Danny Ainge Anticipating ‘More Exciting Basketball’ From Jazz

Sep 13, 2022, 2:45 PM
Utah Jazz CEO Danny Ainge (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – One day after his unfeigned press conference on why the Utah Jazz traded two All-Stars this summer, Danny Ainge said he’s anticipating “more exciting basketball” from the team this season.

Ainge sat down with Jazz television broadcaster Craig Bolerjack to go in-depth on the team’s offseason moves, and what he expects to see this upcoming season compared to years past.

“I don’t anticipate that our team is going to win as many games as we’d won,” Ainge admitted, “but I believe that it’s going to be more entertaining and more exciting basketball.”

On Monday, Ainge spoke at length about a lack of belief that he interpreted from the Jazz roster last season that fell woefully short of expectations in the playoffs. Now, with a younger roster, the Jazz CEO is enthused by the team’s new faces.

“[We have two] first-round picks, one a lottery pick, we have a kid in [Lauri] Markkanen who’s had a fantastic summer this summer and just had 43 points and a big win, Talen Horton-Tucker — dynamic 21-year-old player,” Ainge said. “I think there’s a lot to be excited about. I’m excited about this team.”

To date, the Jazz have 11 new players on the roster with 17 guaranteed contracts as training camp approaches.

During the offseason teams can carry as many as 20 players, but the roster must be trimmed down to 15 players not counting two-way contract by opening night.

The Jazz have long been rumored to be in discussions for the Los Angeles Lakers Russell Westbrook who would be waived on arrival but would add more draft picks to the team’s suddenly rich stockpile.

“We could have the veteran players returning to our team who we like and we love them around a new coach and around our younger players,” Ainge said. “It’s a great advantage to have that, at the same time, those young players are what’s going to be really driving them.”

But while the Jazz can sell the excitement of a new roster, the front office understands that significant growth is required to rebuild the organization into serious contenders, a distinction the team hasn’t had in nearly two decades.

“We need some good fortune in the draft, we need to work really hard to make sure those draft picks are useful to the organization going forward,” Ainge said. “But the work begins, it’s just starting anew.”

The new-look Jazz will host media day on September 26 and open training camp a day later.

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