Utah Jazz Locker Clean-Out Highlights Pt. II: The Players


Utah Jazz locker clean-out, 2014-15 – Illustration by Clint Peterson

The final game of the 2014-15 season has been played by 14 of the NBA’s 30 teams, including the one near and dear to our hearts. But before they take a few weeks respite, Utah Jazz locker clean-out and exit interviews were on tap today. What follows are some of the highlights from the fellas.

Ed: These are only snippets, highlights. We encourage you to catch the full interviews with the links given. There is much to be gleaned from these insights

Part I with Dennis Lindsey and Quin Snyder can be found here

You’ve probably seen the videos from UtahJazz.com. Here are additional insights with David Locke and Ron Boone.

Gordon Hayward 

34.4 MPG, 19.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 4.1 APG, 1.4 SPG, 45% FGs, 36% 3FGs, 104.7 ORtg, 102.7 DRtg

Contract guaranteed through 2016-17, Player option for 2017-18

Hayward: We took a couple steps. We have a long way to go.

Gordon Hayward has become a leader in the Utah Jazz locker room – Illustration by Clint Peterseon

For me, it’s got to be every single night. My strength helped me out a lot this year. I was on balance a lot more, I was able to go into traffic and be strong with the ball. They reward you for taking the ball hard to the basket.

Boone: So you realized over the summer that you had to be tougher. It seemed to me like you initiated the contact more this year. You finished the season averaging a little over six free throws attempts per game. That’s up about two from the previous year.

Hayward on when everything changed: Santa Barbara, September. (Quin Snyder) walked into the meeting — and I don’t remember who was standing up — and he walked into the meeting and was like “Sit the beep down!” It was right then you knew it was gonna be a little different season for us.

Locke: If I tell you the sky is blue, you’ll tell me to prove it.

Hayward: (Quin Snyder and I) sat down and had dinner this summer in Chicago, when I was playing for the U.S.A. team. I kinda got some trust for him then. We didn’t talk much about basketball. We started talking about life and we had a relationship before the season even started.

I realized then he was gonna be a guy I could trust, so whenever he would talk to me about defensive schemes, or at the end of games, what he wanted me to do with the ball, I already had a sense of trust. We broke down film a lot together too. He can definitely back up what he says.

Derrick Favors

30.8 MPG, 16.0 PPG, 8.2 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.7 BPG, 53% FGs, 67% FTs, 104.5 ORtg, 102.3 DRtg

Derrick Favors – Illustration by Clint Peterson

Contract guaranteed through 2017-18

Favors: I think I came in and proved my game, showed a lot of people what I can do on the offensive end of the court. People viewed that as a weakness in my game. I’ll keep extending my range, hopefully out to the three-point line.

Locke: Can you score 20 points a game in this league?

Favors: Oh yeah I can. Everybody know the NBA changing. With me playing beside Rudy (Gobert), there’s not gonna be lot of space in the paint, obviously.

Boone: So why were you so surprised when you made a three?*

*Derrick Favors made his first career three-pointer this season

Favors: (Laughs) Quin drew it up. I don’t think I was supposed to take a three, I was supposed to take a mid-range jumper, but I said “Whatever, we’re going up against the (Golden State) Warriors, might as well just try it.” Aw, man, if I miss it, he was gonna be mad at me! But I made, and now he draw up three-point plays for me all the time.

Favors on reading defenses: In the post, it’s something new for me to read the defense ’cause they come in doubling, or they have a guy waiting in the paint for me.

 Trevor Booker

19.9 MPG, 7.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.1 APG, 49% FGs, 35% 3FGs, ORtg 102.6, DRtg 101.8

Contract partially guaranteed ($250,000) for 2015-16

Locke: Trevor Booker: The grand tweeter. You’re at a combined 6,500 retweets or favorites now, from last night.

Booker: I guess they felt some kind of way about (Enes Kanter) too.

When I’m on a court it’s different. I’m such a competitor I wanna go and just rip everybody’s heads off.

Booker on team chemistry: When I came in they told me they wanted me to be a leader, something I was comfortable with. And Joe (Ingles) has done a tremendous job stepping up, being one of the leaders, and also one of the funny guys, keeping it loose in the locker room.

Joe is — oh my goodness! — he’s just a clown! I mean, all day, every day.

Locke: Could you imagine him in a classroom?

Booker: Oh my goodness, he would get so many people kicked out!

Booker on choosing Utah in free agency: I’m different. I knew it wasn’t that bad out here. And then when I got here I fell in love with it: the city, the organization, my teammates. It’s the best choice I made, definitely, in my career. The kids love the schools, my fiance, she loves it.

Locke: If someone called you and said, “Book, someone’s talking to me. Do I want to go there?” what would you tell them?

Booker: Depends on if they play my position or not… (everyone laughs)

Jeremy Evans

7.0 MPG, 2.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 55% FGs, Hit first two 3FGs of career (2-5 3PA), ORtg, 101.2 DRtg 95.1

2015 free agent

Evans: I’d never had a picture with my wife in my game jersey, so she said, “No matter what happens, I gotta get a picture in your Jazz uniform.”

Locke: You think this might it here (in Utah).

Evans: I dunno. I just hope it’s not the last time I’m here.

Evans on gaining weight and Quin Snyder: I’ve tried (to gain weight) from day one. I know that I’ve been blessed just to be athletic. Of course, sometimes there’s match-up problems on the floor, (Quin Snyder) knew that. When he does put me out there I think he has the confidence that I’ll use my quickness to try and get around guys.

Ed: Jeremy Evans has always been extremely active in the Utah community. He’s put up a consistent 12.2 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game per 36 minutes in his five-year career

Alec Burks

33.3 MPG (27 games), 13.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 3.0 APG, 40% FGs, 38% 3FGs, ORtg 103.7, DRtg 111.1

Contract guaranteed through 2018-19

Burks: I feel like I’m that missing piece, an ending to a great story, y’know. (I could be) another athlete out there, another scorer, a play-maker, ball-handler, defender, whatever. Whatever coach need, I feel like I could be that.

Burks on what he’s worked on during injury: Being in a sling for six weeks* I had to learn everything over again. I had to learn my mechanics, my shot, my form, just basically repetition.

More in the air, not just a line-drive like I used to shoot. More lift on the ball, just finishing high.  I worked on my balance a lot while I was hurt, like every day, so I feel like I’m a more stable athlete now.

You wanna get better, you gotta break habits. You wanna get better, you gotta take criticism.

Just, y’know, trying to learn from everybody. Just seeing little things I can learn from players, change of speed. A lot of James Harden slowing down, a lot of Manu (Ginobili), a lot of players that drive with the ball. They don’t drive as hard as I do, y’know?

I’m so used to driving by everyone, just being quicker and more athletic than everybody. Just slowing down and reading things better, read the defense, set the defense up. It will help me out in the long run.

*Alec Burks is expected to return from shoulder surgery to full-contact practice this July

Elijah Millsap

19.7 MPG, 5.3 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 SPG, 34% FGs, 31% 3FGs, ORtg 101.0, DRtg 95.4

Signed two 10-day contracts, then signed through 2016-17 with only 2015 guaranteed

Locke: You’re a Millsap. I don’t need to say anything else. All these years of Shanghai, and Israel, and…

Millsap: Now is a perfect time to reflect on it. When you’re going through it everything is going so fast you really don’t wanna get caught up in yourself. And just be about the team and focus on the goal at hand.

Right now I’m just having that moment and embrace it and enjoy, go back and look at film and see accomplishments and just try to relax right now.

Millsap on guarding Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant: It’s been a blessing being in a family full of basketball players. With my brother being in the league so long I had an opportunity in the summers to go up against these guys. That’s what I did, try to make it tough for ’em every shot that they take, let ’em know I’ll be up in their grill, that I’m not afraid.

Elijah on playing with brother Paul Millsap: We’re very competitive, y’know, we had a lot of backyard battles. And, y’know, Paul’s pretty good, so…Playing one-on-one with him, coming into this league I had a lot of confidence.

Millsap: Defensively is the mindset I’ve always had. Coming here with a coach like Quin it helps you. There’s a lot of little things that I picked up on that I didn’t know before. He’s really good at bringing it out of me.

Locke: Real plus-minus really likes Elijah Millsap. You’re one of the three or four best defensive players (at your position) in the entire NBA.

 Trey Burke

30.1 PPG, 12.8 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 4.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 47% FGs, 32% 3FGs, 102.9 ORtg, 104.5 DRtg

Signed through 2016-17 (rookie deal), 2015-16 and 2016-17 are team options

Locke: You’re a two-year veteran now…

Burke: I don’t know about “a veteran…”

Locke: How different was year two then year one?

Burke: Yeah, it was different. I think with an entire new coach and staff, that was the biggest change — and a new system. Getting adjusted to the new system was big for me, being a point guard. Learning one system, and then going to another one was the biggest change, I think.

Locke: We’re in New York, Brooklyn. And we draft Dante Exum. And I’m seeing you. You were, sooo good that night. But were you like, “What is going on?”

Burke: Not really, because it’s draft night. When I was drafted it was like, when I got drafted I got drafted to the (Minnesota) Timberwolves who had Ricky Rubio, so I had already seen something like that happen. The Twitter world exploded (when Exum was drafted to Utah), so that’s what I was surprised about most, how they reacted to it. “Why did you guys bring him in when you had Trey?” and things like that.

I didn’t look at it like that at all, to be honest with you.

Burke on January 22, 2015, when Snyder put him on the bench in favor of Exum starting: That was big for me because I’d never experienced that, it was something new to me. I’m a young player and I knew that I had to react to that in a positive way.

I never, ever wanted to show that I was a cancer to the team, or show that I was bigger than the team. I understood where coach was going. We had a long conversation before he did that.

Looking from the outside-in, you don’t know all of the details, but for me, I think that it was something that helped me grow.

It’s different (coming off the bench). Coming off the bench you get to see the game from a different perspective. I can’t sit here and say that wasn’t different for me, because it was something that I kind of had to adjust to. Coach told me to just continue to be aggressive and play my game.

As a sixth man, coach wanted me to be the guy who could come out and explode. Not only just shooting the ball, but getting guys involved. But more than anything, scoring the ball. That’s what he told me, so I took that as my role, and that’s something that was new to me.

 Rudy Gobert

26.3 MPG, 8.4 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 1.3 APG, 2.3 BPG, 60% FGs, 62% FTs ( up from 49%), 100.0 ORtg, 98.8 DRtg

Contract (rookie deal) guaranteed through 2016-17, team options for 2015-16 and 2016-17

Locke: Let’s get to the really, really, really, REALLY important things right out of the chute. How was that steak?

Rudy Gobert caps off a Big Three of potential superheroes for the Utah Jazz – Illustration by Clint Petrson

Gobert: Very good.

Locke: Which one was that? It wasn’t the $237 one?

Gobert: No. I think that was 130.

Locke: Did you have two or one? You like to eat…

Gobert: Of course. I love to eat.

Locke: Are the only person not surprised by this season?

Gobert: To be honest, I might be. Coach believed in me a lot, coach Alex Jensen too.

Locke: You were the talk of the league for like two to three weeks.

Gobert: It was good Even if I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet. It was good to get some recognition from the league, and the fans, of course.

Locke: What was your favorite play of the year?

Gobert: The behind-the-back pass.

Locke: Derrick (Favors) gives a whole thing about you stealing his rebounds…

Gobert: Ah! I don’t really think about it, I just go get it. I feel like I just gotta go get it.

Gobert on the future: I wanna win a title for sure. Try and make the playoff next year. Right now I’m thinking more as a team, because if the team wins I think I’m gonna be good. If I’m good, the team’s gonna be good.

Boone: Can you develop a signature (offensive) move?

Gobert: I really like the sky-hook, to be honest, the left hand. But it’s mostly a good base, you know: my jump shot, finishing around the rim. I feel like the game is changing a lot, y’know? The big men, they get trapped when they get the ball, so it’s not as to used to be.

Locke: Here’s a test — Alex Jensen gave me this test: What did you shoot from the free throw line?

Gobert: 63?

Locke: I don’t know the answer, but “he’ll be able to answer it cause he cares.”

Boone: And last year was…?

Gobert: 49, I think.

Joe Ingles

21.2 MPG, 5.2 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.3 APG, 0.9 SPG, 42% FGs, 36% 3FGs, ORtg 100.2, DRtg 102.1

Free agent claimed off waivers October 27, 2014

Locke: Be serious for a moment!

Ingles: Alright…

Locke: How many summer leagues did you go to?

Ingles: Got invited to two summer leagues in a row with the Warriors. Didn’t go to one of those two cause I ended up going to to Europe. Then I had a guaranteed deal with Memphis (Grizzlies) but turned that down to go to Maccabi (Electra Tel Aviv, tuned out to be the 2014 EuroLeague Champions).

For me coming over here it wasn’t about just coming over here and being a part of it. I wanted to come at the right time for me, and when I could help a team and find a good situation. I thought I’d found it in the (Los Angeles) Clippers (snorts).

BUT, obviously it didn’t work out, the plan, how we thought.

Locke: Didn’t you get like 12 minutes in preseason?

 Ingles: Yeah, and they were all probably in one game, but for like 30 seconds. And the 3 minutes I got here in front of Quin. BUT, ANYWAY…that’s another story…

Just really didn’t get the opportunity I thought I was gonna get, and then just got waived and was planning to go home, really — I hadn’t been home in a long time, with the European season and Australian team — and had decided I’d just stay home for a bit and work out what’s next and have a bit of a break.

The next thing I was sitting in Venice Beach with my fiance, and, uh, the call came though from coach (and my agent) and I was on a plane (to Utah) that night.

When I got cut (my fiance) was about to board the plane (to L.A.). We ended up hanging out in L.A. for a few days and, yeah, we were just gonna have a bit of a holiday to be honest, and then the call came through. I still remember, the call came through on a Monday and the first game was on Wednesday night and I ended up playing four or five minutes, and, umm, 79 games for me later, I’m still here!

Bryce Cotton

10.6 MPG (15 games), 5.3 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.0 APG, 42% FGs, 35% 3FGs, ORtg 101.0, DRtg 101.3

Signed two 10-day deals, then signed for remainder of 2014-15 with next two years team options

Cotton on his size: It doesn’t bother me a bit. I’ve always been the smallest guy on the court whenever I’ve played, so it’s something I’ve grown used to. It has it’s perks; once you learn your strengths, you use ’em to you advantage.

Coming out of high school I didn’t have a scholarship, not from D-1 or D-2. And Providence offered me two days before I started, and then I had to work my up through the ranks again, going undrafted and finding my way here.

Boone: I can visualize you in the ninth grade: Shorts too big, didn’t have a jersey that fit, arms hangin’ all down here, and…

Cotton: Mhmm. I was 5’4″ 108 pounds.

Boone: Fastest guy on the floor though!

Cotton: The next year I grew to 5’9″.  Didn’t grow too much after, but you know, every inch counted for me.

Rodney Hood

23.3 MPG (21 games started, 50 played), 8.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 41% FGs, 37% 3FGs, ORtg 102.0, DRtg 98.7

Contract (rookie deal) through 2017-18

 Hood: I’ve been here since 10:30 this morning, so…this is it, last stage.

As a whole I feel like it was a great season. Obviously, I wanted to play more. I wish I didn’t get injured, but at the same time, as a team we grew. We’re on peoples’ radar now.

Hood on averaging 32 minutes per game to end the season: I think (my body held up well). A couple games toward the end I was feeling it, ’cause I was playing so many minutes. I felt it towards the end, but I just gotta continue to get in better shape during the off-season, get stronger.

Locke: We have to be careful on this, because you’re working on a program, I think, one of two NBA teams has. But they’re doing a lot of work on your feet and ankles, and we’re one of the two teams in the league that has it.

Hood: It’s going great! It’s helping my balance, it’s something that I have to continue to do in the off-seaon to stay healthy.

Boone: Did you feel like once you got here you had a pro game?

Hood: I was ready to come in and contribute, I don’t know at what level. I joke around about it, but me being injured kinda helped me being able to see the game and really slow it down for me. ‘Cause I was making a lot of mistakes at the beginning of the year.

Hood on Snyder: It’s something coach really introduced to me — I’d always been a guy who, not necessarily forced things — but, didn’t take my time. He really showed me how to come off and use different paces. The best players take their time. Once you to do that, once you get in the lane, a lot of things open up. It’s something I had to learn.

Locke: You ever watch Brandon Roy play?

Hood: Yeah I did. That’s one of my favorite players, growing up. I like (the comparison) a lot. I watched guys like him, Joe Johnson, growing up, guys that play with that smooth, herky-jerky type of game. I try to take stuff from their game.

Hood on the off-season: (Quin Snyder and Dennis Lindsey) laid out a plan, and I’m excited to get started on it. This off-season I’ll start off in Florida, at IMG Academy with Kenny Natt, who used to coach here. After that I’ll be in Salt Lake before summer league, for a couple weeks working with the coaches.

Dante Exum

22.2 MPG, 4.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 35%FGs, 31% 3FGs, 63% FTs (32 FTAs ), ORtg 102.3, DRtg 99.0

Contract (rookie deal) through 2017-18

Locke: I think he is a rookie still. I don’t think they let off ’til the next season, right?

Boone: Gotta carry that pink back pack all summer.

Exum: No, no, no. I told Gordon and Fav that I’m not a rookie anymore. They seemed to not believe it it, but in my mind I’m not!

Boone: Say, you’re the youngest on the team, you still carry the pink backpack.

Exum: I told them that it doesn’t matter, I’ve done my first year. I’m not a rookie anymore. I think I’ll just keep (the pink backpack), it will give me memories about the first season.

(While wearing it) I had one lady that said, ” You must be very comfortable with yourself…” I’m like, “Yes, ma’am, I am.”

Exum on his first year away from home: I’m 19 and away from home and everyone’s nice around here, and willing to help, and help me.

Boone: Did you learn to cook, wash your own clothes…

Exum: I did not learn how to cook. Actually, I did learn how to wash my own clothes: just put it in the wash and put “Quick 30″on.

Even though I didn’t learn that stuff, it was about maturing and to live by myself. I ate out, mostly. My parents were here a lot so, they cooked for me.

Locke: Do you know what Dante Exum, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, Andrew Bynum and Andrew Wiggins have in common?

Exum: They’re all in the NBA?

Locke: They’re the only players at 19 years old or younger to play 82 games in a season.

Exum: Oh, really? Well, that was a goal of mine at the beginning of the season.*

*Exum and Gobert are the only Utah Jazz players to play all 82 games in 2014-15

Exum on getting sick during a game: I think it was back when we played Chicago, it was on a road trip. I threw up at halftime. I wasn’t feeling well, had a cold, and I kept playing. And it got to the end of the road trip and we’re playing Houston, and Quin said, “If you wanna sit out, you can sit out.” And I was like, “No. No, coach. I wanna play this game.”

It’s having that mindset I wanna keep.

It was on the long stretches. I think in the month of March, that was a hard, hard time. Definitely on those back-to-backs… it was like, right now I can’t do this, I can’t deal with this. But once I got into the game, into the groove, it was like “I want to do this.” When I came off (the court), I didn’t want to.

That’s what keeps me going.

Locke: I know you say you don’t listen to the media, but do you know what most people were talking about? “Why isn’t he more aggressive?”

Exum: I’m always open to experimenting, trying to do different things in practice. One of my biggest things is I was trying to not go out on the court and make mistakes. And now I’ve learned from that. I know with my growth I need to take those opportunities when I can.

Obviously, you don’t want to go in the game and have turnovers, and I’ve had a few games where I’ve had high turnovers. It’s just silly things I’m doing on the court, and I know I’m better than that.

Exum on his innate speed: It’s what’s got me by most of the time, and I stopped doing it. I’ve had a few moments where — the other night, I had a go-and-catch on Damian Lillard — and coach looked at me and just said, “Thank you. Did you just see what you just did?!”

It’s those little moments realizing I can go by these guys.


Rodney Hood and Dante Exum are both expected to see minutes in summer league play in Salt Lake City at EnergySolutions Arena this July.

Catch all these interviews in full at 1280/97.5 The Zone

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