Soon-to-be free agent Joe Ingles says Utah is the 'priority'

Soon-to-be free agent Joe Ingles says Utah is the 'priority'

The Utah Jazz will have to do a lot of convincing this summer to keep Gordon Hayward and George Hill in Salt Lake City, but Joe Ingles is already sold on the idea of returning to Utah.

Ingles, 29, spoke to Olgun Uluc of Fox Sports Australia and made his desire to re-sign with the Jazz clear, stating, “I think the priority is Utah. I loved it there.”

In the interview, Ingles noted how well the Jazz took care of his family and his love for Salt Lake City.

He also mentioned how Hayward’s impending decision won’t impact his own, stating, “Obviously, Gordon (Hayward) is a big part of that, so his free agency — it’s not going to change what I’m going to do or where I want to go — but we’re a different team depending on whether he’s there or not.”

Ingles earned $2.7 million this past season — the salary more typical of a nonrotation player in the NBA — and is expected to get a substantial raise. Ingles was fourth in 3-point shooting percentage during the regular season, making 44.1 percent of his shots from deep, which is an 8.5 percent increase from his rookie season in 2015.

Ingles carved out a role for himself with the Jazz as a 3-point specialist when Alec Burks and Hayward missed time due to injuries.

After he was waived by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2014 following the preseason, the Jazz signed Ingles to serve as a mentor for fellow Aussie Dante Exum, whom the team picked fifth overall in the 2014 NBA draft. His job, at least on the court, was insignificant, but when an opportunity arose for him to play, Ingles took advantage and became one of the league’s premier marksmen.

Before his breakthrough season, the Jazz didn’t have a go-to option from behind the 3-point arc, ranking 19th as a team in 3-point percentage in 2015. His individual improvement correlated to the team’s success, as the Jazz became the ninth-best 3-point shooting team in the NBA during the 2016-17 season.

Ingles, who previously played professional basketball in Australia, Spain and Israel, will become a restricted free agent this summer, which will allow the Jazz to match any offer sheet he receives come July.

Retaining the team’s core is something Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey will concentrate on this summer, and that includes Ingles. Since he has expressed interest in re-signing, the only obstacle will be the money.

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Ingles’ market value will fluctuate depending on how the chips fall into place this summer.

If, say, the Jazz fail to re-sign Hayward, they might be more willing to overpay for Ingles to fill the scoring void. The same is true for any other team that misses out on their top targets. For those reasons, Dan Favale of Bleacher Report predicted that Ingles could be one of the most overpaid free agents, forecasting an eight-figure annual salary.

Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and, of course, Hayward are atop this year’s free agent class.

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Published at Tue, 30 May 2017 19:42:00 +0000