Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Okur Decides On Jazz

It looks like all 3 (Korver, Boozer, & Okur) will be back with the Jazz. Mehmet Okur made his final decision on Tuesday, and he decided to finish off his contract with the Jazz at $9 million (for next season).
One thing has been made perfectly clear... the free agent market isn't as furtile as once believed. The economy has placed a huge dent in the pocket books of owners, unwilling to spend the big bucks. No one could find a better offer on the open market. So... welcome back!
What does this mean?
The Salt Lake Tribune explains...
"The Jazz are treading in dangerous territory in regard to the luxury tax. Boozer and Okur's return gives them approximately $73.5 million in salary commitments to 11 players for the upcoming season. The NBA's luxury-tax threshold is expected to be around $70 million and the Jazz would have to carry at least a league-minimum 13 players on their roster. "It could be [a problem]," Miller said, "but it's like I said before: If we need to go into the luxury tax to protect our players and protect our team, keep it intact, we'd have to take a look at that." Should the Jazz become luxury-tax payers, Miller added that they would be "very deliberate" in making the decision. "It's not something we're going to do on a whim," he said."
1. Look for teams to pursue Paul Millsap aggressively, hoping the Jazz will flinch at a large contract (I could see an offer in the $8-10 million a year range). If above $10 mil, let him go.
2. If the Jazz don't want to be in luxury tax land, and desire to keep and match for Millsap regardless... Look for the Jazz to unload Boozer or Okur or Kirilenko (good luck with AK!) to a team for cap space (Detroit or Memphis likely), a player and maybe a pick.

Welcome Back Boozer

. . . I guess.

The Deseret News is reporting (as of 3:41pm) that Boozer has officially opted in. That means the Jazz are obligated to pay him $12,657,233 to rehab whatever breaks in the next few months. It is good to have him back.

Let me conclude with his now-famous quote from December: "I am going to opt out. I don't see why I wouldn't. I think it's a very good business decision for me and my family."

What Credibility!

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Vol. 5

Ok, kids. Today is offseason D-day. The day we've all been waiting for. Let's do a quick recap of what happens today.

  • Boozer must opt in by 5 PM mountain time. Boozer has a player option, which means he has to affirmatively indicate that he wants to stay in order for his $12 million contract for next year to kick in.
  • Okur and Korver can do nothing. Okur and Korver both have early termination options, which means that if they don't do anything, they are on the team.

As I've predicted all summer (unlike Pasty Gangster) I don't think anyone is going anywhere. Korver has reportedly decided to stay. Boozer is quickly realizing that there is no money out there for injury prone, defenseless power forwards. And Okur, while rumors still have him opting out, will have trouble finding more money than the Jazz can offer him. Which brings us to the second happening today.

  • The NBA's free agency period begins at 10 PM mountain time. That means Mr. Millsap can begin negotiating with other teams (which, in reality, has already been happening). The Jazz can offer Millsap (and Okur if he opts out) a new deal. They can also go after other team's free agents, including Marcin Gortat, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, and others.

I've covered the free agent happenings of the big four (Okur, Boozer, Korver, Millsap) all summer. After today, we should know what is happening with most of them. So, today, let's focus on the true Jazz free agents. Those players that, after 10 PM today, are no longer affiliated with the Jazz in any sense. Prepare to shed a tear, Jazz faithful.

  • Ronnie Price:
    The little man from UVSC won over Jazz fans' hearts in the final blowout playoff loss to the Lakers. While his stats from last year do not impress (37% fg?), even Sloan has admitted that he may have made a mistake in playing Brevin Knight over Ronnie. I would expect the Jazz to try to resign Ronnie to a minimum salary contract to be our third or second point guard.

  • Brevin Knight:
    The trade last year that brought Brevin Knight to the Jazz will forever be remembered as the trade that got rid of Jason Hart. But, in the end, Knight was not much better. Although I didn't cringe whenever Knight dribbled as I did with Hart, we took a huge step backwards when Deron left the game. Brevin's NBA career may be done.

  • Jarron Collins: Oh sweet day. The end of Collins' tenure with the Jazz signals a significant reduction in academic prestige, sweater vests, and citizenship. I don't know how you replace the intangibles that Collins brings to each game, including (1) stoicism, (2) joyless effort, (3) and ESP with his also-not-NBA-caliber twin. Also, I'm not sure who Pasty and Booner will blame for all of the Jazz' failures now that our designated whipping boy is gone. In any case, farewell gentle scholar. It has been an incredible ride. Enjoy your life in Palm Springs or Orlando. You shall not be missed.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Korver Stays

According to ESPN.com, the fabulous and dreamy Kyle Korver will stick around to play for the Utah Jazz for another season. Korver has decided to finish off his contract with the Jazz rather than terminate it early. It certainly makes sense since Korver will be making over $5 million next season. In this economy, there was no way he would have been able to generate a similar type of starting-year offer (and extended contract) to warrant leaving early. Welcome aboard KK!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

One Trade Away from a Championship

OK, so maybe I'm a little overly optimistic, but I really think the Jazz aren't far from being a championship level team and here is my suggestion for how they could get there.

On Tuesday, Okur is going to opt out and Boozer and Korver are not. That will leave the Jazz with a gaping hole at center and a log jam at power forward. Cue the Charlotte Bobcats. They have four centers under contract and are looking to cut salary and rebuild. My proposal is this: Boozer, Korver and our unprotected first round draft pick from the Knicks for Okafor and Wallace.

The Jazz fill their hole at center and add a small forward in Wallace who can create his own shot and play lock-down defense.

The Bobcats assure themselves of two lottery picks in the deepest draft in recent memory and with Boozer's and Korver's expiring contracts get salary cap space to allow MJ to attract a big name free agent during the 2010 free agent bonanza. A trade like this would jump start the rebuilding process and put them on the fast track to assembling a core of good young players to build around.

The Jazz would be left with a starting lineup of
Pg: Williams
SG: Brewer
SF: Wallace
PF: Millsap (resigned)
C: Okafor

All five of them are 26 or younger and capable of playing solid defense. We would be strong on the glass and could rely on William and Wallace to create shots. Okafor would give us an interior shot blocker for the first time in a long time and with the exception of Brewer, everyone would be under contract for the next four years so we could allow them to grow together and add pieces as necessary.

Pull the trigger Kevin O'. Go Jazz.


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Envisioning 2010

As one draft finishes, we now can look forward to the next one, the REAL Draft... of 2010. As we all know or at least have figured out, the Jazz could be well-positioned (cross your fingers for a New York Knicks meltdown next season) for a super-haul of draft acquisition next year. If the Knicks don't qualify for the 2010 NBA Playoffs, the Jazz will acquire their lottery pick. In like manner, if the Jazz don't make the 2010 Playoffs (which I'll never wish for), we'll keep our own pick in the lottery, potentially offering two lottery picks and hoping for at least one. The Jazz could have a huge impact on the 2010 Draft, and especially, solidify the long term future of our franchise.

One reason for causing the early giddiness and enthusiasm for 2010 is the fact that next year's draft crop will be stock-piled and front-loaded with immensely talented players with star-power. Unlike this year, which only lauded one star-talent (Blake Griffin), next year could potentially offer 5-10 super-studs coming into the pros. And hopefully, the Jazz will be positioned for the plucking!

All bets, however, will be placed on the Knicks ability to "suck" next season. Will it come true? The Knicks placed 8th in the lottery this past year, and will role out a roster full of questionable talent. You can bet that teams such as the Washington Wizards (when healthy, will make the playoffs) and Los Angeles Clippers (with Blake Griffin) will make a move forward next season. And yet, I'm sure there will be potential for teams such as New Jersey, Milwaukee, and Toronto to be worse (because of losing primier players due to trade or free agency). New York faces decision of their own also, having to re-sign restricted free agents, David Lee and Nate Robinson. We'll have to see if they keep those players. My guess though, is that the Knicks won't make the 2010 Playoffs. Here's a quick look into their roster for what it might look like:
C - Milicic, Curry
PF - Harrington, J. Hill, Lee? (RFA)
SF - Chandler, Gallinari, Jeffries
SG - Hughes, T. Douglas
PG - Duhon, Robinson? (RFA)

As we look into next year's draft, we can see that it'll be loaded with big guys, especially power forwards. Chad Ford came out with his top-10 for 2010, as the SL Trib reported, and it consisted of 1 point guard, 1 combo guard, 1 small forward, 2 centers and 5 power forwards. In an effort to sort through next year's draft, I'll offer my lottery-caliber picks for 2010:

1. John Wall, PG, Kentucky: Wall has been compared to Derrick Rose for his quickness, speed and athleticism. He's a magician with the ball, and can get into the lane at will. People consider him the consensus #1.

2. Ed Davis, PF, UNC: Davis would have been a Top-5 pick during this draft, had he come out. He's athletic, and a good shot-blocker. There's some similarity to Chris Bosh.

3. Derrick Favors, PF, Georgia Tech: The 6-9 true frosh is another long, athletic, run-jump type. He plays with a good motor in the paint... fearless and strong. Comparisons are favorable to Josh Smith, with a little Amare'.

4. Greg Monroe, PF, Georgetown: A skilled 6-11 power forward with a lot of potential. He should have a break-out season next year. Gets compared often to Chris Webber... with his skill-set and feel for the game. Would have been drafted in the Top-10 this year.

5. Cole Aldrich, C, Kansas: Aldrich dominated the paint this year for Kansas. He can block shots and rebound (15 & 11). Chris Kaman-esque.

6. Willie Warren, G, Oklahoma: Combo-guard played in the shadow of Blake Griffin. Plays a lot like Ben Gordon from the Bulls. Can shoot extremely well from the perimeter.

7. Donatas Motiejunas, PF, Lithuania: I've never seen him play. He's a 7-footer with skills like Toni Kukoc. Some compare him to Dirk Nowitzki. He sounds like Fesenko to me... funny.

8. Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, Wake Forest: Aminu was the best player on Wake (better than Teague and James Johnson). Should have a break-out season. He's got skills similar to Luol Deng.

9. Evan Turner, SG, Ohio State: Turner already averaged 17 ppg and 7 rpg for the Buckeyes. If anyone rises the board fast, it'll be Turner. He plays similar to Brandon Roy and Grant Hill.

10. Devin Ebanks, SF, West Virginia: Talented, athetic, run-jump player who will make serious strides in year 2. Averaged 8 rpg as a freshman... wow! Comparisons are favorable to Rudy Gay.

11. Jon Henson, PF, UNC: The true frosh is skinny, skinny. But he has serious talent and athleticism. He's likened to Anthony Randolph from Golden State.

12. Craig Brackins, PF, Iowa State: Averaged 20 ppg & 9.5 rpg for the Cyclones. Under-the-radar player who's extremely versatile as a scorer. Scored 42 against Kansas this past year. Could rise the board.

13. Solomon Alabi, C, Florida State: Never seen him play. Some suggest he's a center in the mold of Hasheem Thabeet. Averaged 8.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg and 2.1 bpg as a 7-1 freshman.

14. Patrick Patterson & DeMarcus Cousins, PF, Kentucky: The Kentucky duo will be tough this year. Patterson would have been a Top-20 pick this past draft. Averaged 18 ppg & 9 rpg. Plays similar to Millsap. Cousins is bigger and stronger, 6-10 250. Heralded as one of the top incoming freshman. His size and strength remind people of Eddie Curry.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Draft Day Dynamo

The Jazz hit a home-run with their Draft Day selection in the 1st Round, picking VCU's Eric Maynor at pick #20. Assuredly, the Jazz made the smart pick.

Maynor could easily become the best back-up PG we've ever had for the Jazz. Truthfully, he's very similar to one, Howard Eisley... steady, efficient, capable of running a team, very savy & smart, a good passer and a future team leader. It'll be good to know that when Deron Williams leaves the ballgame, we'll have a solid back-up to spell him for a change.

In this draft (and especially at pick 20), you gotta take the best available sure-thing. Maynor was the guy. Teague (and his intrigue) was off the board, Blair had suspect knees, Mullens was too much of a boom or bust risk, and anybody else around, just wasn't going to make a real dent in the line-up. Maynor was the best guy. He'll play right away (we'll have to see what happens to Ronnie Price). I really like the pick.

Grade: A-

In the 2nd Round, the Jazz opted to go big. However, the pick was somewhat typical of Jazz selections in the past, in a somewhat unexpected, unusual manner.

Is it a prerequisite for Jazz centers to be able to launch the long-ball? On the roster, we have Kosta Koufos and Mehmet Okur (hopefully) who are capable long range shooters. What they don't bring to the table is real shot-blocking, defense or physical toughness in the paint. Goran Suton, the Jazz' 2nd Round draft pick from Michigan State, is somewhat of a hybrid, rugged version of Okur and Koufos... yet with less talent, ability and expectation. Best case scenario might be a Brian Scalabrine/Michael Doleac mix? Suton can shoot the outside jumper (43% 3-point), but doesn't really score in the paint (only 10 ppg average). He possesses a rugged, physical, defensive toughness inside (perhaps unusual for a foreigner)... leading some to believe (myself included) that he was Michigan State's ring-leading "hacker", implementing and executing the Spartan's tough, physical approach. Suton might have a shot to make the roster, but I'm doubtful.

Personally, if I was making the pick, I would have taken Luke Nevill (or someone else) over Goran Suton. Nevill averaged 2.7 bpg (Suton only 0.5). Nevill grabbed more rebounds per game and was a bigger presence inside (where we NEED presence!). Yes, Nevill wasn't drafted, and I'm surprised... physical toughness won out over size this time. However, I don't think this pick was a big deal. It's a 2nd Rounder. Psycho-T may not have been around for us... but (Psycho) Goran Suton may bring that toughness to the team.

Grade: C-

Eric Maynor

In my eyes, it was a great draft last night. I was hoping for Jeff Teague to be the impact player that slipped, but he was scooped up by Atlanta right before the Jazz' pick. With Hansborough long gone, I was convinced that the Jazz would take DeJuan Blair (who I think will be solid). I also had concerns that they would convince themselves to draft a big white guy, a moustachioed version of Kosta Koufos. But then the Jazz did something they rarely do on draft night: they took the right guy.

Now, Eric Maynor does not have the boom/bust potential of some of guys that were picked from 10-19. He's not the second coming of Deron Williams. But, he is a complete, solid point guard that Jerry Sloan will love and perhaps even play as a rookie. He is, in effect, our new Howard Eisley. And don't forget that at his peak, Eisley was a great backup point guard for the Jazz, giving us 25 solid minutes a game.

There will be more about Maynor. Hopefully Guru will chime in. But to get you excited for the Maynor era, a little clip from the 1st Round of the NCAA tournament in 2007.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Draft Dreams

I have been silent during the run-up to my favorite day of the year, NBA Draft Day, for a couple of reasons. First, I haven't had time to follow the draft as avidly as I'd like to. Second, the Guru has adequately prepared the Jazz faithful for the big day. Third, I had a nagging feeling that the Jazz were going to get out of this draft altogether. But seeing as how it looks like the Jazz will at least select someone tonight, I'm throwing my draft preview up in one huge, overly long post.

I am a draft philosophiser. I believe in certain principles that dictate my draft desires. And one dominant truism reigns supreme: Draft the best player available. This may seem quite obvious, but the Jazz are one of the worst teams in the league at doing this. For instance, last year the team's front office decided that we needed a center. So, when Koufos was still available we took him. Was he the best player available? No, but he was the best center available, and that carried the day.

Now, I haven't seen enough of the big fat Greek to form a solid opinion of his potential, but I'm not holding my breath of him being the savior of the ballclub. By choosing Koufos, we left the two Kansans, Supre Mario Chalmers and Darell Arthur on the board. Now, those guys aren't going to be all-stars next year either, but Mario is the starting point guard for a team that was better than the Jazz last year, and Arthur starts for an admittedly terrible Grizzlies squad. So why didn't the Jazz draft those guys? Because they didn't fill a positional need (center). Well, I'm here to tell you that such thinking is stupid.

Tonight's draft is a one player draft. Blake Griffin is the only guy that has franchise potential. There are a couple other guys that could turn into legitimate NBA players, the second or third best player on a contender, but that's their ceiling. So, at pick number 20, we're hoping, HOPING, for a decent backup. That's what we're dealing with. So, instead of hoping to find the power forward of the future in a draft with one quality big man, why don't we just take the player with the most talent, athleticism and potential, regardless of position? Great question.

Here's my breakdown of the draft:

Potential Perennial All-Star
1. Blake Griffin - the guy is a monster. He has Karl Malone-lite potential.

Potential All-Star
2. Ricky Rubio - I love him. He'll be a solid starter for years.
3. Stephen Curry - Another of my favorites. He reminds me of a younger, taller Mike Bibby.
4. Johnny Flynn - The little guy will be solid. I think he'll be a steal.

Potential Starter on a Contender
5. James Harden - Will be a solid player. Nothing flashy, but effective.
6. Hasheem Thabeet - I am suspicious. I think he's a bust, but 7''3' busts tend to stick around.
7. Terrence Williams - I love this guy, and think he'll go late. Great NBA body.

So, in my opinion, there are seven players that will likely be long term solid NBA players. That is an awful draft. Just terrible. The T-Wolves have staked their long-term success on this draft. The T-Wolves! That should tell you all you need to know. Let's just move on.

Potential Athletic Star/Potential Bust
8. Tyreke Evans - If Guru is right and the Kings take this guy over Curry, good riddance.
9. Jordan Hill - A big athlete. That's enough to get you in the top 7 in this draft.
10. Brandon Jennings - Iverson-like quickness, but he sucked in Europe last year.
11. DeMarr Derozan - A classic boom/bust pick. He could be incredible. He could tank.
12. Jrue Holiday - If you want to draft a guard that averaged less than 10 pts. in college, be my guest.
13. Earl Clark - I like this guy, mostly because he's built like Maggette.
14. James Johnson - Long, athletic, unorthodox player. I love this guy.
15. Jeff Teague - Extremely quick. Bad decision maker.

Potential Contributor/Sixth Man
16. Gerald Henderson - Solid, unspectacular player.
17. Eric Maynor - I LOVE this guy. More on him later.
18. DeJuan Blair - This guy could be a Millsap clone, if his knees hold up.
19. BJ Mullens - Think Kosta Kofous with a moustache.
20. Sam Young - Athetlic wing player with so-so jumper. Ronnie Brewer.
21. Ty Lawson - Small guard that can get to the rim. Always nice.

That's about the extent of players in the draft. After those 21, I think you are hoping for a Paul Milsap-like lightning strike. But here's the sad thing about tonight's draft for Jazz fans. I think that there will be multiple players from the "potential contributor" list available and perhaps even a player from the "potential athletic star" list available when we pick. But we're not going to take any of them. No, I think we have decided that we want a traditional power forward, so that's what we're going to take. And if it's Tyler Hansborough, described as a slightly less spastic and much less mormon version of Mark Madsen, it's a wasted pick in my opinion. Hansborough is a bad defender and doesn't possess great post moves. He is a classic garbage man, which is great, but also something you can get off the waiver wire.

I think a much better choice would be one of these guys:

Now, are Jeff Teague and James Johnson going to be available at 20? Probably not. But on draft night, someone like them, someone with more talent and athleticism than players drafted after them, always tumbles. Last year it was Arthur and Chalmers. If it's one of the Wake Forest mob, or anyone else on my top 15 list, the Jazz should nab them. And I bet someone on that list slips.

And if they aren't available? Please, for the love of all that is holy, take this guy.
Eric Maynor is a perfect Jazz-man. Steady, classic, heady point guard from a small school that no one has ever seen play on tv. Sound familiar? Maynor is the solution to our backup point guard problem, and anyone that thinks we don't have that problem is smoking crack. Please, Kevin O'Conner, take the point guard. Don't get sucked into positional picking. We have enough Kostas.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Survey Says...

The 2009 NBA Draft has arrived... and what a glorious day it is. To finish it off right, the Draft Guru has left his predictions. And here they are... Enjoy the Draft everyone!

1. LA Clippers - Blake Griffin, Oklahoma
2. Memphis - Hasheem Thabeet, UConn
3. OKC - Ricky Rubio, Spain
4. Sacramento - Tyreke Evans, Memphis
5. Minnesota - Stephen Curry, Davidson
6. Minnesota - James Harden, ASU
7. Golden State - Jordan Hill, Arizona
8. New York - Johnny Flynn, Syracuse
9. Toronto - DeMarr Derozan, USC
10. Milwaukee - Jrue Holiday, UCLA
11. New Jersey - Terrence Williams, Louisville
12. Charlotte - Gerald Henderson, Duke
13. Indiana - Ty Lawson, UNC
14. Phoenix - Earl Clark, Louisville
15. Detriot - James Johnson, Wake Forest
16. Chicago - DeJuan Blair, Pittsburgh
17. Philly - Eric Maynor, VCU
18. Minnesota - BJ Mullens, Ohio State
19. Atlanta - Brandon Jennings, Italy
20. Utah Jazz - Psycho-T from UNC

Pistons A No-Go For Boozer?

To piggy-back on top of Crotty Kid's thorough trade analysis below... Chad Ford of ESPN.com is reporting that Detroit may not be pursuing Carlos Boozer during free agency afterall, even after trading for Fabricio Oberto (whom they plan on buying-out). This is what he says, according to his sources:

"Over the past few months, we've assumed Carlos Boozer is their (Detroit’s) primary target, but that might not be the case. A league source told me Tuesday that the Pistons' free-agent strategy likely would preclude a run at Boozer.
The Pistons want to add several players to the roster and want to keep salaries at or less than $10 million per year. With Boozer likely demanding a deal in the $15 million to $16 million a year range, his contract demands are out of their league. Add in concerns about Boozer's injury history, and I don't think the Pistons will make a play for him.
Instead, you can look for them to make a run at Ben Gordon, try to re-sign Antonio McDyess and find one or two other players they can sign for smaller salaries.
That stance in Detroit could put Boozer in a tough position. If he opts out of his contract with the Jazz, he's going to struggle to find any team far enough under the cap to offer him what he wants. And with the Jazz interested in keeping Paul Millsap, Boozer could be out of luck in Utah, too."

Trades That Make You Go Hmmmm

Don't you love the NBA offseason?!! I do, and with two days until draft night it's starting to heat up. A quick recap:

1. Wizards-Timberwolves My hometown Wizards trade a bunch of garbage (Etan Thomas, Oleksiy Pecherov, Darius Songalia) and the #5 pick to the T-Wolves in exchange for Randy Foye and Mike Miller.

Results: The Wizards do something right!! With the addition of Miller and Foye, the Wiz go from a lottery team to a team that should make the second round in an increasingly competitive Eastern Conference. For the T-Wolves it is all about the future. They eat some terrible contracts of terrible players but now have 4 first round draft picks on Thursday (# 5, 6, 18, 28). Congrats, T-Wolves, you are hanging your future on four picks from the worst draft in the last 10 years. Have fun building around Tyreke Evans and Johnny Flynn. And you will love Pecherov. He provides the most unintentional humor of any NBA player and he never got the recognition he deserved. You will be missed, Oleksiy.

How it affects the Jazz: Not in the least. Although, now that I think about it, the T-Wolves are probably the worst team in the NBA at this point. They are also in our division which means we play them a lot and at important times. So we might not lose at home to them late in the year when playoff seeding is on the line.

2. Spurs-Bucks The Spurs trade Bruce Bowen and Kurt Thomas for Richard Jefferson.

Results: The Spurs are contending for championships. Again. You have to hand it to San Antonio, they make the right moves. This pushes them into luxury tax land, but it also makes them (in my mind) the clear cut #2 team in the West. And I don't think they are too far behind the Lakers. For the Bucks, they remain a terrible team with no identity.

How it affects the Jazz: Our nemesis lives. The Spurs unload an old Bruce Bowen and an ancient Kurt Thomas for an athletic wing player who had a career 3-point shooting year. Plus, after the Bucks cut Bowen he will likely resign with San Antonio. Not good.
3. Spurs-Pistons-Bucks: What? Didn't hear about this blockbuster? The Spurs sent Fabricio Oberto to Detroit (who should be cut within the hour) in exchange for Amir Johnson who is headed to Milwaukee.

Results: For the Pistons, they are giving up on their project power forward. Detroit saves $1.5 million and the Bucks get a low-priced big man. Win-win.

How it affects the Jazz: Surprisingly this is the most relevant trade to the Jazz' lineup. The Pistons cleared cap space and dealt a young power forward, meaning they have $1.5 million more to throw at one of the Jazz' young power forwards. To me, this move indicates that the Pistons are definitely making a play for either Millsap or Boozer. The question now is which one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Okur gets cut from Turkish National squad

The news out of Turkey is that Memo was not chosen for the Turkish National squad this summer. Apparently his injury problems continue.

The Turkish national coach makes an astute observation: "He had some fitness problems the last two years." Indeed he has.

I like the fact that Memo gets some summer rest. That is important. I'm just a little worried that his summer rest usually consists of X-box, naps, and spicy Doritos.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Re-shuffling The Deck

The Jazz continue their workout sessions with more players today. DeJuan Blair from Pittsburgh has come to visit the Jazz for a workout. With Blair, Johnson and Hansbrough all visiting the Jazz, it's safe to say that neither player has a complete feel for where they'll end up on draft night. Each of these three players have been mentioned to be lottery picks, at one point or another. Yet, it's quite possible that one of them might slip on draft night. The Jazz are certainly looking for big, burly, physical forwards to join the line-up.

Considering draft night, it couldn't be shaping up to be more confusing and unpredictable. Draftexpress.com has come out with the player listing of who has been invited to the Green Room for draft night and who has/hasn't accepted their invitations. It's an interesting list, considering the Jazz are situated on the backend of that listing. Here's who's been invited:

1. Blake Griffin 2. James Harden 3. Hasheem Thabeet 4. Ricky Rubio 5. Jordan Hill 6. Tyreke Evans 7. Stephen Curry 8. Jonny Flynn 9. Demar DeRozan 10. Jrue Holiday 11. Gerald Henderson 12. Brandon Jennings 13. Tyler Hansbrough 14. B.J. Mullens (potentially declining) 15. James Johnson (declining invite)16. Eric Maynor (potentially declining).

Not listed are Terrence Williams, Austin Daye, Earl Clark, DeJuan Blair and Ty Lawson. Another interesting tidbit from this article was the comment that Draftexpress.com believes the Jazz may be considering Taj Gibson at #20, potentially "shaking things up" on draft night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

James Johnson & Sam Young To Workout

James Johnson of Wake Forest and Sam Young from Pittsburgh will workout for the Jazz over the weekend... the Deseret News is reporting. Along with those players will be Darren Collison from UCLA, Josh Heytvelt of Gonzaga and Luke Nevill from the U. The workouts will be held on Saturday and Sunday.

A Case For The Locals

I remember attending a Deseret Duel matchup between BYU & Utah and saw one of the better, more exciting games of the college basketball season. The stars for each respective team were battling back and forth. Luke Nevill from Utah was dominating the paint, scoring 32 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. On the other side, Lee Cummard was virtually hitting every shot he put up. Cummard finished with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and a block, while shooting 3-3 from the 3-line. Both players were uncanny and exceptional. The game went into overtime where Utah finally pulled it out (much to my excitement being a Utah fan and graduate).

Truthfully, I came away from that game thinking... "I just witnessed two of the better players to ever suit-up for each respective team." Now clearly, Nevill is no Andrew Bogut -Bogut was much more skilled and talented, with scouts drooling over his every movement- when playing for the Utes. However, Nevill has incredible size (7'1"), length and touch around the basket. He dramatically improved as a rebounder (9 rpg) and shot-blocker (2.7 bpg) when coached by Jim Boylen... to the point where he was a legitimate beast playing in the low post (17 ppg).

Cummard, in like matter, may actually be one the best players to suit up for BYU. In recent memory, and in my opinion, I believe he was a better college player than Trent Plaisted, Mark Bigelow, Rafa Araujo, Travis Hansen, Mekeli Wesley and anyone else to play for the Cougs. He was extremely versatile and talented. His shooting numbers were impressive for a wing player (52% FG and 39% from 3). It would seem like his skill set could translate over to the NBA.

Finally, the other local player who may be getting overlooked is Gary Wilkinson from Utah State. Wilkinson had one of the most overlooked and underrated seasons of any local star. Not only does he possess good size (6'9", 240 lbs), but he also can play both inside the paint and outside beyond the arc. He scored 17 ppg and posted 7 rpg, while shooting 58% from the field. While other Aggie stars had more heralded careers, Wilkinson possessed the size and strength for the next level that the others (Spencer Nelson & Jacee Carroll) didn't have.

I'll go on record as to say that "I will be shocked" if Luke Nevill isn't drafted next Thursday. Every team needs size... and Nevill has it. In addition, I wouldn't be surprised if Lee Cummard and Gary Wilkinson were drafted too.

As it relates to the Jazz, I'm not certain either one of these guys will get a good look. The Jazz are set with project centers, Koufos and Fesenko, while the wing/forward positions are relatively full... AK47, Harpring, Miles, Korver, Brewer etc.

Those the Jazz could choose in the 2nd Round: Nando De Colo, France; Patrick Beverley, Arkansas/Ukraine; AJ Price, UConn; Tyrese Rice, BC; Curis Jerrells, Baylor... mainly guards.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Got the Right One Baby

Does anyone remember this ad? I had never seen it before. Who knew Stock was such a great actor?

What To Expect From The Draft?

We’re one week away from the 2009 NBA Draft. And in truth, the reality of the Draft is that we probably won’t be getting a player who’ll make a huge difference for our team. According to SI.com, one NBA Executive pronounced (referring to this Draft): "I'll just tell you this is the worst draft in decades. People are going to get excited about guys. But this is a terrible draft. Guys are going to screw up big time." He meant his peers. "A number of my colleagues are warming up to it, and I think they're making a big mistake."

With that in mind, let’s make a realistic prognostication of what these players could become…

Pyscho-T = Adam Keefe

Everyone needs an Adam Keefe! Isn’t there a strong resemblance here? Both players are hustlers, hard-workers, and true Jazz-caliber players. Psycho-T might be the better athlete and this might be a discouraging comparison… but remember, Keefe was a star at Stanford, drafted 9th overall, started many games for the Jazz and contributed to a title-contending team.

Ty Lawson = Ricky Green

“The fastest of them all!...” I still have a signed Ricky Green autograph from when I was a kid.

Terrence Williams = Blue Edwards

Blue was a fantastic athlete who couldn’t shoot well from the outside. Williams is similar… the best rebounding, passing, defending guard in the draft.

Austin Daye = Donyell Marshall
Donyell lived from the 3-line. He was a great shooter from the perimeter and caused mismatch problems. This would be the best case scenario for Daye.

Eric Maynor = Howard Eisley

Maynor’s a steady, efficient back-up point guard who can run a team effectively. Eisley was awesome for the Jazz in a back-up role. He tried to go off and become a starter in Dallas and New York, but he wasn’t quite good enough.

James Johnson & Sam Young = Ty Corbin

The Milkman was a physical small forward who couldn’t shoot from deep. Johnson can cause mismatch problems because he’s heftier and stronger than Coach Ty, while Young is more athletic.

Jeff Teague = Jay Humphries/Delaney Rudd Combo

Humphries was fast and athletic. Rudd was a fearless, crunch-time shooter. Teague has that moxy and athleticism.

BJ Mullens = Luther Wright
Let’s call a spade… a spade. Mullens will be a risky pick that may not produce. Luther Wright was a whale of a man and athlete… but he didn’t have it all together… “upstairs”.

My One More Week Prediction: Bring back Adam Keefe!... the new Adam Keefe, Psycho-T.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Memo announced today that he plans on coming to camp this year in the "best shape of my career." Not that that's a particularly high bar to get over. It's also a bit amusing that he made the announcement on the front page of his website, which features. . . wait for it. . . a picture of a big birthday cake and lots of shots of Memo in street clothes. Given our options though, that cake-loving, suit wearing, occasionally injured/out of shape Turk is still our best bet. Here's to hoping we can re-sign him.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Third Time's the Charm

Guess who is contemplating an NBA comeback? Here's a hint: Yabba-dabba-do!

I think we found our replacement for Jarron Collins.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Psycho-T Coming To Town

The Jazz will be bringing in a host of players to workout on Monday. It will be the first pre-draft workout of the season... and a big workout indeed! Twelve players will be in attendance - divided into two sessions of six. Of the players perhaps most notable will be the one many call... "Psycho-T from UNC."

Monday Morning:
Tyler Hansbrough (North Carolina)
Dante Cunningham (Villanova)
LeVance Fields (Pittsburgh)
Taj Gibson (USC)
Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona State)
Tyrese Rice (Boston College)

Monday Afternoon:
Gary Wilkinson (Utah State)
Marcus Landry (Wisconsin)
Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech)
Taylor Rochestie (Washington State)
Kevin Rogers (Baylor)
Ben Woodside (North Dakota State)

This particular workout should be very intriguing. The morning session provides a host of story-lines. Hansbrough, Pendergraph, Gibson and Cunningham will all most-certainly be drafted. Three of which (Psycho-T, Pendergraph & Gibson) could be vying for the 1st Round. Gani Lawal from the afternoon session will also have some "looks" for the 1st Round. Each of these players could be considered for the pick at #20 for the Jazz.

The Headliner: Psycho-T
Has been moving up draft boards, to the point where he may not be available at #20. If he's there at 20, consider him selected. Jerry Sloan will love him.

The Contenders: Pendergraph, Gibson, Lawal
Lawal is the youngest, most unproven, and yet has the most potential. Gibson is a fantastic shotblocker (2.9 bpg) with great size (6'10") and length... he's a borderline first rounder but could definitely be utilized on the Jazz frontline (short of defenders). Pendergraph is a better version of Jarron Collins... more athletic and very fundamental, shooting 66% from the field at ASU. All of these guys will go somewhere between #20 and #50... where the Jazz select. Perhaps we should obtain another pick or move back/forward in order to secure one of them.

The 2nd Rounders: Rice, Cunningham, Woodside

Tyrese Rice could be a solid 2nd Round selection. A little undersized and primarily a score-first PG, he very easily could be available @ #50. Cunningham was the star of his Final Four team... he's a combo-forward, willing to scrap and score around the rim. And Woodside is the 2nd Round sleeper. He's quick as a cat and plays the game with incredible savy. Check out what he did against Kansas in the tourney... scored 37 points! He reminds me of Barea from the Mavs.

The Underrated Match-up: Ben Woodside vs Taylor Rochestie
If ever there was a match-up of competitive, hardnosed, Stockton-esque point guards... it's this one. I hope to see one of these guys in summer camp.

My Two-Weeks Out Prediction: Chase Budinger or Terrence Williams
We may need to replace Kyle Korver (immediately) and Matt Harpring (eventually). Budinger is a lights-out shooter, and TWill is an AK47-like stat-stuffer with defensive-stopper ability. We could use either guy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Crotty Kid's Offseason Guide: Part 6

OK, kids. Draft Guru has us updated on the draft, but let's take a look at a front office decision that happens on Monday.

Boozer, Okur, and Korver still have 18 days to mull over their futures, and all indications are that at least the two important ones will take all of that time to decide. However, not everything this offseason is in the hands of fate, or Boozer's agent. The Jazz hold all the cards with one goofy, former-soviet, seven-footer. The Jazz can opt to bring back Kyrylo Fesenko for the bargain price of $870,000. But they have to do it by Monday.

Fesenko has been a complete disappointment to me. I was excited when we drafted him two years ago because I have a soft spot for active, clumsy big men. I hoped that Fesenko would develop into a bigger version of Anderson Varajao - not a threat on offense, but a defensive presence and a good garbage man. But I didn't take into account that Fesenko appears to have zero basketball IQ. And what's worse? Sloan absolutely hates his guts. For lots of reasons (but, mostly Fesenko's facebook status).
The strategic decision of whether to pick up Fesenko's option is easy: we need post players, he comes as cheap as we're going to find, and the Jazz need to save money. It's a no-brainer. The Jazz should exercise the option. But, when people piss off Sloan, they don't usually last too long in Salt Lake.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who's The Best Franchise?

John Hollinger of ESPN.com has put together a ranking system to evaluate the best franchises in the NBA. In his rankings, he has listed the Utah Jazz as the 7th most successful franchise in the NBA.
The franchises listed ahead of the Jazz were the LA Lakers, Boston Celtics, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Phoenix Suns, and Philadelphia 76ers.
Considering the fact that the Jazz have never won an NBA Championship and rank as high as they do, it's a remarkable honor, and evidence of a winning franchise that sets apart the Utah Jazz from other organizations in the league. I hope that our string of continual success will persist into the future... hopefully garnering us a championship (one-0f-these-days).
My favorite line from John Hollinger's summary analysis regarding the Utah Jazz went something like this... capturing Draft Guru's "Ultimate Jazz Fantasy":
"In the early 1980s, Utah had arguably the greatest draft run in league history. The Jazz took Dominique Wilkins third in 1982 before trading him to Atlanta (oops; how's that for a "what-if" scenario?)..." Can you imagine Dominique playing alongside Stockton and Malone? Spectacular!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hot For Millsap

The Newark Star-Ledger weighs in on the Boozer / Millsap fiasco from another team's perspective (New Jersey and Detroit). Speaking of Rob Pelinka, Boozer's agent, the Star Ledger suggests:
"His client will make $12.6M next year if he doesn't opt out. Where else will he get that $12.6?
We assume Pelinka floated this idea in case he needs a Plan B if the Detroit connection doesn't happen for them. And he undoubtedly has heard what we're hearing: The Pistons are now giving as much (if not more) consideration to Paul Millsap, to the tune of $8-9M per year, which is an ample jump from the $797K he was paid last season.
And if Detroit has cooled on Boozer, he's going to have to scramble to find anything like the 5/60M he's looking for - or thinks he deserves.
Can't see it. Not in Jersey, perhaps not anywhere."

It looks as though Paul Millsap will be the first dominoe to fall. Since Detroit is virtually the only team willing to spend significant salary dollars this summer, they'll be the team to watch and follow. Most likely, they'll offer an outlandish deal to Paul Millsap (8-10M per season), waiting to see if the Jazz flinch. Once the Jazz match (which I believe they will... up to a certain point), Detroit will then go after Boozer... expecting that the Jazz WILL NOT follow-up on Boozer's bidding. How high do the Jazz go to match Millsap's contract? That's the key question! Also, does Millsap's "preferred status" among other teams (as well as the Jazz) effect Boozer's opt-out decision?
My Prediction: I still believe Boozer and Memo will opt-out, and the Jazz will prefer to match for Millsap. With whatever is left-over, the Jazz will re-sign Memo. Boozer will go to Detroit, or will be tough-out-of-luck. No sign-and-trade will be negotiated for Boozer because the Jazz will be side-stepping away from the luxury tax line.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Measurements: Risers & Fallers

We’re 3-weeks out. The measurements are “in” for this year’s draft crop. And to the surprise of many, Psycho-T measured up. He was 6’9.5” in shoes with a 6’11” wingspan, jumped a 34 inch vertical and bench pressed 185 lbs 18 times. His numbers actually matched up quite favorably with Blake Griffin. Because of it, Psycho-T could see a boost in his draft stock.

Like every year, there’s always someone (or a “few” players) who rises and falls on the draft board come draft night. Last year, the Jazz saw a number of solid prospects fall to them when it was their turn to pick. Darrell Arthur, Donte Green, DeAndre Jordan, Mario Chalmers and of course, our very own Kosta Koufos were available for the picking back then. This year could see some risers and fallers also. It’s a relatively open draft and very difficult to predict.

Who could rise?

Psycho-T, North Carolina: He’s a winner, and a tough dude. He could have a similar career to that of David Lee in New York. Since his measurements came out impressively, he could certainly rise the board (kind of like Roy Hibbert did last year). Look out for Chicago at #16.
Omri Casspi, Israel: The first Israeli to try and make the NBA. He’s a little known small-forward that plays like Nocioni. With his experience playing in Europe, he could become a solid presence on an NBA squad.
Sam Young, Pitt: A physical specimen and very athletic. Had an awesome college career which could easily translate to NBA success.
DaJuan Summers, Georgetown: Apparently, has been showing well in workouts and the combine. Has the skill set to play either forward position at 6-8, 240 lbs.
Derrick Brown, Xavier: Early-entry player who measured out... off the charts – 35.5 vertical, 20 times lifted 185, 3.13 quarter-court sprint. He could easily find himself in the 1st Round.
Rodrigue Beaubois, France: The ultimate draft sleeper who could fly up the board very soon. He's extremely athletic (38' vertical) and has long arms (6'10" wingspan). Plays in the mold of Leandro Barbosa & our very own Ronnie Price.

Who could fall?

One of the Point Guards: Either Eric Maynor, Jeff Teague or Ty Lawson will be available when the Jazz pick. I believe one of those guys will drop due to the over-abundance of PGs in the draft. Lawson & Maynor, in particular, would be awesome!
Gerald Henderson, Duke: Not many teams have a need for a shooting guard. There could be other prospects of note that could be picked ahead of him. Same goes for Terrence Williams of Louisville.
James Johnson, Wake Forest & Earl Clark, Louisville: When will some team take a flyer on a project like Daye or Mullens, forcing JJ or Clark to fall down the board?

My 3-Weeks Out Pick: Choose a Tar Heel. They’re a bunch of champions! Psycho-T or Ty Lawson

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Jazz v. Raul

It's official. The Jazz will be playing in Spain in October. And what's more? They'll be taking on Real Madrid and former Jazzman/CowhideGlobe lover, Raul Lopez. This will be a battle royal featuring the Jazz' future and the Jazz' past. I'm sure we'll have much more coverage of this game as it approaches, but for now, a photo-journalistic walk down memory lane.