After Hayward bolted for the Boston Celtics, Lindsey said the Jazz will focus on having a defensive-minded team to counter the high-octane offensive teams in the West.
“We feel like we can build defensively around Rudy Gobert,” Lindsey told The Salt Lake Tribune. “We look at him, and he’s a top-10 player and unique defender. So we [want] to build a team around his talents.”
Hayward’s signing left Jazz coach Quin Snyder with a huge hole to fill offensively, but the Jazz have focused on signing quality depth players such as Thabo Sefolosha, Jonas Jerebko and Ekpe Udoh. Prior to free agency, the Jazz traded for point guard Ricky Rubio from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“We just felt like we had too much talent to tear it down to the foundation,” Lindsey told the newspaper. “The main thing with Quin and Rudy is, what do we stand for? We feel like we have a great player in Rudy, and we want to showcase his ability.”
“We have the chance to be very good defensively,” Utah rookie guard Donovan Mitchell said. “With Rudy in the middle, that allows the guards on the perimeter to pressure their men. If we get beat, we have the big guy to erase our mistakes and challenge in the paint. It’s a nice luxury to have.”
Gobert didn’t hold back his opinion on Hayward’s decision earlier this month, saying that he wasn’t angry but disappointed by how the news went down. Gobert, however, would not acknowledge that a video on Instagram of him singing along to Chris Brown’s “Loyal” was a shot at Hayward’s perceived disloyalty.
Now, the 7-foot-1 French big man is focused on the challenges ahead.
“People are going to be surprised by how we do this year,” Gobert said Saturday. “We just have to keep getting better.”
“We think Rodney has the potential to be in that 18 points-per-game range,” Lindsey said. “We had some perimeter talent become available to us. But we have to let Ricky have the ball, and we have to let Rodney become the offensive wing we know he can be. We didn’t want to bring in anyone who could get in the way of Donovan, Dante and Rodney. We want them to develop.”