SALT LAKE CITY — Andris Biedrins has exchanged a few emails with friends from his old team, but he’s mostly moved on from his Golden State playing days.
By the way, you could substitute happily or thrillingly instead of mostly in that first sentence.
The new Jazz center isn’t going to throw verbal missiles at his former employer, but he’s (pick one of the previously mentioned adverbs) moved on. Fellow former Warrior players Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush have mentioned similar feelings.
“I think I can start over and build back that confidence,” Biedrins said. “I think this is a great opportunity.”
He doesn’t hold any ill will against Golden State for trading him after spending the first nine seasons of his NBA career in Oakland, Calif. His playing time and productivity diminished to the point of near nonexistence last season when he saw just 9.3 minutes an outing in 53 games while scoring all of 24 points. This from a guy who averaged a double-double in 2009 and who’ll earn $9 million in the final year of his contract.
The new scenery and new start are giving the 27-year-old a new outlook.
“I felt it right away when I get traded. Obviously, it was not going my way and the trade was ... the only way to go,” he said. “I’m glad I’m here. I’m looking forward to the season.”
The 7-footer got off to a rough start in Utah. He cut his foot while swimming, requiring a couple of stitches and a two-week break. He’s healed and is trying to recapture his former playing mojo while helping mentor young Jazz bigs Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert.
“I think I can help them a lot on the court and off the court as well, just to maintain them,” he said. “They’re still young and help them through the season. It’s going to be tough. Sometimes you lose a couple in a row; you let your hands down. Make sure that won’t happen.”
And his own game?
“It’s getting there,” said Biedrins, who has career averages of 6.4 points and 7.1 rebounds. “It’s not happening through one week or like that, but it’s getting there. It will take time, but I can feel much more better like I did in the past.”
Biedrins smiled about the fact that his past so happens to be visiting his present for the first preseason game.
“I still have a kind of a weird feeling. That’s they way it is,” he said. “It’s going to be weird (Tuesday), but you had to do what you’ve got to do.”
PRACTICE STANDOUT: Perhaps more than anybody, this preseason is of utmost importance to the 2013 NCAA player of the year. Burke has apparently looked good in practice, but he’s been mediocre at best in public performances (summer league and Saturday’s scrimmage) since the Jazz traded two first-round picks to acquire him from Minnesota on the night of the NBA draft in June.
“We’ve got to get him to relax,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “He has a lot of pressure on him.”
Much of that pressure is placed on himself.
Burke has stated that he’s aiming to be named Rookie of the Year and to eventually become an All-Star, and he also has the added notoriety of being a high-profile college star from Michigan who was the first point guard drafted in 2013.
Corbin said Burke continues to improve, and he’ll do well to play like he practices.
“It’s typical,” Corbin said. “You can’t put that kind of pressure while you’re trying to play the game, especially his position. There’s a lot to think about. He has to create the tempo for the team and not just himself.
“He has to find a way to let the game just come to him. He’s done it in practice. Now we’ve got to get him to do it in games.”
BIG IMPRESSION: He’s still raw, especially on the offensive end, but 7-2 center Gobert just might work his way into playing time. The Jazz traded for the French big man on draft night this past June, and he’s one of the candidates for backup playing time behind Kanter and Favors.
“He’s shown himself well, for the most part. If he can help us in games, we’ll have him in games,” Corbin said. “If he continues to grow like he has his first week, man, he’s been pretty good. He’s effective in there.”