|Jazz, Thunder open season with new looks|
Wednesday's season opener in Salt Lake City between the Utah Jazz and the Oklahoma City Thunder will feature a pair of teams with revamped rosters trending in different directions.
The Jazz bolstered its lineup by adding veterans Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jeff Green to a talented core.
Utah coach Quin Snyder said the team wouldn't look like a finished product for a while.
"You have architectural plans, you have soil samples and you do all the things you do to prepare to build," Snyder told reporters. "Then once you start the actual building process, you have to access the raw materials, (but) they may be in short supply ... there is weather and so many different things.
"We have great plans (and) as far as implementing and evolving as a team, that analogy is a pretty good one because we're not going to become who we are overnight. That's the nature of building."
The Thunder went a different direction.
The season opener will mark the first game since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City 11 years ago without Russell Westbrook on the roster.
The Thunder's overhaul included not only trading Westbrook to Houston for Chris Paul, but also shipping Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers and Jerami Grant to the Denver Nuggets.
Paul has spent the last two seasons on a championship-contending team in Houston. Now, he's a part of a group that figures to be fighting to make the playoffs in a best-case scenario.
"I'm excited about our team," Paul said. "We're going to go out to win every single night. ... I'm excited about what we have."
After back-to-back fifth-place finishes in the Western Conference to begin his career, Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell is ready to go with the reworked roster that looks better built for a deep playoff run.
"It's great to get the season going," Mitchell told reporters. "We have things we obviously need to work on that stood out (in the preseason) but it's here and I'm excited."
Jazz guard Dante Exum has been dealing with a nagging knee injury that will keep him out of the season opener.
Oklahoma City's Andre Roberson will miss the game. He hasn't appeared in a game since January 2018, when he suffered a ruptured patellar tendon.
Roberson participated in practice recently but there's no timetable for his return to action.
The game also is Oklahoma City's first trip to Utah since last March, when Westbrook was involved in a high-profile altercation with a Jazz fan, who was subsequently banned from the arena for life.
In part in reaction to that incident, the league issued an updated code of conduct for fans that forbids a wide range of abusive or degrading language.
"I think the league has probably heard from the players in certain situations," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "It's unfortunate that it happened, but it does happen. It just seems like the league is trying to take a stand on making sure that the environment is safe for these guys to play in and people can enjoy the game."
--Field Level Media