Posts Tagged ‘Salt Lake Tribune’

Hayward, Favors Fully Prepared For Leadership Roles With Young Jazz


LAS VEGAS — Ask anyone who has knocked around USA Basketball’s mini-camp this week to name the player who has raised the most eyebrows and Gordon Hayward‘s name will come up. The Utah Jazz swingman showed up here this summer with a simple game plan and the perfect blueprint of how to execute that plan.

“They just want you to play hard and compete in everything you do,” Hayward said. “This camp is full of stars, so you’re not going to impress anyone trying to showboat or do anything spectacular. Everybody in this gym has seen it all plenty of times before. [U.S.] Coach [Mike] Krzyzewski lays it all out for you from the start. And if you listen, it’s pretty simple.”

Simple is the opposite of what awaits Hayward and Jazz big man and fellow mini-camp participant Derrick Favors when they get back to Salt Lake City for training camp. No longer are these two lottery picks from 2010 going to operate in the shadows. They’re going to have to step into leadership roles for a young Jazz team that saw seven free agents depart for other destinations this summer.

Hayward will be the team’s leading returning scorer next season after averaging a career-high 14.1 points while logging 27 starting assignments. Favors is the second-leading returning scorer (9.4 points to go along with his 7.1 rebounds in just 23.2 minutes), after starting just eight games while playing behind Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.

They will be the foundation for a green starting five that also includes Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and rookie point guard Trey Burke. Hayward, 23, will be the oldest member of that group and the most seasoned. It’s a role that Hayward seems more than ready to handle, based on his showing here this week and on the Select Team that worked out against the star-studded crew that won gold at the London Olympics last summer.

“He’s been very impressive,” said USA Basketball managing director Jerry Colangelo. “He’s a very impressive player. He knows how to play. He’s aggressive. He can shoot the ball. He’s made a mark in both camps, last year and this year.”

The same goes for Favors, who has spent most of his time this summer in Salt Lake City under thew watchful eye of Jazz great and Hall of Famer Karl Malone. It’s been summer school that Favors, an Atlanta native, says is absolutely necessary if he’s going to realize his potential sooner rather than later.

“There’s no hiding anymore,” Favors said. “I had to tell my mom and my family back home that it was important for me to stay [in Salt Lake City] and put in the work. I couldn’t let myself get home and get too comfortable. There is so much riding on this summer and this season for myself and [Hayward]. I don’t know what they’ve told him but I know I’ve got be ready to go right now. It’s on me and Enes to hold it down up front now that Al and Paul have moved on.”

Hayward’s looked more like the college star he was at Butler during his time here this week than he has the role player he was asked to be in his first three seasons in the league. His ballhandling, slashing and athleticism have been on full display. He’s more than held his own on defense, too, sticking out in this talented crowd on both ends regularly.

“That’s what you love about things like this,” said Favors, who will team up with Hayward on the Blue team in Thursday night’s intrasquad showcase at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center. “I know how good he is. I’ve seen him do this stuff in practice every day. But it’s been funny to talk to some of these other guys and see how impressed they are with Gordon this week.”

Hayward said he’s sticking to the plan this week and making sure to ready himself for the increased role he’ll play for the Jazz when summer school is over.

“It’s something Coach K talked about on the first day,” Hayward said. “You have to adapt, adapt the way you play and be a versatile player. Out here, you know, you’re just one of the guys. But when you get back to your respective teams you’re going to be a more dominant player and have a much bigger role. They want me to be more of a leader next season and Derrick and I have talked about it. We’re excited about it. It’s going to be a challenge for us. We’re both naturally quiet guys so we’re going to have to be more vocal and get on guys when we have to. But it’s time, it’s time for us to be the leaders.”

The Enes Kanter Weight Loss Plan!

If this whole basketball thing doesn’t work out for Utah Jazz big man Enes Kanter, he has a fallback plan now that he has become the envy of millions in the weight-loss world.

After tipping the scales at close to 300 pounds at the end of his rookie season, Kanter reportedly shed 51 pounds in two months during the offseason by pushing back from the table and scaling back on the sumo wrestler’s diet that led to his bulky frame.

You don’t go from 293 to 242 without being dedicated in a major way.

You also don’t get to 293 without eating your way through almost each and every day of your rookie season. According to the Tweets of Bill Oram of the Salt Lake Tribune (courtesy of our friends at, Kanter’s menu was loaded with the stuff most doctors will tell you isn’t conducive to a healthy lifestyle:

Kanter’s old daily diet.

Breakfast: A 6 egg omelet, 8 pancakes w/ sugar, whipped cream and a breakfast burrito.

Lunch: A pasta (such as chicken alfredo), a burger and an appetizer of some sort.

For dinner: Kanter ate another burger and some kind of large entree. Finally, dessert. Now he’s down to salad and seafood.

Kanter wasn’t shy about showing off his new physique on his Twitter feed, and who can blame him when you’re abbed out like this and like this. Take away the sensational element involved in his weight loss parade and it’s clear that he’s serious about being a bigger factor this season for the Jazz.

Not only did he cut down considerably on his carbs (and virtually everything else), Kanter went to work with his trainer and recrafted his body and his game. If he sees similar results on the floor from the hard work he’s put in, the Jazz will have another frontcourt gem to rely on this season.

Call It A Comeback For Sloan?

HANG TIME PLAYOFF HEADQUARTERS — If Dwight Howard thought Stan Van Gundy was tough to deal with, can you imagine how he’d react to Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan?

The former and longtime coach of the Utah Jazz is apparently contemplating a coaching comeback at 70, with feelers from both the Charlotte Bobcats and potentially the Magic, who fired Van Gundy Monday and are currently searching for his replacement.

Sloan has already spoken with the Bobcats about their opening and is “intrigued” by the possibilities in Orlando, per the Salt Lake Tribune:

Asked about his reported interest in Orlando, Sloan said, “I’m sure a lot of people are interested. But I really don’t know what the parameters are going to be or what’s going on. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.”


Where’s The Beef (Cousins Vs Harris)?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — As far as NBA beefs go, this new DeMarcus CousinsDevin Harris feud is still searching for space among some of the legendary on-court battles of yesteryear.

Kurt Rambis vs. Kevin McHale, Karl Malone vs. Isiah Thomas or Bill Laimbeer vs. half the league, this is not.

But in an era where it seems players around the league are as friendly as they have ever been, this is a budding beef worth taking note of, if for no other reason that both parties have acknowledged the discord.

If you don’t believe it, Brian T. Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune tries to explain:

Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins and Jazz guard Devin Harris were involved in a tense moment early during the Utah’s 103-102 victory on Thursday. Cousins attempted to save a loose ball and felt that Harris blocked his path. Cousins immediately got in Harris’ face, who stood his ground and coldly stared at the Kings forward. Cousins quickly became heated while Harris kept staring — never backing down and barely moving. The two were soon separated.

Cousins on Harris (video included): Yo, honestly I’m tired of the kid. And I mean, like really, I don’t know what his issue is. I’m tired of the kid, honestly. I’m tired of him. I don’t know what his issue is, but I can definitely solve it.

Harris on Cousins: It goes back to the last game. … He’s trying to get in my head and I’m trying to get in his. I can’t let anybody push me around.

The feud dates back to Feb. 28, when the Jazz fell 103-96 at Sacramento. Cousins was called for a technical foul in the game, after bumping into Harris during an inbounds play.


Salt Lake Flu?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Let us be the first to say this to Deron Williams, Gordon Hayward, Jazz fans around the world and anyone else worried that an 0-2 start after an 8-0 preseason is some sign of the NBA apocalypse:


Everyone take a breath, shake it off and calm down.

As Heat fans reminded us after their season-opening loss to the Celtics, we’ve got a long way to go before anyone needs to start freaking out about a little opening week flu. Sure, the Suns ran circles around the Jazz on TNT last night. We all saw it. And yes, watching a Jerry Sloan-coached team get shredded for 110 points on back-to-back nights is indeed a rarity. But it’s hardly cause to punch the panic button.

It didn’t help that Williams lit into Hayward late after the rookie failed to execute his assignment during an offensive set:

But we also don’t think it’s nearly as toxic a situation as my main man Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune laid out after the fact, especially the part where he questioned the leadership ability of Williams:

Williams very publicly, very loudly, dressed down Jazz rookie Gordon Hayward, because the first year player failed to go through on the baseline. Basketball wise, Hayward was clearly in the wrong. His job on that play was to clear out so Williams could play two man basketball with Al Jefferson.

But Williams’ response was wildly uncalled for. He screamed at Hayward loud enough for the entire building to hear as the Jazz went into the huddle for a timeout. Jerry Sloan immediately had a few choice words for Williams, and Jefferson could be seen counseling Hayward as the team exited the huddle.

Arguments between teammates happen. And predictably, all parties put on a happy face for the media following the game.

“It was just a miscommunication,” Hayward said.

“We’re cool,” Williams said. “Just because I yell at someone doesn’t mean I’m mad at them.”

So all is good.

Maybe not.

The larger issue is Williams. This is his team to lead now. There’s no Carlos Boozer there, wrestling for alpha dog status. Williams is the face of the franchise, and everyone knows it. The Utah Jazz this season will go as far as Williams takes it, and everyone knows it.

As such, Williams has to be the kind of leader everyone looks up to. Dressing down a rookie, playing his second pro game, in such a humiliating fashion, isn’t the best way to be the kind of leader the Jazz need.

Again, calm down folks.

Maybe this season-opening shakeup is exactly what the Jazz need to remind them that preseason is over and that they need to crank things up another notch.