Everyone makes poor relationship decisions at one time or another. Whether it’s letting an unhealthy relationship go on too long or cutting a good thing short, we’ve all experienced the feelings of relief, nausea, and confusion that directly follow a breakup. Sometimes you end a relationship because it’s truly for the best, but other times you regret the decision almost as soon as you say “goodbye”. Interestingly enough, relationship mistakes are just as common in professional sports as they are in the dating world. No one will soon forget the famous “Curse of the Bambino” that resulted from the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth, or the Oilers parting ways with Wayne Gretzky, or the Oklahoma City Thunder refusing to pay James Harden his money last summer.
If you think about it, the Jazz have also made their share of relationship mistakes over the course of their history. Some of their dismissals have been applauded, while others have left a painful sting that won’t soon diminish. It’s never easy to find a player who puts up consistent numbers, but once you do, you need to hold onto them like the whole future of the franchise depends on it—because it does. As Jazz fans, we’re not torn up about parting ways with players like C.J. Miles, DeShawn Stevenson, or Kosta Koufos, but we do care about the ones that actually made an impact. If the Jazz want to avoid vetting their roster of talented players unnecessarily, someone needs to point out where they went wrong. To help with this, I’ve compiled a list of the players the Jazz should have never let go.
- Deron Williams - This is complicated. Clearly Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams had a strained relationship, but looking back, couldn’t someone figure out a way to mend it? Deron Williams is the best player the Jazz have seen since Stockton and Malone and the only one to take the Jazz past the first round of the playoffs since that era. During his career in Utah he averaged over 20 points, 10 assists, and 1 steal per game. There is no doubt in my mind Williams could have done great things with the young team of today. I heard recently that Williams actually endorsed Sloan for the Nets head coaching job after they released P.J. Carlesimo. Now that Sloan is in Utah again, couldn’t we work something out?
- Dominque Wilkins - Unfortunately, the Jazz didn’t even give this one a chance. Utah drafted “The Human Highlight Film” with the third overall pick in 1982 but shipped him off to Atlanta the very same day. Just imagine ‘Nique performing his nightly acrobatics in a Jazz uniform. In his glory days, Nique averaged nearly 30 points per game and just over 6 rebounds.
- Kyle Korver - Say what you want about his rock star hair, but Kyle Korver can shoot lights out. In his final year with the Jazz, Korver averaged 53% from beyond the arc – setting a single season NBA record. He also currently holds the 12th position on the list of all-time leaders in 3 point percentage, in addition to his 87% average from the charity stripe. How did the Jazz allow Korver to leave as a free agent?
- Al Jefferson-Granted Big Al and Korver both left as free agents, but the Jazz could really use Jefferson’s strong post play and consistent rebounding in 2013-14. In his three seasons with the Jazz, Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. On a team filled with young talent, Big Al would have been a much needed veteran presence and a nightly scoring threat. Hopefully someone else can step up in his stead, or else…