JOE Ingles, a key figure in the Utah Jazz’s playoff hopes, is on the cusp of cashing in with a huge new NBA contract.
The 203cm tall, 29-year-old from Adelaide has the nickname Slow-Mo Joe, but Jazz management and rival NBA coaches love him, including Los Angeles Clippers’ Doc Rivers.
Just minutes after the Jazz shocked the Clippers 97-95 in game one of their playoff series in Los Angeles, Rivers — who cut Ingles from his Clippers’ squad three years ago — went out of his way to praise the Australian.
“I thought Joe Ingles had a great defensive game tonight,” Rivers told reporters. “If you look at his numbers offensively they don’t look that great, but I thought he was a difference maker.”
Ingles had eight points, connecting with just two of seven of his field goals including missing four of his five three-point attempts.
But he had the defensive job on Clippers’ shooter JJ Redick, who only had six field goal attempts, missed three of them and managed seven points. “Just keep chasing — chase and chase,” said Ingles, describing his defensive strategy for Reddick.
Asked if he preferred guarding a player like Redick who is constantly moving without the ball or Clippers point guard Chris Paul who often has the ball in his hands, Ingles shrugged the question off with his dry sense of humour. “I really don’t want to guard any of them to be honest,” Ingles said.
Jazz coach Quin Snyder was also full of praise for Ingles, pointing to his off shooting night on Saturday as a reflection of the superb defensive effort he performed on Redick. “Guarding him takes a lot out of you,” said Snyder, who started Ingles as a guard.
Ingles will become a free agent at the end of the season when his relatively cheap two-year, $5.7 million contract with the Jazz ends.
With salaries skyrocketing following the NBA’s new $32 billion media rights deal, Ingles will be in line to cash in similar fashion to fellow Boomer Matthew Dellavedova, who signed a four-year $63.79 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks last year.
Another in form Boomer, Patty Mills, will get a huge pay rise with his three-year $17 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs expiring.
When a US reporter compared Ingles’ rugged defence to the physical play in Australian rules or “rugby”, Ingles, a Hawthorn fan, quickly shot down any prospect of switching sports.
Ingles rattled off various reasons why he preferred basketball, with the NBA’s baggy shorts much better than AFL’s or NRL’s short shorts top of his list. “They all have baby shorts on,” Ingles said to laughter from the US press.
“Obviously a lot of us grew up playing that sport (Australian rules), it’s a physical sport, but I didn’t like the outdoors, the rain and the mud. I’d much rather the heated gym.”
The Jazz will be aiming to score another win in the Clippers’ Staples Center in downtown LA on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.
The Jazz announced on Monday their star centre Rudy Gobert, after hyperextending his left knee just seconds into game one, will miss game two. In a positive sign, Gobert took part in some light practice drills on the court on Tuesday.
SOURCE: newsnow sport