Utah Jazz basketball: Team shows signings of fatigue on John Hancock Day
Jody Genessy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Before Utah Jazz practice started Saturday morning, Paul Millsap sat on a chair in 3-point territory with a stack of No. 24 jerseys on his lap and a permanent black marker in his hand.
Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley and Alec Burks were near midcourt making their way through aisles of basketballs.
Al Jefferson was going through a pile of photos featuring Big No. 25.
Gordon Hayward was progressing toward the table with the Harley Davidson gas tank.
Yes, Saturday was John Hancock Day for the Jazz.
Otherwise known as Signing Day, this is the morning each year when Utah's community relations squad rounds up and lines up hundreds and hundreds of Jazz-themed paraphernalia items to be signed by each player and coach for promotions and charitable giveaways throughout the upcoming season.
"It's a lot of stuff," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted, grinning. "I hope I'm almost halfway through. It always tends to be more than what you see."
For a good chunk of the morning, Jazz personnel meandered around one of the practice facility's two courts, putting their John Hancock (or Enes Kanter) on a total of 725 basketballs and approximately 900 other items, including jerseys, hats, photos, mouse pads, books and one random motorcycle part.
They're happy to do it and make fans' days, of course.
Naturally, they're happier when the signing and soreness cease.
Noticing he was being observed in action, Millsap teasingly asked reporters if they were getting a kick out of watching him sign his autograph over and over and over. He chuckled and called it, "Overwhelming."
While signing one Spalding after another, Alec Burks was teased that he might start misspelling his name so it matches how some people — even visible ones in the organization — mispronounce it on occasion.
Alex. Burk. Borks (as @Mac_Diego joked on Twitter). Or Alejandro Burquez, as exaggerating Jazz fan Jimmy Winskowski teasingly tweeted.
"It's not that hard to say my name," a smiling Burks said, while continuing to sign his autograph. "People make it out to be like calculus."
Sounds smart, Alec.
Speaking of sounding smart, Jefferson joked he was going to teach a particular non-signing observer how to properly forge his Big Al signature to speed up the literal task at hand.
The Jazz did a get a break from the grind of their duty that required a cardboard box full of boxes of Sharpie markers.
"Ball signing's just half the court," Corbin said. "We've got another half to work on."
This might've been the one day when players were thrilled for practice to start.
Because the season-opener isn't until Wednesday night, the Jazz will get another reprieve with a full day off Sunday.
Their hands, no doubt, can use the rest.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Jazz use the vast majority of their time in the preseason focusing on improving what they do, but they'll begin shifting gears at Monday's practice. Corbin said they'll spend some time on prepping for Wednesday's season-opener against Dallas.
Assistant coaches provide detailed scouting breakdowns for each opponent throughout the regular season, but NBA teams don't generally enjoy the luxury of extended prep time for individual opponents because of the amount of games.
"In college you have a couple of days, so you know the team you're playing (and) you may have a (scout) team that runs through other teams' stuff," Corbin said. "We'll break it down a little bit quicker than that. We'll give (players) little nuances and what we think we're going to see and how we're going to play situations."
MEDICAL REPORT: Mo Williams has dealt with a nagging adductor (groin) strain in the preseason and sat out the final exhibition game, but the Jazz's starting point guard is back to practicing.
Other than Earl Watson (knee rehab), the Jazz are in good shape health-wise heading into the 2012-13 season.
"I think we're in a good place now," Corbin said. "Everybody seems to be ready to go. Bodies are feeling better."
Watson, meanwhile, continues to work on returning after undergoing knee surgery last spring. The Jazz haven't announced a projected date of return for the point guard.
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