SALT LAKE CITY — The Jazz held practice midday Monday ahead of their game against the Denver Nuggets on ESPN at 8 p.m. MT Tuesday. Here's what's going on around the team.
It's hard to know how meaningful Rudy Gobert working out after practice really is. After all, the media doesn't get to see the majority of Jazz practices and workouts, and so maybe this was an everyday occurrence. Gobert also worked out before the Jazz's game Saturday, and was moving well.
But Rudy Gobert worked out in a number of drills after Jazz practice on Monday, going one-on-one with Jazz assistant coach DeSagana Diop. He moved around the court in various drills, working on his movements and finishing ability. Maybe more revealing was how many eyes were watching: head coach Quin Snyder, Jazz training staff members, and three Jazz assistant coaches were all trained on the workout.
Gobert has been out since Nov. 11 with a right knee bone bruise, and the team announced then that Gobert would be re-evaluated in four weeks. So Gobert's return probably isn't imminent, but maybe they're readying him for a return at the very front of that original window.
Memphis fired their head coach David Fizdale after an eight-game losing streak this November.
Still, the firing comes as a big surprise to NBA watchers, who generally felt Fizdale was one of the best young coaches in the league. Clearly, the reason behind the firing was the coach's relationship to Marc Gasol, the All-Star center. Gasol didn't play at the end of Memphis' relatively close loss to Brooklyn, and was clearly upset afterwards.
J.B. Bickerstaff will act as Memphis' interim head coach in the mean time.
The Salt Lake City Stars, the G League affiliate of the Jazz, play the Rio Grande Valley Vipers tonight at 7 p.m. MT. The new twist, though, is that the game will be played at Vivint Arena rather than at the Stars' usual home at Salt Lake Community College.
That's an exciting thing for the Stars' players, and will go some way towards showing them that they're a significant part of the franchise. Expect Tony Bradley to get 30+ minutes at the center position, as the Jazz sent him down to the Stars after Jazz practice today so he could get the experience. Nate Wolters, Eric Griffin, and Naz Mitrou-Long are the other stars for the Stars.
Raul Neto is listed as questionable for Tuesday's game against Denver due to a costochondral sprain. In case you didn't know (I didn't!), the costochondral joints are the joints between the ribs and the cartilage which attaches them to the sternum.
It's a shame, because Neto has been playing really well since finding himself in the rotation over the last week.
"Raul's a heck of a player," Snyder said. "For Raul, over a three-year period, he's worked as hard as anyone in the program on his game."
Snyder pointed out that Neto's shooting, which had been a big weakness in his time in the ACB, has turned into a relative strength during his time in Utah. Neto shot just 20 percent from three in his final year at UCAM Murcia, meanwhile, he's shooting 44 percent from distance this year, just three years later. "His shooting has become very consistent," Snyder said. "He's a confident 3-point shooter."
"He's really improved his ability to finish," Snyder continued. "For not being the biggest guy, maybe not the most vertically athletic guy, he's got a knack around the rim."