Former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles recently signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the San Antonio Spurs (with only the first year containing guaranteed money) and the fans from Texas already appear to have some concerns about their newest addition.
Over at Pounding the Rock, a Spurs fan-site run by SB Nation, one of its contributors ran a Twitter poll posing this question to fans.
I’m drafting a new article for @poundingtherock and I want an honest opinion from fans.
There were some concerns over Trey Lyles work ethic when San Antonio signed him three weeks ago.
Now that the dust has settled, are y’all concerned with his perceived disdain for practice?
— Noah Magaro-George ??? (@N_Magaro) August 2, 2019
With over total 500 votes – and nearly a full month following the signing – 41 percent of these Spurs fans still have concerns about an apparent “disdain for practice”. You might be asking yourself, where have these so-called “concerns” come from?
In April of 2018, Lyles went on the Road Trippin’ podcast, hosted by (now former) NBA players Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. In his guest appearance, Lyles did not mince words about his time in Utah and Salt Lake City.
Lyles described being drafted by the Jazz as “unfortunate” and how he was not a fan of Jazz head coach Quin Snyder’s three-hour practices. Jefferson, who spent time playing for Utah as well, said that he didn’t have practices under then-head coach Tyrone Corbin. Here is the exact exchange via Desert News.
Lyles: “Who was your coach then?”
Jefferson: “I had Tyrone Corbin.”
Lyles, grumbling: “So y’all didn’t practice? Y’all didn’t do nothing, yeah. See, we had practice every day (under Quin Snyder). I thought I was in Kentucky again.”
Jefferson, sarcastically: “You had practice every day? Oh, sorry for making you work hard. Sorry. What’s wrong with working hard, Trey?”
Lyles: “I didn’t say nothing about working hard. Three-hour practices? C’mon now.”
The Chicago Bulls nearly formed a screaming mob in mutiny against its head coach Jim Boylen last season over unnecessary mid-season practices.
Lyles went on to state that he thinks Utah (or Salt Lake City, technically) is one of the worst NBA cities. A few months later, former Jazz star and current Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward also trashed Snyder’s three-hour practices.
The only people/media members/Twitter nerds I’ve seen come to the defense of the Utah Jazz are the people that had the misfortune of being born there. Look, I know what Lexington is, it’s nothing compared to Salt Lake City. But SLC doesn’t hold a candle to any of the other 29 NBA cities. You’re telling me the NBA players that lived in Utah for years ended up liking it better in New York or California? Hell, I’d take Charlotte or Indianapolis. Let’s not pretend like SLC is some major market.
It’s not like Lyles isn’t good either. If he’d been terrible his first four seasons, then maybe there could be an argument. But he hasn’t. Lyles was promising during his rookie season in Utah and excelled in his third season playing with the Nuggets. Last year, his fourth in the NBA, saw limited minutes after the breakout years of several Denver players. If you want to try and get the most out of a player, the San Antonio Spurs are typically a good place to begin.
Which is why I’m blown away by how many Spurs fans have concerns over Lyles. If you listen to Lyles comments, it comes off as if he just really didn’t like Utah. And who can blame him? Hayward pissed over an entire state of people by spurning the Jazz for Boston and I’m sure he would gladly do it again if it meant getting the hell away from SLC.
To begin the upcoming season, Lyles should find himself in the rotation behind LaMarcus Aldridge. The franchise has also been fawning over Luka Samanic, it’s first-round pick this past year from Croatia, who plays Lyles position, as well. The two of them will likely battle for those backup minutes at the 4.
Lyles having an issue with three-hour practices doesn’t seem like a big concern at all. I would love to see what an anonymous poll of random NBA players who enjoy three-hour practices would look like.