Unfortunately, we have to start JazzRank with Raja Bell, probably in part because we held the voting before preseason got going–or else he definitely would have at least fallen behind Chris Quinn (who at least threw an a perfect alley-oop to Alec Burks last Friday, which is one more highlight than Bell will pull out this year) and Darnell Jackson (who keeps getting enough playing time in these preseason games that we are becoming compelled to remember his name, despite his low chance of making the team), if not more.
Offseason Accomplishments: Let’s see here… Since the season ended, Bell 1) burned through exit interviews with the spite of a spurned middle school ex-girlfriend, publicly calling out Ty Corbin’s coaching ability, leadership skills, and general manhood, 2) started hustling his resume to all of the contenders (read: Miami), pushing the glue guy angle right after he had sold out his previous team WHILE HE WAS STILL UNDER CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER YEAR, 3) balked at the chance to take a buyout, presumably hoping to cling to his 3 million dollar paycheck after testing the waters of free agency (read: Miami) and realizing he wasn’t as popular as he had hoped, 4) somehow showed enough willingness to compromise or something to keep the Jazz from using the amnesty clause to waive him and his salary from their books, and then 5) was deemed so toxic to team chemistry that he was barred from entering training camp with the rest of the team. He did graduate from Florida International in August and ran some basketball camps in India, so congratulations to Raja on that.
In the end, Bell’s second run with the Jazz is like Sufjan Stevens’ new, groundbreakingly bizarre Christmas song, Christmas Unicorn. At first you think it’s cute and kind of funny, and then it keeps going and you slowly start thinking it is less and less cute until you suddenly realize you aren’t enjoying yourself at all and you’re listening to a social commentary that you hadn’t anticipated and never wanted and it keeps going and going and going and you want it to stop just so everyone can move on but it just keeps going and going and no one ever knows when it will end because Raja is still under contract and I don’t think anyone has made it to the end of the 12 minute song to confirm that it does, in fact, come to an end.
Patronus (you know, like from Harry Potter*): Jellyfish
Stat to Watch: Games Played. The only statistical question worth asking right now is whether Raja Bell will suit up for an NBA game this year.
Three Potential Outcomes for the Season:
1. The buyout never happens and Raja Bell hangs out with his family and brings in a cool 3 million while doing it. Occasionally, at slow points in the season, the Salt Lake Tribune will follow up with him and ask Dennis Lindsey a couple of questions to try to stir things up again only to find there is not much to stir. The lack of compromise hastens the end of Raja Bell’s career as no one is willing to take a chance on a 36-year-old a year removed from the speed of the game. He goes on to get an assistant coaching job at his alma mater, FIU, and slowly moves out of the realm of public awareness.
2. Raja Bell turns out to be as competitive as advertised and finally bites on the buyout option so that he can take the veteran’s minimum contract with Brooklyn. He makes a valiant effort in his ten minutes a game off the bench and averages 7 points a game in Brooklyn’s first round loss to Philadelphia.
3. Come January, when everyone is resigned to the outcome outlined in #1, Dennis Lindsey quietly makes a phone call to the Bay Area. Bob Myers, the Golden State GM, picks up on the other line. Of course, nearly halfway through the season, the Warriors will inevitably have lost all hope of a playoff berth and will be busily maximizing their losses through the rest of the year so that they don’t have to give Utah their pick. The following conversation ensues:
DL: I know you guys are going to be looking to tank again this year. I have a wonderful offer for you.
BM: How dare you! We would never lose our integrity like that! But, um, let’s hear the deal.
DL: The offer I am about to make you will both ensure that you lose more games AND clear up cap space for you.
BM: Tell me! TELL ME THE OFFER!!!
DL: Raja Bell for Harrison Barnes. Straight up. Well, plus maybe your second round draft pick.
Lindsey hangs up the phone. Kevin O’Connor sets down the cue cards he was holding for Lindsey and laughs maniacally.
*throughout JazzRank we are going to make the wild and totally indefensible assumption that, in the event of the actual existence of Hogwarts, and given proper training, all of the current Jazz players could develop the rare ability to cast corporeal Patronuses. We apologize in advance to any Harry Potter fanatics who might be offended by such an assumption.