Utah Jazz notebook: Starter at power forward still yet to be decided
SALT LAKE CITY — Outsiders who debate whether the Utah Jazz will start C.J. Miles or Andrei Kirilenko at small forward might have been asking the wrong question.
After the open scrimmage Saturday, the more pertinent question might be: Will Kirilenko or Paul Millsap start at power forward?
Kirilenko started at the 4 spot on the blue team, alongside Miles and probable starters Deron Williams, Raja Bell and Al Jefferson. Millsap was the starting power forward for the white team, which included several guys likely to play reserve roles — Earl Watson, Gordon Hayward, Kyrylo Fesenko and roster hopeful Sundiata Gaines.
Jazz coach Jerry Sloan has repeated that it's too early to name starters, so it's unknown whether that was a sign of things to come or simply a scrimmage strategy to spread out talent and playing time.
With Mehmet Okur out rehabbing his surgically repaired Achilles heel, Jefferson has been concentrating on the center position, and Kirilenko has been practicing a lot as a power forward.
"When we look at our team, he's probably going to have to play some at 4," Sloan said of Kirilenko. "That's where he's always played some of his best basketball."
Even became an All-Star playing there in 2004.
Kirilenko is fine either way and admits scenarios will change depending on opponents. He feels at an advantage as a power forward because of his quickness — Sloan also likes his passing ability from there, while Jefferson credited Kirilenko for being a smart and helpful defender. Yet, Kirilenko's height gives him an edge over many small forwards.
"Three or 4 can produce same amount of blocks, rebounds," he said. "It's just a matter of effort."
WRIST WATCH: Miles' sprained wrist could play another factor in how the Jazz divvy up positions and minutes. The swingman received treatment Sunday and will be re-evaluated at practice today. After being injured Saturday, Miles downplayed the severity of the sprain and said he planned on getting his left, shooting hand taped and practicing.
BARKING COACH: Because so many players are new, Sloan said he's being tolerant with the team. He knows guys, including Jefferson, are anxious to learn and have a lot to digest. Then again, Sloan said this understanding attitude is nothing new, despite what people might otherwise think.
"I've always been patient," the Hall of Fame coach said. "... I'm just like a puppy dog."
PRESEASON AHEAD: Sloan gave his players Sunday off, and they'll resume practicing this morning. Utah's first exhibition game is this week. Wesley Matthews and his Portland squad visit EnergySolutions Arena on Thursday.
OFF-DAY FUN: Swingman Ryan Thompson tweeted that he was "on the way to gym with the other Rooks" on Sunday despite it being an off day. By the way, Thompson, Jeremy Evans and Hayward went to shoot hoops, not practice the dance moves they displayed at the scrimmage.
For the record, Hayward openly declared Thompson the winner of the dance-off and even admitted, "I don't have a dance style."
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