Same old Jazz? Not with all these new players and roles

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1 2013 12:39 a.m. MDT

The Jazz coaching staff get their photo taken during media day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center on Sept. 30.

Matt Gade, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Somebody else wore Paul Millsap’s number. Fun stories were told about relocated Al Jefferson. Newcomers named Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Ian Clark, Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush excitedly talked about fresh starts.

And the word “playoffs” — usually a hot topic in these parts — was mentioned the same number of times general manager Dennis Lindsey gave intricate information to reporters about contract talks. That unofficial tally: zero.

Same old Jazz?

Hardly.

Jazz president Randy Rigby enthusiastically called the 2013-14 season, “A new beginning.”

“It’s a new day,” Miller Sports Properties president Steve Miller said, speaking for Jazz ownership.

No kidding.

“And,” Miller added, “it’s an opportunity for this new Jazz team to create their own identity.”

Not only are more than half of the players in attendance Monday at media day new to Utah for this season, but there will be an abundance of newness all around the organization.

New schemes, strategies and tactics, according to Lindsey.

New — and lowered for the immediate future — expectations.

New fancy video scoreboard and changes to the in-arena experience.

New roles for Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter, who, of course, has a new outlook on his NBA life.

New. New. New.

If you couldn’t tell, that’s the early theme for the Jazz.

“It’s exciting,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’ve had veteran guys around them telling them the last couple of years, ‘Look, if you continue to work, you’ll get more opportunities on the floor and it will help you when you go that point.’ And here we are.”

Ask anyone around the organization, and they’ll tell you they like the fresh smell that permeates the practice facility — which also has a new floor, players lounge and improved facilities, by the way — like a brand-new car from one of the LHM lots.

“All the changes make me so excited,” a jovial-but-matured Kanter said. “All the stuff they change around, the team change, the arena is changing, all the stuff around is changing. That change making me and making my teammates so excited and making me just want to play.”

Thanks old-timers Big Al, Millsap, Mo Williams, Randy Foye, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley and DeMarre Carroll. The new kids on the block — and in the block — will take it from here.

“It’s a beginning point,” Lindsey said. “We decided to jump in the deep end of the youth movement and we’re excited to do so. … We look forward to the journey.”

And eventually a return to the playoffs — something the Jazz have missed out on two of the past three years. They just didn’t talk about having that as an end-of-year goal for this particular season.

And probably for good reason.

For one thing, Hayward is the only player on the Jazz roster who averaged double figures in scoring last season in the NBA. Everybody else on the team is either a has-been or a could-be.

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