Ever since that rumor started floating around a week or two ago about the possibility of the Portland Trailblazers reaching out to our own GM Kevin O'Connor, it got me thinking honestly about whether or not I would care if he left. In my mind, I slowly began to evaluate what KOC has done since he has been with the Jazz and the position he has gotten the team to now. A lot of fans have called for his replacement because of drafts, trades, and myriad of other decisions he's made or failed to make. I have taken it upon myself to try and evaluate what he has done throughout his career and ask for all of the input/corrections you all can provide. I'm only 25 so I don't recall much of what he did in my teens and I missed two years in '05-'06. We have the blessing of hindsight in this exercise so this should be fun.
Kevin O'Connor signed on with the Utah Jazz and had a quite offseason resigning Stockton and Hornacek.
Evaluation: Did as expected
Traded old players for old players. Signed John Crotty and Danny Manning. Drafted DeShawn Stevenson.
Evaluation: The trades and FA signings did prove to do much as the Jazz won two less games that year. DeShawn Stevenson was a decent pick but if I remember right he couldn't seem to find a role with the team and a consistent 3-point shot.
Re-signed Stockton and drafted his hopeful replacement in Raul Lopez.
Evaluation: Lopez was a bust when he finally got over here and left the Jazz with Crotty as Stockton's replacement.
Evaluation: Harpring was the obvious highlight that year as he proved to bring the ultimate toughness to the team every year. We all saw that maybe, just maybe, Arroyo could become something good but in the end it just didn't work out. Borchardt was another bust that could never get healthy.
KOC got aggressive and signed both Corey Maggette and Jason Terry to offer sheets as they were about to hit their prime. Signed FA Raja Bell. Traded Stevenson for Giricek. Traded Keon Clark and Handlogton for Tom Gugliotta and Gordon Hayward(Future 1st Rd pick). Drafted Pavlovic and Mo Williams.
Evaluation: 'A' grade for effort in trying to get both Maggette and Terry but their teams matched the offer sheets. Raja Bell was an awesome get bringing great defense and perimeter shooting to the team. Stevenson for Giricek was somewhat of a wash and Sloan eventually sent him packing. Hindsight tells us that KOC might have scored BIG TIME with the trade that got the Jazz Gordon Hayward. KOC ended up trading Mo Williams which would appear to have been a big mistake now, however, with hindsight we can reason that the Jazz might not have, or even had the chance to, draft Deron Williams.
KOC got aggressive again and signed both Carlos Boozer and Memo Okur to offer sheets. Signed Andrei Kirilenko to the infamous contract extension. Drafted Kris Humphries, Kirk Snyder, and Pavel Podkolzin.
Evaluation: Another 'A' for effort with the Boozer and Okur signings because they became great pieces on a good team, but just weren't good enough to get the Jazz to the top. AK47's contract crippled the Jazz in later years but at the time it seemed like a good move. Humphries has since done well playing on the terrible Nets but never quite made it with Jazz. Kirk Snyder was a joke and has spent more time in a prison cell than he did with the Jazz.
KOC traded away Lopez, Borchardt, Snyder, and got Ostertag back. Traded up to draft Deron Williams and drafted CJ Miles in the second.
Evaluation: Don't know what he was thinking trading for O-tag, but I wasn't around so I might have missed something(Did he find a jumpshot or something?). KOC scored with D-Will as he turned into our franchise player, All-Star, and member of the Redeem Team. CJ Miles has continually shown loads of potential but has consistently been inconsistent.
*I personally felt that this was somewhat of a turning point for KOC in terms of draft success.
Evaluation: Good move resigning Harpring if only because he was the only one on the Jazz that could truly irritate his opponent. Derek Fisher was cool while he lasted but eventually weasled out of his deal and joined the Lakers. Ronnie Brewer had success here making steals and moving without the ball for easy dunks. Good pick. Millsap has become in absolute stud and a second round steal considering his height limitation(DraftExpress shows that his predraft measurment with shoes was only 6'7.25"). Awesome pick.
Evaluation: The trade for Korver was just what the doctor ordered and helped the Jazz go on an immediate 10+ game win streak. Jason Hart seemed to pass the ball out of bounds as much as he did to any Jazz player. Almond turned out to be the scoring champion. . . of the D-league. Bust. Fesenko became, well, Fesenko. What more can I say? Appears he has all the physical tools and natural ability to be starting center in the NBA, but lacks a little too much in basketball IQ. Good pick for late 2nd round.
Evaluation: Knight was only a slight upgrade over Hart. The contract extension was a no-brainer. Most people I know preferred to call Koufos Doufos instead. Ante Tomic came on strong on his Real Madrid team at the end of last year, had a decent Eurobasket tourney, but seams to be losing minutes this season to reasons unbeknownst to me(Can anyone enlighten us here?).
Signed Memo to a two-year contract extension. Matched the ''toxic'' offer sheet the Trailblazers gave Millsap. Traded Ronnie Brewer. Drafted Eric Maynor and Goran Suton. Traded Eric Maynor and Matt Harpring. Signed D-leaguer Sundiata Gaines.
Evaluation: I have always thought the Memo's extension was 2 or 3 million too high for each season. Bad extension in my opinion. Matching Millsap's offer hurt the Jazz for the year but has turned out great down the road as the Jazz continue to get a great bang-for-their-buck from Millsap. D-Will was quite upset about his play-pal getting traded stating something around the lines of 'everyone is getting better and we're just getting worse'. The Jazz won 5 more games that year than the year before without Brewer, hardly missing a beat. Eric Maynor appeared to be the backup pg that we had all been waiting for, showing great potential in a few games. Remember when he almost single-handedly pulled out that game in Cleveland against LeBron? Oh and then comes Sundiata Gaines for the winning 3-pt shot against LeBron in Utah to cap one of the greatest comebacks in Jazz history. Great draft pick and d-league signing. Hurt to trade him for money savings but it was understandable.
Drafted Gordon Hayward and Jeremy Evans. Boozer sign-and-trade to Bulls. Stole Al Jefferson for Kosta Koufos and two future first rounders. Missed out on resigning Wes Matthews. Traded D-Will for Devin Harris, Derrick Favors, and Enes Kanter(No. 3 pick). Named Tyrone Corbin as the new head coach.
Evaluation: Craziest year ever. Hayward looks to have the potential to be very special. Great pick, for now. Jeremy Evans will probably always be our number 3 and PF because he lacks weight and I don't think he has the lateral quickness to play at SF. Boozer deal was good move because KOC got something out of nothing. Without the player exception we couldn't have gotten Big Al. I think we all hoped he would have been a bit better. Wes and KOC will have to agree to disagree. Wes said no offer was made. KOC said,"That's absolutely not true." First time I heard of the D-Will trade going down I hated it. A week later I loved it. The trade is a huge debate amongst Jazz fans but I don't think anyone can argue that we got a ton of talent in return. Ty Corbin hire was somewhat expected. I'm a bit worried about the decrease in defensive effort though after he took over. Good or bad hire?
Drafted Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
The majority of draft sites gave the Jazz and 'A' on their draft for maximizing the value of their picks. We all know their opinions are worthless though in the end. I loved the picks, but only time will tell.
If I had to give O'Connor a grade it would be in the B+ to A- range. He's got limitations being in a small market, but has done well taking that into account. He's taken risks at times and remained conservative at other times. Seems to me like he got over a learning curve or hump around 2004, where most of the draft picks before that were garbage but since then have been pretty good. Not all of the good and bad picks fall on him of course. He obviously has to rely a lot on his scouts' opinions. He has been aggressive in the Free Agent market plenty of times and has found a lot of success from it. His judgement has come into question at times(i.e. Ronnie Brewer trade, Eric Maynor trade, Gordon Hayward draft, D-Will trade) but in my opinion he seems to have come out on top almost every time. Hindsight is a beautiful thing. After taking all things into consideration, I think I would prefer that he stay for the foreseeable future.