Will you consult with Jerry Sloan on the coaching search?
[Coach Sloan] needs to be, in our opinion, a friend to Ty [Corbin] during this period. And then, if Coach is comfortable helping us through this process, then, as Randy [Rigby] and I expressed to him in the conversation, you know, we want, and in many ways need, his help.
Is there any room in the organization for Corbin to stay around?
[He's] a good man who was a very good player, very good assistant, you know, that led us well, you know, through, you know, a tough three-plus years where there was significant change in personnel.
So, I wouldn’t rule anything out just ’cause he’s, you know, that high of character. You know, and I’ll say this, as well. I, you know, I think Ty is better for the position, or is going to be a better coach and potentially a better head coach for his experience.
How were the players informed about the decision?
Our player development staff…made the appropriate calls to our players to let ‘em know that the decision happened. I will be following up. You know, I, Randy and I split up the staff. We had our player development staff divvy up the players.
Was Corbin part of the players’ exit interviews?
Was management tempted to compare Corbin’s performance against what Jeff Hornacek has done in Phoenix?
No. Totally different circumstances. And we’re proud of Jeff, and he did a very good job in short order, but nothing like that.
Does your opinion carry more weight than everyone else’s?
I think Greg Miller’s opinion means more. You know, and then I would say, Gre–Gail and Steve [Miller] would be next. And you know, I’ll throw Randy under the bus, and I’m a ways down on the pecking order.
And look, I respect the chain of command. I respect authority…It’s really, in all decisions, but especially the monumental ones, are done collectively as a team.
How much did wins and losses impact this decision?
It was a three-year decision. And you know, I think clearly, right after [the] Deron [Williams trade] is really, you know, a tough boat. You know, there was troubled waters, and Ty gets credit for steadying the boat.
And the two previous, or the two seasons after that, you know, those were solid NBA clubs relative to the talent. And this year, you know, there’s no hiding behind the fact that we went extremely young. Not just young, but extremely young…
And as Ty said, you know, that is a tough circumstance for coaches. But again, it was a three-plus-year decision.
Are there financial constraints in your coaching search?
We have not discussed that one.
Some of the younger players mentioned expectations of more minutes. Is that a fair criticism?
I don’t think so. That, rotations, and are the five young guys, you know, playing enough, you know, I would, I think Ty did an admirable job with that. I think year before last was very difficult ’cause we had so many productive big guys that, there’s only so many minutes.
So, and I think Ty managed that very well because Al [Jefferson] stayed happy. Paul [Millsap] stayed happy. You know, Enes [Kanter] got the minutes that he appropriately deserved, as did Derrick [Favors]. And you had Jeremy [Evans], who didn’t get to play much at all.
So that was a really, we were a little unbalanced relative to that, but all I know is, I go back to the locker room, and everybody was together last year.
And so, we cleared up that logjam, and I think the guys played the appropriate minutes and played the minutes that I think the coaches thought that they deserved. So, that’s not a huge negative.
Thanks to @NapoleonKFAN for the audio.
Before we get started, just want to thank Ty Corbin and his staff. You know, it was a very difficult decision-making process that our team undertook. There was a lot of deliberation. You know, we made the decision today at 11 o’clock. We met with Ty at one to deliver the news.
But before we get started with questions, you know, everyone should know that Ty’s a man of dignity, class, integrity and we’ll do nothing now in this press conference or moving forward that would disparage him, you know, or the coaches in any way. Today, we’re grateful for a period that they saw us through.
You know, and, you know, following Coach [Jerry] Sloan’s, in many ways, is like, you know, following John Wooden.
And Kevin [O'Connor] and Randy [Rigby] and Bob [Hyde] and the Miller family made a tough decision there soon after to trade Deron Williams. Decision from afar, you know, at the time, looked like was a good one, and now, as being part of the Jazz organization, something that, you know, helped build our new foundation.
There was a lockout year.
There was last season, with, you know, new parts and a changing team. And Ty and the staff performed admirably.
And then last off-season, we had a bunch of decisions to make relative to veterans and young guys, and a look forward to see how many guys, you know, at high-salary slots we could pay. And we decided to not go young, but extremely young.
And as Ty and the staff noted, you know, continuously, you know, that’s a very difficult position to put coaches in. But it was one that we still felt like, when we visited with ownership, management, our scouts, our coaches, it was the right decision.
And today, we, again, made a very important decision for the franchise, but as much as anything, again, we want to express our gratitude towards Ty and his staff.
How much philosophical difference was there between Corbin and the front office, if any?
From 5,000 feet, there were philosophical things. And sometimes you can have a philosophy that has great synergy but it just be the wrong time for a marriage or for a relationship.
And sometimes, there are going to be differences of opinion on, whether it be personnel or what you’re doing with the personnel. So, I think you have to assume that there was, you know, there were some different thoughts. And again, that’s one of the reasons why we made the decision we made today.
Are you looking more inside or outside the organization for a new coach?
Literally, we haven’t had one conversation in regards to other names [or] criteria…
Now that the decision’s closed, we’ll meet quickly. Internally, we’ll set some criteria. We’ll look at some objective measures. We’ll look at some subjective measures about coaches, and who’s going to be the new leader for the Utah Jazz, and then, you know, define some timelines relative to how we’re going to interview, and who we’re going to interview…
We’re not going to limit ourselves prematurely by definding the, excuse me, by defining any of, you know, people or objectives that we’re looking for, or criteria. We wanna go into, at least the early stages, for it to be a very objective process. And then as we move through the process, it will become very subjective and very criteria-based upon, you know, what we need moving forward.
How much did the team’s defensive performance have to do with the decision to let Corbin go?
I would say this. The, being a defensive program going forward is very important to who we are and what we wanna be. And we wanna establish that foundation.
What is the status of the assistant and development coaches?
The Millers were very generous in many ways towards the coaching staff. And, status going forward is, again, unknown. We’re going to get through this phase and then we’ll talk about whether, you know, there’s ability for guys to stay…We just don’t want to be bound by anything that we say, you know, in a press conference today.
What could you have seen that might have resulted in a different decision?
We were looking at a lot of different criteria over multiple years. And again, instead of getting into the details…we’re just going to stand by the decision and that it was a multi-year decision.
Was this decision made last year and just not followed through with for financial reasons?
Is there any regret the decision wasn’t made earlier to develop the bond between the young guys and their new coach?
Were there times when Corbin failed to follow direct orders on playing time from management?
In no way will ownership or management dictate [playing time] going forward, just like we didn’t dictate it now and in the past…Here, the head coach needs to be in charge of playing time.
Did you agree with Corbin’s playing time decisions for the five young guys?
I think the criticism that Ty took over the last few years relative to the young guys, more times than not, missed the mark. I think Ty did a fine job in determining who should play, and rotations, and we’re completely comfortable with the minutes that our young guys got last year.
What do you feel are successful qualities in a good head coach?
There’s a personal character. There’s a work ethic. There’s a competitive DNA. There’s, you know, coaching acumen. Strategic ability to think on your feet…
I think NBA players want honesty and the truth as soon as you know it. I think they want somebody that gives ‘em a good game plan that they can rally behind. And I think they want a coach that will, you know, push them physically, but not push them to the point where, you know, the practice or playing environment becomes unsafe.
Do you have a timeline for the new hire?
Really don’t know…The only thing that Randy and Bob and Kevin and I could tell the Miller ownership group was, is however long it takes to get the best man in the seat.
Did anyone in management or ownership come to Ty’s defense? Was there a debate?
We’re not gonna get into the, you know, the mechanics of, you know, how we made a decision. I can say this, though. It was a collective decision.
Thanks to @NapoleonKFAN for the audio.
With Derrick Favors as the defensive centerpiece, what do the Jazz have to do to become defensively elite?
Yeah, a lot of hard work. A lot of introspection. Could be adding some veteran personnel that have been in situations, or it could be, you know, helping Derrick and frankly Rudy [Gobert] grow into anchors at the rim.
You guys saw a little bit what Rudy could do [in the Jazz's final game]. We expect a great summer for him. We do think that those two in particular are very good foundational pieces from a defensive standpoint.
We think Gordon [Hayward] can be a plus defender, you know, as a wing as well whether it be a “two” or a “three.” So, you know, I’m optimistic, but you know, look. They’re young, and you know, we need to take a look at ourselves.
But I think, my opinion on Derrick defensively hasn’t changed on whether he can be an anchor or not. I think he can be. Now, with that said, does he need to run back harder, low to the ball harder? Absolutely.
Does, you know, Ty[rone Corbin] and I pushed him relative to him leading the defense, and so Derrick has to get outside of himself a little bit and get a little uncomfortable and command the defense from a communication and a verbal standpoint. But you know, he’s very smart. We just have to, you know, appropriately challenge him to do that.
On Enes Kanter
[Due to his shoulder surgery], it took Enes a few months into the regular season to develop a good rhythm. One of Enes’ best strengths is his rebounding ability. He just, you know, he has that natural ability, and I thought even his rebounding, his timing and his rhythm suffered a little bit because of the inactivity [last] summer.
But the last two months, specifically, we saw a big uptick. You saw several, you know, Enes-like rebounding games. I think his post game’s improving.
You know, the defense is well-documented. We’ll have those conversations, and the challenge to Enes was, is be as physical on defense as you are on offense. And I think Enes is very smart. He’s a very committed kid, and I think he’ll accept the challenges to move forward defensively.
On Alec Burks
We played more pick and roll basketball–empty-post basketball, if you will–in hopes that Alec and Gordon [Hayward] could put pressure on top of the basket. They both did so.
I thought Alec and Johnnie Bryant really did a good job of working on his finishing. We wanted to simplify his finishing. There were too many jackknife, highlight-type of finishes, and we want ‘em to be more simple in nature.
I think he needs to get stronger, and as he gets stronger, he’ll continue to improve his productivity at the rim and at the free throw line. So, I’m very pleased with the season that Alec had, especially after the start. You know, he just continued to grind through a slow start, and winded up putting up a very good season for us.
On Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams
Greg and Gail and Steve [Miller], after our last home game–they weren’t able to do it after the Minnesota game because of the Board of Governors meetings in New York–they came in and said some words to the team.
And really some of the thank-yous were most appropriately directed towards Richard and Marvin, because they were able to help Ty keep control in the locker room. We didn’t have any “young player nonsense,” if you will.
And then, we were challenged from a win-loss standpoint, but the group stayed together. The group worked hard all year long. They followed Ty’s leadership, and I think Marvin and Richard in particular get that credit…
It stands to reason, right, that you need some experience to help show the way with the young guys. And I think, you know, we knew we had that in Marvin. We knew that we really had a high-character guy, especially a guy that was a prodigy and McDonald’s All-American that has just moved into, you know, his, the day-to-day reality that Marvin’s better than actually his impeccable reputation. And so, that’s not lost on us.
And with Richard, I think he really appreciated that Ty helped him recreate his career, and that Ty was honest and said, “Hey, if you win the position, you’ll play.” And Richard did, and Richard was very good in his, you know, the exit interview. Really likes the young guys, thinks they’re about the right qualities.
They just have to grow up and mature, and you know, challenge it, or channel it, excuse me, in the right way. So we really appreciated both. And under the right circumstances, we could see one of those back.
What is the next step for Gordon Hayward?
I think he needs to have more fun, and I think he’s, if he really were to think about it, you know: tall, handsome, smart, great family, you know, beautiful fianceé, naturally competitive, in a good spot in a market that admires him.
You know, I think there are times where he misses a shot and he feels like he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders. And I’m sure, you know, the wins and losses, you know, weighed heavy on him. He actually shared that.
But we wanted to also clear the path, so he could become, you know, more prominent, you know, with the Utah Jazz. And you know, there’s a lot of responsibility that goes to that. I think once he gets time away and reflects on that, he’ll be better in that role next year. …
The other challenge we have is, is–Kevin said this from the start, and I think it’s true–and you know, Gordon’s very comfortable, you know, educated, smart, talented, and will he let his, will he push through his comfort level, you know, to move past “good,” you know, to become very significant in this league?
And that’s a real personal choice, because if he just continues to do what he does, he’s very professional, and compliant, and he says the right things. So we’re proud to have him, but I think there’s a level that if he really were to reflect, and get uncomfortable with himself, I think he could hit another level. …
You know, we look forward to, you know, him being a career Jazz member.
What does Trey Burke need to do to take the next step?
Yeah, quite a few. Quite a few things. You know, we talked a little bit about, you know, personal discipline. And Trey really wants to lead. And so, not that he’s undisciplined, but he’s gotta take it to a new level. And it would be hard for any 21-year-old point guard to come in and lead, even, you know, a very young group with little experience.
I think Trey’s ambition, his work ethic, his intelligence are all good characteristics that will provide a platform for him to move to greater heights.
You know, I think specifically, technically, you know, with his game, he needs to finish better. I think if he finishes better, and he and Johnnie have worked really hard on that, and we actually saw some progress in the last few weeks.
If he works on that, that will allow his pull-up game, which is very significant, to become more of a weapon, and it will allow his catch-and-shoot game to be better as well. So, I think his array of finishing, specifically finishing off one foot, versus the two-foot gather, is something that he worked on, and will continue to work on this off-season.
There was absolutely no directive from ownership or management to, you know, manipulate games, if you will. I don’t even like to say the word [tank].
** On management’s decision to go young
You wanna have a fair shake, and you want the best opportunity you have, can have, to win. We just, the organization decided to go in a different direction from the guys we had the year before. I knew it would be difficult. I said right from the beginning, is, in no way when you change the roster like we changed, is good for a coaching staff, especially in the last year of their contract. And it brings a lot of questioning and everything to do with young guys…You see why coaches that’s been in it a long time won’t put themselves in a situation where they have a young team because of those things. It doesn’t matter how you scheme things when you have young guys. Young guys make mistakes in this league. And the consistency of play, and that’s why they’re young in this league…I would have liked for things to be different and have been handled differently, but they weren’t. So, it is what it is.
** In your heart of hearts, do you feel like you’re going to be back next year?
I always feel like I’m gonna be
around where I am.* Always.
** Who were you most impressed with or most happy with this season?
I won’t single out one guy. I think the growth of most of the young guys, I think, were good. Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson did a great job of, and the veteran, John, even John Lucas and Brandon [Rush] at times, man, did a great job of helping this young guy, young group of guys grow and staying focused…When things get bad, guys tend to go in different directions. They get smaller groups. This group of guys stayed together and continued to work. I’m proud of that.
** Can Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors successfully co-exist as starters?
There’re times when it works. I think the way the league is now, there be times when you can play two bigs, and there be times when you have to adjust to the other big big and big, small big or whatever you wan–stretch big or whatever the term you have for the guy now. But they can function on the floor together, whether it’s starting roles or coming off the bench. One or, and the other starting, or starting the two together.
** Was Richard Jefferson’s size one of the reasons you chose to start him over Alec Burks?
No, Richard deserved it. I thought Alec gave us a chance coming off the bench…We wanted to look at both ways, and I think Richard settled us down at times.
** Was it hard to take the negativity?
You know what? Misery love company, man. You know, I, you know, there are some miserable people, and they love talking about what somebody else is doing or not doing…People like to criticize, and that’s what it is. People like to read it. I don’t give a lot of energy to it myself.
* Thanks to @DJJazzyJody for the correction.
** What’s the timeline for the coaching decision?
We won’t have much of a further comment, you know, past this initial thing. When we spoke to Ty and his representation during the year, we laid out we wanted to take the full season. We wanted to take a small period for all of us, you know, Ty included, to decompress, you know, so we’re not making a decision based upon the last possession, the last game and make an emotional decision. So we laid out the process that Ty and [Corbin's agent] Steven [Kauffman] agreed to. We’ll take a short decompression, you know, period, you know, to reflect, you know, on the season, and what we saw. And then, in short order we’ll come together with Ty and talk it out.
** You said before the season defense would be a focus. What did you see in the team’s defensive development?
Yeah, so we ranked 30th and we all have to own that. You know, there was a young playing group, to be fair to Ty and the coaches, and a new playing group that we threw together. You know, young players taking different roles, different minutes. So, we’ll reflect on that.
** We didn’t see the five young guys start together until the last few games of the season…
Look, there’s only one ball…I think Manu Ginobili’s a Hall of Famer, just like John Havlicek was, and they did it in sixth man roles. So you know, I know there was a little angst that they, the five [young guys] didn’t play enough time together. There’s a lot of ways to look at that, but just using Alec Burks, you know, when we played him with, you know, Gordon [Hayward], he didn’t get the ball as much. So I think Ty made a great decision, and you know, Alec I thought was one of the better offensive substitutes in the league last year, or this past season, because of it. And you know, there’s, it was such an uneven season, to begin with, with injuries, with the schedule that we played, with the newness of the team.
** Can Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors play together?
There was some, I think, premature opinion, you know, can Enes and Derrick play together? And frankly, that’s nonsense. You know, Enes can really shoot the ball, and Derrick can really anchor a defense from a rebounding and shot-blocking standpoint. And I think in combination going forward, they’ll be fine.
** Will Enes Kanter be shooting 3-pointers next season?
Does he have the ability to step out and shoot the ball? Absolutely. You know, his, for such a young player, his long twos are very impressive. You know, do you move him to the corner, you know, and let him start there and progress up to the arc? All I know is, is one of the toughest situations to guard in my 18 years in the league was, you know, Deron Williams coming off a Carlos Boozer pick and roll right, you know, just above the elbow, and having Mehmet Okur lifted, you know, all the way at the arc…You couldn’t get that situation covered. So, in the right context, you could see it.
** On Utah not being a free agent destination
Who knows when, you know, that tide could change and you know, we can get our Reggie White of Green Bay? You know, he left the big market to go there, and so, you know, I go to bed dreaming about that scenario a lot. And you know, if we commit to someone like that, they need to be the right guy and the right player. And, but we have that wherewithall.
Note: No locker room cleanout interviews with Brandon Rush or Malcolm Thomas available.
Edit: …though @tribjazz did provide this:
Interview with the media
** Do you think you and Derrick Favors can play together?
Some people think that we cannot play together. I think it’s crazy. You know, I think we can play together…The people out there who thinks that then, it’s wrong.
** How tough is it going into the off-season not knowing whether Tyrone Corbin will be back?
It’s not really my business, you know? … We been through a lot with coach Corbin; good, bad, whatever. And I think, I like him as a person. And I mean, he’s a, still, I mean, he’s still a young coach too, you know? He’s still learning and stuff. This is what, third, three and a half years in the NBA? I mean, he’s learning too. And I think he made some really good moves, and you know, last summer that the moves he did that shows that he wants to go with the young. So I think, I mean, it’s not my really business to talk about it. But I think, you know, I like him as a person.
** On his minutes this year
It’s kind of a little, like, surprise me. And, ’cause I thought I was gonna be playing more minutes. And because, like, I’m taking after my first two years and this year’s minutes, so I think it’s, like, average, like, 18-something minutes. I’m like, I’m looking at the, my [draft] class year top five picks, I mean, it’s, they all playing, like, big, major minutes. So, I mean, like, this year is over now. I don’t really wanna talk about it. I know I have up and downs too, so, but next year I would like to, you know, see more minutes and get more responsibility.
** What does this team have to do to improve to be a winner sooner rather than later?
I think playing minutes. I think that’s all about it. I think playing minutes together, and we didn’t really have that that much this year. And, but I think in the next year’s, whatever, in the pre-season or the normal season, to play, you know, together that five that coach Ty put in last [three to four] games. I think if we keep playing like that, that this team’s gonna be, you know, future is bright.
** Is a 3-point shot something you want to incorporate into your game next season?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I been working on my, you know, my three the last two years, whatever. And you know, the, I haven’t told coach Ty, you know, about the threes…I think next year, I’m gonna start shooting. We’ll see.
** How happy are you to see Al Jefferson’s success this year?
Oh man, Jefferson is, you know, I’m, every time I see him on the TV, I’m just saying, you know, “That’s my boy.” You know, I saw he, I think he won the Player of the Month in March, and I think, I’m really happy for him, man. You know, I’m really happy for him.
** Summer plans?
I’m gonna go to Chicago first. And then I’m gonna go see my family for, like, probably, like, over a month [in Turkey], ’cause I haven’t really get to see my family during the season, pretty busy. So I’m just gonna go see them a little bit, and just spend time with them. Then I’m gonna just come back and work.
Interview with David Locke
** How will you improve your game next year?
Maybe start shooting threes? … We’ll see, man. I mean, I don’t know. I, we’ll see what coach want me to do. But you know, I’m really gonna work on my threes this summer.
** Your post game has improved. Would you have spent as much time working on your post game if you’d been shooting threes?
I think so. Definitely. I mean, post game is just my, you know, my go-to move. Like, back to basket’s, you know, just my go-to move. But you know, you cannot just back up every time. I’m, like, let me give you an example. Like Big Al [Jefferson]. Facing up, shooting, or, like, backing up. So you have to have both. But I think if I work on threes, I wouldn’t lose my, any post game, really.
Because what happens in this league is, people start shooting threes and they get soft and don’t want contact and then they just stay out there all the time. You’re not going to get soft, are you?
I kind of live in the paint, man. Come on. I won’t get soft. Don’t worry about that.
Yeah, I am sure.
It’s easy out there.
If it gets easy, I’ll still go in. I like the post. I like, you know, all the post moves, and you know, footwork. I like it.
** The Jazz PR guy just walked by shaking his head at you. What did you do?
I dropped a bomb.
What did you say?
I cannot just say it again.
You have to tell me what you said. What did you do?
I cannot say it second time, man.
Did you make a mistake?
I didn’t make a mistake. I say the truth.
What is “the truth”?
Truth is that the five young guy needs to play more minutes.
[pause] So you need to play more minutes?
Me, and other five young guys [Alec Burke,* Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans] too.
But the team’s record is better when other people play. So why should those five play?
Let me put this way. This year’s has to, this, they told that we were future and they said that they were rebuilding. So, I mean, if you’re not gonna win a championship, that, which is, you didn’t…This year was rebuilding. This year was development of the young guys. And I’m trying to say is, just like, I mean, if you’re not gonna win a championship, why not just play the other guys?
But what happens when Derrick is better when you’re not on the floor?
It’s about, we’ve been playing, if we play together or not. I mean, it, I believe that if we play together more and more minutes, we get used to each other more, I think we’ll get better.
* People calling Alec Burks “Alec Burke”: Enes Kanter.
** You have become a nice player. How do you parlay that into a player whose team wins? Because right now you’re putting up numbers, but your team is better when you’re on the bench.
Well, I think offensively it’s there, but I think most importantly is, like, defense too…We have enough talent to score the, like, somebody’s gonna score the ball. But I think the most important thing is just defense.
Do you know defense yet?
I mean, I’m, like, my body was in better shape last year. But this year it’s not that, like, good of shape as, like, as last year. But this year I know where to be. I know, like, what the, where the help side is, where the ball side is. I know where to go a little better now. So, I think when you play even, like, more minutes, that you get in that experience.
Note — Possibly relevant quote from Dennis Lindsey on Jan. 3, 2014:
I think in due time, also, that Enes, with his touch and his range, you know, if he doesn’t shoot the three out there eventually whether it be in the corner or in the slot, he can certainly shoot the long two.
** Did you hit a rookie wall?
Absolutely. It was kinda, I was kinda getting, you know, worried about my play after that Detroit game, and you know, how bad I started playing. And I don’t feel like I played awful, just my shooting percentage and you know, it was like that wall really hit me. So these last couple games, I, you know, realized that I’ve gotten a lot better too. And I credit that to Johnnie Bryant, the coaching staff, my teammates. And you know, Imma continue to work. I know this off-season is big for me, and I look forward to coming back even a much better player.
** Why didn’t this team play at a faster pace?
I don’t know. To be honest with you, I don’t know. But I think coach Ty[rone Corbin] and the coaching staff, they told us to play at a fast pace, and I think a lot of that had to do with me, you know, me not pushing it as much as I should have or could’ve…I think that’s definitely a style, you know, the certain style we’re gonna play next ye–or next season, is pushing the ball. And that’s when we’re best, man. We’re a pretty good team, in my opinion, when we push the ball.
** How was the floor different for you with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter on the floor, versus Favors or Kanter with Marvin Williams?
It was different for me because the two bigs was kinda tougher for me, obviously, because we didn’t have a guy who could just pop out and I could kick it back to and hit that jump shot like Marv. But you know, it was a little better for me as well when the bigs were in there because the screens were a little better. You know, I was able to hit that roll man more. With Marv, he was popping out. Sometimes, he may settle a little too much with jump shots. But [with each of these looks], I have to be able to know what, you know, where our, you know, our advantages are, and have to be able to take advantage of that at the point guard.
** What did John Lucas III mean to you this season?
He meant a lot, man…He’s been like a big brother to me, to be honest with you. You know, he, we, I could talk to him about anything. You know, we compete against each other every day, and you know, I’m sure he was kinda frustrated, obviously, not playing as much as he did in the beginning of the season, but you know, you can’t say enough about a guy like John, ’cause he sacrificed for the team. You know, he made sure I’m doing the right things, and you know, I appreciate it.
** You earned a starting job as a rookie. Do you still have a chip on your shoulder?
Yeah, definitely. I still have a chip on my shoulder. You know, just having the starting job isn’t enough, and you still have to earn everybody around the league’s respect, you know, every time you go up against them. So, there’s gon always, I feel like there’s gon always be a chip on my shoulder.
** Playoffs next year?
Next year, hopefully. Hopefully, you know, that’s the goal, definitely. You know, we got a young team, but we can’t keep saying that, man. It’s gon be a point where that young team has to, you know, start to produce, and I think, you know, we’re in the right direction.
** On impending fatherhood
It’s a blessing, man. I’m excited. I’m really excited. You know, a lot of people axe me if I’m scared. Not really…I’m excited, man. I’m looking forward to meeting the little one.
** Who are you in this league?
I think I’m a good, I’m a great player in this league. That’s what I think I am.
What kind of player is that?
Killer. Killer on both sides.
** What did you learn the most this season?
Learned, you know, you gotta be ready at all times. You know, ’cause this league, kill or be killed. So, that’s what I learned.
** Do you feel like you made a statement this year?
I feel like I proved I can do what, when I get the time, you know? I feel like I improved a lot over the year, you know? Just got better over the season…I did what Ty wanted me to do, and I did it to the best of my abilities.
** What do you think you can become in this league?
I think I can become a great player in this league, you know, with my abi–my athletic ability and my potential. You know, I feel like I can be real good in this league.
Can you be a first offensive option?
I definitely can. I feel like I got the talent to be. You know, I got the competitiveness to be, and I feel like I can.
** Response to four consecutive questions from David Locke on his contract situation
It’ll all work itself out, you know? … It’ll all work itself out. That’s all I gotta say. It’ll all work itself out. That’s all I gotta say about it. … It’ll all work itself out. It’ll all work itself out, you know? That’s what I believe in.
** How do you feel your season went?
For myself, I would say pretty good. Like, pretty good, because I think I got way better, way stronger. After, of course, I didn’t play a lot, you know, I wish I would’ve played more. But you know, that’s how it is…I got better. I learned a lot. I know the league well, so you know, I think, good. … I’m fine. Of course I would love to play more, but there are Enes [Kanter], Derrick [Favors], Marvin [Williams] came back. So you know, that’s how it is. And I can’t be crying. I just gotta move forward.
** Are you going to fill a rookie’s car with popcorn next year?
We’ll see, you know? Maybe, I might wait a couple of years to let the vets, you know, do their job. And if the rookie don’t do the job, yeah. But if they’re cool, you know, I’ll just let them go. You know, I’m not gonna bully the rookies.
** What were the main things you worked on with Alex Jensen this year?
Every day, we’re working on my shot, I would say. My shot…my post game too. My shot, my free throws, my ‘ooks, yeah. You know, just the main thing for big men. But I would say mostly my shot.
** What do you need to work on, strength-wise?
The main thing is the legs, you know? Legs, and the core, from the knees to the chest, you know, be able, like, nobody can push me if I’m this strong. Like, nobody can push me. I mean, I think nobody gonna be able to score on me. I’m already a good, very good defensive player, but if I get way stronger and nobody able to push me, you know, I’m longer, I can jump higher, so who can score on me?
** How important was it for you to finish the season on a high note?
That was important for me, you know, just to, for me, and just to show my progress end of season. You know, I know I didn’t play that much, but I just try to show, you know, show them all the time. And I think I did pretty good. And I just can’t wait for the next season and summer league to have, give me more playing time.
** Who was your mentor on the team this season?
Rich[ard Jefferson]. I would say Rich, and Andris [Biedrins] was talking to me. He helped me a lot, you know, about defense and about outside the court too. I would say Andris, yeah. And recent, Rich.
Locker Room Cleanout Part 2: Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Diante Garrett, Ian Clark and Erik Murphy
** Talk about your experience playing for Tyrone Corbin.
I had a great experience. He’s a veteran guy, a veteran coach. And he knows–what I mean “veteran coach,” he’s a coach of veterans. Like, he knows how to coach guys that have been in this league a little bit, and I give him, you know, so much credit for my success on the court, and him helping me and just kinda talking me through some different things. But I just, I owe a lot to him and the organization, and we’ll see what happens this summer.
** Would you agree that the deck was loaded against Corbin this season?
No. I wouldn’t say that. I think coach knew what, you know, very rarely do you know what cards you’re gonna be given, and he knew what cards he was gonna be given. He knew he was gonna be given just a few vets and a lot of young guys that they were planning on playing. I think, you know, it’d be different if they were, you know, trades or something that happened in the middle of the season, but for the most part, he knew the group that he was gonna have. He knew his job was to get these guys playing time and get these guys experience, and he did a great job of that.
** You reached your goal of playing 82 games.
Our assistant coach Johnnie Bryant, who, you know, was so instrumental in my success this year. Right before, ’cause I was coming off the bench, right before I checked in, he looked at me and he’s like, “Got all 82.” And I was like, “Yes. Yes, we did.”
** Were you cool with your move to the bench at the end of the season?
Yeah, of course…Alec [Burks] has all the ability in the world to be a starter in this league, and I think coach just wanted that veteran presence in there. So it wasn’t, you know, it wasn’t, you know, my job or anything. I think it was just kinda how the coaches wanted to go. And he was amazing coming off the bench for that second unit…They wanted to see him against some starting 2-guards, and you know, coming off, because it’s a different focus.
** Do you think Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter can successfully co-exist in the frontcourt?
Yeah, it takes time. It’s not for lack of talent. Just had a long conversation with Enes Kantor* and he believes that offense is more important than defense. And yes, I’m telling that to the media ’cause those are his own words. Not saying he says they’re equally important, but he says in the playoffs, you need, you know, good offensive players. And I was like, “You will not find a high-level championship team that doesn’t know how to get stops in the last five minutes of the game. And that’s defense.” I think Enes is a talented, talented player and he’s a young player that has a bright future in this league. But he just needs to continue to work on his defense. And I say that in a playful way. It’s not in a critical way, ’cause we’ve had a conversation for the last two days, like, arguments. Me, Marvin, him on what is important. And you know, we’re still trying to get that in his head, that you know, and his defense has improved. I’ll give him that. But that needs to be a focus for him.
** What’s your plan for next season?
I have no idea, and it’s tough. I’ve never been a free agent in 13 years…so this is something that I’m gonna really take the time and find out. I know that if I were to ha–if I were to, you know, go to a rebuilding situation again, this would be probably No. 1 on my list because we have such good guys. I know the organization. I’ve enjoyed the city of Salt Lake.
Aren’t you going ring-hunting?
I know I want to, but it’s just like…you can go out deer hunting. Doesn’t mean that you’re gonna get a deer. You know, you can go out looking for bucks, it doesn’t mean you’re gonna pull one in. Just means you’re just sitting in the trees waiting and waiting and waiting, and all of a sudden eight hours go by and nothing happens. So, you know, that’s the way. That’s why they call it fishing and not catching.
* People calling Enes Kanter “Enes Kantor”: Richard Jefferson.
** How do you think you did in showing people what you can do?
I think I did very good. You know, I think I proved a lot of people wrong, and you know, I showed what I can do on the offensive end, showed the type of player I can be. You know, and I think I did good.
** Do you want Tyrone Corbin back?
I don’t mind. You know, I think Ty’s a great coach. And I think he’s a great person, you know, but [it's up to] the front office.
** You’ve always said you’re a power forward and not a center. How do you feel about having played center for an entire season?
You know, it’s kinda tough, man, ’cause you know, the centers, they, it’s a different world playing the center position ’cause every night, you’re going up against a guy who’s, like, 7-foot, 280, 290 [lbs.] or whatever, and strong as hell…It’s different, and the power forward, you know, you might have a stretch four one night, then you might have a banging four. So you still don’t have to bang every night against the power forward, but the center, you know, just constantly banging. So you know, I gotta, this summer I gotta go through my workouts a little differently if Imma have to play center.
** Who will you work out with this summer and where?
I’ll be in Atlanta. You know, I play pick-up and all that stuff down there. But I’ll be in Salt Lake City a lot more this summer, you know, working out with the coaches and just working out with the strength and conditioning guys. Go to Santa Barbara, work out there. So I’ll be everywhere, really.
** Will you be going anywhere on vacation?
I’m still thinking if I wanna go somewhere, but you know, mainly during the summer I just go back to Atlanta, see my family, see my friends, man, and you know, have fun down there. But my girlfriend wanna do something this year. She’s tired of going to Atlanta. I don’t mind going to Atlanta, but she tired of going to Atlanta. So I have to do something.
** Do you feel like you belong in the NBA yet?
I feel like I’m still hungry. I still got a lot to prove so I can, you know, solidify myself all the way into the NBA. I feel like I got some strides to make, and I’m gonna work very hard this summer so I can make ‘em.
** What was this year about for you?
Personally, I think I came in and I did what I had to do, and coulda got, coulda did a lot better. I think I did a pretty good job, though. Came in, brung some energy to the team, some confidence. And just did whatever I had to do to help the team. I think I did a pretty good job with it.
** What was the highlight of your season?
When I first checked in and hit that first shot. Probably won’t ever forget that one, ’cause that day actually was, I had a lot to do that day with the physicals, coming in, learning the plays, and we had a game. And it was the NBA game, and I was coming in off the bench right away, and I made that first shot, and I seen, like, all the fans and everybody, you know, have my back when I made that first shot, and cheering me on. So, it w–it felt good.
** What are your summer plans?
I’ll probably end up playing summer league with the guys…Just being in the gym, really. Imma be back home. I got a couple of guys that play in the NBA now–Wes Matthews and Dwight Buycks–all those guys’ll be in Milwaukee too. So we’re gonna get a chance to work out and get it in.
** What did they tell you to work on in your exit interview?
Ball-handling. Being able to set the offense up. Being able to come off the ball…Most of all, it’s getting stronger and making the right reads.
** Is the team option something you’re worrying about right now?
Can’t worry about it. It’s out of my control. I can only deal with it, I can only control what I can, it’s just getting better. So, I mean, however things pan out later on, is how they pan out.
** On maintaining perspective
My mindset is the same as last year. Getting back to summer league, and kind of having to prove myself all over again…I feel like I [belong]. I really do. And especially, after this season, I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I’ve learned a lot. So I think that’ll help me, down the road.
** Did they give you anything specific to work on this summer?
Just, you know, continue to shoot the ball well. You know, I’m gonna try to get a little quicker. But you know, not, other than that, not much else. And I think, you know, just looking forward to summer league and playing with them and getting out there.
** They’re clearly investing in you by picking you up before the end of the season.
Yeah, I mean, that sounds good. Yeah, you know, I think, you know, I do something, I’m a big guy that can stretch the floor and shoot the ball, and you know, I think that’s, there’s more and more of that becoming relevant in the league right now. And you know, I think they just saw that and you know, wanted to have me around, and especially for the summer and just see where it goes from there.
** What was it like trying to prepare to play stretch four when you were coming off an Achilles injury and couldn’t change your body?
It was different for me. It was definitely different for me, but you know, coach and I, when I was getting closer to getting back, you know, he kinda mentioned it to me and I told him I would accept it; it wouldn’t be a problem at all. But you know, he really helped me out. Man, I was always down there, you know, trying to rehab an Achilles, and at the same time I’m banging with guys that are 20-30 lbs. stronger than me. So this summer I’ll be better prepared for it if I do come back and try to play that position again.
** You’ve never been an unrestricted free agent. Now what?
I’m not sure…I’ll take a couple of weeks off and kinda rest my body a little bit, and recuperate. And then, you know, we’ll figure it out from there.
Will you be ring-hunting? What’s your preference?
I prefer to be comfortable. You know, whatever position I’m in and whatever situation I go to, I just wanna be comfortable. I wanna have fun playing basketball, and you know, the last two seasons I’ve definitely had a ton of fun playing here, for sure.
** Is this where you want to be?
I’ve said that all year along. You know, obviously, you know, we’re in a rebuilding stage, but you know, the way the Jazz organization has treated me, the way this community has treated me since I’ve been here, you know, I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. So, obviously I understand that in professional sports, things happen, but I’ve made it very clear that I would like to return here if possible.
** What needs to change for this team to take the next step?
Just continue to get older. I mean, you got a lot of young guys out there this year. So, just gotta continue to get older, continue to play more, continue to experience different situations, and they’ll continue to get better and better each year.
** What was said at your exit interview?
You know, just talking about the situation. You know, they decided to go young, and you know, let the young guys get as many reps and playing time as they can, you know, with the season we’ve having. So I understood that. No, you know, no hard feelings. You know, I wanted to play, wanted to be more in the rotation, but at the end of the day, you know, I come out here and I do my job. Make sure I push the guys in practice. Continue to be a all-around professional. A great pro. So, that’s what I brought.
** Do you have a sense of your status for next year?
I’m always gonna be okay. I know what I can do. I know I’m ca–I know what I can do on the court. And you know, I know I can do off the court. So, to me, I never worry about, when, at the end of the season, I don’t worry about if Imma have a job next year. Like, I’m fine, you know? I walk by faith, and you know, I feel like God put me in this position…I always look at, you know, everything as a learning situation. This year, I learned about, you know, you ain’t get that much playing time like you normally do, but you also got to mentor the young guys.
** Did you enjoy playing the mentor role?
I was just showing, like, everyday I’m, I try to come in to practice to destroy whoever was in front of me, from Trey [Burke] to D[iante] G[arrett] to Ian [Clark] to B[randon] Rush to everybody. You know, showing them, like, look, practice is just like the game. The way you practice is the way you gonna play in the game. And if you think you just coming into practice just half-assing it, then that’s what you gonna do in the game.
** Other than Vegas,* what are your off-season plans?
You know, getting ready for my wedding. So that’s exciting. Just looking for this next chapter in my life, you know?
** You are the most social man in the world. How many people are you inviting?
We made it a destination wedding so we can cut down a lot of people, so it’s just close family and friends. Just a real intimate wedding in Jamaica.
* Some of the players, including Lucas, Rush, Garrett, Burke, Ian Clark and Malcolm Thomas are heading to Vegas together later today.
** Do you have anything you’ll say to the Jazz about, “If I’m coming back, we gotta…”
I think we should have utilized our athleticism, as far as our speed getting out in transition. I think our pace of play has to increase. And to some extent, that wasn’t necessarily, I mean, a lot of that is determined by defense…Trying to get out and increase our pace of play would be a little better, but we do have two bigs, so. We play with [Derrick] Fav[ors] and Enes [Kanter] a lot, and it would be hard to run with that.
** Do you want to be back?
You know, it’s a business. I understand it’s a business, and whatever happens happens…Can’t thank everybody in Utah enough for what they’ve given me so far, so we’ll take it from there.
** Would you tell the Jazz not to match an offer sheet?
I mean, that’s something that you look at down the road, and, based off of decisions that are made, and you can make that decision…We’ll see what my options are. I think you gotta keep an open mind, and go from there.
** Could you please give me (David Locke) a rundown of your off-season?
So, I’m going to the Philippines, like, next week, to do, like, a junior NBA little coaching thing, I guess. And then I get back, and turn around and pretty much get married. And after that, I mean, you start talking about negotiations, and have to start working out to do the Team USA, try to get ready for Team USA so I can make that team. And if I do make that team, I’ll be gone from end of July ’til September, middle of September.
** Did your contract situation weigh on you this season?
Not at all. Put it out of my mind once we didn’t get the deal done, and haven’t thought about it.
** What are you going to work on this summer?
Shooting for one, and that’s probably making contested shots more than anything. Mid-range shots. Finishing at the rim. And ball-handling.
** What did you see from Tyrone Corbin this year?
Well, I thought Ty did a good job for the position he’s put in. You know, it’s a tough position when you try to go young and you’re trying to win games. And I thought he did a great job of teaching us things. You know, we continued to work all season.
** (New) Over the course of the season, you went from taking “number one option shots” to picking your spots. Did the coach talk to you about that or was it something you took upon yourself?
I think a little bit of both. I, also, again, I mean, we didn’t have a couple of our guys in the lineup [at the beginning of the season], so having them back helped me out, so you know, everything was directed defensively all on me. And it started opening things up a little bit more and I didn’t have to do everything…I’m still learning [when to pick my spots].
** (New) How different was it this year for you without Jeff Hornacek helping you?
I mean, Jeff’s my guy, so. He was great for me. He was great for Jeremy [Evans] as well, [and] Alec [Burks]. He was great for a lot of the people here. But you know, they had some other assistants that stepped up. I really worked with Johnnie Bryant a lot, and coach Brad Jones. So, they just kind of stepped in and played that role. It’s been about the same.
** What’d you prove?
That I can play. That I’m going to be a pretty good 4-man if I pick up some weight.
So you don’t think you need to become a “three”?
No, I can become a three. I think I’ll, you know, maybe get more minutes and better time at the three position, but you know, if I gotta play the four, you know, so be it. I’ll go out there.
** What’s it like when you’re, like, higher than everybody else?
It’s kinda scary sometimes, especially when you got guys under you. Or, you know, you never know how, what kind of foul they might, you know, try to do. So, I feel like, but once you’re up there, a lot of people, they won’t jump. Like, couple times last night, I had the ball and I was like, man, this guy’s not even gonna jump. Like, and after that, you know, it’s over with. So, it just feels great.
** What has to happen for this franchise to improve?
Just keep playing hard, and playing together. You know, I feel like so many times we were right there, just, you know, gotta get a little more focused and just being mentally ready, and prepared.
** On Gordon Hayward
Of course we’d love to have him back. I don’t know what I’ll do without him. So, I’ll see how that will go, but I’ll be happy, you know, to see him come back.