Fourth of July surprise! Steve Novak stunned but excited to play for Utah Jazz
Lindsey, who’s unable to comment for another week, emphasized to Novak that the Jazz will look to him to “spread the floor” as a stretch-four, giving guys like center Derrick Favors, small forward Gordon Hayward and point guard Trey Burke more room to roam inside the arc.
It so happens that Novak, listed at 235 pounds, has been spending time in the weight room this offseason, focusing on increasing upper- and lower-body strength needed to guard power forwards after splitting time playing both forward spots over the course of his first eight NBA seasons.
Novak is a career 43 percent shooter from beyond the arc and even topped the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (47.2) in 2011-12, so the Jazz would love for him to provide a Mehmet Okur-like offensive edge (“Milwaukee Money!”) on the outside while having enough bulk and brawn to handle defensive duties inside in a likely reserve role behind big man Enes Kanter.
“There’s more emphasis on being able to guard bigger guys,” Novak said. “I think it gives me a huge advantage offensively when I have four men guarding me.”
Proving himself again
This will be Novak’s seventh stop in the NBA since being drafted 32nd overall by the Houston Rockets in 2006, following a college career at Marquette that included a Final Four appearance with Dwyane Wade.
Novak was used sparingly by the Raptors last season, playing in only 54 games, but he was a productive bench player in New York the previous two years. His time in the Big Apple included averaging a career-best 8.8 points in 2011-12, which helped him earn a four-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. The 31-year-old, who’s averaged 5.0 points in 13 minutes as an NBA player, has also suited up for the Los Angeles Clippers, Dallas Mavericks and the Spurs.
Though he enjoyed his time in Toronto — and who could blame him considering the Raptors’ fun playoff run? — Novak hopes this fresh start helps reignite the prominent spark-plug role he had in New York where he felt like he was entering the prime of his career.
“No question there is a part of me that’s very excited to prove myself again, to get back to having a bigger role,” Novak said. “I think that there’s a need on our team to spread the floor and (for) shooting. For me, it’s about being on the court and playing. As a player, that’s super exciting.”
Likewise, Novak, having grown up in one of the NBA’s small markets in Wisconsin, optimistically anticipates relocating to the Wasatch Front with his wife, Christina, and their two young kids, 1-year-old Shea, and 4-year-old Mack, whom he was helping ride a scooter outside on this summer night while being interviewed.
"I’ve learned to just be willing to roll with things. To be honest, I’m really excited about living in Utah. (Salt Lake) is a gorgeous city," Novak said. "It’s the kind of town I’ve been craving for me and my family. It’s going to be easy to live there."
Novak wasted little time in winning over Utah fans. Hours after the surprising news had settled in Friday night, he posted a picture of The Most Interesting Man in the World from the Dos Equis commercials with this message, "I don't always listen to music, but when I do...I prefer Jazz."
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