Jazz Introduce Paschall, Gay, And Whiteside
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz introduced Eric Paschall, Rudy Gay, and Hassan Whiteside on Monday as the three gathered in Las Vegas where the team was taking part in the NBA Summer League.
The Jazz signed both Gay and Whiteside and traded a second-round pick for Paschall last week shortly after free agency opened.
With Derrick Favors and Georges Niang headed to Oklahoma City and Philadelphia respectively, the Jazz three newest additions will be asked to fill the void left by the previous rotation regulars, while hoping to elevate the team to new heights.
Paschall joins the Jazz after playing two seasons with the Golden State Warriors. During his rookie season, the former Villanova product saw significant playing time as the former championship contenders were decimated by injuries.
However, during his sophomore season, the Warriors saw the return of Steph Curry and their relevance in the Western Conference playoff race, and Paschall found himself out of the team’s rotation by the season’s end.
“It’s all part of the journey, it’s all part of what the NBA is about,” Paschall said of the ups and downs early in his career. “You have to keep solidifying yourself in this league and keep making sure that you are playing.”
After averaging 14 points in 27 minutes per game as a rookie, Paschall’s numbers dipped to just 9.5 points in 17 minutes as a sophomore.
Despite the setback, the third-year forward who said he grew up some 500 feet away from Jazz superstar Donovan Mitchell in New York said he already knows what to expect ahead of his new start in Utah.
“Be ready to shoot a lot of threes, I already know they put them up,” Paschall said of what he knows about the Jazz. “So I’m excited and I’ve been working on my three all summer. I know you have to be ready to play.”
Gay joined the Jazz on a reported three-year contract after spending the last four seasons playing under Gregg Popovich with the San Antonio Spurs. A former lottery pick, Gay entered the NBA as a highly touted prospect but has spent all 14 years of his career playing in largely overlooked markets.
The veteran was a highly sought-after free agent but said there were multiple reasons why he gladly chose to sign with the Jazz.
“One is the culture, the ownership group is great, Coach Quin [Snyder] is great,” Gay said. “They really sold me on it, but even more than that is — yeah, a lot of really good teams were coming after me and wanted me to be there but I think this team was the team that had the most need for what I can do.”
Gay entered the NBA as a two-guard, but as the NBA has gotten away from traditional positions, the veteran has transitioned towards a front-court role. Regardless of how he’s labeled, the former Spur says he knows he can help the team.
“I’m a basketball player, you put me on the court, I’m going to make do, I am going to make way.”
Though his role might be uncertain, he’s already family with one aspect of the Jazz – guard Mike Conley.
Gay and Conley began their careers together playing for the Memphis Grizzlies after being drafted in successive seasons. The two veterans have already reconnected in Vegas as the team competes at summer league.
“I actually flew here with him,” Gay said. “I’ve talked to him about Salt Lake City and where to live and all that stuff. He’s been my tour guide.”
Whiteside was unquestionably the most surprising signing the Jazz made in the offseason. Paschall’s close ties to Mitchell and Jazz general manager Justin Zanik’s well-known fondness of Gay had made them rumored targets for the team over the past several years.
Whiteside on the other hand came out of the blue, and not just because his name hadn’t been considered as a likely Jazz target.
As one of the best shot blockers in the league, Whiteside has had a long-standing rivalry with Jazz center Rudy Gobert dating back to the free agent’s time in Miami. The two players were often compared to one another and routinely went after one another on and off the floor.
Despite their prior beef, Whiteside said it wasn’t a factor now for the duo.
“No rivalry or anything, we’re just competing. At the end of the day, I’m always happy to see a big man succeed in this league, especially a somebody that blocks shots the same way that I do.”
After several productive seasons in Miami and Portland, Whiteside signed with the Sacramento Kings last season where he quickly fell out of coach Luke Walton’s rotation.
Going into this offseason, Whiteside said he could have returned to Portland, opted for a backup role behind Gobert with the Jazz.
“I think the guys are used to playing with a shot-blocking big that rolls and dunks,” Whiteside said of his role with the team. “They already know that that style. I think it’s a great fit for me. I’m really excited, I haven’t been this excited in a long time.”
The Jazz will play five games in Las Vegas over the next week and open training camp in late September.
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