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Jazz hoping to hit higher notes


Jazz hoping to hit higher notes

After getting swept out of the playoffs by San Antonio in the first round, the Utah Jazz made some off-season moves that might give them a shot to go a little farther in the playoffs this coming season. The Jazz are certainly no threat to make a run at the Larry O'Brien trophy anytime soon, but they do have a solid nucleus of young players that can grow together and maybe some day turn into a contender.

The marquee move for the Jazz this summer was shipping out guard Devin Harris to Atlanta in return for forward Marvin Williams, who will slide in right away and start for Utah at small forward. Williams, the former 2 overall pick in 2005, never lived up to his billing and has had a so-so career thus far. Williams averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds a game for Atlanta last season.

Utah also acquired guard MoWilliamsfrom the L.A. Clippers in a four-team trade. Williams can play point guard and has a sweet stroke as he averaged 13 points a game with L.A., helping the Clippers get to the second round of the playoffs last spring. Williams has one year left on his current contract so this could be an audition of sorts for him.

In fact, eight players on the Jazz roster enter the final year of their contracts,includingthe team's best player, center Al Jefferson, who averaged 19 points and 10 rebounds a game. Forward Paul Millsap is another key player in the last season of his deal. Millsap averaged16 points and 8 rebounds for the Jazz.

Forward Enes Kanter is back for his second season and the Jazz still have high hopes for the 3 pick from the 2011 draft. Kanter had an underwhelming rookie season,averagingjust 4pointsand 4 rebounds in 13 minutes a game.

Utah added more shooting to the roster by inking free-agent guard Randy Foye to a one-year, 2.5 million deal. Utah already has young shooters in Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward but Foye adds some depth coming off the bench.

The Jazz signed Slam Dunk champ Jeremy Evans to a three-year deal worth 5.5 million and he will likely back up Williams at forward. The 6'-9" Evansaveragedonly 2 points and 2 rebounds in his second year with the Jazz but the team hopes that he can blossom.

The Jazz didn't have a first round pick in the NBA draft but they did have the 47th overall and with it took another shooter in Kevin Murphy out of Tennessee Tech.

Utah went 36-30 last season and earned the eighth and final playoff spot in the western conference in coach Tyrone Corbin's first full year. Expect the Jazz, with the new additions of veteran guards and the return of a solid front court, to certainly be fighting again for a playoff spot.

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Wizards begin training camp with Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers sidelined with minor injuries

Wizards begin training camp with Dwight Howard and Austin Rivers sidelined with minor injuries

The Wizards began their 2018-19 training camp on Tuesday with some notable absences, as Dwight Howard did not participate at all and Austin Rivers left practice early.

Howard, 32, is dealing with back soreness and worked with the training staff behind closed doors. Once practice was over, he was on the treadmill in the Wizards' weight room.

Rivers, 26, left practice with neck spasms. He was not part of contact drills, according to head coach Scott Brooks, as the discomfort began soon after they started.

Brooks said Howard has not been sent for an MRI as of yet and continued to classify the injury as minor.

"He’s making steady progress. We’re gonna see how he feels in a few days," Brooks said, suggesting Howard could miss more time this week.

"There’s no rush. We don’t play until 24 days [from now]. We’ve got plenty of time. He did make some steady progress."

Howard and Rivers were the Wizards' two biggest offseason additions. Howard was signed as a free agent, while Rivers was brought in via a trade with the L.A. Clippers.

The Wizards do not open their regular season until Oct. 18, but they do begin the preseason on Oct. 1. At this point, both Howard and Rivers are considered day-to-day.


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Dwight Howard blames Shaq's 'insecurity' for their beef

Dwight Howard blames Shaq's 'insecurity' for their beef

Anyone following the Wizards this week probably read something about the back-and-forth between Dwight Howard and Shaquille O'Neal. Here's a refresher if none of that sounds familiar. 

Howard laughed off whatever beef there might be at the Wizards media day podium, but when he got a chance to sit down with Chris Miller, he was more frank about what's going on between them. 

"I like to joke and have fun, but I don't go at other NBA players or NBA vets because I respect all of them because they came before me," Howard told Miller.

"[Shaq] said something online about the whole rings situation. He got rings, I'm not in his league and all that stuff. But if that's your only way to come back at all players, then you really don't have too much to say."

Howard has his own theory about why Shaq might not like him: insecurity.

"I think it's a little insecurity on his part because people call him 'Superman' and they call me 'Superman.' But if I'm an older guy and it's younger players that are being compared to me and they have that same nickname, I want to feel good about it."

About his relationship with the Hall of Fame big man, Howard said he doesn't like it, but has to finally say something. 

"I just think it comes off to me as a little bit insecure when you're taking shots at somebody that's 10, 12 years younger than you."