INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — For the first time since being traded from Utah to Cleveland, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks will play against their old team on Friday night.
But unlike DeMar DeRozan, who wanted to put the entire Toronto Raptors franchise into the basket in his much-anticipated first meeting against them on Thursday night, Hood and Burks don’t have any animosity toward the Jazz.
“It’s all positive because it feels like it’s been so long since I’ve been there,” Hood said following Friday’s shootaround. “I know getting traded and moving, it can sometimes seem negative, but I think about all the good times I had playing when I was in Utah and playing with those guys and starting with my rookie year, being with AB, until now.
“Just because something ends doesn’t mean it has to be negative. Just change. Those guys are good, I’m doing good and we wish each other the best.”
Hood played his first three and a half years in Utah. At the time of his trade, he was averaging a career-best 16.8 points. He admits getting traded at last year’s deadline was tough initially. From a basketball standpoint, Utah was all Hood knew. It’s the organization that first gave him a chance. It’s where he married his wife and had his first child.
While he’s going to try to approach Friday’s game the same as any other, there are obvious emotions that come with the first meeting against Utah.
“Try to go out and get a win. Play as hard as possible,” Hood said. “Know they’re a good team but it will be good to see some familiar faces. Guys I consider my family. It will be good to talk a little trash. Just have fun with the game but try to get a win also.”
Burks spent more than seven years in Utah before arriving in a trade for Kyle Korver on Nov. 28.
That night, Burks was on the court in Brooklyn getting ready for Utah’s matchup against the Nets. He was “shocked” by the trade, getting the news from Jazz head coach Quin Snyder and general manager Dennis Lindsey and seeing the reaction on social media.
“There’s a couple teammates I want to score on, just because I know them,” Burks said. “That’s just because of the personal relationships I have with my old teammates. But I don’t have no vengeance against nobody like that. I’m not mad at nothin’.”
Burks and Hood both stay in touch with old teammates. Burks has been talking with Jae Crowder, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Ekpe Udoh, Dante Exum and Joe Ingles, among others. The pair of Cavaliers are still in a group text message that features plenty of trash talk, which has, of course, picked up recently.
“Two versus two in the group chat now,” Burks said with a smile.
Hood wouldn’t reveal what’s been said. But there is one common name that keeps coming up, the guy both are looking forward to meeting at the rim: Rudy Gobert.
“That’s one of the people that I want to score on,” Burks said. “He’s on the list.”
“I’m dunking Rudy,” Hood said while chuckling. “I’m sure he will be excited to try to … me and AB used to go at him every day in practice and he used to block our shots sometimes.
“A lot of those guys over there are like family. I want to bust their ass, but it’s all fun and games.”