Finding a way to catch the Warriors and topple their NBA dynasty once again served as an offseason focus for teams around the league including the Utah Jazz, who host Golden State on Friday night. Golden State didn’t sit around relaxing. The Warriors went out and added a few key pieces of their own, creating a bit of a new dynamic early in the 2018-19 season.
Category: Utah Jazz
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When the NBA season begins Tuesday, it will be the first time in more than a decade that LeBron James, the biggest star in the sport, won’t be playing on opening night. For the first time in 15 years he also won’t be part of the league’s Eastern Conference. Those firsts show just how much James’ offseason decision to join the Los Angeles Lakers shook up the entire league.
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Richard Jefferson, who played 17 years in the NBA, has officially retired. Planning to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, the small forward announced Saturday on Instagram that he has made the decision to “move on from basketball.” He also offered a tribute to his late father. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Richard Jefferson Sr., 65, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Sept. 19 in Compton, Calif. He was known as “Big Rich.” The 38-year-old Jefferson, a member of the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, played 20 games with the Denver Nuggets last season, averaging just 1.5 points in 8.2 points per game.
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After a brutal game against the Utah Jazz on Thursday evening, the Sacramento Kings showed intestinal fortitude Friday in Portland. Dave Joerger and De’Aaron Fox both missed the game due to a stomach ailment, but other stepped forward. The Kings competed for a full 48 minutes, which is a very good development as they wrapped up their preseason schedule.
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Bringing back a roster virtually unchanged from the end of last season isn’t intended to be a sign that the Utah Jazz have embraced the status quo. The Jazz want to send a much different message. This is a team eager to prove last season’s strong finish was simply a snapshot of a climb toward becoming an elite team.
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Kevin Durant was phenomenal defensively over the first 33 games last season. From Opening Night through Jan. 3, Durant averaged 2.3 blocks and 0.8 steals per contest for the Warriors. After Golden State’s Dec. 27 win over the Utah Jazz, Draymond Green declared that Durant should be the front-runner for NBA Defensive Player of the Year. “I don’t think it’s really a race right now (with) the way he’s playing on the defensive side of the ball,” Draymond told reporters. “He’s been spectacular.
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The long-awaited return of All-Star Gordon Hayward is expected to occur Friday, when the Boston Celtics forward plans to play in the pre season opener on the road against the Charlotte Hornets. According to multiple media outlets, Hayward is ready for his first game action since he dislocated his left ankle and fractured his left tibia in a gruesome ending to his Celtics debut during the 2017-18 season opener. The 6-foot-8 Hayward, who played seven previous seasons with the Utah Jazz, recently said he’s “basically 100 percent.” On Tuesday, he told reporters that he has dunked off his left foot in practice.
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Utah didn’t make any major offseason moves but fans shouldn’t mistake that for a sign the Jazz are satisfied with the status quo. With the start of training camp, Utah players and coaches are echoing the same message: Continuity doesn’t equal complacency. The Jazz are focused on maximizing potential they showed toward the end of last season – with a roster that has returned mostly intact – once the regular season starts in mid-October.
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14-year NBA veteran Boris Diaw announced his retirement on Thursday and releasing the news in a video for Bros. Stories alongside fellow Frenchmen Tony Parker and Ronnie Turiaf. Diaw last played in the NBA in 2016-17, appearing in 73 games for the Utah Jazz. Last season, he played for Levallois Metropolitans, a club in France’s top professional league.
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LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are slated to take on Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. The Warriors have defeated James’ former franchise the Cleveland Cavaliers in each of the past two NBA Finals, securing a dominant 4-0 clean sweep earlier this year.
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