SALT LAKE CITY — Some Monday musings on the eventful week for the Utah Jazz and the crowded upcoming golf week:
Lost somewhat in the gnashing of teeth over Gordon Hayward taking his talents to Beantown was the classy response by Jazz management over the disappointing decision. No one hurt more than the Jazz front office and coaches, who had worked with Hayward’s development for years, but there were no angry outbursts like Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert’s when LeBron James left for Miami in 2010. Everyone from owner Gail Miller to general manager Dennis Lindsey to coach Quin Snyder was magnanimous in their comments, despite how brokenhearted they felt inside. The topper was the full-page ad in both Salt Lake daily papers, from the Jazz thanking Hayward for his seven years in Utah.
Now let’s see if Jazz fans can show the same kind of class when Hayward returns in a few months wearing a No. 20 green Celtics jersey. Jazz fans love to hate players who have spurned them and they continue to boo Deron Williams, Derek Fisher and Enes Kanter long after they played for the Jazz.
If you’re one of those fans who can’t wait to boo Hayward when he returns to Utah, don’t plan any trips to Hawaii next February, specifically the third week. Because that’s when Hayward and the Celtics are most likely to be coming to town. The NBA schedule-maker tends to go by past habits, and of the last 12 visits going back to 2005, the Celtics have played their only game in Salt Lake nine times in February with all of the games coming between Feb. 11 and 28. If you want to get more specific, seven of the games have come between the 19th and 25th, with two each on the 19th, 24th and 25th and the other on the 21st. We’ll know for sure when Hayward will make his return when the NBA schedule comes out about a month from now.
As sad as it was for local fans losing Hayward and George Hill last week, members of the local media may see the moves from a different perspective. The Jazz have usually had a very good group for the media to deal with, but if you had to put three players at the bottom of the list for interviews, most of us would single out Hill, Hayward and the recently departed Trey Lyles. Actually Alec Burks may be the hardest to pry words out of, but at least he’s always pleasant when being interviewed.
So who are the best Jazz players for the media to interview? The Frenchmen top the list — Rudy Gobert because of his willingness to always talk and do it before he heads to the showers and Boris Diaw for his ready smile and thoughtful answers. Joe Ingles is always amenable and quotable, while Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Raul Neto are always nice.
Go figure. The Jazz were 100 to 1 shots to win the NBA championship, according to Bovada in Las Vegas in late June, but have moved up to 66 to 1 in the latest odds, after Hayward announced his decision to move to Boston. How you improve your odds by losing your best player without getting anything in return? The Celtics, by the way, moved up from 14 to 1 to 10 to 1 and are tied with Houston with the third-best odds to win the title behind Golden State, 2 to 3, and Cleveland, 4 to 1.
The two biggest golf tournaments in Utah every year are the Utah State Men’s Amateur and the PGA Tour Web.com Utah Championship. Unfortunately, for the third time in the past five years, both tournaments are being contested at the same time — this week. The State Am, featuring the best amateurs in Utah, will be played for the 119th consecutive year, at the Ogden Country Club, while the Web.com will be at Oakridge Country Club for the first time, after a couple of decades at Riverside Country Club, Willow Creek Country Club and Thanksgiving Point.
I can’t blame the State Am, which has claimed the second week in July spot for decades, while the Utah Championship is at the mercy of the PGA Tour, which sets its schedule just a few months earlier. But it would sure be nice if the two tourneys didn’t have to share the spotlight this week and force golf writers to try to be two places at the same time.