There’s a little uncertainty. You never know. I love the year that I had here. —Utah Jazz forward Thabo Sefolosha
SALT LAKE CITY — NBA veterans Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh have some things they’re looking forward to doing while on summer vacation.
Jerebko owns a house in Michigan, so he plays on spending a few weeks there with his family for some R&R.
Udoh is headed to Serbia this week for the EuroLeague Final Four — with Donovan Mitchell — and also has a trip to Nigeria on his offseason itinerary.
And Sefolosha is looking forward to spending two or three weeks in his homeland of Switzerland with his family.
As fun and relaxing as those adventures sound, all three have a destination they hope they find themselves in next fall.
Their first season with the Jazz ended up with a lot of team success — advancing to the second round in the playoffs after a brilliant second half — but their futures are all up in the air at this point. The three players are under contract through the end of the 2018-19 season, but the Jazz hold a team option on each of them.
Sefolosha will make $5.3 million next year if Utah doesn’t waive him before free agency begins on July 1, according to Spotrac. The Jazz then have until July 9 to decide about Udoh ($3.4 million) and Jerebko ($4.2 million).
For more than just financial reasons, the three players each say they hope to be back in a Jazz uniform.
“There’s a little uncertainty. You never know,” Sefolosha said. “I love the year that I had here.”
It would have gone a different direction if he had the choice. Sefolosha underwent knee surgery in January and missed the bulk of the season, including the part in which the Jazz transformed from a lottery team into one of the best teams in the NBA.
Even so, the 33-year-old played an integral role behind the scenes with his leadership and on the court off the bench as he averaged 8.2 points and 4.2 rebounds while providing steady defense in 38 games.
Sefolosha was also suspended for five future games for violating the league’s anti-drug program. He apologized to the Jazz right after that was announced by the NBA in April. He called the Jazz “an incredible organization,” and is impressed by the commitment level of players and coaches alike.
“I would love to come back and have a full season. I think it’s a great fit for me,” Sefolosha said. “I was really happy here. Hopefully, I’ll come back. Those are decisions I can’t make, but I’m pretty confident.”
Sefolosha has had nearly four months to recover from his surgery and is slowly getting back onto the court, trying to reclaim his shooting motion and doing some light running. If all continues to go well, he’ll be able to resume regular basketball activities in a month, giving him time to prepare for next season.
Aside from a quick jaunt to Europe, Udoh plans on spending most of the first part of the offseason working out in Utah. He’ll do his African adventure after summer league in July and then hopes to find his way back to the Beehive State.
Udoh, who turns 31 on Sunday, had a limited role with the Jazz this season after being a plus-minus phenom early on in the season. He finished averaging 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in 63 games.
“I’ve got to get to work,” Udoh said. “I’ve got to take care of my end, come and work and get better.”
Jerebko also wants to return and indicated that he was being introspective about his playing time — or lack thereof at times. After joining the Jazz from Boston — swapping spots with Gordon Hayward — the 6-foot-10 forward averaged 5.8 points and 3.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes an outing.
“It took a little while, but thought I got more and more comfortable as time went on,” Jerebko said. “I just see a bright future for this franchise, and I want to be a part of it. I obviously want a bigger role, but that’s up to me — put in the work this summer and come back and be ready.”
Though Jerebko would obviously still prefer to be playing in the playoffs, he is looking forward to having more time this offseason to prepare himself for next year. Last year, Boston went to the Eastern Conference Finals, stretching his season out by a few weeks.
As he indicated, Jerebko envisions himself in Utah again, adding, “I’m looking forward to being with the Jazz next season.”