Patrick Kinahan: Say it ain’t so Joe – Jazz has an English subject

Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingles, center, cheers as teammates Rudy Gobert (27) and Jordan Clarkson (00) and Nikola Jokic (15) and Paul Millsap (4) of Denver Nuggets walk to their benches during the second half of an NBA basketball game first round playoff game Friday, August 21, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida (Ashley Landis, Associated Press)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Joe Ingles hears and reads the rumours, fully aware that his name is associated with several trades that the Utah Jazz could enable.

Nearly eight years into a fairytale NBA career that didn’t begin until he was 27 years old, Ingles understands the business side of professional sports. But he doesn’t have to like it.

And who could blame him? He and his wife Renae, along with their three children, have built a wonderful life in the capital of Utah, thousands of miles from their native Australia.

“I’m human. I open my phone and read Twitter or any social media,” Ingles said during his weekly appearance on the Zone Sports Network.

There was speculation that the Jazz could trade Ingles last summer when he played for the Australian national team at the Olympics in Japan. At one point, hours before the Boomers would face Team USA in the semifinals, Ingles thought his time in Utah was over.

In the end, of course, the Jazz traded Derrick Favors and stuck with Ingles.

“From what I was watching and the texts I got, I was like, ‘Holy moly, I’m gone, I’m gone now,'” he said. “I’m very aware of the business side of the game.”

Summer has turned into winter and here we are again. Numerous reports have interested the Jazz in seeking a defensively oriented perimeter player.

Any perimeter player likely not named Donovan Mitchell or Mike Conley are potential trade candidates, but Ingles is the only main rotation player in a contract year. Flexibility in the salary cap is often an important factor for transactions.

“If it happens (happens), I’d be disappointed, of course, but it’s life,” Ingles said. “The hardest thing for me is Renae and the kids. We feel at ease here as a family.

“I don’t want to say it is what it is because it sounds like I don’t care, but it’s clearly not my decision. If they decide they should do something, I’d be happy for them if they thought they better. I like this organization and the city. We are all here for the same reason: we are here to try to win a championship and to be the first team to do that.

“If I could be a part of it, great,” he continued. “If I could be a piece to help them do that, I’d still feel good about it. I’d be disappointed I wasn’t for this, but I’d be happy for a lot of people. Some very particular individuals “I wouldn’t be so happy with those who traded me, but it is what it is.”

It’s worth noting that Ingles chuckled when he said the not “so happy” part. But remember, he’s only human.

The human aspect of Ingles is the part that has forever endeared him to Jazz fans. Few players in franchise history have immersed themselves in the community as much as he has.

Emotional on the field and affable off it, Ingles sees himself as a neighbor down the street. The only difference from a course that is played for tens of thousands.

Ingles and his wife have done an amazing job in the community since his son, Jacob, was diagnosed with autism a few years ago. The vulnerability they showed created a genuineness and connection that most players don’t have with a fanbase.

And no one has mediated like Ingles has since midway through his rookie season, when he was buried deep on the couch. Almost without fail, keeping his promise, Ingles appeared weekly on my morning radio show – win or lose, play good or bad, he always answered the phone.

Whenever it ends, whether it’s next month before the trading deadline or later, Ingles has made a lasting impact on the team and the state.

“They know how I feel to be here, but I have no control over it,” he said.

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