Monday, September 29, 2008

Basketball . . . finally

The NBA season (or shadows of it) is nearly upon us. In anticipation of the upcoming season, the entire TCG staff has travelled to lovely Boise, Idaho to bring you nonstop Jazz Training Camp coverage. While we're here we'll also fill you on in the fun things to do in the Boise area.

Today, before camp began, I dropped the twins off at Boiseko Ikastola, a preschool that teaches kids the invaluable Basque language. Did you know that it was the first Basque preschool outside of the Basque country? Pupils that prove to be good learners and loyal, robotic followers of authority advance to upper-level classes such as Basque poetry, advanced Euskadi, and secrets of successful bomb campaigns.

But I digress. Boise is famous for more than Basque preschools and milk shakes made out of potatoes: it is also famous for hosting the Jazz at the Taco Bell Arena for one week in October! Here are my notes from day 1 of camp:

  • Matt Harpring did not join the fun because he is getting old. Here's his list of ailments: bone spur, which required ankle surgery, which led to a strep infection, which required antibiotics, which made him sick, which led to severe digestive problems. Sounds like a good time for the old warrior to retire. Oh, what's that you say? He is signed for two more years? Dynamite. The worst part of the whole deal is that Harpring can't come to Boise but is, instead, stuck in Santa Barbara.
  • The Jazz picked up the fourth year option on Ronnie Brewer's deal. This was a no-brainer. Also, Sloan is a fan of Ronnie's new gun show.

  • Okur looks to be in good shape, which would be the first time that has happened in his rolly-polly NBA career. Okur is also rocking the cheesy boy band beard that now seems to be required for Jazz starters. It's as if Jerry Sloan has been in the hospital with Larry H all summer long. Time for a good old fashioned fashion crack down.

  • Speaking of crackdowns, Britton Johnson signed a contract with a Ukranian club and will not be joining the Jazz in Boise. Good luck Brit, and watch out for Putin.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Kirilenko is from Russia!

The internet is abuzz this morning with fresh rumors of Kirilenko leaving Utah. This time, the world wide rumor mill has him heading to Russia to play for CSKA Moscow. Here's the gist of the rumor:
  1. Everyone's go-to website for Lithuanian-related basketball rumors,, is reporting that CSKA is wooing Kirilenko to return to the motherland.

  2. According to the report, Kirilenko is interested in leaving the NBA and that is why he has not renewed his contract with the Jazz.

  3. The deal would be a Derek Fisher-like departure in which Kirilenko and the Jazz both agree to tear up his contract and the $49 million still owed over the next three years.

Now the cold hard facts:

  1. Kirilenko has not renewed his contract with the Jazz because (A) he isn't eligible to renew it and (B) he makes such an obscene amount of money that the Jazz would never extend his current contract unless there were a huge pay reduction.

  2. CSKA and Kirilenko's agent deny any talks.

  3. Although CSKA is one of the handful of cash rich European squads, they aren't paying anywhere near the neighborhood of $50 million for a defensive specialist.

If Kirilenko ever approached the Jazz and said, "Look guys, it's been a nice run, but why don't you let me out of my huge, bloated contract which threatens the long-term health of the franchise," the Jazz would rip up his deal faster than Adam Keefe elevating to the rim. But don't count on that happening. At least not this year. Maybe in the last year of his deal, when he is only walking away from a measly $16 million, he might consider taking Masha back to Moscow. But until then, the Jazz are on the hook.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Jazz Notes

Some loose ends from the end of the NBA summer:
  • Gilbert Arenas needs surgery on his knee (for the third time), but claims that he will be back on the court in December. I have my doubts. But there is no doubt that he'll miss the Jazz' only trip to the famed Verizon Center on November 11 where I will be clad in my jazz throwbacks and rooting vociferously for less playing time for Matt Harpring.

  • The DNews is reporting that Gerry McNamara will be among the invitees at Jazz camp. The former Syracuse star and national champion must be sick of Greek food, because he has zero chance of making the squad.

  • Apparently, Boozer can opt out next season. Is anyone else sick of hearing about this? And the season hasn't even begun.

  • Boozer and Deron were on Oprah earlier this month. (This is the first, but definitely not the last time that this blog will link to Oprah claims that the main goal of the US team was changing "the way the world perceived men in basketball." Consider it changed!! Way to go O!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fuzzy Future

The Deseret News is catching on to what TCG already knows... the Jazz will be facing a fuzzy future. The summer of 2009 will be a landmark time for the Utah Jazz.

The DNews gives some insight into the inevitable summer of decision-making in 2009. Here are some fast facts about the summer of 2009 as it relates to this article and the Utah Jazz:

The Utah Jazz will not pay beyond the luxury tax threshold, as quoted by Mr. Larry H. Miller.

      • The Jazz will have 3 players with either an early termination option or player option: Memo Okur, Kyle Korver and Carlos Boozer

      • The Jazz will have 3 players with a team option to keep: Ronnie Brewer, Morris Almond, and Kyrylo Fesenko.

      • The Jazz have 4 players on the roster who will be free agents next summer: Paul Millsap, Ronnie Price, Jarron Collins, and Brevin Knight.

      • The Jazz will be nugding-up against the luxury tax threshold in 2009-10 with the increased 'max-salary level' of Deron Williams, unless stated options are taken above.

      • The Jazz will face some serious changes in roster movement next summer.

      Chad Ford of outlines the free agent landscape of 2009, and labels Boozer as the most likely candidate from the Player Option contingent to leave his team. What do you think will happen?

      Monday, September 15, 2008

      Collins injured in freak Golf Accident?

      You read it here first, or maybe on, but I was thrilled when I saw the headline, until I read deeper and realized it was JASON Collins' golf cart that tipped over, not Jarron's. Too bad for Jazz fans.Regardless, here is the scoop: Jason Collins is out golfing, the golf cart hits wet ground, skids, and tips over, and Jason tears a tricep tendon in his elbow. Now he will miss the first part of the season because he has to have surgery. Seriously.

      Wednesday, September 10, 2008

      Jazz Release TV Schedule

      Today the Jazz released their television schedule for the 2008-09 season. In addition to the 5 games on ESPN and the 6 games on TNT, the Jazz will televise all of their pre-season games on KJZZ 14. This is the first time ever the Jazz have televised all of their pre-season games.

      It's Fantasy Time

      It's that time of year. Time to analyze who'll reign (and perform) supreme in the upcoming NBA season.'s experts have broken down the Fantasy Picks for 2009. And falling in the Top 190 are six Jazzmen ready to make their mark.

      The rankings are certainly interesting to note. Clearly, not all 'team' success is attributed to a player's individual stats, but, it's intriguing to see how one player stacks up to another based upon their performance. More noteworthy would be how a player performs against another based upon how much they're paid. ranks the Jazz players as follows according to their predicted fantasy output:

      #11 Deron Williams
      #28 Carlos Boozer
      #62 Mehmet Okur
      #90 Andrei Kirilenko
      #130 Ronnie Brewer
      #145 Paul Millsap

      Within the positional rankings, Deron Williams rates as the 4th best point guard to select, while Carlos Boozer rates as the 11th best power forward. Memo falls to the 15th slot in the list of best centers. Aren't we missing someone? Where's Jarron Collins ranked?

      Of note, AK47 doesn't show up in the top 15 small forward listing. Should we be concerned with Andrei and his production when he's not listed as a top flight small forward? When he's being paid top dollar, I think my answer would be...YES!

      Of those players who are "Can't Miss" Fantasy Prospects, believes they are LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, Amare Stoudamire, and Dwayne Wade. Fair enough! You can't argue with those picks.

      However, there's one player on the Jazz who I believe will be a "Can't Miss" Fantasy Star, and it is...
      #8 Deron Williams

      Monday, September 8, 2008

      Summer Endings

      We all know that the Jazz came up short against the Lakers in the quarterfinals of last season’s playoffs. Also, the Jazz haven’t made any significant roster moves to change the make-up of the team. Will the Jazz be able to contend for a title with virtually the same roster as last season? Will continuity be the difference? Without any huge shake-ups happening over the summer, the Jazz can only hope that retaining CJ Miles, trading for Brevin Knight and drafting Kosta Koufas will be enough to boost their title contending status.

      Let’s just hope that we win “the thing” with our current cast!

      Next summer will present different challenges for the Jazz. How will the Jazz brass keep the team intact? Here is a list of the competing NBA teams with potential cap space for Free Agency 2009, possibly vying for the services of Boozer, Memo, Millsap, and even AK47 (by way of a player for cap space scenario).

      Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks could be a player on the market with Mike Bibby coming off the books. However, with the re-signing of Josh Smith and the inside presence of rookie Al Horford, it wouldn’t seem likely that the Hawks would be interested in more front court players.

      Likelihood = Low

      Denver Nuggets: Allen Iverson finishes up his contract with the Nuggets, freeing up nearly $21 million. The Nugs already overpay for stalwart talents like Nene and Kenyon Martin. It’ll be doubtful that they’ll even have enough cap space to make a dent in the market.

      Likelihood = Not happening

      Detroit Pistons: The Pistons are an interesting possibility. Rasheed Wallace becomes a free agent and Rip Hamilton has an early termination option to jump out of his contract. If both leave, the Pistons become a major cap player.

      Likelihood = Warm

      Memphis Grizzlies: Memphis will have some cash to spend. Evidence of their spending showed when they offered a hefty contract to Josh Smith this summer, only to be matched by the Hawks. Memphis has shown some interest in taking on Zach Randolph via trade this summer. They could certainly use an inside presence. Will anyone take their cash?

      Likelihood = Active

      Miami Heat: Shawn Marion wraps up his contract after this season, opening up $18 million. The Heat has been known to possess interest in the Booz, through multiple Miami news reports. But will they have enough cap space to lure him? In addition, Michael Beasley plays power forward. The Booz and Beasley are two similar players…offensive minded scorers. It doesn’t seem like a natural fit.

      Likelihood = Possible

      Oklahoma City Thunder: The franchise in Oklahoma has been preparing cap space for the next summer. They’ve unloaded Luke Ridnour for expiring contracts (Joe Smith and Desmond Mason) and have others coming off the books (Chris Wilcox). OKC should have nearly $25 million to spend in free agency next summer and possess nice, young talented players on the roster. Certainly, they’ll have to save up a little bit in order to re-sign Kevin Durant in the future.

      Likelihood = Hot

      Portland TrailBlazers: Raef LaFrentz will come off the books after the season and Portland should have a load of money to spend. Their concern however will be in locking up Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden as the up-and-coming nucleus. I doubt Portland will be looking elsewhere in free agency when they’re so loaded from within.

      Likelihood = Nope

      Karl Malone . . . The Father?

      Whether you agree or disagree with this ESPN article, it is a must read. Good old Mailman material.

      Wednesday, September 3, 2008

      Big Mark

      That's right. Big Mark has his own website with a pretty sweet highlight intro.

      So besides editing a bit of HTML and co-hosting a few halftime shows with Steve Brown, what exactly has Mr. Eaton been up to since he retired? Funny you should ask. He opened Tuscany, which I have to say is pretty good as far as Italian food in Utah cooked by a non-Italian chef in a restaurant operated by a non-Italian owner goes. He's also put out a couple of CDs -- non-musical, unfortunately -- including "10 Ways to Stand Tall." Rumor has it that Memo Okur and Kosta Koufos are considering a follow-up duet album: "10 Ways to Be Tall but Actually Stand and Play Small."

      All kidding aside, I would permanently give up Collins, Harpring and Miles if we could have a young Mark Eaton play for us next year.

      Toking the Reefer

      My post output has dropped significantly since (1) the NBA draft came and went and (2) bizarre NBA news stories involving pit bulls, weapons, and narcotics seemed to dry up like Lake Powell. But today I hit the motherload: a story about talented rookies and illegal drugs! Success!

      ESPN is reporting that Mario Chalmers and Darrel Arthur (two guys I wanted when the Jazz drafted) have been busted for marijuana possession in their hotel room during the NBA Rookie Transition Program. The transition program, for those TCG readers that haven't been drafted, is where a bunch of NBA lawyers teach a bunch of 19-year olds how to get high and NOT end up in the local newspaper. Whoops!

      Anyway, you can tell it's almost NBA time because more and more bizarre basketball news is coming down the pipeline. A quick recap of the past two weeks:

      - Darius Miles is back in the NBA, and not a moment too soon. Check out the picture of Darius' ride (this is not a joke. Well, it's not a lie, but it is kind of a joke). Darius, as you may recall, is most famous for having signed a contract worth $9 million per year and inventing the weird antenna celebration after a made three-pointer. The Celtics are now rolling with a bench of Darius Miles (acting credit: National Lampoon's Van Wilder), J.R. Giddens (college highlights: stabbed, suspended for being "a bad teammate"), and Bill Walker (towel pee-er). Repeat, anyone?

      - The new Oklahoma City franchise is scheduled to name its team today. The franchise's lame, copyrighted ideas include Energy, Wind, Marshalls, Bison, Barons and, the odds-on frontrunner, Thunder. When I become commissioner of sports there will be no teams named "Wind," or any other name that could be confused with an WNBA or MLS team.

      - Rumors abound that Golden State's newest millionaire, Monte Ellis, is covering up the cause of his ankle injury that will keep him sidelined for a few months. Apparently there are a lot of scrapes and a ligament tear that are "inconsistent" with a basketball related injury. I wonder what he's trying to hide? My guess is that he secretly owns a motorcycle, or is an avid track cyclist.

      - Finally, the most bizarre NBA news of the week: NBA executives are still willing to pay Donyell Marshall money to play basketball! The 76ers trumped their signing of Elton Brand and Andre Iguodala by signing the former above-average Jazzman. I could never figure out if Marshall needed to bulk up, or lose the baby fat. It's like he was always walking the fine line between too thin to play the post and too chubby to fit into a collared shirt. He was the ultimate chubby enigma.

      Tuesday, September 2, 2008

      Ah, Those Summer Nights. . .

      Many TCG readers are elementary school graduates and are thus familiar with the greatest of all post-Labor Day rites: the "What I Did Over My Summer Vacation" report. Unfortunately most Jazzmen are not as forthcoming about their august adventures as is the average seven-year old, so below is a summary of how things went for our boys.

      Deron Williams
      Let's see. . . D Will played out of his mind in the playoffs, signed a $70 million contract extension, and helped lead Team America to gold in the Olympic
      s. Not a bad ninety days. In his spare time he played some golf and sampled China's finest cuisine options, choosing to eat his non-hotel meals in Beijing only at the California Pizza Kitchen and Tony Roma's.

      Summer Vacation Rating: 9.5

      Restaurant Selection: 1.5 stars

      Carlos Boo
      Carlos' summer was a bit rougher than his fellow co-captain's. He was abysmal in the playoffs, didn't exactly shoot down rumors that he wants to leave Utah for Miami, and his own college c
      oach (!) benched him in the Olympics. On the other hand he didn't stab a blind man in the back (at least as far as we know) or have to sue Prince for painting his house purple/installing beauty salon chairs in the basement.

      Summer Vacation Rating: 4
      Prince's Sense of Style: Abysmal

      Jerry Sloan

      There are no confirmed reports on what Sloan did over the summer. Which probably means he spent days on end going to antique shows and riding his John Deere tractor around

      Summer Vacation Rating for a Normal Human Being: 1.
      Summer Vacation Rating for Jerry Sloan: 8.5

      Andrei Kirilenko
      Andrei's summer was. . .wait for it. . . inconsistent. He had one game in the Olympics with seventeen points, six steals, and three blocks and one with six points where he shot 10% from the field. One day he was 10-19 from the stripe, another day 4-5. You get the picture.

      Summer Vacation Rating: Somewhere between a 3 and an 8, depending on the day

      Kyrylo Fesenko

      Fes dyed his hair blond, averaged 4.5 points and 2.7 turnovers a game in the Rocky Mountain Revue, and made close to $200,000 in salary. Not a bad summer if you'
      re the fourth most popular member of a boy band, but a pretty terrible one if you're a professional basketball player.

      Summer Vacation Rating: 2

      Larry Miller

      The big man spent most of his summer in the hospital where he suffered heart attacks, intestinal bleeding, and kidney failure among a number of other ailments. His missed the c
      ontract negotiations with his best player and, as far as we know, didn't play in a single softball game. On the bright side, Karl Malone wiped his mouth for him a few times.

      Summer Vacation Rating: -4