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Jazz Offseason Review

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The Utah Jazz shied away from chasing stars, and instead opted for fit. George Hill is not an earth-shattering player, but he’s a perfect piece. Joe Johnson is well past his All-Star level prime, but he’ll be great in limited action on the wing. Boris Diaw failed to hit 20 mins/game last year for the first time since his sophomore season, but brings the veteran versatility the front court was missing.

Utah’s biggest hole last season was their abysmal point guard play. They started Raul Neto for a large part of the season. Unlike most teams, though, Utah doesn’t need their point guard to create offense – that comes from the wing duo of Rodney Hood and Gordon Hayward. No, they need a point guard who can play defense, hit open shots, and thrive doing all the little things in the background. And they need that player to be in and out before it’s time to hand the reigns over to young Dante Exum. That’s the exact description of George Hill, who is in the final year of his deal. His incapability of being a lead dog on the offensive end has been viewed as a negative his whole career, but in Utah it fits.

In Joe Johnson, the Jazz don’t get the 20, 5 and 5, seven-time all-star he used to be, but they get a capable, veteran presence who is one of the best in late game situations – an area the Jazz struggled in last season. Joe Ingles and Chris Johnson combined to play 27 minutes a night on the wing for Utah last season. Adding Joe Johnson and a now-healthy Alec Burks will allow them to bring that number closer to zero, where it should be. It also unlocks interesting small ball lineups. After signing with Miami last year, Johnson spent 36% of his time at power forward. Utah could implore a similar strategy, running out a Burks-Hood-Hayward-Johnson-Gobert lineup that would be massively long, athletic, and filled with a nice mix of playmakers, shooters, and defensive switchability. In fact, this roster is now so deep and versatile that coach Quin Snyder could insert any combination of Hill, Diaw, Derrick Favors, or Trey Lyles into that lineup depending on what they need versus any given opponent. Utah is going to have some fun lineups.

The Jazz already have Gobert, Favors, and Lyles to soak up big minutes on the interior. But Boris Diaw gives them something different – a playmaker. He can catch the dump off pass from the pick and roll, turn, scan the floor, and quickly make the right decision. That skill set made him a crucial cog in the Spurs machine that defeated the vaunted Miami Heat in the Finals, and he is still capable of providing that value in lower doses. And, hopefully, capable of teaching Trey Lyles those same skills. Again, a perfect complementary fit to the rest of the young, talented roster amassed in Salt Lake City.

Utah will never be a free agent destination. They can’t expect to get a meeting with Kevin Durant. So they have to nail the fringe moves – sign the right mid-tier free agent, ace the draft, trade for the right players. So far, they have done those things and are poised to take the leap to real contenders not only this season, but for the foreseeable future. Well, at least until it comes time to pay all these young guys.

 

 

 

 

Follow David on Twitter @dmcgowan24

 

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Kings, NBA Announce Start of Joint Investigation into Allegations Against Luke Walton

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The Sacramento Kings and the NBA have announced that they have started a join investigation into the allegations of sexual assault made by
Kelli Tennant, a former host on Spectrum SportsNet LA, in a civil suit filed against new head coach Luke Walton from alleged incidents back in 2014.

“The Kings and the NBA take these allegations very seriously and will collaborate to conduct a complete and thorough investigation,” the team and league said in a statement.

The Kings’ investigation will be led by Sue Ann Van Dermyden, the founding partner of Sacramento law firm Van Dermyden Maddux, and Jennifer Doughty, a senior associate attorney at the firm, while the league’s investigation will be led by Elizabeth Maringer, the league’s senior vice president and assistant general counsel, integrity and investigations.

Tennant held a news conference earlier this week to comment on the allegations to which Walton’s attorney responded by calling the allegations “baseless” and calling Tennat “an opportunist”.

Walton became the head coach of the Sacramento Kings immediately following his dismissal as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month.

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NBA

Former NBA Player Sebastian Telfair Convicted in Gun Case, Faces 15 Years in Prison

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Former NBA player and once highly touted young prospect Sebastian Telfair has been convicted of possessing a firearm and could face up to 15 years in prison, according to TMZ Sports.

Telfair, 33, was busted back in June 2017 in Brooklyn, New York after cops found several weapons in his possession during a traffic stop.

Telfair, a high school phenom, played for the Boston Celtics, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder, Toronto Raptors, and Phoenix Suns, among others, throughout his 12 seasons in the NBA, but many believe that he never reached his full potential.

Telfair plead not guilty and tried to fight back the charges, but a jury found him guilty on Wednesday of felony criminal possession of a weapon.

Telfair, who could face up to 15 years in prison, is scheduled back in court in June for sentencing.

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Golden State Warriors

Sports Reporter Suing Kings’ Luke Walton for Sexual Assault Allegations

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Sacramento Kings new head coach Luke Walton is already in the news, but for all the wrong reasons, and he has hired attorney Mark Baute to defend him against the allegations of sexual battery made by sports reporter Kelly Tennant, who is suing Walton.

According to TMZ Sports, Walton and his legal team are blasting the accuser, and Baute issued the following statement;

“Luke Walton retained me to defend him against these baseless allegations,” Baute said. 

“The accuser is an opportunist, not a victim, & her claim is not credible. We intend to prove this in a courtroom.”

According to the suit, Tennant, who worked as a reporter for Spectrum SportsNet and SportsNet LA, claims that while Walton was an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors, he asked her to come and meet him at the Casa Del Mar Hotel in Santa Monica, California, to drop off a book she had published.

Tennant says that she asked Walton to write the forward in her book due to a business relationship that the two had had for several years.

Upon arriving at Walton’s hote, he conviced her to come up to his room so that the two could “catch up” and upon arriving in his room Walton pinned her to the bed and placed his hips and legs over her body, forcing kisses on her neck, face, and chest.

Tennant claims that she screamed for him to stop and attempted to break free, but Walton held her down, groped her breasts and groin, and rubbed his erection on her leg.

Tennant claims she was “in shock and fear. She was afraid she was about to be raped,” the suit states. 

Additionally, Tennant claims that when Walton finally stopped and released her he escorted her out of the hotel room as if nothing ever happened and she claims that “He smiled, laughed again and made the disturbing statement, ‘Good to see you,'”

The disturbing behavior allegedly continued while Walton was the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers back in May 2017, and Tennant claims that Walton once greeted her by uttering “vulgar, guttural sounds at her” and said, “mmmm … you’re killing me in that dress.”

The Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Sacramento Kings all stated that they had no knowledge of the alleged incident during Walton’s tenure.

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