Two Questions for the Front Office

March 30th, 2011 | by Jeff Lind

I don’t know how I missed this article the first time around (apparently need to update my reader), but NBA Confidential did a pretty awesome post on How Deron Williams Could Have Gone to New York Instead of New Jersey. It was linked in the TrueHoop bullets yesterday, and a lot of what was written struck a nerve. Not from an “I disagree with this” standpoint, but more from a perspective of disbelief.

Just when I’m coming to terms with this whole disaster that is the Utah Jazz’ 2011 season, Sam Amick (the blog’s author) has a Q&A with Kevin O’Conner that raises more questions for me than provides answers. Here are two questions that I would ask O’Conner after reading this article:

Jim Urquhart / AP

Question 1) How do the Jazz let Sloan walk KNOWING that you’re trying to trade D-Will?

Some quick facts:

Amick asks when O’Conner started strategically looking at the D-Will trade, and O’Conner says, “I’ve been looking at it for a while.” A while? A WHILE? something doesn’t add up here. If you’ve known that you’re going to trade Williams for “a while,” how do justify letting Jerry Sloan walk? I know you say that you tried to talk him into staying (the morning after the true firing/quiting altercation began), but Sloan left because there was some kind of irreconcilable difference between he and the organization. It’s my belief that a large part of that differences was regarding Sloan and Williams’ rocky  relationship. I’m not saying that either party was right or wrong, but it’s pretty clear that the point of friction in the departure was Williams and Sloan. It came to a point where one or the other had to go because the couldn’t coexist. That’s a tough pill to swallow for Jazz fans, and I’m not saying that you can’t lose one… at that point, you probably HAD to lose one of them, HOWEVER, you can’t lose both of these pieces in the same year. If you were going to get rid of Sloan, then keep Williams. If you’re going to get rid of Williams, then keep Sloan. This town may not be big enough for the both of them, but it was certainly big enough for one or the other.

O’Conner claimed to have been in the market for trading Williams for “a while” yet he still lost Jerry Sloan over it. At worst there was some scheming here by the Jazz GM to oust both of these personalities, and at best the situation was grossly mismanaged.

Question 2) When you decide to trade your all-star, shouldn’t YOU be making the calls?

Amick asks O’Conner why other execs felt slighted by their lack of knowledge on the Williams trade, and O’Conner says “Anybody who called me I talked to them about it.” Okay, that’s great, but how much calling did O’Conner do himself? He makes it sound as if he just watched Denver do its shopping and then took the second best deal left when all dust had settled. I don’t hate the trade (especially with how poorly the Nets and Jazz have ended up playing), but this exchange makes me wonder if O’Conner could, in fact, have done better. I’m not the GM of any franchise, but I know that if I’m trying to sell something of value, I want as broad an audience as possible. Especially if the item I’m selling is one of a kind. Instead, the Jazz went into stealth mode and took the scraps from a division rivals’ broken process.

I’m excited for the future of the Jazz. I like the pieces we have, and I like the opportunity that this draft presents, but I’d like our chances a lot more if I felt comfortable with the leadership of the front office. The frustrating thing is that I DID trust them until this Sloan ordeal went down. The Williams trade, while not horrible, has just added fuel to that fire of skepticism. I want to believe in this franchise, but when I read articles like this and watch a season with so much promise go up in flames, it makes that difficult.

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4 Comments

  1. bwfanzzz says:

    When Sloan walked on of the locker room that night after the Bull’s game, his first words as I recall were “Nobody’s getting traded.” Put that in perspective with the comments KO made. What Karl Malone is saying allover the media world including Mike And Mike on ESPN radio this morning seems closer to reality. There is a whole lot more to the Sloan resignation than openly discussed. I don’t believe this current line.

  2. Joe says:

    This is all very sad. And who loses, Jeff? Who? Basketball, that’s who.

  3. Mike says:

    My theory was that Sloan knew about the eminent trade (I can’t image a HOF coach not knowing that his all-star PG was about to leave) and knew that the Jazz were going into a rebuilding mode. At 68 years old I’m betting he didn’t want to spend the 3-5 years it takes to get a team back into contention.

    I totally agree that KOC should have gauged interests from other teams but I think we received good value back in the trade. I’m sure there are other trades that would have kept us more competitive this year but I don’t think more competitive is the way to go. It’s hard to win a title when you’re a consistent 50-55 win team. Mark Cuban said something along the lines of ‘your either rebuilding or challenging for a title, if you’re in-between you’re not going anywhere’ (lots of paraphrasing there).

    50-55 wins gets you low draft picks and we’ve never been able to recruit top free agents to SLC. If we want to really build for the future it has to be through the draft which means we need high picks.

    I see the Jazz being like OKC a few years back. Lots of young talent, they just need someone who can piece it together to make something special. I’m not sure if we have that player or if Corbin is that coach. Our young guys have all shown good upside, but we need a dominant player or a coach who can get the most out of the players with solid defense. Corbin could get there but he doesn’t have the skill set yet. Hopefully the summer and training camp will help us get the team in order. Let’s just hope the NBA doesn’t lockout.

  4. Mike says:

    My first thought after hearing of the DWill trade was that I now understood why Coach Sloan said that he was tired and it was time to go. I’m sure that Coach Sloan knew of the possibility of the trade (whether directly or indirectly) and decided that at that point in his career to rebuild would take too much out of him. Remember, he did that after Malone to Stockton had moved on. I don’t think Jazz management saw the Sloan resignation coming and once he called it quits he was not turning back no matter who was trying to talk him out of it. I think with all of the talk, the point that he was too tired to rebuild might have been missed.
    I thought KOC did a great job with the DWill trade. I think he realized the best offer for DWill was with NJ and knew they would wait for ‘Melo anyway. Might as well wait and see how it shakes out and then make the call which NBA Confidential points out that KOC did make the call to the one deal he really wanted.

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