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Utah Jazz viewing all of preseason as extended training camp

Nobody is complaining about being in Hawaii this week, where building chemistry on and off the court is all part of the plan

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Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy, left, talks with Lauri Markkanen during training cam in Hawaii this week.

Utah Jazz coach Will Hardy, left, talks with Lauri Markkanen during training cam in Hawaii this week.

Utah Jazz

LAIE, Hawaii — When the Utah Jazz take the court at the University of Hawaii on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Clipper in their first preseason game, they will have had four full days of training camp practice under their belts.

Let’s face it, that’s not enough.

“It feels weird to not have a ton of practice before your first live game against somebody else,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said.

After practices on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday in Hawaii — a place that has distractions and relaxation temptations at every turn — the Jazz are just barely getting on the same page as far as terminology goes. They aren’t ready for the 2023-24 season.

That’s why Hardy is viewing training camp as two segments spanning 24 days.

“We’ve got this chunk before our first two preseason games, which come quickly,” Hardy said, referencing the games on Sunday in Hawaii and then the next game against the Clippers on Tuesday in Seattle. “But then we get back to Salt Lake and we have a nice four-day period where we can really dig in at that point. And we’ll have enough film — having seen two games, having a nice chunk of practices — to sort of make some adjustments and tweaks. That’s sort of phase two of training camp.”

The NBA regular season doesn’t begin for the Jazz until Oct. 25. So, between training camp in Hawaii, five preseason games and a little over three weeks, the Jazz are hoping that they are able to string together enough days to set them on the right path for the upcoming season.

Despite the small number of practice days, it’s not all bad. Nobody is complaining about being in Hawaii for the week and an off-site training camp always means there’s a chance for more team bonding experiences away from the everyday-life distractions that can creep in while in a team’s home market.

And, even though Hardy might prefer more practice time, he’s decided to take a glass-half-full approach to the whole situation.

“You know, this schedule and setup actually works out for us pretty well because we do get to go play against somebody else,” Hardy said. “You really get to see some things on film that are hard to capture when you’re in practice scrimmages against your own team.”

So, John Collins, I hope you’ve had a good week studying up on the set plays and defensive schemes. Rookies, you probably had a lovely summer and you’ve got a lot of butterflies, well soon you’ll be across the court from players that you’ve idolized. And to the rest of the Jazz, buckle up, because while last year everyone expected the Jazz to lose more than they won, this year you’re all expected to do quite a bit more.

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Forward John Collins talks to members of the media during Utah Jazz media day at the Zions Bank Basketball Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News