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Prior to becoming Utah Jazz teammates, Collin Sexton didn’t know that Lauri Markkanen had a wife and two children.

“In Cleveland, it was a little different. Here I feel like it’s more family oriented. We do a lot of family activities — everyone’s wives and girlfriends are always like together and stuff. You can tell here is like real family oriented and I definitely like that.” — Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton

You might be thinking the same thing I thought when I first heard that. Wait ... weren’t these guys teammates in Cleveland? How did he not know?!

Well, there are a couple of reasons. First, the two only played in eight games together for the Cavaliers. Sexton went out with a meniscus tear in his left knee after just 11 games in the 2021-22 season. But before that, Markkanen was away from the team in health and safety protocols.

After Markkanen returned to the team, Sexton was out indefinitely, having just had surgery to repair his torn meniscus. A rehabbing player who can’t even do on-court activity isn’t going to have a ton of interaction with the players who are on the court every night.

But there was also something else.

“I didn’t know Lauri had a family and kids,” Sexton said, laughing from some slight embarrassment. “In Cleveland, it was a little different. Here I feel like it’s more family oriented. We do a lot of family activities — everyone’s wives and girlfriends are always like together and stuff. You can tell here is like real family oriented and I definitely like that.”

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The Jazz have put in a ton of effort to allow new head coach Will Hardy to create his own culture for the team, not only on the court but off it as well. From the top of the organization to the bottom, the Jazz want everyone to feel like they’re part of a family.

“They’ve done some stuff in previous organizations I’ve been in but from what I’ve heard from my wife, it feels like they’re doing stuff all the time here,” Markkanen said. “The organization takes really good care of them and you’re just seeing kids running in the hallways all the time. It’s a pretty cool environment to be in — to see everybody coming together and doing stuff together. I know my wife has been happy here. So yeah, definitely feels like they’re doing more.”

Hardy has stressed all season that building trust quickly was going to be important for this Jazz team, and it seems that in order to help build chemistry and familiarity, the Jazz went beyond the roster.

New with the Jazz

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This week in Jazz history

On April 15, 1995, Utah’s Tom Chambers scored 15 points in the Jazz’s 105-83 victory over the visiting Los Angeles Clippers, becoming the 20th player in NBA history to surpass 20,000 career points. With teammate Karl Malone having reached the 20,000-point plateau against Cleveland on Jan. 20, 1995, Utah became the first team in NBA history to have two players reach 20,000 career points during the same season.

This week on ‘Unsalvageable’

Check out “Unsalvageable,” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).

This week the crew welcomes Utah Jazz center Damian Jones to the pod to discuss his love of national parks, his season with the Jazz, and what could be next for him. New episodes come out every week. You can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere else you stream podcasts.

Stat of the week

Jazz guard Kris Dunn, who came to the Jazz after playing with the G League’s Capital City Go-Go this season, was named to the G League’s All-Defensive team on Thursday. Dunn was leading the G League in steals through most of the season, finishing with 2.5 per game and only failing to qualify as the league leader because of his late-season call-up to the Jazz on a 10-day contract, where he eventually signed for the rest of the season. Dunn also recorded 16.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game on the season.

From the archives

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Extra points

  • Jazz plan to keep Kelly Olynyk, await decisions on player options (Deseret News)
  • Latest with Rudy Gobert shows how much things have changed for the Jazz (Deseret News)
  • NBA tanking: Is there any way to stop it? (Deseret News)
  • Tribune’s Andy Larsen shares his NBA awards ballot (Salt Lake Tribune)

Around the league

Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins cleared for Game 1 of the NBA playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant files countersuit against teen.

Sacramento’s Mike Brown voted Coach of the Year by coaches association.

Up Next


Full NBA playoffs schedule here.

Utah Jazz guard Kris Dunn fives a fan after victory over Denver at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 8, 2023. Dunn was named to the G League’s All-Defensive Team on Thursday. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News