Utah Jazz Midseason Roundtable: Big Al and Paul

Jazz Logo IIIIts time for a mid-season check-in with your Utah Jazz and there isn’t any better way to do this than to get the voices your know best in the market to help analyze how they are doing.  We’re grateful to have linked up with Amar, Clark, Diana, and Jon from SLC Dunk, Grant from Torn By Sports, Allen and James from The Dog and Deuce Show, and of course Mike and Matt weigh in as well.  If you haven’t been reading SLC Dunk or TBS or listening to D&D, you really need to check them out.

5. Discuss Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap and their value and role respectively to the team.  Will either man be in a Jazz uniform for the2013-2014 season?

Big Al and Paul

“Big” Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap

Amar: Al’s role is to be “the man”. As a result, he’s the only guy who can’t be taken out of the starting lineup. Paul’s role is to do everything else. Al is okay at the end of games, but points count just as much in the last quarter as they do in the first; and as a result, I think there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Big Al is not a great first option. He’d be a killer second option. But for our team he’s the first. And I don’t think that he fulfills the role. Millsap fulfills his. That said, people can do what Millsap does, and on this team no one right now can do what Al does. So Al has the ‘default’ higher value to the team. As a result I expect the Jazz to sign him up for next year, while Millsap will go to a place that appreciates him.

Clark: I think they are our best players, or at least 2 of the 3 best players on the team.  They both have their weaknesses and Jazz fans have been very quick to point those out, especially this season.  If I have to choose one over the other, I choose Paul Millsap 10/10 times.  The problem is that, as of now, I can see scenarios where neither of them return next season.  I think Millsap would leave the Jazz if he gets a great offer that the Jazz either don’t want to match, or because he would prefer to start for the next four years, which isn’t a guarantee here.

And I have a hard time seeing the Jazz re-signing Al Jefferson.  He will command $12-15 a year for 4 years and I think the Jazz have shied away from re-signing controversial players like Carlos Boozer, or Andrei Kirilenko, in years past.

Deuce: Both players have valuable roles on this squad but the fact remains that the Utah Jazz are a small market franchise. With the likes of Favors and Kanter waiting in the wings, it seems improbable, unnecessary and wouldn’t be money well-spent to return both of these players next season. While each has played well and played a significant role over the past season to this franchise, the NBA is a business and the Jazz have to make business decisions this offseason. I assume both Jefferson and Millsap will be looking for long term/big money deals this off-season but neither really fits into the direction of the franchise long term. It seems more likely that Millsap could return given his inconsistency during the 2012-13season, but there is still half a season to play and that could all change. Plus, he could play a role at the 3 spot from time to time if not become a starter there. Sure this becomes a defensive matchup disaster for the Jazz but if they want to keep Millsap his role needs to become more defined for him and the team. I guess it comes down to whether or not he can accept a fair market value from the Jazz or seeks an inflated value on the open market and if any team is willing to pay the inflated value? There is also the question as to whether or not Marvin Williams has a future with the Jazz. I suspect if the organization feels Williams can contribute more in the future than he has to date, they find him an easy and natural replacement to Millsap with more potential upside. All in all I doubt either player will call Energy Solutions home nest season but if by chance one does, it has to be Paul Millsap.

Diana: Jefferson and Millsap have both been great for the Jazz the last three seasons during this time of transition for the team. I was very excited when I found out the Jazz traded for Jefferson. I thought he and DWill were going to work so well together. That obviously did not work out as planned. Al kept our team afloat and did a great job along with Millsap leading us to the playoffs last season.

The issue I have with Jefferson is that it seems like everyone has to change their game to fit in with Jefferson. I love Big Al. I love his attitude, I love his loyalty; I just don’t love his game.

Paul Millsap is one of my favorite Jazz players of all-time. Millsap is the only player left from the true Sloan era. Millsap represents what we have come to expect from a Jazz player.  I think Millsap is a versatile player who helps the team win.

Going forward I believe Millsap fits better with the young core of the team. I don’t think Al fits that well with the style of play that would most benefit the team. I don’t know if either Jefferson or Millsap will be in a Jazz uniform next season. If they chose to re-sign one of the two I hope it is Paul Millsap.

Dog: I think we’ll see one of them back with the Jazz next year.  Both guys have been disappointing this year and the more surprising of the two is Millsap.  It’s not just the reduced production; it’s the lack of emotion and toughness that he has shown lately.  As for Jefferson, I think it’s time we come to terms with the fact that he’s just not a leader.  He doesn’t have the fire necessary to make a deep playoff run.  If it were up to me I’d trade him before the deadline and start to really develop the young guys.

Grant: Both Paul and Al have tremendous value for the Jazz on the floor and as trade bait. One of them will not be with the Jazz after this offseason. The real question is who? My vote is for Jefferson. Yes, he is horrendous on the pick and roll defense. But he is the only player on the team that can truly get a shot when the Jazz need one. His offensive game is much more true to a post player and the Jazz have two young talents they are trying to have developed into great post players. So, if I am right, thanks for the years Millsap, and good luck on your new team.

Jon: Al Jefferson is crucial to the team because the team has decided he will be its star. He will be the main scorer. Just like a movie needs its lead actors to come through, a team depends on the success of its star.

Millsap is crucial because I believe he is one of the team’s two most productive and best overall players (the other being Hayward).

I cannot see both Al and Millsap on the team next year. I can see situations in which the team brings one back. I can also see situations in which neither returns.

In the end, I think they are both likely gone. The reason is this: half the teams will have $15 million or more for free agents this summer. After Chris Paul and Dwight, Al and Sap are pretty much the best available (along with Josh Smith, Andrew Bynum, and possible Andre Iguodala). I believe both Al and Paul will be offered big contracts that the Jazz are unwilling (and foolish) to outbid.

Matt:  Unfortunately, we’ve built a team that can’t survive without Big Al, but simultaneously, can’t be ultimately successful with him either.  And while I think Millsap has given more to this team than so many who have come before him, I don’t think he is a fit anymore.  He feels too strongly that he’s a legit starting #4 on a team and he just isn’t.  His hustle and game would be so fabulously suited to a second unit where he would and could dominate but he can’t hang with the 1st team 4s out there now.

Mike: Jefferson is a stud, but Millsap is the better all around player. If Millsap goes there is no doubt he will have his best years wherever he lands. Jefferson seems to fit the Malone, Boozer role that this offense caters to. If Favors is who we think he is resigning Jefferson delays seeing the Favors version of Malone/Boozer.

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