For the past few years the Utah Jazz’s expectations have been clearly and easily defined. They were gunning for an NBA title. Period.

Try as they might, through developing star players and putting together a roster that looked ready to compete at the highest level, the Jazz missed their mark, and the rebuild began.

Now, with few veteran holdovers from the previous Jazz era, and a whole slew of young players and fresh faces, the Jazz still have championship aspirations, but that’s something to look toward further down the line. In the more immediate future, expectations aren’t as easily defined.

“We want to give the program a chance to grow,” Jazz general manager Justin Zanik said on Monday. “What you do by doing that is you learn how to win.”

Zanik went on to say that the Jazz are going to try to win as many games as possible and that the veteran players on the roster (Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay) would be playing. But these days you have to look at the multiple different meanings that could be gleaned from such statements.

Sure the Jazz’s veterans might be playing, but how much? Alongside who? For how long? How often? Those are questions that won’t be answered until we know exactly what the roster is going to look like.

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The Jazz currently have 18 players on the full roster. They can only have 15 when season begins, so there are still more moves to be made whether through trades or waiving. And speaking of that, once the roster is fully decided on, will that team be able to win games even if they want to?

The Jazz are largely expected to be tanking toward a high lottery pick, but they can’t just come right out and say that they are going to try to field a roster incapable of winning many games. The league office would be incredibly upset by that and could potentially hand out very harsh penalties. So even if the Jazz are headed in that direction, it has to go unsaid.

But then there are the players on the roster and their own goals and expectations and wants and dreams and hopes and desires.

Some players said the playoffs were the expectation. Some pointed toward individual growth. Some said that good habits and consistency and continued development were most important. But no matter how many different answers were given on Monday when players were asked what their expectations were for the upcoming season, what was most clear is that there was no clear expectation.

And honestly, it’s understandable that this weirdly constructed team with a clearly unfinished roster and brand new head coach don’t know what to expect and don’t know how to define this season without saying the wrong thing.

And it’s also understandable for the fans to feel a little uncertain with how quickly one era ended and another was ushered in. So I asked new head coach Will Hardy what he could tell the fans that would be certain. What is his pitch to Jazz fans?

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“This team is going to be representative of this organization and it’s going to be something that’s reflected with the fan base,” Hardy said. “We will be tough, we will play with passion, we will be a team. That’s my pitch.”

That seemed to be the most convincing message on Monday as the Jazz prepare to start training camp ahead of the 2022-23 season. They don’t know what exactly to expect or what the goals will be when everything is said and done. But what they do know is that they’re trying to create an identity that is rooted in effort and toughness.

Jarred Vanderbilt, one of the many new faces in a Jazz uniform, said that while wins are one way to measure success, so is reputation and creating a reputation for being a tough team is what the Jazz should be striving for.

“We want teams in the league to know that when you come play the Utah Jazz, they’re gonna play hard and compete every time down (the court),” Vanderbilt said. “They’re going to be a physical team. We want to have that name.”

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