Salt City Hoops » Mychal http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:41:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Mychal http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Reconstructive Jazz http://saltcityhoops.com/reconstructive-jazz/ http://saltcityhoops.com/reconstructive-jazz/#comments Wed, 27 Apr 2011 14:05:00 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3780 Author information
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A lot has gone wrong during this season.  You know that old joke you would tell your friends before every Jazz season?  The one about how there are 3 things in life that will never change? Death, Taxes, and Jerry Sloan?  Unfortunately all three of those things combined together to result in a highly overpaid, underachieving, and Sloan/Deron-less Utah Jazz squad.

The Jazz are currently in rebuilding mode no matter how Kevin O’Connor phrases it.  But just because the Jazz are rebuilding does not mean the Utah franchise has left its fans out in the cold.  Some fans out there are feeling hopeless.  Today I want to show you the light at the end of the tunnel.  Introducing The Steps of Rebuilding: OKC Edition.

Get Younger

Take a look at the best teams in the West by Age:

Lakers – 29.64
Mavericks – 29.26
Spurs – 27. 57
Denver – 26.57
Portland – 25.8
Thunder – 24.71

This day is coming soon....

Notice a trend?  The best 3 teams are getting old.  The next great team, OKC, is by far the youngest of the elite teams.  The scary thought is they will just continue to improve.  The Jazz are rebuilding their team around the OKC model: Accumulate a lot of draft picks in a 3 year span, trade them around for best value, get young fast, cut out expensive veteran salaries, and prepare for an extended playoff run in the twilight of the elite teams careers.  The Jazz did not make these moves to be playoff ready for the Lakers, Spurs, and Mavericks this year.  They made this move to be competitors to the Trailblazers, Nuggets, and Thunder in two years.

As it stands right now the Jazz have an average age of 27.  Now in the 2011/2012 season if you take an average age of 21 years old for every rookie the Jazz draft (for the sake of this I’m only counting 1st round picks) and eliminate those whose contracts end after this year (Kirilenko, Elson, Watson, Price, Fesenko) the Jazz’s average age will be about 25.6.  Then after that year in the 2012/2013 season the Jazz’s average age with two more 1st round picks (using an average age of 21 for each draft pick) and minus Okur will be about 23.23.  In just two years the average of the Jazz will go from 27 to 23.23.  Kevin O’Connor not only hastened the rebuilding process about a year early he shot it with a dose of steroids.

Get Good Draft Value

In the 2007 NBA draft the OKC Thunder hastened the rebuilding process by trading away Ray Allen.  They received Boston’s lottery pick, #5, in addition to their own #2 pick.  In that draft they selected Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

Durant and Green drafted by the OK...er...Seattle Super...Thunder?....

The following year in 2008, they played their young players long and often giving them vital development time which resulted in the #5 pick in that draft.  With that pick they selected Russell Westbrook, who by the way no one was billing as an elite PG, but the Thunder had other intentions and knew he would be something special.  They also drafted Ibaka later in the first round with the Phoenix Suns’ pick (#24) and D.J. White with the 29th pick.

In 2009, the Thunder had the #2 pick as a result of their own record by playing their young guys and giving them precious development time.  They drafted James Harden.  A guy who would never become a star in this league but a guy who could be the Steve Kerr to the Thunder’s Westbrook/Durant.

Then in 2010 after playing their young guys all season long and accumulating development time over the past 2 years their young players turned the corner a year early.  Westbrook became a budding star.  Durant became a star.  They made the playoffs and scared the Lakers.  In that draft they decided they needed size down low.  They traded up and picked Cole Aldrich with the #11 pick.  Aldrich will never be a star in this league but the Thunder already have two.  They just needed B.J. Armstrongs and Steve Kerrs.

Now flash forward to the present.  The Jazz have two draft picks this year, #6 and #12.  They also have a lot of assets to use for future draft picks whether they come this year or next year.  Lots of teams will be trading picks around this year due to the weak draft.  One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.  The Jazz could get good value in current draft if they play their cards right.

Next year they will have their own pick provided they land in the lottery.  They also have Golden State’s pick next year in what should be a deep draft.  If the Jazz follow the OKC model and play their young guys often then their own pick could be a lottery pick.  I know what a lot of you just thought when you read that.  Is he really saying the Jazz should tank?  No, it is called development.  What good would the Jazz be doing if they played guys who are not part of the Jazz’s future?

Part of the Future (Djamila Grossman | The Salt Lake Tribune)

I’m a proponent of development.  If the Jazz were to acquire 6 lottery picks in 3 years that would trump anything OKC was able to pull off.  The Jazz already have Favors and Hayward.  They will have two lottery picks in 2011.  Right now Draft Express has the Jazz selecting Bismack Biyombo at #6 and Alec Burks at #12.  Not superstar talent but solid talent.  If the Jazz can manage to get lucky enough to get into the top 2 and select Derrick Williams or Kyrie Irving they will have the opportunity to capitalize on a weak draft.  If they develop their young guys they will have a chance for two lottery picks next year.  Their own and a Golden State pick that’s protected 1-8.  If they were to package those draft picks plus a known talent they could get a star-potential player.   I know the draft is sometimes a crapshoot but having that many picks in the lottery is like idiot proofing your future.  You can’t strike out that many times, well, unless your name is the Clippers.

Swiping Good Players

OKC used their cap space as a storage unit.  They became a place to send old stuff (players) that teams didn’t use anymore because they had the room.  But those rental units came at a price.  A steep price.  Look at this list:

Thabo Sefolosha
Eric Maynor
Nate Robinson
Kendrick Perkins
Nazr Mohammed

These players were  sniped away from other teams needing to dump salary.  Sefolosha was a defensive minded SG picked up from Chicago.  Perfect compliment to Durant and Westbrook.  Eric Maynor was traded from the Jazz in a cost cutting move that included Matt Harpring’s contract.  Nate Robinson and Kendrick Perkins were taken on when Boston couldn’t afford to give Perkins his extension.  The Thunder traded Jeff Green (who ironically Boston traded to the Thunder) back to Boston for a solid starting C with playoff experience.  They threw in Nenad Krstic and called it a day.  They then traded D.J. White for Nazr Mohammed as Charlotte was cutting salary.

For the Jazz to hasten the rebuilding process they have to get under the salary cap.  Far below it.  If they do they could make out like bandits with the upcoming CBA.  There are talks of a hard salary cap.  Even if that does not come to fruition the salary cap will be lowered.  Teams will be trying to get below it not to pay a likely increase in luxury taxes.  The Jazz if they cut salary now will be in a great position to play the OKC role and use their cap space to save teams from luxury taxes and be able to accrue some good assets: draft picks & players.

Stable Organization

The Thunder have not been successful solely because of their drafting and trade-making skills.  They have a stable organization.  Which is saying a lot.  The fact that a team can come out of the Seattle mess and a few years later be seen as a dependable organization with a clear vision says a lot.  It also gives hope to Utah fans.

We miss you Larry...

This past season has been one of the most tumultuous in recent memory.  Jazz lost Jerry Sloan, Phil Johnson, and Deron Williams.  That doesn’t even include the mass exodus of Jazz players to Chicago before the season began.  Injuries ravaged this team.  Fans were frustrated by the front office decision to trade Deron Williams.  Even with all that the season ended on a good note with the Jazz’s future, Hayward and Favors, putting on a show in the season’s final game.  The important thing is to have an organization underneath everything that is capable of riding out the storm and the Jazz organization is capable of that.  The Jazz do with Kevin O’Connor and the Miller Family.

Get Lucky

Luck can turn silver into gold.  If you take a look at the Thunder they have caught some serious breaks.  The draft is an inexact science.  No matter how much money is put into scouting, how “can’t miss” the prospect is, and how great your developmental coaching is a team is bound to find a few duds.  But in a 3 year span the Thunder, for the most part, were able to draft solid talent and have players rise above their known potential.  We sometimes credit a General Manager prematurely for their amazing drafting skills because of their luck when drafting.  The Thunder didn’t strike gold when they drafted D.J. White.  He was later traded for Nazr Mohammed.  Cole Aldrich, #11 pick of 2010 draft, has spent most of his rookie year with the Tulsa 66ers.  But their successful picks of Durant, Green, Westbrook, Harden, and Ibaka mask the mistakes.

In 2008, Scott Brooks took over midseason for P.J. Carlesimo as an interim coach.  Who knew that Brooks would coach the Thunder to the playoffs the following year and receive the 2009-2010 Coach of the Year Award then?  No one did.  He was a good coach but under the right circumstances Brooks showed he could be a great coach.  Oklahoma City got lucky.  Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than to be good.

The Jazz need some of that luck.  They need that luck to go their way and win the lottery.  They need that luck to go their way with Millsap making a transition from PF to SF.  They need that luck to go their way with Hayward, Evans, and Favors continuing their development in a potentially long offseason.  Most importantly, they need that luck to go their way with Corbin coming into his own as a head coach.

The most important thing the Jazz can do is set the stage for that luck to take effect.  The Jazz have the draft picks, the assets, the coaching, and soon they will have the cap space to create the right conditions for something special to happen.  With a little luck, the Jazz can out-OKC OKC.

 

 

 

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You Know What’s Cool? http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-ahead-of-the-curve/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-ahead-of-the-curve/#comments Mon, 28 Feb 2011 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3686 Author information
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Much has been said about the emotional toll the Deron Williams trade has brought upon Jazz fans.  Much has been written on the cause of it.  Much has been hypothesized with “what ifs”.  I would like to touch on none of that today and look at the Jazz state of affairs as it stands right now.  Where are the Jazz now and where are they going from here?

Overpriced Groceries

Many people were frustrated that the Jazz didn’t trade away Kirilenko’s albatross contract for a SG or Millsap for a capable wing.  Why would they do that?  They don’t know what this team is yet.

When I lived out in the middle of nowhere Montana I had two options for groceries.  You could get groceries at the tiny grocery store in town and pay double what those groceries were worth for the convenience of not having to drive out of town, or you could make the hour drive for less expensive groceries and get a way better value for what you paid.  If the Jazz would have traded for a SG using Kirilenko’s contract odds are they would have had to take at least 75% or more  of his contract’s value back in salaries.  Guaranteed most of those players’ salaries would not be expiring contracts.  The Jazz would have been paying for overpriced groceries.

 

Do you really want to pay $18 for milk?

The Jazz have a chance in the next two drafts to select at least two guys from the lottery slots.  On top of that they have a chance to select four players from the lottery slots. FOUR!  What teams have four lottery picks in the next two drafts?  Here’s another thing to think about: how many teams will have had 6 lottery picks from 2010-2012? 1.  If the cards fall right the Jazz will end up drafting six times in the lottery in 3 drafts.  The Jazz currently have Favors & Hayward, two possible in this draft, and two possible in 2012 draft.  Let that melt over you like a warm butter.

A Billion Dollars Cool

There’s a scene in The Social Network where Mark Zuckerberg and his friend Eduardo are speaking with Sean Parker. Mark’s best friend Eduardo has been trying for weeks to convince Mark that they need advertising on this site to become profitable.  Then there is this exchange in the movie:

Eduardo Saverin: “You know what, settle an argument for us. I’d say its time to start making money from theFacebook but Mark doesn’t want advertising. Who’s right?”
Sean Parker: “Neither of you, yet. TheFacebook is cool. That’s what it’s got going for it.”
Mark Zuckerberg: “Yeah.”
Sean Parker: “You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.”
Mark Zuckerberg: “Exactly.”
Sean Parker: “It’s like you’re throwing the greatest party on campus and someone saying it’s gotta be over by eleven.”
Mark Zuckerberg: “That’s exactly right.”
Sean Parker: “You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?”
Eduardo Saverin [giving evidence at the deposition]: “A billion dollars. And that’s what shut everybody up.”

To have compromised future cap flexibility for something that limits your progress in the future like bad contracts (which is what the Jazz would have received back to complete AK trade) would have been “throwing the greatest party on campus and someone saying it’s gotta be over by eleven.”  Just to get a guy who is a proven commodity they would have had to give up future cap flexibility and take on a lot of salary.

The Jazz don’t even know what the Jazz are.  Are they a PF-driven team?  A Center-led team? If they draft Irving are they PG-driven? If they draft Barnes would they be SG-driven?  To compromise all that flexibility now would be taking their chips down.

 

If Favors was stock he'd be Apple pre-iPod. Buy now.

Right now the Jazz have something going for them.  They have a future.  With Deron Williams that future had the potential of ending in a disastrous way if he were to leave via free agency.  The Jazz traded him for two players, Devin Harris and Derrick Favors, and 2 1st round draft picks. Those 2 1st round draft picks will most likely be lottery picks. Then in the next draft they will have 2 more lottery picks.  They also have Ante Tomic in Europe who would be a mid to late 1st round pick if he were to enter the draft now.  There’s a lot to be excited about.

As Sean Parker said, “You don’t even know what the thing is yet. How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?  A Billion Dollars.”

People may have mocked the Jazz for trading Deron Williams now but do you remember what Eduardo said after Sean Parker made that remark?

“And that’s what shut everybody up.”

 

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To Every Hero There Is A Villain http://saltcityhoops.com/to-every-hero-there-is-a-villain/ http://saltcityhoops.com/to-every-hero-there-is-a-villain/#comments Fri, 11 Feb 2011 20:11:07 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3569 Author information
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Indulge a quick history of playwriting:

Humans like clear-cut heroes and villains. Throughout history play writers have indulged us with stories of good triumphing over evil. The hero rises above the elemental, human, or evil forces to be great.

Plays, up until the late 1800s, were happy affairs. [Editor’s note: The complete works of Shakespeare are on Line 2, Mychal.] The plays were lavish, the actors were extravagant, and the costume and makeup was gaudy.

In the late 1800s a new style of playwriting emerged. It was the style that influenced a lot of our modern-day dramas. That style? Realism.

Gone were the giant sets, the lavish costumes, and overdramatic actors. In their place were smaller stages, more minute movements, and more complex problems. The playwrights wrote about REAL life. In real life, there aren’t always clear villains and heroes. Just people. Flawed, broken, triumphant, and usually misguided people. It took a while to catch on. People wondered why would anyone want to escape to a night at the theater just to see their own human condition.

In these shows, a lot of the playwrights didn’t intend to make heroes and villains. Yet people still left the theaters interpreting what they had seen. Depending on the patron’s station in life, their personal demons, and mood at the time of seeing these shows they would turn certain characters into heroes and some into villains. Why? Because we need villains and we need heroes. For some reason, we as human beings try to simplify everything into a “he’s right and he’s wrong” philosophy.

Sometimes things just happen.

Sloan left because it was his time. Yet the fans need a reason. People don’t like to hear the explanation of “Just because” when they ask “Why”. We sometimes overanalyze and create a story that makes sense. But just because a story makes perfect sense does not make it true.

If we lose our job, the reasoning can’t possibly be that the company is downsizing. The boss didn’t see our genius, disrespected our ethnicity, or liked the hot intern better than us.

Jerry Sloan couldn’t possibly step down just because he’s just worn out. He must have been driven out of town. Deron must have broken the play one too many times. Jerry and Deron fought sometimes so that must be the problem, right? No one likes Utah, who could possibly want to play there. Larry Miller never would have allowed this to happen, etc.

People hated realism when it first hit stages in the 1800s because it portrayed the difficult grays of real life rather than the easy lessons of black and white. Life is complex. Life is confusing. There aren’t always logical explanations in life. Things happen and we are left to pick up the pieces and move on.

So as the book closes on an amazing era with Coach Sloan, let’s take a minute and enjoy what we’ve seen. We were privileged to see a special thing in sports. Coach Sloan always did things his way; you think he’d leave in a different way than his own? Sometimes life happens and there are no explanations. Let’s not ruin a great moment like this by trying to stage a witch-hunt when there’s not a witch to be found. A great person stepped down as coach yesterday and no villain needs to take credit for it.

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Curious Case of Gordon Hayward http://saltcityhoops.com/curious-case-of-gordon-hayward/ http://saltcityhoops.com/curious-case-of-gordon-hayward/#comments Mon, 27 Dec 2010 20:34:09 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3372 Author information
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A few years back a friend of mine said, “You know your team is bad when you are worrying about your starting 5 players.  You know your team is really good when you have time to worry about your water boy.”  Right now that water boy is Gordon Hayward.  He, selected by the Jazz with the 9th pick in the draft, was supposed to be gift-wrapped talent sent from the heavens.  Now he has become the Jazz’s victory cigar only seeing playing time in garbage time at the end of blowouts.

30 games into the season Jazz fans are eager to call the Hayward a bust and a waste of a pick, eagerly pointing to other rookies (Landry Fields, Xavier Henry, etc.) as proof that the Jazz missed the mark with this selection.  Here are a few points that I’d like to make before we throw Hayward under the bus and give up on him before the season is even halfway over.

We are comparing him to Wesley Matthews

AP Photo/Don Ryan

Wesley Matthews was able to steal, yes I said steal, playing time because of injuries.  Korver was hurt, Miles was hurt, Price had a few bumps and bruises.  This allowed Matthews to play out of necessity.  Otherwise he never would have seen time, possibly never would have been signed, if no preseason injuries occurred.  It is true he stepped up but there is something to be said to stepping up because you HAVE TO instead of pushing others to do so.  Matthews was able to gain confidence because he was their ONLY option at SG for a time.  Knowing that you can make mistakes without being pulled is a luxury that cannot be overstated.  Also Matthews was a 4 year college player.  There is something to be seen from playing 4 years of college.  It is called experience and maturity.  Hayward is still learning that.

Veteran Team

Veteran Cast

Hayward is coming onto a very veteran laden team.  Miles is a 5 year veteran. Price is a 5 year veteran.  Kirilenko is a 9 year veteran.  Bell is a 10 year veteran.  Those are the guys ahead of Hayward on the depth chart.   You’re telling me that on all of your first 3 months on the job you put to shame coworkers who had been working with your respective companies for 5, 9, and 10 years?  It’s hard to earn minutes on a team that is not mistake prone.  When you are on a veteran team usually the one making mistakes is the rookie.  That’s rough.  Especially when you got tons of people critiquing your every move.  Was your first day of work covered on ESPN, NBA.com, local news outlets, bloggers, and the newspaper?

Not All Good Players Start Strong

Case in point: Kobe Bryant.

(Yes, I already know what you’ll comment below and save yourself the trouble.  He won’t become a Kobe Bryant or a great player.  Not what I’m trying to show.  I don’t think he becomes top flight.  But rarely do great players start great. And rarely do good players start good.  And rarely do average players start average.)

Can anybody off the top of their heads list his rookie year statistics?  If you were to look at his rookie year stats and say, “This kid is going to be one of the top 10 players in the game.” People would think you were crazy.  Here they are:

15.5 mpg 1.3 apg 1.9 rpg 7.6 ppg

His minutes per game are misleading.  In the first half of the season he was only averaging about 7-8.  He only started 6 games.  His following season he only started 1.  He only averaged 2 Free throws a game.  Point being he wasn’t great.  Like the Jazz the 1996 Lakers were a team full of veterans and big time talent.  It takes a while for a young talent to find his way.  I’m not saying he’ll be a Kobe Bryant but what I am saying is 1/4 of a season is by no means any way to judge a player.

Highlight Ability

Brewer At Rookie/Sophomore Game (Rare photo of Jazz jersey & headband)

Sometimes a rookie is able to buy time with fans because he is able to excite them once a game with something tantalizing.  I.E. a rim shattering dunk.  The only reason Brewer wasn’t considered a bust in his first year was his ability to have highlight dunks in garbage time.  High fliers like him are able to miss the bust label because they excite you with plays that have a flash in the pan quality.  Gordon Hayward isn’t going to play above the rim.  He’s going to be cerebral.  If anyone of our readers saw him in summer league and preseason you saw what a treat that was.

Mind Games

Do a google search trying to find Hayward & Williams in the same picture just the two of them. Good Luck.

Speaking of preseason, how many of you watched preseason? Summer league?  Hayward was playing good basketball.  I know we like to elevate D-Will on a pedestal and claim that he has done nothing wrong but since that infamous Phoenix home opener and the “pass” Hayward has been timid.  It is not that D-Will chastised him.  This is different.

Think of your idol.

Think of how much you adore them and look up to them.

Now think about your idol calling you out on national tv because you are trying and the rest of your coworkers have quit.  That’s a psyche buster.  I think Hayward is past that and with his breakout game against the T-Wolves he has shown he is ready to play.  But I believe that Phoenix incident set his development back.

Patience

Give Hayward a shot.  Give him a couple years.  Yes, I said a couple.  There’s this crazy thing with Jazz rookies.  They usually elevate their game in the 2nd year.  See also: Matthews, Brewer, Millsap, D-Will.  So before we blame him for not trying let’s be patient with him.  He didn’t step up his game til his 2nd year at Butler ONCE he got comfortable.

Give him a shot.

I know I’m of the few that still believe he’ll be something of value to the Jazz (and no I don’t mean a trade piece). There is no magic recipe to suddenly being great.

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Case of the Mondays: Black Friday Edition http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-black-friday-edition/ http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-black-friday-edition/#comments Mon, 29 Nov 2010 20:01:50 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3240 Author information
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Apology

So I would like to apologize to all my Case of the Mondays fans (all three of you. Especially you mom). I work retail and I got thrown into preparations for Black Friday so there was no Case of the Mondays last week. If there is any woman out there that is vehemently opposed to MMA I’m going to show her a video of Black Friday shopping and scream hypocrite.

Black Mamba Friday

Kobe was in top form in the 4th quarter.

What a Friday for Jazz fans. D-Will’s plea for his team not to eat turkey evidently was heeded. The Jazz came out and beat the Lakers. Here are some of the things I noticed during the game:

  • Kobe’s Still Kobe – Despite putting up pedestrian numbers in the first 3 quarters, the Black Mamba came alive in the 4th. He had 14 straight points in the 4th quarter until …
  • Sloan’s Adjustments – Sloan’s coaching is like a fine wine. It just gets better with age. His 4th quarter adjustments to ge the ball out of Kobe’s hands helped the Jazz disrupt his flow and caused a turnover which resulted in an easy layup for Raja. Instead of the normal ending of Kobe finishing off the Jazz, the Jazz were resilient and fought back and got the win. Just another reason why Sloan is one of the best coaches in the game.
  • Rebounding – The Jazz out-rebounded the Lakers, 42-38. No, that’s not a typo. The Jeffer-Sap Monster was out in full force hitting the boards.
  • Big Al – Remember all the attention Big Al’s increased weight got at the beginning of the season? Pau Gasol had to deal with it all Friday night. I’m sure the only one who thinks he should lose that weight now is Pau Gasol. Jefferson’s size really disrupted Gasol’s flow and allowed the Jazz to focus on Kobe and not have to double team Gasol in the post.

L.A. Griffins

How many Clippers does it take to take a ball from a Millsap? (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Blake Griffin is so much fun to watch. In fact while I am typing this I am actually re-watching a Clipper game. Do you realize that re-watching a Clipper game used to be a punishment worse than waterboarding? Now it is actually enjoyable. I’m just scared that one of these days Blake Griffin might actually realize that the name on his jersey reads “Clippers” and stop trying. Here are some things I noticed during the Clipper game:

  • Blake Griffin, Blake Griffin, Blake Griffin – Get your wins now agains this guy. Honestly, it’s like the Clippers went “weird science” on us and instead of making their dream woman they simply imported Blake Griffin’s persona from NBA JAM and put him in a living body. Amazing.
  • Twitter Prediction Came True – I said it on twitter earlier today, “J.A. Adande + Attending Jazz Game + Jazz 5 game win streak + Sweep of L.A. teams = A Story on ESPN about the Jazz tomorrow.” And he did. In other news, I’m starting an online palm reading service.
  • Team Effort – The Jazz had 6 players with 10 points or more. Solid.
  • AK-47 – We witnessed some vintage Andrei last night. His line: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, and 1 steal.

Fesenko, Friend Me

So I must gloat right now. I took a shot in the dark and added Fesenko as a friend on Facebook. It looks I was worthy of friendship. I was accepted as one of his facebook friends. In case you were wondering what his most recent facebook status was it was this:

Yes this is not fake.

By the way, for all those out there, slcdunk.com does this thing called Fesenko Friday, in which they find a random picture of Fesenko and you get to make the caption of it. I totally recommend it. Great way to start your weekend. Kudos to slcdunk.com for such a great weekly holiday.

No Rest For The Weary

The Jazz have to face 3 tough basketball teams this week. They play against the Bucks tonight, the Pacers on Wednesday, and the Mavericks on Friday. The Bucks are coming off a win against Charlotte, the Pacers just beat the Lakers in L.A. on Sunday, and the Mavericks have won 5 straight. In case you’re wondering how the Jazz matchup, here are the team previews we did for each of these teams and how Utah matches up against them:

Milwaukee Bucks

Indiana Pacers

Dallas Mavericks

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Case of the Mondays: And Totally Redeem Yourself! http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-and-totally-redeem-yourself/ http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-and-totally-redeem-yourself/#comments Mon, 15 Nov 2010 15:46:27 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=3060 Author information
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Case of the Mondays is a weekly column on SCH that recaps the previous weekend and gives you your Jazz fix when you’ve been diagnosed with a case of the Mondays.

About Last Week

After the Jazz began the season 0-2 it seemed all was wrong in Jazz land. D-Will wasn’t happy, the Jazz’s offense was terrible, Al Jefferson was overrated, Bell was on his last legs, the bench looked awful, Hayward was catching passes from D-Will that had an extra zip to them, and the Bear almost fell from a ladder in the home opener (yes, this did in fact happen.)

Then something crazy happened. In case you weren’t able to see last week I condensed all of last week’s games into one clip. Watch that and then come back. To paraphrase, the Jazz bandwagon has room for one more if you still haven’t caught Jazz fever.

Okay, so maybe that wasn’t all what happened last week in one clip, but that’s about the gist of it. What the Jazz did last week was miraculous. Or at least highly improbable. If there is one person out there who predicted the Jazz were going to go 4-0 on their road trip and every win was going to be a comeback win, then I strongly encourage him or her to step forward and be my wingman on my next trip to Vegas. Really. Be my wingman. We could make bank.

More amazing: The Jazz have played a league-most 7 road games. They have won a league-most 5 road games. All of their road wins have come against 2009-2010 playoff teams: OKC, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

The teams they played had an average .550 win percentage (take away Charlotte and it’s.634).  They played 4 games in 5 days. The Jazz have historically been bad on the road. They overcame halftime deficits of 19, 10, 3, and 16. Throw in the Clippers game at home and the ridiculous comeback streak is 5 games long.

You got to give it to Sloan. He wants to make it a fair fight so he allows teams to get a 20 point head start. That’s classy. All joking aside, theses second half comebacks have been nothing short of Sloan COY evangelism. The team makes some adjustments and simply executes, all the way to the victory.

Williams to Millsap

Get used to these two being good for a long time.

Right now the Jazz are one of only two teams (the other being Atlanta) to have at least two players in the top 15 in efficiency. Those two players? Williams and Millsap. In fact, Millsap is 3rd in the league in efficiency and Williams is 14th. Just imagine how crazy their efficiency would be if Sloan allowed them to play in the 1st half of games (that’s a joke).

D-Will … Unhappy?

In a recent ESPN.com chat with Ric Bucher, he had some interesting insights about the Jazz point guard. When asked why D-Will’s name doesn’t come up in trade rumors he said this:

Deron has been smarter and more responsible about it. There are no rumors leaking out because he’s not telling friends he’s frustrated. Though he is. He’ll give Utah everything he has and make a decision when his option to leave is available. I respect that to the Nth degree.

This was said after the Jazz’s wins against Miami and Orlando. They had not yet beat Atlanta and Charlotte. But Deron Williams is frustrated? I have never liked the Miss Cleo method of reading a player’s mind. I can see why someone could think he was frustrated. He lost his friend Brewer, lost his low post presence Boozer, lost Wesley Matthews, lost Korver, lost Eric Maynor, threw a ball at a rookie, and is not living in Utah anymore. Here’s my problem: unless Deron Williams has told someone he’s frustrated, how would Ric Bucher, employee of ESPN and not in D-Will’s circle of friends, know he is? Would Deron Williams tell something like that to the media before his friends or family? I don’t think so.

Not to get all sensitive, but the subtext to Bucher’s comment seems to be “He isn’t outwardly demanding a trade, but you know he’s just DYING to get out of Utah. Who could stand it there?”

Deron’s team is 1st in the Northwest division, beat 4 out of the 5 teams in the Southeast Division, and they are still learning the offense. If this is what the Jazz are capable of when they only play a couple of good quarters a night imagine what happens when they play four good quarters of basketball. Who would want anything to do with a mess like that, right?.

Ariza/West/Okafor >? Kirilenko/Millsap/Jefferson

Is D-Will's supporting cast really worse than Chris Paul's?

As long as we’re here, let’s keep piling on our man Ric Bucher. In the same chat, he also said that New Orleans’ frontline was better than Utah’s. When someone asked Ric Bucher if he really believed that Bucher responded:

I don’t think it’s even close, especially when you factor in the psychological part: NO reloaded as best they could at CP3’s behest. Utah let a bunch of pieces walk for nothing. CP also is coming back to a front-line he’s played with before. Deron isn’t dialed into Al at all yet.

He also had this to say when someone pointed out that the Jazz didn’t let people walk away for nothing:

Al has been a big disappointment, Hayward isn’t close to the shooter Korver is, Bell’s best days are firmly behind him (Brewer is a better defender at this stage) and Elson is a journeyman.

I know the Hornets are 8-0 but I attributed that more to Chris Paul than his supporting cast. While I believe Ariza, Okafor, and West are playing solid I’m not sure they are at the level of Kirilenko, Millsap, and Jefferson. Here are their combined stats head to head:

[table id=2 /]

Bucher may be right on paper, but as Jerry Sloan is quick to remind everyone, that’s why we play the games. Looking at New Orleans’ front-line, they average 11.6 less points, 3.5 less rebounds, 2.6 less assists, .25 more steals, and .7 more blocks. While New Orleans’ front-line may create an extra turnover a game (if you combine the disparity of steals and blocks) it’s a wash when you look at the rebounding disparity.

Also, if you believe in the +/- rating, the Jazz have the 5th best five-person lineup in the league. The lineup of D-Will, Miles, Kirilenko, Millsap, and Jefferson has posted a +/- rating of +47 when they are on the court. The lineup of Paul, Belinelli, Ariza, West, Okafor is 7th in the league with a +/- rating of +41. Most importantly, the advanced stat community doesn’t yet have any measurement for the “psychological part.”

Paging Miss Cleo …

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Case of the Mondays: Jeffer-Sap Monster http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-jeffer-sap-monster/ http://saltcityhoops.com/case-of-the-mondays-jeffer-sap-monster/#comments Tue, 09 Nov 2010 05:29:05 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=2809 Author information
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Oakland Daze

If you think this is ugly. You should have seen the game. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

While participating in the Daily Dime Live on Friday night I made the comment referencing the Jazz-Warriors game, “First to 80, wins it.”  At the time I meant it as a joke.  Little did I know that I’d be right.  The final score to that *cough, cough* defensive affair was Warriors 85- Jazz 78.  For those fans who didn’t turn off the game to watch grass grow, they saw two teams trying to play basketball but never quite succeed at that goal.  There would be spurts were basketball was played but most of the game was filled with enough bricks to build the city of Dubai.

The Jazz’s frontcourt was completely outhustled. Sure, the Jazz shot better from the field (a miserable 39.5% to Golden States’ even more miserable 37.6%), but the Warriors outrebounded the Jazz 56 to 52  (20 of the Warriors rebounds were offensive), and the Jazz completely abandoned fundamentals, refusing to box anyone out in the paint.  The Jazz had a chance to win this game even after playing miserably, but they just couldn’t pull it together long enough to actually finish off the Warriors.

Double OT

Millsap has turned into a consistent threat every game.

Back to backs are brutal.  Imagine playing a full game, flying back to SLC in the middle of the night, having no time to rest sore muscles and nagging injuries (Williams had back spasms, Millsap’s ankle, CJ’s ankle), and then be expected to play a double overtime game on the 2nd night against the Clippers.  Brutal.  Al Jefferson (can this guy ever have a negative attitude?) said this about the double OT game with the Clippers:

I’ll tell you the last thing I wanted was a double overtime and a loss, because I know if we go through all of that and lose the game…I’ll tell you, it was just one of those games you’re going to have. It was an ugly win. But I’ll take it any day of the week.

The Jazz overcame a horrible (and horrible is being positive) first half to come back and win this game in the 2nd half and two overtimes.  Williams came alive.  Millsap was the 20/10 guy we’re learning to expect this season.  Al Jefferson stepped up.  Kirilenko was active on both ends of the floor.  This Jazz team played to their potential.  And, boy, did they have to.

Eric Gordon was playing at his Olympic level and Blake Griffin was, well, Blake Griffin.  Griffin was looking like he was easily going to get 20+ points and 20+ rebounds in this game after the first half.  But then the Jazz went to work defensively and shut him down.  Blake ended up fouling out and I’m sure no one on the Jazz bench felt any sympathy.

Death by Southeast

The Jazz will start a 4 game east coast road swing tomorrow when they face the Miami Heat.  They will face off against 4 of the last year’s 8 playoff teams from the East:  Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, and Charlotte.  The fun part is they face these four teams in five days. This week will play out like a Predator movie.  Survival does not look possible right now.  Hope is bleak.  If the Jazz barely scraped by the Clippers and played miserably against against a so-so Golden State team what will the Eastern Conference’s cream of the crop do against them?  But there is hope.

Ron Boone might have said it best when he said he couldn’t find the pulse of this Jazz squad.  What’s their identity?  I think that identity will be found after this rough month of November.  Jazz fans need to be patient with Utah right now.  The Jazz are still a team trying to learn each other.  Some nights are going to be offensive explosions, while others are going to be absolute no-shows.  That’s by no means a cause for concern. The sky isn’t falling.  Change takes time and is always bumpy at first.  The key for November and this week’s tough schedule is survival.  If the Jazz survive November with an above .500 record they will be in a good position for a run in December.  Note it.

Buyer’s Remorse

This was in John Hollinger’s PER Diem today:

Wesley Matthews, Portland: His defense has been an asset, which is the main reason Portland signed him. But after an impressive preseason, his offense has been dreadful in the games that count. Expected to provide floor spacing, Matthews is just 4-of-25 on 3s and has done nothing else well enough to make up for it.

I know we all miss Wesley Matthews but is there anyone that thinks he is worth what Portland is paying him?

The Jeffer-Sap Monster

I’m a huge fan of Bill Simmons writing.  When I read his articles I get the feeling that he’s a super knowledgeable everyman, and I love his way of allowing his deeply rooted fanaticism sometimes overrule sanity on certain issues (mainly his love for the Celtics). The man knows his basketball, and in particular, he knows his Celtics. He’s seen the C’s players play so often that he knows them better than their own mothers do.  That why this quote from one of his recent articles caught my eye:

13. Utah
We’re about five weeks from NBA GMs anonymously complaining to writers about the Al Jefferson hijacking. I can’t wait.

(On a personal note, I loved Big Al on the Celtics, rooted for him in Minnesota, felt like a proud dad when his career was taking off in January ’08, agonized for him when he blew out his knee that same month, then felt terrible last season as he struggled through one of the worst situations in recent memory. Seeing Jefferson get a chance to rejuvenate his career with a top-four point guard and a top-four coach — on a good team, in a city that gives a crap — is one of my five favorite things about this upcoming season. So there.)

Jefferson is improving every game.  He’s averaging 18 points, 9 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks a game, but instead of focusing solely on Jefferson’s production, Millsap has come alive and forced us to notice him.  Boozer’s shadow has been lifted off Paul and he has come into his own.  This season, Millsap is averaging 20 points, 11 rebounds 3 assists, 1 steal, and .5 blocks a game. He has had a double-double in 4 out of his 5 past games.  The most impressive stat is he’s only averaging 3 fouls a game.  A huge improvement for Millsap.

The realization I’m coming to is that Kevin O’Connor has created a real monster… he’s created, *dun, dun, dun*, Jeffer-Sap!!  By splicing the DNA of a Millsap and a Jefferson (a.k.a. putting them in the same lineup) he has created an absolute beast in the paint.  The Jeffer-Sap has been averaging 38 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks a game.  When at full speed it can demolish a team in the paint.  Unfortunately, as we saw in the Golden State game, it can get easily confused, so hopefully the Jeffer-Sap monster is poised and ready for its road trip this week.  If the Jeffer-Sap that we saw in Oklahoma City travels to the Southeast this week the Jazz could come out with a 2-2, maybe a 3-1 record from this road trip.

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Jazz 125 – Raptors 108: Utah’s Home Opener Do-Over http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-125-raptors-108-utahs-home-opener-do-over/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-125-raptors-108-utahs-home-opener-do-over/#comments Thu, 04 Nov 2010 18:54:14 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=2811 Author information
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This is what Gr8ness looks like.

According to Craig Bolerjack, last night was a home opener do-over for the Jazz, and he’s dead on.  The Jazz were in control of this game from beginning to end.  Only 3:45 minutes into the game the Jazz had built a 15-2 lead over Toronto and the rest of the game was like one long layup drill.  The Jazz had 25 layups, tip-ins, and dunks for the game.  That’s 50 points alone in the paint (not including and-1s).  To say the Jazz were executing their offense last night would be an understatement.

Miles after he hits a huge 3. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

The Jazz looked like a team making a statement & atoning for their 20 point loss at home.  This was their mea culpa.  There were some phenomenal plays: the outlet pass to Kirilenko that was tipped to Ronnie Price for a dunk that ended the 1st half… or the 3 pointer that CJ banked in while floating to his left to end the 3rd quarter (granted, this shot was made possible thanks to DeRozan stepping out of bounds in an attempt to put up a 3/4 quarter court shot.  Which leads me to ask: when you have the entire court to find spacing for a full court heave, how do you step out of bounds?).

Williams stood at the helm of the Jazz machine.  He was amazing.  Falling two rebounds short of a triple double,  he finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds, 14 assists, and 2 steals.

There was a scare during the game with Millsap going down on his ankle and limping off the court.  He was immediately attended to and took a quick trip to the locker room, but ultimately returned to finish the game because, well, that is what Millsap does (I dare say that not even a big bag hiding in a dark room could stop Millsap).

Speaking of gym bags…  good costume idea for Halloween next year for you and a +1: One of you dress up like Boozer and the other as a gym bag.  Your Jazz friends will love you.

Once again Jeffer-Sap (1 Jefferson + 1 Millsap  = 1 Jeffer-Sap) was a “beast.”  They finished with 43 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 block.  Jeffer-Sap could have had more rebounds but D-Will was doing what D-Will usually does: he was dominating.

CJ Miles once again came off the bench as a big 6th man scorer.  CJ had 19 including 5-6 from 3 point range.  It seems that as long as CJ stays out of foul trouble he is a dependable scoring threat.  He’s shooting a ridiculous 57.1% from 3 point range.  There’s no way that’ll keep up but if he can stay in the 40% range then the Jazz will have found a dependable deep threat.  Add a healthy Okur off the bench and the Jazz will be fine in the outside shooting department.

The Jazz will travel to bay area this Friday to take on the Golden State Warriors.  Tipoff is at 10:30 PM eastern time.

[Update]

Enjoy Ronnie Price’s Left Hand Hammer:



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Division Previews: Los Angeles Clippers, Pacific Division – Western Conference http://saltcityhoops.com/division-previews-los-angeles-clippers-pacific-division-western-conference/ http://saltcityhoops.com/division-previews-los-angeles-clippers-pacific-division-western-conference/#comments Fri, 22 Oct 2010 21:00:52 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=2512 Author information
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In the final days leading up to regular season action, SCH will be posting divisional previews of the top teams in all six NBA divisions. Come back early and often for updates.

You think this is a comic? This was just the Clipper's Media Day. (Credit: Gabriele Dell'Otto/Marvel Comics)

Key Matchups

Gordon Hayward v Eric Gordon

Will this matchup determine the outcome of the game? No. Yet this is an important matchup to watch. Eric Gordon is the kind of player that the Jazz want Gordon Hayward to emulate. Though many people like to say Hayward is a poor man’s Korver, he might just be Korver 3.0 (you see what I did there? I skipped a generation and went straight to the 3.0). Eric Gordon is a great 3 point shooter and gets to the charity stripe often. Korver is a spot-up shooter who doesn’t draw a lot of fouls. What use is a great free throw shooter if he never gets to the line? We saw glimpses of Hayward’s ability to get to the line in the Jazz’s first preseason game against L.A. Even though Gordon was a revelation during the FIBA championships this summer, Hayward’s size and exception ball handling skills for his position mean his upside is, well, ridiculous. Hayward is big for the SG position at 6’9″. Eric Gordon is undersized for a SG at 6’3″. So watch Eric Gordon during this game and you’ll get a glimpse of what Gordon Hayward can be.

Advantage: Eric Gordon

Paul Millsap v Blake Griffin

Blake Griffin is what you get if you were to pour super soldier serum into Paul Millsap’s blood stream. He does everything Paul Millsap does but a little better. You know that part at the end of The Incredible Hulk (The good one) where Abomination, an even stronger incarnation of The Hulk, and the Hulk fight? It’s an epic battle of extreme proportions. That will be the Millsap vs. Blake Griffin matchup. Griffin is everything Paul is – just better and beast-ier. (If you enjoyed my hyperbole, you’ll love the fantastic work by JE Skeets: “Makes omelets like a young Jacques Pépin, only fluffier.”

Millsap has never been one to back down so look forward to these two battling it out for rebounds and fighting for position on the low block.

Advantage: Who cares?! This is going to be awesome!

History

Utah leads the series 94-59; 3-1 last season.

The Jazz may have beaten the Clippers 3 out of 4 times last year but this paragraph from a recap of their loss the Clippers late in the season that encapsulates the Jazz’s entire season:

The Jazz (38-22) have lost seven games this season by margins of four points or less. Had they won those games, they would be only one game behind the Lakers for the Western Conference lead — and just 2½ behind Cleveland for the NBA’s best record. Instead, they find themselves trying to hang onto fourth place and secure home-court advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

The Jazz average 104.7 points a game against the Clippers. 4th most out of any team the Jazz play against.

Player/Coach Notes

Vinny Del Negro steps in as the Clippers’ 14th coach since Jerry Sloan began his tenure with the Utah Jazz.

Outlook

This kid is going to be good.

If this were any other team not named the Clippers I’d be predicting them to be a 50 win team. Look at their starting five: Baron Davis, Eric Gordon, Ryan Gomes, Blake Griffin, and Chris Kaman. It’s a solid starting five! In fact, it’s a really good starting five. With shaky seasons possible from Phoenix and Denver, it’s not unreasonable to imagine the Clippers playing in the postseason again. But this is the Clippers. If they can forget about the name that is stitched on the front of their jerseys for 82 games, get man-child play from Griffin, and if Baron Davis can play with just a hair bigger heart than the Grinch then this is a playoff contender and a team that will be a tough matchup in the playoffs.

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Division Previews: Denver Nuggets, Northwest Division – Western Conference http://saltcityhoops.com/divisional-previews-denver-nuggets-northwest-division/ http://saltcityhoops.com/divisional-previews-denver-nuggets-northwest-division/#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 21:00:49 +0000 http://www.saltcityhoops.com/?p=2452 Author information
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In the final days leading up to regular season action, SCH will be posting divisional previews of the top teams in all six NBA divisions. Come back early and often for updates.

J.R. is going to miss Carmelo

Key Matchups

D-Will vs Chauncey Billups

This very well could be the only key matchup of the season series between the Jazz and the Nuggets.  With the likelihood of Carmelo being traded before the trade deadline this matchup could be the reason to come see this game.

Last regular season Chauncey Billups made the Jazz pay when he was healthy.  He averaged 27 points, 3 assists, and 4 rebounds a game against Utah.  In the playoffs, however, Deron Williams flipped a switch and became dominant in this matchup.  Chauncey might as well have been a bowl of Wheaties because D-Will was eating him for breakfast in that series.  Deron was averaging 26 points, 11 assists, and 3 rebounds a game.  Chauncey still is a killer 3 point shooter but Deron Williams has taken his game to the elite level and is considered by most (including Tim Leglar) to be the best in the NBA.  Chauncey has been with the olympic team training and competing all summer.  That will wear him down as the season progresses.

Advantage: Deron Williams


Carmelo vs Anybody*

Did you know that after this season there will only be 2 players from that epic 2003 draft from the top ten picks that still remain with the team that drafted them?  Dwyane Wade and Chris Kaman  There were four franchise changing players in that draft.  Four!  Can you believe that? Out of those 4 teams that drafted those franchise changing players only one still will have one playing for them.  In fact that one team with have 3 of those franchise changing players.  The Miami Heat.

While in the past I have been skeptical of Carmelo being a franchise player my view of him changed slightly when I saw his playoff numbers and watched his playoff performance against the Jazz.  Simply put, his team did not show up at all in the playoffs.  The fact that Denver was in a position to compete on most nights was a credit to Carmelo Anthony.  After his team’s no show in the playoffs, I do not blame him at all for being skeptical about the future in Denver.  His playoff numbers per game:

30 pts  8 reb  3 ast 2 stl

On any given night in the playoffs he accounted for at least a third of his teams points at least.  The fact that the series was competitive was a credit to his will to fight back.  The Jazz will have trouble guarding him.  If he is still in a Denver uniform.  Tomorrow we could be editing our New York preview and adding him to their key matchups.  Who knows.  But if he is in a Denver uniform, or any uniform, expect him to do damage.

Advantage: Carmelo Anthony

*I was very tempted to make this Carmelo vs Fesenko.  “Fesenko? Fesenko? Man…”

High Notes | Low Notes

Denver’s offseason has played out like a season of Real Housewives of Orange County.  It was as messy as J.R. Smith’s neck tattoos.  Where do I even start?

Head Coach George Karl undergoes treatment for throat cancer.

Fired their front office and replaced them.

Ownership went from Stan Kroenke to his 30 year old son.

Signed Al Harrington.

The infamous LaLa toast at Carmelo’s wedding mentioning that they should form their own Big 3 in New York.

Sources say that Carmelo is making demands to leave Denver.

Woman by the name of Kat Stacks, known for her late night “escapades” with big time stars, flirts with ‘Melo on his official twitter page.

LaLa responds to Kat Stacks threatening her.

On Melo’s twitter there’s a response saying, “I got 5k for whoever see @ihatekatstacks and slap the **** out her pigeon face ***. Real talk. U ***** with the right one now,” with a picture on his official yfrog account of 5 thousands dollars.

Melo’s twitter mysteriously is removed from Twitter.

A new official twitter of Carmelo’s is renewed and Carmelo claims that it was hacked and not him.

[Author's Note: Talk about a PR nightmare.  And you wonder why the NBA is not thrilled about their players using twitter.  Also, if this whole thing was really a practical joke and not a giant cover up, who would have the time to punk Carmelo Anthony and have 5,000 dollars cash lying around to for the yfrog picture?  My money is on Ashton Kutcher.  He is a stay at home dad to Demi Moore, known for punking, is really rich, and is very twitter savvy.]

Carmelo refuses to sign extension with Denver.

Then reports to camp and says he never wanted to leave Denver.

Clear as mud?

History

Jazz lead the series 95-65 all-time; 1-3 last season; 4-2 in the playoffs.

The Jazz and Nuggets have been the class of the Northwest division for the last few years.

Last season it appeared the Jazz would be easily swept out of the playoffs by the Nuggets.  The Jazz were without two of their starters, Kirilenko and Okur.  The Nuggets, however, were fighting through a bigger injury to their roster.  Head coach, George Karl, was undergoing treatment for throat cancer.  Without the leadership of George Karl, the Nuggets, being led by assistant coach Adrian Dantley,  quickly fell to an injury plagued Utah team that had found a pulse through a surging Deron Williams.

In the offseason the Jazz were linked to a 4 team trade that would have sent Kirilenko to Denver and brought Boris Diaw, currently of the Charlotte Bobcats, to Utah.  This proposed deal fell apart and AK is still a member of the Utah Jazz.

Player/Coach Notes

George Karl is returning to the pine this year after receiving treatment for throat cancer.  There was a story during the playoffs on George Karl watching the playoffs at home.  It actually made me feel bad that the Jazz were winning that series.  It felt unethical that they should be without such a great coach.  It broke my heart.  I personally feel that George Karl is one of the league’s best coaches.  He is a class act.  The fact that he can rein in so many different personalities in that locker room and get them focused on winning is amazing to me.  I personally wish him the best of luck this season.

Outlook

Even with George Karl back at the helm this year I don’t see this being a good season for the Nuggets.  A tumultuous offseason will bleed into the regular season.  Carmelo Anthony will be the elephant in the room as long as he wears a Nuggets’ uniform.  Denver will not be able to truly move forward  this season until a trade is made involving Carmelo.  Denver will attempt to learn from Cleveland’s unfortunate offseason pain and get value for Carmelo before he leaves Denver with nothing once this season ends.  This will still be a competitive team with George Karl as Head Coach, but, without Carmelo, the Nuggets could be watching the playoffs on television much like their head coach did one summer ago.  I see the Jazz going 3-1 against the Nuggets this season.

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