Not even a week has passed since Utah’s season came to an unceremonious end, but it’s still something that eats at current Jazz players as they embark on their respective journeys during the offseason.
Speaking with key role players Eric Paschall, Jared Butler, Trent Forrest, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker on Monday, all of them are sad about the way the season ended but beyond thrilled to get back to work and see what the future holds.
“I want to get into the best shape and want to get better,” Paschall said. “I’ve seen a big increase since my rookie year from now when it comes to shooting. I definitely want to get better. … I would love to become a 40% three-point shooter.”
For Butler, he’s the only rookie on the team and the only player who has already had his exit interview with the organization — a one-on-one with general manager Juston Zanik. While he acknowledges this season was more of a learning experience than anything else, his postseason meeting with Zanik has him confident heading into the offseason.
“The gist of it (meeting) was just to be prepared to go into this offseason with some motivation and intensity,” Butler said. “They want me to be prepared, which is encouraging. … I do feel hopeful from the meeting.”
Forrest enters the offseason with some uncertainty, not much though.
After the Jazz picked up his contract late in the regular season, there is some stability in his corner as he will now become a restricted free agent — giving Utah the ability to match any new offer that goes his way. But he went from a little-used guard as a rookie to someone who gained the trust of head coach Quin Snyder and played a vital role throughout the season as a part of the rotation.
“I haven’t thought too much about it,” Forrest said of his future. “Right now, I’m still in Utah doing my rehab. … I definitely like the staff and everybody I’ve been able to work with, especially with how much I’ve developed in my two years here. I don’t have a problem staying in Utah at all. … I like the system, and it fits who I am as a person.”
Still under contract for the next season, Alexander-Walker is almost certain to return to the Jazz next season — and with it could come a more significant role. After being acquired at the trade deadline, he didn’t see as many minutes with the veteran Jazz squad but was effective in his few stints.
Gifted with great size, elite vision, and a propensity to make the right plays at the right time, Alexander-Walker could make a leap next season that would have Jazz fans excited.
“The last few months have been great and encouraging,” he said. “I think just the learning of the system, how guys really took the time to teach me everything, and have patience with me, that was great as well. I can say everyone truly works hard. … It was nice to learn the recipe to winning.”