Friday, October 31, 2008

Who's the Nut?

This morning, the Jazz announced that they would not pick up the option on Morris Almond, the sharp-shooting guard drafted by the Jazz in the first round of the 2007 draft.

Apparently, Almond was not surprised by the decision, as the writing on the wall became apparent when the Jazz chose to match C.J. Miles' offer from Oklahoma City this past off-season.

While Almond is a terrific scorer, posting multiple 50+point games in a D-League game last season, his inability to grasp the wholistic approach to Coach Sloan's system, coupled with a glut of 2's and 3's on the roster, ultimately led to his undoing in Jazzland.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Jazz are attempting to trade Almond, perhaps as early as this week. While a trade would have minimal affects on the Jazz's payroll, it would free up a roster spot, which could be very valuable if a Jazz regular is injured and someone else needs to be signed. Teams that may be interested could include San Antonio and Detroit, who showed interest in Almond before the 2007 draft. The Griff's recommendation: DO NOT DO THE SPURS ANY FAVORS.

So let's hear it: 
Good move by the Jazz for casting off someone unwilling to buy into the system?

Or did the Jazz pull a "Raul" by keeping C.J. and abandoning Almond too quickly? 

(NOTE: For non-Jazz fans, a "Raul" refers to the Jazz's decision to keep Carlos Arroyo and Raul Lopez while letting Mo Williams, now an NBA starter, walk)

The Agonizing Ankle Debate

There is nothing as gut-wrenchingly-painful as a badly sprained ankle. As D Will can tell you, it hurts like the dickens. But it looks as if Deron will miss at least the next two games versus the Clipps with that bum ankle, which is probably a smart move. But, if I were the Jazz (which I am not), I would extend his downtime a bit more. Let's let Deron sit not just through the Clippers games, but through Portland and Oklahoma City, with a grand return date of Sunday November 9 in New York City. The reason? Ankles jam and tweak when you come back too early, and then the pain sticks around for ever. Deron should just take it easy until he is pain free . . . but again, I am not the Jazz (although I should be).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nuggets from Denver

Good morning Jazz fans. Nice, solid win for the Jazz last night, even if it was over the short-handed Nuggets. If you're like me, most of you are tired of hearing what the local hacks who cover the Jazz have to say. So this morning, let's take a look at what our friends from Denver thought about last night's game. It seems a little early in the season to be playing the "moral victory" card, but apparently this guy from the Denver Post didn't think so. His friend from the Rocky Mountain News took the easier route and joined George Karl in blaming the loss on the refs. Maybe they didn't notice the Nuggets forgot how to rebound. And what did the bloggers think? Well after looking at this Nuggets blog, I came away with a new a new understanding of why they call Denver the "Mile High" city.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Let the Regular Season Begin!

Enough talk about basketball. Finally, tonight, we get some action.

The Jazz tipoff 2008-2009 at home against the Nuggets at the old Energy Solutions Thunder Palace. It looks as if Deron will not play tonight (smart move), but that doesn't mean that our starting point guard won't be the best point guard on the floor. Don't forget that the Nuggets start the cagey veteran Anthony "I remember President" Carter. The big change for the Nuggets from last year is the loss of Camby and Najera. But they aren't completely lacking for interior defenders. They have this guy!

That's right, the Birdman is back! After being kicked out of the NBA for drug use, he's back. And what better team to join for a repeat drug offender than your 2008 Denver Nuggets.

If you can't tell, I'm not real high on the Nuggets this year. Last year the Nuggets were an abysmal defensive team that missed the playoffs by one game. This year, they'll be an even worse defensive team that will miss the playoffs by more than one game. Without Camby and Najera, they are a threat to give up 160 on any given night. The Jazz win tonight, even without Deron.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And the Winner is ...

It's that happy time of the season when hope runs eternal and every team is still in the hunt for the playoffs. That's right, It's opening night of the NBA season. So before the Jazz tip off tomorrow evening, it's time for predictions. So dust off your magic eight ball, 20 sided die, and divining rods.

As I see it, predicting the NBA season is a no-lose deal. If you're wrong, so was almost everyone else. And if you're right, you can brag about it through out the off season and for the rest of your life. So with out further ado, here are my predictions for the coming NBA season.

The West:

1. New Orleans
2. Utah
3. LA Lakers
4. San Antonio
5. Phoenix
6. Houston
7. Dallas
8. Portland

Playoffs - First Round: Hornets over Trailblazers, Jazz over Dallas, Lakers over Rockets, and Suns over Spurs.
Second Round: Hornets over Suns and Jazz over Lakers.
Western Conference Finals: Jazz over Hornets

The East:

1. Boston
2. Detroit
3. Orlando
4. Cleveland
5. Philadelphia
6. Toronto
7. Washington
8 Miami

Playoffs - First Round: Celtics over Heat, Wiz over Pistons, Magic over Raptors, and 76ers over Cavs.
Second Round: Celtics over 76ers and Magic over Wiz.
Eastern Conference Finals: Magic over the Celtics.

And your 2009 NBA champions will be: The Utah Jazz

Deron Williams will emerge as the NBA's premier point guard and the Jazz will stop fouling and start playing defense. Home court advantage will help them sneak past the Lakers and Deron will continue his head-to-head domination of CP3 in leading the Jazz to the finals. Despite some match-up problems with Dwight Howard, the Jazz will overwhelm the Magic on their way to their first NBA championship.

That's how I see it through my purple, gold and green glasses. What does your eight ball say?

The Sports Guy Has Spoken

So, it's ('s) the Sports Guy vs. Jazz Nation, huh?

After the Sports Guy ripped apart any possible comparisons for Deron Williams to Chris Paul, he made even more predictions for the NBA season and went after Jazz fans in the process. While I personally think the Sports Guy is hilarious and enjoy reading his articles, his predictions and comparisons couldn't be further from the mark. Hornets and Cavs in the Finals? Really? Here are some tidbits from his Top 20 Predictions for the 2008-09 NBA season:

The First Prediction of Trade...A Big Trade:

"6. Wally Szczerbiak's Expiring Contract will become America's favorite new phrase.
Move over Theo Ratliff, there's a new sheriff in town! Expect Wally's contract to be thrown into more than 15 million fake trade scenarios over the next four months, and with reason: The Cavs are desperate. The LeBron Clock is ticking. I threw out the Michael Reed/Dan Gadzuric for Wally/Sasha Pavlovic possibility in Friday's column. How big of a gamble will Cleveland take? Would the Cavs roll the dice with Vince Carter or Andrei Kirilenko? Would they be desperate enough to trade Wally's contract and Eric Snow's expiring deal to Denver for the unseemly Allen Iverson/Kenyon Martin contracts and save Denver from Luxury Tax Hell? I just know that Wally is about to become the mint to the ESPN Trade Checker's mojito. We should even give him his own link: "Make your own Wally Szczerbiak trade!!!!!"
(My prediction if the Redd trade doesn't happen: Wally, $3 million and a future No. 1 to Utah for Kirilenko, a move that clears enough cap space for Utah to pay Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap next summer and, more importantly, gives the Jazz an unparalleled Clean-cut White Guy Trifecta of Matt Harpring, Kyle Korver and Wally. Can't you see those guys riding a ski lift together or crashing a raging Sundance party? I'm excited already.)"

Jazz Fans & the Sports Guy Fueding (on top of his lackluster attempt at dissing the Beehive State and its Liquor Laws):

"I. My brewing feud with Jazz fans. Because I keep dismissing the Chris Paul-Deron Williams "rivalry" and wrote last week that Paul was the Pearl Jam to Williams' Stone Temple Pilots, that earned me a steady stream of hate mail from Utah and an extended rip in something called the Deseret News. Look, people of Utah -- you ruined the 2002 Olympics because nobody could buy a stiff drunk or a beer that had a real level of alcohol, and I think "Last Call" was 8:30 at night. As my friend Jacoby jokes, "Each brewery around the world has to brew and bottle special low alcohol beer solely because Utah hates fun." It's true. The only reason we still put up with you is the skiing. I'd keep it down. "

And the Sports Guy's Ultimate Season Predictions:

"20. We will see LeBron win the Finals MVP as well.
My pick: Cleveland over New Orleans in the 2009 Finals. You will remember it as the first LeBron/CP3 Finals some day, a seminal moment in the league's history, the season when a new generation of stars symbolically moved the previous regime out of the way. The NBA ... where rejuvenation happens.

Boston over Chicago
Cleveland over Toronto
Orlando over Philly
Detroit over Miami
Lakers over Phoenix
New Orleans over Portland
Utah over Dallas
San Antonio over Houston
Boston over Detroit
Cleveland over Orlando
San Antonio over Lakers
New Orleans over Utah
Cleveland over Boston
New Orleans over San Antonio
Cleveland over New Orleans"

Hey Sports Guy, at least we're giving you "pub" on our site! My prediction: Sports Guy loses his job as a result of lousy effort predicting the 2008-09 season. Enjoy living the good life!

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Year of the Point Guard

As big of a Jazz fan as I am, I might enjoy watching college hoops more so than the pros (Am I able to admit that on my own Jazz blog?). It’s a beautiful time of year when the NBA season tips off and the annual Midnight (October) Madness pops off on college campuses.

In light of the excitement and anticipation of the season starting, I wanted to introduce to you my thoughts regarding the theme for this coming season… “The Emergence of the Elite Point Guard”. The reasoning behind my theme comes from a few schools of thought:

1. I believe Deron Williams will have a breakout, All-Star caliber season for the Jazz.
2. Chris Paul will also emerge as an elite PG, if he hasn’t already (And…Yes, Deron Williams matches up favorably with CP3 on many levels, regardless of what the Sports Geek says).
3. It’s never too early to embrace the enjoyment of college hoops and being able to scout future NBA talent.
4. Point guards run the show and win championships.
5. And finally… the Utah Jazz will have a backup problem. The Jazz's backup point guards are both in the final year of their respective contracts. So, we’ll soon need a new backup PG next year. Right?

Without further ado…next year’s crop and a primer for the college hoop season.

From Overseas:

Ricky Rubio, Spain: The next big rage has some real razzle-dazzle to his game. He loves the no-look pass and the circus-like, ball handling show. Rubio has already made a big name for himself, playing for the Spanish Olympic team.

Brandon Jennings, Italy: The fresh American high-schooler took his game across the pond to make some bucks overseas. He’s quite flashy himself, reminding many of the left-handed showmanship of Georgia Tech’s finest, Kenny Anderson.

Patty Mills, from Australia to St. Mary’s of California: Once was then unknown, is now beknownst to us. Huh?! Mills surprised many observers with his cat-like quickness and speed (while playing for the Boomers in the Olympics). He even gave Deron and CP3 some Olympic trouble.


Stephen Curry, Davidson: Who can forget Curry’s shooting barrage during last spring’s March Madness? Three-point binges resulting in 40, 30, 30, and 25 points became common place to him. How awesome would Curry look in a Jazz uni (just like Pops once was)?
Tyrese Rice, Boston College: Rice put up 46 points against North Carolina last season. Against NC! That’s impressive.

Jonny Flynn, Syracuse: Averaged over 15 ppg as a freshman for the ‘Cuse. Flynn’s an excellent outside bomber and tenacious defender. I believe he’s ready to explode this season.

The Vets:

Darren Collison, UCLA: It seems like he’s been on campus for decades. Collison has been on 3 Final Four teams over the course of his career.

Ty Lawson, North Carolina: He’s the floor general, leading the best, most talented team in the country. Will he win them a championship?

Eric Maynor, VCU: Who can forget the buzzer-beating jumper by Maynor to upset Duke in the ’07 NCAA tournament? A day when Duke loses is always a happy day for me.

Say Hello To:

Jrue Holiday, UCLA: Holiday will quickly show the country how talented he is by filling in for Russell Westbrook. The similarities to the 2008, #3 pick are readily apparent.

Tyreke Evans, Memphis: Has amazing hoop skills and opposition breakdown ability. He’ll be the new star to lead the Memphis revival.

Others: AJ Price, Jeremy Pargo, Curtis Jerrells, Nick Calathes, Greivis Vasquez, Lester Hudson, Jerel McNeal, Scottie Reynolds, Nando De Colo, Rodrique Beaubois… the list goes on.

Here’s to the beloved point guards that make our teams run. Let the Madness begin!… both college and pro.


Many of you have surely seen this quote by now from ESPN's Bill Simmons. But I have yet to wrap my mind around it:

"By the way, we need to stop comparing Williams to Paul. It's just dumb. This is not Pacino versus De Niro. This is not Brady versus Manning. This isn't even Morris versus Slater. Williams has a chance to go down as one of the best point guards of his generation. Paul has a chance to go down as one of the best 25 players ever. Big difference."

I know how I feel about this quote, and I know how most Jazz fans will feel about it, but I would be interested to hear how non-jazz fans feel about it.

Seriously? Can this argument really be made?

Band of Brothers

As the blessed preseason gives way to the new season, full of hope, promise, and unfulfilled magic, I want to take one last look ahead for the Jazz. Everyone knows that there will be some changes next year. Whether Boozer, Okur, Korver, Collins, etc. are in Salt Lake next year is an open question. Convincing NBA players to stick around in a small city is an art, an art that San Antonio has mastered and Atlanta has not. But free agency isn't always about dollar bills; sometimes its the little things. Remember when Stockton took a pay cut to resign with the Jazz, in exchange for "ice time" for his son (link, scroll to bottom)? He's the original Hockey Dad!

You see, free agency for small market clubs is just like basketball recruiting: you have to pull out all of the stops. In college basketball teams love to pull the hire-the-star-player's-dad-as-coach routine, or the sign-the-crappy-teammate move. You basically waste a scholarship or a coaching slot in order to attract talent. Well, why leave all the fun for the NCAA? The Jazz need to pull out the big guns. That's why I'm calling for the NBA's first sign-the-crappy-brother-to-a-12-day-contract or throw-away-a-worthless-2009-second-round-pick-on-Jazz-kin. Get on this Kevin O'Conner. Our future may depend on it.

  • They say you can never have enough shooters. Well, you can also never have enough Christian teen heartthrobs in Salt Lake. There are a ton of sweet-shooting Korver's playing basketball for a mid-major in the midwest just waiting to hear their names called by the Jazz on draft day. Best of all, they all have cute names that start with K, just like a boy band. There's Klayton, a senior shooting guard at Drake; he's the shy one. And don't forget the outgoing one, Kaleb, a freshman guard at Creighton. Or the funny one, younger brother Kirk whose myspace page lists his weight preference for girls as "not huge."

  • Looking for more interior toughness once Harpring dies? Look no further than Paul Millsap's brother John. John, like his gentlemanly brother, played college ball in Louisiana. Also, John already knows the system since he's played on the Jazz' Rocky Mountain Revue squad as well as the Jazz' D-league team. What does a 12-day cost the Jazz? $20,000? That seems like great value on our investment.

  • OK, I admit it, Boozer is not a saint. He lied to a blind man and reneged on his agreed contract with the Cavs, all just to grab a big pay day from Larry H. But he's not a monster. He wouldn't stab his own brother in the back, would he? Let's find out! If we can convince his brother, a freshman guard at Iowa State, to declare for the draft, we can scoop him up for a measly second round pick. If Boozer is willing to leave his scrawny brother alone in Utah while he is cruising for chicks along Miami Beach, well then good riddance.

  • Now most people aren't too worried about Ronnie Price leaving. He went to school in Utah, he has a defined role on a championship contender, and he's not very valuable. But, if our free agent choices involve resigning Jarron Collins or keeping Ronnie Price happy, which would you choose? That's what I thought. Even more enticing, we could ditch Collins and sign the founder of Daze Streetball who invented a move called the "Texas Tornado" and had changed his name to Konfusion and keep Ronnie happy and ditch Collins! Win-win.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Trailblazers Preview

In preparation for Utah's last preseason game tonight, TCG presents you with a Portland Trailblazers preview compliments of SJ and the guys over at Rip City Project.  And be sure to check out our own Guru's take on the Jazz, which is up on their site.  

As Jazz fans everywhere remember, the Blazers gave us plenty of heartache back in late 90s.  Anyone remeber this guy gliding on the hoops court as well as he does on the dance floor?  Hint: despite an uncanny likeness, it's not Daryl Strawberry. 

Since those glory days, of course, the Blazers have fallen on some hard times.  Will this be the year they climb back and challenge our Jazz in a race for the NBA's Northwest Division crown?  To the preview. . .

SJ, what are you thoughts on the Jazz this year?

The Utah Jazz are scary. I believe they are easily in that top-5 of the West that is not going anywhere, anytime soon. On paper they may not have the greatest talent but they have the best talent for that system. Sloan manages to get the most out of every piece of the pie. Not to mention that the Jazz have two great things going for them: depth and home court advantage. It's damn hard for teams to win in Salt Lake City and I feel like it's been that way forever. And their depth is sneaky. Guys like Korver, Milsap and Harpring get overlooked for their contributions. But then the devil's advocate in me wonders how far a team can go that depends on Ronnie Price, CJ Miles and Ronnie Brewer in a tough Western Conference playoffs series. I do wonder if they are good enough to get to the Finals. It will be interesting to see how good the Jazz are this year, and whether or not they can move up from that #4 spot they seem to be stuck in.

How do you see Portland and Utah matching up?

I'm very confident about our matchup with the Jazz this year. We definitely have the beef to bang with you guys. Last year the sight of Boozer, Milsap and even Okur overwhelming poor LaMarcus and Channing made me whimper, and Big Joel could only do so much. Now we've got those three with Oden and Ike we can definitely match with your greatest strength inside. It's going to be extremely physical inside but I'm ten times more confident this year. 

On the perimeter, on paper you could say we have an advantage. Roy, Fernandez, Martell, Outlaw are more 'talented' if you will than AK, Brewer, Korver and CJ Miles. But to their advantage the Jazz have scrappy, long, hard-working guys. And again they are the guys who work perfectly for Utah, kind of like how the Spurs manage to squeeze the most out of guys like Jacque Vaughn. Kirilenko and Brewer can absolutely cause fits on defense and Korver didn't exactly get murdered. Plus the Jazz are very, very physical. Add a banger like Harpring and it will be interesting to see if the Blazers can handle that kind of toughness on the road. And yes whenever I imagine a matchup with the Jazz, I imagine playing in Salt Lake because that's the real Jazz.  

How would you grade Portland's offseason?

The Blazers off-season...A++++++. And I'm not even kidding. Technically the only moves we made this season were letting James Jones walk (underrated move) and dumping Jarrett Jack for Bayless and Ike (direct revenge for Dale Davis/Jermaine O'Neal). But truly the off-season of 2008 is really reaping the benefits of the off-season of 2007. Greg Oden will be trading in his smile, crutches and dress clothes for a bit of determined frustration and more importantly a Blazer uniform. Rudy Fernandez will also be in uniform not in Spain. 

What excites you most about Portland this year, and how high do you think they can finish?

The wealth of talent surrounding this team is what excites me the most. As Blazer fans we went through a definite dry spell when it came to the 'depth' department. This is heaven compared to the Brian Skinner, Ha Seung-Jin, Charles Smith, Vashon Lenard, Viktor Khryapa, Sergei Monia, Sebastian Telfair era. And yes they all were significant players at one point two years ago. GM Kevin Pritchard said he believes we have 4 options at every position. It's a luxury that I for one am not taking for granted. To have three great players like Roy, Aldridge and Oden surrounded by talent like Rudy, Martell, Bayless, Outlaw and the just makes you smile. Our depth has depth which makes me forget we're incredibly injury prone. Bayless or Sergio could see themselves on the outside looking in, ditto for Frye or Diogu...all guys who could easily be rotation players anywhere else. 

I don't see the Blazers finishing any higher than 6th in the Western Conference. I've gotten it a lot of ways from Blazer fans who think I'm lowballing, but I have to be realistic. Despite all the hype, excitement and potential...this team hasn't done a thing. Combine that with an extremely tough Western Conference and a particularly nasty first month or so and you see what I'm saying. The top 5 teams in the West should not be going anywhere, anytime soon unless they suffer catastrophic injuries: Lakers, Hornets, Spurs, Jazz and Rockets are the elite. Then you've still got Dallas and Phoenix who while they may not be in the top 3 or 5 are still very good teams, and both are being slept on which may be perfect for them. So my high end is the 6 seed and my low end is the 8th seed. 

What do you think of head coach Nate McMillan?

I feel great about Nate. I feel like he's the perfect coach for this team. A lot of pressure is going to be on him as his cupboard is finally full of talent...but I know he can do it. He knows this team has yet to arrive and he is going to do everything in his power to get him there. He did a tremendous job last year of getting a much less talented team to compete for the majority of last year (before trailing off). Nobody expected anything from that team minus Oden and they busted off 13 in a row (before being overshadowed by the Rockets and their record breaking streak). The road won't be easy. He'll have to find a way to get the most out of every player, find shots and minutes for everyone, keep people happy and get everyone to buy in. I know there are Blazer fans out there who wonder if he's the guy...but he deserves the chance to lead this team after what he's gone through. That being said...I'm still bitter about the Mo Cheeks firing. 

Finally, what's your favorite Jazz-Blazers memory?

Probably a tie between 1999 when we finally got over the Jazz hump and sent y'all packing or 2000 when we just crushed you on the way to the Western Conference Finals. Other than that...truth be told the Jazz have caused a lot of heartbreak. Every game in Salt Lake was a tear jerker, especially Game 5 in 1996 when you gave us the worst elimination game beating this side of the Atlanta Hawks. Speaking of Salt Lake...such a hellacious place to play at. I've watched enough games in that building to just see things coming from a mile away. The backbreaking three pointer...the offensive rebound....the stop....I just get a feeling. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

Point Guard Dilemma

“And now, folks, it's time for…Who do you trust! Hubba, hubba, hubba! Money, money, money! Who do you trust?”

Now that our superstar point guard has fallen on hard times (an ankle sprain which will keep DWill out for a minimum of two weeks), who can the Jazz trust to run the point guard position?
The Jazz are gonna have to trust a new floor general to lead the team. We, as fans, know how important and vital the point guard position is to the Jazz system. The point guard runs the show! He gets the team into the offense, distributes the ball to the right players, directs traffic on the floor, and sets the tempo of the game. Indeed, Dwill has been the ideal floor general for us.

Coach Sloan, in times of need, has attempted to try out different point guards during the preseason and during past seasons. While it seems that Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight would obviously get the nod at the point, both have been limited because of preseason injuries as well. Thus, Jerry has experimented with CJ Miles and Andrei Kirilenko running the show from the backcourt. Will this trend continue during the regular season?

In his first attempt at point guard, CJ was rather impressive, collecting 5 assists in his brief PG stint against the Denver Nuggets. AK47 has certainly been counted on in the past to bring the ball up the floor for the Jazz. Most notably, he gathered extensive playing time a couple seasons ago during the 2007 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. Kirilenko’s PG debut abruptly came when Dwill had foul trouble, Derek Fisher had been attending to his child’s illness, and Dee Brown had suffered a spinal cord injury because of a nasty player collision. Needless to say, Andrei played admirably despite the circumstances. In my opinion though, I’d rather not see either one of these guys getting extensive minutes running the point.

That leaves us with the recovering injured reserves, and our true back-up point guards, Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight.

Clearly, the pressure and responsibility of the point guard position will fall upon the local hero, Ronnie Price. Price will be able to bring intensity, enthusiasm, and energy to the position. He has tremendous athletic ability and loves to push the pace of the game. He’s a natural scoring guard and athlete, meaning…he’ll be able to get into the paint practically whenever he desires. Price also plays tenacious defense and will always be anxious to take a defensive charge or dive for a loose ball. The question for Ronnie will be…can he hit the open jumper, direct the team into its offense, or be able to make the open pass?

On the other side of the bench is Brevin Knight. Brevin provides everything that Ronnie may not. He’s a fantastic passer, ball-handler, and team player. He’s got the experience to run the team and its offense. Will he be able to handle bigger guards on defense? Will he be able to hit the open shot when it’s given him? Perhaps his lack of ideal size and strength will be balanced out by his impressive court IQ and experience.

Joker: “Me? I'm giving away free money. And where is the Batman? He's at home, washin' his tights!”

I wish we had the Batman…our Batman, out on the floor directing traffic, hitting the jumpers and making the no-look passes. Deron will soon be back. But, in the mean time, we’ll have to rely on other players and wait for him to overcome a bum ankle injury. That sucks!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Our Jazz season hopes and dreams nearly came to a crashing halt when Deron Williams twisted his ankle in a pre-season game against the Chicago Bulls. Luckily, the DNews reports that it was only a severe sprain and his X-rays came out negative. Deron was carried off the floor by teammates Ronnie Brewer and CJ Miles, and left the arena in a wheelchair. We can only hope he makes a full and speedy recovery.

These are the moments when a fan wonders...what in the world is Deron Williams doing, playing in a meaningless preseason game? I suppose athletes can get injured at any time during the season, ripping apart team expectations and future hopes. We can only hope that our franchise player recovers from this 'thunderbolt'. Get well soon, D-Will!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Trade Chatter

Would the Jazz really trade Carlos Boozer? According to Chad Ford of, the Jazz may consider Boozer as a possible trade candidate, for the fear that he might leave the team come seasons end. Since we've discussed the Jazz and the team's future ad nauseum, I'll refrain from delving into the speculation too far.

But, the question still remains...Would the Jazz trade Boozer during the season, in order to recoup something for potentially nothing? Chad Ford, in his assessment, fails to take into consideration the ramifications of taking on longer-termed contracts for the Jazz. The money involved in taking on another star's contract in place of Boozer's nullifies the opportunity for the Jazz to re-sign many of their key contributors later. Thus, I don't believe the Jazz will make that type of decision to trade Boozer now.

In my mind, I believe the Jazz will play out this season with its current core of players, hoping that it might be a championship blend. It'll essentially be "all for one and one for all"... a last ditch effort to a win a championship now, and then worry about the future later. Certainly, by season's end, we could definitely be in trouble with losing Boozer to another team. Would the Jazz be devastated if he left? Could we play competitive ball without the Booz?

I have hope that the Jazz management will make the right decisions in order to keep the franchise stable and competitive. Even if Boozer left, I don't think the Jazz would fall to shambles. The reasoning is that we'd have plenty of cap room to spare (with Boozer's departure), a near expiring contract to potentially unload (in Kirilenko) and a possible 'high' 2010 NYK's draft pick to utilize. The future could be bright regardless of what happens to Boozer then.

Sloan's Preferences

Anyone who follows the Jazz knows that Jerry Sloan hates rookies, young people, teens, and Russians. It is a commonly held belief that Sloan will not play young players the minutes they deserve. Look at CJ Miles, the Sloan critics say. Or Kris Humphries, or Deron Williams (as a rookie), or DeShawn Stevensen.

But I'm here to tell you that the Sloan-as-rookie-hater theory is wrong. Sloan, like most 80 year-old farmers, isn't hip. He doesn't text, he doesn't listen to the rap music, and he certainly doesn't play unproductive young players over unproductive veterans. But this country boy may be cooler than you think.
Over the past 8 years, Sloan has put his trust in 3 rookies. He has let these three young bucks run for nearly 20 minutes a game, while more veteran, established players languished on the bench.

Deron Williams, 2005-06: There is often a perception among Jazz fans that Sloan was so stubborn that he wouldn't even play Williams, our franchise player, as a rookie. But Deron averaged 29 minutes per game over the course of the year and earned the starting role before the all-star break. Sloan started the rookie even though Deron's numbers were nowhere near what they are now: he shot poorly (42%) and his assist/turnover ratio was high (2.5:1). Consider this: Stockton didn't start as many games in his first three years in the league as Deron did in his rookie campaign.

Paul Millsap, 2006-07: Here's the classic Sloan rookie. Underappreciated (2nd round pick), fighting for a roster spot, undersized (listed at 6"8'), and a perfect gentleman. Millsap came out of nowhere to play 18 minutes a game as a rookie out of Lousiana Tech. The Gentle Bulldog only started one game that year (he has three total starts in his career), but has consistently been one of the first players off the bench since he entered the league.
Jarron Collins, 2001-02: If anyone complains about Sloan not playing rookies, simply point them to the greatest Stanford big man to ever tape up for the Jazz. Collins, an unheralded second round pick, stormed into the league with a rookie campaign that saw him post career highs of 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game (incidentally, those remain career highs to this day). Most amazing of all, however, is that Jarron started 68 of the 70 games he played in that year! And he wasn't playing because of lack of bigmen: the Jazz bench that year included Andrei Kirlenko, Greg Ostertag, and even John Amaechi.

So, what does this tell us about this year? Well, it means that Sloan may turn to Kofous to fill the huge void at backup center. All of the rookies listed above had good attitudes, worked hard, and didn't get in bar brawls (oh wait, scratch that last one). Kofous is destined to be Sloan's favorite player ever and appears to be a hard worker. Whether he is skilled enough to play against NBA bigmen is another question, but if Collins' story is any indicator, talent doesn't factor into the playing time equation.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Backup Center Situation

While AK's move to the bench appears to be paying off nicely, all is not well with the Jazz' second unit.  Specifically, we continue to have a major problem at backup center.  Koufus is a rookie.  Fes plays like one (last night's double double notwithstanding) and compares his own strength to that of a small girl.  Finally, to pour salt on this open wound for Jazz fans everywhere, Jerry Sloan had this to say when the D News asked him to list Collins' attributes:
  • "Tries" to take charges (note that he didn't say "does" take charges).  
  • Unafraid to pass the ball.
  • Good at setting screens.  
  • "Usually" knows his assignment.  
Let's be honest -- an average high school player could get us all of those things for the league minimum.  To top it all off, it now turns out Collins hurt himself in the same golfing accident that's sidelined his twin brother for the first few months of the season.  So, to review, we have a) a rookie b) a "small girl" and c) a guy who gets hurt golfing filling this spot for us.  

Backup center is clearly not the most important position in the NBA.  But it is a huge hole for the Jazz -- at last year's shortened playoff run highlighted -- and is one that doesn't seem likely to get filled any time soon.  


Friday, October 10, 2008

"I am not strong, I am a small girl"

Did Fesenko really say this after last night's loss? You bet he did. The Deseret News is reporting that, when asked about playing against an overweight and out-of-shape Shaq, Fesenko said "I am not strong, I am a small girl."

Hopefully this is a "lost-in-translation" type blunder, but does it bother anyone else? Before you answer, let's review the statement one more time. This is your big, young, talented center saying "I am not strong, I am a small girl." Wooof.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. 6th Man

I like this idea!

Jerry Sloan is contemplating having Andrei Kirilenko as the team's 6th Man this year. Against LA, in the preseason Tuesday night, Kirilenko played the '6th Man' role for the Jazz, and tonight, he may come off the bench again. The DesNews is reporting this potential change, as a possible permanent fixture.

Most of us know that the '6th Man' role is an important position to provide the 2nd unit with energy and scoring. Matt Harpring has fulfilled this role in the past remarkably well. Here are the reasons why I like having AK47 come off the bench:

1. Kirilenko loves the opportunity to be "the Man". In past seasons, he's languished over the fact that he doesn't get enough touches. As the captain of the 2nd unit, he'll be the focal point of our offense.

2. The 1st Unit is already loaded. Let's be honest, with a starting unit of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, AK, and Ronnie Brewer, Kirilenko can only be considered the 4th offensive option from that star-studded contingent. Deron, Carlos and Memo are sufficient offensive talents to carry the 1st unit to high scoring outputs. Now, with AK coming off the bench, he doesn't have to acquiesce to our better Jazz scorers.

3. The 2nd unit becomes tough! Millsap, Korver, AK47, Ronnie Price and Harpring/Almond give this unit defense, scoring, toughness, rebounding and shooting. This group could soon be considered one of the best 2nd units in the NBA. Kirilenko could be allowed to play multiple positions with this group from power forward, to small forward or center.

4. Energy off the bench. Bench players ought to specialize in this department, giving the starters a 'breather' while boosting the team's lead. Kirilenko specializes in energy!

5. It doesn't mean that Kirilenko won't finish the game. Andrei could easily come off the bench and finish off games by playing with the starting unit. He'd be fresh and energetic, playing parts of the 3rd and most of the 4th quarter. This could potentially benefit the Jazz immensely.

The only downside of playing AK47 as the 6th Man is (in my estimation):

A 6th Man will be getting paid more than any one of our starters, netting MAX-money dollars to come off the bench. That's an expensive 6th Man!

Preseason Game Day: POOL PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!1!!

The Jazz will try to keep their preseason record unblemished (a very important goal) against these cool guys. Well, at least the one guy in the picture that doesn't shave his chest.

Boozer is a game time decision (why would they play him?) as are Kofous and Larry H. Miller. My fearless prediction for tonight's game: Fesenko will get more minutes than Kevin Lyde, something he did not accomplish in Game 1.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Player Efficiency Ratings

That's right, check out Hollinger's Player Efficiency Ratings released today. What a surprise! Jarron Collins has the lowest PER on the Jazz squad. But what is better is that he is also ranked 318th out 321 current NBA players. Hmmmmmm. At least he is ranked higher than his twin brother Jason, who is rated as the most inefficient player in the NBA.

The Collins parents must be proud.

Ode to McNamara

I knew I had to get this post out while Gerry McNamara was still on the Jazz roster, which judging by what I witnessed in last night's pre-season contest, will not be too long. G-Mac looked slow, small and untalented last night, but things were not always so...

It was Spring 2004, and Rising Stock, Draft Guru and I were rocking Caesar's Palace during The Madness. One year previously, G-Mac and Carmelo were NCAA champions. Now, Carmelo had moved on to the Nuggets and more reefer while G-Mac carried the Orangemen of Syracuse. Their first-round tourney match-up was with a certain team from Provo that hadn't won a NCAA tournament game since 1988.  With such a scenario, the heuristic of not betting with your heart was thrown out the window: Rising Stock and I put our money on the Orangemen to cover with a 4 point spread (and by our money, I mean $20). After placing the bet, we sashayed into Caesar's VIP area for sports betting, doing so by simply acting like we belonged there. 

The game was an epic, seesaw battle, and we were going nuts the entire game in support of the Orange. Gerry McNamara was a cold-blooded assassin, filling up the rim with 43 points, including a 3-pointer with 5 seconds left to put Syracuse up by six. We were dancing in the aisles - we were making money, and the Cougars were making another 1st round exit. After a timeout, the ball was inbounded and some Orangeman commits a silly, needless foul - two meaningless free throws with our moolah in the balance. The first one goes down, but the second one clanks and Stock and I go nuts.

After we calm down and stop yelling, the guys seated behind us say, "Congratulations. How much did you win?" Stock proudly proclaims "$20! Did you guys have money on the game?" They answer affirmatively. When Stock follows up "Who for?", they reply "BYU, ten grand."

The moral of the story is never bet on the Cougars (who still haven't won a tourney game since '88). And a heart-felt thank you from your's truly to Mr. Gerry McNamara.

The Next Jarron Collins

As this blog has relentlessly chronicled over the past few months, this season represents the last hurrah of Jarron Collins. After a storied seven year NBA career, Jarron is going to hang up the sneakers this year. No word yet on whether there will be ceremonies in visiting arenas as Jarron makes his last visit, but I'm sure the Jazz crowd will give him a warm reception as he leaves the court for the last time.

If you were to listen only to Booner, Pasty Gangster, and Golden Griff, you would come away with the impression that the Jazz would win an NBA championship, if only we would buy-out Collins' contract. Well, I've got news for you Collins naysayers: we need him. Why, you may ask, do we need an undersized center that averages .2 blocks per game? One word: citizenship.

Look, I know of what I speak; I have my citizenship merit badge. If you don't have citizenship you are screwed. And no team loves citizenship like our Utah Jazz. So when Collins retires this year there will be a huge void to fill in the lineup. Who is going to replace him as Citizen Number 1? Some initial thoughts:

  • Lance Allred: Before the web gave birth to this blog, Pasty Gangster claimed that adding the former Leopard/Ute/Wildcat/Stampede/Cavalier in place of Collins would improve the Jazz. Others (myself included) were doubtful of that proposition. Lance's stats with the Cavs suggest that I was right. But what about citizenship? Well, Lance is writing a science fiction novel, and dudes that are into that stuff are normally confined to their basement. There's not a lot of time for community activism and voter registration when you have to come up with names for made-up galaxies and space plants. But, the good news is, he's available. Lance was cut by the Cavs this afternoon.

  • Brevin Knight: the newest Jazzman is a class act with an impressive citizenship resume. He graduated from Stanford, he has foundations that benefit youth education and multiple schlerosis, and he golfs. The only negative is that he was an all-star for two years with Memphis, and as Jarron Collins has proven time and again, you can't be a good citizen and a good basketball player simultaneously; it's one or the other. So, Brevin is out....Oh, wait, I guess Brevin was a member of the "All-Star Reading team," not the NBA All-Star team. Much better.

  • Kosta Koufos: I'm sure this guy's admissions essay at Ohio State was filled with his exploits as a volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The DesNews describes him as "preppy and polite," with a dash of goofy. He addresses the media and referees as "sir." In fact, Sloan has already commented on his admiration of Koufos. Why does Jerry like him so much? Because he "doesn't say anything." Ladies and Gentleman, I think we have our winner!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Preseason Gameday

Now that the Angels are out of the MLB playoffs, Anaheim California's rabid sports fanatics need something to keep them from going crazy. They hit the jackpot tonight as they get to watch the opening of the NBA preseason: Jazz-Lakers. And if we're lucky, this guy will be patrolling the sidelines:

Tonight is the night that the Jazz can prove once and for all that the series last June was a fluke, and that the true test of a great team is not the playoffs, but the preseason. Not much has changed between the two teams since the battle last summer: CJ Miles can now regularly eat out at TGI Fridays and leave a nice tip, Ronnie Turiaf is gone as the Laker's designated Jarron Collins-stopper, and the Jazz swapped washed-up third string point guards with the Clippers.

Two people that will not be prominently involved in tonight's game? First, there is Stacy Elizabeth Beshear, aka Luke Walton's Fatal Attraction. Second, the Jazz will be without one of their Olympians tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers of Anaheim. Senor Boozer isn't playing. Because of an injury. A hamstring injury.

Jazz Players' Intros to Get Darker

In what is definitely a must read article, today's D News details what player introductions are going to look like at EnergySolutions Arena this year.  To sum up in a word, things are going to get. . . darker.  Unfortunately not in a metaphorical sense, however.  I was hoping to see Memo and AK come out dressed like members of the Trenchcoat Mafia, or Korver to go Gothic.  Nope.  They're just going to be turning the lights out.  

Deron Williams, for one, has been been pushing for this for awhile.  A few actual quotes from him:
  • "I've been trying to get that since we got here."
  •  "It was kind of weird when I came here and I'm like, 'Well, what's wrong with the lights?'"
  • Now that the lights are going to be turned off for introductions, the Jazz players will feel like they're playing in a "real game"!     
Preach on brother!  It is now obvious why D Will is a captain and stayed in Utah this summer. . . it's to take care of details like this.

Other interesting tidbits gleaned from this article: Jerry Sloan swears a lot during games and Keith McLeod has a bad hamstring.  

Editor's Note: Keith McLeod hasn't played for the Jazz for two years.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

Can Kosta?

Everybody knows about the incredible gap that remains unplugged for the Jazz at backup center. In the front court, there's Memo Okur, Carlos Boozer, Paul Millsap and... ?????. Who knows? Jarron Collins has played fewer minutes each of the past couple seasons due to his lack of production. Hafa Araujo had his opportunities to contribute a couple years back but never fulfilled on his promise (was there any?).
The Jazz really haven't had a solid back-up center since...ohh...maybe, Greg Ostertag. Yikes! We all know that Double-0 Tag had his issues, but at least he filled the paint! That hasn't happened since John Stockton was still lacing up the shoes.
Our frontcourt is in desperate need of a shake-up. Memo and Boozer can provide the offensive firepower, but can they overcome their defensive deficiencies? Paul Millsap is excellent coming off the bench as a sparkplug, but let's not kid ourselves, Paul doesn't play center! Can we masquerade Kirilenko in the line-up and play small-ball? Not against Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol or Yao Ming or Shaq or Baby Shaq (Andrew Bynum). Poor Memo! He has to man-up all by himself.
Can Kosta Koufos provide some stability and playing time? What about Fess? Can he give us some bruising minutes, over sideshow goofiness? The D-News reports that maybe Koufos might actually give the Jazz a boost. Kosta Koufos played well in the Jazz's Saturday scrimmage and scored 11 points which included an alley-oop dunk from CJ Miles. Perhaps with a solid core of veterans around him, Koufos might actually play some decent basketball as a rookie. Will he get time over Jarron Collins though? If it's up to Jerry Sloan and his penchant for never playing rookies, then... NO.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Wish List

In the 1939 movie classic, the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and the fellows (the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Lion) make their way to Oz to see the Wizard (who apparently is so powerful that he can grant you any wish that you desire). As we all know, the Scarecrow desires to be given a brain, the Tinman wishes for a heart and the Lion pleads for a dose of courage. Each discovers that their own personal gifts were found along the way, because of the cunning words and wise mentoring of the Wizard.

If the Jazz were able to visit the Wizard of Oz before this season, what would they wish for? Or better yet, what would we wish for them? As is well-understood and realized after last season and the others prior, the Jazz have plenty of room for improvement this season if they wish to bring home the NBA Championship. If I were the Wizard, this is what I would grant our Jazz players:

A Jumper:

Kirilenko and Brewer

Can you imagine how good these guys could be with a consistent jumper? Andrei naturally likes to play closer to the rim and doesn’t always feel comfortable outside launching 3-balls. Brewer has that ugly hitch in his shot, with an elbow extended. Brew could honestly turn into an all-star if he developed a deadly outside shot.

Defensive Intensity:

Boozer and Memo

One, or perhaps both of these guys must improve defensively if the Jazz wish to make any progress as a team. We can’t have slow-footed, low intensity post-men in the paint. Otherwise, we’ll get abused by the Lakers again (or other teams like them). This request might be a lot to ask for since Boozer is naturally slow (laterally) and Memo is relatively soft. If only Memo could become more like Bill Laimbeer and Boozer like Karl “the Mailman” Malone, then we’d be in business!

Floor-Time (A Breakout):

CJ Miles and Morris Almond

Each player has shown glimpses of potential and stellar play. Can we get these guys some minutes? It seems like CJ has the tools to be successful, he just needs some favor and Jerry-love from the coaching staff.

A Clean Bill of Health:

Matt Harpring

For the love of knees, ankles and feet! Can we get this guy a clean-bill of health for once?... if not for basketball reasons, just for his own personal well-being? I guess if Matt were fully healthy, it would screw up our wish (above) for extended playing time for CJ and Almond.

A Heart, and B-Ball IQ:


His legs are like tree trunks, his arms like Big Mark, and he moves down the floor with fluidity. Now, why doesn’t he perform well? By all accounts, and from what I’ve witnessed, Fesenko has all the ability and physical tools in the world to be a force inside for the Jazz. He just needs to put it together and make it happen.


Jarron Collins

Sorry… I just don’t have much faith that the Good, Elder Statesman of the team will make any sort of positive contribution. His time on the Jazz has run its course. Can we trade Collins for a shot-blocker? I believe that would require one powerful Wizard!

A Defensive Stopper:

Brewer, Price, or AK47?

Someone needs to step up for us and provide some defensive pressure on the wing. I think it could easily become Brewer if he decides to apply himself. He’s got the athleticism and natural quickness.

Quick Development:

Kosta Koufos

We need a back-up center in the worst way, preferably one that can block some shots. If it’s not going to be Collins (which I can ascertain you, it won’t be) and Fess doesn’t show his stuff, then Koufos needs to develop quickly. Otherwise, we’ll be short-handed in the paint.

Stunning Good Looks & A City-wide Following of Swooning Ladies:

Kyle Korver

Oh wait, he’s already got that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Resting the Stars

Further greetings from the city ranked 10th on the list of U.S. Cities most vulnerable to a terrorist attack, Boise, Idaho. This evening, to divert ourselves from the serious business of NBA blogging, Golden Griff and I are checking out the Boise St. v. Louisiana Tech football game on the truly awful smurf turf. Here's a picture of Griff having a super time.

Not much new to report, basketball-wise, from Boise today. Sloan has decided (wisely) to let Boozer, Kirilenko, and Deron skip the second-half of two-a-days to reinvigorate their Olympic bones. Which means that there have been some epic Ronnie Price vs. Brevin Knight pickup duels.

Of interest on the world interwideweb today: ESPN's John Hollinger ranks the Jazz as the #1 team in the West! To help out our readers that don't like reading (most), here's the gist of his article: the Jazz foul more than any team in the league, but if they stopped doing that they would win 6 more games a year, which would result in a #1 seed instead of a #5 seed. My response is that the reason the Jazz foul a lot (particularly the second unit, as Hollinger notes) is because they are mostly terrible defenders, so not fouling would probably lead to even more points allowed. Anyway, suffice it to say that the expectations for next year have been set extremely high.