The Jazz recognize that there’s no easy way to make up for the loss of Gordon Hayward in free agency, writes Chris Mannix of The Vertical. After winning 51 games last season, Utah bet heavily on its chances to re-sign Hayward and didn’t have a way to replace him when he left for Boston. Hayward was the leading scorer for the Jazz last season at 21.9 points per game and averaged 15.6 over seven years in Utah.
“There is always an optimism at the beginning of the season,” said coach Quin Snyder. “And I’m not saying there isn’t that now, but it’s tempered a little bit with the personnel changes. … There isn’t a silver bullet. What there is, though, is a challenge. That’s something you can really embrace and enjoy.”
There’s more tonight from Utah:
- The rebuilding effort has been slowed by a tibia contusion that has sidelined center Rudy Gobert. The league’s leading shot blocker, who will miss at least four more weeks before being re-evaluated, told Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News he hasn’t lost faith in his team’s ability to remain a contender. “Like I said, starting the season I’m confident that the team is going to win games even when I’m not here and I’ll be back stronger,” Gobert said. “It’s like an All-Star break before the All-Star break. So everything is good, I’m confident and nothing’s changed. No team goals. No individual goals. Everything’s good.“
- The loss of Gobert will bring changes as the Jazz try to get by with a smaller lineup, relays the Associated Press. Derrick Favors will move from power forward to center, with Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko, Ekpe Udoh and Joe Ingles all seeing time at the four spot. Joe Johnson will be added to that mix once he returns from a wrist injury. “Every substitution pattern changes the makeup of the team,” Snyder said. “Some more dramatically than others. Obviously, Derrick playing with Thabo or Joe Ingles at the four, there’s a different style of attack. It’s something that Derrick’s capable of doing and doing well.”
- Johnson will be out at least two more weeks with tendon instability in his right wrist, Woodyard writes in a separate story. He talked with a hand specialist and is showing some improvement, but there’s no timetable for his return. Johnson played just seven games before the injury.