Utah Jazz players in pre-preseason mode

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 7 2010 12:27 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The kids are back in school, Labor Day Weekend is in the rear-view mirror and the college football season has kicked off.

Need more proof the leaves are about to change colors?

Many Utah Jazz players have returned from their offseason adventures and have begun doing pre-preseason workouts together in the Beehive State. The team's fall training camp doesn't officially get underway for another three weeks, but summer is over as far as the players are concerned.

Small forward C.J. Miles, for one, has no qualms with the changing of seasons. The small forward, who flew back to Utah this past weekend, has anticipated returning and rolling up his sleeves after spending most of his summer at home in Dallas and training/chilling in New York City.

Miles said he, Deron Williams and other players will work out a couple of times a day and play pick-up games between now and the beginning of camp at the end of the month. The coaching and training staffs are often on hand to help out as well.

Miles admitted it isn't all work, though.

"It's fun, though, because all of the guys work out together so we're competitive. It's fun," said Miles, who's entering his sixth NBA season. "It's not that bad. Conditioning, a lot of work, other than that we're good."

The players will spend the next few weeks working on "camaraderie" and getting used to the thin Wasatch Front air again.

"All the guys get together," Miles said, "and we just get a chance to jell."

Coming together will be necessary for the Jazz to have any chance at winning the Northwest Division championship and making a run in the playoffs after the offseason changes. Since being ousted from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Lakers in May, Utah lost Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews and added Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward, with more to come.

Miles said the returning players look forward to getting to know the new additions.

"Everybody's excited. It feels good. Change is always exciting," Miles said. "Not to say we wanted to change, but at the same time when it happens you embrace it. We've got good players."

How good they can become will in part depend on how well they get that chemistry going over the next month and a half before the 2010-11 regular-season opener in Denver on Oct. 27. The Jazz's first preseason game is at home vs. Matthews' Portland Trail Blazers exactly a month from today.

Jefferson, the Jazz's big offseason trade pick-up from Minnesota, told the Deseret News last month that he moved to Utah mid-summer to acclimate himself to his new surroundings. The center has been working with coaches and players who were around at times in the summer.

"I'm in business mode," Jefferson said moments before tossing out the first pitch at a Salt Lake Bees game in August.

"I want to be ready," he added, "so I'm in business mode to try (and) get here, get used to this thin air out here and be ready to play when training camp (starts)."

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

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