SALT LAKE CITY — As the clock ticks, with the NBA trade deadline looming, the mood was relatively light inside the Zions Bank Basketball Campus on Tuesday afternoon.
Raul Neto returned to practice after missing the past 12 games with a left groin strain, while center Rudy Gobert shot 5-for-10 from corner 3-pointers with assistant coach Vince Legarza and members of the staff.
Even as connected as this year’s Jazz team has been throughout the year, that could certainly change in a couple of days with the trade deadline set for 1 p.m. MT on Thursday.
“It’s a unique period, no different than the beginning of the season, the end of the season or the playoffs or the summer,” Snyder said. “Every year’s a little bit different because there’s different factors involved, but we’ve got a group that’s focused and our guys know that there’s things that are out of everyone’s control.
“The best thing you can do with any type of situation that’s potentially distracting is not allow it to be,” he continued.
Guys like Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum and others have been linked to potential trade rumors involving Chicago’s Jabari Parker, Memphis’ Mike Conley Jr., New Orleans’ Nikola Mirotic and Otto Porter Jr. of the Washington Wizards.
For Jazz forward Jae Crowder, he’ll believe it when it happens, though. Crowder was actually traded to Utah from Cleveland before the deadline on Feb. 8, 2018 as part of a three-team deal, so he certainly understands the process.
“Basically, to keep it simple around this time of the year, I would tell them to not read what you see,” Crowder said. “Try to stay away from social media as much as possible because a lot of stuff can be said, and true or not, you’ll never know but it can make you think a lot and take away from what you need to focus on and that’s Phoenix tomorrow and the few games we have left before (All-Star) break.”
Crowder developed that wisdom through experience in his seven seasons in the NBA, plus advice from veteran leaders. One of those guys was Vince Carter, his teammate while in Dallas, who reminded him that the focus should be in his work and not the rumor reports.
“My first time ever being traded was Dallas and I was playing with a veteran, Vince Carter,” Crowder recalled of being traded from Dallas to Boston in 2014. “At the time, my name had came up and I was unhappy with my playing time in Dallas.4 comments on this story
“It was a much different situation because I wanted to be traded in that situation, but he told me, ‘You still have to come in and do your work’ and I was basically not even wanting to come to practice, knowing that I might be traded at the deadline, but I continued to be a professional, that’s all about being a professional,” he added. “We have a job here and you owe that to your teammates.”
Although Gobert and many others on the Jazz roster haven’t been through the trade process, Snyder and his staff are trying to keep things as normal as possible even in the midst of a situation that’s uncertain for some.
“We’re just focused on winning,” Gobert said. “We know the next three games are very important and right now we’re focused on Phoenix.”
The Jazz (30-24) will host the Suns (11-44) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Vivint Arena.