NBA • GM defends Utah's approach with young players.
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Six months after being hired, Dennis Lindsey clearly knows his Utah Jazz history. At the very least, one practical detail hasn't escaped the team's first-year general manager.
"It took John Stockton three years, as I understand it, to be a starter," he said.
So Derrick Favors, the Jazz's third-year forward, isn't necessarily destined for a lifetime of being underutilized? Nor Gordon Hayward, the Jazz's third-leading scorer and a backup?
That's where Lindsey finds truth in the past, saying the team is "adhering to the history of the organization" by bringing its young stars along slowly. Stockton did not become a full-time starter until 1987-88, his fourth year in the NBA.
Among a segment of the Jazz fan base is a growing discontentment that the Jazz's four former lottery picks, also including Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, are being held back by not playing bigger roles. Lindsey said the Jazz are very cognizant of how that young core is handled.
"We understand that the public, as are we, are excited about the young guys," Lindsey said. "But we've got to bring them along at the appropriate pace."
The former San Antonio and Houston executive, who stepped into the role with the Jazz when longtime GM Kevin O'Connor became executive vice president last summer, spoke about the team's future Monday as part of a wide-ranging interview with Salt Lake City media at the team's practice facility.
In regard to Favors, the talented and rangy power forward who ranks among the top 20 shot blockers in the NBA, Lindsey said the Jazz have weighed whether it does more for him to play big minutes now, or gives "him a real sense of appreciation that he earned the additional bump in minutes eventually, whenever that is."
With the NBA trade deadline nine days away (Feb. 21), the Jazz and their eight expiring contracts have been popular characters in rumors and speculation, leading Lindsey to describe the front office's activity as "normal, course of business."
In the last week, the Jazz have been linked to trades that would send Al Jefferson to San Antonio, Alec Burks to Minnesota for point guard Luke Ridnour and, on Monday, to a deal that would send Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward to Phoenix.
"When everybody says that you have to do something," O'Connor said in an NBA TV interview Monday afternoon, "that's when you probably don't."
So are the Jazz taking calls? Almost certainly. Are they making them? Lindsey, true to the Jazz way, played it close to the vest.
"We have a job to do," Lindsey said. "We can't hide from that. Kevin and I have to listen and survey and, again, our overriding points is we want to be very disciplined to the threshold that's been built, the flexibility that's been built."
The Jazz will see as much as $49 million come off the books in the summer, getting the team well below the salary cap and allowing the financial freedom to compete for any free agents.
One issue the Jazz need to sort out long term is their plans at point guard. Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley all become free agents, and conventional wisdom says the Jazz will try to add a young point guard of the future.
Williams, 30, took umbrage last week when ESPN columnist Bill Simmons said the Jazz need to find a point guard. He posted to his Twitter account, "What the hell Bill Simmons talking about the jazz need a point guard. What the hell position have I been playing all yr [sic]?"
Asked if Williams, who has not played since Dec. 22 due to a tear in his right thumb, could be the Jazz's point guard of the future, Lindsey said, "Yes, he could. We'll see how the rest of this season goes. Mo's a free agent and has earned the right to be a free agent. ... He's acquitted himself well here."
Surrounded by question marks, Lindsey was unequivocal about one key Jazz piece: Tyrone Corbin is entrenched as the head coach.
"I'm confident we have a really good leader and good man in Ty Corbin, who has been here before and knows what we stand for," Lindsey said.
Oklahoma City at Utah
P Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ROOT
Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
P EnergySolutions Arena
Tipoff • Tuesday,7 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 28-22, Thunder 39-12
Season series • Thunder 1-0
About the Jazz • Guard Gordon Hayward (sprained right shoulder) practiced Monday but remains doubtful to play against the Thunder. ... Second-year guard Alec Burks scored a career-high 24 points Saturday at Sacramento. ... The Jazz are 3-3 to start February after finishing 10-4 in January. They have lost two games in a row, to Chicago and Sacramento.
About the Thunder • They rank first in the NBA in scoring at 106.4 points per game. ... They are a half-game behind San Antonio for first place in the Western Conference. ... Kevin Durant leads the NBA with 28.9 points per game. ... The Thunder have won four games in a row. ... They beat the Jazz 106-94 on Nov. 30.
Trade winds blow
• Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey describes Jazz activity as trade deadline approaches as "normal, course of business."
• Lindsey says Jazz are bringing young players along carefully.
• Lindsey says injured point guard Mo Williams could be the answer at the position.