Utah Jazz introduce Conley and Bogdanovic, and embrace the expectations that come with their offseason success

by Aaron Falk

LAS VEGAS — Mike Conley Jr. and Bojan Bogdanovic stood side by side in a Las Vegas hotel ballroom and unfurled their brand new, white Utah Jazz jerseys. Bogdanovic’s No. 44 dangled in front of his 6-foot-8 frame. Conley laughed and displayed his No. 10, a new number for a new chapter in his basketball journey.

Off to the side of the stage, Jazz general manager Justin Zanik and executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey looked on proudly at their two biggest additions in what has been one of the most active and successful offseason in the franchise’s history.

“We had multiple plans running side by side on rails,” Lindsey said. “This was a plan that was really highly thought of. You’re always a little nervous on your ability to execute, and things just really came together.”

In adding Conley and Bogdanovic—both of whom were introduced formally at a press conference here Monday—the Jazz have added a pair of offensively gifted players from defensive-minded programs. They have also added plenty of expectation for next season.

That’s OK by Jazz leaders.

“We want to put the most competitive team out there that we can, controlling the things we can control: adding the right character and talent, having a great coach who can put all of this together,” Zanik said. “We embrace the expectations. We’re trying to field the most competitive team we can and pursue a championship.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have to have the team jell and spend time with each other. We’ve got a lot of work to do. … But we’ll embrace everything because we’re here to compete.”

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Solidified. #TakeNote

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Conley was acquired from Memphis in exchange for Grayson Allen, Jae Crowder, and Kyle Korver. The veteran point guard was the first key piece of the Jazz’s offseason plans.

“I just want to fit in as seamlessly as possible,” Conley said. “I’m excited to play with Bojan and all the talented guys we have. I’m looking forward to a special year with special people.”

Adding the veteran point guard was “an accelerant” for convincing Bogdanovic to later sign a multi-year deal with Utah, Lindsey said.

“I got a call from the Jazz and I saw their roster,” Bogdanovic said, and chuckled when asked what convinced him to come to Utah. “… We have one of the deepest rosters in the league. I’m so excited to be a part of this, and I can’t wait to start to play for the Jazz.”

Zanik promised the team would be aggressive during free agency and the Utah front office delivered, striking at a time when the NBA playing field appears to have leveled and a number of teams can envision a path to a championship.

“I think the whole league feels that there’s an opportunity for everybody,” Conley said.

Sometime in the future, Conley would like to be unfurling a championship banner. But the veteran point guard knows the work to that goal is just starting for his new team.

“Our goal is going to be day to day,” he said. “We’re trying to get in the mud and work because we don’t know what it takes to win a championship yet. As we go through the journey, we want to learn together, fight together, lose and win all the things that come into play during a season. Then hopefully we have the opportunity to compete at that level at the end of the year. We’re going to be working and grinding and we’ll see what happens as the season goes on.”

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