SALT LAKE CITY — Technically, the Utah Jazz haven’t played in an official game since falling to the Houston Rockets in the postseason on Tuesday, May 8.
But the news hasn’t stopped flowing in Jazzland.
Not one bit.
From the NBA Draft to free agency to summer league to keeping up with Donovan Mitchell, things just keep on going and going. From July 2-5, the team hosted a four-team, local summer league at Vivint Arena before heading to Sin City for the leaguewide action.
After studying the summer league roster for some time now, here is what we think we've learned.
1. Where is Erik McCree?
In case you didn’t notice, a familiar face was missing from the Utah Jazz Summer League roster. After the Jazz's Summer-League opener in Salt Lake City on July 2 versus San Antonio, two-way player Erik McCree has been out for personal reasons. The team hasn’t released any further details. He also didn’t make the trip to Las Vegas and didn’t respond to the Deseret News’ attempt to reach him. The Louisiana Tech product spent the bulk of his offseason leading up to the games in his hometown of Orlando, Florida, after splitting time with the Jazz and Salt Lake City Stars of the G-League last season.
2. The real Grayson Allen
After being selected by the Jazz with the 21st overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft, everyone was wondering which Grayson Allen we would see this summer. Would it be the controversial villain that he was often portrayed as at Duke or the playmaking guard that the Jazz brass anticipated him to be? Allen didn’t disappoint. Sure, he had a couple of minor altercations with Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks and Wade Baldwin of the Portland Trail Blazers but, in both situations, he didn’t seem to be the aggressor. Those situations still drew national headlines. Allen has wowed Jazz fans with his freak athleticism and ability to run the floor as the primary ball-handler, however his shot has been off. In the first two games in Las Vegas, Allen led the team in scoring with 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.5 steals but shot just 38 percent from the field. So far, he seems to be a good fit as a backup floor general.
3. We are one
If the world didn’t know, they certainly know now that the Utah Jazz team is as connected as ever. A plethora of Jazz players, alumni and current members of the organization were frequently in attendance to check out the Summer League games. Not only were they in Salt Lake City for the Utah Jazz Summer League, they also traveled to Las Vegas. During the Jazz-Knicks contest on Sunday, July 8, Donovan Mitchell, Dante Exum, Royce O’Neale, Jae Crowder, Alec Burks, Raul Neto and Rudy Gobert were all sitting together on the courtside row. Even Karl Malone made an appearance for Thursday’s first-round tournament victory against the Orlando Magic.
“This is the first time I’ve ever been in Vegas or anywhere in the offseason with this many of my teammates,” Crowder told the Deseret News. “This is the first time in my career, and it speaks volumes of my teammates and what we’re about.”
4. Big Bad Tony
We know that Jazz second-year center Tony Bradley has used this offseason in Salt Lake City to get leaner, put on muscle and reduce body fat. What we don’t know is how much? “I don’t want to tell you,” Bradley said. Another thing we do know is that the 20-year-old has stretched from 6-foot-10 to 6-foot-11.5 with sneakers on. His wingspan also increased from 7-5 to 7-6. Before suffering a left wrist contusion in Las Vegas, the former North Carolina big man was averaging 16.0 points and 3.5 rebounds on 87 percent shooting in the first couple of games. Bradley also received Utah Jazz Summer League Standout honors and could become a valued backup center to Rudy Gobert this season if he keeps progressing.
5. New attitude
By far, the star of the Utah Jazz Summer League show has been Georges Niang. So much so, that the former Iowa State star has played his way into signing a three-year, $5 million deal after displaying his versatility in both Salt Lake City and Las Vegas. Niang entered this offseason as a restricted free agent after earning All-NBA G-League First Team honors last season as a two-way player for the Santa Cruz Warriors and Salt Lake City Stars. Jazz Summer League head coach Alex Jenson praised him as “an NBA roster player for sure” as Niang is expected to compete for an opening day roster spot with the Jazz. He’s proving he has all the tools to earn minutes.
6. The new guy
Once the Utah Jazz Summer League roster was set, the name Jairus Lylesdidn’t necessarily stand out. Even throughout the first few games, the former UMBC star wasn’t the guy that folks were running to for quotes or interviews. But he undoubtedly left an impression on the Jazz brass enough for them to sign him prior to Thursday’s summer league game versus Orlando. His deal does include the Exhibit 10 attachment, which means the team has the option to convert his contract into a two-way situation. His defense, scoring ability and high character are what excites the front office as he’ll likely join the Salt Lake City Stars.
7. Friends til’ the end
Ahead of Saturday’s summer league game versus Memphis, Georges Niang tweeted “Tag team back again” as the caption to a photo with his best friend Naz Mitrou-Long. One day after signing his deal, Mitrou-Long also inked a two-way contract with the Jazz. The two buddies have amazing on-court chemistry after previously playing together in college at Iowa State. They also share the same Salt Lake City apartment and spend lots of time together. Returning No. 30 and No. 31 is a feel-good story for the organization, but both guys are definitely worthy of playing in the NBA.