Editor: These questions were developed and sent prior to the All-Star break, so some of the answers reflect pre-trade deadline opinion. As you know the trade deadline has come and gone, so hindsight makes for some interesting commentary in places as well. Enjoy!
We’ve just passed the midway point of the NBA season, for all intents and purposes, and Jazzland is a salad bowl of mixed emotions surrounding the state of the team. There has been a massive divide that has made itself quite prevalent across media and fans alike as to the current state of the team, and an unsettled, or maybe more accurately put, uncertain future is looming.
Many a Jazz fan is restless during games. A plethora of emotions and opinions have manifested themselves across the state of Jazzlandia and beyond. There’s an edge in the air both in and out of Energy Solutions Arena.
With this apparent divide rearing it’s ugly head of late, causing battles of words, raging emotions, and unease amongst fans, I felt it appropriate to bring some of our favorite, knowledgeable basketball bloggers and a couple of other familiar faces together for a Utah Jazz roundtable. Many of you know these individuals, representatives from SLC Dunk, 1280 The Zone, ESPN TrueHoop Network, and more. I asked each one of these individuals to participate because of their vast knowledge of the NBA and in particular the Utah Jazz.
The season is fast approaching playoff time, and there’s no better time than the present to address some thoughts on the current state of the Utah Jazz.
So, without further adieu, let’s get this roundtable rolling.
First let’s meet our guests:
Ben Bagley – Is a former show host, and sideline reporter for the Utah Jazz Radio Network. Covered the Jazz locker room for over 10 years. You can follow Ben on Twitter: @Benbags
Amar Smith – Amar is just a dude who loves the Jazz. He lives in Michigan and enjoys being in his 30s way more than he thought he would back when he was in his 20s. He occasionally blogs for at SLCDunk.com. He hates Michael Jordan. You can follow Amar on Twitter: @AllThatAmar
Clint Peterson – Clint Peterson has been around the basketball block a few times. Proud father, raised a racing nut, he’s also a feature writer for weareutahjazz.com, alumni to ESPN TrueHoop Network’s Hardwood Paroxysm, has helped moderate ESPN’s Daily Dime Live, and makes odd Photoshops and snarky comments on Twitter @Clintonite33 when he isn’t creating cover art for novels, hangin’ with his kids, doing charity work, or digging up stats.
Spencer Campbell – Is the creator of The Utah Jazz Podcast (the longest running Utah Jazz podcast on the inter-web), writer for SLC Dunk, Pearl Jam lover, and father of six. You can follow Spencer on twitter at @utahjazzpodcast.
Tony Parks – Is a talk show host from 10-1 with Jake Scott on 1280AM/97.5 The Zone
pre/post game show host and sideline reporter for Jazz Game Night broadcasts
Cubs, Bears, Michigan, Canucks fan. You can follow Tony on Twitter: @tonyparkszone
Utah Sports Net: We’re passed the halfway point of the NBA season, the Jazz are currently above .500 and sitting in 7th place in the West. Give your midterm grade.
Amar Smith (SLC Dunk): The Jazz are surpassing expectations across the board. I felt like we were going to finish above .500, but having played the hardest part of our season already I am impressed. We’re ahead of schedule I think, and we continue to win as a) the season schedule turns in our favor, and b) we continue to win despite playing so much of the season down one or two starters (Mo, Marvin have both been out at the same time), and without our ‘do-it-all’ sub Gordon Hayward. The Jazz have earned a B+ in my mind. There’s room to improve, but I am certain that our team can do just that.
Ben Bagley: If I was to be completely honest it my grade would be a incomplete. Injuries to Mo Williams, and the latest to Gordon Hayward make it hard to get a complete grasp on where this team is. Not to mention the fact that everyone (including certain players) are wondering what this team may look like after the trade deadline. I give the team credit though. They enter the All-Star Break 6 games above .500 and in the 7th spot in the playoff seeding. So the optimistic Jazz fan should look at the team with pride and give them a solid B to this point. But I wonder what the next couple of weeks then the rest of the season will bring.
Clint Peterson (Clintonite33): Considering the difficult situation Ty Corbin has been put in — from the expectation of both winning and making the playoffs for necessary bottom line considerations, while at the same time developing future talent and keeping everyone from vets to potential future contracts all happy and working in tune, I’ve been impressed with where the Jazz currently stand. They get a solid B from me.
Spencer Campbell (Utah Jazz Podcast): I would give the Jazz a B-. I think that have started to play better as players have figured out their roles. However, I don’t feel that a lot of the roles on this team can be clearly defined until contracts are figured out. DMC has been a welcomed surprise.
Tony Parks: B- I expected the Jazz to end with a winning percentage very close to what they have now. Utah did a good job of weathering the storm with the grueling schedule early on and they have still been able to win at a decent clip while dealing with some of the current injuries. Point guard play still needs to improve and I’d like to see more consistent mental energy on the road, but overall 7th in the west was expected at this time of the year.
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
USN: Grade Ty Corbin’s performance to this point. Is he a better coach than he was at the beginning of the season, what does he do best, and what can he do better?
SLC Dunk: I feel bad giving Corbin a grade because so much of what he does for his JOB are things we don’t get a chance to see as fans — we don’t see him staying up all night long on team flights on road trips going over data. We don’t see him pat a player on the butt if they mess up in practice. Being a coach is being graded on so much, while having only the shortest part of your work day be magnified. I’d give Ty a B, based upon the challenges he has faced and overcome. He’s had to deal with so many injuries, starting three new starters — all who were not with the team last year; and he’s also had to deal with so many guys in contract years. The teams seems to have bought into the concept of being a team. And you know what? We’re winning. Corbin, more and more, is a part of that. I think Corbin is best at game to game preparation. He’s a smart guy, he was going to work for IBM if he didn’t go to the NBA. He does his homework, and it shows. The one thing I (and many others) get on him for is his rigid lineups. He doesn’t seem creative enough, but that could just be that he’s not confident enough in throwing out crazy lineups on the floor. That’s fine. Injuries have forced his hand, and we are seeing some crazy lineups — some work, some do not. The main thing is that it gives Tyrone a chance to see more than just the lineups with the most data. Eventually he’ll continue to grow, and we’ll see things like the Big Lineup or the three ball handler lineup more and more when the situation calls for it.
Bags: Ty Corbin has made mistakes. He will continue to make mistakes. The sooner a fan accepts this the better. He is quite literally in his first (full year) as a NBA coach. He is experiencing things this year that he did not in his other 2 half years. I have been critical of Ty’s usage or lack thereof at times of Derrick Favors, but even that complaint has little footing at this point. Ty has unleashed the young guns on this team (even though some of the uncaging was due to injury). Ty is and will continue to learn through mistakes. In this he is doing a pretty darn good job considering the team he has been given.
C33: I don’t think there’s any question Ty Corbin is a better coach than he was at the beginning of the season. Despite fan complaints about rotations and player combinations, the Jazz are among the league leaders in experimentation with lineups and individual matchups. Jerry Sloan tended to have very set lineups and substitutions, rarely and only reluctantly changing them, while Corbin has had to search his balanced roster for the slightest edge. We’ve seen Ty improve in end-game scenarios from defensive and offensive subs to learning to get an unprecedented number of expiring contracts to want to play and win together. He’s done better than many would give him credit for here.
Let’s not forget the difficult circumstances Ty Corbin was inserted into. Within this context his learning curve has been rather dramatic and understated, especially considering the overall talent level of this Jazz roster as compared to their counterparts. Ty gets a B+ from me.
UJP: Ty has made mistakes. He has made the same mistake multiple times, but I think he is learning from his mistakes. I think he is better than he was at the beginning of the season, mostly due to the discovery of players and how they fit together. Leading into the next question.
TP: Tyrone Corbin has done a very nice job handling a team that has a number of players in the final year of a contract. It’s a tough task for a coach that continues to fight for long term security himself. Ty is working with a roster that has one combined All Star appearance (Mo Williams) and that player has been injured for a big portion of the year.
Ty does a solid job of keeping a locker room together and helping young players like Alec Burks remain coachable when they go through stretches of DNP’s. He’s also done a wonderful job of helping a guy like DeMarre Carroll become dependable enough to come off the bench regularly for a team in the NBA.
Ty must become better in late game situations. It’s a critical part of taking a step from being a cute team to being a team that others respect as a rising squad in the league. Even some close victories have been far more stressful that needed and they were fortunate a number of times.
-Al had to hit a 3 in Toronto after Mo threw up a hail mary 30 footer with 10 seconds on the clock.
-Mo hit a hand in the face 27 footer against the Spurs. Shot went in, but I’d prefer something going to the basket.
-The offense threw the ball away several times against Brooklyn and lucked out with a missed 3 that would’ve won it for the Nets.
-Gordon had 3 straight turnovers against Indiana followed up by Millsap’s bizarre inbound pass off the bottom of the backboard.
-Al shooting a 3 pointer that missed by about 4 feet against Sacramento while playing for the last shot of regulation.
-Millsap shooting a contested cork screw 3 point jumper in the corner while down 3 with :20 left against Chicago was not popular.
-They also did everything possible to give up the game at Detroit and at Minnesota.
This is a TEAM issue without a doubt, but the head coach certainly takes a big part of that responsibility. Like I said before, it will be a critical part of trying to go from being a 7 seed that’s not a threat to anyone, to being a dangerous team in the future. I don’t expect Tyrone Corbin to be Jerry Sloan, but that’s something Jerry’s team was extremely good at. They were exceptional when it came to attention to detail, when to use timeouts, how to use possessions, how to extend a game to give his team every last chance to win and how to shorten a game to seal the deal. I understand Jerry had better players most of the time, but attention to detail has to improve.
USN: Is Ty Corbin’s future as Utah Jazz head coach secure, and is he meeting front office expectations?
SLC Dunk: Everything we’ve heard from all parties involved is that Corbin is secure here, and that the front office has his back. I think that security is necessary because it allows someone to work through difficulties — or even mistakes — and not worry that there’s someone waiting to pounce on them. (This is similar to how a younger player can play better if they know they are not going to get the hook if they turn the ball over in their first stint of the game.) Ty can be the best Ty he can be if he isn’t looking over his shoulder at a potential replacement. And if we are led to believe what the front office says, then that’s precisely the situation we’ve made for him. I like that. This can be a fertile environment for a ‘home grown’ coach. Ty did not just play here, but he was an assistant under Jerry Sloan. And he was for nearly a decade. That means something. And more than just my own personal feelings, the scoreboard backs Tyrone Corbin. We are on the trajectory to make the playoffs again. If we do I don’t care what expectations the front office has for him, I will demand that they keep Tyrone Corbin as head coach.
Bags: Is Ty secure and meeting front office expectations? Yes I believe he is. As mentioned prior, he’s done a pretty fantastic job succeeding in the horrible situations he’s been put into (Taking over mid season, lockout, and now a roster full of soon to be free agents). In my opinion there are few NBA coaches who could/would have a much better record than what Ty has put together.
C33: Absolutely. Front office expectations are to steadily improve and try to make the playoffs, give yourself a chance (which as mentioned previously boosts the bottom line). With one more win after the All-Star break, against the floundering Golden State Warriors, Corbin would get his W-L record to seven games over .500, the highest it’s been in a season in his tenure as head coach of the Utah Jazz.
UJP: The Jazz franchise and its success was/is built on allowing people to do what they are good at: from the players, to the coaches, to the front office. If you change that philosophy then you change the entire franchise philosophy, which in my opinion, will be the beginning of the end. I am not saying that it can’t be done, but changing the franchise philosophy is not a good thing see…SAC, SEA, N.O. As long as Ty has a winning record, and we are making the playoffs, he will and should have a job.
TP: When the Jazz exercise the final year of the contract for Corbin, he’ll feel much better about his long term future. The organization has asked Tyrone Corbin to win games and develop players. That is a very tough task in this league, but he’s been able to do it. I never thought the Jazz would make the playoffs last year with the roster that they entered the season with, but Ty did an amazing job managing a staff and managing a team that knew they were asked to carry a winning tradition without an established star. Many people have criticized Ty for not playing the young players more minutes, but he has prioritized winning games ahead of that. Although some believe losing more often would be worth giving the time to Favors, Kanter, Burks etc it’s unfair to ask a coach to do so when he is in the current contract situation that Tyrone Corbin is in. If a front office ever asks a coach to just develop players and not worry about wins/losses, they should give that coach long term security in the contract so they feel like they will still be around once those players have been developed. So in this case, Ty needs victories for leverage. Ty has done his best to develop the players with a winning mindset and in a winning culture. Every minute is meaningful to the young players and to the team.
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
USN: What are your thoughts on the progression of the young players this year? How good can they be?
SLC Dunk: I’m vocal about this because I think that younger players have a limited amount of time to ‘get it’ in the NBA before they are beyond help. We’ve had younger guys on the Utah Jazz before — some got it, some did not. Some stuck in the league, some did not. I don’t think we can afford to have ANY of our lotto picks end up being busts. Our front office worked for years and years to maneuver into the spot we were in to have a bunch of hot shot lotto picks right after the Deron/Boozer/Memo/Andrei core was finished. That said, I think like we’re blowing it with each of these guys. They may end up being starters in this league, but I think we all expected at least two of them to be close enough to be a star. I think that potential can be realized — but the chances rely more on actual in-game playing time than hours and hours in an empty gym scoring on Mike Sanders.
If they all sucked when they got playing time then I think you would have evidence that they needed to cook in the oven still. Each time they have played significant minutes Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and now even Alec Burks have produced and helped our team win. If they were bad guys we wouldn’t have drafted them. They aren’t. They’re good kids. They can be a huge part of our team going forward. Some of them can be stars still. They are just not on the star path as seen by the MPG for each All-Star and All-NBA player over the last few years. That doesn’t mean giving minutes to a bad player turns them into gold. But we didn’t draft bad players. We drafted guys who can be great.
Bags: We have finally seen progression.
Favors continues to wow each game and continues to produce given time. The one thing he needs more than anything is the floor time to grow. If he continues to get time, there is no doubt in my mind he will be a solid starter next year.
Kanter is growing in basketball intelligence. Remember he is still a relative infant when it comes to basketball experience. His energy and effort is undeniable. In just over 100 less minutes than he had last year his shooting percentage is up as is his scoring and maybe most importantly is his assists (21 thus far this year, 8 all of last year).
Burks has the ability to be very good. He is one of the 2 or 3 players on this team who can create his own shot at any time. While many have seen this and complained about his lack of playing time, the process has been a just one. He wasn’t ready. He is now.
Being forced to play the point has helped this out as he is thinking pass first which has made him much more of a team player.
C33: I love the way the young players on the Jazz are coming along. They could simply be thrown out there and the Jazz would be forced to play only to their strengths. Instead, they are nurtured, put in situations where they can succeed while working on weaknesses in their games. In the long run this will pay off on multiple levels, raising the ceiling on all of them.
While I remain unconvinced any of the current “young guns” can lead a team to a championship, all have the potential to be valuable pieces of one, hopefully with this Jazz team if we’re lucky. There’s probably two to five All-Star appearances among them if all the right pieces fall into the right places.
UJP: Gordon Hayward changing his shot/release mid-season has been one of the most impressive changes I have seen in quite some time. Kudos to him and Horny for making the change. I don’t think he will ever be a number one player, but the skills that he possesses make him a must have on the floor during crunch time. Burks can do things that no one on the team can do or will ever be able to do. i.e. getting to the basket at will, finishing. However, there will be some growing pains with turnovers and basketball I.Q. I am fine with growing pains if we are winning. Kanter can and might be a very good number three possibly number two player on a team… His has learned a lot this year and it shows in extended minutes. I feel that Favors has the best chance to be the best player on this team. Offensively, he is learning and defensively he is already a force. I am happy with the increased play for all of the young players… I just wish it had happened last year, and in some cases (Burks) not been forced by injury.
TP: Many people have claimed to me that Derrick Favors would put together amazing numbers if he’d just receive 30 plus minutes a night. Problem is, he hasn’t been as explosive as he needs to be in 23 mins against 2nd unit guys for me to believe that he would be productive enough on a consistent level as a starter. It’s much different for players in this league when they are on the front of the scouting report rather than being down the line. People are still aware of Favors and many coaches in the league are impressed with him, but I think he still has steps to take and he’s receiving enough minutes to prove he can take them. The popular opinion is not always the most accurate opinion factually. Derrick is without an offensive move although he’s becoming slowly more comfortable on that side of the floor. I have noticed he’s more confident going left than he was before and he’s went to a baseline spin move here and there.
Gordon is going to be a very important player to this team now and in the future no doubt. His ability to read what’s happening in a game and make personal in game adjustments based on who he’s playing against is terrific. His confidence is at a high level and I love how comfortable he is with the 2nd unit. No matter what the roster looks like next year, it will be interesting to see which young player takes a role as a leader for this team. My money would go on Gordon having more impact in that position than any other young player on this team.
Alec Burks has worked very hard at making the transition from the SG to the PG. Keith Smart told me that this transition will make him a better SG and overall player in the league because he will have a much better understanding of what all five guys are doing on the floor. He noticed that Alec is absorbing and learning the game at a very high rate. Keith told me that last season he didn’t even bother putting Alec on the scouting report in the first meeting, but by the fourth meeting of the season they had a lot of notes on him because of his fast progression. I I love the confidence of this kid and more than that I love his ability to be coachable. He had plenty of reason early in the year to demand minutes, but stayed patient and stayed hungry to be ready for his opportunity. He has the most explosive first step compared to anyone else on the team and that shot is starting to gain a reputation for being pure.
Enes has made the biggest improvement from last year to this year out of the 4 young players no doubt. He feels more comfortable about what he’s doing on the floor and more than that he feels more comfortable in a basic conversation and social gathering compared to a year ago. His English has improved significantly and I think that’s been a big help for him. He’s finishing so much better around the rim, he feels confident he can physically wear down certain defenders whereas the spin move is his favorite choice if he feels like he is undersized. There are still moments that he looks lost out there on the floor and it’s usually on the road. When he’s playing extremely well like the game against Milwaukee, I’d like to see him stay on the floor, but he’s still going through some growing pains during the year. Those growing pains don’t hurt as much when you’re watching the progression and the gradual success that he’s beginning to have. Enes has been the player most hurt by the log jam in the front court, but his time will be coming very soon.
Overall the young players can all be critical parts to a successful era of Utah Jazz basketball in the future. All of them have the potential to become All-Stars in this league, but no one will really know until the future and present is completely in their hands.
USN: With the toughest stretch of the season behind them and the West as wild as ever, how many wins should the Jazz end up with, will they make the playoffs, and what seed?
SLC Dunk: I think the Jazz are going to win around 44-45 games this season. They are ahead of schedule I think, but we still have to play the remaining 32 games. I have every hope that we do make the playoffs — but it will be either the 7th or 8th seed. With the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston Rockets all fighting for those last two spots with us it’s going to be one heck of a finish, like always!
Bags: Hard to say. I’m of the belief that the Lakers still make a run and make the playoffs (call me crazy). With Houston and Portland right behind as well there is little room for error. With the trade deadline looming not knowing the look of this team after that point, I really don’t know.
C33: Managing to get through one of the toughest opening schedules in the NBA at .500 was no easy feat. And they followed it up by winning nearly 60% of their games in the ensuing soft spot, exactly what they needed to do going into the break. The Houston Rockets, despite James Harden, is barely a .500 team, the Portland Trailblazers and Los Angeles Lakers have no bench to spell starters, and after a home-and-East-heavy opening schedule, the Golden State Warriors are experiencing the typical cannibalizing the West does on itself, coming back down to earth.
I said in the preseason I thought the Jazz could approach 50 wins and make the postseason at the 6th seed. I’ll stick to that.
UJP: My preseason predictions were 43-39 and barely missing the playoffs. I think 46-36 is doable which would put us in the 7/8 spot. This team as it is currently built, can beat any team on any given night. However, I don’t think we win a seven game series with OKC, LAC, SAS without a major injury to one of our opponents. I enjoy playoff basketball. As a fan, I want to get to the playoffs, even if we get swept. The one or two years backwards doesn’t guarantee two or three steps forward.
TP: I have picked the Jazz to finish with the number 6 or 7 seed when the season comes to a close. I picked the Jazz with 45 total wins at the end of the season and I’m confident that’s right about where they will end up. The concern for me is whether or not they have another slide left in them and how big that slide will be. Interesting to see where the Lakers will be when it’s all said and done. If they can turn it on in the 2nd part of the schedule they will steal a playoff spot from someone. Utah has to play a very consistent and reliable brand of basketball or else they will be the team that surrenders the spot a Lakers team will be hungry to take.
USN: There are always some fans who are expect change, trades, coaching changes, “blow the team up,” etc. especially following the recent blowout loss to Houston. Should the Jazz make player and/or personnel changes?
SLC Dunk: I’m not a fan of in-season shake ups. I don’t like it when a coach leaves mid-season. I don’t like it when we make mid-season trades. I think training camp is really useful and hard to replace on the fly, especially around the end of a season when teams end up cancelling practice. Sure, there are situations where this thing works. Jeff Van Gundy was a mid-season filed promotion to head coach with the New York Knicks years ago and that worked. Clyde Drexler was traded to Houston and they won the title, right at the trade deadline. But just because it works for some teams doesn’t mean we should try to do it. I don’t think any trades or firings should happen right now this season. I wouldn’t be cool with even a little trade. We had a lockout shortened season last year, and not much of a training camp as is. We need as much data as possible to evaluate what we’re working with right now — before we make any moves. Sure, this off-season I would be okay with making some trades, if they are for the benefit of our team. I don’t think we need to be so hasty right now.
Bags: Sure. If you are a player, coach or an executive you should always look for change that will make you better. That change however should never be a knee jerk reaction to a blowout loss regardless of how many fans, bloggers, or talking heads demand such.
The one change that I feel needs to be made from a front office standpoint is trading Paul Millsap. It’s not the popular thought process, but from an on court and off court point of view I feel it’s the best option (if the options is he or Big Al).
That is not to say just trade him for trades sake, you make the deal if a good deal is to be had.
C33: If we remove the blinders and look around a little, we’d see that Houston destroyed many teams in a similar manner during that stretch of their games, not just the Jazz. That was an imperfect storm of events, from our perspective, more anomaly then normality. It’s been only three-and-a-half months since more than half the Jazz roster was turned over. Some fans always want change. What they never consider is the value of growth and continuity together. Aside from the ’08 Boston Celtics, when was the last time a roster was turned over and went all the way? It simply doesn’t happen. Let’s not forget how many years it took Sloan, Stockton, and Malone to finally reach the Finals.
UJP: I am over the Houston loss the same as I am over the Miami win. I don’t think “blowing up a team is ever a good idea.” And change for change sake is never good. I think a natural “blowing up a the team” will happen at the end of the year. Financially, there are players that we can’t afford to keep if we pay them what they “think” they are worth. I see possibly 4-5 new players on this roster next year. I also think that the [new GM] Dennis Lindsey hire was a personnel change and a big one at that. While I don’t completely understand where/how he will be used. I do know that he came from the most successful franchise of the past 20 years, That means something.
TP: I thought this was as good a time as any to make a trade for Jefferson or Millsap. Problem is, Utah didn’t get a good enough offer in return so they are in the position of bleeding out the final year on many contracts. It was a very uneventful trade deadline just like it was a very uneventful draft day. This summer is going to be the one that Jazz fans remember the most. Many fans get the perception that the Jazz don’t care to make moves or that they are not aggressive enough, but I can assure every fan that the front office was extremely aggressive and active over the past couple months. Dennis Lindsey knows that he doesn’t have to make any move to convince people he’s trying or win a press conference.
(Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)
USN: With seven players coming off of the books this summer, the Jazz have lots of flexibility to work with. Who do the Jazz bring back, and what positions need to be addressed most to make the team better through either trade or free agency?
SLC Dunk: On the record I will say that the Jazz will try to bring back every free agent possible, these are all good guys and good locker room guys. I think Al Jefferson, Mo Williams, and Randy Foye return. Paul Millsap takes an offer he can’t refuse to be a starter elsewhere. One of Earl or Jamaal returns. DeMarre is offered a contract here, but he may also turn that down for a better rotation spot somewhere else, and I wouldn’t blame him. I think he can start for a contender. (He does everything Ron Artest does, without picking up the flagrant fouls) The only spot the worry about could be back up point guard — but that should be taken care of in the NBA draft.
Bags: I wouldn’t be shocked if the Jazz try to bring back Foye. He has brought a shooting dynamic to this team that has created more space for the big guys to work on the offensive end.
Major priority is point guard in my opinion. Bring back Mo and ???. Not saying it has to be Watson or Tinsley, but someone out there who can create depth and be a scoring threat as well from the point.
C33: It’s not a great year for either the draft nor free agency. Indeed, many of the top free agents this summer are already on the Jazz roster. While many get wrapped up in “What’s the point of having ‘assets’ if you don’t use them?” it’s also not a good plan to burn said assets for the sake of it. Honestly, there’s not a lot of valuable trades out there for the Jazz that don’t tie their hands for the future. The team is probably better off just making a postseason run with what they have. Kevin O’Connor’s ability to find value others have missed is underrated, and as the new CBA continues to kick in, and teams are hit with an ever-more punitive luxury tax, other teams will get more desperate to move quality players to get under the line. That flexibility will be more valuable then than it is now.
I feel like Paul Millsap wants to “get paid,” and will walk away with an offer the Jazz can’t afford to match this summer. There’s a couple of dynamics at play here: 1) That frees up Derrick Favors’ playing time, and 2) That makes Paul the “bad guy” in fans’ eyes, instead of the organization having traded away one of the beloved Jazzmen in recent memory.
Point guard clearly is the number one concern, but Mo Williams’ passing ability is often underrated — he was top ten in the NBA in assist percentage all year til being hurt — and isn’t done getting better yet. Expect him back.
UJP: Bell is obviously gone. DMC WILL be back, and should get a 3-5 million a year offer for a long term contract. I also think that Foye will be back, based on his ability to shoot. The draft and free agency are top heavy, and get very iffy after that first tier. I don’t think that we will get or pull any of the first or second tier players. I think we need to figure out if a point guard or shooting guard playing point is what we really need/want. There are not many true point guards in the league anymore. It is becoming more of a hybrid position. Can we run what we need to run with a hybrid, yes. Is it the best thing to do? I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think Jefferson or Millsap will be back.
This off-season will be similar to a few years ago, when it seemed like everyone and their dog had an expiring contract. All I know is that it will definitely fill the void from the playoffs to the Summer League
TP: Clearly point guard is something the Jazz will have a heavy emphasis on when making a possible move at the deadline or during the off-season. Defensive improvement will be a focus for this team in the off-season as well. This team has many of the pieces to be a successful team in the future, but without a quality point guard any team in this league will remain a pretender rather than a contender.
- I don’t believe the Jazz will bring Al back especially for 15 million and I just don’t get the feeling that Millsap is going to be back in a Jazz uniform.
-I get the sense that Marvin will pick up the option on his deal.
-Randy Foye is a guy that I want to see return. He’s comfortable with this organization, he loves it here in Utah and he’s a great weapon from long range.
-2014 is the time to let Favors (3rd), Kanter (3rd), Hayward (9th) and Burks (12th) see what they are all about. To be honest, I would like to see them out there on the floor a lot more often in this current season, but my job is not the one on the line with wins and losses.
-Next year will be huge for Tyrone Corbin as well. Do the Jazz pick up the final year on the contract? Do they give him an extension from his current deal? Is he the guy that they ultimately want for the long term future of this franchise? Next year will be the year that Tyrone Corbin tries to answer those questions for the Utah Jazz.
And there you have it folks. An epic roundtable, full of insight and, yes, a little intrigue as well. And maybe, just maybe, this puts a little magic back into the Jazz season for you, our reader. Maybe, this might help to shed a little hope for those who have lost hope, or re-ignite a spark back into others, or re-enforce your fan-dom as a Jazz fan.
There is still a lot of NBA basketball yet to be played. But if the first half of the season has suggested, it will be fun down to the very last game. So hold on to your britches, sit back and enjoy the rest of what has been a fun, exciting and exhilarating Jazz season.