SALT LAKE CITY — Like the rest of the world, Rudy Gobert was locked into Game 1 of the Houston Rockets’ Western Conference Semifinals series against the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
“My guys were not allowed to contest shots like that last week ... or maybe I’m crazy and it’s just camera angles,” Gobert commented via Twitter, along with photos of Rockets star James Harden receiving no-calls while landing after his jump shots.
Gobert’s comments opened the floodgates for his Utah Jazz teammates Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale to share their thoughts less than a week after being eliminated by the Rockets in their first-round series.
But even as questionable calls were being debated in their series, there’s still no debate that the current Jazz roster will likely be shaken up this offseason.
Referees played no factor in the Jazz shooting just 40% from the field and 26.3% from 3 in their five-game series versus Houston. Mitchell went 32.1% from the field and 25.6% from beyond the arc to average 21.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists while Gobert’s regular season numbers dipped from a career-best 15.9 points and 12.9 boards to just 11.2 points and 10.2 rebounds.
So where do the Jazz even begin with the shake-up?
Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh are all set to enter unrestricted free agency this summer and made it clear they will all choose the best options available for their careers.
“To be honest, I didn’t give a lot of thoughts about it. A lot of friends have asked me, a lot of friends were like, ‘Yo, where are you gonna play next year? Can I come visit?’ but I don’t have any idea where I’m gonna go,” Rubio said during Thursday’s exit interviews. “A lot of things depends, like if you’re LeBron or KD, you can pick your own destiny but there’s a lot of things that depends on the teams that are gonna need a point guard or not.
“So, when free agency comes, now that the season is over, I can start thinking and seeing where I want to go and where I can go, but one thing I’m gonna look for sure is the best situation for me with the coach and the team,” he continued. “I think it got to the point that no matter what you have, if you’re not happy, you can play basketball but it’s not what I want. I want to be happy so I’m going to try to find the best situation for me to perform and to be happy.”
Monday, July 1 is the beginning of NBA free agency for the 2019-20 season where players will be free to meet with teams to discuss potential contracts. The Jazz have until July 6 before Derrick Favors’ $18.8 million and Raul Neto’s $2.1 million deals become guaranteed.
Kyle Korver is mulling retirement but if the 38-year-old decides to return his contract also becomes guaranteed on July 7 while O’Neale also has a non-guaranteed salary to be evaluated.
The Jazz have a team option on Georges Niang, but general manager Dennis Lindsey has already made it clear that the organization will likely chase a strong wing or point guard option despite reaching the playoffs for the third straight season with a 50-32 record.
“Adding a sniper at any position is something that we’re going to have to strongly evaluate,” Lindsey said. “We’ll have a few options.”
Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, D’Angelo Russell, Patrick Beverley, Darren Collinson, Terry Rozier and Malcolm Brogdon are some notable free agents at the point guard spot while Tobias Harris, Trevor Ariza, JJ Redick, Khris Middleton and Rudy Gay are other top free agent wings.16 comments on this story
Even with those options, Utah is unlike most markets as landing free agents to perform on the court isn’t the only challenge, but also selling the community seems to be an issue.
With that being said, the Jazz front office certainly has work to do and it seems almost completely certain that this tight-knit roster will look much different next season, although its rare off-court brotherhood seemed to be undeniable as well.
“We’ll get in there and see what’s available to us but we’re confident that we can continue to move the group forward,” Lindsey said. “We’re not far away.”