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Entering contract year, Rodney Hood stayed in Utah all summer to work on game

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets

DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 05: Rodney Hood #5 of the Utah Jazz controls the ball against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on November 5, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Jazz defeated the Nuggets 96-84. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

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With Gordon Hayward gone, a lot is going to be asked of Rodney Hood this season in Utah. He will need to be the team’s leading scorer on the perimeter, which means he’s going to have to bring more playmaking to the floor, and he’s got to be more consistent as a shooter. He’s shown flashes, but it can’t be that way anymore.

Oh, and by the way, he’s entering a contract year. Improve his game and his salary goes up.

Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey challenged Hood to step up this offseason, and the two guard stayed in Utah all summer to work on his game with coaches, reports Tony Jones at the Salt Lake Tribune.

Lindsey challenged his shooting guard. He wants more consistency. He wants Hood to visit the free-throw line more often. He wants the guard who is entering a contract year to turn his offensive ability into efficient production
“He told me the truth,” Hood said. “He said he wanted me to get better and to prepare myself for a bigger role.”

This is the time of year when every team raves about the work a player put in, how they lost/gained 15 pounds and is in their best shape of their life, and how they added some skill or shot to their game. Take all of it with a grain of salt until you see it on the court.

This is true of Hood, too, but guys entering contract years have a tendency to improve. And Utah has been a team focused on and successful with internal development of players in recent years. Hood may well be ready to take that step forward.

Hood will be a restricted free agent next summer, unless he and the Jazz come to an agreement on a contract extension before the October deadline. That seems unlikely, Hood is going to want a healthy payday, the Jazz are both going to want to see his development, and know they can match any offer he gets next summer (in a tight market with a number of good two guards available). Maybe the two sides can reach a number, but it’s more likely Hood is playing this season for his next contract.