Let me just take a few minutes to jot down some of my recent thoughts on the Utah Jazz.
Gordon Hayward to the bench: On Monday, Coach Ty Corbin moved Gordon Hayward to the bench. His reasoning was that the second year player wasn’t getting the involvement in the offense with the starters that he needed as well as needing a legitimate scorer off the bench. In his first game in this role, Hayward responded by scoring 23 points in 28 minutes on a very effective 8-11 shooting night. Yes, it was against the Cavs, but the point is that he was very successful and I hope he can see the value of this switch and not look at it as any sort of demotion. The other side of this is the increased role of Josh Howard with the starters where he scored 14 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. If he can continue to be effective in this manner as the starting 3, I love having Gordon come off the bench to provide that spark. And hopefully, his shooting and play-making ability will space the floor just a bit more for the young big men playing near the hoop.
Why is CJ Miles still playing? In the past ten games, he is averaging less than 20 minutes per game of playing time. He scored less than 10 point per on less than 40% shooting. Less than 2 rebounds per game. So why is he still playing? Is he getting playing time because Corbin can’t bear to completely bench the 7 year man? This player that comes into each season with such promise but as David Locke says, he continues to be the player on the back of his card. Is he just being used as a piece in a soon-to-be-made trade before the March 15 trade deadline? I don’t know. Does that make small forward the most necessary piece in this year’s draft? If so, how do the Jazz work out making a top 4 pick again since the best two at the position, Harrison Barnes of UNC and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of Kentucky, are projecting to be drafted?
Jeremy Evans Day in Utah: On February 29, 2012, Utah governor, Gary Herbert declared the day, Jeremy Evans day in honor of his dunk contest victory. That means once every four years, we’ll celebrate Evans and his victory. Pretty cool honor regardless.
The Deron Williams trade: Last season, right after the NBA All-Star weekend, the Jazz dealt point guard Deron Williams to the New Jersey Nets for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, a couple of picks (2011 turned into Enes Kanter), and some cash. It was all done very secretively, and at the time seemed underhanded by GM Kevin O’Connor. But in hindsight, it seems the right way to have conducted the deal. The Jazz had long felt they would lose Williams at the end of his next contract, but he hadn’t publicly stated anything. The very public feud with Coach Jerry Sloan had culminated in the coach’s resignation from the team and feelings were still raw. In light of the on-going media circus with Carmelo Anthony last season, and Dwight Howard and Chris Paul this season, the move to rid themselves of the drama seems almost prophetic. In fact, KOC recently stated that when these stars get a chance to “dictate” their terms in a trade by stating they will or won’t sign extensions and such, drives down their value. By doing this under cloak and dagger, it allowed the Jazz to maximize Williams’ trade potential without his ability to nix any possible deals. The rest of the league should take notice and keep the players and agents out of the trade talks.
And finally: The question persists – try and win now or play the young guys? My question is, what do you get by playing the veterans now? My answer is not much. Sure, I’d really like to see the wins. I would really like to see the young guys earn the playing time. But what is the point anymore? The youth movement needs to begin now. I feel they have earned the additional minutes. Maybe not all the minutes, but they need more minutes and they need them now. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really see this team making the playoffs and if they do, they will see a quick first round exit to a team like the Thunder, Mavs, or Spurs. And then what has anyone learned? Nothing. They just “learned” how to lose four more games. Yes, the playoffs are an invaluable experience, but if you really only give your team a chance to win maybe an additional 3-5 games this season by sticking with what you have, is that worth it? I think it is time to shave about five minutes per game from Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson and give them to Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. And then gradually add more minutes. It is time to bury CJ Miles at the end of the bench and give his minutes to Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward. And for heaven sakes free Jeremy Evans already! I know he’s raw, but it isn’t much of a drop from where we are now, and the crowd really loves him!