SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz held practice Thursday for about two hours, though we're still six days away from their regular season opener against the Denver Nuggets. They then had to sign about 600 basketballs each that the Jazz and NBA will use throughout the season as charitable giveaways, gifts for sponsors, and much more. Head coach Quin Snyder and rookies Donovan Mitchell and Tony Bradley spoke to the media afterward.
Donovan Mitchell on the hype
Mitchell was the talk of Twitter after Tuesday night's game against the Lakers, when he scored 26 points and hit some key shots to get the Jazz a preseason win.
Thursday in practice, Patrick Kinahan asked Mitchell if he's aware of the hype surrounding him right now. "I am, and with social media now, it's kind of hard not to see it. I just really focus on trying to be as humble as possible and not let it get to me. The shots are falling, it's an added on bonus to my defense. That's what I want to focus on."
"The last 16 months have been a whirlwind, I guess you could say," Mitchell said. "I'm just full of adrenaline right now because I'm excited to be here."
Tony Bradley playing video games
We asked Mitchell about his teammate Tony Bradley, who has been driving Mitchell around while the Louisville rookie works on getting his driver's license.
"He's quiet, he's definitely quiet. He's funny. He loves video games," Mitchell said. "I try and get him to go out. I like to go places, just walk around, get used to cities. He's like the opposite. He just stays in his room and plays Xbox all day. We go to eat, and he's a very funny guy. You'll start to see it."
Bradley says he plays "NBA2K," "Call of Duty," but says he plays all kinds of games. He has not yet tried "Super Rudy Block."
Besides the games, though, his coaches have been impressed with what they've seen with Bradley so far.
"He's got some things that are innate: his hands, his ability to get touches on the offensive glass, his touch in general," Snyder said. "A lot of it for Tony is getting comfortable and learning how to work." Bradley is still just 19 years old, and the Jazz know he's a work in progress.
Deron Williams on leaving Utah
Former Jazz point guard Deron Williams has been hosting a podcast with former ESPN700 radio host and MMA fighter Sean O'Connell. It's been interesting listening, but this is probably the most newsworthy element so far.
On the most recent podcast, Episode 10, Williams was talking about his reception in Utah after being traded from the Jazz in 2011. During the discussion, though, he defended the Jazz trading him, saying "I also may have gave them a little reason (to trade me). I might have said I wasn't going to re-sign."
That's always been somewhat speculated: how sure were the Jazz that Williams wasn't going to stay with the Jazz when he became a free agent in 2012? Apparently, they "may have" had word from the man himself.
Williams hasn't yet signed with an NBA team for this year, though the Jazz aren't really interested, or so I've heard. But they're still benefiting from the original deal: Derrick Favors is still the starting power forward for the Jazz, and while they didn't keep Enes Kanter (who was selected with one of the picks they received in the deal), the pick they received from Oklahoma City in the Kanter deal was used to acquire Ricky Rubio this summer.
No determination has been made about whether or not Dante Exum will get surgery, according to Jazz PR. Exum and his team are still meeting with doctors to come up with a consensus on Exum's best course of action moving forward, they say. "He's got a lot of resolve," Snyder said. "There's a toughness that he's developed too, through experience... Whatever happens medically going forward, whatever we saw from Dante over the last few weeks is a guy who has become a really good competitor."
Rodney Hood left the Jazz's game in the first quarter with neck stiffness. Snyder reports that Hood still is experiencing some stiffness, but did participate in practice.
Raul Neto did not participate in practice, still battling the quadriceps tightness that has plagued him during the preseason. He could play if needed, but they're hoping giving him rest now prevents this from becoming a nagging issue during the season.
Jazz waive Torian Graham
The Jazz waived Torian Graham Thursday, just three days after signing him on Monday. He never was actually with the Jazz, having not gone on this most recent two-game road trip. Instead, signing him and waiving him is a work around to get his NBA G-League rights. Look for the Arizona State product in Salt Lake City Stars training camp.