Jazz sign free agent F Jack Cooley (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have signed free agent Jack Cooley.

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Jazz Teammate Tweets Picture of Rookie Dante Exum Sleeping with Stuffed Animal

Utah Jazz rookie Dante Exum is 19 years old, but it looks like he still enjoys the comfort of sleeping with a stuffed animal.

Jazz teammate Rodney Hood was wise enough to snap a picture of Exum sleeping with his giant teddy bear and kind enough to share it with the world. That’s just some good fun between teammates.

[Rodney Hood, h/t Fox Sports]

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Early Win-Loss Predictions for Utah Jazz Next Season

The Utah Jazz are looking to finally turn the corner and have a better win-loss record during the 2014-15 season after looking both awful and boring for the majority of last year.

Being one of the NBA‘s worst teams was a result of having a young squad with a lack of a solid foundation. It felt like players were unsure of where they stood on the roster, and the franchise in general had an overall lack of direction.

The Jazz were going to be bad, but what were they going to do in order to fix the problems and become a better team?

Well, the good news is that they look to be finding some of those answers.

It appears as though the organization has a direction and is working hard on reaching its ceiling. Utah has some of the best fans in the league. They are always filling up the arena regardless of how well the team does, and it’s about time they get rewarded for it.

Next year will certainly be a better season, but how much better? Here’s a look at Utah’s win-loss prediction heading into the upcoming year.

 

Backcourt

If Utah is going to have any success during the 2014-15 season, then the Jazz are going to need exceptional play out of their guards.

The three key players will be Trey Burke, Alec Burks and Dante Exum.

Burke and Exum will need to be able to do a number of different tasks—one of which will be to play alongside each other in an efficient matter. Each needs to be able to start the offense and run at shooting guard in whatever order presents itself.

The next task is for one to be able to fill in for the other at any given time. If Exum starts the season off the bench, then he’ll have to be able to step up and take over for Burke when the time comes.

Burks will have the incredibly difficult job of being the No. 1 scorer off the bench. The tough part comes from the amount of pressure being put on the sixth man to perform on a nightly basis.

Guard play is key. Utah’s backcourt will need to consistently take care of the ball and play at a high level if the Jazz want to surprise fans and win a good chunk of games.

 

Frontcourt

Look around the NBA and try to find a team with a better group of young talent among its frontcourt than the Utah Jazz.

Are you still looking?

Players such as Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors are among some of the most talented young players in the entire league.

Kanter and Favors could be incredibly dominant at the power forward and center positions if they can figure out how to play with one another at the same time. Stepping onto the court next to each other has always seemed to hold one or the other back from hitting his true potential. Still though, the talent is clear as air; it just needs to come to fruition on a more consistent basis.

Averaging over 16 points, five rebounds and five assists during the course of an 82-game season proves how good a player someone is. It’s also exactly what Hayward was able to do last year.

His next move will be to prove that he can be the guy worthy of his $63 million contract. That will require more of an initiative on the offensive end of the floor and being the go-to guy, along with stepping up and guarding the opposing team’s best player on a nightly basis.

He’s got the talent to be that kind of player; it’s time for him to make it happen, though.

Add in the long-ball threat of Rodney Hood along with a developing Rudy Gobert, and we continue to see how youth and potential are heavily in Utah’s favor.

 

Coach

Tyrone Corbin just wasn’t the right man to lead Utah over the past three-and-a-half seasons. It never looked as if he wasn’t trying, but there was a certain passion that was missing.

The 2014-15 season will give us a look at Quin Snyder and if he can do a better job.

Corbin and Snyder have a different level of skill when it comes to player development. Corbin only played people when he felt they were ready. There were times when people like Burks never saw the floor strictly because Corbin didn’t feel like he had the game to compete.

Snyder does and will likely do his job a little differently.

The Salt Lake Tribune‘s Aaron Falk interviewed Snyder and heard a bit about how he plans on developing players. Here’s what Utah’s new coach had to say:

As an old college coach, that was something that you were really focused on. It’s become kind of something that everybody talks about, everybody wants to do. I think a couple things that are key is your staff has to be really, really good. You have to be teachers. You have to enjoy seeing guys improve. We’re awfully young. You’re going to see a lot of guys grow. Hopefully some will grow pretty fast. It’s a challenge, but it can be really rewarding as well when you see people get better.

It’s important to hear Snyder say that one of his staff’s keys will be to develop talent. The only negative part about making sure a player’s potential gets hit is that it means there has to be room for growth.

And there’s more than enough growth to go around with the Jazz.

Snyder will certainly help move the team in the right direction, but it will have to take some time.

It won’t all happen during the upcoming season.

 

Northwest Division

It’s difficult to say that there’s truly an easy division in the Western Conference. Luckily, Utah is a member of the least difficult.

Apart from the Jazz, the Northwest Division consists of the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Portland Trail Blazers.

It’s definitely difficult but not nearly as bad as the Southwest Division, where four of the five teams made the playoffs last season.

Utah won’t be waiting around to start the season off with a challenge. It opens the year with playing Portland in the first two games of the season. The crazy part is that the Jazz will end up seeing the Trail Blazers four more times before the 82 games come to an end.

Combine those games with 14 other ones against the rest of the division, and there is some opportunity for wins.

Minnesota is in complete rebuilding mode, and Denver is one of those teams who will beat you by 10 points, only to lose by 25 the next night. Stealing a couple games from Portland and Oklahoma City will be difficult, but there’s definitely an opportunity for three or four wins between the two squads.

 

Western Conference

It’s no surprise that the teams in the Western Conference are much more talented than those in the East. Franchises in the Eastern Conference won a total of 556 games during the 2013-14 season.

The West won 674.

If 118 more victories isn’t proof enough, then it’s unclear as to what is. Utah only plays 30 of its 82 games against teams in the opposite conference, leaving it with 52 very difficult battles.

More athleticism among all positions should set the Jazz up for a stronger season. Unfortunately, their conference schedule does nothing toward leading to more wins.

 

Final Regular-Season Record/Standing

The Jazz can go in one of two directions. They can overachieve and surprise some people by winning games they weren’t expected to, or they can end up as exactly who they’re expected to be.

There are sure to be a number of cuts and changes to the final roster, but Utah currently has the youngest roster in the NBA. An average age of 23.4 is ridiculously young and potentially the leading factor toward another difficult year.

Could the Jazz compete for the playoffs this season? It’s highly unlikely. They would need a turnaround similar to the 2013-14 Phoenix Suns to make that happen.

Still though, seeing them consistently battle should become a regular sight.

Utah basketball has been boring for the past couple years. There’s no reason not to be blunt about it. A more athletic roster and first-year NBA coach should bring some life back into the franchise and be significantly more fun to watch.

 

Best-Case Record: 37-45

Expected Record: 25-57

Best-Case Western Conference Standing: No. 10

Expected Western Conference Standing: No. 14

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Gordon Hayward Rumors: Latest Buzz and Speculation Surrounding Jazz Guard

The Phoenix Suns have a lot of money to burn this offseason, and they may be using a chunk to try and sign Gordon Hayward.

Jody Genessy of the Deseret News reported that the Suns will likely offer the 24-year-old an offer sheet worth the maximum allowed:

The 6-foot-8 restricted free agent is expected to receive a significant contract offer, possibly upwards to a max deal, from the Phoenix Suns this coming week, according to sources.

Boston and Charlotte are two other teams whom the Jazz anticipate could throw large offers at Hayward.

The problem for Phoenix is that Hayward is a restricted free agent. Even if the Suns throw a max deal at him, the Utah Jazz have the chance to match it. According to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, they almost certainly would:

Sources told The Salt Lake Tribune that the Jazz will tier the available free agents, have conversations and see where there is a common interest. But at the top of the priority list is Hayward, the best all-around player on the team. While the former Butler star will have significant interest on the market, (general manager Dennis) Lindsey has said for two months that the Jazz plan to match whatever offer comes his way.

“We anticipate Gordon being a part of our franchise for a long time,” Lindsey said in the moments following last week’s NBA Draft.

Lindsey also spoke about how he feels Hayward will thrive under new head coach Quin Snyder, per Genessy:

Many will argue that the ninth overall pick in 2010 isn’t worthy of a max contract. He had a career year in 2013-14, but that only translated to 16.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game.

Basketball-Reference.com indicates his player efficiency rating (PER) was 16.2, which actually represented a slight drop from his 16.8 in 2012-13.

Chris Towers of CBSSports.com thinks that signing Hayward to a max deal—while still a bit extreme—might be a sounder decision than matching whatever price tags Klay Thompson and Lance Stephenson will carry:

Hayward is still pretty young, so there’s the chance that this past season was only a taste of what is to come.

If that’s the case, then giving him the max wouldn’t be all that far off from what his value will beespecially when compared to what other players with his kind of numbers are making.

The Jazz have been putting together a young core of talent and added to that in the draft with Dante Exum and Rodney Hood.

Keeping Hayward around would help secure their future a little more, so paying him a little bit more than they’d like would be worth it if it furthered the team’s progress.

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West grades: Jazz, Lakers make big splashes

The Lakers and Jazz put in great efforts. Who didn’t fare as well in the draft?

      
 

 

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Jazz extend qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz have extended a qualifying offer to Gordon Hayward, making him a restricted free agent.

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New Jazz coach Quin Snyder completes staff (Yahoo Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — New Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has completed his staff.

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Utah Jazz Rumors: Buying or Selling Gossip Ahead of 2014 NBA Draft

The Utah Jazz hold the No. 5 and No. 23 overall picks in the 2014 NBA draft, and rumors have become a typhoon—they are no longer merely swirling.

Whether it be which player the Jazz are likely to choose or Utah shipping selections elsewhere, validity of the news is constantly questioned.

And so, the multimillion-dollar question: Are we buying or selling the latest gossip?

Draft day is approaching quickly, and Bleacher Report is here to make sense of the recent buzz surrounding Utah’s first-round selections.

 

Note: All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

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Why Are Utah Jazz Targeting Cleveland Cavaliers’ No. 1 Draft Pick?

The Utah Jazz have apparently found their man, which is probably why they’re making a serious play for the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ No. 1 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Spencer Checketts of 1280 The Zone in Salt Lake City originally reported that Utah had made a major offer to the Cavs for the No. 1 pick back on June 20:

Since then, Jody Gennessy of the Deseret News has been reporting additional details based on what Checketts has relayed on his radio show:

And for any skeptics out there who mistrust small-market reporting, be advised; we’ve got the big-time stamp of approval as well:

So it seems pretty certain that the Jazz are gunning for Cleveland’s pick. The question is: Why?

The most obvious answer is that Utah has zeroed in on the one player it can’t live without. For a while, it appeared that player was Jabari Parker. But ESPN’s Chad Ford raised a possibility that went against conventional wisdom in an ESPN.com chat back on June 18:

I know what Jazz fans want. They want Jabari. But I actually think Embiid and Wiggins may be higher on their boards. If they move up, don’t assume it’s for Parker. And please Jazz fans, don’t burn down Dennis Lindsay’s home if he passed on him. You’ll love Wiggins too.

Obviously, Joel Embiid‘s foot injury removes him from that equation. But Wiggins remains.

And if you think about it, Wiggins would have been a logical choice at No. 1 a year ago, when many thought he would have warranted the top selection if not for the NBA’s age limit that required him to wait a year before entering the draft.

Though some of the luster has dimmed, Wiggins remains a very promising prospect.

B/R’s Jonathan Wasserman called him a “high-upside wing with all-star potential,” and it’s not hard to miss Wiggins’ overall athletic appeal. At 6’8″, he features a 7’0″ wingspan, per Draft Express, and a 44-inch max vertical, per Scout.com.

He’s a fluid scorer who should develop into a terrific defender as he matures, and there’s little question he’ll be ready to compete athletically right away.

For all that, though, Wasserman has Wiggins pegged as the No. 3 pick, while Ford has him slotted at No. 2.

If we assume the Jazz are targeting Wiggins, though, it doesn’t really matter whether he’s projected to go first, second or third. As far as Utah’s concerned, the point is that he certainly won’t be available at No. 5, which means trading up is a necessity.

And while it’s tough to figure out why the Jazz are fixated on that top selection, one could speculate that other teams in the top four simply aren’t interested in making a deal. So the Jazz are talking with the one team, Cleveland, that might be willing to listen.

There are any number of additional explanations for Utah’s desire to climb the draft ladder, some of which actually have little to do with Wiggins. For example, it’s possible the Jazz have taken a long look at that four-year, $48 million extension they gave Derrick Favors and are having second thoughts.

Maybe the Jazz have their eye on another big man who they prefer to Favors. Maybe they think Enes Kanter (if his knee is healthy) is the interior presence they want to use in a four-out, one-in set.

Given the reported additions to the trade negotiations, it’s tough to get past the notion that Utah simply wants Wiggins.

Why else would it be tossing in such valuable assets?

Admittedly, there’s a lot of appeal to the idea of Wiggins, Trey Burke and Kanter making up a very young, very cheap core. And with so little money committed to future salaries, the Jazz could pretty comfortably match whatever offer sheet Gordon Hayward might sign this summer.

Ultimately, stars are hard to come by in the NBA, and it’s possible Wiggins is one of those rare players. It’s a long shot, sure, but at least the young man himself has confidence in what he’ll become.

I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else. That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself,” Wiggins said on ESPN’s First Take (via Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com).

Maybe it’s not a widely held belief, and maybe there’s more going on here than what appears on the surface. But it’s hard to fault the Jazz for making a bold play like this, especially when it’s so out of character:

Hey, when you see something you like, go for it.

Let it never be said Utah is a dull place.

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Jazz offer Favors, Burke, No. 5 pick to Cavs for No. 1 pick

The Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers are discussing a trade involving the first overall pick. The Jazz are offering Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and the No. 5 pick to the Cavaliers for the No. 1 selection and Jarrett Jack. The Cavaliers wanted a future unprotected pick, but the Jazz countered with the No. 23 pick. The Jazz are split on whether or not to include Burks. The Jazz presumably would pick between Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

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