SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz have had a busy off-season, and general manager Justin Zanik believes the team has gotten more versatile and experienced.
With the Jazz free agent signings becoming official Friday, Zanik addressed the media about the signings of Mike Conley, Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside.
The Conley signing is the most significant, as the Jazz brought back their All-Star point guard on a 3-year deal worth between 68 and 72 million dollars.
“He unites our team and gives us a different level that he’s shown here in the last two years,” Zanik said about Conley. “The things that were important to him were important to us. He had one of his career years this past year. There’s a lot of things that go into it, mostly Mike’s hard work and talent.”
Conley’s good friend Rudy Gay, A 15-year NBA veteran, agreed to a two-year, $12.1 million dollar free agent deal with the Jazz. Gay, who played the last four years with the San Antonio Spurs, brings experience and scoring punch to the Jazz.
“He’s seen different programs and how they work,” Zanik said. “He’s continued to evolve his game to how he fits. He offers things like veteran leadership, toughness, size at the four. So I think he’ll fit in great.”
Zanik said Gay’s friendship with Conley played a roll in bringing Gay to Utah. Conley played his first six seasons with Gay with the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I think it probably gave him a little bit more comfort as he got into free agency and was able to have somebody that he knows and trusts to tell him what the state of Utah is like,” Zanik said.
Whiteside is considered one of the best shot blockers in the league, leading the NBA in blocks twice in his nine-year career. So with Whiteside backing up Rudy Gobert, there probably aren’t going to be many opponents attacking the basket next season.
“Hassan has got a huge load of talent and obviously has had some very successful seasons,” Zanik said. “It could be a great chance for us to address a position where we can have 48 minutes of rim protection.”
Zanik couldn’t talk about the trade for Eric Paschall just yet until it becomes official, but with all these moves, Zanik feels the Jazz have improved.
“We’re giving ourselves a chance to be better, and we were already very good to excellent,” he said. “Every team every year has different things that can be opportunities to improve on, and I think these additions give us a chance to do that. But I think we’ve got a group of guys on the court who will connect easily and quickly and it will be a good product for the city, the state and the fans and a good product for them to watch.”