SALT LAKE CITY — One by one, they came to the podium and talked about their accomplishments and disappointments from the just-concluded season as well as hopes for the future, in what has become known as “locker clean-out day."
Seventeen Jazz players addressed the assembled media over a period of five hours along with general manager Dennis Lindsey following the loss in Houston that ended Utah’s 2018-19 season the night before.
Each of the players, from eight-year Jazz veteran Derrick Favors to rookie Grayson Allen, had their exit interviews with Jazz management, which Lindsey said included thank-you's to the players for their contributions this season along with questions for the players as to what the Jazz can do better for each player next year.
Lindsey discussed a couple of the biggest questions Jazz fans have on their minds heading into the offseason — what the Jazz plans are for acquiring new players and for keeping free agents such as Ricky Rubio.
Lindsey addressed both issues and while he didn’t have definitive answers, he did indicate that the Jazz might be more likely to make changes after basically standing pat last year and he was vague enough on the Rubio situation to make one wonder if he’ll be a part of Utah’s future plans.
“We want to move the group forward," Lindsey said. "And while we have a very good team, the results told us that we don’t have a great team."
Lindsey talked about how there is “an automatic mindset to change, especially when you fall short and you go through trials” and how change doesn’t always mean better. He pointed out how change can mean getting better, staying the same or getting worse.
“We have a lot to be thankful for with this group,” he said. “Those accomplishments we’ve had over the last 24 months, we don’t take lightly.”
However, he said the team will look at better alternatives if there are better alternatives than their current roster presents. He said the management as well as the community love the current team and their “collective character,” but that the Jazz will take a hard look at improving the team over the next few months.
“It’s got to fit the salary structure, it’s got to be a value add that they’re bringing something we don’t have and it has to be a really good fit,” he said of potential new players.”We’ll certainly make every attempt to examine every piece of the organization, player personnel included, and try to move this group forward.”
Rubio is one of three free agents on the roster along with Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh. Lindsey spoke highly of Rubio and how much he’s given the team over the past two seasons, including his “care factor” and “empathy.” While he said the Jazz would be happy to have Rubio back, he wasn’t overly convincing about how much they wanted him.
“He’s got a decision to make on his end and we’ve got a decision to make on our end, but there’s a lot of scenarios I can see Ricky back,” he said. “We really appreciate who he is and we think we can get him better from a health perspective and skill standpoint. We know who he is — he has Jazz DNA. So he’ll have options, we’ll have options and we’ll talk to him and his agent.”
Rubio had nice things to say about the Jazz, but didn’t show any confidence that he’ll be playing in Utah next year.15 comments on this story
“A lot of friends ask me, but I don’t have any idea where I’m going to go,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that depend on (whether other teams) are going to need a point guard or not. When free agency comes, I can start thinking and see where I can go. One thing I’m going to look for sure is going to be the best situation for me with the coach and the team. I want to be happy, I’m going to try to find the best situation for me to be me and be happy.”
Five other Jazz players have nonguaranteed contracts for next year, including Derrick Favors, Raul Neto, Kyle Korver, Royce O’Neale and Georges Niang.
“I prefer to come back here, the grass is not always greener,” said Favors. “I’m here with a good organization. It’s been a blessing, I’ve enjoyed my time here and hopefully it can continue.”