SALT LAKE CITY — In the back of the press conference room, Donovan Mitchell patiently waited for his turn.
Not to answer questions, mind you, but to ask one. As Joe Ingles and Mike Conley were finishing up their media availability, Mitchell took the mic and fired away.
“In basketball they have duos, you know shooting duos, like Splash Brothers,” Mitchell said. “Mike, I’ll ask you first, what do we call Bojan and Joe?”
“Like a nickname?” Conley said. “Joe-Bo Show.”
“You’ve been thinking about that,” Ingles quickly attested.
The pair laughed and with that, a new nickname was born for the wing duo of Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic.
That’s how Conley and Ingles ended their press conference Monday during the Jazz Media Day. They started it about the same, too.
The first question Ingles was asked, he opened by deadpanning: “I don't like Mike at all.”
It seems like that off-the-court chemistry that was so paramount during the last two seasons, will still be around with a new group. But will that lead to on-court chemistry, too?
“We've been playing basketball the last couple weeks together, just getting a little bit of a head start on it and we know each other pretty well,” Conley said.
The Jazz held optional team activities (OTAs) over the last two weeks of September with most of the team in attendance. The exceptions were Mitchell, Ingles and Rudy Gobert who had just finished World Cup play. That trio's absence may have been beneficial, though — at least it had some positives about it.
Jazz executive vice president Dennis Lindsey relayed a thought by Jazz coach Quin Snyder that with Gobert, Ingles and Mitchell — the team’s three returning starters from last season — not being in Salt Lake City, it allowed the rest of the group to get to know each other.
“There's a lot that I have to learn that Joe and Donnie, all those guys already know about the system and how coach coaches and all that stuff,” Conley said. “We're just trying to be as quick learners as we can and hopefully get it started off right.”
What can the new players look forward to during that learning curve?
“Those three-hour practices we have, right?” Ingles joked — or at least we think he was joking. "It'll take obviously a little bit of time but with intelligent players, it gets sped up pretty quickly."
With the NBA cracking down on players and teams fudging heights this season, the question looms, which of the Jazz players will suddenly drop an inch or two?
So it may not have been a coincidence that Conley was rocking a new hairstyle with a bun on top of his head.
“Look at that thing on the top of his head,” Ingles joked.
Conley, though, thinks his 6-foot-1 height is safe, saying that’s what he’s measured at that size for a long time. There is one player they think could lose some inches: Donovan Mitchell.
“I don't know about Donovan, though,” Conley said.
“Donovan is definitely smaller,” Ingles said.
Mitchell has been listed at 6-foot-3.
When the topic came up, Georges Niang — who has been listed at 6-foot-8 — immediately started pushing his hair up as tall as he could.
“So listen, all I'm saying is you lose money if you don't have these inches,” Niang quipped. “So trying to gain every inch.”
A coaching rotation
The Jazz will fill assistant coach Tony Lang’s spot on the bench by committee. Assistants Lamar Skeeter, Zach Guthrie and Vince LeGarza will rotate the third spot on the bench based on scouting assignments.
“The reason for that is I think all those guys are really talented coaches,” Snyder said. “We have a very talented staff, from an individual development standpoint, a tactical standpoint and from a relationship standpoint.”
Lang left the Jazz to take a position on the Cleveland Cavaliers staff.