Salt Lake City, Utah – The Utah Jazz season ended Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers, and most of the players returned to the team’s locker room after the loss to collect their belongings before heading off into the off-season.
The overall mood of the team was disappointing as the season ended abruptly, losing four games in a row after taking a 2-0 lead.
With the team splitting up for the summer, this was what every player had to say after leaving.
Mike Conley will have the most watched off-season by both the franchise and the rest of the NBA as the Guardian will be one of the best unrestricted free agents available in the league.
Conley was a crucial part of the jazz roster, especially last season, as the Guardian was an ideal match for Donovan Mitchell, who was able to take the offensive for others while creating for himself when the team did needed.
“Free agency is free agency, and that’s the business we live in,” said Conley. “I have to sit back and think about it with my family, and when the time comes I have to make the decision that is best for us.”
If Conley leaves, Jazz will lose an all-star tune for no consideration but save money on its luxury tax bill. If they sign him again they will no doubt be above the luxury tax but could have a valuable player to the list or as a tradable piece down the line to rebuild their exhausted wealth bank.
“Number one, I want to win a championship,” Conley said of his priorities at the dawn of his career. “This is number one and will always be number one.”
Rudy Gobert will have to carry a lot of weight into the offseason, because after the Clippers had won the title “Defensive Player of the Year” for the third time in four years, the Clippers abused his rim protection by setting down the ground with five smaller players between the defense chose the rim, or move in the direction of the three-point line.
The jazz failure doesn’t fall on Gobert’s shoulders defensively as the team asked him to be in too many places at the same time but was responsible for slowing down the ardent Terance man while covering up his teammates’ defensive failures.
When asked what he should do better against smaller lineups, Gobert answered unusually briefly.
“I mean, I don’t know,” said Gobert. “I don’t know what you think we should do when a team plays small?”
Gobert is keen not to throw his teammates under the bus, despite the fact that it was clear in game six that their inability to stay in front of their husband due to injury or any other reason overwhelmed the DPOY’s defensive responsibilities.
“It’s basketball, it requires team effort,” said Gobert, recognizing his own need to improve. “It takes five guys to defend to play for a championship.”
It is clear, however, that the star was frustrated with the team’s early loss as he went into the summer before joining the French national team at the Olympics.
“I have to clear my head,” said Gobert, “because there are many things that bother me. I just ask myself the right questions, keep working and keep getting better. “
Joe Ingles is set to have one of the busier off seasons of any player on the jazz roster. While Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell rehabilitate their injuries, Ingles will turn his attention to the Tokyo Olympics, where he will represent the Australian national team.
“I will be so focused on the goal of getting a gold medal for Australia, which we have never done before,” said Ingles of his summer. “We’re trying to get a medal point we’ve never done before.”
If Conley left jazz this summer, Ingles would likely become the standard starting point guard, a role he excelled in for the team during the regular season. Despite the shortened summer, Ingles expects a better return.
“I have no doubt I’d better come back,” Ingles said. “I’ve been doing that every year since I’ve been here.”
Bojan Bogdanovic was now on both ends of the injury spectrum after missing the entire postseason after undergoing wrist surgery last year and then catching up during the playoffs that year, including Conley and Mitchell missed games.
“Mike had a whole series against Clippers and that really hurt us,” said Bogdanovic. “He was the most important ball handler for us. Donovan took responsibility for making the pieces for others and for himself, so we really missed Mike. “
The sniper returned to his usual career as a third or fourth option on an offensive alongside Mitchell and Conley, with the ability to move up if a top scorer failed.
However, at this point in his career, it’s safe to see that he won’t be the leading differentiator in a playoff series.
Royce O’Neale is hands down the best perimeter defensive player in jazz, which says more about the jazz roster than O’Neale. The striker routinely drew the toughest perimeter matchup throughout the season, whether or not he was able to really slow it down.
That was hard not to escape O’Neale, who said he felt the jazz off-season need more help on the sidelines.
“Sometimes our defense is a team effort,” said O’Neale of the jazz bouts. “I think I have another guy to help us all, Joe, Mike, Don, Rudy, probably another wingman.”
Georges Niang is the second most sought-after free agent of jazz behind Conley this summer, although the gap is large. Niang had the best season of his young career but battled the Clippers on the team’s streak, a fact he admitted while cleaning the locker rooms.
“There is a big difference between the regular season and the playoffs,” said Niang. “Of course I wanted to contribute a little more, but you learn and I think it’s a growth process for us.”
Niang’s shooting is likely to generate some interest from teams across the league who want a ground spacer up front, even if he struggled in the playoffs.
“I’ve never been a free agent, so I’m new to all of these things,” Niang admitted. “Obviously, my heart is in Utah. I love Utah, they gave me the opportunity to grow and mature as a man and a gamer. “
Derrick Favors had an up and down postseason with jazz, looking great against the Memphis Grizzlies, and then battling the Clippers’ smaller lineups.
The reserve center paid the Clippers the greatest respect for their series win rather than blaming the shortcomings on jazz.
“The Clippers were just doing plays,” said Favors. “Paul George, he’s a tough one-on-one for everyone. And when the team roleplayers hit shots and play games, they become difficult to guard. They just had a good game plan and are playing the good series. “
The big man of the reserve recognized the team’s deficits on the defensive and pointed to Jazz’s over-reliance on defense aid to fix the problems.
“We could have been a bit more committed in defense and one-on-one on the defensive,” said Favors. “On the offensive we could have been a little more aggressive, we could have done and done the little things a little better.”