I'm not certain how relevant this will be a couple days from now. But I figure it's worth asking, just to see what the feeling is around here, if nothing else. As we stand right now, the Jazz have 7 guys under contract... assuming everyone that can opt out does... and another 2 waiting in the wings. A quick depth chart of the 9 guys...
- Deron Williams, Eric Maynor
- Ronnie Brewer
- C.J. Miles, Matt Harpring
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Kosta Koufos, Kyrylo Fesenko, (Goran Suton?)
There are obvious needs at the wings (Harpring is done, and the team doesn't have a shooter there), at power-forward (AK can't play all 48 minutes) and maybe at center (can The Koof, Fesenko and Suton hold down the fort?). Interior defense might be at a better position than where it was last year, but there is a ton of inexperience at the 2-3-4 spots. Which makes it obvious the Jazz are going to need to dip into FA.
So now, let's assume that 'Sap, Booze and Okur all opt out (I'm ignoring Korver in all of this, because truthfully, the other 3 guys play a much bigger role on the team). Given the needs, and the fact the Jazz probably don't want to go over the luxury tax (by way of "expiring contracts," the Jazz only have Harpring, Fesenko & Brewer... who'll be a RFA like 'Sap this season... assuming Okur, Booze & Korver all opt out), the Jazz aren't exactly overflowing in cash with which to fill needs. Assuming Suton sticks, the Jazz still need to find 4 more players to reach the NBA's required roster limit... I'm seeing 2 bigs, a wing and a PG (maybe 2 wings, depending on how ready Maynor is for the back-up spot). I'll go into contracts in another post if need be, but for now, let's just assume the Jazz are as cash strapped as it seems. So the Jazz get to FA, and can only afford one of their 3 guys ('Sap, Booze, Okur). Which one do you keep?
There are obviously pros & cons to all 3 guys.
Carlos Boozer (aka Booze)... Age: 27
Pros: The biggest offensive threat of the 3, especially down in the post. He's a 20-10 guy when healthy, and really fits well in Sloan's 'pick-and-roll' scheme. He's a good rebounder, and averages 1.0 spg & 2.5 apg, which aren't bad numbers for him. He also shoots 73% from the line for his career, which isn't bad for a big. And when he's on, he's able to draw double teams, leaving other guys open. Has a nice low-post game, but can also step out and drain the jumper.
Cons: He's not healthy all that often. He's played in 276 regular season games (of a possible 410) since joining the Jazz, including playing just 37 this season (after the previous 2 seasons were his best in 5 with the Jazz... playing 74 & 81 games). Defense is not a strength for him... bigs seems to have little trouble getting good position down low, and Booze doesn't exactly intimidate guards that drive in (unless his yelling surprises them). And for his career, he averages 0.4 blocks/game, which is just pathetic. He has disappeared when the Jazz have needed him most in the playoffs the last 2 seasons (despite the fact that his scoring numbers are higher in the playoffs).
Money & Competition: He wants money. A lot of it. Detroit was rumored to be interested, but the latest news is that they don't want to put so much of their cap space into 1 player. The rumblings coming out of New Jersey are the same. Miami had interest last year, but have since turned their attention to Chris Bosh. Oklahoma City & Memphis have cap space, but I'm not sure if they're interested. If Phoenix decides against rebuilding, they could take a run... provided they clear some cap space first.
Mehmet Okur (aka The Money Man)... Age: 30
Pros: One of the better shooting big-men in the league (he shot a career best 44.6% from beyond the arc this past season... 38% for his career). He's not quite a double-double threat, but he's averaged 16 ppg since arriving in Utah and has averaged 7.8 rpg in the same span. He shoots 80% from the FT line, and 46% from the floor (career best 48.5% this past season). He's played in at least 72 games every season since joining the Jazz, and at least 71 every season he's been in the league. He's been working (it seems) on developing a drive-to-the-hoop and low-post game, and it's nice to see him break it out occasionally when his shot isn't falling. He's hit a lot of big shots for the Jazz, becoming a fan favorite along the way. He could probably play 2 positions (PF, C) with his height (6'11), something that might be a bit harder for the Booze or 'Sap.
Cons: He's not your typical big man, which hurts when you're playing against guys like Yao Ming or Shaquille O'Neal or something. He averages 0.7 bpg which, while more than Booze, still isn't what you'd like from your center. He struggles blocking off the paint from the incoming pass and can get burnt inside as a result. He needs to work on passing the ball a bit more... there are times where he'll take a difficult shot despite being double teamed.
Money & Competition: Like Booze, he wants money. He has offered to give the Jazz a discount ($3-$5 million over the life of the contract), but the team and the player are far enough apart to make him opt out and see what's there for him on the market. As for competition... I'm not sure. If his demands are too high, teams will fall out. If not, Detroit could be interested in having him back. His ability to play the 4 and the 5 could interest some teams as well.
Paul Millsap (aka 'Sap)... Age: 24
Pros: The youngest of the 3 guys, he's still developing offensively. He's shown an ability to start, getting 38 starts this past season with Boozer out, and contribute. He averaged over 13 points/game, and also threw in almost 9 rebounds/game. He set career highs in almost every statistical category this season, and looks to be able to do it again if he gets a full-time starting job. He's active defensively, averaging 1 steal/game and 1 block/game. And he shot a blistering 53.4% from the floor this past season. His numbers in the playoffs also took a huge jump this season (up to 11 PPG and 8 RPG). He's been working on developing a low post game and a jumper, and both seem to be coming along well. He plays with a lot of energy, works hard, and has been a fan favorite pretty much since he showed up.
Cons: He tends to get into a lot of foul trouble, which brings to question whether or not he'll be able to give you starter minutes game-in/game-out. While his offensive game is still improving, it might not be to the point where you want it to be for a full time starter on a playoff team. His FT shooting is mediocre (sub-70%). His increase in minutes this past season saw a fairly big spike in turnovers/game as well (by 0.6 TO/game), which is never good for a guy that'll be facing double teams in the post. Not sure if it was after-effects of an injury, fatigue or just struggling to re-adapt after going back to the bench, but his game dropped off a bit after January this season, and fell a bit more when he went back to the bench upon Booze's return from the injured list. And that has to worry some teams... especially if it was the fatigue factor. On the other hand, his minutes increased by almost 600 from season 2 to season 3, so maybe it was to be expected.
Money & Competition: According to his agent, he's searching for David Lee type money (or more). Lee, also a RFA this season, is looking for about $10 million/season, so I guess that's what he means. As a plus for the Jazz, he is a RFA, so they can match any offer he gets. The price tag might scare some teams off, but his age could make him a better target for teams than Boozer, who is 3 years older than him, or Okur, who is 6 years older than him. Detroit is rumored to have him high on the list (though we've heard the same about Boozer, and there is no way they are targeting both guys). OKC makes some sense here, if they decide that Jeff Green is better suited coming off of the bench (unlikely, I must admit). Memphis made a play for Amar'e Stoudemire, and could turn to 'Sap to play alongside Hasheem Thabeet. New Jersey could be looking for a PF (after trading Ryan Anderson, all they have left is a disappointing Yi Jianlian and a disappointing Sean Williams). Phoenix might make some sense if they trade Amar'e, as they could use a big alongside whoever they get in return and in front of the Robin Lopez/Earl Clark duo.
All 3 guys have been huge for the Jazz. All 3 guys could be looking for big money this off-season (we know 'Sap is, we'll know about the other 2 soon)... money the Jazz don't have. Which puts the Jazz somewhere between a rock and a hard spot. Assuming they can only keep 1 of the 3 guys (and still have money to fill out the rest of the roster), what do they do? Do they go for upside ('Sap)? Do they go for the 20-10 threat when healthy (Booze)? Do they go for the unconventional big than can shoot (Okur)?
What do you think?