Sunday, May 31, 2009

Boozer Rumors

The New York Daily News and the New York Post are reporting rumors of Carlos Boozer going to other teams. There has been speculation that Boozer might be considering either Detroit or New Jersey. According to the Post, he's been telling his close confidants that he'd prefer those destinations. The Daily News has suggested that the Raptors could be a destination for Boozer in exchange for Chris Bosh, since Bosh is looking to relocate himself and NOT re-sign with the Raptors. You gotta love the rumor mill!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Look Into The Draft

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.

The Risk-Reward
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

Kevin O'Connor... the Decision-Maker

With Larry H. Miller deceased and Jerry Sloan aging, Kevin O'Connor faces a challenge like no other summer. For the most part, the Jazz GM will have to deal with personnel decisions entirely by himself. Certainly, Greg Miller and Coach Sloan will be there in a supportive role, but... we all know and understand how involved Larry was in the past, and who knows how much longer Jerry Sloan will be coaching? KOC will have the pressure of personnel decisions squarely on his shoulders.

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

Detroit Interested?

Could Joe Dumars and the Motor City Pistons be interested in our players? The Detroit Free Press seems to think so. While it's getting redundant and old to talk about Okur, Boozer and Millsap, other teams have started to join in the discussion (and really... it's probably just the newspapers throwing out speculation to the fans). In all seriousness, I don't have a clue whether Detroit will have interest or not.
According to the SL Trib and Ross Siler, Carlos Boozer is expected to opt-out of his contract.

Way to Go Clips/Dr. Weiland!

Well, that seems fair. The Clippers, a team that rarely gets good draft picks, won the lottery last night. It couldn't have happened to a better-run organization. Now they get to draft the bruising power forward they were lacking. Oh, right, they already have one. And an overpaid one to boot.

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

Our First Mock Draft

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.  

This year Chad Ford predicts we take Matt Harpr. . . er . . . Tyler Hansbrough with our 20th pick.  Yes!  A slow white guy could be headed our way.  We've never had one of those before, so it will be interesting to see how Hansbrough fits our system.  

One thing seems certain: if Hansbrough does come to Utah he's going to be spending a lot more time with D Will at Harry-O's than Korver at church. 

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 4

Tonight is one of my favorite non-basketball, NBA events of the year: the draft lottery! I can't wait to see which team will luck out (and go bananas) or to see which team that thought it would be drafting #1 will instead get stuck with Jordan Hill.

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

Jazz Owner Has Spoken

Greg Miller, the acting CEO of the Larry H. Miller Group, took to the mass media (KSL) to talk about all things Jazz. It's commendable to see him in the public eye in order to talk about our beloved franchise. To be frank, it truly sounds like he knows what he's talking about. Here are a few "sound" points I found to be intriguing:

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

Nastier Than Others

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.

Where are the pit-bulls on this team? We have to give the Houston Rockets a ton of credit because they battled the Lakers to the finish line. Something we couldn’t do. And they did it with guys, such as Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola, Carl Landry, Aaron Brooks and Kyle Lowery (not to mention Battier and Artest). How did they do it (force a game 7)? They’re TOUGH as nails. They play with heart, passion and aggression. We need tougher players. We need fighters. We need pit-bulls. Until then, we probably won’t be making much “run” through the playoff season. We could use this guy. Don’t you think?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Getting Randomly Picked to Make Half-Court Shots Now Best Way to Earn Living.

Yes, it is sad, but true. A major news outlet is reporting that:

"A new study released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Tuesday confirmed that the most dependable source of income for American workers in the current economic climate is to win a novelty contest in which one must successfully shoot a basketball from half-court. "After factoring in the odds of your ticket number being called while attending a game, the median dollar value awarded, and the athletic ability of the average American citizen, and cross-referencing these data with employment forecasts and current job-security indices, we have determined that half-court shooting contests are currently the most effective way to support a family of four," the report read in part. "While this may seem like dire news, keep in mind that the consolation prize for missing the shot usually includes a food item from the concession stand." The report cited several other possible methods of securing a livelihood, including 50-50 raffles, lotto scratch-offs, and inventing YouTube."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Jazz Beat Goes On...

"As Mehmet Okur, I am ready to make some sacrifices to stay here," he said on his Web site. "I will not be changing teams if there is a difference of $3-5 million in the total worth of the new contract. I believe my managers and I have let our feelings be known (to) the Jazz management... In the end, some of the decisions made will be business decisions first." via the Deseret News.
Translation: I'm planning to opt-out and I'd like a contract extension. If you pay me enough, I'll stick around.
The SL Tribune reports that...
"From what I'm hearing, you can put to rest any issues about discontent on the part of Andrei Kirilenko this summer. Kirilenko is said to be happy to be in Utah, has settled into life in Salt Lake City with his wife and sons, and is looking forward to being back with the Jazz next season."
Translation: I'm getting p-izz-aid mad dollars. Why should I be complaining (even when I'm delivering piss-poor numbers)?
"With the opt-out deadline not for another month-and-a-half, the Jazz aren't expecting to hear anything for a while. The economy only has added to the uncertainty for prospective free agents. In Boozer's case, a good guide might be Corey Maggette, who didn't opt out of his contract with the L.A. Clippers until the June 30 deadline last year. Maggette and Boozer share the same agent in Rob Pelinka."
Translation: It's going to be a long summer.

Most Improved Jazzman

Congratulations to the Pacers' Danny Granger on winning the NBA's most improved player award. A well-deserved honor for the former Lobo.

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

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 3

Welcome back, offseason sports fans. Last time we met, we discussed the market value of the Jazz' player optionees. Pasty agreed with me that Korver is overpaid and is actually worth about $3 million, Booner felt that my assessment of Boozer's value ($12 million) was still high, and no one said anything about my valuation of Okur ($11 million).

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

The Dirtiest Players in the League

This last week has been a hum-dinger for dirty plays. Which made one Sports Illustrated writer ask, "Is Kobe Dirty?" His response? An unwavering YES! But even more interesting, Steve Aschburner lists his most dirty players in the NBA as follows:

1) Bruce Bowen
2) K-Mart
3) Raja Bell
4) Jamal Magloire
5) James Posey
6) Matt Barnes
7) Joel Pryzbilla
8) Andres Nocioni
9) and Kobe Bryant.

Rest assured that NBA fans everywhere would argue that there is one glaring absence from that list:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Time Has Come...

Jazz fans:

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

Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson

I'm sure Derek Fisher is a nice enough guy, but he really leveled a cheap shot at Luis Scola last night.  No question about it -- an intentional shoulder and elbow to the neck/head area is a dirty play.  And this is coming from a guy who's had a few other questionable fouls in his career, not to mention a number of ridiculous flops.  

But what is really mind boggling and ludicrous is Phil Jackson dragging Deron Williams into the whole thing.  During and after the game Jackson compared Fisher's hit on Scola to Williams' hit on Bynum in the first round of the playoffs.  Come on Phil -- Williams' play was a hard foul.  Fisher's was an assualt.  To dig that deep you must really be getting nervous (and rightfully so) that the Rockets are going to pull an upset.  Couldn't happen to a nicer squad than the Lakers. . .    

Unloading AK ?

There are rumors swirling that the Warriors are putting together a deal to get AK from the Jazz. This would be a win-win trade. The Jazz could rid themselves of AK's albatross of a contract, and, AK could go wild playing point-forward in Nellie's free-flowing offense. While I think that a parting of ways would be good for both parties, I am curious as to what the Jazz would get back in the deal.

Here are some guesses. Maggette was almost a Jazz man, attacks the basket well, and would bring some toughness and swagger to the team. But like all NBA players who went to Duke, he is injury prone (see Boozer and Brand). Jackson is a head case but would certainly be an upgrade on CJ Miles, and the same can probably be said about Crawford. For salary reasons, I would assume that one of those three would have to be included in any deal for AK, but the Warriors also have some young talent they may be willing to throw in. Belinelli has shown flashes of potential, especially in the Las Vegas Summer League, but has been stuck at the end of the bench. And Randolph and Wright seem to have some ability but are yet to really make their marks. The Warriors also have another lottery pick and, given their draft history, may be willing to give it up.

This looks like another storyline to what is shaping up to be an interesting summer for the Jazz

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Playoff Commericals

Earlier this week loyal TCG readers were treated to one of the best NBA Playoff-related commercials ever in the form of Teen Wolf definitively answering the oft-asked question, "Where will amazing happen this year?"  Now for the worst.  

For the record:
  • 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?

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 2

On or before May 30, the Jazz will learn a lot about their future. Three key pieces of the franchise can opt out of their deals and try to sign with the highest bidder. The decisions of Boozer, Okur, and Korver will determine whether the Jazz are breaking the Miller's commandment to not pay the luxury tax. That, in turn, will determine whether Millsap is a Jazzman or a Piston.

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.

What Am I Worth?

As crazy as it sounds, Boozer makes about what he's worth. At $14 million per, he is probably overpaid, but not by much. You don't get a starting power forward who averages 20-10 for less than $10 million, unless you're willing to role the dice on a certain math major from St. John's. Look at the salaries of comparable power forwards: Al Jefferson ($12 mil), David West ($9.8 mil), Zach Randolph ($16 mil). Boozer's deal, while high, isn't out of the realm of reality (see, AK47). In a perfect market, Boozer could get a long term deal similar to his current one.

Boozer's Value: Around $12 million.

Okur is actually slightly underpaid. It is hard to find a legitimate center that is a threat from outside. Also, for all the crap I give him, Okur is one of our better defenders and he competes almost every night. He's not going to carry a team to a championship, but he is good enough to be the starting center on a championship squad. Paying $9 million for him seems like a steal when you look at salaries for similar players: Rasheed Wallace ($13.6 mil), Troy Murphy ($11 mil), Brad Miller ($12.3 mil). And remember, the Jazz almost signed Brad Miller instead of Okur - the same Brad Miller who looks like he's 45.

Okur's Value: Around $11 million

Now, Korver, on the other hand, is making out like he's at Christian Youth Camp. To be fair, the Jazz didn't sign him to his $5.1 million per year deal, but they knew what they were getting into. You can get a bench assassin for pretty cheap in the NBA these days (Eddie House ($2.8 mil), Roger Mason ($3.8 mil), Charlie Bell ($3.5 mil)). And to be perfectly honest, I'd trade Korver for any of those other players because, unlike Korver, they actually make shots. But, he is so dreamy. That alone is worth a couple of million.

Korver's Value: Around $3 million

Monday, May 4, 2009

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 1

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

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 Tax
Even 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.

What Will Memo Do?

Memo has an early termination clause that he has to decide and make before the deadline on June 30th. Many believe that he’s a “shoe-in” to remain with the team for one more season. But for some reason… I’m not so sure. Memo will be paid $9 million for his final season with the Jazz. Can he discover a long-term contract worth more than $9 million playing for another team? Will the Jazz promise him an extension? Because of Memo’s shooting ability (he’s probably our deadliest long-range bomber), versatility (he can play the 4 or the 5), size, and his big-body defense (better than any of our other post players), I think Memo just might be our most valuable commodity during this free agent period. We also know that quality centers go for “big-money” on the open market. With that being said, Memo didn’t have a great playoff series against LA. He finished off the season with a “bum” hamstring injury that limited his action and playing time. In the open market, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Memo find a couple of interested suitors. Again, Detroit could be one of those suitors (Memo’s former team), OKC needs a quality center (they almost traded for Tyson Chandler) and Memphis has money to spend (though, Gasol the Younger is already entrenched inside). It’ll be interesting to see what Memo decides to do. We really need him to stay… to the point of possibly offering him an extension.
Prediction: With real uncertainty, I believe that Memo will decide to NOT terminate the final year of his contract. Though, I understand that he’ll likely be gunning for a long-term extension with the Jazz. He did say that Utah (Salt Lake) was his “second home” and that he’d like to stick around. However, what if the Jazz don’t offer “said” extension? Will Memo be upset and look towards the open market? That might be a real concern as conversations proceed with KOC and Memo’s representation.

Where Will Amazing Happen?

By now we've all seen the NBA's "Where will amazing happen this year?" clips that run during the playoffs.  Great concept, even if they don't always pick the best videos.  The Jazz ones are nice (here and here), although both involve Carlos Boozer actually playing in a game so they aren't terribly representative.  

This video is a great new addition to the mix, compliments of good friend and NBA fanataic SmooveB.  My favorite part is when Mr. Wolf, clearly on his way down after penetrating the lane through some Jazz-like interior defense and putting up a nice underhand lay-up with both paws, re-elevates for the jam.  

Friday, May 1, 2009

The New Whipping Boy?

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?

Fast Facts:
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).

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

God does have a sense of humor after all! Let's be honest; how funny is that T-Mac has never advanced past the first round of the NBA Playoffs in his 12 year career, and the ONE year that he sits out (i.e. "throws in the towel"), his Houston Rockets advance? That is funny mierda.

After T-mac supposedly planned on being on the bench in street clothes in Game 3 (much to his team's chagrin) after being absent all season, Bill Simmons' reaction was priceless:

You can't beat the comedy of a T-Mac team finally making it past the first round 12 seasons into his career ... only he's watching from streetclothes on the bench. By the way, do you think the phone call played out like this before Game 3?

T-Mac: "Rick, hey, it's Tracy McGrady."

Rick Adelman (startled): "Hey, Tracy. How are you? How's rehab?"

T-Mac: "Great, great. Look, I was thinking about sitting on our bench for Game 3. I thought it could give us a boost."

Now, you're Rick Adelman. What is your proper response?

Is it, "Are you [bleeping] kidding me? Seriously? Are you KIDDING ME? Is this a prank? Who is this? This isn't funny!"

Is it, "Great idea, nothing will inspire our team like the superstar with the worst career playoff record ever?"

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?