Rudy Gay‘s first season with the Jazz has been disappointing, but he believes there’s still time to turn it around, writes Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune. Gay signed as a free agent over the summer, but offseason heel surgery kept him out of action through the first 14 games of the season. He missed four more games because of soreness in the heel and another six in February due to illness and knee pain. Although the season is winding down, Gay feels like there’s still progress to be made before the playoffs.
“I feel pretty good going into the later part of the season,” he said. “This is good. We went through a lot early. That was good for us. The thing about it is, I’m motivated. Just trying to make a long run in these playoffs. That’s what it’s really about. The real season’s coming. This is all trying to get in a rhythm so we can be our best by then.”
Coach Quin Snyder recognizes that because he’s missed so much time, Gay is still adjusting to his role on the team. Snyder has been extending Gay’s minutes lately, even in games that are out of reach.
“I feel about Rudy the way I do about our team: as he plays more, he’ll continue to be able to give us more,” Snyder said. “… Getting him out there is important to us. Rudy’s obviously someone we feel like can really impact the game for us.”
There’s more from the Northwest Division:
- Josh Hart is adapting to his new situation with a Trail Blazers team that is currently more focused on developing young players than winning games, notes Jason Quick of The Athletic. Coach Chauncey Billups said Hart is used to being a complementary player on teams with stars, rather than a primary scorer surrounded by youngsters. “I had to have some conversations with him, because Josh is a very, very competitive dude, and sometimes we’ve been in situations where we haven’t been very competitive,” Billups said. “And that’s tough, especially for a vet. So I’m challenging him right now to just control that, and help our guys. But it’s a tough deal.”
- Karl-Anthony Towns‘ 60-point outburst Monday was accompanied by a joy that was missing when he set the previous team record of 56 in 2018, observes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. After some difficult years with the Timberwolves, Towns is now the leader of a winning team that enjoys playing together. He could be headed for a spot an All-NBA team, which would make him eligible for a four-year super-max extension this offseason.
- Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels suffered a high ankle sprain, tweets Chris Hine of The Star-Tribune. Josh Okogie is expected to get extra playing time while McDaniels is sidelined (Twitter link).