Following the Jazz‘s 129-107 loss to Golden State on Monday, Andy Larsen of The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that the team’s locker room was as frustrated as he’d seen it following a regular season game. As Larsen explains, Utah players weren’t just upset about the loss but by the trade-deadline deals that sent out three rotation players (Kelly Olynyk, Ochai Agbaji, and Simone Fontecchio) and returned none.
Asked prior to the 2023/24 season about Lauri Markkanen‘s desire to make the playoffs, Jazz CEO Danny Ainge said the front office shared that desire and was on board with it, Larsen notes. But with the team in a play-in position in the West entering last Thursday’s deadline, Ainge essentially sold off players for draft picks, leaving the remaining players feeling as if “they were sold a bill of goods,” Larsen writes.
Jazz general manager Justin Zanik explained the front office’s thinking in a post-deadline press conference last week, essentially saying that the goal is to build a roster capable of legitimate contention in the long term rather than focusing on sneaking into the play-in tournament in the short term.
“All of us want to win,” Zanik said, per Tony Jones of The Athletic, pointing out that Utah hasn’t won more than a single playoff series in a season since 2007. “But I want to win for a long time. We don’t want to just have a year where we had a good run. The goal isn’t the play-in or the first round of the playoffs. Those aren’t the goals. The goal is to win a championship.”
Since the trade deadline, the Jazz have gone 0-2 while the Warriors have gone 3-0, pulling ahead of Utah by 1.5 games for the No. 10 seed in the West.
Here’s more on the Jazz:
- The primary focus for the rest of the season in Utah will be the ongoing development of Markkanen and rookies Taylor Hendricks and Keyonte George, according to Sarah Todd of The Deseret News. Todd takes a look at what to look for and what the Jazz will be expecting from those three players down the stretch.
- There has been some confusion over the health of newly acquired forward Otto Porter Jr., Todd writes in a separate Deseret News story. Zanik said during last week’s presser that Porter is “not fully healthy right now, which we knew,” and the veteran forward was ruled out on Monday due to left foot soreness. However, when asked on Saturday how he was feeling, Porter stated that he was “OK, health-wise.” Informed of Zanik’s comments, the former Raptor replied, “Just got to figure some things out as far as my health. There’s some things that I just can’t go into detail with, but with the new training staff here, they should be able to get me back.” As Blake Murphy of Sportsnet.ca tweets, Porter wasn’t on Toronto’s injury report and was active for several games prior to the trade sending him to Utah. He’s not on the Jazz’s injury report for Wednesday’s contest vs. the Lakers.
- As we wrote on Tuesday, Utah is one of many teams around the NBA that currently has an open 15-man roster spot. The Jazz could create a second opening by waiving either Porter or Kira Lewis if those newly acquired players on expiring contracts aren’t in their plans, but there has been no indication yet that such a move is coming.