SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz won two more games in the regular season than they did last year, but did not go as far in the playoffs.
So after a first round loss to the Houston Rockets, the question is, did this team take a step forward this season?
“I think we’re a better team than we were last year,” said Rudy Gobert as Jazz locker cleanout day. “It doesn’t feel like it because we’re done a few weeks before, but we definitely are.”
“I appreciate this season in so many ways,” said Donovan Mitchell. “Because with all the struggles I went through, and all the struggles we went through as a team, we had 50 wins and we were the fifth seed. We battled the Houston Rockets really good.”
As well as the Jazz played this season, changes could be on the horizon.
“We want to move the group forward,” said general manager Dennis Lindsey. “While we have a very good team, the results told us we don’t have a great team.”
“I love our group,” added Joe Ingles. “Hopefully, and I said it last night, but I hope the majority is coming back. I think you guys all know there’s going to be changes.”
The biggest change could come at point guard. Ricky Rubio is set to become a free agent, and despite playing well in the playoffs, his future with the Jazz is up in the air.
“I don’t have any idea where I’m going to go,” said Rubio, who has played the last two seasons with the Jazz. “But one thing I’m going to look for sure, it’s going to be the best situation for me with the coach and the team.”
“He’s got a decision to make on his end and we’ve got a decision to make on our end,” Lindsey said. “But there are a lot of scenarios where I could see Ricky back.”
The Jazz have a team option on Derrick Favors, but it sounds like he will be coming back.
“I prefer to come back here,” Favors said. “Not too many guys can play for one franchise and one organization for eight plus years. Hopefully it can be nine or ten years for a me.”
“Derrick Favors is not part of the problem,” said Lindsey. “He’s part of the solution.”
At 38, Kyle Korver has to decide if he wants to even continue his NBA career.
“There’s a real cost as you get older,” said Korver, who suffered through a knee injury at the end of the season. “What you need to put into the game, there’s also a family cost. So this will be a decision I sit down and make with my wife.”
The Jazz shooting struggles were apparent in the playoffs, as they struggled from 3-point range against the Rockets. Another scorer could be a target in free agency, and the Jazz players plan on doing some recruiting themselves.
“I have a lot of friends around the league, and I recruit,” said Jae Crowder. “I’m going to do my job with that and hopefully bring some top level players here to help us win. I’m definitely going to do my part.”
“We have the Defensive Player of the Year, we have myself, who is still finding ways to get better,” added Mitchell. “We have an amazing group. We have a bunch of guys who love to work. If I had to pitch, it would be like, look, we want to win.”