SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 4: Joe Ingles #2 and Donovan Mitchell #45 celebrate with Kyle Korver #26 of the Utah Jazz on December 4, 2018 at vivint.SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Kyle Korver doesn't know all the play calls yet, but that didn't slow him much in his home debut

by Aaron Falk

Kyle Korver knew exactly how to get to the practice facility. The building has the same address it did when Korver first joined the Jazz over a decade ago. So on Monday morning, the veteran wing’s first full day in Utah since being traded back to the Jazz last week, Korver navigated the same, snowy roads to the Zions Bank Basketball Campus.

All of that was familiar enough.

And then he walked inside.

“A lot has changed,” Korver said.

The Zions Bank Basketball Campus’ renovation serves as a metaphor in that way, as Korver reacquaints himself with the Jazz and Salt Lake City.

“You come back and there’s a lot of things that are the same,” he said. “And there are a lot of things that are different.”

Korver got a familiar ovation from the 18,000-plus fans in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night, his first home game back with the Jazz. And then he did what he has always done on a basketball court, showing off his quick release to score 15 points off the bench in a 139-105 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

“You could feel the excitement,” Korver said. “It was a fun night.”

But there is still a lot of work to do. As good as Korver looked, connecting on 5-of-8 from the field, he still feels lost at times in his new offense.

“I’ve still got a ways to go,” he said. “I kind of know what we want to get to, I just don’t know what it’s called all the time. They’re talking sign language out there with the plays a lot and I’ve got to learn that. But I definitely felt more comfortable out there tonight than I did last game.”

Korver has averaged 10.6 points over his first three games with Utah, showing off the same quick release and 3-point range he’s always had. Still, the Jazz expect it will take time for Korver to truly get comfortable again, even with the people and places that might seem familiar on the surface.

Take Korver’s relationship with Jazz head coach Quin Snyder, for example. Reuniting with Snyder was one of the things Korver was most excited about when he first found out about the trade, but even that has come with some growing pains.

“I played for Quin when he was an assistant in Atlanta,” Korver said. “He’s taken some similar concepts and he’s renamed everything. I don’t know any of the terminology."

Snyder is trying to not rush the sharpshooter’s integration.

“It’s a process,” the coach said Tuesday. “You have to be careful not to overload somebody. You can’t learn everything at once.

“You’re also trying to unlearn some things you did somewhere else because different teams do things different ways. The good thing is he’s experienced. He’s been in situations where he’s had to adapt to a new system, change, teammates.”

Korver dealt with some of those struggles in Miami on Sunday.

“He looked a little less comfortable,” Snyder said, “and that impacts your ability to read situations.”

So Korver spent most of the long flight back to Salt Lake City watching game film and trying to learn the offense. And on Monday morning, an off day for the Jazz, Korver spent several hours at the practice facility.

He came away impressed by the changes that had been made since his first stint in Utah.

“They’ve thought through everything,” Korver said of the building. “I think Quin and [general manager Dennis Lindsey’ and everyone here—they have a real vision of what they want the Jazz to be and how they want them to operate. This building reflects that.

“… I think they went to the Millers with a long list of how we can be the best we can be. And the Millers said yes to everything, which is amazing.”

He also came away a little more comfortable with his new team.

“I’m really just trying to get my feel for everyone here still,” he said. “I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in the playbook. I’m trying to learn all of that, trying to learn the guys and their tendencies, how I can mesh in. You just want to come in and add. You don’t want to change things that are going well.”

The reviews have been good thus far.

“Kyle’s slotted in perfectly fine,” forward Joe Ingles said. “His IQ is super high. He runs to the corner. He gets his shot off in half a second. It helps us having another guy out there that can space the floor and really knock them down.”

“It’s almost like a bailout,” Donovan Mitchell added. “You pass it to him, you know it’s going in.”

That much, at least, hasn’t changed.