Jazz got next: Utah hosts 1st summer league since 2008
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) While the Utah Jazz Summer League may not have the recent history of the Orlando version or be the massive undertaking that is the Las Vegas event, it's back - and appears will be around for a while.
This year's four-day session that begins Monday features former power Boston going through a rebuild, San Antonio a year from winning the title and a 76ers team stocked with recent lottery picks.
Yes, the Rocky Mountain Revue has officially returned under a new title for the first time since 2008.
Jazz president Randy Rigby said there was a demand for another summer league with an increased focus on player development around the league. The plan is to keep Salt Lake City's version to a maximum of eight teams and make it a long-term annual event.
Things to watch this week during the Utah Jazz Summer League:
PLAYOFF PUSH: The Jazz had the sixth-best win percentage in the league after the All-Star break with one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. The goal for 2015-16 is to make the playoffs in a deep Western Conference. The summer league roster is highlighted by second-year players Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Exum, who started 41 games, was the No. 5 overall pick in 2014 and Hood was No. 23. They are a huge part of the future for the organization and are expected to make significant improvements this summer. The summer league will be the public's first glimpse at those strides.
76ERS' BACKLOG: The 76ers found themselves in a predicament on draft night. Duke center Jahlil Okafor slipped past the first two picks despite the widespread belief that he would go No. 2 to the Lakers. The 76ers selected Okafor despite having taken centers Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel in the previous two drafts. No one knows how the organization will make the glut of big men work, but the summer league in Salt Lake City will be the professional debut for Okafor. He should be the highest drafted player participating at the summer league.
YOUTHFUL LEPRECANS: The Boston Celtics have spent recent seasons stockpiling draft picks during a deliberate rebuild. That rebuild is ongoing. Boston's summer league roster features just two players that aren't rookies. They are 2014 No. 6 overall pick Marcus Smart and 2014 No. 17 overall pick James Young. Smart made 38 starts as a rookie and averaged 7.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists. Their roster will also feature 2015 No. 16 overall pick Terry Rozier and No. 28 R.J. Hunter. If there's interest in first-round draft picks, there's plenty on the Celtics.
FREE AGENCY SIGNINGS: Last week may have featured daily headlines of veterans agreeing to lucrative contracts around the league, but deals can't be officially signed until Thursday. So, free agency is alive and well. Big names dominated the news last week, but other players will be sought to fill out rosters on every team in the league. Those players are still negotiating and there will certainly be discussions among executives. General managers will be watching the summer league, but they'll still be working on free agent deals.
THE SPURS MACHINE: It's hard to take your eyes off San Antonio. The Spurs seem to be title contenders every year, and now with their core group returning, they'll be looking to tweak the pieces around them - starting this week in Utah.