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Expect for Jazz games to be uncomfortable and maybe a little ugly

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Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson (00) is double-teamed by Phoenix Suns’ Kevin Durant, left, and Josh Okogie, center, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Phoenix, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2024.

Darryl Webb, Associated Press

Expect for things to feel weird for a little while, and maybe even the rest of the season.

After the Utah Jazz shipped out Simone Fontecchio, Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji prior to Thursday’s afternoon deadline, they had to turn around and play a game against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

It wasn’t the ugliest game the Jazz have ever played, but even without Devin Booker the Suns made pretty easy work of shutting down the runs the Jazz tried to make, and it’s understandable that things didn’t feel totally normal for Utah.

“I don’t anticipate perfect play,” Jazz head coach Will Hardy said. “I don’t anticipate these next couple of games feeling great because we are putting people in some different roles now and we are going to play some different lineups. It’s probably going to have it’s moments where it’s uncomfortable.”

If any of the incoming players — Otto Porter Jr., Kevin Knox, Kira Lewis Jr. — are going to play real rotational minutes for the Jazz, it’s going to mean some of the same growing pains for the team that resemble the early-season struggles.

Additionally, we’re probably going to be seeing more of rookie Taylor Hendricks, who is still as raw as they come. And things will change for Walker Kessler, who was reinserted into the starting lineup on Thursday, as well as everyone else that was already on the team.

A three-player change is not insignificant.

“It’s important for me, in these next three games, to maintain some perspective in terms of where we are right now with the little bit of a shakeup we’ve had on the team,” Hardy said. “When roles change and lineups change there’s a kind of natural awkwardness. Guys aren’t sure what they’re supposed to do.”

Why the next three games? Well, that’s all that is left before the All-Star break. Then, there are just 26 games left in the 2023-24 season after the team returns from the break and there’s no telling what things will look like as the rest of the year plays out.

With new roles and potentially giving some more run to the younger players on the roster, the uncomfortable moments, not perfect play, ugly moments and awkwardness could last for a while.

So, it’s going to take maintaining perspective from all of us, not just Hardy.