Saturday, August 29, 2009

Battle of the Backup Bigs

In recent news, the Jazz decided to keep the rights to their 2009 2nd Round draft pick, Goran Suton, and allow him to come to fall camp and battle for a roster spot with the Jazz. It may be a long shot for Suton to make the team, since the Jazz already have 13 players under contract and $82 million in salary promised to those 13. Yet, if the Jazz wanted to keep a cheap 14th man (and someone to battle in practice) then Suton would probably be that guy. He could be the best option we have (or Collins?) to play that "last man on the bench" role. Perhaps he could be better than this photogenic stud, Kyrylo Fesenko (pictured nicely in my blog) if he ever proves himself in camp.

In other news, Fesenko's agent disputes the fact that Fes had a "falling out" with his head coach while playing for the national team in his native land. "He had a family thing to attend to and the team was playing some younger players, so it was kind of mutually agreed upon," Lash said. "... And just with his schedule, wanting to get back here and getting ready for the (NBA) season, it was something we had kind of spoken about ahead of time." Is that bogus or what?

Fes missed playing for the Summer League Jazz team because he felt it was SOOO important to play for his national team in Europe. Over the course of that all-important summertime event, Fes played in only 20 minutes for the first two games, logged only nine minutes in the third game, didn't get off the bench in the fourth contest and wasn't even with the team for the final outings against Estonia and the Czech Republic. Yeah... mighty Estonia & the Czech! His best game was a 13-point, seven-rebound outing against Hungary. Yippee!

Through this unimpressive, lackluster set of games, Fesenko's agent still believes he has lots to offer to the Jazz... "Fes brings something to that team that I think there's a void there — and that's just interior presence on the defensive end and rebounding," Lash said. "He's as big as it gets." Well... there's no doubt about the fact that he's BIG. But he just may not be talented, motivated or aggressive enough.

If only our third (Memo being the fourth) of our foreign bigs can somehow get healthy and contribute next season, then maybe we can improve (somewhat) from within. Kosta Koufos, from Ohio via Greece, has got to make a difference for the Jazz next season, because I can assure you... I don't foresee Fesenko or Suton giving us anything but bench time next year. And yet, I suppose that it's not even expected from them either way.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

10-Years At The Helm As GM

Kevin O'Connor has been with the Jazz for 10 years. He has been scrutinized, analyzed and dissected for his every move (or lack of moves) as GM. It's true that many Jazz fans would like to have his job... or at least think that they could do a better job than him, if they had his job. That's just the nature of being a fan, right? In truth, KOC has done a decent job of assembling together a talented team over the years and faces challenges in pushing his assemblage to the next level. It's every GM's toughest task... to improve upon what's already good and competitive.

The SL Tribune has quoted Jazz owner Greg Miller and coach Jerry Sloan regarding their evaluation of KOC over the years.

Larry H. Miller Group CEO Greg Miller said: "I'm very pleased where we are because Kevin lives in the real world of player personnel issues. Those who like to take shots at him don't have real-world experience. They sit on the Internet or they talk to their buddies in the bar and say, 'Why doesn't Kevin do this? Why doesn't Kevin do that?' But chances are, he's already tried that. When you look at how many moving parts there are to a deal and how limited the opportunities are to make meaningful personnel moves, I think Kevin has done a great job for us."

Said Coach Sloan: "I'd never want [O'Connor's] job. It's impossible to bat 100 percent every time you come to the plate, as far as picking out players and getting them for your team. But he is really dedicated to trying to do the right thing."

And finally, KOC comments on the team we have... "We have a good core, from an asset standpoint," he said. "When Carlos was hurt last season, we started four players who were under 25 and we think those players are going to get better. ... "We would like to get longer and we would like to get more athletic. But those kind of players are hard to find, especially when you've been drafting where we have been drafting."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tweet Tweet

It's been a slow month in Jazzland, with one minor exception: our boys, like the LDS Church, are discovering the World Wide Web in all its glory. Below are some initial grades for their efforts:

Eric Maynor (@EMaynor3 on Twitter)
Maynor is clearly a rookie when it comes to microblogging. His tweets are short and, frankly, a bit boring. They mostly consist of updates like, "On my way to work out." He is a churchgoer and has recently been going to bed early though, which will no doubt make Jerry happy. . . not to mention Korver.

CJ Miles (@CJMiles34 on Twitter)
Miles tweets more than any other Jazzman (upwards of ten times a day). His updates also reveal that he hangs out with Ronnie Price and D Will constantly. Not many pics or links though. Finally, he's been up late the last few days. If Sloan ever figures out how to use that newfangled Internet contraption it's going to be a lot harder to break curfew on the road.

Deron Williams (@D_Will_8_4real on Twitter)
D Will is the Jazz' established leader on both the court and the web. His tweets are frequent and include links and awesome pictures (see below). Mark my words: unless/until the Jazz PR shop shuts him down, his Twitter feed will break news one of these days. The man's filter is not always on.

Kyrylo Fesenko (@The_Best_Fes on Twitter)
This is an entertaining feed to say the least. Unfortunately it's not real. But that hasn't stopped D Will and Miles from corresponding with whoever is behind it. . .

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fesenko and Facebook

In another nice bit of investigative journalism, the Trib has confirmed, as suspected, that Kyrylo Fesenko's Twitter feed is fake. Not to fear though Jazz fans, there is a silver lining: Fes is on Facebook! Friends include CJ Miles and a lot of attractive blonde women. He also sports a nice profile pic (see below). I just sent him a friend request. . . let's see where that gets us.

According to the family that Fes hangs out with in Utah, his status updates and posts are very well written. AND, Fes might consider Tweeting in the future. Let's all hope so!

Clearance Sale at the Gateway

The SL Tribune, mother of all investigative journalism, is reporting that Boozer jerseys are now being sold at half price at Fanzz stores. To get this scoop, the Jazz beat reporter had to take a detour from his trip to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to poke his head in the Jazz' store. These guys aren't paid like superstars for nothing.

As cool as the story sounds, it doesn't appear to be true. Boozer gear is discounted online, but the discount looks more like 20%, not 50%.

But don't let that stop you from making your daughter the coolest 4th grader around.

Yes, Booner, that jersey is bedazzled.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Full-Steam Ahead!

The summer is practically over and the Jazz haven’t made any changes to the team. Goodbye: Mr. Old-Reliable, the respectful Jazz citizen as well as his elite Stanford compadre. Also, Goodbye to the one Hots would call Almond Joy… we hardly knew ye! Incoming will be a rookie point guard. “Nothing more, nothing less.” The Jazz are over the tax-line…

So it doesn’t look like we’ll be inviting anyone else aboard the good ship Utah Jazz this year. Is the status quo good enough for you?

If CNN.SI were making the summer call, they’d give the Jazz an “A”.

"That's an "A" for now. The Jazz did everything they were supposed to do to remain a West factor. They locked up Mehmet Okur, they matched Portland's brutal front-loaded offer sheet on Paul Millsap, and they drafted a point guard at No. 20, Eric Maynor, with the composure and decision-making skills to back up Deron Williams. What remains to be seen is how Utah resolves the Carlos Boozer situation, the decision that may ultimately determine the success or failure of the offseason. There's wiggle room because management could easily choose to do nothing now and reassess the landscape early in the season and heading toward the February trade deadline."

Can you really give a team an "A" when it didn't do anything? Maybe if the team was the Lakers and had just won a championship... then you wouldn't want to mess with a championship-mix. However, the Jazz aren't even close to the Lakers, and have plenty of flaws. It'd be nice if we could mix things up a little bit.

If I were giving a grade… I’d give the offseason a B-. The summer of player options and opt-in decisions was a dud. We haven't seen any attempt to improve the team. Couldn’t we at least attempt to execute a trade? Granted... there's really not much we can do. The Jazz are stuck with big contracts, and not able to maneuver through them. We even added to our mess by extending Memo’s contract and re-signing for Millsap (albeit… I agreed with both decisions). Next summer will be very much of the same. What’s evident is the core looks to be in place with Deron, Memo, Millsap, Kirilenko (by default), and perhaps Brewer. Boozer won’t be kept next season because we won’t have the money to sign him.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

PR Trainwreck

Carlos Boozer may be the worst public relations spokesman in the history of the NBA. He’s simply awful at creating “good-karma” and “positive vibe”. It goes back to his time in Cleveland when he tricked a blind-man owner into letting him out of his restricted free-agent status, and quickly signed a bigger contract offer with the Jazz. He was considered “slime” then (certainly by Cleveland fans), and is still being ripped apart now (his reputation becoming absolutely crushed).

We all remember Boozer saying he’d opt-out of his contract during last season… (when he happened to be injured… while sitting on the bench in a suit… promising us that he’d get a raise even if he did so). Incredible! He later decided to opt-in to play for the Jazz another season, reneging on his earlier preconceived & intended claim to become a free agent. Message sent: It’s all about the money! Next, he goes off spouting to Chicago and Miami radio stations, acting out like a supposed free-agent by hoping and wishing for a trade. Message sent: I don’t want to play in Utah.

Funny enough, Boozer’s posturing sent an awkward message to Pat Riley -GM of the Miami Heat- and caused this reaction from Riley regarding Boozer’s intention to play for the Heat… "I wasn't really comfortable with it. I really don't know what kind of agreement that he and Utah have," he said. "We have had conversations about a number of things, but there hasn't been anything really, at all, nothing, about a trade for Carlos Boozer." Message sent: We don't want you. Wow. Way to go Booz! Now... no one wants you.

Being a Jazz fan, I’m certain that I’ll forgive Boozer once he starts putting up big numbers and helping the team win ball games, but until that happens (and I’m pretty certain he’ll be playing for us next season), I still want this guy outta here. For anything...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Great News for Knicks Fans (that hate the Knicks)

Now that the Jazz have hunkered down for the free agent winter, I get my NBA kicks by hoping and praying that the Knicks sign Stephon Marbury, Nick Van Exel and Isaiah Thomas. As an avid reader of TCG pointed out to me this week, they took the first step this week: they claimed White Chocolate off of waivers.

Now, it is unclear whether the Knicks truly are contemplating signing the best white street baller since Tha Professor instead of Nate Robinson, but it is clear that the Knicks are still a team in disarray. The Jazz will take great pleasure in their sufferings this season. Now, if someone could just sign David Lee, we could be sitting on a draft gold mine.