Posted by: Brian McCann on January 26th, 2011The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I don’t want to be that fan that always waxes hard on what could’ve been. The past is the past. Bad decisions in sports are a collective sunk cost, and there is always another game to be played; another day to prove everyone wrong. I also don’t want to be the fan that over simplifies the complexity of dealing with trades and free agent signings of multi-million dollar athletes with multi-million dollar egos. KOC has it rough, man.
But as an irrational fan, in one of the most polar markets in sports, I will occasionally step up on my proverbial soap box. No, I don’t get paid to do anything for the Utah Jazz, and while logic might tell all of us that we should leave the actual “caring” to those that depend on this team for their livelihood, the illogical, emotional Jazz fan in me just doesn’t care. So despite the hardship surrounding the job of our steadfast General Manager, let me add the perspective of at least one disgruntled fan by at first saying “I told you so” followed up with a little “what are you going to do about this?”
Carlos boozer was unnecessarily blamed for all of our issues over the last couple of seasons, primarily because he screwed himself with the comments he made on that fateful mid-season night in New Jersey, while he calmly watched the Jazz struggle without him from the sidelines. I get it that the guy never was very likeable because of his injuries, questionable commitment, and overall aloofness. But, offensively, he was a master at executing Jerry’s system. And I don’t mean to get all sacrileges on our fan base, but our defensive woes in the post were a two-man issue. Memo Okur has always been a worse defender than Boozer, but Memo is loveable and Boozer burned that bridge. Had Boozer been backed up defensively by a true shot-blocking center, and had he cared about the game half as much as Paul Millsap, the Jazz could be in a very different position right now.
I agree overall that it was time for Boozer to move on. I’m really not trying to argue to the contrary. What I don’t agree with, and didn’t agree with last summer, was letting Mathews and Korver walk. Yes, I understand the salary cap (NOTE: anyone who says they “understand the salary cap” should immediately be distrusted, but I digress…). I know what it would have cost the Jazz THIS SEASON to retain Mathews, but besides the fact that he was our second best/most consistent player in last years playoffs, is the fact that Portland will have him on the cheap for the next FOUR YEARS after this season is over. And the way he has been playing this year, that could be four very painful years.
The thing that really gets to me is that Mathews even had the opportunity to become a restricted free agent last summer. O’Connor should have offered him an extension mid-way through last season. Call it careless planning or whatever you want, but he was a diamond in the rough, and it is his job to lock guys like Wesley up, or at the very least make it a point to be on his doorstep the very second his free agency begins with a viable contact. He did, after all, want to be here. And when he signed the offer sheet with Portland, I’m sorry, but we should have matched. If KOC was that concerned with spending, he could have looked ahead to a salary dump before the trade deadline; something that he might still do now, except now we don’t have Mathews.
Korver on the other hand was slow to rotate on D, and lacked athleticism, but his outside shooting is sorely missed. Sad thing is, he signed with the Bulls for a very affordable $5 Mill a year. As far as has been reported, the Jazz didn’t even make him an offer.
I don’t mean to sound bleak, down, or depressed, but, honestly, that is how I feel. As of right now, Deron Williams probably will not make the All-Star team; not in a conference with Westbrook, Paul, and Parker (considering the seasons all three are having). There is still some time for things to change in that regard, but Deron is already frustrated with his teammates, and it will be very hard for him not to feel like they are holding him back in some regard if he doesn’t make it. And if the Jazz fail to land a decent playoff seed, followed by a decent playoff run, you better bet he will be contemplating his future as a member of the Utah Jazz, especially considering the fact that we are looking at a lockout shortened season next year. In other words, in my humble, irrational opinion, if the Jazz don’t right the ship soon, we might have a Carmelo Anthony situation on our hands (at least internally, without as much hype).
I don’t know the answers, and I won’t pretend that I definitively do. I’ll leave that up to the guys that are getting paid to make those decisions. But as a paying fan, both in time and in money (really, more than I should spend), I expect a little more, and that expectation has been obtained through what Utah’s front office has been telling me for the last four or five years now. We have been supposedly “building a contender”, and now, with our franchise player’s next contract negotiations approaching faster than most of us would like, it is time for us to contend.
Like David Aldridge said earlier this week, we are officially on the clock. The time to steady this ship is now. Whether that is through trades, lineup changes, or longer practices, something’s gotta give. I will always be a Jazz fan, and I definitely won’t abandon them when they are at their worst, but a lower playoff seed followed by another loss to LA will severely damage my belief in some of the personnel we have in the front office, and that is just me being honest.
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