What are your thoughts on draft lottery reform?
I like the system that we have, and I think it works well. It has functioned well for the draft and for teams, and right now I’d like to see us continue to just stay with it until we really, as we look at other issues as it relates to the draft, I think before we adopt something else, we oughta really make sure that it has the test of time and has the test of being able to avoid any potential bigger issues that could cause more problems than maybe some of the minor ones that we’re dealing when it’s with the draft right now…
You know, I think it’s, most, I think a lot of [the calls for draft reform] is misunderstanding from not only the fans, and also the media. As we looked at the issues, over, some of the last presentations that the NBA actually provided for us, it really helped cement, a lot of us went into that, I mean, a little bit skeptical, but as we really saw the facts and the information, it really cemented that we have a really pretty good system that has w–is working well and doing exactly what, as an organization, we would like to see it do. And so, I think a lot of it needs to be better understanding and better education for our fan base.
On his intimate relations with Kevin O’Connor and Dennis Lindsey
We were a small organization [in 1986]. I think, like, we started when we literally had 12 players, three coaches, and a trainer and an assistant trainer, and then with 12 in our front office. So, it was always a very intimate group.
But to really be involved in the [draft] process really took place when I became the president, which was eight years ago. And really, getting much closer to, then, Kevin [O’Connor] and the process that was involved then, and very intimately involved now over the last four years with Dennis [Lindsey], and the processes that we’re, we continue to improve on and work on.
On the Jazz’s database of players
That information becomes very valuable for us to cont–to have it, and to continue to update it, so that we can, again, continue to assess the pool of talent.
If all of a sudden you can find those ri–those little gems, that all of a sudden — an Elijah Millsap, that has been hanging around in the D-League, and being around, and understanding his style, his family, that, you know, personal information as well as their talent information, is very valuable for us in helping us make good decisions, that may be the little nuggets and differences, that make you, from just a decent team, to a good team, to maybe a championship-caliber team. And so, that information is critical for us.
Have you had any response or feedback that the Jazz are a rising team and this is therefore an attractive situation for free agents?
Well, I’ll tell you. Dennis’ phone, and Justin [Zanik]’s phone stay very active. And we are an organization and we’re a team that, you know, and as I’ve visited with a lot of other team presidents, team executives, executives in the NBA, it’s constantly is commented back, “Boy, I’m impressed with what’s going on in Utah. I’m impressed with how you guys ended your season. I’m impressed with some of these young players you have.”
I–what it’s telling me, in people’s mind, they see where we’re going. They see what we have. And when that happens, then people are wanting to talk to you and they’re looking at — we’re in the minds of individuals, in how they want to negotiate with us. And that’s a positive position to be in.
On the return of the summer league
We felt slighted and frustrated that, in a lot of ways, [the Rocky Mountain Revue] was taken out from underneath us when they kind of developed Las Vegas. And the league didn’t do that purposefully, but it happened.
We worked very hard, both Kevin O’Connor, myself; then Dennis, myself. Greg Miller helped us in dealing with the commissioner, and we’re really happy that we’re able to get the summer league back…
For $8, you literally can go to two games each day, for $8. Or if you buy it for the three-day pass, $15 for five double-headers a day, you get to watch two NBA s–basketball games. It’s a remarkable deal. (KTIK, 1280)
On the drafting process
It is a big production…There’s all kinds of international activity. And frankly, it’s just harder with international guys. We’re not as familiar. The video is much better than it was 15 years ago, but sometimes that’s a challenge. To get intel on them and their family is a real chore. Medical, again, sometimes the medical around the international player.
And then you add that to the domestic players as well, and early entries where we basically gotta go start the process assuming everybody’s in. You don’t wanna assume someone’s out, and then all of a sudden you haven’t done your work. So, you have to start with a very wide process.
Have you never not drafted a player due to a bad interview?
Certainly, there are those interviews that corroborate the intel and consistent pattern of behavior that you have. And so, most of the time the intel’s fine but there are times that an intel and an interview, they kind of, corroborates — your information will eliminate a player, and you know, we’ll, those sometimes are tough because they can be good players.
And, but there’s certain things that you wanna stand for, and so what we found out is, while all past behavior doesn’t necessarily predict the future, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.
Complete this sentence: This Utah Jazz team must get better at…?
Boy, there’s so many…They have to get better at ball security. They ha–this Utah Jazz team has to grow beyond its years of experience. So we have to accelerate that process. This Utah Jazz team has to shoot the ball more consistently, out of more spots. This Utah Jazz team has to continue to be very unselfish and not worry about where the credit’s going. So, there, I could go on and on.
How difficult was it to get a summer league back in Utah?
When I first took the job, Randy [Rigby] and I had this conversation, and really it was a plea to Randy towards me, and, that, hey, we might not be able to get the Utah Jazz summer league back, but we’ve got to do, give our best effort.
And so, we strategized, and look, we had to talk to the league and we had to make sure that they understood that we wanted to partner with the Vegas Summer League, not compete with the Vegas Summer League. And so, we had to jump through a few hoops. (1280)
Dennis Lindsey on Randy Rigby’s infamous draft lottery moment two years ago: Randy has suffered — we’ve given him the business…We’ve gotten a big kick out of that one. I’ll try to be a little more poised.
Randy Rigby on the draft lottery: I’ve been very happy with the trend that we’ve been making, though, as an organization, to hopefully see that this old trend that we’ve been doing can stop and we can continue on the trend that we’ve been really building towards this last season, and that is, is getting out of the lottery, and working, and be towards, be the playoff team and really a winning team in this league, and for hopefully some, many years to come.
Rigby’s good luck charms: I brought my lucky shirt and my lucky se–pair of Jazz socks, that are gonna bring us some luck, but I’m counting on Dennis.
Lindsey, reacting with poise:
Lindsey and Rigby speaking with Jazz media after the lottery:
Reassurance from Rudy Gobert:
Has DL been indulging in too much fry sauce?
On the draft lottery
** Will be bringing pictures of his family, “the ultimate good luck charm,” to the draft lottery
** May talk a walk around Central Park and look for an additional good luck charm
** Also has a lucky watch his brother-in-law gave him
Are you satisfied with the baby steps that Dante Exum took?
I think we achieved a lot. Going, look, if you’re 18-slash-19 years old and you make it through an NBA season without an injury — he played in all 82 games — and you know what that means around here with John [Stockton] and Karl [Malone] and the legacy they left.
And frankly, it was very important for Dante — it was a big goal of his personally — to get through all 82 games even though he was really fatigued at points in the season and we wanted to sit him. He fought us on that, and we appreciated his mentality towards that.
The other thing that’s hidden, and we’re starting to be able to track it a little more with advanced stats, is Dante’s already shown unique defensive abilities. Frankly, he’s two or three levels ahead of where we thought he’d be defensively. I think we were +5 per 100 possessions when he was on the court last year.
So, for a 19-year-old point guard, and most of those margins were gain because of his defensive mobility, his size and his length. And you add that with intelligence and character — we’re thinking he’s already a good offen–or defensive player and in time he’ll be a good offensive player.
How many days a week will he be working on driving to the rim and attacking the rim?
So, there’s a couple things to that, and Quin [Snyder] and I just visited about that yesterday on the plane back from Chicago. There’s no question that he’ll move forward, and next year, it may be incrementally, but when Dante’s 22, 23, 24, we’re gonna be looking at a much different player. We’re very confident in his character. We’re very confident in his work ethic.
And we’ve already laid some plans about what we wanted to do with him in the off-season. Some will be a little non-traditional, so he can start using his size. As soon as his strength and his physicality match his size, I think that’s when magic will happen.
And the thing that I would say to everyone relative to Dante and the offensive part, he really deferred to Gordon [Hayward], to Derrick [Favors], some of our more mature players. He didn’t try to force himself on the game, and I think that’s why, even though his per-game stats were humble, the team functioned very well when he was in the game.
On why Gordon Hayward is a fit for the city, state and organization
His parents are great people. Really, the type of person, now married, his wife, his new wife is with baby. It just fits — there’s certain fits, right, with Salt Lake and Utah, and especially the Jazz. And Gordon is one that we’d like to see…when [he] retire[s], it’s gonna be a career Jazzman. That’s our hope.
How does Rudy Gobert keep improving?
I think there’s some fundamental things. He needs to continue to be stronger. We saw teams become more physical with Rudy the last third of the season, and push and sove.* So, for him to handle the physicality, to remain effective, he’s gonna have to get stronger. For him to be a safer athlete, frankly, he needs to get stronger. But Rudy’s committed to that.
We changed — he and Alex Jensen — changed the slot on his free throw, so we, now that he’s able to feel comfortable around the free throw line when the game’s stopped, hopefully when play is going on, he’s gonna be comfortable with that 15-footer.
Rudy quickly needs to move to spots so our offense can function. We wanna still be able to capitalize on those improvements. Improvement in his jump hook, his duck-in to get deeper position, all those things are attainable goals…It goes without saying we’re very proud of him and his improvement, and we look forward to him being a foundational piece for a long time.
* Not a typo.
On expectations for Derrick Favors
Yeah, so Quin and the coaches, they get a lot of credit [for Favors’ offensive improvement]. They were able to m–put guys in the right positions…
Derrick’s improvement was really significant, and in many ways he was our most effective player and a lotta positions. So, his ability to make that 17-footer — we still need to improve his free throw shooting.
I still want him to be a defensive anchor. He’s gonna have to do it out of the power forward spot instead of the center spot now that Rudy’s in the fold and established, but we have high hopes and we’re really proud of Derrick and his improvement. (KSL)
Randy Rigby on calling into the show
Sorry, I had an appointment this afternoon, and, so, I’m literally in the car, heading back down, up in Park City. So, I had to come down in the car.
On the Chicago draft combine (UDQM material)
Well, as we know, it’s, Dennis [Lindsey], and we have a number of people in Chicago this week. And it’s a pretty exciting week for our guys. We’ll literally go back there and, the, we’ve had a lot of preparation, as we go back there. We’ll take back our team psycho–psychiatrist and sport psychologist. We’ll take our s–our team doctors back there.
Our head coach; Dennis; Quin [Snyder]*; Walt Perrin is back there. Jerry Sloan’s also goes back. And we’ll have an opportunity for this pre-draft camp to really not only watch the workouts that these players are going through, but then you have an opportunity to have one-on-one interviews, do physical examinations.
It’s really a key time to look at some of the top prospects and really measure them and get a good eye on them from all different an–vantage points, to really see how we feel, for us, they would maybe measure up and how we would place them in our pecking order, as we come — as we prepare for the draft.
* The aforementioned “head coach”
On the relationship between strong family background and discipline
Another thing, before I get cut off, that I want to mention, that, it may seem very fundamental, but really in the ye–a lot of the interviewing as well, and from a, our team psychologist, an issue we look at is also their family background, and their family history, and their dynamics that they have, and we ask them to talk about that.
And the, and he’ll ask them to talk about family and their philosophy and their background with their family. That really comes, shows through with the, with their teaching, with their stability, with their discipline.
Those things become very important, and something that is very high in our analysis with these players, and, because you see the results, and that th–a player can have.
If he comes in and does not have the discipline; if he doesn’t have, really, strong parental example in their life, they can really, the money can get to them. Their life can get pretty crazy, because of the high profiles they’re at, and it can really have a corrosive effect, not only on them, but also the team.
If the draft prospect you want told you he didn’t want to go to Salt Lake, would you take him anyway?
I think that has a big impact for us, whether we take him anyway. And we’d measure that in, very seriously, because we want someone to be, and want to come and play for the Utah Jazz. If they don’t wanna be there, you’re gonna have a real impact on, it’ll have a real impact on their mind, and their performance.
So, it would definitely, that’s one that, as we’re looking at, if that was a key impact, and we had that knowledge, my encouragement would be that we look at someone who wants to be on our team.
We have so much to offer right now, with this team, with this community. We want players to be able to come and say, “This is where I wanna come and be a, make a difference,” for them. I’ll tell you, we have, if you look at it, we have, fo–and I tell this to our players all the time.
Look at this community that, and gets behind this team. We have some of the greatest fans, and we have* one of the loudest and best crowds, and best teams, that has, from a noise standpoun–part, and support, and you know what, players oughta recognize that and appreciate that, and if they don’t, I’d just as soon have players that do.
* Used to have, Randy. Used to have.
If it were up to Randy Rigby, would you go for a shooter or a big man or a wing or a point guard or a…?
Well, you know, one of the things on my mind is, I’m one that is right now, also, wanting to see some continued toughness on our team. Defensive, continue to see more defensive toughness on our team. I’m one that w–feels that we need a little more scoring, a little more outside sc–shooting capabilities on our team.
You know, you talked about sometimes, and we, you know, this isn’t any surprise. We talked about the role of our point guard situation and they’re both still young. And so, the–you’re not gonna get with another young point guard, that veteran leadership that kinda comes from the point guard position.
And so, that’s something that I think really has to be earned and developed in the NBA, in the heat of battles, is that leadership coming from the point guard position. So you know, I, Randy Rigby’s thinking, little more toughness, little more outside sc–shooting ability.
Spencer Checketts: Randy, you just went third person on us. Nice work.
Rigby: That’s scary. That’s the Malone influence on me…I better get to, on my knees and repent then. (1280)
This post is brought to you by the unrelentingly endless Dog Days of Off-season.
It’s been years since we’ve had noteworthy coach ‘staches on the Jazz bench — which at one point ranged from the magnificent (Phil Johnson) to the anorexic (Tyrone Corbin).
Well, Alex Jensen is now growing this thing out (via @nataliehilljensen):
Hmmmm, you must be saying to yourself. I wonder what the rest of the coaching staff would look like with mustaches?
Well, I’m glad you asked. Here’s your answer:
Anyone else getting a Colonel Mustard vibe from Brad Jones?
One. Walt Perrin on whether he had any idea what he was about to see when he brought Rudy Gobert in for a draft workout
[Having seen him play in France,] we knew he had an opportunity to be good, but what solidified our thought process on Rudy was when he came in here, and did a workout. He had a really good workout with us. Really outstanding workout, tell you the truth.
And it kind of opened our eyes at that point that this kid could be a legitimate guy that we might want to look at, might want to try to draft, might want to bring in and see how much he grows, how much better of a player he could be. Now, did we think he would be as good of a player as he is right now? I don’t know that for sure. I don’t think so.
I think his growth — and it’s because of Rudy and because of our coaching staff — I think his growth was accelerated in this past year. But we still think he still has a lot more growth left in him.
Two. People calling Jack Cooley “Joe Cooley”: Walt Perrin
Three. Dennis Lindsey, asked what kind of hairdo he had in high school
Oh, it was bad. You know, the mid- to late-80s, early 90s, many times was an ugly era. So, I got accused of originating the mullet in Texas.
Four. Lindsey on the Jazz’s draft workouts
We like workouts early and often…The springtime and early summer in Salt Lake, it’s God’s country. So, it helps us tell our story about what a unique place this is.
Five. Lindsey on what happens when he likes a player but doesn’t have a draft pick, UDQM
There’s messaging to players. There’s messaging to players that may have to come through the proverbial back door, if you will, to get their NBA career started. (1280)
** According to Spencer Checketts, Randy Rigby was looking “very handsome” in a Brooks Brothers tie and East Coast shirt during this interview. Don’t know if he was wearing any pants.
What are you looking for in pre-draft workouts?
Well, as we know, you know, we’ve got draft picks that we’re looking at. We, with our acquisition of the D-League*, and with our involvement now with the Idaho Stampede, this is an opportunity for us to be looking at a l–players in a lot of different venues, and you know, from a D-League perspective as well as for a, so, as well as for NBA-quality players. So, we’re planning on looking at a lotta players this year.
* D-League team
Unintentional Dirty Quote Machine Q&A on free agency: How do you try to talk a guy into coming?
Well, Dennis [Lindsey] and Justin Zanik, Dave Fredman, are out talking at all the time, and looking at, and when we’re receiving phone calls on a regular basis. And conversations are going on at all times and all places.
And you know, as they’re traveling, and places, that’s when those conversations are taking place. We’ll, you know, as we’re going to the draft lottery, you’ll, the, any place that there’s basketball happening or basketball events or decision-making happening, those agents are around there, ’cause they’re wanting to be in those mixes of, and in those conversations.
And so, you know, tho–they’re happening everywhere, at all times, and in all different ways. And that’s why those men are spending a remarkable amount of time on the phone, and on the road, in dealing with, and looking at those very issues, so, ’cause you never know when, you know, those opportunities are starting to be formulated and come together.
Did the way the Jazz finished the season change your off-season outlook?
Yes, i–I really feel that it helped to formulate for us, a lot clearer, of the direction that we feel and the opportunities that we have in front of us, of where we’re going. And I think, so we’ll continue to go on a path that we’ve been looking at, and we’ll be very, again, like I said, methodical, and very thorough.
As we’ve said constantly here, and in other places, is that we’re committed — we’re not gonna ste–miss steps, and we’re ga–we’re gonna take a very calculated and well-defined approach on what we’re doing. We want to build a team, that is a team that is not just a flash in the pan, but a team that really can be a competitive team, for multiple years. And really that can build a core, that is something that this community can get behind for many years.
And so, that’s why we want it — we’ve endured the pain. Let’s make sure we’re taking the proper steps. And I think what we learned this last year, it’s particularly at the end of the year, gave us some real comfort and r–confidence, that we’re really taking, we’re doing the right th–we’re taking the right steps.
What is your hope for Dante Exum?
My hope for Dante Exum is, is he comes in stronger, that he comes in with a more explosive and confidence going to the basket, and a more confidence in his offensive game. I was very impressed with the development that we saw from Dante in, on his defensive skills.
But I think as he continues to work out his body, and his body continues to mature, that we’re gonna see a player that, when you then take the talent that Dante has, and then strengthen that body, and work on skills that are going to help him in his moves, I think we’re gonna see a player that can even take another significant step up in his game…
There’s remarkable money out here for a player to be successful. There’s remarkable opportunities what it can mean for us as a team if they will make those commitments, and we have a player there that has a very good heart, very good family support system and a great support system from an organization. Those formulas, t–all together, should prove up to be very promising for us.
** Randy Rigby, WeirdDQM: I’ll tell ya, a lot of people that I know, literally, they’re coming and they’re bringing their kids, ’cause they want to have an experience with the Bear.
Have you ever thought about, and are there regulations concerning, the treatment of the floor? Do you like the more conservative hardwood look?
I’ve looked at a lot…[Oregon’s pine tree design] drives me crazy. And I’ll be honest with you, and we, even some of our uniform designs, we’ve kinda, the NBA was in a motif of kinda these, try, different logos and different feels.
We found that there’s something magical about the traditional rich heritage of a logo, and we’re bringing back that rich — people love that Jazz logo, the note. And the Ja–that simple look.
We found, and we like, over at the, our basketball center as well…we just recently redid all the floors, and have a nice, clean look on our floor with the note. And you know, to us, that is, it’s more symbolic of a rich heritage look than a — the floor has to drive you there instead of really the classiness of a team, and the proud historic factor of a team. I think we lean towards that rich heritage and a clean, classy look, than kind of the, kind of, maybe, modern, contemporary feel and look.
* It may be magical, rich, nice, clean, have a rich heritage and a proud historic factor, but the note has not been the Jazz’s primary logo since the mid-1990s. The mountain logo is the primary logo, because the NBA charges teams a fee to change their primary logo.
** In case anyone is curious, Rigby’s son, Nathan, feels like there’s never enough cheese on his nachos while Rigby’s wife feels like there’s never enough salt on her popcorn. This may or may not be UDQM, I don’t know.
** Spencer Checketts, UDQM: Randy, thank you. I apologize that things got loose, but thanks for being a good sport. (1280)