OAKLAND — One of the huge stories of the Utah Jazz's offseason was their big trade with Golden State and Denver, which sent three Warriors players — Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins — to Utah along with some future draft picks.
Utah hosted Golden State during the preseason in Salt Lake City, but the Jazz's visit to Oakland Saturday was the first time back home for the three former Warriors.
Jefferson has been a key part of the Jazz's team thus far, starting every game and averaging 10.6 points and 2.9 rebounds, while Rush has played just once, recovering from offseason surgery. Biedrens hasn’t played yet because of an ankle injury suffered late in the preseason.
Golden State coach Mark Jackson had nothing but praise for his former players.
“I have a lot of respect for them,'' he said. "I love those guys and I appreciate everything they did in a Warrior uniform.''
Of Jefferson, Jackson said “RJ is playing well for them,’’ and said trading him “had nothing to do with believing that his tank was on empty.
“He was great — great in the locker room, great in practices, great during the games,’’ Jackson said. “He was a guy who had experience that understood what it took to win in this league and was very helpful with this basketball team and was a true professional.’’
Jefferson received some scattered applause when he was announced as a starter, which was way more than any other Jazz player received. But after scoring 14 points the night before, Jefferson struggled in the first half Saturday, going scoreless in 12 minutes.
ROOTING AGAINST WARRIORS: Utah fans will be rooting against Golden State again this year — and not just when they play the Jazz. That’s because Utah owns Golden State’s draft pick unconditionally for 2014. So no matter where the Warriors finish, the Jazz will get their draft pick.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, the pick probably won’t be anywhere close to the top 10 since the Warriors are one of the better teams in the league this year.
The Jazz also had the Warriors’ pick in 2012, but it was a conditional pick to be used only if the Warriors finished out of the top seven. The Warriors conveniently lost 22 of their final 27 games and tied for the No. 7 spot. Then they won a coin flip with Toronto and took Harrison Barnes with the No. 7 pick.
The Jazz had to use the pick for the 2013 draft, which came in at No. 21, which they used with their own pick at 14 to trade up to get Trey Burke in the draft.
SATURDAY NIGHT SHIRTS: Because it was Saturday night, the Golden State Warriors wore their short-sleeve “alternative” uniforms.
The Warriors were the first team in NBA history to wear a modern short-sleeve NBA uniform when they wore their yellow short-sleeve jerseys last February against San Antonio.
The uniforms are supposed to be lighter than a normal jersey and according to a press release, feature a “super lightweight stretch woven shirt with maximum ventilation for player comfort.’’
The Warriors will wear the uniforms six times this season — every time they play on Saturday. They already wore them once against Sacramento when they won 98-87.
BOGUT BONUS: Former Utah all-American Andrew Bogut finally seems to be healthy for the first time in years, but he isn’t putting up big numbers for the Warriors this year. So far this year he’s averaging just 5.8 points per game and 7.6 rebounds.
Of course, it’s hard to find shots with the likes of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguadala in the starting lineup. But Jackson is happy with Bogut’s production and called any time he scores a “bonus.’’
“He has incredible IQ on both sides of the ball,’’ Jackson said. “He does a lot of things that don’t show up on the stat sheet. Any time he scores is a bonus for us. The things that he does to put us in position is off the charts. His ability to make plays offensively without scoring, setting screens, passing the basketball, he completes us as a team.’’