know, you know? All I can say is, one thing about sports. The bottom line is how you finish, what your record is. And you can come out of it by, you can say, “Well, we have a very, very poor record,” all right? As, years ago, the Houston Rockets lost on purpose in order to get good players, and it worked out for them, if you go through the draft. Or you can go the old-fashioned way, and spend a lot of money like the Miami Heat have done, all right?
Or you can do it like the Jazz way, and that’s be patient, promote from within, and keep your ideals together, work hard, and listen to your fans once in awhile. They’re the pulse; they’re the bloodline for what’s going to be your future here. ‘Cause if they let you down, then you better start looking for a new place to live.
On not worrying about wins and losses
When people ask me, “Do you miss coaching?” I say, “No. I miss playing.” You know, that’s how coaching came about. I enjoyed playing. Coaching was a job, and I could turn it on and turn it off. And sometimes, I was criticized for it, because, I remember one time, Larry Miller, who was the owner of the Jazz, said to me, “Well, you don’t take losing serious enough.” I said, “If I did, it would kill me.”…
[Winning or losing] was one thing I never worried about…I never worried about being able to get a job. I think if the Jazz chose to fire me, somebody else in the NBA would hire me, or, you know, I certainly would, there’d be people waiting to hire me to do, you know, ESPN or whatever it is. You know, so I ne–that never bothered me, you know?
I mean, I wasn’t a person who was limited to how I got there. After all, you know, my father didn’t own the team. That’s not how I got the job, you know? I got the job because I worked hard and had a lot of success along the way.
On expectations of players and his coaching philosophy
I enjoyed getting up and going to practice. I enjoyed the players. I have had disappointments in that area. You know, I had a player who I loved, John Drew, who I loved him. I had him with the Atlanta Hawks. I traded to get him here. And he chose cocaine over the Jazz…He’s a recovered drug addict, but he’s back on his feet and driving a cab in Houston when he could’ve been in the Hall of Fame. And that sometimes disappoints you.
Other humans sometimes disappoint you, but you know what, you have to move on. I tried, when I was coaching, I used to say, we’re not running Boys Town here. I want to be sure that I take care of the good players and the good people, and, as well as those who are choosing to go in another direction. I didn’t, I tried not to let players with character faults influence what we were trying to achieve.
I, it wasn’t my job to try to save everybody. I wasn’t Father Flanagan, you know, so, but the idea of being, after a season, I used to say to the players, “It’s important. We don’t have many rules. We want you to play hard. We want you to play smart. And we want you to be on time, because you can’t do the other two unless you’re here, all right? And the fourth thing is, have fun, because life is too short, and you’ll burn out if it isn’t, if you don’t enjoy playing basketball and you don’t enjoy practicing–”
You know, people used to say, “What’s the greatest asset that Karl Malone and John Stockton had?”–and you can throw in Thurl Bailey and Mark Eaton with that group; Bobby Hansen, whatever it might be, you know, Darrell Griffith–is that they loved to come to practice. They loved basketball, and that’s why they were so good.
Did you ever fail at anything?
All the time. Let me tell you something, how my life started. My mother died in my childbirth. In my childbirth. So I never had a mother, okay? I was brought up by the neighborhood. My father worked on the docks six and a half days, and you know, we, and so, you know, right off the bat, you had a reason to fail, you know?
We didn’t have a lot of money, but we were never poor. And I was very fortunate. I had good coaches, good tutors, good mentors to follow. It just was my nature not to be knocked down, and not be able to get up. Maybe it’s my Brooklyn background or something, you know, but I never felt hurt by anything…
Now, I’m trying to outlive the system. And I hope I live to 150, and Barbara lives to 151, and then we’ll have it licked.
On his wife, Barbara
We have just celebrated on June 1 our 58th wedding anniversary. It was a match made in heaven. We were introduced by Al McGuire, the great basketball player and coach. Both of us are from Brooklyn. She could walk to Ebbets Field; I had to take the bus, but that, I lived in a little nicer neighborhood than she did. But anyway, we get along. We like each other and what each other does. We like our sports. We like to do things together…We like the same things, and we get along. We respect each other. …
I got into the Utah [Sports] Hall of Fame, and they give you a ring when you get in…I found out where they got the rings made, and I had one made for Barbara. And I called her up and I said, “Barbara, come on up here. And I got a ring for you because if I get a ring, you should get a ring ’cause I couldn’t get this ring without you.” …
Well, that was fine. And the women cried, and everybody was happy. They thought it was a great, you know, they said, “Boy, that gray-head guy, he’s a romantic sort of guy to do that.” You know, the women became envious and they were, you could see they were looking at their husbands.
And we were, when I sat down, the two [other inductees], one Todd [Christensen], big football player on one side, and Bruce Hurst, big baseball player on the other side, and they looked at me and they said, “Thanks a lot. How are we gonna go home now?” You know, “We’re gonna have to sleep on the couch. How did you ever think to do that?”
You know, so, but Barbara deserves that. She really does. We’re a partnership, and I really mean this: I’d never have gotten to where I did…without Barbara. (KUTV)
** The show hilariously introduced Exum with Shania Twain. “Looks like we made it, look how far we’ve come my baby…”
** Dante is just like the rest of us. He doesn’t like hearing his own voice.
Tell us about Boomers (Australian national team) camp. Has it been a nice escape from the intense American media?
Yeah, the media over there is crazy there. The media, you’re doing something for the media after every practice, after every game. So you know, just to come over here and have a quiet [time with] all the guys, just be back into something I’m used to.
Your roomie, Joe Ingles, told us last week that he was planning on taking you under his wing during Boomers camp, eh?
Yeah, he’s been pretty good as a roommate, but for him taking me under [his] wing, I don’t know, so. (laughs)
Mate, what do you think your role on the Boomers will be during the World Cup? Did you get clarity on that during camp?
Yeah, I got a good understanding through it. You know, there’s, got [Matthew Dellavedova] at the point, but you know, our system and what we run is basically, anyone at the point’s one. Joe Ingles being very versatile, he can play the one. I can play the one.
So, and you know, losing Patty [Mills] was, it was hard for the team…’cause everyone really wants the medal. So you know, we put in certain plays that helps us get shots that Patty would’ve been able to get, so.
Joey told us he’s going to get all of Patty’s shots, so good luck getting your shots at the World Cup.
Well, hopefully I get the ball in my hands, and I won’t be passing to him.
Have the Jazz been supportive of you playing with the Boomers?
Yeah, and they think it’s a good opportunity for me to get a bit of experience before I head into the NBA season, ’cause you know, I didn’t play college ball and I’ve come, like, basically straight out of high school. So you know, they think it’s just a good opportunity for me to go over there, get a kind of a feel for the professional game, and just head back to Utah after that, so.
What was the strangest thing you were asked during draft interviews?
You know, I think it was at the combine and I was in an interview, and they asked me, like, “Other than marijuana, what drugs do you use?”
Did you know you were going to Utah before Adam Silver said your name?
No, it’s like, to be honest, like, on the bus ride over, they said the Jazz said that if I fell to five, that they were going to take me, so I knew that was kinda my ceiling, or. And then when my agent, my agent called me after that and was kind of, like, trying to sell Utah to me, and I kinda, I had a feeling that that’s where I was going, so.
And then [at the draft], I found out Orlando wasn’t going to take me, and then I got a call from [Quin Snyder], and he just talked me through how they were gonna use me, and what the plan is for the future, so.
What were some of the elements of Utah that your coach sold you on?
Yeah, it was just basically him being a point guard coach, and the experience he has had overseas and what he’s gonna bring as an NBA coach. And I thought going into that type of system, it’s gonna fit me well with having [Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis] here as a coach and how he’s similar to his kind of style, so.
Do you have a chip on your shoulder from the Orlando Magic passing you over?
No, I don’t buy into any of that stuff. And, they had a vision for where they wanna go with their program, and I’m not going out to prove anyone anything.
You know, I’m happy where I am at the Utah Jazz, and they’ve invested a lot in me and willing to invest a lot. So you know, I’m just happy to be there and I just wanna do what I, the expectations I put on myself. So yeah, I’m not going into the NBA season saying, “I want to prove the Magic wrong,” so.
We’re going to play a little game with you to help you prepare for being a member of the Utah Jazz.
Who led the Jazz in scoring last season?
For a bonus point, how many points a game do you reckon?
I’m going to say, 18?
Not too bad, 16. What is a “Ute”?
I have no clue…I would say it’s an animal.
Good try. It comes from the Ute tribe of Native Americans, which is where the state of Utah gets its name. How many championships has the Jazz franchise won in its history?
They have won zero.
That is correct. The Jazz have retired the numbers of seven players. Can you name three?
Yeah. So, Pete Maravich. ‘Cause I wanted to take No. 7, but he had it. And then, Stockton and Malone.
Good man. Very well done. What is the name of your new home arena?
He’s got Utah down. Dante, well done. (Grizz & Tizz From Way Downtown)
Steve Novak was recently in Taiwan helping out with Jeremy Lin’s youth basketball camp.
Jeremy Lin on Steve Novak (translated)
He teaches really well, and he takes teaching seriously. He loves teaching basketball, and he’s really good to the kids. He’d never been to Taiwan for this camp, so I invited him this year.
Steve Novak on getting traded to Utah
I’m really looking forward to going to Utah. I think that we’re going to have a very, a much more exciting team there this year than we did last year.
Novak on reuniting with Lin
We were hoping to both be traded this summer, but we were hoping to both go to the same team. So, we got close–Utah and L.A.–but they’re not the exact same team.
Novak on what made Linsanity special on a personal level
Being a part of Linsanity was, it was for sure the most exciting basketball experience I ever had. I think he was proving himself at the time, and I was proving myself at the time. And I think, we were also becoming brothers in faith, and I think that that didn’t happen by accident. …
Our time in New York was really special, obviously, because of the way that I think we played and the fact that we won games, but I think what I remember and what Jeremy remembers too was that about a half a season before that, we were both almost out of the NBA. …
Me and Jeremy were in the D-League together on the same team, for only one game, but we played in the D-League together, and that was, I think, the toughest time for both of us in our whole basketball career, because we had worked and worked so hard to get to that point, and then we were kinda told you weren’t good enough to be in the NBA, go play in the D-League.
And we weren’t sure if we were ever gonna be back in the NBA, and I think we both were able to play well on that team, and both get called up to the NBA. But those were the times that me and Jeremy always think about, and it’s very cool to look back now at those times.
** Bonus bit: Lin was asked about new Lakers teammate Carlos Boozer and said he laughed every time he plays the Bulls because Boozer never stops talking, to opponents and teammates alike. Lin told a story about one time extending his arm on a Boozer screen and making contact with Boozer’s midsection, and Boozer saying, “Hey, you feel my 8-pack?” He also said Boozer really concentrates on defense because he’s always directing traffic, telling his point guard where the screens are and telling his teammates who’s cutting.
Yup. That sounds like the Boozer we know. “AGGGHHH! GET IT MEMO!“
In an interview with Basket Session (H/T @IAmAUtahJazzFan), Rudy Gobert, who is now training with Les Bleus (the French national team) talked about how Quin Snyder gave him confidence by telling him that he’s a good passer, which makes him want to pass the ball more (translated):
“The new coach of the Jazz (Quin Snyder) told me that I am a very good passer. This gives me confidence, and now I love to take the ball above the post. I can find guys on backdoor cuts or even do the same on a succession of short passes* or “chaining pick and roll(?)”, which creates movement and disrupts the defense. I can make the game easier for my teammates.”
* Thanks to @Pedrounet for the help on this one.
Gobert also talked about how Jazz brass is finally seeing the value of players playing for their national teams in international tournaments, and revealed that Jazz coaches are planning to travel to Spain for the FIBA World Cup this summer:
“Jazz officials are a little apprehensive about injury, but I have insurance. I have talked to coach Snyder, who coached at CSKA Moscow and is more Euro-centric than the Jazz coach last year (Tyrone Corbin, who is now an assistant with the Sacramento Kings). Snyder is very happy and he may come to Spain to watch [FIBA World Cup] games. The Jazz staff will come as well. They know playing in the tournament will help me evolve.
The Jazz are drawing heavily from the Spurs, and the coaches are open to the world. They know it’s a good thing for me to play in the World Cup.”
On Trevor Booker
Trevor Booker is someone that we think adds a level of physicality and toughness to our group. I think many times last year we did not have the requisite physicality inside. And so, Trevor is naturally tough. He’s hard-playing. He really runs the court well; I think that’s another value-add that he’ll add, is h–Trevor can really get out and sprint the court well.
And Trevor’s really, if you sh–study his shot chart, has improved his long 2-point shooting, and he’s an excellent, even at 6-8, he’s an excellent finisher in the deep paint. So we think there’s a lotta qualities there, [and] we’re really excited to add him to the program.
He’s a man of very high character, really professional, and w–he’s just ecstatic to be part of the community.
On the Jazz’s new contract incentive
A big part of our program is, we want to include Salt Lake more in our off-season training. So we’ve added some technology to the building. We’ve added incentives into guys’ contracts to, so they have to be around Salt Lake.
And it’s, look, it’s not like we wanna dominate the guys and our players and says, “You have to live here,” but we think it’s very important for each of our guys to improve to be here, so that’s something that’s been a real push for us as well.
Do you have enough shooters? Are you looking to add more?
My general philosophy is you can’t have enough shooting. And look, many times adding shooting to your club, whether it’s free agency, trade or draft, is not something that’s real sexy.
But I’ve never been around a coach in my 19 years in the league that says, “Gosh dang it, we have too much shooting. Can we get rid of shooting?” But almost yearly, we’ve had coaches come to us and say, “We don’t have enough shooting.”
So I, frankly, even though we’ve added a great shooter in Steve Novak, I think there’s a lot to add in a great shooter. When you have a Steve Novak, when you have a Kyle Korver, what it does, the ball tends to find those guys, especially in stretches where you can’t make a shot. And when they get on a few of their runs, it gives everybody else some confidence…
It’s almost like a collective deep breath, even when you have it in a role player like Steve. Those 15 minutes of shooting can be critical to your primary players and to your overall offensive mental health, if you will.
How or where do you see Alec Burks fitting into this team?
Many people don’t realize this. Over the last three years, Alec has been one of our more consistent, off-season program players that have, has really plugged in day to day, whether that be at P3 or mini-camps or open gym. Again, he was here for summer league training camp, for two-a-days for two days. He was excellent.
So we just are thrilled with where he’s moved his body. He’s become, Alec was always a plus-athlete. I think he’s improved his athleticism, plus he’s a more stable athlete that is less likely to get injured than the day we first got him, because of the things that Mark McKown, Isaiah Wright and P3 and frankly all the work Alec’s put in.
So, Quin [Snyder] and the coaching staff are really excited. Starting, you know, [or] the Manu Ginobili role, it’s safe to say that Alec Burks is gonna be a playmaker for us and we’ll let the team kinda define itself and see where it’s best to have his points and ability to get in the deep paint to complement our group, whether it be as a starter or, again, as a go-to player off the bench.
Update on his sons
I was able to tie-in with both my boys. They were playing out in Vegas, Jake at the LeBron [James] camp, elite camp, and then, and Matt with his AAU club, UBC. So it was a, so far it’s been a good summer, where I’ve been able to balance a little work and a little family time. So yeah, thank you for mentioning that and thank God he’s better than dad. (KALL)
Do you know any Jazz players?
Not other than playing against them. [Derrick] Favors, I played against him in the ACC. Ton of potential. Rudy [Gobert], I know him through one of my former teammates, Kevin Seraphin. But that’s about it.
Where does your toughness come from?
I think it comes from my dad. He was a football player in high school. He was pretty tough, so I think I get that toughness from him.
What kind of player are you on the floor?
When I’m on that court, I’m focused. Imma do whatever it takes to win. If it means knocking you out the air, Imma do it. But like I said, off the court, I’m just this laid-back, chill guy. But once you get me on the court, I’m just an animal.
Where did your affinity for cereal come from?
Just growing up, all we did was eat cereal. We ate probably at least 15 boxes a week, just between me and my brothers. We used to eat cereal, like, any time of the day. Sometimes we’d eat cereal for dinner.
Right now, it would have to be Raisin Brans* with bananas.
Maybe Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
* Not a typo.
There’s been a stigma over the years of free agents coming to Utah. What do you know about the town?
I mean, when I told people I was coming to Utah, they were like, “Where’s Utah?” But I’m sure I’ll get acclimated real quick. From what I see, just been here for a couple days, I think I’ll love the city. It’s much different from D.C., but I’m sure I’ll like it.
Not too many top free agents would come to Utah, so I think that’s another thing why coach [Quin] Snyder’s important, in developing these players, because like I said, not too many top free agents like Carmelo [Anthony]* or LeBron [James] would probably pick Utah over other cities. So with [Snyder] here developing these players, it’s huge for the organization.
* Cause for celebration.
Normally I’d give this the “Who dressed him?!” treatment, but I’m going to give Booker the benefit of the doubt because he may have been asked to throw on this Jazz shirt before the interview. Pic via @tribjazz.
Have you talked to any friends in the league that have played in Utah?
Josh Howard. Josh, he played here, I think, for a year. But he loved the city, so I’m sure I can love it too.
Does Snyder’s system fit your game and passing ability?
Oh, definitely. I watched the Spurs play in the Finals. Even after the Finals were over, I replayed the games on my TV, just watching them move the ball. And I think that’s something that coach Snyder wants to do.
Will you be sticking with No. 35?
No, it’s actually retired, so I’m gonna do, hopefully, [No.] 33, but I’m not sure yet. I’m not sure if it’s taken.*
* No. 33 was, in fact, taken by Erik Murphy when Booker said this. Just hours later, however, the Jazz traded Murphy along with John Lucas III and Malcolm Thomas to Cleveland for Carrick Felix, a second-round pick and cash.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Whitmire, South Carolina. Deep in the country. We have one stoplight. A town of, like, I think it’s 2,000 people. But I went to school 30 minutes away in Union, South Carolina. Like I said, deep in the country.
At my grandma’s house, we used to raise pigs and slaughter ‘em, and that used to be the highlight of the year right there. So, things like that, we did growing up.
During the summertime, just stayed outside, or actually, all year round. My cousin Jordan Hill, he used to come stay with us during the summer and we would be outside from 10 in the morning until 10 at night, just having fun.
First basketball memories?
Probably, yeah, playing with Jordan and my brothers, just on the basketball court that we had, concrete basketball court down the street. Having dunk contests, one-on-one, two-on-one. Just doing things like that.
Favorite players growing up?
It started off being M[ichael] J[ordan]. And I hated Kobe [Bryant]. And then all of a sudden, something clicked and Kobe became my favorite player of all time. I don’t know what it was, but he’s my favorite player right now.
Who do you pattern your game after?
It’s actually a guy that just left here recently. I’ve been looking a lot [at] Paul Millsap. You know, I really like his game, and I really think we have a similar game.
What should Jazz fans know about you?
I’m very quiet off the court, but on the court, I’m very crazy. (KALL, Utah Jazz)
How did you find out about the trade?
Honestly, it was crazy. I’ve been traded before, but this [time] was definitely craziest for me, I think mainly because it happened on the Fourth of July, so I just didn’t expect, I guess, now that I think back, obviously I was with a team out of the country in Toronto, so it made sense. But on the Fourth of July, I just didn’t assume the GMs were even doing anything.
And I got a, I was actually at a restaurant on the Fourth getting some ice cream with some friends, and I got a text from Kyle Lowry, who was our point guard in Toronto. And he just texted me, “Damn.” And I texted him back, “Damn what?”
And I had just been texting with him back and forth, because the day, a day or two before, ’cause he had just signed his contract extension. It was, we were joking with each other, so I didn’t know if that was, like, got delayed, or he just had something else to say.
And then he texted me back, “You just got traded to Utah.” And so I called him right away, ’cause I was like, “Come on, stop.” Like, this is the Fourth of July, don’t mess with me.
And next thing you know, I was talking with Dennis Lindsey and got a call from [Raptors GM] Masai [Ujiri], and my agent called, and I knew it was a done deal.
Summary of his career
I’ve been in some very different situations. I think when I was younger, it’s just, you’re s–you’re learning so much and trying to figure out if you’re good enough and trying to figure out, you know, what’s next and all that kind of thing. And then, for me, it really was kind of, like, a five-year journey to get to New York.
I went through Houston for two years, the Clippers for two years, and then I split my fifth season between Dallas and San Antonio. And then after that year, going into my sixth year, I went to New York, and I ended up spending two years there. That was really, for me, r–my opportunity that I finally got to, I felt like, really prove who I was.
It was a system that was really good for me, under Mike D’Antoni, and you know, we had some, we had a lot of good things going at the right time. I think, you know, J.R. Smith played his butt off during that time, and obviously Jeremy Lin had Linsanity, and we just had a great group. So for me, that was kind of my proving myself, my coming-out party.
And then, you know, going to Toronto, I didn’t play as many minutes. And I feel like now, you know, this is an opportunity for me to prove, like, “Hey, you know, that New York stint for me wasn’t just an accident.” You know, it was something I can do.
And I think under Quin Snyder, the way he plays, and I played against him when I was at Marquette and he was at Missouri in the NCAA tournament, and then I also played against him when he was in the D-League with the Austin Toros, and I just think we’re gonna be a much, much more up-tempo offense. In the last year, we were, like, 25th in pace, and I think this year we’re gonna be, you know, much, much faster pace that that.
Is the veteran leader role something you embrace at this point in your career?
It is. It’s something new for me, and I think it comes out quickly for most NBA vets, because, I mean, we still feel young.* … I just turned 31, and I guess I don’t consider that very old.
But two years ago when I was in New York, I was the third youngest guy on the team. It was, like, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland and me, and then there was 12 guys older than me. And then I got traded to Toronto, and it was like, I was literally the oldest guy on the team before we made a trade for, you know, Chuck Hayes and John Salmons and those guys.
So, it happened for me, like, crazy quick, where all of a sudden you’re a security blank, [where] all the guys who you look to and have had more experience are gone, and now that becomes you. So for me, that happened in Toronto, where I really felt, that was the first time I felt like, you know, a vet. Like, I should have a greater presence in the locker room in terms of being vocal and, you know, talking to the young guys, because you realize you actually have been through a lot more than they have. …
Talking with Dennis Lindsey, you know, he talked about that a lot, and I think that will be a big part of my role here.
What number will you be wearing?
I have requested–I think it’s a lock–No. 16, which was, I was No. 16 in New York and Toronto, and I’m gonna keep “16” here.
On what Linsanity was like
That really was, like, I mean, I’m religious as well, and to me, it felt like it was something, you know, there was like a greater power going on. It was, I mean, it really was special. I think the, Madison Square Garden was like, the energy there was incredible, when you come off of warm-ups and, like, the whole building is there and the court is, like, lined with people.
And it’s like, you know, we’re playing the Lakers that night, and Kobe [Bryant]‘s talking trash about Jeremy Lin, saying he doesn’t know who he is, and it’s, like, Saturday night at the Garden, and Jeremy goes out and gets, like, 38 and 15 on the Lakers…
It just kept going, and I mean, there was something really, really special about it, and [Lin] played so well, and I think we as a group just clicked. And I’ve never experienced anything like that playing basketball, and I’ve never had more fun than that was. I think just the attention it drew was crazy, and New York and the country just, like, was paying full attention, and it was just fun to be a part of.
At that point, did you feel like you would be a Knick for life?
Yeah…I signed my contract the end of that year, and so once I signed that deal, yes, I did think that–you know, obviously, I mean, you look around the league and guys that play well in certain places, you know, that’s, usually they try to keep them there or that becomes a home for them.
And I had bounced around, and so it felt to me like, okay, I’ve bounced around, but now I felt I’ve found a home. And so, I mean, honestly, I hoped it was. I really did. I absolutely love New York and I thought that that was a home for me, ’cause that was the longest extension I had ever signed.
It was four years, and, but a year after I signed, I was traded. And I mean, I knew that that’s how the business worked, obviously, but…it was very much a surprise for me, ’cause you assume they give you an extension, they want you there. But you’re still kind of a poker piece sometimes.
** Has a wife, a four-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.
Are you an outdoor guy? Do you like to fly fish, snow ski, water ski, hike, mountain bike…?
I wanted to get a scooter this summer, like a literal scooter. It would’ve been pretty hilarious, like the ones you see little kids on…I saw one at the New York Auto Show that was, like, battery-powered. It went, like, 20 miles per hour. I was like, “There, perfect. I can ride that with my son. It’ll be awesome. I can cruise around if I want.”
And I just ran it by the team, ’cause I knew, like, no motorcycles and stuff, so I just wanted to be sure. And they were like, “No way. Like, it falls under the, Paragraph 12, ‘You are not allowed to have that.'”…We’re not allowed to do anything. No skiing, no paragliding, no jetskiing, no running too fast. (1280)
Takeaways from the summer league?
We’ve had some positives with ball movement, connectivity. I think our players have, especially the young ones, have been able to absorb a little bit more what Brad [Jones] and Quin [Snyder] and our coaches want than maybe we originally realized and gave them credit for.
I think last night, we had a good initial defensive effort, but the officials started calling the game close, especially in the third, and I thought we lost our discipline with body position and reaching and fouling, and so the Spurs were able to get us late basically because of the free throw differentials. …
There’s good, there’s bad and there’s ugly, but I think we’re getting a lot accomplished this past week.
“Playing with the pass” is a great way to play basketball, but you have to be able to take advantage of the open shot.
It’s really why you need to have shooters at every position, and, so they have shot confidence to take an open shot. Not taking an open shot in basketball, in our opinion, is basically the equivalent of not getting back on defense, ’cause that’s really what happens.
You don’t take the open shot, NBA athletes on a short clock recover, you lose your advantage, you force up something poor d–without defensive balance, long rebound, long outlet, numbers going back at you. So, one way to, and really the first way to play good defense is to be very well organized on offense. Don’t turn it over, take the open shot, don’t take bad shots, go back with good balance defensively, and then be able to set your defense…
Specifically with the ball movement, that’s, we’re gonna have non-negotiables. And we feel like with our personnel, with our team, the ball cannot stick. And the great thing about that is, is the Utah Jazz fan base has been used to seeing the ball move.
Now, it may be in a point guard-dominant system like John [Stockton] or like when Deron [Williams] was at the height of his career, but really, we wanna play with the pass. We want five guys who are all either weapons to create situations, or threats to shoot it, and we think it’s a good way to play basketball, a great way to watch it, but [in] many ways with our personnel, the only way we can play.
Who will you be counting on to be knock-down shooters next year?
We’ll find that out. I think Enes [Kanter] certainly, and, in particular spots, the four spots, we will try to increase his range at least to corner threes, but there’s the high-quadrant three that we’ll find out if that’s within his capabilities. And in a short time frame, we’ll let practice and scrimmages dictate whether Quin and the coaches will allow that. But Qu–Enes has already showed the ability to have great touch in many areas, most areas on the court, but, and certainly from long two in the high quadrant, we’ll set some things up for him.
Derrick [Favors] has really showed and improved proficiency from the high-low area in the short corners. When we put him on the roll last year, he, his finishing was excellent, and I think he winded up shooting 53 percent from the field.
Trey [Burke] really has to take a step forward with his open shooting. I think, to be fair to Trey, rookie year, broken finger, he, I think his natural touch is much, at a much higher level than what he showed, especially with his open shooting. Clearly, his mid-paint finishing, we’re working on some things, and he’s shown some progression, but that’s something that we wanna move forward.
Certainly Gordon [Hayward]‘s open shooting, we have to get back to that, in past standards. Year before last, I think he shot 41 percent, and there’s no reason why, given good balance that Gordon can’t shoot it.
Rodney Hood can shoot the ball, but look, he’s a rookie.
Steve Novak, I think, will provide a big shooting quotient. It’s nice to have one guy on the floor that all the guys are looking towards, the “Hey, let’s get him a shot,” kinda the Kyle Korver effect, if you will. To, it, what it does is, is not only does the ball go in when great shooters shoot it, but there’s a little bit of a psychological component, I think, that goes along with greater shooters and teams, that everybody else is able to take the collective deep breath with a great shooter on the floor, even if it’s a role player like Steve.
What is the practical implementation of earning playing time at the defensive end?
So, that standard for Derrick is going to be slightly different than Rudy [Gobert], even though both of ‘em have great defensive capabilities. Derrick’s strength and experience and so, we, maybe the non-negotiables and the standards for Derrick will be altered slightly.
W–but with Rudy, clearly, there’s some unique lengths and mobility at his size, and just a willingness to put his body and arms in the way of the opposing offense, and so we quickly need to capitalize that, on that.
And so, in, I don’t know what the time period–four months, eight months, twelve months–is, are his standards going to be as high as our standards for, as they are for Derrick? Certainly.
How do you ensure that competition brings players closer together rather than making them worried about who’s going to take their time away?
Boy, it’s real hard…It’s like raising a family, where every member has their natural spot, inclination and there’s birth order, right, and then there’s those that provide the intelligent quotient and the humor quotient and the energy quotient and I’m leaving out all the negative descriptions at, that we all have in our family as well.
But, and then, so what y–the, we’re all human being, right? So, the, you have those natural tendencies that humans haves, whether it be not to communicate, or to be selfish, or to think about yourself first before you think about the group.
And so you, just really, like raising a young family, you have to address those, and you can’t give your young kids or your young players everything that they want exactly when they want it, or you raised a spoiled and entitled child, or in our case, player. So there’s real art to that.
I think you have to be willing to have confrontation, but respectul, respectful confrontation, where you say, “Hey, look. This is unacceptable inside of the culture that we’re trying to build and bring in.” And that’s, again, one of the reasons why we want to communicate well. …
If you got a team that really passes the ball, you, things can improve exponentially, in our opinion. And that’s one of the things that we really want to teach our young group, is how to communicate with each other, help each other on defense, and how to play with the pass.
And if we think, if we’re able to accomplish those two things [and] nothing else, those two things, I think we’ll be able to surprise even ourselves with some of the results.
On Spencer Checketts’ advice not to hit Justin Zanik in the head with a croquet ball as Gordon Monson once did to his sister
With as much grease as he uses in the hair, we may have to throw away the ball.
“It seems like Dennis is saying ‘Enough of that. That is not gonna happen. The youngsters are gonna get their shot.'”
Gordon Chiesa was on 1280 before Lindsey. The above comment is in reference to the comments from Chiesa below:
They’re doing the right thing [with the youth movement]. They should’ve done that last year…It made no sense to play Richard Jefferson-type people last year. The team won 25 games, so it didn’t work. They were the worst record in the NBA, as far as in the West. …
I’m sitting here, and I’m saying to myself, “Why are we playing–” I, “we” meaning, ’cause you know, I worked for the Jazz for 16 years. It was absolutely great…and so, I want what’s best for the Jazz. And I’m saying to myself, from a basketball standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, “It makes no sense.”
Let’s just fast-forward it right now. If Steve Novak, who we all like, he’s a, you know, he’s a one-dimensional shooter, which is good. But if Rodney Hood is equal to Steve Novak, you gotta play the young guy over Novak. …
If someone’s dramatically younger and is almost in the same range, you gotta play the young guy then. So it made no sense last year of playing “x” amount of these guys. I mean, John Lucas or Diante Garrett, it made no sense business-wise. …
So now, with that said, with a new coach in Quin Snyder–oh, by the way, he’s a very good coach, and he will do a good job–they’re gonna play different. No more inside-outside. They’re gonna play outside-outside and try to take you off the dribble. So Gordon Hayward will flourish in this system, and so will Trey Burke and Dante Exum.
And so, anybody that can shoot and has a handle is gonna play that…I want to see right now how Derrick Favors takes to all this, and Enes Kanter, ’cause they’re gonna be, instead of posting up all the time and begging for the ball, they’re gonna be in short corner spacing, and they’re gonna try to get interior passes for angle dunks.
Dennis Lindsey, Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine
** On fouls: If you reach down, there’s a good chance that the official’s going to blow his whistle.
** On keeping spacing: We don’t wanna creep, where we creep into each other’s areas and the lane becomes clogged.
** Defensive advice to Dante Exum: If you make a mistake, make it going really hard with great intensity. (1280)
The Jazz set a new Vegas Summer League record for fewest points in a quarter, with four points on 1-19 shooting in the first. And then they won the game. Word is the bidding war for the movie rights is on.
** Brad Jones’s overall assessment of summer league
I think it’s been an important week and a half, two weeks going back to when we started two-a-days…Coach Snyder’s put us in a lot of positions to get to know what he wants. We’ve done probably more, we treated this more like a regular season than a, you know, a summer league with our staff. One, because we have a whole new, brand new staff, so we worked hard at it…It’s a terrific week. We challenged [the players] today to continue to play the right way. The right way is what we’ve talked about the whole time, and I thought we did that. So, kinda, today kinda put a button on the, you know, the two weeks of what we’ve been doing.
** Jones on Dante Exum
Hopefully, now he has a level of understanding of what he has to do everyday to be successful, ’cause there were some times he showed some brilliant, brilliant things this, these last week. But then again, there’s been some times where he’s, you know, he’s been kicked in the rear end a little bit. So, hopefully he’ll take this process and come back in the fall, you know, ready to go and help us, ’cause we think he’s got a bright future.
** Jones on Malcolm Thomas
I thought he had a really good week. You know, maybe consistently, I mean, one of our most consistent players, which is good. You know, once again, we talked to him about, “Hey, you know, been to three summer leagues now, you know, and it’s, you need to be that guy and have a great week.” And I really thought he stepped up and did that for us, and really at times when we may have struggled a little bit, he gave us some big baskets.
** Dante Exum on what he learned the most from summer league
I think it’s just to enter the game playing slow. When you’re overthinking and trying to play too rushed, it’s gonna, you’re just gonna make bad decisions. So it’s just about getting into the paint, making the right decision and playing slow and thinking the game through.
** Exum on how different the competition in the summer league was from what he’s used to
Yeah, like, the last games I played was high school games, and you know, I’m one of the bigger guys out there, that can push guys around. And here, I get into the paint and I’m getting knocked over. So yeah, that’s definitely just one of the biggest [differences].
** Exum on which aspects of his game he needs to improve on
Yeah, I think, just my shooting. I came in the game and was just rushing the shots. I had a couple wide open, and instead of getting my feet set and trying to take the shot, it was just thinking about the end result. So, it’s just about getting used to it, and being able to knock down open shots. But you know, it’s just, talking about the pace and playing with pace, and learning how to control the tempo of the game. So, I’m starting to adjust to that a bit more. (Utah Jazz)
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machines of the Night (UDQM)
** Brent Barry: Rudy Gobert, hard to deal with not only because he’s so wide, but so long.
** Barry: Malcolm Thomas is showing some nice things. Very active down low.
** Rick Kamla: Murphy wanted to go down low to Gobert. Too much traffic.
** Kamla: Brackins tried to feed McCollum, but put it a little bit too far out in front of him.