This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In the midst of http://www.sltrib.com/sports/5477904-155/kragthorpe-jazz-try-to-move-on">a Gordon Hayward-induced hangover on Wednesday, the Utah Jazz did receive some good news.
Ricky Rubio passed his physical, and http://bit.ly/2usMoRG">the trade the Jazz made last week before free agency began officially went through. While Utah won't be able to pair one of the NBA's leading assist men with one of the NBA's most efficient wing scorers like it once envisioned, general manager Dennis Lindsey sounded plenty excited and not just about Rubio's passing.
The 6-foot-4 Spaniard, he said, is critical to keep up Utah's defensive integrity.
"We felt like the year before last, Ricky had the best defensive year of any point guard in the league," he said. "This year it was around 5th, 6th, 7th. As you guys know, Quin [Snyder] trains and builds great habits. Ricky's a big kid. And so again, it's not just the pure point aspect that he's going to add to the group."
The organization has long admired Rubio, 26, as a career plus-defender who averages 2.1 steals per game. He also brings some scoring (10.3 ppg) and a lot of passing (8.5 apg), and he took off after the All-Star break last year, including a 26-point, 12-assist game at Vivint Smart Home Arena late in the regular season.
Lindsey said he could see Rubio leading the league in assists as a Jazzman, although he admitted "we may have to find him some more shooters" to field around him. Rubio himself is a below-average shooter in the NBA (40.2 percent from the field last season), but Lindsey said the Jazz may have an opportunity to develop that once Rubio starts working with Utah coaches.
"We're a program that's going to want to believe in players," Lindsey said. "We'll breathe some confidence there. We'll help him if we see some technique issues. We need to get to know him."
Rubio has spent at least part of his first days in Utah attending Summer League games, sitting alongside Rudy Gobert. Once they hit the court, that's part of the Jazz vision as well: unleashing the duo in pick-and-roll.
While Hayward is gone and there's little Utah can do about replacing his production, with Rubio and Gobert, the organization sees the potential for a fearsome offensive duo.
"At the point of attack, you're gonna see two large individuals in Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert making sure we get that pick-and-roll channelled in," Lindsey said. "We're really excited about that. We think the integrity of that will be there."
Favors on the mend • For the past few seasons, injuries have bedeviled the Jazz roster, and last season the team took a huge hit with a summer injury to Derrick Favors, whose knee was never quite right. That helped set him back to a back-up role with 9.5 ppg and 6.1 rpg, his least productive season since 2012-13.
It's refreshing to the Jazz (and probably fans) to hear, then, that Favors is at full healt, according to Lindsey. He's doing court work, which he wasn't able to do last summer an encouraging sign for a franchise in need of healthy big men.
"We challenged him to get even leaner so he can reduce the stress on the joints, and he did that," Lindsey said. "Last summer when he was hit in the knee, it basically took all season."
The season before last, Favors averaged 16.4 ppg and 8.1 rpg, while also contributing 1.5 blocks per game. Healthy, Utah sees him as a good defender at the 4 and 5 spots, with wingspan that can help deny at the rim alongside Gobert.
Utah needs some things to go right this offseason, and so far, there's encouraging signs that Favors could be one of those things. Favors' own enthusiasm to be healthy might outpace that of his coaches.
"Derrick wants to play every day," Lindsey said. "We're not sure that's the wisest thing, but we're really excited to get him back to previous levels."
Donate a Hayward jersey • Running low on matches or lighter fluid? http://bit.ly/2tJZ6hA">Don't burn your old Gordon Hayward jersey donate it.
That's the vision of Zach Harding, who works in Salt Lake City and whose company will be traveling to Ghana in September through http://www.worldjoyghana.org/">World Joy, a foundation in North Salt Lake. Among the hygiene kits and school supplies that his company hopes to provide to African children, Harding thought it would be a good use of unwanted Gordon Hayward gear to offer it to them as well.
"Instead of wasting or destroying your jersey, I just had a thought that maybe we can give it to people who might never have seen a jersey in their lives," he told the Tribune. "Maybe it would brighten their day over there."
Harding suggests to would-be donors to mail or drop off jerseys at the following address:
Medical Review Institute of America (MRIoA)
2875 South Decker Lake Drive
Salt Lake City, UT 84119
Attn: Zach Harding
He said he is also working with local Smith's stores to see if he can arrange drop-off locations.