Call it a transition period for the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz finally can focus on the games that count with eight days between the last preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers — Tuesday’s 105-99 win — and the regular-season opener.
At the same time, they don’t want to focus too much on the Denver Nuggets with so much time remaining until Wednesday’s opener.
“The staff is obviously focused on Denver,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “But we don’t want to burden the players too early in the process because this is a long break. Preseason scheduling is different this year for everyone. Teams have fewer games and there’s more time in between, so you have to manage and maximize your time.”
There are things the Jazz would like to clean up between now and Wednesday. First, they want a resolution to Dante Exum’s injury situation. The point guard still is seeking another medical opinion on whether to surgically repair his separated shoulder. Surgery most likely would mean Exum is out for the season, but if the Jazz would prefer a way to rehab the shoulder without costing Exum another year.
If the Jazz don’t have Exum, at least they will know they have to go with Raul Neto as the longterm backup point guard. And he’s not fully healthy. He missed Thursday’s practice with soreness in his hamstring.
“We have to get everyone healthy that’s available to us,” Snyder said.
The Jazz are scrimmaging to stay sharp, implementing more plays and putting the final touches on the playing rotation. This will be the last bit of extended practice time the Jazz have for a while. The regular season starts with three games in four nights.
Back to practice
Starting shooting guard Rodney Hood practiced Thursday after missing most of Tuesday’s preseason finale with a stiff neck. The practice time will be beneficial for Hood. He didn’t play as heavy a preseason minutes load as many of the other starters. He’ll have to play extensively from here out.
“The neck is still a little stiff,” Snyder said. “But he’s feeling better. The good thing is he was able to practice.”
Rookie Tony Bradley said it was surreal playing the new NBA 2k18 as himself, the first time his likeness has been featured in a video game.
“They gave me a 70 rating,” Bradley said. “I thought it was cool.”
A 70 rating is relatively high for a rookie. Utah’s prized rookie, Donovan Mitchell, was given a 75. The highest rated Jazz player is Rudy Gobert, who is an 88.
The deadline to reach an extension with Hood and Exum is Monday. Sources continue to suggest either of them reaching a deal with the Jazz is unlikely. Both would become restricted free agents next summer if no deal is reached.