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After the Utah Jazz’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, Rudy Gobert said something that is usually a pretty common turn of phrase in the NBA, but on this day, less than two weeks before the end of the regular season, it is interesting to examine.
“For us, from one to 15, everyone is important,” he said.
Doesn’t seem that unusual, right? It means that every person on the roster has a role to play and that the Jazz are going to need everyone buying in and doing their job, especially during the playoffs.
But recent events might make things a little interesting when it comes to deciding who is on that list of one to 15.
See, players who are on two-way contracts and are the 16th and 17th men on an NBA roster, are not eligible to play in the postseason. The expectation has been that the Jazz are going to convert Trent Forrest’s two-way contract to a standard NBA deal before the playoffs begin so that he is eligible for postseason play, but what are they going to do at backup center?
With 14 players under contract, the Jazz have only one available roster spot. Currently that is occupied by 10-day signee Greg Monroe, who makes things a little more interesting.
Forrest is currently sidelined with a concussion, though he is expected to return. Udoka Azubuike has been ruled out for the rest of the season after having surgery to repair and stabilize his right ankle. On Thursday the Jazz announced that Hassan Whiteside has a bone spur fracture, which has kept him sidelined for a few games.
The diagnosis for Whiteside is that he can play so long as the pain is tolerable. At this point though, we do not know if the pain will be at a tolerable level for Whiteside and if he can’t play reliably during the playoffs, the Jazz are going to look to fill that void with a traditional center and Monroe is not a bad choice there on such short notice.
Monroe is a traditional rim-running big who is also a very skilled passer. He also looks to be in the best shape of his life. I asked him — noting that I was sorry if the question seemed weird — if he’d lost weight since I last covered him when he was a late-season signing with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2019 and he laughed.
“It’s not a weird question, yes I have lost weight,” he said. “So many people have been asking that it’s not weird anymore.”
Now what happens if the Jazz want to sign both Forrest and a backup big like Monroe? They’ll have to waive someone else. So in the final days of the regular season, the Jazz could still be making some roster moves.
New with the Jazz
Stat of the week
Juancho Hernangomez is shooting 42.1% from 3-point range since joining the Utah Jazz. Danuel House is shooting 44.1% since joining the Jazz. Those marks make them — the Jazz’s newest additions — the most efficient 3-point shooters on the roster.
From the archives
This week in Jazz history
On April 4, 1997, Karl Malone became the first NBA player to reach the 2,000-point plateau in 10 consecutive seasons in the Utah Jazz’s 106-79 victory against the Grizzlies.
- The Utah Jazz had a meltdown. Twitter reacted (Deseret News)
- Jazz blow a 25-point lead to the Clippers in all-too familiar collapse (Deseret News)
- Gordon Monson: The Utah Jazz’s real enemy is inside their heads (Salt Lake Tribune)
- Has a rough road trip left the Jazz in danger of a playoff play-in game? (KSL.com)
Around the league
We know who the Eastern Conference playoff teams will be, but the seeds are up for grabs.
Race for NBA MVP will likely run to the final game of the season.
Ben Simmons has still not done any on-court work with Brooklyn Nets.
April 2 | 6:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors | AT&T SportsNet
April 5 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Memphis Grizzlies | AT&T SportsNet
April 6 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Oklahoma City Thunder | AT&T SportsNet
April 8 | 7:30 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Phoenix Suns | NBA TV