Joe Ingles, the lovable Aussie larrikin on the Jazz roster, had a fun chat at the 2017 NBA media day. He spoke about improving his game even more, Gordon Hayward's departure, and Ricky Rubio's arrival.
After a breakout 2016-17 season in which he emerged as one of the best three-point shooters across the NBA, Ingles explained that he had continued working hard to further improve on his game with a view to helping the team in any way he can.
"I hope to kind of just advance in everything a little bit more," said Ingles. "Every year has, for me, has grown. I think my role has changed each year. I want to obviously continue to get better, but to do the things that got me here today and got me back here for a few more years-- just keep doing them a lot better. And just help the team in whichever way I can, really."
Ingles had formed a very tight relationship with former Jazz star Gordon Hayward who has since departed for the Celtics. Hayward and Ingles were 'road trip roomies' and would often hang out together. So when Hayward announced his departure for the Celtics out of the blue, it shocked everyone, including Ingles who had no idea. When probed about how he felt about Hayward, Ingles replied with his usual gold.
"It's like getting turned down by your first date, or something," replied Ingles with a cheeky laugh.
"I mean, at the end of the day, it is what it is. I'm not going to sit here and I haven't from day one of him deciding. You have a few minutes of disappointment, I guess, because he did help our team. But then you quickly move on. And it doesn't matter who I was with at the time, but I was with some people and after five minutes of it coming out, you start thinking about what's next. And like I said before, the guys we've got are really good and obviously different to him. But they're going to help us in different ways too. And some of the guys that we have got in are better than him at some things and that he's better than them at. So you move on.
"I've got Ricky [Rubio], he is my new buddy! But [I'm] really excited about what's forward and wish him all the best and you move on. And I think the Jazz fans will really like who we've got and how we're going to play."
Pushed further about not knowing that Hayward was leaving, and the way he went about it, Ingles responded in the only way he knows: honestly and with a bit of humour.
"I mean I would have done it a whole lot differently if I was in that situation that he was in, explained Ingles. "There's so many people involved in an organisation obviously, you are not going to give everyone a call or send everyone a text. There is obviously kind of a way you go about it. But there's obviously a certain-- maybe it is one guy, maybe its 10 guys-- and obviously being seven years here, eights years, whatever it was-- you would hope that he had called and made the right decisions in who to call and who not to call.
"Again I would have done it my way. Jazz fans would have loved me if I did leave because I would have done it in an amazing way. But I don't have to worry about that. I'm staying forever."
On that note, Ingles mentioned that wife Renae and his twin toddlers had arrived safely and had moved into their new home and were settling in nicely. Talk about his larger pay cheque as a result of signing his new contract, Ingles agreed that it would be pretty cool to receive.
"Yeah, my wife will see it," Ingles replied with tongue firmly in cheek. "Like I said, for me to just be back here is what I wanted to happen and it did happen. All that extra stuff is great but it's not going to change me, and it's not going to change my family. And like I've stated, we're going to make sure that we give back to Utah and the community here and enjoy our time here for the next few years."
With Hayward 's departure and Ingles having found his niche on the team last season, with the added benefit of a longer-term contract and his family living locally, the 2017-18 season could be he best year yet. That's something that Jazz and Australian basketball fans will be looking forward to.