Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
In just under a month, the NBA Draft will once again be upon us, with the Jazz selecting at #20. Many people (executives, scouts, draft-nuts) have said that this year’s version of the Draft is going to be a dud, a stinker, and utterly forgettable. They’re probably right. However, I’ve also heard (and truly believe) that this year’s Draft may just produce one Star (Blake Griffin), and yet, develop a plethora of role players. It’s deep with positional “rotation” players. So, in this sense, the Jazz ought to be smart to find the role players that can help make an impact on the team.
Points A Plenty
As many as 10 point guards could be drafted in the 1st Round alone. Ricky Rubio, Jrue Holiday, Stephen Curry, Jonny Flynn, Brandon Jennings, Ty Lawson, Eric Maynor and Jeff Teague will be sure-fire 1st Round picks (five of them will be in the Lottery). Darren Collison and Patty Mills will also be in the discussion. What Does It Mean? The Jazz need a back-up point guard. That’s no secret. However, why would the Jazz spend a 1st Round draft pick on a back-up PG when Deron Williams (our superstar) plays over 35 minutes per night? Perhaps the Jazz could go with a combo guard type. Or maybe it’s just better to draft a PG in the 2nd Round of a deep point guard class.
The Best Available
Sometimes, or perhaps always, it’s most important to select the Best Available Player on the draft board. However, what might be interesting this year is the great possibility that the BPA could be a wing player (of which the Jazz really don’t have a need). Chase Budinger (the Bird look-alike) and Terrance Williams might fall into this category. Each could become terrific role players for the Jazz for different reasons (one for shooting & the other for defense).
The Positional Fit
Everyone knows that the Jazz could have a need to fill spots in the frontcourt. Memo, Boozer and Millsap are all question-marks. The obvious positional need will be at power forward. That’s where Tyler Hansbrough comes into play. Talk about organizational fit & positional fill-in! He’s not spectacular, but at least he’s more than serviceable. That’s all you’re going to get in this draft. Another possibility might be Gani Lawal, who’s more the upside, boom-or-bust version of Psycho-T.
Their names are BJ Mullens and Austin Daye. Neither has proven squat on the college level. Mullens is tantalizing because of his combo of size, skill-level and athleticism. However, the Jazz already have 2 of those projects sitting on the bench in Koufos and Fesenko. Is Mullens any better? Austin Daye is slight, skinny (6’10”, 190 lbs), skilled and soft. I don’t think weak and soft is the direction the Jazz want to go. We need bruisers, bullies, and fighters. Perhaps AD2 could be a decent investment… I’m not sold.
My Early Prediction: Psycho-T! Join the bandwagon...
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Gordon Monson of the SL Tribune writes a good column on the Jazz and analyzes KOC's performance over the last 10 years as GM. In my opinion, the article is a little harsh. But, it does give a pretty accurate assessment and history of the past personnel decisions for the Jazz and how it either helped or hurt our cause.
In my estimation, I've been rather supportive of Kevin O'Connor. If Monson calls O'Connor conservative, what would he call Scott Layden? Super-duper conservative? KOC has had some highs and lows, like any GM. But, I think his rebuilding job of the Jazz after the Stockton-Malone regime up until now has been very admirable.
Here's what I can assess (and many of KOC's mistakes were decisions that I was highly in favor of):
Drafting: 50-50. O'Connor has been hit and miss. DWill, Brewer, Millsap, Mo Williams, Koufos have been very good acquisitions. DeShawn, Raul Lopez (instead of Tony Parker), Borchardt, Humphries, & Snyder (who... I thought was an excellent pick at the time) have been terrible picks. Drafting is definitely an in-exact science, however, you'd expect better than a 50% rating.
Free Agency: 50-50. Alot of free agent acquistions were solely to fill out the roster. The ones of significance that were good... Boozer, Memo, Harpring and Raja Bell really made a difference. Although, keeping Arroyo (instead of Mo) & Giricek, signing Amaechi and giving AK47 a max contract (tough decision because AK was playing like an All-star then) all look like questionable to bad decisions. Yet, the Jazz have been in the playoffs over the last few years... so I believe he's doing a pretty good job.
For the most part, I believe that KOC will be able to get the job done. It'll be interesting to witness who he values most, going forward. Many decisions will be contingent on value-driven worth (both on the part of the organization and the market). How would you assess KOC's 10-year overall performance? Do you trust him to make the right decisions?
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Anyway, I recommend this short video for anyone that didn't see the lottery live. It features a nice, awkward man-hug between the Clippers' representative and David Stern's lackey. AFter viewing, can someone please tell me who the NBA rep is? He looks like a cross between Reggie Miller and gollum.
In Jazz news, Kyle "I'm threatening to opt out but now everyone is laughing" Korver had hand surgery. I was hoping that his surgery had been performed by a christian healer, but it looks like he just went with a run-of-the-mill superstar hand doctor. Anyway, thanks Dr. Weiland. Here's to hoping that Kyle's successful surgery convinces him to opt-out.
Lastly, I take issue with Pasty's latest post. Don't think for a second that Korver doesn't love to party it up with the ladies in SLC. Hansborough would be lucky to hit up Club Naked with KK.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
You have to love mock drafts. Invariably the "experts" get the first two or three picks right and then everything totally falls apart. It's probably impossible to back this up, but it's highly unlikely that any respectable mock draft of the last five years has correctly picked who the Jazz are going to take. Of course that doesn't stop folks from trying, or bloggers from linking to those folks.
Before the lotto mania, I thought I'd drop one more edition of the Offseason Guide. We earlier discussed the relative market value of Okur, Boozer, and Korver as well as the teams that have money to pay them this offseason. Now, let's discuss the last factor in the opt-out decision: What if I wait until 2010.
THE GOOD NEWS: The good news for free agents in 2010 is that teams will have room under the salary cap to make moves in free agency. A bunch of squads will be well under the cap, including the Cavaliers, Knicks, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Grizzlies, Heat, T-Wolves, Nets, Thunder, Trailblazers, and Spurs. Some of those teams will make a run at a franchise player like Lebron, Wade, Bosh, Dirk, or Yao. But some of those teams will strikeout. That means that a lot of teams will need to make a splash and have the salary cap room to do it. Could be a good spot to be in for a free agent.
THE BAD NEWS: While the salary cap will allow teams to spend, the economy might not. And the real issue looming for free agents next summer is the likelihood of an impending lockout and a new collective bargaining agreement. In a nutshell, the owners are going to want to lower maximum salaries and length of contracts, while the players are likely to accede to the owner's wishes because the economy is a bitch. That means that a free agent max deal in 2009 might be larger than a max deal in 2010: about 20-30 million dollars larger. That kind of money buys a lot of happiness.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN: If you can get good money in 2009 take it; you might not be able to in 2010, either because of the economy or the new collective bargaining agreement. So, if Boozer can get a team to bite, or can get the Jazz to extend, he'll do it. That's a big IF. But, I think that this is the one reason Okur or Boozer might think about taking a risk and opting out in 2009.
Monday, May 18, 2009
On Boozer: "I do have concerns about Carlos' defense and I have some concerns about his ability to lead the team."
Regarding the Miller Group Automotive side: "If the Jazz were a Toyota dealership, they would be our fourth largest Toyota dealership in terms of revenue... But we have to make sure the automotive side does well."
What worries him most about the team: "The thing that I'm most worried about is our toughness."
Luxury Tax: "If we had to spend all the money and all the players with their options decided to come back... that would obviously put us in a luxury tax situation. If that were the case, we would be willing to go into the luxury tax realm."
On Memo: "We'd love to have Memo here as well..."
Regarding Paul Millsap: "We would love to keep Paul on the team. We feel his development has been marvelous over the years. We think he has a great future ahead of him... we would not rule out paying luxury tax money to keep him."
Would you ever sell the team in the future?
"The Utah Jazz will remain in Salt Lake City until or unless they become a burden to the rest of the organization."
KUTV believes that Kyle Korver will opt out of his contract. If that's the case... See ya later KK! It's been nice knowing you. Thanks for freeing up the spending money for us. However... I wouldn't be surprised if the Jazz re-signed Korver again this summer, knowing how much the Jazz organization AND this community (most specifically... the fair ladies of SLC) love him SO much. I'd break down laughing, if that were to actually happen.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I’m proud of the fact that recently, and in the past, Jazz fans have been called “nastier than others.” At least when an opponent comes to the ESA, it knows they’re playing in a hostile territory. As the D-News article states, we’re probably no different than most crowds. Yes, we cheer loud and yell emphatically, but so do others. I doubt our “cat-calls” are much nastier than other arenas.
What I’m more worried about though is how nasty our players are. Stockton was known for being one of the “dirtiest” sons-a-guns in the NBA during his time. His screens –some say- were beyond illegal and cheap. The Mailman was a tough sucker. Everyone remembers the time he elbowed Isaiah Thomas in the head, causing major damage and stitches to repair. The Mailman was bull-strong and “nasty” like that. Players were afraid to play against him in the paint.
This past season’s version of the Jazz was soft and weak. That’s one of the primary reasons why we’ve had an early exit from the playoffs.
As we go down the roster, it’s easy to pin-point the players who don’t measure up in the toughness department (both mental and physical). The only three players that pass the toughness test are Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, and Matt Harpring. AK47?... Soft as charmin! Carlos the Boozer?... Lacking mental fortitude. CJ Miles?... Absolute softie. Kyle Korver?... Good shot, not tough.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
A couple of Jazz players also got some love from the voters, whoever they are. Paul Millsap came in fourth overall (behind Granger, Devin Harris, and Kevin Durant), receiving three first-place votes. Ronnie Brewer nabbed two third-place votes to finish in 24th place. Don't feel bad, guys, you can't win them all.
As an historical aside, did you know that no Jazz player has ever won the most improved player award? The closest we've come to this most esteemed honor is one player that was traded to the Jazz after he won the award, and another that won the award after the Jazz got rid of him. Can you name them without looking it up?
Here are the answers for those with weak memories.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Today's discussion will be who has money to overpay these guys. And the list is not long. The teams listed in orange below are the only teams with cap space over the midlevel exception (about $5.5 mil). Any team can sign free agents up to the midlevel extension, but only those with cap room can go above that number. The cap numbers listed below assume that the team will rescind its rights to its own free agents, which is unlikely in a lot of cases (like Atlanta).
Basically, you have three teams that could lure away Memo or Boozer: Detroit, Memphis, and Oklahoma City. There are a couple of teams that could make a run at Korver, but I don't think he'd get more than the midlevel exception anyway.
Detroit: The Pistons are the team that everyone thinks will try to lure away Boozer. They've got cash ($17 million under the cap), they have been linked with Boozer before, and they are losing three power forwards to free agency (Rasheed, Maxiell, McDyess). Four if you count the Walter Herrmann, and you know I do.
But, there are some things working against Detroit signing Booze. First, they are located in Detroit. I'm not sure how willing their owners will be to sign a guy that shoots balls into a hoop to a long term deal in the $50 million range when the city is boasting 22% unemployment. Second, when you are one of the only teams with real money to spend, you can play the field. Instead of Boozer, they could go after a true free agent like Marion, Lamar Odom, or Ron Artest (oh, sweet irony) and offer a rock bottom price, hoping that the desperate free agent bites. Or, they could make a run at a retricted guy and hope his cash-strapped club blinks. That list of possibilities includes David Lee, Glen Davis, and our very own Paul Millsap.
Memphis: The Grizzlies have tons of coin to spend ($19 million), but the question with them is always, "will they spend it?" Remember this is the team that traded Pau Gasol for his brother. They aren't about winning, they are about staying afloat. That alone disqualifies them in my mind as a serious suitor for Boozer or Okur. I may well be proven wrong, but I see the Griz treading water for a few more years until they become the Seattle Grizzlies. I don't see Memphis opening up the checkbook for anyone, let alone Boozer.
Oklahoma City: This team is an enigma. They are loaded with young talent in Westbrook, Durant, and Green. They have a high draft pick this year. They have a pretty loyal fan base that spends money. They have a good cap situation -their worst contract is two more years of Nick Collison at $6.5 million. And (chun-chun-chun) I think Okur is a perfect fit for them. They need a shooter to take heat off Westbrook and Durant, they are dying for a real center, and Oklahoma City is renowned for its shawarma.
But, is a team led by two future all-stars who still cannot legally drink willing to risk a long-term deal with a 30-year old center, even one who is relatively injury-free for his career? And is Memo, a guy who reportedly loves Salt Lake willing to move to Oklahoma City?
Prediction: I don't think any of these teams go after Boozer or Okur. It's just too much money to spend for teams that are going with youth. Boozer to Detroit is the one deal that seems to make some sense, but I still think they'd prefer a younger, cheaper, more durable version of Carlos.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I believe the time has come to trade Andrei Kirilenko. It’s been long overdue. As was eloquently brought to our attention below by 00-Tag (And YES, I realize that it’s only conjecture), Andrei has been involved in trade talks for some time. It seems that the Warriors are always the destination of choice because of Andrei’s versatility and athleticism aligning with Golden State’s uptempo and frenetic style of play.
Yet, it’s true. Kirilenko doesn’t belong here. It’s too painfully obvious to see. He doesn’t fit. He’d be better off playing for another team. Would the Jazz be better off without him? That’s difficult to know for sure. We’d certainly miss his defense. AK definitely brings several intangibles to the court… hustle (which has been less frequent), blocks, steals, put-backs, and passing. Yet, our deliberate, mechanical approach stifles his ability to produce more. AK just doesn’t function well in the half-court set. He looks terribly uncomfortable playing on the wing. His shot hasn’t improved. And his numbers continue to stagnate and even plummet while logging fewer minutes for the Jazz. And to conclude, we won’t even mention his contract! It’s completely suffocating our ability to re-tool. Do we wait out the next two years until his contract comes up? Or do we change course and try something new? I suggest we change course!
Here’s what I see on the trade market:
The Intriguing: AK47 & CJ Miles to GSW for Corey Maggette, Jamal Crawford, & Branden Wright
This would be an explosive trade (both for good and bad). Maggette and Crawford love to have the ball in their hands. They can score at will. When was the last time the Jazz had wings that could create their own shot? Brewer, Maggette, Crawford would create a dynamic set of wings. B. Wright would certainly be the gem of this trade. We’d get a big, athletic PF to develop in place of Boozer or Millsap. Question… Would Maggette & Crawford fit into Sloan’s offense? Would they play team-ball? Not likely. These guys are ball hogs. That’s the reason GSW wants to get rid of them. Also, this trade doesn’t help our salary situation. It only prolongs it. Even still, I’d consider doing this trade.
The Possible: AK47 to Philly for Samuel Dalembert & Willie Green
Jazz fans have complained about not having a defensive center to help clog the paint. Well… here’s an attempt to solve that problem. Dalembert had a lousy season for the 76ers, but still had averages of 6.4 points, 8.5 rebounds & 1.75 blocks. Perhaps with a change of scenery, Dalembert could have a big impact for the Jazz. If the experiment doesn’t work, his contract comes due in two years, no harm… no foul. Green would purely be filler. The salaries align perfectly and expire at the same time. Personally, I’d consider doing this trade also. It’s time for a change-up.
The Questionable: AK47 to Milwaukee for Luke Ridnour, Dan Gadzuric, & Charlie Bell
OK. So, this trade isn’t so enticing. However, we’d solve our back-up point guard problems immediately. We’d see gradual, salary flexibility within our roster as well. I doubt Milwaukee would do this trade… since they have to re-sign Charlie Villanueva and Ramon Sessions this summer to contracts. Their salary situation is completely over-packed.
The Ridiculous (or is it?): AK47 & CJ Miles for Tracy McGrady
We all know that Houston plays better without him. For us, it’d be a one-year experiment, and salary dump, and then would prepare us for the summer of 2010. Interesting enough, Houston is probably planning for the same thing… that’s why I don’t believe the Rockets would do this trade. Would I do it? Call me crazy… but… Yes.
The Reasoning: Hey, if these trades blow-up in our face, Boozer, Memo or Millsap leave for greener pastures, and we line-up a lottery bound bunch of questionable talents next season… take heart! The Jazz could potentially have 2 lotto picks (New York’s & possibly our own if we fall short of #17) in the most loaded 2010 draft of recent memory. We could re-tool rather quickly.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
- Dan Brown's books and movies have absolutely nothing to do with the NBA. "Angels and Demons" is a particulary poor comparision point, as after Jarron Collins gets cut loose this offseason there aren't going to be any angels left in the league.
- Yes, the commercial opens with a faux basketball court superimposed on the ground outside of the Vatican.
- Yes, there is another portion of the commercial where Rajon Rondo's back is engulfed in flames as the announcer says "Fire" in a deep baritone.
- Yes, at another point Kobe Bryant dives on the floor to get a loose ball and morphs into Tom Hanks swimming underwater in his clothes. What's weird about that?
There are a lot of factors to consider when you are forced to decide whether to accept being paid 14 million dollars to show up to every Jazz game in uniform (or a suit), but the three main questions to ask are (1) what is the market value for my services, (2) who has money to pay me, and (3) what could I make if I wait a year? Today's post will deal with the first.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Now that the second round of the playoffs is upon us, it's time to start thinking about next year. Let the Atlantas and Houstons of the world fight and scrap to make NBA history. The Jazz can just sit back, relax, throw on some jean shorts, browse Craigslist for a good massuese, and plan for the future. We are living large. Anyway, I know Kevin O'Conner has a lot on his plate, so I'm volunteering to help out. Here's the first edition of "Crotty Kid's Guide to the Jazz' 2009 Offseason." Feel free to forward this link to KevinOConner@utahjazz.com.
As any good MBA student can tell you, before you do anything in life you absolutely have to have a business plan. Absent that, you at least need some ground rules. And if no ground rules are available, then one overriding, biblical commandment is essential. The Jazz' 2010 offseason commandment:
Thou Shalt Not Pay the Luxury TaxEven though the Millers have said that they would go over the tax "if a championship were imminent," let's not kid ourselves. Greg Miller would rather watch two dudes kissing for a couple of hours in his daddy's theater than get burned by the luxury tax. You can bet that the Jazz top guns have been instructed to do everything possible to get under the tax for next year.
Now comes the math. The luxury tax for 2009 was $71.15 million, while the Jazz were comfortably below that level at $65.6 million. But, with Deron's extension kicking in next year, the Jazz' 2010 payroll slightly exceeds the $71 million level if all of the player options are exercised. And that's with only nine players signed. What does it all mean? As it stands, we are paying the luxury tax next year. And there's not much the Jazz can do about it.
So, every personnel decision this summer will be with an eye on cost-cutting: if we are fated to pay the tax, at least we aren't paying too much. That means that every decision, from resigning Millsap, to exercising the team option on Fesenko, to trading our draft pick for money (you heard it hear first), will be viewed in terms of "how much is this going to cost" and not "how much does this cost benefit our team." It could be an ugly summer.
Friday, May 1, 2009
So now that the Elder Statesman and noble Jazz citizen, Jarron Collins has finished his contract with the Jazz, who exactly will be the new “whipping boy” next season for Jazz fans?
The Jazz have had a rich history of signing/retaining questionable talents, worthless contributors and overpaid big-bodies. The list is long, and goes back to the days of “the Whopper” Billy Paultz, “Dinner Bell” Mel Turpin, and of course, Greg Ostertag. While it’s difficult to pin the next “Jazz Whipping Boy”, I already have my nomination… Fes!
Surely, the Jazz have to decide whether they’ll retain Fesenko at a meager $870,000 for next season, but if they do… there’ll be so much pressure and expectation for Fes to “break-out” next season that he’ll have Jazz fans itching and clawing to see some form of player progress and development, not to mention the ability the team might have of installing a defensive-minded center in the paint, clogging the lane for our boys. Can Fes be that guy? The well-known jokester and goofball doesn’t seem to take basketball too seriously. And it has caused Jerry Sloan to utter scathing words of motivation and self-improvement towards Fes. Will he take advantage of his opportunity and follow through on Jerry's words of advice? Only another season of Jazz basketball will help us find that out.
Here's to our new whipping boy, Kyrylo Fesenko! Who would you nominate?
Kyrylo Fesenko (Ukrainian: Кирило Фесенко, born December 24, 1986, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union) is a Ukrainian professional basketball player. He is a 7'1" and 300 lb center. After playing four seasons in native Ukraine, Fesenko was selected 38th overall in the second round of the 2007 NBA Draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and then traded to the Utah Jazz, signing a three-year contract with the Jazz on August 15, 2007. He has spent most of his two seasons with the NBA Development League, Utah Flash. Fesenko wears a size 18 shoe. He also owns a 7'4" wingspan and 9'4" standing reach (same standing reach as Greg Oden).
Is it, "That sounds great! Ironically, it's the eight-month anniversary to the day when you showed up for training camp overweight and proceeded to murder us for the next five months until we finally decided to trade you, only you one-upped us by opting for microfracture surgery and killing your value. Maybe we could celebrate with cake after the game, win or lose?" It all begs two questions: 1) How is T-mac feeling this morning? and 2) Is Houston actually a better team without T-Mac?