If this were the Utah Jazz of 2014-15 or 2015-16, you would probably see a player like Jared Butler getting more of a chance in the rotation and playing heavier minutes with the Jazz.
But this isn’t 2015. Jazz head coach Quin Snyder isn’t desperate for scoring or for an immediate boost from every young player who comes through the doors. Snyder isn’t combing through the prospects on the roster looking for diamonds in the rough to help a team that hasn’t made a playoff appearance in years.
This Utah Jazz team has completely different goals. It is a regular playoff team that is on the precipice of breaking into an elite tier in the NBA. It is looking to move from good to great and that means the approach with young, developing talent is different.
So don’t be surprised if you end up watching Butler in some SLC Stars games and hear that he’s on assignment with the Jazz’s G League affiliate team. That’s going to happen, and it’ll probably happen often this season.
“You’ll see him being assigned back and forth,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said. “Any opportunity that we can continue to get development reps for him, whether that’s with the Jazz or with the Stars, we’re going to be mindful of that. And that goes for Udoka (Azubuike), it goes for Elijah Hughes, it goes for any of the guys that aren’t playing regular minutes.”
The Jazz aren’t going to be regularly sprinkling in minutes from Butler or the other players at the end of the bench because they are trying to win as many games as possible and to get their main rotational players primed for playing postseason basketball.
That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any opportunities for Butler. He’ll most likely be called up for game days and especially with the Jazz when Mike Conley is resting or whenever there is an injury or time for him to practice with the Jazz. But the Jazz want for Butler to be prepared when his time does come and that’s why he’ll be bouncing back and forth.
Take this past week for example. The Jazz didn’t have any time for practice days, played a back-to-back on the road and Butler didn’t play in either of those games. Isn’t it better for him to actually get some run with players and feel some competition, so that when his number is called he isn’t coming in blind?
The answer to that question is a resounding yes in the Jazz’s eyes. So, on Tuesday Butler was with the Stars for practice and called back up to the Jazz prior to their game against the Atlanta Hawks. Then on Wednesday the Jazz sent Butler to practice with the Stars again.
Someday the Jazz won’t be bringing back an All-Star backcourt of Donovan Mitchell and Conley and they’re going to need a guard who is ready and knows the system to step in and fill a role. That’s what they believe they have in Butler and leaving him to rot at the end of the Jazz bench with no reps would be a disservice to his future.